Kangeiko

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. 

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: September 2018

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

The harder things are often the right things to do. Perhaps this is giving an apology, giving a co-worker uncomfortable feedback, or getting up early so that we have enough time to get ready for work without racing around. There are many examples of situations where we’re faced with a difficult option and an easy option. So, how does our practice help us choose the harder thing/ the right thing?

The practice of Aikido in daily life is generally about applying the fundamentals of relaxing completely, focusing on our center, and extending ki as much of the time as we’re able to. If we diligently practice doing this, it becomes easier and we spend more of our time living in this capable state. Additionally, we develop our ability to maintain relaxed, centered, awareness when circumstances become challenging.  Through that, a couple of things tend to happen – first, in being relaxed and centered we generally do a better job of making the right decision, and, second, by being centered and extending ki we are more easily able to enter into the harder choices.  As a bonus to our practice, we learn to approach challenges and obstacles with an open heart – both considering the well-being of others and having compassion for ourselves. This provides a unique advantage in our personal resilience as we choose harder things and learn from them.

 

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

Kangeiko

It’s the time of year when Aikido Olympia practices Kangeiko. Kangeiko literally means “cold training” and each year we try to pick a time when early morning temperatures are about as low as they get in the Olympia area. Last year, there were two weeks where temperatures were in the 20’s, the first week of January and the second week of February. Since we already do water misogi the first week in January, we chose to host Kangeiko in the second week of February with hopes of cold weather.

But what is Kangieiko you ask?

In almost every martial arts tradition, there is an emphasis on austere training to develop grit, spirit, hara, or kokoro (as in the calligraphy we hang on the front wall of the dojo). The goal is pretty simple, to test ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually so that we can become more self-aware, learn where we need to develop further, and to build confidence in our ability to thrive in adversity. For our practice, Kangeiko provides the opportunity to wake up earlier than some of us think is normal, to accept the world around us even if its cold and rainy, to remain undistracted by the feeling of our bare feet on the freezing cold mats, and to intentionally practice vigorously.

From kangeiko, we elevate our own practices, nourish the kiai of our dojo, and hopefully develop greater perspective- “If I can participate in kangeiko and enjoy it, then what else am I capable of doing?”

Shugyo

Shugyo is a term used to describe activities, usually arduous, used to train the spirit. This isn’t really the same thing as spiritual training but rather developing one’s hara, grit, ability to “take it.”

At the beginning of this month’s Adult Basic class we, as typical, discussed how Aikido helps us develop the ability to thrive in many of life’s most difficult circumstances. Part of the training designed to develop this ability is focused on the spirit. Our bodies are great, they help us move around, and interface with other things in our environment. However, our bodies also have some limitations. There is only a certain amount of pain, fatigue, hunger, and oxygen deprivation that they can endure. A well trained spirit can help us change our relationship to these factors. These experiences are all sensations that we experience and that everyone else experiences in their lives. These are not things that stop us from accomplishing our goals but rather signs that tell us we are in the process of accomplishing our goals.

Throughout the first week of December (12/4 – 12/8) our dojo will provide an opportunity for training our spirits. At 5:15-6:30 each morning we will do breathing exercises as a group. This training, combined with our regular evening classes, will lead to strong development in our practice.

By Nate Weed