October 29, 2020
You are going to have to get to the end of the letter to see what the title is about.
I hope you all successfully navigated daylight savings time, a concept that has left more people lost and confused than LSD did in the 60’s.
I want to welcome Chris who re-joined this week. Chris was a member for many years and as his job allows, his membership starts and stops accordingly. As we are staying with one uke per class, his first class upon returning was my first class teaching with contact and throws and guess who picked him as a partner? If I had to guess, I do not think his first choice was to practice in front of the entire class with his sensei. I hope he shows up again.
What a great day. And not just because we had candy. Halloween is the only day I can zip over Dunkin for a cup of tea in my gi and hakama and not have people look at me funny. That alone makes the day great. I met three different Mario Bros, Superman, Spongebob, a skeleton (not on CSI, Frank), a kid as a Pokeman (sorry, I only remember Pikachu, my kids are in their 20s), and a host of other characters. I was wearing my non-regulation camo hakama during the day (it has pockets. No kidding. Zachary made it!) and transformed into a sumo wrestler for the class I taught. Yes, that inflated suit is the most unpractical thing to wear for ukemi. Check out the videos and photos: (You can see pictures and videos at this link)
Just to keep some dates current (My son chewed on a wire, so I grounded him. Get it? Current? Old joke. Apologies.)
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. All members are invited.
No, I am not pushing meditation (but please do join Sensei Lehrman’s Zoom meditation class on Wednesdays at 9pm). I am announcing our new dojo management software! We are switching to Perfect mind (from GloFox and Mind Body). You will be receiving emails and be billed from them soon. You will need to see Paul, Mariella, or Sherri, to update your info and credit card. Your sign-in cards will not change. With Perfect Mind, you will get automated birthday emails. Please contain your excitement.
Tai Chi Chuan
We began push hands. It was a little confusing to people but the lessons to be learned are well beyond my ability to list (the length of this letter you would read). In my practice, push hands is where I think I finally understood that I could give up and follow while leading. I know, a little confusing (did not I say that before): we can move uke without fighting. Think of the Aikido class I taught (the Aikido I learned from Sensei Lehrman) where we can throw uke while they hold onto one finger: you can’t use strength.
It is important to understand a little of the history. Chen Man Ching refined TCC much in the way O’Sensei did for Aiki-jitsu. Chen Man Ching added subtlety and the concept that you could take your partner to the edge of the cliff and not throw them off. Previous to his influence, the result was a forgone conclusion – and mortally final for uke.
Love, Aikido Style
In O’Sensei words, Aikido is about love. Love is a pure sense, without attachment. It is not the love of a lover but the love in almost a Taoist sense of the pure joy of the emotion. It should be effortless, the sensation of it, should be to feel love. The love part should be easy, if not, then you have something to work on. In O’Sensei’s words “If you hurt your opponent, you hurt yourself.” I have struggled with that thought: if I am doing a martial art, I am supposed to hurt my opponent, right? Not so when studying Aikido.
When you are working with someone smaller, hold looser. If you are working with an advanced young person with great ukemi, resist the urge to chuck them. If you are working with a beginner, resist the urge to teach them but allow them to experience it through great ukemi. When you chuck someone, it is fun, it is easy, it feels like you are better than you are, but remember, there is a human on the other end of the throw. If you feel the urge to chuck someone, don’t do it (unless they are way bigger than you, that may give you a minute to think about it next time).
Any time you need that ego satisfaction that is an opportunity to ask yourself why; can you look within yourself to grow as an aikidoka and as a person? Can you give in to love? Aikido gives us the opportunity to look at our desire to feel strong and understand that need and replace it with love. The lesson of loving the attacker (uke) is one of the most powerful opportunities in Aikido that O’Sensei gave us to learn about ourselves. Don’t chuck it away.
“Love is the primary ingredient in the creation and nurturing of all things. The ki of love is the center joint in the learning of Aiki”
O’Sensei from the book
Enlightment through Aikido
Written by Kanshu Sunadomari