Due to weather conditions that will make it difficult if not impossible to get to downtown Olympia on Monday, February 11th, at 5:30 in the morning, Aikido Olympia is postponing Kangeiko until the week of February 18th.
Kangeiko is “cold weather training”. At Aikido Olympia, this is an annual event that provides the opportunity to wake up earlier than some of us think is normal, to accept the world around us even if it’s cold and rainy, to remain undistracted by the feeling of our bare feet on the freezing cold mats, and to practice vigorously before we begin our day. Kangeiko elevates our own practices, nourishes the kiai of our dojo, and hopefully helps us develop greater perspective- “If I can participate in Kangeiko and enjoy it, then what else am I capable of doing?” Kangeiko will be held Monday, February 18th through Friday, February 22nd, we will meet at the dojo from 5:30 to 6:15 in the morning for these classes.
To go along with Aikido in daily life: February 2019, I want to share this short aikido simile. I’m not sure who originally wrote this but want to share…
“Jujitsu, Judo, and Aikido are like three sisters. Jujitsu is the oldest sister. She has a temper and likes to fight. She is only interested in winning, has fought many times, and knows what techniques are effective. Since she will fight anyone, she must have excellent technique to secure victory. And, if you had to be in a fight, you would want her standing next to you. Judo is the middle sister. She is more interested in fun and competition, not actual combat. She is excited by the glory of competition. But she can and will fight if pushed. Years of training and competition has made her tough. And remember, she grew up with big sister who taught her a few tricks. Aikido is the youngest sister. Although she is familiar with war and competition, she has little use for it and almost always finds a peaceful solution. She is also the most beautiful of her sisters and people feel good just being in her presence. But she is not incapable of defense. She can manage quite well on her terms, and she is very tricky. Even still, one should be aware that even if she fails, she still has two older sisters who watch over her. “
Aikido Olympia intends to change our regular schedule beginning on April 1st, 2019. In reviewing class attendance, instructor availability, and community classes, it seems that moving to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday class schedule would help us provide the best training and increase the kiai of our dojo. Youth Aikido would remain from 5:30-6:30 on Tuesday’s and Thursdays. We are moving the adult basic time to 6:30-7:30. Following that on Tuesday, we would hold a general class from 7:30 – 8:10 pm then zazen, and on Thursday’s have an hour long general class from 7:30-8:30. Our Saturday morning schedule will remain the same. With this, some instructors will be able to do some topic specific classes on other nights as interest dictates. Thank you for your understanding. All feedback is welcome.
Misogi is the Shinto custom of removing the impurities that build up within each of us. In Aikido training, sensei from the earlier years of this practice would often comment on the quality of a student’s ki. A clear honey colored ki that was rich in effervescence was healthy while a ki that resembled oil from the refuse bin at the Jiffy-Lube was not. Related to this was the concept that through the practice of Aikido, a student’s ki could be cleansed with hard work and a lot of ukemi. In addition to the routine practices of funekogi kata and tekubishindo kata (both forms of misogi), many who trained in Aikido added additional training in misogi. External misogi to purify one’s self with cold water is perhaps one of the most archetypical forms of this practice. In fact the “Black Belt” card in the popular Pokemon trading card game depicts a young person in a gi and black belt meditating under a waterfall. There are also more internal forms of misogi. At Aikido Olympia we practice bell misogi every Saturday morning. In this form of misogi, a simple but vigorous physical activity (sitting and ringing a bell) is paired with repetitive chanting that resembles a kiai. Either way, the goal is to return a person to a state of being in which they can better sense their own awareness and connectedness.
Regardless of whether you choose to enter the frozen water on January 1st or sit with a bell on Saturday mornings, much of what Aikido is about is to help us learn to clean up our own baggage and expand our awareness to those things bigger than ourselves. O Sensei has been quoted over the years with saying something to the effect of Aikido is Misogi. He also gave this advice:
“Daily training in Aikido allows your inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Keep the mind bright and clear as the endless sky, the deepest ocean, and the highest mountain. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally. Keep your mind set on Aikido, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions. Aikido never restrains, restricts, or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything.”
As we begin 2019, I hope that Aikido Olympia collectively enters the new year with this sense of clarity and openness.
As a reminder, Aikido Olympia will be increasing our fees in January 2019. Our Dojo remains 100% volunteer and non-profit, but we still have to pay our rent, electric, water, and for some ongoing maintenance.
Annual Dojo Maintenance
$20 per visit
Students and youth
$20 per visit
Senior Center/ Parks & Rec. Evergreen
As described in flyer
None – though donations are welcome
*To continue supporting families who participate in our dojo, we’re simplifying things and taking $15 off for each additional family member.
