Ai’s Wide Shut

“It’s like we’re psychic,” Holly marvels. “How did you know what I was thinking?” I ask. We repeat the experiment. She shuts her eyes. I grab her wrist and we pause there a moment. Then I focus on her shoulder—specifically the bunched fabric of her gi top. I think about grabbing it with my free…

Immovable Mind

To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace. – Morihei Ueshiba A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind. – Morihei Ueshiba I always admired the heroes in old Westerns. The townsfolk are under threat and the sheriff, gunfighter, farmer has…

The Caretaker’s Test

The above picture comes from Scott Carlton’s recent 5th kyu test—the first demonstration a person gives to establish their rank as a beginner. The first time they truly come to Aikido’s front door and knock, knock, knock. At first glance, the photo seems like an innocuous and typical first test snapshot, and yet, it actually…

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…