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

Preparing

In my office, I keep an old page from a calendar designed by Olympia artist, Nikki McClure. It says “Prepare” and it contains the image of children playing capture the flag and a fox in some blackberry bushes.

In the martial arts, there is an ethos around preparing. We train to become better prepared to respond to conflict, crisis, amazing opportunities, or whatever comes down our path. Preparing isn’t always what we want to do, but Aikido allows us to approach it with positivity, curiosity, and playfulness. And, like the fox, we use every day and every event to become better able to respond, or some might say- more response- able.

Periodically, we also get the opportunity to demonstrate our preparedness. There can be many ways that we demonstrate our preparedness in our lives but the way we get to demonstrate our preparedness in the dojo is in the form of a promotional demonstration. This month, Aikido Olympia will be hosting promotional demonstrations for those members of our community who feel they are ready to show us that they have expanded their practice and are ready for additional “responsibility.”

Promotional demonstrations or “Testing”, will be on March 15th. We typically begin with a short whole dojo class (kids, adults, beginners, and instructors) at 5:30. After the class, we begin the demonstrations with our young people going first and ascending in rank, followed by adults with the same strategy. We encourage everyone to attend so they can be part of this experience and contribute their energy to the event. Family and friends are also welcome. Typically, we finish the evening with a “snack-luck” so that everyone can spend time together and unwind after they’ve demonstrated how much they’ve prepared.

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life – April 2017

”Aikido is a do or a way of being. Which is different than collecting techniques- that is a jutsu.” This is a phrase that almost all of us have heard at the first class of every month, where new students are welcomed to Aikido Olympia. In our training we all occasionally get carried away with the technique and occasionally need a reminder that Aikido is done with a partner for many reasons. Most importantly is that this partnership, when in harmony creates a special a kind of a mirror. A mirror that reflects our own abilities, biases, weaknesses, and motivations. And, if we can extend this practice of building harmonious partnerships outside the dojo, there is a possibility that we can create these mirrors in other parts of our life as well. Imagine the self awareness and personal development that could come from that…