My aikido training began in 1988; with whom is not quite important and where is even less important. What is important is the moment that “this is something different” occurred to me, created an instant change in my perception of the martial arts and human interaction. I matured physically, mentally, and emotionally, but discontinued my training as a result of just what I’ll call “life”. Always in the recesses of my mind, was Aikido. Again, I will be blunt. I was immature; I wanted to study a Martial Art that would allow me to solely gain physical power.
As a young athlete in fantastic physical condition, I was reckless. I did not appreciate the different path on which this art places its practitioners. I was more concerned with the physical accomplishments that I believed Aikido would allow me to achieve. It is more than just the generic statements that many make when they discover Aikido, or listen to the esoteric statements about the spiritual component of this fantastic style. What is interesting is that even in my immaturity, I still saw a power in Aikido that was unique, and cloaked from the general Martial Arts community.
Indeed pure physical power has its uses, for if one must do that in the face of eminent danger, it is certainly important to know how to act in an expedient, effective way. It would be disingenuous to say that a little doubt isn’t in my mind when I train. “Will this work, if I need to protect myself?”
Then the light entered…one day, a sempai and close friend said to me, “You know, a sensei said to me, that you have to trust the technique.”
Trust the technique? What does that look like on the mat? How do I do that when someone is rushing to me to harm me? I doubted the merit of that concept. Trust what technique…what is this sensei talking about? If this person is telling me that I’m doing it wrong, then how do I do is properly? As I listened to my sempai, waiting for an opportunity to say, “You are crazy”, or “I have no idea what you are talking about”, it occurred to me that he had hit the nail on the head. If I trust the technique, then my mind and spirit will quiet down, the doubt will be stilled and my body will focus on moving out of danger instinctively without trying to physically destroy someone else.
And so, a new way of training began. Suddenly, the sentences spoken to me by my senseis and sempais, weren’t sentences anymore. They were specific instructions as to how to move, re-direct, blend and subsequently off balance my practice partner. These words became keys to unlocking the power of Aikido; a power that only an Aikido practitioner would begin to see and commit to learning deeper. The light enters…..my youthful immaturity could not have fathomed this. Tonight the sensei said to me, “maybe you needed this as a youth, but your mind is now ready to accept it.” I believe this sensei was right.
One of my senseis also said “Aikido is personal, it’s your own”… “It’s a process. You must be patient.” My Sempai said to me, “You’ve got to respect the process. You can’t just go from point A to point B.” I understood that notion and tried to incorporate it into practice. Then one day, the light entered and I realized that I had to respect the process. This statement does sound redundant, but there are two parts to its meaning. There is the one-dimensional level of understanding, but then there is the holistic level where your body and being suddenly becomes somewhat ‘comfortable’ with the continued, repetitive, movement. We begin to feel when we take someone off balance, if we trust the technique and respect the process. We begin to feel when we move away from our center…My body seemed to look for the practice, so to speak. I’d heard these statements many times before, but This Time, I was absorbing it. This time, I truly heard “Trust the technique, respect the process….train, train, train.” It all made physical and spiritual sense to me. It has never been about rushing to the end, to conquer the “other;” “the outer”….It’s always been about commitment, patience, confidence and trust. I trust that this process lets us know that our continued, committed training will result in a positive outcome. Our senseis show us specific techniques. If we practice what they show us, we will develop a trust in this art, which will lead us to learn the power of Aikido. We must practice with confidence, commitment and intention.
The light will enter…..
Aikido North Jersey