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I am more than what I am. There is something that is me that is not made of me but exists beyond the limits of my being.
I make choices every day. When to get up, what to have for breakfast, what to wear, go to work or not, how to get there etc. It seems that I am continually confronted by alternatives in life's decisions. Many apparently automatic responses are really conscious decisions. Don't cross the street while traffic is moving, don't leap off that high building and the like. It would seem that decision making occurs on different levels with regard to consciousness. Patterns related to danger evoke decisions without my having to think about them while non life threatening patterns allow me the luxury of consciously debating which direction to take... choices.
In my study of Aikido I am also offered a multiplicity of choices as I progress. As such my view of what Aikido is has changed throughout the years. I chose, in the early years, to concentrate on the martial side of Aikido. I sought to relate technique to ‘real' situations. How would this or that technique serve me in a fight? I wanted to know why we didn't get into stable seemingly strong, immovable karate-like stances prior to executing technique. I was young and threats were always just around the next bend in life; or so I chose to believe... choices.
I'm older now having survived all those fears unique to the young and find that Aikido provides me with a venue in which to venture down other paths of exploration of meaning in my life. I have chosen to pretty much abandon the martial side of Aikido as it relates to my personal development. Perhaps the shift from training my body to honing of my spirit is just a natural part of Aikido evolution that all long term practitioners undergo, I don't know. I do know that Aikido training is enabling me to look more deeply into how I ‘fit' into the larger scheme of things and how I relate to people around me... choices.
I treat spirituality as a personal quest and don't broach the subject directly in class. My students are free to find spirituality on the mat, or not. It's not up to me to choose for them. I am interested only in coaxing their Aikido out of them in hope they will be wide eyed enough to see it. Coming to my dojo and studying with me they put themselves on the path. I give them a shove and the rest is up to them... choices.