Mushin

Coordination is a central idea in my training right now. Body coordination. Mind and body coordinating together. Right now I am thinking a lot about mental coordination within myself. We talk about being “single minded,” usually in our focus on some activity. But all too often my mind bifurcates into conflicting thoughts. Some of the…

Unity vs. Coordination

Aikidoka talk about unifying body and mind. It is a target we train for, but I still balk at the phrase. I couldn’t articulate why until I was recently re-reading The Aikido of Shin-Budo Kai. The phrase “coordinating body and mind” stuck out to me. Unity, to my mind is an ideal or abstract state of oneness. …

Aikido, App’d for Dating

I downloaded the dating app, entered a punchy profile, and uploaded some pictures. My index finger hovered over the submit button. I hadn’t dated in almost 20 years. Back then, there were no smartphones or apps, I didn’t have cirrus gray streaks in my hair, and wrinkles existed only in my laundry. Did I really…

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Toward correct perception

On the path toward correct perception, is there ever really any room for regret? Recently Mark Sensei asked us to consider the difference between “extending” and “pushing.” I am beginning to understand that aikido techniques involve extending rather than pushing. And for about two years now, I’ve heard Mark Sensei and my gracious sempai remind…

Getting Here, Being Here

I recently had a wonderful conversation about the mindset of martial arts with a college professor. He is particularly qualified to speak on the subject. His doctorate is in Sports Psychology. He is Japanese, with a Japanese teacher’s license, and he is an experienced kendo competitor. We sat on my couch, enjoying a drink and…

Practice Watered Down

“Don’t change the kata,” Sensei Mark reminds the class. We stand in pairs down the mat, like characters in a Jane Austen novel about to dance a quadrille or cotillion; only we are equipped with swords, not witty repartee. We are struggling with the day’s weapons instruction. Specifically, we cannot comprehend the correct and proper…

Connection

In my early years of aikido, connection was not emphasized. I first conceived of connection as something to break away from. Someone grabs your wrist, and well, you’re trying to escape, right? Make them let go! It was a long time before it occurred to me that one of the principle things we are practicing…

Copyright 2013 Alain Grafal

Dignity and Respect

I’ve always thought of myself as the kind of person who treats everyone with dignity and respect. In the short 21 months that I’ve been training in aikido, it has become glaringly clear that there is someone new whom I am learning to treat with dignity and respect: myself. Through our aikido practice, I am…