Aikido in Daily Life: May 2018

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives…

Timing is highlighted in some of the first techniques we learn in Aikido. The notion of a kokyunage is interesting because the timing necessary to make  a kokyunage work is really the same timing as most other natural things. That said, trying to make that timing happen is challenging. Each Saturday at 7:00 in the morning, our dojo hosts an hour of bell misogi. This practice is largely meditative while providing an opportunity to unify mind and body. It also requires that each stroke of the bell be in harmony with every other stroke. Again, staying in harmony with that timing is challenging.  

In our daily lives, there are so many things where a natural rhythm clearly exists. And, it’s not an easy task to live in harmony with those rhythms. As human beings, we allow our egos to get involved and “second guess,” ignore, or override the natural timing. We also let our minds begin to intervene by analyzing and strategizing how to act in a way that tunes into these rhythms. When we do this, it takes extra energy and creates additional barriers to accomplishing our tasks and goals. 

As Aikido students, we have many opportunities when we’re in the dojo to explore ways to shed some of our mental, physical, and even spiritual “insulation” that prevents us from feeling and simply flowing with the rhythm of the universal energy.  The next step is to take those lessons with us when we leave the dojo and apply them in our daily lives. 

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: April 2018

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives…

Have you ever heard the phrase: “the right thing is not always the easy thing?” On many different levels, this is something that seems to be a theme that’s swirling around in public discourse lately. Whether it’s in politics, business, education, family life, or at the dojo, doing the right thing when it’s the harder thing is challenging. In a recent Aikido class, the instructors were talking about bushido- the samurai code of conduct which includes a principle of doing the right thing no matter how hard it is (and seriously they were harsh about this). In our practice, we undertake Aikido training to become accustomed to making the harder choice so that it’s easier for us to do in daily life. Consider, for a moment, making the choice to attack someone when you know they’ll hurl you to the ground…

Building a solid martial practice in our lives requires us to push ourselves to do hard things in the dojo and to do those hard things with awareness and presence. This training helps us all do a better job of this when we’re outside the dojo. By engaging in activities that push us physically, mentally, and maybe socially in daily life in Olympia, we begin to get more in touch with our community – we begin to see who is living in their cars, we begin to see who’s trying to make ends meet in the subsidized housing, we begin to see who’s packing their kids and groceries onto a public bus.

We see more of these things because we are becoming more comfortable with our own discomfort and better able to set aside the defenses that protect us from our reality. This is important because if we are going to conduct our lives in harmony with others, we have to be able to view the world around us without self-deception. We all recognize that there is a lot of suffering in the world and we have a great deal of privilege. By taking ukemi and approaching Aikido as a way to polish our spirit we can become models of doing the right thing especially when it’s the harder thing.


By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: March 2018

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.

In our lives, things can start coming at us pretty fast. Work, family commitments, illnesses and injuries, other demands. Balancing all of that is challenging and often we’re tempted to get stuck on one or more of these activities, even if it’s only temporary. When that happens, it’s typical for another of the demands to start “pressing in” on us.

Our practice is to accept that life is full of energy and full of opportunities and that we can address each of our commitments directly and completely, and then to move on to the next one. This is certainly easier said than done but practice not perfect. First, it’s all about how we frame the situation- when we look at our hand, from the back, with our fingers spread apart, we see that there are five fingers all facing us. However, if we turn our hand so the thumb is facing us, then we see a series of fingers- one, then the next, and so on. The multiple competing commitments in our lives are the same. When we focus on all of them facing us, it’s a lot. Alternatively, if we can find the right angle, then we see one thing, then one thing, and one thing, and so on. Our practice helps us better remember to remain centered, extend our energy, and approach the world with optimism.

During Kangeiko, in February, we practiced randori where multiple uke are trying to grab the nage. For a nage to be successful, they have to find a way to get the hoard of uke to line up. Once that has happened, then it’s a matter of throwing them or evading them in turn, without getting stuck on them. Finally, the nage must keep moving forward- a step backward and the energy can become oppressive.

Beyond the metaphor and training in the dojo, we have a commitment to those around us. As our family, friends, and colleagues are facing this reality, it’s also up to us to support them both by sharing the optimism and by helping them take up the slack as they would like.

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: February 2018

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.

Fear of falling, fear of getting hurt, fear of dying, fear of failing?

In our lives we all face fears. In some cases these fears create resistance for us t truly find our potential and experience life at it’s fullest. Understandably, fear (or perhaps the desire to confront fear) is what draws many people to the martial arts. And, chipping away at our fears is certainly an implicit outcome of practicing a “Do” or martial way.

Most of us come to adult life having developed a set of fears (some are probably rational and some not so much) and an ego that finds ways to use our fears to keep us safe but also hold us back. Additionally, our fears are often layered like an onion. We have a fear of falling perhaps. Within that fear there might be other fears like the fear of getting hurt, the fear of dying, or maybe the fear of failing or of being embarrassed. Finally, these fears can be hidden with self delusion and justification where they become subtle mental friction that make us pause, lose our centers, present our openings, and lose opportunities when otherwise we might have achieved something great.

Practicing Aikido, is designed to help us first, become better aware of our fears, then to help us process these fears as we work to overcome those fears, and finally to live our lives with a “warrior spirit“. At Aikido Olympia, we all work together to support each other as we travel this path. And to truly support each other, our practice must be sincere in order to unravel the layers of fear and ego that keep us from our full potential and keep us from living fully.

