Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Gratitude - 2009

I have had much to be grateful for this year. I am blessed with good friends, a smart, healthy son, some great guidance by an amazing teacher, and I was able to buy my condo this year. I am grateful for the gifts that I receive in the form of family, friendships, advice, all the small and big things that have given me the ability to grow, learn and love.

I have understood and made the distinction that, although we come across many instructors in our professional and personal lives, we come across so few teachers. A true teacher has the ability to transcend the discipline they teach and relate it back to our lives. They make their art truly alive and pertinent to our lives. I am grateful for the ability to be under the tutelage of my Aikido teacher, Bob.

Twitter and facebook have, remarkably, been a place that I have been able to connect, reconnect and meet new people with common interests. I am grateful for the many people behind the @names on twitter, and all those that I have friended on facebook. For some it may seem trite and irrelevant to have and cultivate online relationships, but there are people behind their twitter handles that have some great things to say. Some have become closer to me than I would have thought possible in such a medium. I stay grateful, happy and welcome for these friendships.

Moving into the new year and new decade, I wish you all much growth, love and happiness. I hope that we all can love the simple things: family, friendships and warm hearts. Happy New Year.

Onegai shimasu (Let us begin)!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Aikido, conflict and the basics of Tai no Henko

One of the things that attracted me to the art of Aikido early on was the metaphor it used to conflict resolution. In aiki terms we talk about getting off the line of an attack, this was expressed with the example of someone on a train track. While it would be foolish to either run toward the train to stop it, or run away from the train to escape it, the most simple thing to do would be to jump off the track so that the train goes by.

Recently, one of our students very earnestly asked the reason we practice tai no henko. The teacher offered his answer and I have thought a bit more about this. It was one of the first things I learned, not just the actual technique but the "why" as well, that attracted me.

For people that may not be familiar, tai no henko is a basic practice where you and your partner stand facing each other. Your partner as the attacker (uke) reaches out to grab your wrist. When your wrist is grabbed, you (nage) step slightly to the side, turn and extend your arms out in the direction your partner is facing. Your partner holds on, keeping the connection throughout the technique.

A video on youtube is worth a thousand words:

For me, tai no henko is a beautiful practice. Metaphorically, it encompasses all we know about Aikido in the exercise. Standing face to face with your partner represents conflict. The wrist grab represents intention. Stepping off the line of the attack shows the willingness not to fight back but to let the attack go by, and the turning of the body represents the harmonious blending with your partner.

A while ago, Sensei talked about Aikido being the "third option", the other opportunity to express besides the fight or flight modes we find ourselves in sometimes with work, our personal lives, etc. I see that tai no henko is a wonderful expression of this. It is a basic building block of our art for this reason and in our training, we should look at this exercise as a time to practice Aiki just as seriously as any other technique. It is not "that thing you do till you get to the good stuff." it's all good stuff!

Onegai shimasu!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 7 day 1 - back to the regularly scheduled program

I'm at week 7 of my routine. Circuit exercises for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week at the local gym. I've seen a slow but steady increase in strength and endurance. Around week 3 I started going back to Aikido again, 3 days a week. I used some social networking tools like twitter and blogging as a way to make myself accountable for my work outs. This seems to have worked for me pretty well.

So, I have my routine now, built into my week. I feel that the next step is to not be vocal about it but just do it. I'm trying to forego the "it ain't real unless you post it somewhere" syndrome and allow myself the ability for accountability within my own head. For the 2 or 3 people that have read my blogs for the past few weeks, Thanks!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Onegai shimasu!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Week 6 is done

I'm trying to catch my breath. I've been quite busy, but did want to jot down a quick post to note that I've finished Week 6. I didn't post on Wednesday or Friday. However, I think it's more important to actually do the task at hand rather than lament over why I didn't blog it. :D

So, Wednesday went well. Friday, not so much. I was tired. Long nite. That's ok. I'm out to Aikido in a few hours, will add an additional day on Sunday, and will start week 7 on Monday. All good! One thing I need to be more mindful of. My times at the gym are slipping. I wanted to get there in the AM starting at 6:30. I haven't hit that once in the last few weeks. I need to get better at that.