The Discipline of Loving Protection
Bow in, in the discipline of loving protection.I hear that Aikido is Budo and was an expression of loving protection. This makes sense to me. Budo is the way of war. Warriors fight to protect the people they love not because they hate the enemy they fight. This is why there will always be a great distinction (and distrust) between the politicians who declare wars and the warriors who fight them (they come from two different sets of intentions, actions, and ethics).
I wasn't raised to be a warrior. As a child I was a typical fear-based insecure mess who had my fair share of physical, emotional, and educational challenges. I was raised traditionally as a blue-collar lower-middle working-class male. I was well versed in the power and control tactics of the white knight, the rescuer, the protector, the fixer, and the healer. Implied in that was the service to my country as a soldier. I learned and did my job well. I was the type of man everyone wanted around if things hit the proverbial fan, but few people wanted me around because I made them uncomfortable in times of peace. It comes with the job and like I said, I was good at it. While doing my duty as a good-guy, I often ended up as the bad-guy (even to the people I was helping or standing watch over). Deep down I know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
Inside the Dojo, I look around and wonder who am I protecting and who am I protecting them from? I realize that I am protecting you from me. While you are practicing your physical technique, I am practicing emotional and mental awareness, empathy, and compassion. As a psychotherapist I learned that the safety and sanctity of the session was for the client to work out their issues, not for me to work out mine. I training, I am often the Sempai, the senior student (and yes, I proudly do have an AARP card). I must lead by example. I must not only lead with my humanness, but protect you from it. Deep down I know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
I am protecting you from my immaturity and insecurity. Despite our age, most of us are still somewhat adolescent. I mean, come on, we dress up in pajamas complete with black pleated a-line pantaloons and act like we are feudal Japanese. Perhaps part of my immaturity and insecurity is that I wish I was still young, but perhaps not because I was pretty stupid and life was pretty hard when I was young. It is nice to know that things can (and do/did) get better. Perhaps it is because I still get my feelings hurt, I will not let them show directly, so I find an indirect expression for my pain. Deep down I know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
I am protecting you from my fear-based need for power and control. Everyone knows that I am "Mr. Irimi" (actually its Dr. Irimi, but I let it slide). Using my power to be in control and in charge is what I do. Unfortunately, all too often, I use my power to control you, instead of controlling myself. If I really wanted to be in control, I would look inward, find out how I created the need to be in control (of everything), and stop doing that. The contradictory paradox of the more I express my need for power and control, the more powerless and out-of-control I become. Deep down I know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
I am protecting you from my nice-guy attempts to be so helpful that you do not correctly learn the technique. I want you to feel good about yourself and your training. That way you come back and train again. If you really knew how hard it is and how long it takes to get good at this thing called Aikido, you'd leave. I would have if only I had known. So to be helpful I may cooperate too much and give you a false sense of accomplishment in the Dojo, which translates into a false sense of safety outside the Dojo. I am not being truly helpful by being a nice guy and not making you learn the technique correctly from the beginning. When I give you the technique I am not being a nice-guy. When I don't give you the technique I am not being a bad guy. It is confusing. Life is filled with these paradoxes and contradictions (or at least my life is). Deep down I know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
I will protect you from my resistance and my competitiveness. I want to win. I don't like to lose. I fight it with everything I have. Yet in our society, for me to win implies you must lose. It's a win-lose type of process that always ends with us both losing. So how can we both win? How can I turn my resistance to losing or looking bad (I guess my intention is to demand your respect) into paying more attention to you (it is not all about me) and earning your respect? How can I turn my competitiveness in which we both lose into cooperation in which we both win? Actually, I know how. Deep down I know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
Besides protecting you from me, I have to protect me from me (a harder task). In return, please bow in and practice the discipline of loving protection too. I do not always want to have to protect myself from you too. Deep down, we all know the right thing to do. This is the discipline of loving protection.
Bow in, in the discipline of loving protection.Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.
Re: The Discipline of Loving Protection
I don't care what discipline or school of Aikido you are in, these are wise words for any instructor. Well said, sensei!
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