Aikido in Daily Life: May 2019

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

Aikido is often framed as a solely “defensive” martial art. This is largely do to the instructional approach of having one partner project energy toward the other in the form of a grab or strike, while the other partner responds, to that energy, with a technique. In parallel, many of us take a similar approach in much of our daily lives responding to the energy we are provided. This is normal and it’s something we all do, however our practice is to continually strive to live in harmony with the energy of the universe. This means that we must learn to feel the natural rhythms and find the right timing to intentionally enter and blend. This is not a defensive  approach but in many ways an offensive strategy.

In class this past month we experimented with kata-menuchi projections. For those who missed these classes, kata-menuchi techniques require the uke to grab the nage (katatori) and follow quickly with a head-level strike (shomenuchi). The “response” to this type of situation is to apply martial awareness prior to the uke’s movements and taking the initiative by extending energy, and proactively helping our uke find a lower energy state… like resting on the ground. 

Kata-menuchi variations are somewhat more “advanced” aikido techniques because they require a bit more awareness and connection before the technique is initiated. They are also considered more advanced techniques because they challenge the idea that aikidoka only respond to the energy provided by others. They also offer an important lesson for our daily lives – we are not just along for the ride and preparing to respond but rather active and mindful participants in our lives. Extending our awareness, trusting our natural intuition, and taking up the slack proactively.

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: April 2019

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

Spring appears to be springing in the northwest this month. As we extend our senses to the changing season, we can feel the expansion of nature as the rivers, trees, plants, and flowers all expand to fill more space in the world. This is not an aggressive or rude acquisition of space belonging to something else, but a harmonious and gentle opening up. 

In a class a couple of weeks ago, we were working on several ushirodori techniques (when uke bear hugs you from behind). These techniques are often really challenging to learn, because being grabbed from behind is really uncomfortable. And, for many of us, expanding to fill more space in the world is uncomfortable too, and a key feature of the techniques we were practicing. What may not be immediately obvious is that they are the same thing…

Our practice helps us bring our mind, body, and intentionality together, which helps us be more comfortable with the ways our body can take up space; moreover, we also learn to take up that space (take up the slack on our environment) in a way that is warm, welcoming, and in harmony with those around us. This ability is important for asserting ourselves without threatening and for extending our integrity to our intentions without being pushy or abrasive. 

As you all enjoy the spring, take some time to feel what gently and subtly expanding into the space around us and gently taking up the slack on the world around us feels like. Then see what you can do to incorporate that into your practice and your daily life. 

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: 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.