Back In The Saddle Again
I am a 58 year old who is now just retuning to the mat after 26 years. I was Uchi-deshi to Greg Brodsky and Masahilo Nakazono at Shree Gurudev Rudrananda Yoga Ashram from 1970 to 1974.
We studied several hours daily including Kotodama, Zazen, Aikido, weapons, iaido. Nakazono was writing a book at the time about Kotodama. We would sit Zazen and practice sounds that he learned from O Sensei, for about 40-45 min, then do Aikido for a full class. At the end of the class, Greg and Nakazono would throw me around for 10 to 15 minutes untill I could hardly get up. It was wonderful training. Nakazono emphasized the principle of Izanami and Izanagi, two aspects of the same life force coming from the Tanden. He talked about Misogi hari which he called "washing up" a kind of spiritual cleansing.
We even took a dip after practice in the stream nearby during the winter.
I studied martial arts a few years before Aikido including GoJu karate, and Judo.
I was given permission to teach Aikido up untill a 3rd year student, and conducted classes in Millbrook, ny in 1974 and in Mexico City, Mexico in 1977.
I continued training with Greg Brodsky in Northern California at UC Santa Cruz and with various other teachers at that time.
So all tolled, about 7 years of training. Then the pressures of Medical School and Family took me away from training.
Now that my kids are on their own, it is time to resume training.
It has been about 2 weeks since being back and it feels really good, my body, now out of shape and overweight is starting to become more supple again, and anticipate being able to take more vigorous Ukemi as the time progresses. Aikido of North Jersey has a nice dojo headed by Sensei Jerry Zimmerman, who is a peaceful soul and appreciates the fluidity of motion that I so deeply love.
I have read some threads, and agree with one practitioner that it is not really possible to capture the essence of Aikido without doing Zazen or equivalent (meditative) practice.
For me, Aikido is a way to help achieve the enlightened state of inner oneness with heaven and earth. To truly practice it is to transmute earthly conflict into divine love and peace. In other words to connect and bring heaven to the earth. Sensei said, fill yourself with ki.
I had the wonderful experience of conducting Zazen in Sing Sing Prison as a volunteer. We met twice a week for about 3 hours.
The inmates were mostly in for murder. I brought in a hatha yogi for 45 minutes to loosen up, and then sat for 40 min or so witha 10 minute silent walking to get blood back in the legs, then another 40 and so on for 3 sessions. They wouldn't let me teach Aikido, a martial art in the prison even if it is a peacefull one.
By the time we finished the sitting, we were flying. The cement walls didn't matter, nothing mattered. Great experience. Funny thing is i began to feel more protected in there than on the outside. I was safe, they would have stopped anything from happening to me. I later passed on the program to a Zen monk who later wrote a book about his experience with a death row inmate.
Anyway, God bless all you Aikidoists out there, maybe some day there will be a critical mass of us and Ushebas dream to make human beings one family will be realized.
All the Best,