Can You Share Some Change?
April 15, 2022
In a little over a month, we will have our first seminar in many years. I hope you can make it and please be advised: I will be talking about it a lot. I was at Red Bank for their seminar two weeks ago and had forgotten how much I missed going to a seminar; how many close friends I have not seen in sooooo long. That spurred the article about Sensei Sharon last week.
Please mark Saturday, May 21 on your calendar for our seminar with Lehrman Shihan and Konigsburg Shihan. I promised you will not be disappointed. They are planning an Aikido Jam Session. Think two Jazz greats each performing alternating amazing riffs that play off each other. The schedule is alternating an hour each for a total of four hours. Please be aware, if they get a good harmony (pun intended) going, we may run long.
Holy Tao – Cont’d
I received a couple of comments, and the agreement is that Holy Cow references the bible’s Red Heifer. With that in mind, I wanted to wish everyone observing this weekend, a Good Friday, Happy Easter, and Wonderful Passover. May we all remember the great love for each of us. May this day bring new meaning and change to your life! Wishing all a blessed Holy Weekend and a Chag Sameach and a wonderful Seder.
Easter – Sunday, April 17. We are CLOSED.
Kyu Testing – Saturday, April 23, 2:00 pm. Class is at 2:00, Kyu Tests at 3:30 followed by a Potluck party. Speak to Danny, Frank, or Derrell if you think you are ready to test.
Lehrman Shihan – Wednesday, May 11, 7:00 pm. Lehrman Shihan teaches the second Wednesday of each month. This is a mandatory class for all ASNJ instructors and an exciting treat for all our students and guests. We welcome visitors from other dojos who would like to attend.
Hakama Class – Sunday, May 29, 11:00 am. This is mandatory for all ASNJ instructors; instructors from any dojo are welcome. There is no charge.
Dean Sluyter-hosted Meditation – Sunday, May 1, 8:45 am-10:00 am. Dean Sluyter, cofounder of ASNJ's Sunday morning meditation program, returns to lead meditation and discussion, and to present his new book, The Dharma Bum's Guide to Western Literature. No charge for the program, open to all.
Spring Seminar – Saturday, May 21, Noon to 6:00 pm. We will be hosting Lehrman Shihan and Konigsburg Shihan for a very exciting seminar. This is their first time together since Covid. They will be alternating sessions exploring wherever Aikido leads. It is not often you have two Shihans sharing their personal perspectives. Here is the flyer. Please come join us for a great day of Aikido and friendship.
Can You Spare Some Change?
This is a recap of last week’s Tai Chi Chuan class discussion and what we will be completing this week. This is also 100% applicable in Aikido. To be very honest, this whole line of thinking is Hal’s fault. Yup, I said it. We were talking and he told me the name of the Hindu god, Shiva, translates to “Is Not.” Having a read translation of the Bhagavad Gita, I thought Shiva’s name was the “Destroyer.” A little Googling later (after I kept getting “sitting shiva” results, which in this context, shiva means seven, or to mourn for seven days in the Jewish tradition), I got many answers but the most common was “Auspicious One.” If anyone is an expert on Shiva, help a sensei out, please let us know. If you are in the area, Hal and I might even invite you out to lunch to discuss.
Let’s me get back on topic. Shiva is the Hindu God of Destruction. He is also the God of Creation. In Hindu mythology, they are one and the same. You know the adage, to make an omelet you need to break some eggs. This is the best English equivalent I can think of. To make something, you need to destroy something.
Putting breakfast aside (the ASL sign for ‘breakfast’ is incredibly close to the sign for ‘beer.’ Coincidence? Not if you are in a Deaf fraternity. Also, almost the same sign for a ‘female dog’ word that starts with a B. It gets better and better.), the act of Creations is the act of Destruction. To Create, you need to Destroy what something is. You can also just say - Change. Why do we look at the idea of destruction bad and creation good? In the Hindu concept, they do not. They celebrate both. Same god, two aspects of the same thing -Yin /Yang. You know, the glass is half empty or half full – it is the same glass; it’s the same thing. Separating the two and making one bad and one good is a very American-centric way of looking at things. Everything is changing all the time. Creation/Destruction is nonstop.