The kanji that hangs on the shomen at Akido Olympia is Kokoro. Kokoro means heart! but not just the internal organ of a heart (though it can mean that too, and if you look at it, it looks like a heart but usually when used this way the kanji is called “shin”). Native Japanese speakers tell us that kokoro is well understood in Japanese, but that it’s very difficult to translate in English. As Aikidoka we have a bit of an advantage in understanding this because it aligns with our concept of integrating mind, body, and spirit (which we learn are not different things) as whole human beings.
As we move into the holiday season, we hear a lot about opening our hearts, giving of ourselves, and love. These are aspects of kokoro and aspects of Aikido that should apply at all times, but we can certainly use this time of year, and the many opportunities it brings, to learn more about how we have integrated our mind, body, and spirit as we spend time in our community and with our families.
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 practice we struggle to figure out how to live in harmony with the world around us. As we begin this process, we must assess how willing we are to extend our trust to others as we allow them to use our bodies to practice techniques. Eventually we become more comfortable with extending that trust and we increase our confidence that things will usually work out well. As our practice continues, we must learn to apply this reinforcing cycle to extend trust off the mat. This may be extending trust in our personal relationships, maybe in our work relationships, and possibly in all of our interactions with others. The key ingredient in moving from one level to another is optimism.
When we can look at the world with positivity and confidence that even the things that can hurt or injure us will work out pretty well, then we can more easily extend trust to others. Ultimately, our practice is that we can extend this trust to everyone. This does not mean that we don’t make sure we can take care of ourselves but it means that we can truly show everyone respect and that we can approach everyone with a positive bias. At this level in our training we assess what we need in order to truly realize that aspiration.
As we approach the holidays, Aikido Olympia will have some extra spaciousness for spending time family and friends, and perhaps some introspection. During this time, we know that some of you will want to continue practicing in different ways and some of you may choose to invest in some reading time. Here are some tried and true suggestions.
#1The Book of Five Rings or the “Go Rin No Sho” which was written in 1643 by the famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. This book focuses on strategy in martial arts but provides strategies that apply to many aspects of life.
#2The Art of War. This book is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and was written in about 500 BC. In this text the author (or probably authors) provide a number of concepts worthy of contemplation for both martial practices and life in general.
#3The Unfettered Mind. Perhaps you’ve heard of the daikon radish? Well, Takuan Soho, the same Zen monk that developed that radish also wrote a foundational martial arts text in about 1630. This book focuses on the cultivation of the mind and intention.
#4The Life Giving Sword. Right above, the work of Takuan Soho is recommended. In fact, that book is the result of Master Takuan’s relationship with Yagu Munenori, the author of The Life Giving Sword. Yagu Munenori comes up in class on a not infrequent basis because it provides insight into the 500 year old process of turning people into complete human beings through martial practice.
A web search conducted prior to writing this article resulted in several lists of essential martial arts books. Many of them are focused on books about techniques or styles. This list focuses on books that shaped the martial arts themselves and influenced martial artists for hundreds of years. There are several different translations available for each of these books and each one contains some of the author’s bias. The key for Aikidoka to get the most from these books is to consider the material in the context of our practices – living in harmony with the energy of the universe.
With any recommended reading list, people will have different thoughts. This is expected, as is some discussion at the dojo about these books and others (and there are so many others that could be considered essential reading for martial artists). Additionally, if you’re looking for perhaps more specific reading ideas or possibly some lighter reading material, don’t hesitate to ask.
This month many of us will have opportunities to participate in demonstrations. The Fall Arts Walk occurs on October 5th and our dojo will hold promotional demonstrations on October 12th.Because of this, I want to share a couple of thoughts about what makes a good demonstration.
First, those demonstrating their practice have to have a clear sense of what they’re demonstrating. This may sound funny but there are different aspects of our practice that can be highlighted in a demonstration. Technique, centeredness, calmness under pressure, moving in harmony with a partner, moving in harmony with a group of partners, reflecting the rhythm of the universe while moving in harmony with a bunch of partners. Ok, the last one’s a little aspirational but you should have the idea.
Second, demonstrations typically elevate the connection between uke and nage. Similar to dancing, when people watch aikido it becomes obvious how well the two (maybe more) partners are connected with one another.
Third, we can see a broader awareness of the space and timing. Working through demonstrations, it’s important to have awareness of the space, the people in the space, the area around the space, and the timing of the techniques and falls that you’re presenting. A big part of a demonstration is to let the people watching see what you’re doing. Big throws are exciting and engaging; complex joint locks are hard to see from across the room.
Finally… Joy! Everyone wants to see you having a good time.