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Okay so I am unsure of the purpose of this journal option. But I'm going to begin writing.
My connection to Aikido is far different than when I first started. At first I wanted to defend myself and do cool stuff. I felt like the techniques in Aikido fell into the 'cool stuff' category.
I guess I should explain my want to defend myself. As a youngster, I had to defend myself often. Sometimes it was other kids, but most often it was my brother. He towered over me and bloodied my nose on many occasions. I also lived in not so great places where watching your back was imparative.
This kind of exposure to violence manifested itself in how I moved, and how I thought. I stiffened to touch and prefered rough-housing to dance. I would always place myself in defensible space, and assess anyone who approached me. 'How could I defend myself, how could I escape?' I still do this today out of habit, but much less so.
I excelled in Karate, I just took to it very quickly. I think it was because I was so tuned to confrontation and defense. I got my belts much faster than those who had signed up around the same time. I never started fights, but I must admit I escalated them greatly. It felt safe for me to establish a reputation of being a good fighter.
After graduating highschool and going on to college, I was exposed to a wider variety of people. I didn't feel quite as unsafe, but I wouldn't let my guard down, no way.
Once I finally decided to get back into a martial art, I took the step toward Aikido and joined a dojo.
I found myself overwhelmed with really impressive practicioners, and very mellow people. I was taken aback at how engaging they were. Everyone approached and introduced themselves, welcoming me to their dojo. I wanted to blend into the background, but no way, it wasn't going to happen. This place was very different to me.
So I started to train and brought my stiff body and confrontational personality in and felt like a big-footed clumsy puppy amongst fast and dynamic cheetahs, acrobatic jaguars, grounded and subtle lynxs.
I so wanted to step inside reach when I was supposed to step outside the uke's reach. I wanted to plant myself when I was supposed to move. I wanted to use my palms and elbows when my 'opponent' was open. It took a little while before the unconscious understanding that that person in front of me was a 'partner' even though I knew they weren't really a threat.
My norms started to change, my attitude started to change, my world started to change. Still I thought of myself as more warrior than monk.