View Full Version : The Challenge

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12-18-2008, 12:48 PM
Breathe in and be mindful of the challenge
Breathe out and accept the challenge
The discipline to walk in a positive direction

Aikido is full of challenges, or at least it should be. Life is full of challenges, or at least it should be.

It may not be politically correct or popular to see life as a constant and consistent challenge. We live in an age of fast food, quick fixes, entitlement, and wanting everything given to us. We just don't want to work for things anymore. Somehow, I am supposed to be able to do anything without effort perfectly the first time even though I have never done it before. I am supposed to have whatever I want right now without earning it or being able to pay for it. These beliefs make life an even bigger challenge because even though they are popular, they only guarantee frustration and failure.

So rather than look for the easy way that guarantees frustration and failure, how can I cultivate the attitude of accepting the challenges life offers me?

The first challenge may be to see through all those social media perpetuated myths and memes that make the manufactures of goods and services rich and keep the rest of us poor financially and emotionally. We feel it's our fault that we cannot get the results promised in the advertisements and perpetuated in our fantasies. We need to realize that there is only one way to get what it is that is most important to us, we have to do the work ourselves. I often laugh stating that everyone wants a college degree, but few want to attend classes. Everyone wants to have a black belt, but few show up consistently and train.

Now that you have accepted that the only way to progress in life, aikido, or anything is to accept the challenge and do the work, the question is what work?

In the military, we call it reconnaissance. Strategic and tactical plans are based on accurate and current information. So first, we need to gather information. While you cannot learn Aikido or live your life by reading a book or watching a tape/DVD, you can still learn a lot. I am an avid reader. In my Aikido library I have over 70 books and at least as many tape/DVD titles. I attend as many different seminars with as many different instructors as I can. Recently I had to obtain a second Yudansha passport because I had over 86 signatures including Doshu M. Ueshiba. Sure, I have found my favorites who repeatedly find me showing up trying to grasp that next little glimpse of what may be further down the road if I continue to practice hard and walk in a positive direction. On some level, I always assume that we already know what we need to do. We just have to do it. That's the challenge. That's the discipline.

I often tell people that if you know what you really want, and you know what you have to do to get it, the rest is showing up and doing it.

As we start a new year, most of us will gather on the Dojo mat New Years Day and train. It's a ritual. It starts the New Year in a positive direction. By accepting the challenge of the New Year, we will continue to grow. Let's keep our bodies relaxed, our minds and hearts open, and our eyes set through the new challenges we will face together. That's the discipline.

Breathe in and be mindful of the challenge
Breathe out and accept the challenge
The discipline to walk in a positive direction

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

(BTW: From me and mine to you and yours, have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.)
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.

Susanne Serwotka
12-24-2008, 09:21 PM
I agree with you, Lynn Sensei. Aikido is challenge all the time, and most of it is fun, an invitation to play, an invitation to learn. But occassionally we get kicked out of the comfort zone, get into a situation where teaching/and/or practising Aikido becomes a real challenge, and that is when we see how much our training has been worth.
I think we got used to see challenges to see as a personal threat . They keep us from showing our best sides, or so we think. I believe the opposite is true. Challenges can show what's really inside you. What is your challenge, anyway? Go on a demo? Go and do it, exposure will reduce your anxieties. Teach a class? Go and do it, your students will be a mirror of what you are doing. Testing? We are not competitional, remember. We are good or not so good. It is not about wiping another person out.

Maybe I am seeing that too easy here, but most of Aikido is for me taking up the challenge. The challenge to run to training at 8.00 in the evening when you are dog-tired and you just want to rest. Or at 6.30. similarily tired. The challenge to pair up with that new white belt when you would rather let it out with your roughhousing brownbelt-brother. And the wonderful, prickling, great-feeling challenge when you are way out over head in with a far advanced belt and he throws and bends you in positions and directions you had no idea you could conquer.

Folks, I am Christopher Colombus in every Aikido class. New territory each time. New challenges every time I put on my belt, enter the mat. I am not open for it all the time, but I pray that may change. As for the challenges, I pray that may not change.

12-25-2008, 10:06 AM

Thanks for your kind response.

Yes agreed, on and off the mat, it always a new day and a new challenge. Hopefully, we will continue to face them together.

Diane Stevenson
01-18-2009, 08:08 PM
I wanted to take the time while it is still the beginning of the new year to thank you. I enjoy the encouragement you offer all of us thru your column. Often, when I sit to quiet my mind before class, I find your words helping me to center.

Thanks for reminding me to breathe. Please don't stop. :D

01-19-2009, 06:38 AM
Osu Diane,

Words/thoughts have power. Ki follows intent.

Thanks you your kind words. I think many of us wonder if anyone really reads the thoughts Jun has allowed us to share and do they make a difference.

I can only share from my own journey and hope that it is of some small help to others.

I am told I don't know how to stop. Life has been a decision, a direction, and a discipline.

Breathe on.

Rei, Domo.