Few activities and communities suffer more than those that depend on physical interactions for learning, like Aikido.
When this all started back in March it was hard to believe that I wasn't going to see you, my students, my dojo family, for an unknowable amount of time, and at such crucial moments in each of your journeys. Know that the dojo, whether it's in person, remotely, a phone call, or a text - we are all here for each other - not just now - but always.
We all come to Aikido for a multitude of reasons - but I think one of the main ones is connection. We find it in every nikkyo pin, from the lightest touch our sempai gives while we learn, to the wrist-wrenching nikkyos we receive at seminars from certain senseis we hold in high regard.
But this connection is like the tip of an iceberg - like so many things - only the surface of so much more hidden just below.
Social Waza constitutes that other aspect - those moments off the mat, but still in the dojo, when we come together as a family. It's easy to simplify and think of a dojo as just another gym, or space in which to practice a collection of movements and techniques - and what a shamefully wasted life that would be.
So what is Aikido? What is this practice of the way of harmonizing energy?
It can be the collection of techniques that subdue an unruly attacker
It can be the movements that tire a pursuer into submission
It can be the adapted Japanese sword that cuts only through to your true self
It can be the adapted Jo staff that teaches us freedom in our practice
It can be the fitness we do that keeps us strong and healthy while we practice and teach
It can be the bearing and assertiveness that diffuses conflict before it begins
It can be the openness and willingness to enter any situation and know you will be safe
It can be the quiet and stillness of sitting seiza and hearing only your breath
It can be the moments reflected on your teacher or teachers (what 'to and not to do')
Aikido can be so many things for so many people. Beyond the shiner I got on my second day on the mat, this above all else, may be what I love about Aikido the most.
I love Judo, Muay Thai, Karate, Hua Rang Do, Silat, Eskrima, and every other art I've had the privilege of dabbling in that goes unnamed, but for which I am eternally grateful for patient teachers. These arts all have their lessons and teach our bodies to do amazing things - martial arts is a gift - a life long gift that is too often squandered not often enough prioritized.
I wonder what Aikido is for you?