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Old 04-30-2007, 06:57 AM   #1
Mary Eastland
 
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How open is your heart?

I have found that my practice of Aikido has opened my heart...the strength I have developed has allowed me to experience people in a compassionate way that I could not do before because of the caution I had to exercise and the fear I always felt.

As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings.

How has it been for you ?

Mary
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Old 04-30-2007, 07:03 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
How has it been for you ?
Not nearly as poetic as it has been for you.

IMHO, its having an open mind that lets us open our hearts.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-30-2007, 08:19 AM   #3
barry.clemons
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Re: How open is your heart?

My position on the nature of conflict, and conflict resolution has changed significantly. Next up will be my heart!
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Old 04-30-2007, 08:59 AM   #4
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I have found that my practice of Aikido has opened my heart...the strength I have developed has allowed me to experience people in a compassionate way that I could not do before because of the caution I had to exercise and the fear I always felt.

As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings.
What's the nitrous oxide concentration in your dojo?
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Old 04-30-2007, 09:46 AM   #5
Janet Rosen
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Re: How open is your heart?

For a long time I used the tagline "open eyes, open mind, open heart" - I think all 3 are needed and maybe in that order - and yes, Mary, I too found that doing aikido was a profound tool for me in this regard.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:25 PM   #6
Dewey
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I have found that my practice of Aikido has opened my heart...the strength I have developed has allowed me to experience people in a compassionate way that I could not do before because of the caution I had to exercise and the fear I always felt.

As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings.

How has it been for you ?

Mary
For me, this experience you speak of translates as developing patience: both for myself as well as my uke. Patience is indeed a virtue, one which I learn in increasing measure each class. I so easily get frustrated at myself for "not getting it" as quickly as I wish to. Also, patience with my uke in that they might struggle with the mechanics of a technique more so than me. In my experience: patience leads to compassion.
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Old 04-30-2007, 08:11 PM   #7
Mary Turner
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I have found that my practice of Aikido has opened my heart...the strength I have developed has allowed me to experience people in a compassionate way that I could not do before because of the caution I had to exercise and the fear I always felt.

As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings.

How has it been for you ?

Mary
I have found this to be true, along with it a release of fear.

Thanks for the thread!
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Old 05-01-2007, 09:55 AM   #8
charyuop
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Re: How open is your heart?

I guess it depends on how you train and how your Sensei teaches you.
I like my Sensei because, apart from being an excellent Aikidoka, doesn't stress the "esotherical" part of Aikido. He teaches Martial Art and that is what he stresses about.

I am a bit different from the other Aikidoka. I like the Art and I study it because I really love this Martial Art. Even tho I am fascinated by the "mystical" life of O Sensei I am not really interested in his phylosophycal point of view. I see a shihonage or a kotegaeshi as per what they are, 2 Martial Art techniques studied to save your life in case of danger. I am by nature a non violent person (in fact in schools got punched many times, but never hit back), but if I decide to study a Martial Art and it happens that I really need to use it to defend myself or my family I won't hold back. The nice talk is one thing, your own life is another.
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Old 05-01-2007, 11:39 AM   #9
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Re: How open is your heart?

I would hope my training and experience teaches me to be as open as appropriate for the situation, while maintaining the wisdom and mindfulness to know and accept the differences.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 05-01-2007, 11:54 AM   #10
Aikibu
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Re: How open is your heart?

Many Many Years ago I remember Roshi Moore pounding me on the chest and saying WILLIAM! SOME FOLKS NEED THE DHARMA BEATEN INTO THEM IN ORDER TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS! He then proceeded to laugh and asked me if I had ever tried Aikido.

I now feel exactly what he meant.

William Hazen

No Nitrious Oxide in our Dojo but allot of smiles and laughter none the less.
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:03 PM   #11
John Kelly
 
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Re: How open is your heart?

I like the feeling I get after practice. We have a lot of trust on our mat, and that is love, I guess. It is a wonder to me, the amount of trust is necessary to train in a martial art. Much of what we do can be fatal, but I rarely think of it that way when I am on the mat. It is a good feeling.
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:35 PM   #12
Marc Abrams
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Re: How open is your heart?

All of this soft warm fuzzy stuff sounds nice. Imagine this:

You are being attacked by a person. If you do not survive this attack, your children will not have a parent around and your spouse will be mourning the loss of a partner. Where should that compassion be applied? To the attacker or to yourself in order to be there for your family and friends?

Aikido should open us to becoming more sensitized to our surroundings. Situational awareness is a critical survival skill. Being soft is not a sign of kindness, but is a response set this is effective and efficient. Redirecting energy requires that we are soft, sensitized, and centered. Harmonizing with the attacker does not mean that you love your attacker. If it does, I guess that means that you love being hurt and/or killed.

