Saturday, August 31, 2013
Here are a few initial thoughts. Like a good technique, I'm sure this will refine over time as I polish them through more reflection.
Earth is the grounding element. The practical. The ground we stand on. Does it work? Is it efficient? Is it true to the values and aspirations of our practice?
Air is the power of the breath. The spiritual connection between the seen and the unseen. Does it have a connection to a higher purpose?
Water is the flow. The ease of connection that moves, yielding, yet unyieldingly, toward its goal. Are you moving in harmony with your partner? Are you seeking resolution of the conflict?
Fire is the vitality. Does it have "zip"? Is the technique flat, mono-cromatic or dynamic and spirited? Does it spark something in you and the other person?
Wood is the Nature element. Does it follow the principles of nature, the Laws of the Universe? Is it transforming and creative? Is there a complete cycle, from beginning to end, of initiation, growth (natural development) and fading away which restores the natural harmony found in Nature?
Metal is the Mineral element. Metal is raw ore (from the Earth), forged (with Fire and Air), tempered (with Water) and shaped. Have you been "tempered" by your practice? Does your technique have "shape"? Is it a useful tool for the intended purpose?
A good technique is multi-layered, multi-dimensional. It has the depth of familiarity born from constant repetition. It has the ability to change and adapt to an ever-changing situation. It's effective without being damaging. It restores harmony.
To the mix, I would also add the notion of proportion. What is enough? What is too much? Too much of one element, not enough of another, throws the alchemy off and the intended result will not happen.
Too much Fire and you burn yourself, and others, out. You get injured. You get burned.
Not enough Air (holding your breath) and your energy fades. You run out of breath and are exhausted.
Too much Earth and you get stuck. New ideas and ways can't grow because the ground is not fertile or packed so hard the seed just sits on the surface.
Also add the idea of how the elements work together.
Add some Water, but not too much, and the Earth softens, the seed takes root. Add the warmth of the Sun (Fire), but not too much, and the seed opens and becomes a maturing plant. The plant takes in our "exhaust" (carbon dioxide - what we exhale) and gives back purified Air (oxygen). A transformation happens within the body of the plant.
You get the picture.
All this is nothing new. If you think about it, you know it already. The difficult part is living it.
That is our practice.
See you on the mat.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Prescription for the Disillusioned
Come new to this day.
Remove the rigid overcoat of experience,
the notion of knowing,
the beliefs that cloud your vision.
Leave behind the stories of your life.
Spit out the sour taste of unmet expectations.
Let the old,
almost forgotten scent of what-if
drift back into the swamp
of your useless fears.
without the armor of certainty,
without the planned results for the life
Live the life that chooses you,
new with every breath,
new with every blink of
your astonished eyes.
— Rebecca del Rio
One day you finally knew what you had to do.
Though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice.
Though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
“Mend my life,” each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do.
Though the wind pried
with its fingers
at the very foundations.
Though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough.
And a wild night.
And a road full of fallen branches
But little by little
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds.
And there was a new voice
that you slowly recognized as you own
which kept you company
as you strolled deeper and deeper into the world.
Determined to do the only thing you could do.
Determined to save the only life you could save.
— Mary Oliver
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The mystery cannot be answered
By repeating the question
Nor can it be bought
By going to amazing places.
Not until the eye and desires
Have been stilled for many years,
Not until then,
Can I cross over from confusion.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
— Mary Oliver
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
It doesn’t interest me if there is one God or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know if you are prepared to live in this world with its harsh need to change you.
If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand.
I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward
the center of your longing.
I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.
— David Whyte
Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road -
Only wakes upon the sea.
— Antonio Machado
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.
And another English translation:
Wayfarer, the only way is your footsteps,
there is no other.
Wayfarer, there is no way,
you make the way as you go.
As you go you make the way
and stopping to look behind,
you see the path that your feet will never travel again.
Wayfarer, there is no way -
only foam trails in the sea.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Without practices and gatherings which allow us to reopen and reconnect to our loving selves and others, the path away from love grows wider every day and harder to reverse.
Reopening your heart is an act of courage. Learning practices which replace resistance with resilience and competitiveness with compassion begins the process of turning our hearts back to our original state. From clutching to caring, from bitterness to benevolence, and from a living death to a living life.
What practices do you do to reopen your heart? What gatherings do you attend which put you in the company of like-minded people seeking the same goals?
Thursday, January 31, 2008
He left us a "work in progress." And it's our responsibility to continue searching for new effective self-defense techniques, and modifying old ones to become even less harming.
The analogy I often use is knee surgury. (Something too many are familiar with.) In the "old days" surgeons cut open your knee, spread it apart, repaired whatever was necessary and closed it up. Very invasive and it took a long time to heal.
The current "modern day" knee surgury is often arthroscopic. A couple of small holes, minor invasion, and shorter healing time.
Doctors are continuing to look for new and inovative ways to solve old problems. Less invasive, less traumatic. That type of quest is also necessary in aikido.
I call it the "Quest for Non-Harming Techniques."
Why throw someone in a way that might cause them injury when another, less risky, way will do the job? Why not deal with the situation in the most effective and yet least traumatic way possible?
So next time you're on the mat, why not look for a new way? Reducing the amount of violence in our lives is well worth the effort.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Now, 33 years after I began aikido, here I am with my own dojo and thriving community. I've been a full-time aikido instructor for 21 years and have been in the same location for 19 years. No small feat given the rise and fall of strip mall martial arts schools I've seen during that time.
It's hard to put into words how my practice has changed over the three decades. The closest thing may be something like, "It has deepened." The gradual unfolding that has happened has made me appreciate that something as life-changing as aikido takes years to even begin to understand.
I want to take a moment here, on my 60th solar cycle day, to express gratitude to Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei for his grand vision and his commitment to his own spiritual path; and to my first teacher Stan Pranin Sensei for his enthusiasm and curiosity about aikido and O'Sensei's life; and to my current teacher, Frank Doran Sensei for his continued support in allowing me to find my own personal path within the larger path of aikido; and to my wife, Linda for waking me up to the fact that without loving support from a life-partner, an important part of one's deepest self may never get expressed in the world; and to all my teachers over the years, both in aikido and in other practices, who have shown me both how to be and how not to be; and to all my students who have also been my teachers; and to my former wives, all my friends, my family...
To all of you, I love you.
It's been an amazing 60 years.
Friday, December 15, 2006
"Allow no harm. Do no harm."
Take care of your yourself: Allow no harm.
And don't harm the other person: Do no harm.
O'Sensei said (or so it was said he said), "Aikido is the loving protection of all living things." All living things. Not just those things we already love. But the other things as well. The not so loveable things in our lives.
Jesus said (or so it was said he said), "Love your enemies." Loving your friends, and/or even close aquaintences is not so difficult. But your enemies? Now that's a practice.
I've created friends and I've created enemies. And I've turned friends into enemies. The hardest practice for me is the turning enemies into friends. That's worth trying. Again and again.
And while I'm practicing all that. I'll do my best to allow no harm and to do no harm.