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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > October, 2004 - To Reach a Destination, Enjoy the Journey
by Lynn Seiser

To Reach a Destination, Enjoy the Journey by Lynn Seiser

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To reach, or even go far beyond a destination or goal, relax and enjoy the journey.

I was never athletic as a child. I was born sickly and had to wear leg braces until I was 8 years old, so I was pretty clumsy. It tried team sports, but was always bad at them. I didn't have a competitive spirit. Growing up in the Detroit factory-belt during the 50s and 60s meant I was constantly confronted by violence and fighting. Though I fought a lot, I lost most of the fights. Not the beginning one would expect for a life-long perpetual student of martial arts.

I my teens I had a geek job as a library page, I put a way the books others left lying around, I saw a few book on martial arts. Martial arts were beginning to appear in the movies more as well. It all seemed pretty esoteric, but it caught my attention. In 1968, at 17 years of youthful ignorance, I took my first martial art class as a physical education activity at Central Michigan University. I studied Isshinryu (Okinawan Karate) and Judo. From the time I walked on the mat, I felt at home. I learned there was something I could do well. After a year at Central Michigan University, college funds ran out, so I got a job in the factory unloading raw sheet metal from trucks and boxcars. I continued my academic pursuit and eventually got my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Oakland University in Michigan. I didn't train in martial arts, but I had gotten a taste and wanted more. The strange art of Aikido caught my eye, but I could not find anyone who knew anything about it. The direction of the journey had been set.

In 1972 I received a letter from my friend and neighbors, via the government, informing me I had the privilege to be in the last draft call. For two years I served my country as a forward observer in military intelligence and reconnaissance. While in the Army I took all the hand-to-hand close-quarter-combat training I could. When not in the field, which was most of the time, a small group of us cross-trained in everything anyone knew anything about. While we never lost sight of the goal, being able to stay alive, the training activity itself became extremely enjoyable and rewarding. Friendship bonds established in trauma and training lets one know that the journey is actually appreciated, shared, and enhanced by others.

After being discharged in 1974, I loaded everything I owned into an old Chevy van and drove from Detroit to California. Living out of the van for a while, I finally got a job making bombs in the defense industry and lived in a small apartment. I enrolled in a Masters Degree program in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling at Chapman College. I did some Dojo hopping, studying anything available for a period of time. I didn't stay long enough to get any belts or ranks. In the early 80s, I began training in the Filipino martial art (FMA) of Escrima (sticks, knives, and hands) and Jeet Kune Do (JKD) with the late Ted Lucaylucay in a concrete industrial park in Santa Ana, California. Guro Lucaylucay was the first man I accepted rank from. Even though he is gone, the direction and journey he offered still continues, I still attend FMA seminars regularly. I don't know what the destination is, or will be if there really is one, but the journey continues and I am enjoying it.

Periodically, I would sit and watch Aikido classes. Either I was not impressed with what I observed or the class times were not convenient for my schedule. At least these were the excuses I used to explain my not starting to study the art that had caught my attention so many years ago. In 1994, at the age of 44, I watched a morning class at the Westminster Aikikai Tenshinkai Aikido Dojo under Sensei Dang Thong Phong. I am a large man standing 6'4" and 220 lbs. and already skilled in martial arts, but Phong Sensei had no problem throwing and pinning me with ease. The people I train with also had other martial arts experience. There is a difference between people who study martial arts and those who are martial artists. Martial arts can be what you do or they can become who you are. The destination dissolves and becomes one with the journey.

Wherever the head goes the body tends to follow. I went back to school and received my Doctorate Degree in Psychology from the Southern California University for Professional Studies and my Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido. I have written, with Sensei Phong, for Aikido Today Magazine, Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine, Black Belt Magazine, and Aikido Basics for Tuttle Publishing (we have two more books in progress, one on concepts and another on weapons). I founded Aiki-Solutions as a consulting and training service to teach and promote sports and performance psychology and nonviolent conflict prevention, management, and resolution.

The journey continues far beyond any goal or destination I could have consciously set for myself. Who knows where it will lead? The secret to reaching far beyond the goal or destination is simply to enjoy the journey.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now, get back to training.

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