Aikido and Life

A young man about 5’8” and a hundred and seventy five pounds enters a Dojo around the corner from his apartment in the city.  He goes in, bows to the Sensei who gives a nod and a smile.  He enters the Dojo, steps into the middle of the practice space and bows to the shrine at the front of the room.  He then enters the men’s changing area and dons a Gi with a top that fits his broad chest very well, but with pants that are one size too big for him at this time.  He finally ties the pants off with a quick flourish, smiles nervously and gets his Obi (belt) from his backpack. He looks at the belt as though he’s forgotten what this fucking this is and why he brought it with him.  With a snap of the fingers of his free hand, he suddenly remembers what to do, and he quickly dons the Obi, tying it off in the way he remembered seeing on the u-tube video just the night before.  He knows his Sensei is nice enough to forgive the new student a few mistakes, but he also knows that appearances matter, and there are rules that all students must obey. He checks himself in the mirror and then turns his head to the left and to the right, checking for other males in the room before striking his best (and most idiotic) street fighter pose.  The top of his newly shaven, bald head glimmers in the light like a cartoon sword just released from a scabbard, the shimmering light moving from left to right.  He nods and then laughs at himself for a full ten seconds.  What the hell is he doing here, anyway?  Who the fuck does this guy think he is?


enters the practice space once again, abandoning his flip flops by the rear edge of the tatami mat.  He bows again to the shrine at the front of the room, checks the tightness of his belt (and his pants) and slowly steps onto the mat, preparing to stretch his muscles.  He hasn’t even begun class yet, and his muscles are already aching from work at the factory the night before.  How many boxes did he have to assemble last night, a hundred, maybe two hundred?  Paper cuts on his hands begin to sting, but he ignores all this as class quickly begins. 


Before the young warrior fully comprehends what has happened, Sensei has instructed him and the rest of the class on their first practice move of the day.  It turns out to be an offensive move designed to be countered by another person, and the nature of the counter move is such that the attacker is tossed forward at an angle that forces hapless attacker (at least in theory) to roll forward on their right shoulder and come to a standing position smoothly and without hurting themselves.  It looks deceptively simple whenever Sensei plays the role of the attacker and the attacked, and the young warrior does have a history of practicing martial arts.  But it’s been years, and he’s tired today.  Cautiously optimistic, he finally joins a group of his fellow classmates, and everyone is ready to practice the move. 


The young man is chosen to play the attacker first.  He nods and smiles, hoping he can still use his body the way he used to.  A young woman stands in front of him, ready to receive his attack.  The young man has seen this woman before, and he knows that she has great command over this martial art.  He also thinks her quite the beauty, though he dares not say so.  She nods, and the young man lunges at her with a short, overhead chop to her head with his right hand.  She grabs his arm and his Gi, and before he knows it, his momentum has sent him tumbling face first toward the mat!  He quickly remembers what Sensei has taught him about tucking his head, finding the mat with his arm and using momentum to guide himself into a forward roll. The world seems to spin like one of the slots of a slot machine where the lever has just been pulled.  So far, so good! 


Unfortunately, the young warrior has suddenly forgotten how to stand up from a forward roll without crashing into the wall in front of him, and as he realizes this, his feet are now pointed straight into the air toward the ceiling.  In a panic, he suddenly draws a breath, closes his eyes, and just follows raw instinct, attempting to stop his momentum and stand upright, stance and technique be damned!  His left palm smacks the mat with an echo that seems to reverberate throughout the universe, and he attempts to will his leg muscles to contract and expand at the right moment, hoping against hope that he doesn’t find himself smacking the wall with his forehead.


As though the universe has heard his silent prayer, the world stops spinning, and he opens his eyes, and he then feels the cold draft of reality hitting his exposed buttocks.  There won’t be any Matrix-like poses from THIS Neo Anderthal.  There won’t be any magical moments with dazzling smiles, sparkling teeth, and buxom babes in tight fitting Gi’s either.  The bubble of a warrior wannabe’s glory has been burst, and in the immortal words of Bill Hicks, the unfortunate novice has been “sent hurtling back to the truth.”


“Hike up my pants, move fast..Oh God, hike up my pants, move fast!” 


The young martial artist finally gets himself covered up again after what feels like a millennium and trots to the back of the group, red faced.  Unfortunately, he spends the rest of the lesson essentially getting flipped over, standing up, hiking up his pants, and trying again.  What had this young man had quoted at him recently about the definition of insanity? Oh wait.  He’s crazy!


This is what I was like a year ago when I was taking Aikido and rediscovering  that I really do enjoy physical activity, even if I have a learning curve that demands that I embarrass myself in order to learn proper technique.  Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in all this.  Life is all about risks, some more major than others.  One can risk their hearts as well as the body or the mind.  Some might argue that life does not exist without the risk.  I would argue that it does, but it would be of a much poorer quality than I would like.


This is an ordinary world.  I’ve already learned to survive in it.



But it’s time to really thrive, amigos and amigas.  I want to ask my followers (or anyone else who would like to respond) a question.  


What risks have you taken lately in order to broaden the experience that is your life?


It’s a pretty open ended question, really.  But life seems replete with opportunities to enjoy happiness if  one is willing to risk their financial situations, their hearts, their very pride in order to reap the potential benefits.  Where do YOU fit in when it comes to taking such risks?  I’d LOVE comments on this.  Feel free to get this discussion rolling with me.


2 Responses to “Aikido and Life”

  1. Ah let me see … What risks have I taken? There are many. But, I think the biggest risk that I take every single day is opening my heart and mind to others. I do this knowing it could bring forth both positive and negative results. With taking this risk, you open your self to the greatest friendships or some pretty nasty heartache.

    I’ve always jumped first and asked questions later. This Risk, to me, is the biggest one to take. However, in my opinion, every risk is worth taking. Especially this one- the benefit definitely outweighs the risk 😉

    • You’ve always struck me as a brave soul. It is not a surprise to me that you are the first to answer my question, let alone that your answer is the one you gave. But I too have taken risks with my heart. Some have worked very well and some have not. Risks of the heart can backfire so badly, but the potential reward is always worth it to me. I may exude the public persona of the dark, brooding guy, but I really do believe in people and in love. I think I have to in order to go through the true darkness in my writing without coming out crazy.

      Love yo’ face, speaking of the heart. Thank you for being there.
      I’ll always be grateful to have you in my life. 😀

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