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: January 2018

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.

2018 has arrived!

For many, the New Year is a celebration of what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve learned, what we’ve endured, and what we’ve experienced. For others this is the time for setting new goals, looking to new opportunities, and an look to the coming year with hope. In the practice of Aikido, we certainly reflect and learn, we also open our hearts to new opportunities, and we set our minds and hara’s on positive thoughts and deeds. We also practice our art in our lives and work to maintain our centers and our presence. And, from that strength we enter with our full intention and commitment. The martial aspects of our practice help us to appreciate the value of action and appreciate the grit that we develop from repeatedly pushing beyond our comfort zone. The discipline of Aikido also helps us learn to “take up the slack” and apply a gentle and harmonious energy as we move along our journey.

So, let’s all work to use our training to “enter” into 2018 with presence and intention!

Aikido in Daily Life: December 2017

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.

In the practice of most martial disciplines, practitioners work to develop the ability to absorb information from our environment more effectively. In our Aikido training we frequently talk about using “Martial Vision” or 360 degree vision. This takes a lot of work to develop but ultimately this skill begins to grow. Usually, this process starts with actual vision – the seeing with your eyes part. As this skill grows, other senses start to become included, we begin to hear, smell, feel, and maybe eventually even taste more of our environment. This provides more opportunities to appreciate our natural world, our friends, our families, and the other things that mean a great deal to us.

As we enter a season of holidays focused on family, friends, food, light, and peace, it’s a great time to turn our martial vision toward these things and be present with them. Take some time to care for ourselves and be the people we want to be all year long.

Aikido In Daily Life: November 2017

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.

Such an opportunity I have for you…

In my life right now, I seem to be engaged in a bit of a work related conflict. This is a conflict that has a lot of influences but ultimately creates some less than virtuous energy between myself and a colleague. This conflict could be characterized as a challenge in my life. And, if I considered it a challenge, I’d probably try to win that challenge. And winning might not be a good strategy because this a colleague who I care about and who I want to be successful (in fact my success and her success are really one thing). So rather than frame this conflict as a challenge in my mind, I’m working hard to frame it as an opportunity to practice instead. I like practicing and I’m hardly opposed to some hard ukemi when I practice. So, if I can use this great opportunity to practice, I will get to learn something new, I’ll have more fun with it, and we’ll both probably be successful.

I just have to remember this in the moment…

Aikido in Daily Life: October 2017


Hard floors, soft floors, concrete floors, dirty floors, clean floors…

I don’t recall thinking about floors all that much in the past several years. In fact, I sort of took floors for granted- at least consciously. Then I’ve recently had a few experiences where floors began taking on a bit greater importance in my life. (I’m happy to tell that story over some beers.) As floors became more meaningful, I realized that the practice of Aikido may be making all of us more aware of the surfaces in our environment. Honestly, where else will you find a group of people who spend this much time hurling each other at the ground? It’s possible that the Aikidoka relationship with floors might even make us floor aficionados. But really, so what? Well, the practice of Aikido is also designed to help us build our awareness beyond what we started with. More importantly, our reality relies on gravity pulling us and other objects toward the surfaces we stand, sit, dance, lie, and train on. So, as part of building our awareness, it follows that this often take- for-granted part of our environment is worth noting. Because you never know when the floor will be one of the most reassuring parts of the environment.

Aikido in Daily Life – September 2017

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of Aikido in our daily lives.

By Nate Weed

I frequently think about how I can better apply what I learn in my aikido training to my daily life but, in all honesty, I really train in aikido because it helps me be a better emergency manager and first responder. In fact, I know many first responders who train in martial arts and for many different reasons. Often it is because these roles can put responders at greater risk of experiencing violence than the average person and it is believed that through martial arts training, one will develop the skills to deal with that violence. As a leader of responders, I find that my risk of encountering a violent situation is probably even lower than the average persons and yet I still study martial arts every day. The key elements that I can apply to my profession are not the techniques used to restrain a person or throw a person but much more the skills to regain my center during a “crucial conversation,” or the ability to extend positive ki energy when faced with a deteriorating situation with lives at stake, or the ability to just model grit. For me, these are not the skills that I’ve developed through learning the beautiful throws, or elegant joint locks and pins used in aikido. Rather these are the skills one learns when being thrown repeatedly- perhaps even beyond the point where you just don’t think you can take another fall. It is through the study of ukemi that real-life leadership skills are learned.

Aikido in Daily Life: August 2017

“We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives”

We talk about taking up the slack in the techniques of aikido. From almost our first classes we begin to explore the best way to remove slack from a technique without telegraphing our intentions. When we start out with katatatori techniques it seems pretty simple to eliminate the slack between uke’s hand and our wrist. As the techniques become more complicated, it becomes easier and easier to let slack into the system.
For most of us, daily life presents far more complex opportunities for taking up the slack. When we think about our relationships with family members, friends, work colleagues, maybe even people we don’t enjoy being around, our temptation is to either provide slack or overtake-up-the-slack. Typically, we aren’t really paying attention to being connected to others and because of this, we also don’t notice the quantity of slack we’re creating. So, as we work to apply Aikido in daily life, we should take every opportunity to notice if we’re taking up the right amount of slack.