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Yes, sometimes so much so that I want to cut and run. But I stay because that is that I was taught to do and that is what I teach others to do. Our dojo is a safe place to meet your self. Sometimes I don't like what I find. I can stay anyway. The next uke attacks and I throw. When it is my turn to attack, I do and I receive the throw. My mind gets quieted through the practice. My attention to others relieves me of my self-centered fears and self-doubt. Regard for others always helps me come back to what is important. For me what is important is the safety of the space, the constancy of training and the peace that comes from mind-full attention.
Question: Why does it matter where I place my hands?
Answer: Because the body is like a wild pony. It has to be trained to your bidding. If we let our hands just land willy-nilly all the time we do not develop good habits. We ask our body to do something a certain why and then work to develop that way by training. Aikido affords us the opportunity to accept feedback without judgment and to work that feedback into our movement to create correct feeling and impeccable technique.
Another reason it matters where we place our hands is because we want to be mindful every moment in class and out of class. By paying attention to details we set the intention for our hands to go a certain way and then we follow with the movement to come as close to that intention as we can. This practice helps us develop mind body co-ordination and gives us a reference for how we can be at all times.
We can notice distractions like problems or compliments and then come back to our centers and be paying attention to all the details of our daily life. Nothing really feels as good as a technique done just right so we blend with our uke and they fall in complete coordination to nage's direction. Life feels better when we are in the flow. Aikido gives us an example of that flow. We let go and move with what is in a precise and practiced matter. Our effortlessness comes from
Answer: Just the act of stepping out on the mat with an open mind begins the process.
For example: Nage says: "When uke grabs me like that I can't move." Sensei then shows us how to move when we are grabbed like that. We move what we can. Ourselves. We don't move what we can't…someone else. Our moving changes the relationship between us. Harmony is re-established through the process. The process creates a feeling in both uke and nage of peacefulness that they can pass along to others.
Out in the real life dojo the same thing can happen. Me: "So and so makes me feel (insert a feeling word here such as angry, frustrated, happy…)". Then I get to look at the lie that I just thought. So and so can't make me feel anything. My feelings come from my own judgments and thoughts and desires: things I can change. So if conversations or experiences with so and so make me feel (again insert your feeling word of choice) I can choose how I want to respond.
Aikido gives us the tools to look at what we can change, ourselves. Aikido offers us the opportunity to take responsibility for every word we say and every action we make. Aikido is the truth. Our training takes away our ability to deceive ourselves and others. Aikido strips us down to the bare essentials of you and of me and what we can change. I can change me and you can change you. Once we experience that truth we will always be in question. Hang on for the ride.