When we do the Form, it is one constant motion, without stopping to value or judge, but one movement. Same in Aikido when you are doing a technique. It is one movement of both uke and nage. No difference. Just change. A question you can ask yourself, “Am I ‘change averse’?” It may be because you overemphasize a negative destruction concept. If this resonates, see if you can see the oneness of destruction and creation as the same thing. The Yin/Yang of the concept of change.
Ask, “Can you spare some change?”
Please keep reading, this is not a new physics section. This idea started when I was working out with Evan and Orlando at the seminar at Red Bank a few weeks ago (Great time. Thanks Soviero Sensei. Did I mention we are having a seminar on May 21?). I felt this when practicing with them and then again during Tai Chi Chuan class. Energy and matter are not created nor destroyed, only changed. We all learned that in high school.
Why is this important? When you are attacked, in either Tai Chi Chuan or Aikido, all the energy for the technique is brought into the equation (or relationship) by the attacker or uke. Same idea in Push Hands in Tai Chi Chuan. Uke brings the energy and you, nage, lead what they bring without adding, taking away (we call that following or harmonizing) and just redirect or change it (keeping with the last article).
If you find yourself fighting, stressing, or straining, then ask yourself why? Why, when your uke is bringing their power and energy for you to use, why bring your own? You don’t need to add any more. And if they do not bring any in the first place, then there is nothing to do. That means they are not attacking you. Leave them alone and go home and get a sandwich. We don’t compete in Aikido because of this. Someone must attack. If two aikidoka get into a ring for a match, they will both stand there for a few minutes, see the futility and go home and get that sandwich I noted before (I must be hungry).
It is not an easy thing to do. There is always the temptation to compete and try to win. It is so much easier to just allow uke to lose.
I wrote most of this letter in Maine. Rachel and I did a quick trip; drove up on Friday and went home on Sunday since we can’t go back until Memorial Day. I do not know if anyone is familiar with the life cycle of a vernal pond (a small temporary wetland that fills with water in spring), but this is a great time of year. The Great Amphibian Migration should happen any day. Amphibians bury themselves for the winter and hibernate. They wake up after the thaw, march from their upland denizen to the vernal pools in the lowlands. At night, the frogs chirp loudly letting their friends know they are there and maybe finding a date. It is a great time of year to be in the forest. The sounds at night are amazing. After they meet that some(frog)one special, they do an amphibian form of the nasty to deposit and leave their eggs in the vernal pool. Frogs’ and salamanders’ eggs hatch in the vernal pools. The eggs hatch and continue their metamorphosis from aquatic animals to land creatures and climb out of the vernal pools before the pools dry out.
Amphibians spend their summer eating and trying not to be eaten before migrating back upland to hibernate for the coming winter. Vernal pools also where mosquitos lay their eggs alongside the frogs’ and salamanders’ eggs. The mosquitoes are the main diet of these amphibians and both eggs hatch in the same pools of water (talk about Amphibian Door Dash). Isn’t nature amazing? Even the mosquitoes, which by the way, are only one type of biting flies including Midges, Black flies, Horse flies, Stable flies, Sand flies (I am reading a book on flies called Super Fly. What did one fly say to the other? Is this stool taken? The book is better than the joke.) There are over 1,000 species of bloodsucking flies. (See what I have learned reading?)
Another great thing about Maine is when a local restaurant has a happy hour. They have this thing called a ‘country pour.’ It is when the bartender thinks that every glass is half empty and tries get over their own feeling of emptiness by giving away as much alcohol as they can. This is especially important after you have met all those bloodsucking flies.
And especially helpful for writing a letter, you know, about creating and destruction. Did I mention we are having a seminar on May 21st?
Did you give a dojo, any Aikido dojo a Google review yet? I have been doing so for everyone I have been in. I did three this week. I am asking everyone else to click on this link and review us on Google or any dojo you love. Just Google a dojo you have visited and click on ‘review’on the right side of the open panel.
“A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean.”