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The other day I was in class. At the beginning, we do warm up exercises along with stretches. Well, I was deep in thought while stretching my hamstrings when I looked at my feet that were oh so close to my face. "UCK!" I thought to myself. "I have such ugly aikido feet!" My feet are dry from sliding on the mat (I was taking my second class of the evening), my left pinky toenail is still purple red from stubbing it on the ladder outside the dojo one night in the dark (3 months ago!), my feet are not the soft lovely feet I once had (despite my desperate efforts to keep them moisturized). At this point, sensei has us lay on our backs and raise our legs up into the air in an attempt to touch the mat with our feet behind our head. My feet touch the mat and I continue to think about my ugly aikido feet.
"Ugly aikido feet can't be that bad of a thing.... I mean a lot of work has been put into the current condition of my feet. They have endured almost a year of training that includes approximately 225 hours of aikido and somewhere around 120 hours of iaido and tai chi. That is a lot of time for my feet to be sliding around the rough mats." My thoughts are briefly interrupted as we stand up and start stretching our hands. "I guess like my body, my feet have slowly evolved. They are tougher then they once were, but are still fairly soft and gentle to the touch. They have marks from mat burn that have yet to fade on the tops of my feet that are constant reminders of my awkward and clumsy stage where I could not do shikko to save my life."
As I begin to roll my head in circles, I just can't get my ugly aikido feet out of my mind. That is when I came to a realization. "My ugly aikido feet aren't so ugly after all. They have been shaped and molded through lots of hard work and effort. I'm sure my feet will go through many more transformations as I become even less clumsy and gain more fluidity. These feet of mine got me to the point I am today. They have carried me through not only my aikido journey, but my life's journey as well. My feet are not ugly; they are a thing of unique beauty."
Sensei's clapping drug me out of my thoughts as we all ran to the back of the class eager to watch the first technique that was to be demonstrated to us. I couldn't help but smile to myself as I wondered where else my feet would carry me. Only time will tell.