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One morning recently a group of high school students visited the dojo to experience a special class, to get a feel for what Aikido has to offer us. They were a very nice bunch of young people - thoughtful, articulate, and open-minded. Aikido is a really broad and challenging subject to grasp in only an hour or so, but they picked things up pretty quickly, and made some very perceptive and insightful observations. It occurred to me that at their age they have developed quite good language skills, and still retain the clarity of vision and honesty that children have - not yet jaded.
A theme throughout the class was looking at Aikido as a practice of noticing and letting go of our resistance in life. Our natural inclination in relationship to others is to be light, open, joyful, loving, to see clearly, express ourselves, and trust. To be connected. But when resistance blocks that way of being we are left with anger, sadness, cynicism, living in fear and confusion. Shut down and alone.
At one point Sensei was demonstrating a blend, with me as uke. He was showing what it looks like when we are coming from resistance, tight, cringing, contracted. Maybe being pushy or reactive. I'm sure I've forgotten the exact words, but he was asking something like "what is my resistance keeping me from expressing?" The kids threw out a few answers safe answers. And then from one girl, "Your love for her."
There were some uncomfortable giggles. It may have sounded like she was teasing. But I think she was serious - it was a sweet and honest comment - and I think she nailed it. Our resistance, in relationship to others, whether it shows up as fear, uncertainty, shame, or whatever, keeps us from expressing our love for each other.
When we get right down to it, could there really be any better reason to train?