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…

Teaching Learning

Finally: the answer to the conundrum which has bebuggered our dojo and its instructors—maybe all dojos and instructors—since the dawn of forever! Ours cannot be the only dojo that wonders what constitutes the best practices for teaching aikido. Should you demonstrate techniques silently and allow practitioners to repeat them ad infinitum? Should you provide minimal…

Motion. Stillness. Joy. Every time we step onto the mat, it is a precious opportunity to start fresh, as a beginner.

Joy and beginner’s mind

My shaky signature on the little sign-in card betrayed the fact that I was choking back some fear. This was Day One of my aikido training, and although I was greeted with warmth, kindness, and friendly smiles, all I could see were hakama. The hakama. Symbol of someone else’s perfection. Mockingly pointing out the fact…

How You Contribute to a Harmonious World

For almost 15 years, Durango Shin-Budo Kai has been a community resource for boosting mind-body unification, refining the spirit, and teaching nonviolent conflict resolution. As a 501(c)3, we are committed to the embodied practice of aikido as a means to increasing the peace and harmony for each practitioner, their families, the community, and beyond. As a…

Which way is down?

Which Way Is Down? I’ve always been a bit clumsy. From bumping into walls to drawing surprised glances when I dance in public, I have always felt challenged by my lack of physical grace. But even so, I’ve always believed I knew which way was down. It’s just right there; look at the floor. Toward…

A Choice in the Matter

I could have gone blind the light was so bright. It blazed so abruptly. I didn’t have time to take cover and shield my eyes. This luminous assault happened a few nights ago in class as we picked apart kata toris, shoulder grabs. Sensei Mark demonstrated some of the atemis, or strikes, available to the…

Moving Around My Own Center

Mark Sensei commonly reminds us to move around our own center, regardless of what uke may be doing or not doing. After spending my entire life reacting to the behaviors of others (a survival strategy that served me well as a child, but no longer serves me as an adult), this wisdom sounds very counter-intuitive.…