By redirecting the attacker's force, that attacker may very well ended with a serious injury or even be killed. The application of the Aikido should have meant that the person did not intentionally inflict anything other than was absolutely necessary in that situation. If the attacker ends up on the ground would you simply let that attacker up for round two because of some belief that this person experienced your compassion? What a wonderful eulogy that would be.

It is a wonderful idea to be a kind, empathic person in order to make the small world that you live in better. Nobody would disagree with the idea that it is better to love than to hate. Aikido can add a lot to our sensitivity as people to the world in which we live in. If it becomes some insane philosophy that does not fit within the reality parameters of a real attack, then your philosophy will end along with your life.

I am a psychologist and that part of my life is centered around making a meaningful difference in the world through helping. I do not mistake that aspect of who I am with the reality demands of handling an attack. I started training in Aikido to learn how to not add to the violence of an attack (based upon my previous training in marital arts and fighting sports). That did not include loving my attacker! Personally, I love myself, my family and my friends. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to both avoid and handle situations in a manner far different than what I had learned previous to my Aikido training. People in those situations were not significantly injured, whereas previous response sets would have had very different outcomes.

My heart is open to making my world a better and more loving place. I do that through act and deed. I also have the sensibility and open heart enough to those who matter most to me so that what I practice and what I teach others fits within the realms of reality and not some delusional thinking that ends up getting the good guy/gal hurt or killed. It is a great thing to have and be able to utilize the capacity to have a loving and open heart in the appropriate setting. Our added sensitivity should help us better understand the settings and situations, so that are responses are appropriate and do not reflect our fear and propensity to act violently. Misreading the situation based upon some unrealistic philosophy is not be a reasonable position and is not safe.

just my 2 cents

Marc Abrams
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:59 PM   #13
Roman Kremianski
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
I have found that my practice of Aikido has opened my heart...the strength I have developed has allowed me to experience people in a compassionate way that I could not do before because of the caution I had to exercise and the fear I always felt.

As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings.

How has it been for you ?

Mary
While I'm glad Aikido has improved your life, I couldn't help but think of this while reading that. Hehe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OqMLzVKAJs

Anyway, keep on training!

Last edited by Roman Kremianski : 05-01-2007 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 05-01-2007, 01:12 PM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
All of this soft warm fuzzy stuff sounds nice. Imagine this:
You are being attacked by a person.
Marc Abrams
um...may I ask where in keeping open eyes, mind an heart there is any contradiction with rigorous self defense? Cos I sure don't see any.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-01-2007, 01:33 PM   #15
Marc Abrams
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Re: How open is your heart?

Janet:

Far too often, Aikido has been used to express a "new age" philosophy that, according to my understanding, was not the philosophy that O'Sensei expressed.

Mary, in her opening statement said: "As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings." I wonder if that same thought would enter into her mind as someone would try and mug her? That kind of thinking, along with fear-based thinking and response sets are simply dangerous. How we practice in the dojo is how we will respond outside of the dojo. I teach that it is important to practice in a sincere, positive and relaxed manner. That "stance" helps to diffuse potential conflicts. It is hard for somebody to remain tense when the other person does not responsively tense-up as well. Learning how to remain soft, and centered helps us to remain sensitive and aware, even when violent forces approach. This helps to prevent fear-based responses, with the accompanying physiological responses from a large dose of adrenalin. Being sensitive means that we are aware in the moment. "Opening your heart" as somebody is trying to hurt you will create delays in responses when the reality conflicts with the unrealistic mental frame that is preventing the person from accurately reading the reality of the situation and responding in the moment.

The benefits of Aikido have made me a better, more open, sensitive and aware person. Those positive personal changes do not create an unrealistic world view. The accurate perception of events and interactions are critical skills that should not be dulled by unrealistic expectations and "world-views."

Marc Abrams
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Old 05-01-2007, 01:42 PM   #16
ChrisMoses
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post

The benefits of Aikido have made me a better, more open, sensitive and aware person. Those positive personal changes do not create an unrealistic world view. The accurate perception of events and interactions are critical skills that should not be dulled by unrealistic expectations and "world-views."

Marc Abrams
THANK YOU!

Aikido will not make you a better person just by doing it. It is not a magic pill. It's like salt. A little salt in an otherwise decent meal will always make it better, but it can never save a terrible meal by itself. Personally I think the spiritual/personal benefits of Aikido are only possible if the art is approached with the mentality of 'shinken' as Motomichi Anno sensei put it. It is and must be a martial art first and foremost.

Chris Moses
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Old 05-01-2007, 02:26 PM   #17
Aikibu
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Janet:

Far too often, Aikido has been used to express a "new age" philosophy that, according to my understanding, was not the philosophy that O'Sensei expressed.

