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While in Japan, I learned a lot about the philosophy of Aikido. I learned some of the meanings behind the techniques, for example, Ikkyo. Ikkyo translate into first principle, but what does that mean?
The first principle, or foundation, to learning aikido is physical. That means that you need to exercise, you need to watch what you eat and drink, you need to take care of your body. As we age, we grow in strength, as long as we're sticking to a good routine and good habits!
I've been doing martial arts since I was 5 years old, on and off until I was 20, when I really dived in head first and started training every day. I've been to countless schools and studied under many different styles and instructors. Watch my YouTube vlog on the three things you need to know in order to find the right school / instructor:
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
This particular passage of the bible has always resonated with me, especially in my training of Aikido; and this is what makes Aikido so special.
When we attack each other, we attack so that our partner can become better. It's a selfless thing to do.
I'm not attacking you to prove I'm better. I'm not attacking you to "win" the fight. I'm not attacking you to show off.
And please make a special note to this one:
I'm not attacking you to make you look good, either.
I'm giving you a sincere attack, and really trying to hit you, so that you can learn and become better. If I've hit you, you've failed, and guess what, you get to try again. I'll do the exact same attack and give you another chance to learn the technique. If you don't get it after four tries, then it's my turn. And I really what to improve. I want my Aikido to really work, so please attack me, don't be afraid, I won't hurt you, I want to learn how to use your energy to defend myself and at the same time protect you from injury.
I remember once, an Aikido instructor, instructed me to "Take Ukemi" or I would get hurt. After 20 years of Aikido, I've realized, that although he said he was teaching Aikido, it was really a form of Jujutsu, where if you don't submit, you will get injured.
Did you know that O'Sensei said somewhere along the lines that you need to treat your attacker like a baby, and not hurt him...
Being honest is one of the hardest things to do, it seems. It's so simple, just tell the truth, but how many times do we find ourselves not telling the truth? Do we even know what the truth is? This can get pretty deep....
Your friend doesn't look very good with her new hair cut, but instead of telling her the truth, you tell her it looks good...and you justify it with, it's all a matter of perspective.
Your boss asks you if you called that client, you haven't, but you tell him you have, you excuse yourself and call him right away. You justify it with, I'm about to do it....
Your daughter asks you to buy her a pair of jeans, and you tell her you don't have any money (but you do, you just don't want to spend your last $100.00 on her pair of jeans....)
In a wonderful book that I like to read every once in a while is says: "He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity." Proverbs 2:7
I've been thinking about that pretty hard, and really paying attention to when I am honest and catching myself when I am not.
On the mat, it's much easier to catch myself, because honesty is much easier to see. Am I honestly putting effort, strength, power into my attack? Am I aiming at my target? Am I just throwing myself, afraid that I may get injured? What's driving me?
I think honesty must come from the attacker, uke, in order for the nage to truly progress and learn Aikido. Doesn't that sound like common sense
OK, so I was trying to work out why a technique didn't work very well with me when someone was attacking. And, I just couldn't figure it out, so naturally, I blamed my attacker. He's not attacking me correctly, so it's not working.
Can you believe that! I actually started blaming my attacker, on why I couldn't get the technique.
Well, isn't that just a natural why to react to situations. I mean, think about it, don't we do that all the time. How hard would it be if we were always blaming ourselves. Don't you think it'd be a bit depressing?
It's not my fault I'm poor. It's not my fault I can't find a job. It's not my fault I'm getting a divorce. It's not my fault I split the coffee all over me and burned myself.....and on and on it goes. Isn't that why we get married, so that we can blame our partner for everything!
I've seen how instructors manipulate their students into making them look like they've actually "got" the technique. It's so disappointing, and at times, physically painful.
If iron sharpens iron, then it's all of us together that need to work on this. We accept where we are, and are held accountable for it.
So, I was demonstrating a technique the other day, and my uke, in front of the whole class, made sure that everyone knew that I got the technique wrong.....what in the world did I do.......I thanked him and said out loud, "well, that surely didn't work, I need to try it a different way."
"There is nothing more uncommon than common sense." - FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
In Japan, I got to experience Aikido in a way that very, very few people around the world get to. I am so thankful for that, but the cost was very, very high.
I was a bit of a fanatic back then, I'd make the morning practice, and then usually the evening practice and I wasn't even an uchi deshi.
I enjoyed the mornings because Kisshomaru Ueshiba would usually teach. I met the most amazing people. It was funny because you'd enter the dojo, and the "Old Timers" with the most experience would always line up at the far left, then you had your hot shot, big ego guys on your far right, right next to the entrance. The guys on the left were always way too intense for me, and the guys on the right...well, I just wasn't there to compete. I'd tend to stay in the middle.
But then one night, one of my Aikido friends, he actually saved my life once (for real), introduced me to a man that always sat way, way on the left, and that changed my life.
I really didn't believe in Aikido until he threw me (you know Aikido would never work in an MMA match. ) After training with him for over 10 years (until we parted ways), again, I feel like I got to experience Aikido in a way very, very few people get to, and again the cost was very high.
I guess being independently wealthy has it's benefits...
Anyway, to get back to my point in all of this, never settle for less than the best no matter the cost, a
I'd like to start this blog off apologizing in advance. My intention is not to offend anyone or point the finger at anyone, just something I've been focusing on for a while now.
Aikido is a martial art and as one, one of the foundation of it is physical. That means you need to be in shape. I see way to many aikido sensei's that are over weight, that smoke or drink...they get up in front of the class and set the example, and it's not a good one!
On one occasion, I went to a seminar, and the first thing the instructor did after class was to light up a cigarette and invite everyone to drink. I watched an aikido demonstration, on another occasion, the the instructor was just way over weight!
Can you do 100 pushups or a 100 pull ups, jog 3 miles comfortably? Being in shape is a very important factor in our health and in our ability to perform the techniques of Aikido effectively.
If you're not in shape, Aikido is a wonderful tool to get into shape, as long as you're not the teacher...because most of the time they're just walking around telling everyone else what to do...
Consider most importantly your diet. What you eat is very important for overall health. Alcohol consumption, caffeine, sugary foods, these are not your friend.
Please comment below, What are you doing to become healthier, stronger and better at Aikido?