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I had intended on writing a little about our Aiki Taisai sooner and in more depth, but I've had a lot on my plate and my mind has been a little too scattered. Our family friend who has been fighting brain cancer passed away a couple days after the Boston Marathon bombings. I thought I was prepared for her passing since we've been dealing with her struggle for some time now, but I broke down uncontrolably at her wake and had to leave the room. I will always remember the way her singing voice filled the room and gave me shivers; it was so soulful and clear every time I heard it.
I had a number of things I was going to remember and focus on to write about, but enough time has gone by that they're already not as vivid as they were. The images and sounds which still flash through my mind from training: branch tips tickling the sky as I shout invocations during misogi and then ashes floating in the air, settling downward toward the rippling Pilchuck river; people smiling and catching up as they see each other for the first time in a while; kiais filling the air and mixing with the satisfying thwack of wood on wood; and lots of laughter.
This taisai was different for me in one key way. This time I've actually been training somewhat regularly so I felt the distinct responsibility that I was supposed to know what I was doing and to teach the basic form of our practice to our guests who might not be as familiar. By the standards I would like to employ, I did terribly. Whether my cuts were 6 inches off, or I had to double check to make sure I was doing the right thing, or any number of other problems, I felt my lack of understanding and general wherewithal acutely. On the other hand, I had a lot of fun. As long as I remembered that there were plenty of other people who knew plenty, I didn't feel so bad and I was able to just enjoy the process of learning what we were working on with new people.
All in all I made it to Friday and the first part of Saturday before I had to leave early to make it to the wake in time. For me it was a tiring-but-rewarding time that highlighted a lot of things for me to work on and I feel a renewed sense of drive in my life as a result. Between my training for the marathon this summer, training in Aikido, and the other facets of my life right now, I'm grateful for what I have and anxious to make it grow and share it with the world around me.
Take care, all,