Mary, in her opening statement said: "As I welcome uke into my arms and space my heart opens and my soul sings." I wonder if that same thought would enter into her mind as someone would try and mug her? That kind of thinking, along with fear-based thinking and response sets are simply dangerous. How we practice in the dojo is how we will respond outside of the dojo. I teach that it is important to practice in a sincere, positive and relaxed manner. That "stance" helps to diffuse potential conflicts. It is hard for somebody to remain tense when the other person does not responsively tense-up as well. Learning how to remain soft, and centered helps us to remain sensitive and aware, even when violent forces approach. This helps to prevent fear-based responses, with the accompanying physiological responses from a large dose of adrenalin. Being sensitive means that we are aware in the moment. "Opening your heart" as somebody is trying to hurt you will create delays in responses when the reality conflicts with the unrealistic mental frame that is preventing the person from accurately reading the reality of the situation and responding in the moment.

The benefits of Aikido have made me a better, more open, sensitive and aware person. Those positive personal changes do not create an unrealistic world view. The accurate perception of events and interactions are critical skills that should not be dulled by unrealistic expectations and "world-views."

Marc Abrams
Look....You're talking to a guy who has been there and done that in spades....No one expouses more of a Martial Mindset than me and I have just recently been accused of being too Martial if that's possible LOL)

To put it simply There is nothing wrong with Mary's post....There was a time I felt different but there is nothing wrong with it in SPIRIT.

I will let you guys continue to debate the fine points of what O'Sensei said However I pointedly disagree that practicing Aikido does not by itself change you. My experiance tells me otherwise....

If you really think Aikido can go beyond being Budo into the realm of "realistic" Self Defense than I have a suggestion...

Buy a gun and learn how to use it and get yourself a concealed carry permit while you're at it.

The only think I have to fear is my own fear. My number has been up many times and boy I got to tell you I am still here much of it thanks to Aikido Spirit.

William Hazen
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Old 05-01-2007, 02:58 PM   #18
Aikibu
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Re: How open is your heart?

Tried to edit this to include

I mean this with the utmost of respect to all those who have posted here.
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Old 05-01-2007, 05:47 PM   #19
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: How open is your heart?

Well, guess what? Everyone gets to be right here...

Martial arts haven't been about real fighting since firearms arrived. William's suggestion that one acquire a firearm is spot on. If one's greatest concern is personal security get weapons and learn how to use them; the rest is about perfecting oneself.

Mary is right on target about Aikido being about opening one's heart. Reference Sunadomari Sensei's wonderful book, Enlightenment Through Aikido.

Chris mentioned Anno Sensei, one of Hikitsuchi Sensei's senior students and an absolute gem of a human being. Anno Sensei is quite clear that Aikido practice is about opening up your heart but he is also quite clear that Aikido is a form of Budo. So what does that mean?

Aikido training is about stripping away artificial notions of separateness. To really open your heart you have to let go of your fears, strip away the aggression, anger, jealousy, etc until it is just you and the other. And then guess what? When you have really stripped all those things away, you realize that there is no "other".

But this doesn't happen by merely deciding to love everybody, hold hands and sing Kumbaya... One has to go deep, as Chris stated, treat ones training as "shinken shobu", the live blade encounter. So Marc is right that very few of the folks who talk about peace and love and harmony in Aikido are doing anything beyond wishful thinking.

I remember being at one seminar years ago when everyone was talking about "connection" and the fundamental unity of all beings, etc Then at one point during the break Ronald Reagan came up and these peaceful loving folks were frothing at the mouth. Reagan was the great Satan as far as they were concerned. I thought it was really funny because if they had really internalized what they were spouting, they would have understood that there was no separation between Ronald Reagan and themselves.

O-Sensei said that if one really understands aikido one has no enemies... there simply is no opponent. You know how hard that is to do? I know very few people who have mastered that and the ones who have seemed to did it by VERY hard work.

Budo isn't about killing the other guy, Budo is about being courageous enough to allow your notions of your own petty self to pass away, which is very much harder. So every class, every technique is indeed a battle which you are fighting. Not many folks really train that way and especially many folks who see themselves as serious about the spiritual side of the art. Marcs comments about the martial aside are apropo, even though the aspect of self defense isn't the central point of Aikido training. One must train as if ones life depends on it. At some point you realize that everyone's life depends on it.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-02-2007, 01:46 AM   #20
Edward
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Re: How open is your heart?

