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Mark Peckett
04-22-2009, 10:43 AM
I notice threads asking if anyone's used aikido in a real situation, or arguing if aikido would or wouldn't work in a real fight, but I was wondering if anyone's found themselves changed by aikido?

Perhaps simply more confident, or less angry or aggressive; maybe someone's had a genuine spiritual experience. Or perhaps someone started aikido as an accountant and found themselves lead in new and unusual paths .

It would be nice to share some of these experiences.

For myself, I have absolutely no idea if aikido's changed me, but I have to say that it's made my retirement a whole lot more interesting.

jxa127
04-22-2009, 02:18 PM
Mark,

When I first started aikido in 1999, I read a lot about the spiritual aspects of the practice and aikido's status as a "do" or spiritual way. What I got from reading this board, Aikio Journal's web site, and books like "Budo" by O Sensei, "The Spirit of Aikido" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and "The Magic of Conflict" by Thomas Crum was the ideal of aikido as a metaphor for conflict.

The idea of aikido presenting a third option to either fighting or running away appealed to me. I particularly liked the concept that one needs to establish a connection with an attacker in order to properly execute a technique, and that the more committed the attack and throw, the better. Conversely, if two (or more) people only tentatively engage, then true conflict resolution is very difficult.

That concept has helped me a lot. I'm 35 now, but when I was 25, I tended to be a lot more rigid in my thinking about the "right way" and "wrong way" to do things, which made personal relationships rather difficult at times. Learning to apply the idea of establishing a connection first and then being receptive to my opponent's arguments actually made it a lot easier for me to get along and stay happier. That attitude has helped me to respond to arguments with my wife, attacks from my former boss, and tantrums from my 3-year-old by saying, "I understand you're frustrated by ..." (establishing the connection) "...now please hear my point of view."

My actual aikido practice, both at my first school and the one I joined six months ago, tends to be more of the "hard" style with a lot of emphasis on atemi, strong attacks as uke, and good off-balancing and control of uke by nage. The schools differ on the technical details, but the attitudes are remarkably similar. I personally feel that the "aiki-bunny" attitudes I express above are really only worthwhile if you've got strong, effective skills to back them up.

Finally, I think I've had a little disillusionment with aikido over the years, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. I initially bought in to a lot of the stuff that O Sensei was quoted as saying about aikido being the expression of a loving, universal god or some sort of universal truth about relationships. However, in the past several years there's been a lot of excellent analysis by Stan Prannin, Peter Goldsbury, and Ellis Amdur that provides a lot of the historical and cultural context of O Sensei's development of aikido, his religious beliefs, and the post-war development of aikido.

The historical analysis revealed that aikido is not necessarily the cross-cultural, feel-good, lovey-dovey art of peaceful reconciliation that it seems to be on the surface. On one hand, aikido is a martial art based on the concept of loving protection of all living things that seeks to protect one's attacker from harm by blending with his attack and controlling it. On the other hand, aikido was a religious expression of O Sensei who saw himself as a shaman dedicated to the divinity of the Japanese emperor and associate with right-wing militarism.

I'm not saying that aikido doesn't have the lovey-dovey stuff, I just think it's a lot harder to project onto aikido the relativist notions of universal love and tolerance and the expression of love as "soft" technique when one knows more about aikido's history and development. In short, I'm a lot less likely to see O Sensei as a saint, and much more likely to appreciate him as a man.

Regards,

-Drew

wideawakedreamer
04-23-2009, 08:31 AM
Or perhaps someone started aikido as an accountant and found themselves lead in new and unusual paths .

It would be nice to share some of these experiences.

For myself, I have absolutely no idea if aikido's changed me, but I have to say that it's made my retirement a whole lot more interesting.

Aikido led me in a new and unusual path - I met my wife in the dojo, after all. And in about three months we're going to have our first child.:)

Mark Peckett
04-23-2009, 09:31 AM
Aikido led me in a new and unusual path - I met my wife in the dojo, after all. And in about three months we're going to have our first child.:)

Congratulations. Now that will change your life!!

