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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.
My youngest daughter will soon be giving birth to my youngest grandson. I am practicing being in the now. In class this morning we were extending ki with unbendable arm from katate kosa tori so uke lost balance very easily.
Taking my mind out of the now to imagine snuggling with little Vinnie distracts me from this day. Vinnie will be here soon enough. In the meantime Shannon and I have been enjoying pedicures every two weeks to celebrate his preparation and her growing inability to reach her toes.
My mind can run to good and bad imaginings around Vinnie's birth…both take my balance easily. I need to stay in this moment on this day.
I practice my jo strikes on this dead tree when I walk in the mornings. My tree is helping me develop power. I can tell when I hit with my whole body and when I just use my arms. It feels definitely better when I use my whole body. When I hit with just my arms…the tree wins. ;o) My arms absorb the shock and my hands vibrate with pain. When I use my whole body I don't feel anything but connectedness. With a dead tree…how about that?
Have uke push as hard as they can on your shoulder…roll your shoulders forward slightly as you keep one point…relax into uke's space...turning and maintaining connection as uke loses her balance.
When skiing, keep focus on the center…one slips much less that way…relax and enjoy the glide.
The geese were unseen yet very much heard….I scanned the whole sky for them…it sounded like there was a least a thousand.
Why does the rolling of the shoulder change the relationship with uke? Why could I not see the geese? I know both are there because I can hear and feel the evidence. Sometimes it is best not to see clearly. The wonder slips in unfettered by thought and judgement.
In my training and my life I work hard at minding my own business. I am not always successful.
When I cross over on to another person's side of the street I become uncomfortable and agitated.
When I am uke my job is to follow logically and resist or rest if I am allowed to. When I am nage my job is to lead, blend and let. If when I am uke I think I know what nage should be doing I have ceased doing my job. If when nage I have judgment about my uke I have become distracted from my job because I have become judgmental. Being centered has nothing to do with being judgmental or thinking at all…being centered has nothing to do with the mind.
There are so many distractions from just being myself, from being centered, from being the best uke or nage I can be at the moment. I can be distracted by thinking that someone is right and someone is wrong, that uke is stiff or nage is not relaxed. I think sometimes that I can help another by saying something. I think that if I just say something right perhaps I can shift something in some way. But aren't I just trying to do the same thing I am hoping to correct?
Back to my own path. Again. Back with compassion for myself and maybe a little for others, too.
I got sliding snowshoes for Jesus' birthday. We have had about 3 inches of snow since October. Today I was out on my skis on about a half inch of granulated ice that was quite slippery. The sun was setting and a 3 quarter moon had already risen giving the world a soft glow. The air was cold but I quickly shed my hood as I scattered around the yard mostly keeping my balance. I have never taken lessons so my skiing is not too graceful yet. My Aikido training helps me stay centered and keep my weight off my feet. When I let go of positive mind….when I think about falling, sure enough there I go. Good that I know how to fall and good that I prayed and the universe helped me get up. Good that I can laugh at myself and be out in the woods on my new skis at 54 years young.