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Saturday night was a watershed moment in my training. There wasn't a fight or anything like that. In seven years of training I've changed beyond all recognition. The shy, angry, ignorant, insecure person that walked into my Sensei's dojo seven years ago has died. The last vestiges of him slipped peacefully away about 12am on saturday night.
I feel this break with the past and the hours since then have been spent mulling over how I got here. The answer is budo. I am obsessed with it and it dominates my thinking. I'm hesitant to say Aikido though, I don't think it's O-Sensei's message that has got me here, not on it's own. For me budo is practical, it is how I live my life.
The attitudes I display towards uke is the attitude I take with me into life day to day and the attitude I have towards training is the attitude I have towards life as a continuing process.
In the face of uke you must act decisively, you must end the situation before it can get out of hand, nip it in the bud. He must not even be allowed to complete his attack. Half way through shomen he should hit the mat.
You must be filled with resolve and admit no doubt into your mind. No limiting thought can be allowed to dwell in your head, you must enter in boldly. You must embody "katana ore ya mo tsuki."
I always think of my mind as my spear, my physical Aikido as my sword, and my game as my yoroi doshi (cuz once the spear has got her where I want her I draw my yoroi doshi and I go up and under the armour or through a gap in it and straight for her heart ) if I loose one weapon or if it isn't appropriate I draw another and another and another until I win.
I use everything at my disposal. And I'm always seeking to add weapons, every new skill is a weapon in your arsenal. And you must constantly be sharpening and looking after your weapons. My sword is not complete, but with every class, with every correction sensei makes it becomes more complete.
Confidence is my armour. To make armour I should imagine requires hammering a lot of metal, confidence is born out of getting a lot of hammering and coming through it. Each hammer blow might be tiny but it makes the armour stronger.
You must, however, be aware of what is going on, you can not just be bloody minded and push through regardless, that leads to your own destruction. You have to be in tune with reality, aware of your ability and aware of ukes ability, aware of the circumstances.
In life you must be continually growing. You have to have the guts to look at yourself in the mirror and see everything that's wrong with you and you have to train yourself up to remove these negative aspects. Just like in training, if your shiho nage has a flaw you can't just accept it and move on, you acknowledge the flaw and correct it.
You also have to have the wisdom to see all the good bits too, there's no point beating yourself up. Imagine if you went training and all sensei did was lay into you. Wouldn't be training long, would you?
In fact you shouldn't really get emotionally involved with your problems, there's no point, you're in the process of getting rid of them, why get emotionally attached? Just let them die.
Then you apply this thinking not only to yourself but to the rest of the world. You want something? Go train yourself up for it and go and get it. When I realised that I could do this I thought to myself "The world is a candy shop, and I have daddy's credit card."
It occurs to me writing this now that I have the shop keeper at spear point, therefore, I de facto own the shop.
Then when you have this training you know what to do, you know when and where you can resolutely push through and when and were you can push all you want and get no where. At this point you can still be slowed down, unexpected things will show up, things you have not trained for. But you can learn from that, modify your training and push forward. You become unstoppable, each trip, each fall only makes you better prepared in the long run.
Your mental weapons, your skills, unlike steel weapons, do not become blunt through use, they become ever sharper, ever more effective.
If you only have the resolve to keep trying and the wisdom to learn and adapt to circumstances victory is certain. Resolve is the easy bit too.
"I can't do this" is the single most stuipid thought ever to pass through the human mind. "I've tried, I can't do it" is the second most stupid thought. Try a different way. Try a different henka of the technique, try a different technique. Have you tried all the henka of all the techniques? No, so you haven't tried and failed, you've made a half arsed effort and wussed out. Are you sure you were trying correctly? A crap technique will not work even if attempted a million times.
The point is, how do you know you can't do it? How do you know you've given it a serious shot at trying. Well it's very difficult. So "I've tried, I can't do it" is a very bold statement. In that case, since in all honesty you haven't really tried, why would you give up?