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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

The Ki to Life

April 10, 2021

More Hellos

A cousin of one of our youth members joined and we also had another youth sign up. I am working updating our curriculum for the youth classes as the influxes of “yutes” is both exciting and new. In the past, a large percentage of the youths came from the Kids’ program. Since the Covid shutdown, our dojo’s programs were decimated. We are already rebuilding those programs and approaching 100 members. Thank you to all for weathering the pandemic with us and welcome to all that have joined.

Waking Up - The Day After

Tests are done; only promotional paperwork left to do and hanging the new rank sticks. I woke up Sunday a little sore. This is the result of the Wheel of Ukemi (I love that thing). Everyone testing spins the wheel, performs that technique on the designated uke – me. The class works on that technique. I try to fall really big, so the person testing gets the break fall adrenaline (You all know that feeling. The louder ukes fall, the more excited you feel). I am happy to be thrown. I think my role/roll as a Sensei is to be a good student in order to be a better teacher. Not to be the guy who knows the most, but to be the guy working hard. We teach by example. I am trying to be the good example. So, I am a little sore. Not sure right now why I love the Wheel of Ukemi so much. Maybe I should rename it – The Wheel of Advil?

Practice is the Goal

Class began discussing the two modalities of practice – to focus on not making mistakes and, to focus on learning new things. I discussed how I experienced each of them. I had a great topic to segue into at Tai Chi Chuan class and then it happened. I got sidetracked and totally forgot what the topic was. I mean a serious senior moment. I stood there, blank, pensively holding my chin (You know the look.). It was a great topic (at least I thought it was, but I forgot it). Not to worry, I gave up on the forgotten and fell back on my well-practiced verbal vomiting skills and pulled another topic from the deep recesses of my gray matter. I fessed up to the class. I am OK with sharing my hiccups when teaching and went back the two modalities of practicing.

These two ways of learning and not just when on the mat. They are choices to deal with most things. I was talking with Rachel about this the other night: When we are faced with something, we can work to maintain what is or let go and work towards what a new experience may be. In essence, we can hold onto what we know or give it up for what is behind Door #2 and find out what the unknown is. Sometimes, it’s a shiny new car; other times, a vacuum. It is called Beginner’s Mind. Both are OK ways to practice. Everyone needs to choose what they want at any moment but always leave the option open to explore either way.

What’s Ki Got To Do With It

What is Chi/Ki (I will use the Japanese Ki to shorten typing). In the classic answer, ki is ‘energy’ that makes everything what it is, the building blocks of the universe. In reality, I cannot put what ki is in words as it is experiential, I can only point someone in the right direction. You see, Aikido/TCC is an experiential practice. You cannot learn to dance from reading a book (Have I used that example before? I will leave that to the editors to keep it or not. They kinda have to leave it in now. Let’s see. [Ed. Note: We choose our grammar battles.]). You need music, a dance floor and usually a partner to learn to dance. No matter how much we think we can ‘teach’ someone, they need more to learn it. Experience. That is what ki is about. I can describe the experience, I can even help someone feel it, YOU need to FEEL it. Like being centered, everyone has ki. It is there while you are alive. You need to slow down your mind (insert promo for the mediation class here) and have the experience. Then ask a question that I will not answer, and I will tell you to keep practicing (Don’t you love Asian mystic teachings?) but the reality is I cannot answer them. You need to keep practicing and experience what the question is. All I can do is share what my experience has been. That’s the key to this. Experiencing life is the best and only true teacher. And the membership is free.

Oh, and by the way, from the title of this paragraph, I have the song “What’s Love Got to Do With It” in my head. Now you do also. Glad to share.

--Sensei Jay

“What's love got to do, got to do with it? What's love but a secondhand emotion? What's love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?”

--Tina Turner

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