Kevin Leavitt
04-23-2009, 06:32 PM
yeah sure it has affected my life....otherwise I wouldn't still be doing it. Changed??? well that is a complex question that is not really definable by me.

YogaRen
04-24-2009, 08:04 AM
Good reads in this thread.

jennifer paige smith
04-24-2009, 11:37 AM
I would make a different kind of connection in this line of thought.

Aikido has positively influenced my relationship to change. And Aikido has provided a multi-dimensional 'canvas' to explore & express what I've always 'natively' known. The longer and more sincerely I practice the more seamless these connections become.
I like to think about how I might be influencing aikido as a co-creator.

Nice thread!

Sarah Lothmann
05-07-2009, 03:59 PM
Affected, shifted, changed, .... Aikido has been such a blessing for me! I continue learning something new from it each and every day. And the friendships formed from class I cherish dearly. I love how easy it is to get lost in the art while experiencing it in and outside the dojo!

Mark Uttech
05-08-2009, 03:02 AM
Onegaishimasu. I will be celebrating 25 years of aikido in July of this year. The thing about aikido that I find enthralling is that my enthusiasm has "never" wavered; I keep finding some new area to explore. It is like being in this huge house that has many rooms. There's even different people in some of these rooms! And each room I enter with a question: "is this my room?" Aikido has an elegance that goes on like that.

In gassho,

Mark

Franklin Newby
05-10-2009, 03:14 PM
Shortly after starting Aikido, I realized that I've been doing it throughout my life. Whenever there was anger aimed at me, I've always had a knack of talking the aggressor down to avoid a physical altercation.

Establishing that appropriate verbal connection has been very important in my line of work. Working as an agent in an apartment complex, you can find yourself in some pretty intense situations regarding people not paying rent and blaming you, gangbanger aggression, abuse situations etc...
Seeing the philosphy of Aikido work on a daily basis and then physically engaging in that same idea during class has really opened my eyes and mind.
However much you put into it, Aikido can really give back on so many levels.

Lulu
05-14-2009, 02:34 PM
Yes indeed! Aikido completely changed my life. I have made friends and met people that have been so good and important to me.

I have faced my fears and done things that I never would have thought possible or even have imagined that I would or could do.

There is still so much more to experience and enjoy, to explore and learn, to strive to be a better student.

ruthmc
05-15-2009, 05:40 AM
In my case, Aikido has helped me learn how to approach situations assertively, rather than passively or aggressively.

This valuable lesson was something that was missing from my childhood and adolescence, and it has helped me to mature in a way I never could have without it :)

Physically I have gained a considerable degree of co-ordination that I'd have struggled to develop without Aikido. Before I began, due to a disability, my co-ordination was very poor indeed! Now it is normal. That is a huge step forward for me and I am forever grateful to my teachers for their patience :)

Aikido has also enabled me to learn how to follow complex physical moves being demonstrated by a teacher - visual learning was a skill that I lacked, but have now honed to a level I'd say was above average.

Another very important skill I have picked up is the ability to feel what is going on in my body, to know which muscles need to be used when and which need to relax. This has made it much easier for me to learn archery, which is all about very subtle improvements in posture and technique.

Aikido is life-changing - absolutely no question about that! :D

Ruth

Amassus
05-16-2009, 04:01 AM
I too put my hand up and say "Aikido changed me".

It contributed to my personal growth and the break down of some fears. As was mentioned earlier (by another post), I am now more assertive and less ready to 'roll over' for someone else.

trademark8806
07-30-2009, 07:21 PM
I belice that every expernce we have alows us to grow and lurn new things. That being said I do thin that in the short itme I have done akido it has been one of life change experces. It has alwed me to grow in ways prohaps nothing else could have exposed to me to with in my self. Also, I got to see difrent types of people.

Suru
07-30-2009, 07:53 PM
Overall, training in Aikido, studying books on the subject, and meeting great people has been incredible.

