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Aikido is going back to what we knew when we were born before social niceties bred it out of us. When children don't want to be around Grandpa or don't want to kissed by Auntie Lou that should be respected. It could be that Auntie smells bad or it could be that she is really mean and untrustworthy. Or it could be that the child just doesn't want to be hugged by that person on that day.
This Christmas I got to see Aikido at its finest being practiced by my grandson, Tony, age 5, who has been on our mat a bit only to twirl and run and laugh.
First, let me tell that Tony is not shy. When he was 3 he would walk up to anyone and say, "Hi, friend." And he is sometimes not friendly. He has hit other kids when bothered too much and also knows how to use his words to take care of himself.
Tony and family were getting ready to exit after our Christmas gathering. He was giving hugs and kisses to everyone. He came up to my daughter Emily's boyfriend Jay who he does not know every well. Tony was going in for the hug and then realized he was not comfortable with that. You could see the momentary hesitation on his face and in his body language. So Tony gives a huge smile and enters towards Jay and says, "High five." They slapped out and all was well. It was so graceful; Aikido in action with not one bit of training.
Tony's action was totally cool with everyone. Nobody said, "Oh Tony, give Jay a big hug." Tony's response was accepted as normal. What a long way my family has com
Will it ever go away? 25 years of training….20 years since he died. A noise, a smell, a word said wrong, a door slammed… can still set the response off. I can go from being perfectly comfortable to crazy adrenaline kicked in, hyper-sensitive, breathing getting choked out of me fear. I can relax through it mostly, nowadays, yet I can't stop it.
Many a night I stare out the window to catch a glimpse of I don't know what… straining my ears to hear another sound like the one I thought I just heard. I never believe myself…doubt riddles the fear adding shame to the adrenaline.
Now I can think and breath…I can check in with Ron about what is real this day. Training does help…as does prayer and compassion for the process of outgrowing how my father showed his love.
When uke and nage speak different dialects of the same language can communication and deep listening still be accomplished?
This summer we have had a few visitors and a couple of new students. We had a young man who is a brown belt in Karate come to a few classes. He was so busy in his head I don't think he heard or saw anything new. He kept talking and explaining and apologizing. We both are fluent in English yet little communication has occurred. I heard him yet he can't hear me. He hasn't been back.
Another youngish man has been training regularly since the beginning of the summer. He is very quiet and good humored. He had trained for a few months in an aiki jujitsu style, so he knows how to fall and is very open to rolling. His native language is Spanish so our communication is technique and ukemi and body movements with a little language. I feel like I can hear him and he hears me through aikido.
We had a visitor from Japan from very traditional dojo who was in his 50's yet appeared much younger, he was so fit and trim. We had a great time training with him. He came to 3 classes and was very teachable and open. We were able to communicate with him mostly through aikido since we speak no Japanese. His English was wonderful but I could understand his Aikido better.
Last week we had another visitor from Eastern Massachusetts. She is from an Aikikai dojo. I look forward to seeing how communication occurs between us.
On another note, I just realized that comm
I greet the world with open hands on this day, ready to receive. A point that we touched on during the seminar was not using the fingers tips to throw. Not grasping or grabbing just letting and guiding.
Ron suggested to me the other day when I was griping about my ukes that I needed to go more inside. I have been thoughtful about that for many days. At the seminar we did a ki test where I could feel my partner directing me without moving because she was moving my center by moving her center. Thanks, Dora, now I understand a little better what Ron was talking about. I see I have a lot to work on. Yay! It has nothing to do with my ukes. I knew that in my heart yet without the chat with Ron I wouldn't have known what to do next.
Growth spurts can be hard. I throw too hard; get impatient with people, think I need to drive to Texas….and any other distractions could fit in that blank. Really, what I need is an honest chat with a good friend or in this case, husband and then implement his suggestions into my practice. This is all part of what makes Aikido so interesting. Of course, hindsight is much nicer than the unrest I was feeling a couple of weeks ago. Yet here is some compassion I hold for myself. I kept training and taking care of my uke. No matter what. The inner stuff is uncomfortable but my process has come to point where it is not noticeable to others. This is progress. I
Our summer seminar's theme is "Let's Wrap the World in Peace. For me the inspiration has come from my newest grandson Vinnie. When I hold him, he looks up at me and tells me the secrets of the universe. I feel at one with what is. I feel at peace.
It seems to me that peace is all around us... accessible at anytime if we but look and feel and let.
The picture of Vinnie's foot inspired me. He has fresh feet that have taken no steps, kissable feet, soft, free from the calluses of life. I wish my little grand boy a splendid journey on his sturdy little feet, filled with the ups and downs of life as my feet have traveled.
My feet have never failed me; through a childhood filled with backyard games of hide and go seek, kick the can, tag, baseball, kickball etc, through high school and college basketball, and various other sports not to mention years of waitressing.
On my feet I tended babies, played with tweens, and chased my teens. Now I get to repeat it all over again albeit much slower, with my grand boys.
Aikido has been a special project for my feet. I have developed tough soles from years of training. My big toes got broken, little toes dislocated, my big toe nail torn off to many times. All of the above can be trained through when properly taped.
I hope little Vinnie's feet serve him half as well as my fine, beautifully manicured feet have served me.
(Pink toes belong to Shannon, Vinnie's Mom...Red toes belong to me Vinnie's Mimi.)
I was at a meeting in a church basement the other day. There was a low table and several rows of flimsy folding chairs. The small narrow room is usually used for the church's preschool classes.
I was standing behind the low table looking at the front of the room…there were doors on either side of me and the main door was at the other end directly in front of me with the length of the room between me and it. Most of the chairs were between me and the door. There are cabinets and shelves along the walls.
The furniture provided a path way that would limit any physical attack to a very small area. If someone tried to hit or grab me they would be limited in their movements by the smallness and cramped conditions of the space. I would be less limited because of my awareness and my willingness to use my environment to my advantage.
In my last 2 classes I set up conditions similar to the church basement room (as best I could in the dojo). Nage started down the pathway and uke attacked from the end of the narrow corridor we made. Some nages forgot all the Aikido they have and started to struggle and just use their hands and muscle strength. Other nages relaxed and explored the situation, using uke's energy and the environment to nage's advantage. As you could guess the relaxed nages were much more effective.
We often set up situations in class that reframe The ABC's of
Vinnie is perfectly centered, relaxed and content...I want to be like him....like I was once. It will be an interesting process watching Vinnie unlearn his naturalness...maybe he will be the grand boy that wants to study Aikido!
I found Rik Ellis' ground work using Aikido to be really inspirational. The last two classes we have worked on finding nikkyo from the ground after a kata tori kokyu nage. We are practicing in a really slow fashion. I am asking nage turned uke to leave their hands in one place so uke turned nage can orient themselves and find the nikkyo from whatever angle we can find. As we continue our practice we can add more resistance and less co-operation.
I am finding moving on the ground to be a lot of fun. I especially like the opportunities for legs and feet. Last week I was thinking about starting Tae Kwon do or Muay Thai but I think this was really what I was looking for. Thanks universe, for providing the challenges I need in my own back yard.