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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

Mind Your Own Business

Mind Your Own Business

November 5, 2020

New Faces

I want to welcome Hans who joined this week as well as Bill and his son. Great to see new faces and honestly, after the Covid shut down, we need new members. So please welcome them and throw them gently. On a Covid-note, I am allowing more young teens who join with their parents to attend the adult classes with their parent. Because they are together all day, they can practice together.

Upcoming Events

We are focusing on getting people ready for testing which is great as we are starting to fall again. Focusing on basics is perfect though I did throw in an Aikitosh last week at the end of class. I couldn’t resist. It was OK, I threw my son.

November 5th – Kids Testing

November 12th – 2:15 – Special class with yours truly (I have a fun surprise), followed by Kyu Tests (we have a lot), followed by potluck PARTY (we have a large parking lot and mat to physically distance and masks will be worn.) All members and their families are invited.

Junior Deshi Instructors

The Monday 6:00 class taught by Zachary is now being taught by Zachary and the Jr Deshi’s in rotation. Teaching this kids/youth class gives our dedicated and talented teen leaders a chance to learn how to teach Aikido. I think it is important to invest in our kids as they are the future of Aikido. Sounds corny but it is true. Zachary, a certified middle school teacher, is teaching the kids how to teach. I think this is a much better method than the old way – “Hey, can you teach the 6:00 class? You never taught before? Don’t worry about it.”

Perfect Mind

We are close to kicking off the new dojo management software. I will keep you updated. You will need to come to ASNJ with your credit card when we finalize the transfer to Perfect Mind. If only their start up sound was “OHMMMMMM.”

Tai Chi Chuan

Wow, we reached the start of Four Corners, one of the more challenging portions of the Form. In Push Hands, we tried to follow only our partner: “Give up and follow others” as stated by Chen Man Ching. Each person tried to only move when they felt the other person move. If practitioners thought it was hard on one’s legs doing the Form, they quickly learned it was only a warmup for Push Hands. We were able to focus on sensitivity aspects of Push Hands, that for me, translates into what I also learn by having light, sensitive ukemi.

One Mind

This week was a continuation from the theme last week (at least in my mind). There is a great comment in Shioda’s book that you need to feel what uke is feeling, be aware of their experience. This is a central aspect to Push Hands (which we introduced last week. It is almost like I planned this?). The instruction is to “give up and follow others.” In Push Hands, we do this by listening or being more mindful of your “opponent”. Not by putting one’s ear to uke, you listen to their center with your hands. In this method since in TCC there is not uke or nage, you are both following each other, like great ukemi. There is no room for ego in following, you both ultimately become one system. We call this……Harmonizing. You become one mind. Strength no longer becomes the dominating force. It is replaced by awareness. The one more relaxed prevails.

For me, I need to “drop my guard” to be able to “hear” my partner, to understand what they are feeling. This means being vulnerable. If my response to an attack is to get strong (what I think many consider is the natural way to be “safe”), I push my attacker away, giving up my relaxed balanced state. I cannot listen, I cannot feel them, I cannot harmonize. I have no idea what they are doing and can no longer connect to their experience. I have no idea where they are or what they will do. I am truly in danger. We are not connected.

My Aikido is not based on fighting but on being vulnerable. This is a two-way street. For me, the physical technique is the basis for this practice. The gift of O’Sensei is what we do with the technique. My relationship with uke is everything; it is not about being fast or strong, but it is about being Mindful.

“Synchronizing your spirit means achieving harmony with your opponent, or in other words becoming one with your opponent.”

Aikido The Complete Basic Technique

Written by Gozo Shioda

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