An Old Guy Went to Summer Camp
Firtst of all, I have only been in Aikido for over 18 months so I am new to the Aikido mat but I have been training in the Martial Arts since I was 14. In all those years I have always been a student some place and have had 7 different instructors and have even been an instructor in my own dojo. I have observed how frequently people come and go. In the past 6 months particularly I have searched my own heart and asked what is it that I seek. The question is easy but the answer is hard. I started originally to learn to defend myself from bullies and to defend others after watching my mother being physically abused by my stepfather in drunken rages. As the years went by I began to search for self-discipline and self-control. Exercise and stress reduction became more important. As the years have continued, I realize that I am indeed on a journey of spiritual awareness and growth through my training in the "Martial Way."
I have found myself in the recent past also asking the question where are the poor who would love to train but can't afford the $50-$100 on a monthly basis. Train or eat. Not to mention the cost of the equipment and dogi. Where are the older students and the handicapped who long for the opportunity to use Aikido as a way of personal growth?
This summer I attended the Summer Camp in the Rockies with the ASU and met some of the kindest and most open people I have ever met. The warmth and welcoming I felt was touching beyond words. Ikeda Sensei personal charm and warmth and humor was so heart warming and Saotome Sensei himself spent time chatting with me and I felt like the old gentlemen who went to O'Sensei in his 70's and was welcomed with open arms. The stories I heard about people opening up their hearts and their dojo to accept those older students and those with little money and those with physical and mental limitations was inspiring! I walked away from the experience with many things to consider but the greatest of these was this thought: I must continue my spiritual jouney through the martial way and I must open my heart to Everyone regardless of age or limitations and help guide them to experience self-discovery through this martial way and especially through Aikido. Keeping their limitations and needs in mind. Never condescending but always encouraging them to search for their limits and grow beyond them. I look forward to the day I open my own dojo and hope I am as wise and warm and accepting as those I have met and will meet as I continue my Aikido journey. That is what I learned at summer camp. That is what I am learning from all my friends from around the world on this website.
Thank you all!
Doc (the old guy)