Happy new year! The Mirror columnists Janet Rosen and Susan Dalton share their goals and hopes for 2009.
I don't believe in "making resolutions." But for many years I've had in the back of my mind shorter and longer term goals while I train.
Right now, I have one very explicit, tangible-results goal, which is to learn the steps of the various weapons kata at my new home dojo, Ukiah Aikido. Everywhere else I've trained, weapons is done slowly, for precision. The truth is, my body doesn't work that fast outside of an emergency; if I have to move quickly, it means paying inordinate attention to my overall body mechanics so the bad knee is both safe and doesn't hurt. If I have to focus on that, there is no way to also focus on a good cut or proper technique. So I'm just taking my time, learning the moves step by step, and as I get a related group of moves down, working on accuracy.
And then there is my ongoing, long term and probably lifelong goal, which is being a committed and connected uke. My understanding of what that entails keeps changing as I train and learn. Currently I define it as being able to somatically reflect back to nage the effect of what he is actually doing. Not resisting, not tanking, but reflecting. If that makes any sense.
As a pretty new member of a dojo community, I want to be a good role model for newer students, show good etiquette, and find ways to contribute to the overall good of the dojo.
Finally, I want to continue to strengthen my body to protect the joints, and to work on keeping my movements and postures as natural as I can moment to moment.
For 2009 I have three sets of wishes for my aikido: my goals for the dojo, my goals for my aikido classes at the college where I also teach, and my hopes for my own practice.
When my teachers moved away seven years ago and asked me to take the dojo, I had no idea what running a dojo entailed. Well, I sure know now! Sometimes I say being dojo cho means paying bills and cleaning toilets, but this position has also offered me incredible opportunities to host our teachers from Japan, visit them in return, and venture out of my comfortable bubble. I hope to continue growing into my role as dojo cho and remember to be thankful for all it has offered me. Oh, yes, and also to be thankful for my husband, for the floors he's swept, the beer he's iced, aikido tapes he's watched, plane tickets he's paid for, and more. Actually, here's to aikido spouses everywhere, thanks for your support. Yes, I know you support us out of love and also out of self-preservation--we're much nicer people if we find enough time to roll around every week.
At the college I'll be teaching an aikido class and an advanced PE class which is a second semester of aikido (or third or fourth or whatever). Our dojo is very traditional with strict etiquette, which does not always translate well into a community college PE course full of exuberant eighteen year olds. Nevertheless, it's an integral part of our tradition. I plan to spend more time talking about etiquette and asking my returning students to show by example. Nah, I probably won't scare them with my sensei face, but they will know how to act when they visit other dojo. For all of you who have moved on and are now training other places, I'm so proud of you!
These next personal goals are continuations, the tried, the true, and the still applicable after years of practice. I will remember the concept of "little by little", not expecting myself to be perfect or get something new the first time I try it. This year I will continue to work on ukemi, specifically, following, keeping my knees bent, and staying relaxed. I will stay after class more to work on jyu waza. When I screw up, I will breathe, let it go, and try again. I will try not to compare myself to others. I will hold my head up and try not to stick my butt out. I will study my Japanese tapes so when my shihan visits, I can communicate more effectively. I will try not to let all this trying interfere with my joy as I remember my dojo's two rules--be safe and have fun! I will go to class and get my yah yahs out so I can go home and be nice to my family. I will try to be the same person off the mat that I am on it.
Happy training in 2009!
© Janet Rosen and Susan Dalton
"The Mirror" is a collaborative column written by a group of women who describe themselves as:
We comprise mothers, spouses, scientists, artists, teachers, healers, and yes, of course, writers. We range in age from 30s through 50s, we are kyu ranked and yudansha and from various parts of the United States and styles of aikido. What we have in common is a love for budo that keeps it an integral part of our busy lives, both curiosity about and a commonsense approach to life and aikido, and an inveterate tendency to write about these explorations.