I don't know how much to attribute this directly to Aikido, but sometimes people just don't get me here in the West. Friends wonder why I don't care about sports as much as they do. They also don't truly understand my world view. I had become the standard "red-blooded" American young man before Aikido, but training in the art brought me more back to myself, the joining of inner-child and warrior-sage. Since Aikidoka are in the vast minority in the world, other practicioners seem to be the only ones who "get" me. I still have many friends whom are not Aikidoka, and I'm able to communicate well with them. In some ways Aikido has made it easier to communicate with everyone, but with so many I still feel I'm on a different wavelength, and I am. So, Aikido has in fact done more good than harm; I've just had to lose and gain some friends along the way.

Drew

Abasan
07-31-2009, 02:33 AM
Training in Aikido has changed my life but only recently. I had a different focus before this loosely centered on waza and ability.

Now I'm trying to appreciate surrender and patience. Difficult but worthy of attention.

Stefan Hultberg
08-02-2009, 08:12 AM
Hi

Yes, aikido has dramatically changed my life. I think aikido actually SAVED my life. When I started, some 5 years ago, I was seriously in a bad way due to chronic overwork & stress in a CEO-job. Aikido introduced a stress-free and stress-relieving space for me that I had never experienced before. While practicing aikido I found it impossible to keep thinking about all the other thing - the board, the staff, the customers, our next acquisition, shareholder relations, press issues etc. etc. etc. For two hours it all disappeared, and after the training I always felt great - for hours.

Over the years aikido helped me reevaluate my life and my priorities, not to say that I've completely found my way and my destiny yet, but I've certainly found that life and it's possibilities are infinitely bigger than what I thought. This realization has come both from the teachings of aikido itself and from the "contemplation space" that aikido training has provided.

I've still got a long way to go, but without aikido I honestly believe my journey could have ended prematurely.

I am truly grateful!!

All the best

Stefan Hultberg

Shadowfax
08-02-2009, 09:34 AM
I cant say Aikido has yet changed my life but it has begun to change the way I look at things and react to situations and handle stress. I've only been training for a couple of months now, just attended my first seminar which I had to take off Saturday in order to do.

Its had enough of a positive effect that my managers were more than happy to give me the day off in order to attend. In my line of work and as short staffed as we are its not an easy thing to get a Saturday off.

It has also very subtly improved my horsemanship. I've always had a deep connection with my horses but now I am noticing it has gotten even deeper and more subtle. And often something I have learned during training gets applied to my riding with some really good results. I have even begun to use Aiki principles to teach other horse people how to be more effective riders.

Bryon Lewis
08-21-2009, 01:22 PM
I have finally decided to actually look into an Aikido dojo. I've been interested in Aikido since Steven Seagal came on the scene in the late 80's but never "got around to it".

The more I research I realize now that it is more than just a martial art. I've been having some anger problems for many years now and have recently gotten seperated from my wife of 16 years and relocated 1300 miles from home for a job.

I was laid off in Oct. 2008 and couldn't find a job back home to save my ass. My layoff also led to a foreclosure on my home. Now my wife and kids are renting a house and I'm staying in a camper.

Hum, I wonder why I have anger issues. :)

Anyways, I have read some of the posts here and it seems that Aikido might be a good way to get over some of my problems, which apparantly have some internal "issues" and help me on a new path of self discovery and self healing, both mentally and physically. (I smoke way to much, and thats going to have to stop).

Any comments would be very much appreciated.
Thanks

thisisnotreal
08-21-2009, 03:34 PM
Hi Bryon, I feel for you. I really really do.
It may help, but you may be asking too much (the wrong things?) from Aikido. That is only my opinion.

Stop smoking. You'll definitely feel better bodily. Then feeling better mentally will naturally follow.

Never give up. Persistence.. persistence...persistence...
Do what you can when you can. If you have done all you can do then relax; it is out of your hands. One deep source of frustration in life is being responsible for things outside your control....damn! that *is* life itself.

