Breathe in, intent
Breathe out, intensity
I am often asked why I continue to train. I simply smile and say I train to train. I have no wish to use my skills. I have no wish to run my own school or teach my skills. The end result is not the goal. The process itself is the goal. The training is a place to lose myself and to find myself.
Keiko is training. Usually this is our regular training, our everyday training. I usually see this as physical training. While Aikido is often defined as the unification of body and mind, I see most people bring only their bodies to the dojo, to the mats for training. I have even heard people refer to this as Mushin (no mind) or Shoshin (beginner's mind) to rationalize and justify not paying attention.
Shugyo is extreme Keiko. Therefore, for many people who only train physically this means training to the point physical exhaustion. There is an expression that suggests after you have given all you have, show me what you have. At this point of physical exhaustion and mental inattention, we do not find natural movement or enlightenment; we find sloppy technique and injuries.
Training should always be mindful, training with a relaxed body and a calm mind, training with intent and intensity.
Intent: directed with attention, concentration on an end purpose
Intensity: existing in an extreme form or degree: determination; concentration; purpose
Intent and intensity is not in-tension or in-attentive, it is always aware and always mindful.
Shugyo is a martial discipline as self-discipline, self-examination, self-discovery, and continual self-correction towards excellence in everything we do, not just Aikido.
Shugyo is forging like the heating, beating, tempering, and polishing of a fine sword blade. The heat is our own sweat. The beating is the wear and tear we endure. The tempering is the cooling down of our emotions. Polishing is the everyday training and discipline.
Shugyo is how we forge warriors. Warriors are those who live and fight for the greater good, not their own glory. They say that behind every warrior's eyes are tears because they fight for the people they love not against the enemy they hate. Perhaps that is what O'Sensei was attempting to forge in us through Aikido, the loving protection and response to confusion, chaos, and conflict.
Shugyo is the process, it is not the content. It is what we make of it. Like Ki, it is energy directed by our intent. The more focused our intent, the more extreme our intensity and energy.
Shugyo is etiquette, respect, humility training. Every day we bow as we enter and leave the dojo, as we enter and leave the mat, and we begin and end our practice with each other.
Shugyo is physical training. Every day we physically train our bodies to push past its old learned limitations. We entrust our bodies to each us other's care and they entrust us with their. It is easy to hurt and get hurt. We sweat and at times we bleed. We push past pain and exhaustion. We find a new level of conditioning and skill. We focus our intent and intensity on our structural alignment, our posture and positioning, our connection, and our breathing.
Shugyo is mental and emotional training. Every day we focus our minds on the training, on whatever we are doing at the moment. We stay mindful of the task and the lesson. We see through and transform the thoughts that create our negative emotions and replace them with thoughts that keep us positive.
Shugyo is situational awareness and social training. Every day we train with each other. We are mindful we are not alone and the inter-connectedness and inter-dependency of all things become apparent and obvious. We let go of our existential angst of believing we are all alone, and accept, and appreciate our traveling companions who have always been there.
Shugyo is spiritual training. Every day in a transpersonal transformational sense, we beyond the shallow personal self and see that there is something greater than ourselves and that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, however we may define that.
Shugyo is training in pursuit of truth. Every day we see through our personal subjective truths to find a more collective truth that is for the mutual best interest of every one.
Shugyo is making a decision, have a direction, and practicing daily discipline.
Shugyo is standing under a cold waterfall, walking down the street, bowing onto the mat, and kissing our spouses and children goodnight.
Like cleaning the dust from a mirror so it can reflect accurately, Shugyo is a never ending ongoing process. Shugyo is living and training mindfully everyday with intent and intensity.
If Shugyo means extreme training, then let us train and live with extremely calm minds focused on our intention, with extremely relaxed bodies expressing and asserting our intensity to learn and better ourselves, and let us extremely enjoy the process and each other.
Breathe in, intent
Breathe out, intensity
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.