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The problem is me. This is a strain of thought that I've been mulling over for a while. So often in Aikido I see people doing things wrong not because they haven't learned the right way but because they don't like the right way; it doesn't mesh with their personality.
One guy I see occasionally on courses and such can't just make yokomen uchi or shomen uchi with a weapon. He has to be unusally expressive in his movements, presumably he thinks this makes him look cool or something but the guy is so off balance that he's in danger of falling over. This is true of all his Aikido from what I've seen.
There is too much him in the form and it is creating a blockage in his Aikido. His cup is too full of how he thinks it should be. So often in Aikido we make things a vehicle for our personality rather than a vehicle for traveling the path.
And this is where I am. There is a way the world works and I am doing things to suit my personality rather than in harmony with the world and I am stuck. I'm trying to drive a dog sled down a railway track albeit with some success; I'm swinging away like mad and I am off balance.
In Aikido I impose myself on the kata rather than listening to what the kata has to say. I feel I impose myself on life rather than listening to it. There is a path to everything. Want to be a lawyer? There is a path. Want to be a Doctor? There is a path there is a form to follow. There is the form of a student, the form of a doctor, etc.
I find that everything in my life spirals and returns to things. At the risk of sounding like a samurai wannabe, my life is spiraling back to Bushido.
I know all the arguments surrounding Bushido; I won't get in those except to say that I've read everything in English on the subject that I can get my paws on. I am aware of them.
O-Sensei said :"Even though our path is completely different from the warrior arts of the past, it is not necessary to totally abandon the old ways, absorb venerable traditions into this new art by clothing them with fresh garments, and build on the classic styles to create better forms."
I suppose I was 13 or 14 when I started getting into Bushido, or reading about it should I say. Seems like a billion years ago and a totally different world.
For various reasons I certainly felt like I was living in death; there was something about Bushido shoshinbu and hagakure, the immediacy that mirrored my psychology. The bushi knew they were probably going to get killed soon, how they lived was important how they faced death was important. It translated into my life at the time. When you know you're going to get the shit kicked out of you, how you face getting the shit kicked out of you becomes important and the bits in between you learn to make the most of.
It was the only place that said that a conflict you're inevitably going to loose still has value, it could even be beautiful. You could actually win on a certain level despite physically loosing.
I think it was Ledyard Sensei who said that many people drop out around shodan because they realise that to continue means changing and that is too scary too them.
I think I'm right there at the moment. There are bits of me that need to die. I feel, have felt for a while, that I'm like a butterfly in it's cocoon just waiting to spring out. It's not that changing scares me so much, I need and want to do it, but I need a push.
It's like I'm waiting for something. I feel that quote from O-Sensei about how if we're not always growing we're as good as dead, I feel it heavily on my mind.
I can't go on as I am, that's for sure. I'll end up dead. The old me is dead, or dying, it just needs finishing off.
We've moved to this new dojo, well we've been there a couple of months. One of the plus sides to this new place is like the original dojo it has mirrors so one can admire how awesomely one can screw up and when Sensei yells "What was that?" you actually see how bad it was.
I hardly recognise myself. There's this rather muscular guy looking back at me all the time and he moves around with confidence, sits with confidence and his posture is bloody good.
It's odd being where I am. I remember back when I first started martial arts there were these guys, the seniors, and they knew everything and they were good at everything and they seemed like amazing people. I remember saying to myself "I wish I could be more like such and such." They seemed to have limitless knowledge about the art and they were most definately insiders, they weren't just members of the dojo, they were the dojo.
Now when we're lined up at the end I see one of these people, these seniors and it's me. I find that people want my advice on things. It's so odd when someone twice your age with kids and a ton more life experience wants to know what to do on a grading or how something should be done.
I would naturally make some throw away comment, but these days I find I can't do that, I have to be responsible about how and what I say because they're as much looking for encouragement and to see my attitude to things as they are looking for a technical answer.