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I'm increasingly struck by how much people's personalities are extended onto the mat. It's the quiet ones that in the end impress me the most as they go about their aikido with an ease that belies their skill.
I'm also struck by the people who don't bother to blend or fit in, or who simply lack the subtlety to tell that it is the sheer effortlessness of the movement that really marks skill. It's the correlation between their real life personalities and their ability or inability on the mat that I find the most striking.
I had always separated mental skill from physical skill ie some people may not be good at things physically and so may be quite different off the mat. One could for instance be an adroit lawyer or skilled mathematician but be physically clumsy and so I had initially assumed the two would be separate. But it is to my surprise that while physical talent is separate, the personalities often extend. The people who are subtle off the mat in other fields and areas of their lives "get" the whole subtlety of aikido considerably faster than those who barge their way through life and their practice of the art therefore differs in essence and this is reflected consequently in their ability to practice the physical form.
With people who have natural physical talent, this point is reached much sooner, but it is still evident in people who have a lower level of natural skill though that takes slightly longer to emerge. Either that or i notice it only later .
People can change obviously but it is a striking thing to me how much of our personality remains the same and is reflected so much in our physical ability to practice.