Curiously, aikido couldn't find any openings yet in my heart. Anyway, I think it is important to approach the training with no preconceived ideas. If aikido is about opening my heart, it will happen through training, not because I read it in a book. Osensei trained all his life, and didn't reach this love theory until in his late fifties. Perhaps when I am that age, I will start to seek the loving side of aikido, as for now, I strictly approach aikido as budo.
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Old 05-02-2007, 05:18 AM   #21
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Budo isn't about killing the other guy, Budo is about being courageous enough to allow your notions of your own petty self to pass away, which is very much harder. So every class, every technique is indeed a battle which you are fighting. Not many folks really train that way and especially many folks who see themselves as serious about the spiritual side of the art. Marcs comments about the martial aside are apropo, even though the aspect of self defense isn't the central point of Aikido training. One must train as if ones life depends on it. At some point you realize that everyone's life depends on it.
You whole post was excellent ! Left me without much too add. Not that I could have expressed myself as well as that.

Given who Mary's Sensei is I took what she said to heart not in aiki-fruity way but in way that comes from authentic practice which includes the self defense aspect of aikido.

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Old 05-02-2007, 05:22 AM   #22
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Edward Karaa wrote: View Post
as for now, I strictly approach aikido as budo.
IMHO, if you approach Aikido as Budo, you will naturally open your heart. The way (intent) of the warrior is the protection of the people they love (not hatred of the enemy).

If you take care of your training partner so you can train another day, your heart is already opening.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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Old 05-02-2007, 08:23 AM   #23
Marc Abrams
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Re: How open is your heart?

William:

I know that you always come from a place of true respect and caring for what you do, which you display in your respect for others. As a student in Aikido I feel the responsibility to try and continue to allow my Aikido skills to grow. As a teacher, I feel the weight of the responsibility to see to it that I am sincere in my intent and teachings. If I misinterpreted Mary's comment, then I owe her an apology. I think that I made myself clear as to my concerns about some of the legitimate concerns regarding our art.

If I can interpret the "open heart" to mean "Mu Shin" then I would wholeheartedly agree. We need that "empty mind" in order to truly be in the present. I need to learn more fully and to help others learn the necessity to be in the moment. To FULLY accept what is. That requires that we are soft, centered, and sensitized deeply to what is going o in the moment. That requires that we can hold no fear, no expectations, no ideas... We literally seek to become one with what is going on around us. This is not some psycho-babble or new age idea, but reflects what the mindset that Samurai of old used to survive in real combat situations.

I do not walk around my world in a sense of fear. I do not believe that I need a handgun and a concealed carry permit. I do believe that when I can achieve and utilize that mind-set of 'Mu Shin" then I can respond appropriately to whatever situation arises. That means that in sincere practice with my partners, my responses are appropriate. That should prevent me from injuring my uke, because I am in-tune with the nature of what is occurring. That means that if danger is arising, I can move to a place of safety (and hopefully help others do that as well) before danger manifests itself in the present. That means that if I a conflict does occur, I can respond in a connected manner that preserves my life.

Training to be able to emulate that mindset, and movement set demands that we do become more sensitized to ourselves and the world around us. I truly believe that this should make us better people. My biggest concern is to try and maintain the integrity of the process, because it is so easy to have this process lead us to places of false expectations and understandings based upon an ideology/philosophy that is anything other than "Mu Shin." My concern also applies equally to those who hide behind their fears and violent natures so that their application of their Aikido is a sadistic practice that they try and justify as budo.

Marc Abrams
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Old 05-02-2007, 08:52 AM   #24
Dennis Hooker
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Re: How open is your heart?

My Aikido was nurtured in the 60’s and 70’s and given my life during that time I am grateful for the physical, spiritual and philosophic leanings that prevailed in Aikido at that time. Other martial arts gave me a release for my anger but Aikido actually helped me deal with it. With the other arts I learned how to be dominate and destructive but with Aikido I learned to be compassionate and creative while learning a terrific martial art. It helped re-socialize me and make me a fit person to be in society again, to raise a family and be a proper husband. The government programs for my brethren and I were ineffective to non existentent. I often thank God for pointing me in this direction.

Last edited by Dennis Hooker : 05-02-2007 at 08:54 AM.

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Old 05-02-2007, 09:05 AM   #25
Aikibu
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Re: How open is your heart?

Quote:
Dennis Hooker wrote: View Post
My Aikido was nurtured in the 60’s and 70’s and given my life during that time I am grateful for the physical, spiritual and philosophic leanings that prevailed in Aikido at that time. Other martial arts gave me a release for my anger but Aikido actually helped me deal with it. With the other arts I learned how to be dominate and destructive but with Aikido I learned to be compassionate and creative while learning a terrific martial art. It helped re-socialize me and make me a fit person to be in society again, to raise a family and be a proper husband. The government programs for my brethren and I were ineffective to non existentent. I often thank God for pointing me in this direction.
Thank You Sensei for sharing much of my story in yours. The practice of Aikido has made me a better human being no doubt about it. Hopefully I can share this gift with others... It is the main purpose of my practice now.

And Marc I am" right there" with Mu-Shin too.

William Hazen
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