When I was still in high school I spent a summer playing handball on Saturday mornings with my cousin. We would go down to a local park, slip on our gloves and bat that little black ball around for a couple of hours. Got so's we thought we were getting pretty good at the game; lots of sweat, huffin', puffin' and whatnot.
One Saturday as we were getting set to play a little old man shambled onto our court and asked if he could join us. Now it may be that I was seeing him through the eyes of youth, but I swear, that guy looked to be at least a hundred and seventy. We asked him to join us and inquired as to who he'd like to play first. As he was taking his gloves, which, if possible, looked older than he did, out of his pocket he looked up from under bushy eyebrows and matter-of-factly informed us that he would play us both at the same time. Amused, sure that we'd be back to playing each other momentarily, I tossed him the ball and bade him serve it up.
Two hours later we were dripping wet, sucking wind and thoroughly beaten. The old dude had barely broken a sweat when we finally threw in the towel. He chuckled, put his gloves back in his pocket, thanked us for the game and, back in his shambling gait, left.
Looking back I can see now that he played with mind/body coordination any Aikidoka would be proud of. He moved with economic grace and always arrived where the ball showed up using the least amount of movement. His shots were never more than an inch or two off the ground and almost impossible to return. Definitely minimum effort for maximum effect. As time wore on he grew, if anything, more relaxed and played with a joy that was not dependent on how he was performing.
In short, he embodied the four principles: Keep One Point, Progressive Relaxation, Correct Posture and Positive Mind. Aikido in daily life? It's all around me, all I have to do is open my eyes and look. And my Aikido doesn't have to end when class is over. I take what I have learned and practice each day to move through life with the same coordination of mind and body that I display on the mat. Life's just another opportunity to train.
(Original blog post may be found here