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A blog written from the point of view of a martial arts beginner, which I am. You can find the full blog at http://yghmartialarts.blogspot.com. Here on AikiWeb, I'll post only those entries which are relevant to aikido.
The businessman turns out to have a lot of zanshin. Translating this concept into English is like translating "fuckface" into [Japanese], but it might translate into "emotional intensity" in football lingo.
"Emotional intensity" doesn't cover half of it, of course. It is the kind of coarse and disappointing translation that makes the dismembered bodies of samurai warriors spin in their graves. The word "zanshin" is loaded down with a lot of other folderdol you have to be [Japanese] to understand.
- Neil Stephenson, Snow Crash
Usually, when my sensei at the dojo brings up zanshin, she is reminding me to maintain my stance at the completion of the technique. I am slowly learning, though, that there is much more to zanshin. And the more I learn, the more apparent it becomes that I don't have it.
Zanshin seems to be related to the Buddhist principle of mindfulness. It means being aware and ready before, during, and after a technique. It means devoting all one's attention and energy to every detail of what one is doing. It means total, focused commitment to every motion.
I have a hard time scrubbing a dirty plate with zanshin, let alone performing an aikido technique.
There is a new yudansha at the dojo. His style is very different from ours, which often makes him confusing to work with. But sweet Lord, has this guy got zanshin. Every movement of his arm is a deliberate cut with an imaginary sword. There is a purpose for his every step. At the end of every technique, his hands are
A little over a year into my journey as a martial artist, my conundrum remains the same: aikido and taekwondo competing for my time, my energy, and my attention. Aikido seems to be winning, but taekwondo isn't going away.
It was starting my job at the Academy, a school where all the students learn taekwondo as physical education, that piqued my interest in the martial arts to begin with. Taekwondo's beautiful poomse (forms), the acrobatic kicks, the statuesque stances, the rush of sparring with a friend or just punching and kicking pads or a bag. It's exciting, it's a great workout, and it makes me feel like the star of a martial arts movie.
Taekwondo does occasionally come up short in the area of intellectual and spiritual stimulation, though, and there are times in my training when I feel like 28 years old is too late to start conditioning my body to perform head-high kicks when I've never been able to touch my toes before.
When I took my martial arts search outside of work, I found aikido. Compared to the hard, simple punches and kicks of taekwondo, it's very gentle and yet very demanding. Rather than simply striking or kicking my opponent, aikido expects me to harmonize with his movements and take control of him. Sometimes that's no easy task.
I find peace in aikido's traditional ettiquette and ritual, and I find completeness in the fact that its philosophy and ethics are readily apparent in every technique. Sometimes it isn't much of a workout, though, and t