Sounds like you are going through a rough time. Keep doing the right things and it has to get better.

Practice being strong. When the anger comes on. breathe. watch the anger rise. feel it. REALLY FEEL IT. Then: let it go through you. Choose. relax your body. you remain after the emotional rollercoaster has passed. This becomes a practice..then a habit..then a form of your character. change comes slowly but it is tangible after some time.

don't know if these words are worth a damn bean...but things i thought of and wanted to share.
Josh

Bryon Lewis
08-24-2009, 08:11 AM
I'm not by any means thinking that studying Aikido will get my house back etc. But as far as I've read about the change that can come within Aikidoka. A change in mindset or ways of dealing with external issues that can alter one's internal state.

The whole self-confidence, self-esteem thing is what I think that I would be in need of. As well as a way of getting out and meeting people. I'm very introverted and always have been. Being tossed around by somebody a few hours a week might be a good way of meeting people. :)

Mark Peckett
08-25-2009, 12:32 PM
Don't expect amazing changes - just study aikido for the pleasure of it and let the other things come. Wanting to be calmer or more positive or any of the other things you read about aikido will only spoil your practice.

You'll meet some nice people, get fitter, have fun and a few years from now you'll find all those things you read about snuck up on you and you've got them after all.

Be well.

Shadowfax
08-25-2009, 02:58 PM
huh its only been a couple of months for me and it has definitely already made a difference in how I handle stress and conflict. Each case is different to be sure and I think it matters if you want that.

Aikido has definitely helped me to become a much more calm and settled person. Will it make all my problems disappear? No but in some way it does help me to handle them better.

I hope you find what you are looking for in your Aikido.

Suru
08-25-2009, 03:25 PM
Hi

Yes, aikido has dramatically changed my life. I think aikido actually SAVED my life. When I started, some 5 years ago, I was seriously in a bad way due to chronic overwork & stress in a CEO-job. Aikido introduced a stress-free and stress-relieving space for me that I had never experienced before. While practicing aikido I found it impossible to keep thinking about all the other thing - the board, the staff, the customers, our next acquisition, shareholder relations, press issues etc. etc. etc. For two hours it all disappeared, and after the training I always felt great - for hours.

I've still got a long way to go, but without aikido I honestly believe my journey could have ended prematurely.

I am truly grateful!!

All the best

Stefan Hultberg

I was recently talking to a friend who has a blue collar job, yet a pretty nice, middle-class combined income with his wife. He enjoys his life, but sometimes he considers he could be doing something more, something that would suit his good intellect. I reminded him of how high-pressure many of those jobs are. Some CEOs make quite a salary even before payment in stock. I know he wasn't the norm, but Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, made over nine million in salary alone. I reassured my friend that some CEOs watch their company stock drop, feel totally guilty, and jump out of penthouse windows. Stefan, all my jobs have had pressure, but nothing like that of the standard CEO, I believe. I haven't tried many ways, but I will say that I know exactly what you're talking about with Aikido. It's sort of like some country music to me, in a way, as it reminds me of what's important. It let's me bask in the fundamentals instead of overlooking them. For example, staying calm, breathing, reacting appropriately to situations, decreased fears, and letting nature take its course unless there is really an important reason to intervene. I hope your spirits stay high, Stefan.

Drew

Mariska Poiesz
10-24-2009, 04:09 AM
I've only been training for a year, but I have noticed some changes.
I used to be very agressive, refusing to backdown and always looking for ways to prove that I was strong and could best anyone. In my teens I was particulary agressive towards boys, mostly because I was afraid of being viewed as less worthy, weak and fragile.

Aikido helped me calm down. I'm less likely to try to fight with everyone who looks at me the wrong way. I'm also more likely to back off when a discussion or 'fight' is useless. Aikido helped me become less stubborn and helps me take a step back and just observe before acting.

I've also become less stressed and irritable due to learning how to meditate and relax.

