Breathe in, review the past
Breathe out, extend to the future
Every year I make an attempt to review and take inventory of the year past, the positives and the negatives. I then look forward to the New Year and extend my thoughts to things to look forward to. Once a decision and direction are established it is only a matter of the daily discipline.
The year 2009 started as usual, with a long training session at the Dojo. This is one of the traditions I really like; starting the year off in a positive direction by training hard with friends.
What wasn't usual about the start of the New Year 2009 was that I was in a clinical trial for Hepatitis C. This apparently had been an unexpected and undiagnosed reminder of my time spent in the military several decades earlier. Hepatitis C is a blood virus. In the not so distant past it was incurable, but with recent breakthroughs there is an 80% chance of actually clearing the virus. I was already into my 7th week of 48 weeks when the year started. I figured my Aikido would get good in the year because I no longer had much strength or energy, so I had to make the techniques work. I talked with everyone I trained with and they all agreed and supported my decisions to train and teach during the treatment. There is really something to be said about the support group you develop while training. I appreciate them all beyond what my simple words can convey. BTW, I cleared in 12 weeks, but the virus came back despite the next generation of anti-viral medication and in the 28th week with an increase in viral count and anemia, we stopped treatment. So the first half of the year was spent sick and tired and the second half attempting to regain some resemblance of health from the first half. We gave it a good shot, failed, and yet I think my technique actually did improve (so did my humility).
As I have stated before, I love to cross train. In 2009 I was training in 4 different arts (Aikido, Iaido, TaiChi/ChiGung, and Escrima) 3 days a week. The trick for me is to keep them separate. When doing Aikido, do Aikido. When doing Iaido, do Iaido. When doing TaiChi/ChiGung, do TaiChi/ChiGung. When doing Escrima, bash. The nice thing is that there are several of us who cross train and we have a lot of great discussions and conversations about each of them as well as their common denominators.
Right after the first of the year the Dojo (Roswell Budokan) held a BudokanFest and I ended up in 3 demonstrations. I hate to demonstrate. I am convinced they tricked me into it. Its become an annual event. So many things to look forward to.
Part of cross training is attending seminars. While I didn't make as many in 2009 as I usually do, I trained with some great people.
I went to Nashville to train with Ikeda Sensei who has been very influential in my Aikido. Instead of just connecting to my center and taking my balance, at one point Ikeda Sensei barely moved his wrist and sent my face flying forward into whiplash. Guess he was letting me know how much more I have to learn. I was supposed to train with him again later in the year but had to cancel due to my health. I have several of his training and Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminars DVDs. Every time I review them I hear and see something different, something I want.
I did an Aunkai method of training the body seminar with Minoru Akuzawa which was very interesting. It sent my body and mind reeling with different movements and exercises to create the "frame", to turn the "axis", and to move from "stillness". We mostly did movement exercises, but when he demonstrated on me I only felt a spiraling whip and the ground. Very powerful. Got my attention and still has it. I look forward to more. I bought his DVDs on solo and paired training and review them on a regular basis along with trying to incorporate his exercises into my daily discipline.
I am in a local Mugai-ryu Iaido study group under Ken Pitchford Sensei based in Chicago. There were several Iaido seminars this year. I didn't make a single one because when they were scheduled at the Dojo, I was scheduled to teach at the University. Wished I had been on the mat more than in the classroom. Traditional sword drawing is an interesting and meditative activity.
There were several four-day camps at the Roswell Budokan Kyushinkan Dojo led by 6th dan Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance and 4th dan Dojo-cho Paul Domanski. I made as many days of training as I could. The mat was packed with a lot of truly great people enjoying the training. Different Senseis would instruct. It is always great to see the differences in style and application of the same techniques.
I spent a day with Rick Barrett, a TaiChi push hands champion. He took us through several exercises to find our "edge" of comfort and balance and how to find "energetic coherence". I bought a copy of his book and have been reading and pondering it ever since.
I read several Aikido books in 2009. The one that stands out to me is Sensei Ellis Admur's Hidden in Plain Sight. I have attended several of his seminars over the years and always found him insightful and inspiring. I am always fascinated by the people outside of Aikido who offer a different perspective to our art and training. He did not let me now. I highly recommend reading Admur Sensei's words and works. Makes me think and I like things that make me think.
I celebrated my 15th year in Aikido. I was first introduced to Aikido in the early 1970s but could not really find anyone I wanted to train with. 15 years ago I watched the morning class at the Westminster Aikikai in California, home of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation under 6th dan Sensei Dang Thong Phong. I was so impressed that I decided to start, only to be told I had to wait for Phong Sensei to return from his visit to his homeland Vietnam. I had been impressed by the students. At 44 years young, I took up a whole new martial art that has led me down many an interesting road with many interesting people. A decision and direction that persists today in my daily discipline
After looking back, extend your vision forward into the future. The future is already here, 2010. Time passes when you are having fun and I am having fun. People ask me how I have been able to spend over 40 years in the martial arts. I always say the same thing: it's a great hobby that keeps me out of trouble, my family knows where I am, and I am having a really good time with some really good people.
My first priority is always my family. I need to continue to get my health back and to make a living teaching developmental, clinical, and forensic psychology. I have some writing to get back to and some family and friends to call and visit more often.
I will continue to cross-train in 4 different arts 3 days a week and try to hit the gym more. I will go to as many extra weekend seminars as I can. I will continue to share my thoughts on AikiWeb and be appreciative of the opportunity. I will continue in the decision and direction I am on through my daily discipline and see where they take me. I once heard that this is the reason for the world being round; so that you cannot see too far down the path without walking further down it.
Breathe in, review the past
Breathe out, extend to the future
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!