MattMiddleton
10-28-2009, 01:24 PM
Aikido has definitely had a positive effect on my life; I've lost about 30 lbs (aikido + improved diet), am learning more about what my body can and can't do, and have been introduced to a fantastically supportive community at my dojo.

George S. Ledyard
10-28-2009, 06:16 PM
One day Kimberly Richardson Sensei and I were talking about things Aikido / Dojo related. We started laughing when we realized that we each had the same reaction to hearing from a student that "Aikido was changing their life.", it was "they'll be gone in three weeks". My wife was a bit non-plussed because she had said much the same thing to Richardson Sensei at one point and wondered why she looked at her a little funny.

My experience in almost 25 years of teaching has been that when a new student comes up to me and tells me that "Aikido is the MOST amazing thing they've ever done." and that "It is changing my life" they will be gone in no time.

It is much better to have someone tell you, from the standpoint of hindsight, that Aikido changed their lives for the better. The change that sneaks up on you is more likely to be the one that you stay with.

Pema Chodren said the same thing in one of her books... She said that students will always come up to her and tell her how wonderful the practice is, how it is changing their lives. Then, six months or so later they come in and tell her that the practice isn't the same as it had been, the she as a teacher isn't the same as she had been, that all sorts of issues are now present that weren't there before. She responds that everything they had been doing in their practice was merely getting them to this point. It is this point where the practice REALLY begins.

Chuck Clark
10-28-2009, 07:09 PM
In the many years that I've been hanging around budo practice I've seen the same things that you've described George. It's predictable.

Rob Watson
10-28-2009, 08:03 PM
My experience in almost 25 years of teaching has been that when a new student comes up to me and tells me that "Aikido is the MOST amazing thing they've ever done." and that "It is changing my life" they will be gone in no time.

In the many years that I've been hanging around budo practice I've seen the same things that you've described George. It's predictable.

My momma always said I was special ... I was one of those starry eyed, even evangelical, 'blissers' that was early on enamored with aikido. I got better. I even quit after 5 years but I came back and I'm still going. While my life has certainly changed in the last 15 years I can't say just how much of that has been due to aikido (except for some certain creaky joints I know for sure are from aikido). I do get kind of twitchy if I can't keep to my regular schedule.

These days I do still mention aikido every now and then trying to build up the membership at the dojo. That part is not going so well...folks seem to be looking for something but hard work and sweat don't seem to fit the bill.

Linda Eskin
10-31-2009, 01:00 AM
My experience in almost 25 years of teaching has been that when a new student comes up to me and tells me that "Aikido is the MOST amazing thing they've ever done." and that "It is changing my life" they will be gone in no time.

Aaahh... Ledyard Sensei... I have all the respect in the world for you, and I keep finding myself disagreeing with you in the forums. :p It's not personal, really.

I intend to be an exception to this pattern.

At 6th months, and 6th kyu, and I hardly recognize myself.

:do:

p.s. Tonight I used your example of approaching and reaching out to Uke with energy, as if they were a good friend you hadn't seen in years. Great image - very effective.

Mark Peckett
11-01-2009, 09:21 AM
I notice threads asking if anyone's used aikido in a real situation, or arguing if aikido would or wouldn't work in a real fight, but I was wondering if anyone's found themselves changed by aikido?

Perhaps simply more confident, or less angry or aggressive; maybe someone's had a genuine spiritual experience. Or perhaps someone started aikido as an accountant and found themselves lead in new and unusual paths .

It would be nice to share some of these experiences.

For myself, I have absolutely no idea if aikido's changed me, but I have to say that it's made my retirement a whole lot more interesting.

Although I gave this thread the slightly joky title "Aikido Changed My Life" the text was more along the lines of what George Ledyard spoke of.

I think in most arts, whether it's aikido or water painting, those beginners who jump in headfirst do tend fall away; my teacher, Shihan Ralph Reynolds always said he loved a plodder. Maybe aikido has changed my life because it's taught me to keep on plodding instead of flitting.