Things Aikido is Giving me

1. Faster Reaction

Recently I was driving home from the aikido class. It was dark. Suddenly the car to my left abruptly swerved, almost “jumped” towards my car. The driver of this car did to avoid an accident – when he was just about to pass a stationary vehicle, its door suddenly opened. Thankfully, I also reacted immediately by “jumping” to the left. I am so grateful to my Aikido training for my fast reaction in this incident.

2. A State of Alert Relaxation

In Aikido you learn to consciously keep your body and mind relaxed. When you are relaxed, you are fast and precise in whatever you do. When your body is tense, you become erratic and prone to injury.

 

3. Falling Correctly

When you fall on the mat 20-30 times during a practice, 7 days a week, 356 days a year, for several years, your body’s response to a fall becomes automatic. Knowing how to fall correctly saved me from injuries at home and on the street on several occasions.

In our dojo we had a student who was a respected martial artist. One day, while driving a motorcycle, he was his hit by a car from behind. The force of the impact propelled him forward but he was able to do an ukemi in the air and landed on his hands, thus saving his head.

4. Peaceful Mind

Learning a martial art gives you peace of mind, the inner confidence that you can protect yourself in case of a need. Normally, knowledge of a martial art does not make a person aggressive. It removes the fear of facing an aggressive person. If a “situation” arises, you need not fight, you may just run away, but you will do it in conscious awareness, without panic.

5. Discipline and Etiquette

Japanese martial arts are famous for their ceremonial etiquette and for the discipline they instill in a student. It gives certain unmistakable grace and dignity to a person, which is rare to find in our “fast everything” times.

6. Good Friends

It seems Aikido attracts certain type of people. They are “intelligentsia” of they martial art world – not “brainless, fight-happy” guys and gals. Aikido is tough, out of hundred newcomers only few students will continue to practice, but whoever stays on, are “good people”.

7. Physical Fitness

It goes without saying that a fit body makes you feel good about yourself.

8. Weapons Training

It may have no practical value, but knowing how to handle the traditional Japanese sword, tanto (knife) and staff is COOL.

Yulia Pal. September 2008.
karuna@pranichealing-delhi.com

“One of the most wise decisions…”

I recently have joined the Aikido dojo at Delhi. And I am convinced that it is one of the most wise decisions I have made since a long time.

The incentive for me to join the dojo was purely because of the viewing of the website.

The creativity and the content of the website is remarkable for any individual who is seeking to learn about the art. The compilation of the information, the images does provoke one to visit the dojo and experience the teaching of our sensei.

It is definitely a job well done.

Peace

Harish Iyyer

BUDO – Some thoughts – II

(An incomplete attempt at completing the line of thought of the first article )

There is a peculiar characteristic of any effort to intellectualizing an issue – it raises more questions than it answers. Probably why old veterans are quiet people, who appear reluctant to answer questions, and even when they do, the answers are short and terse, not long winded and elaborate. Anyway I think I will go a bit deeper into my mess and see what more can be found.

The “ What I should do? “ vs. “ What I desire to do? “ conflict seemed to clear the air somewhat around the warrior/saint anomaly. The ‘warrior’ is one who trains for strength, so this ‘desire Vs duty’ battle can be won. On the other hand the ‘saint’ has no battle to fight, there is no ‘desire’ and hence no ‘duty’, merger with nature is complete, all actions are spontaneous and in accord with the natural flow of things, effortlessness in everything – Ai-Ki-Do.

But all this understanding is still an intellectual exercise, efforts to integrate  this in my routine run into another wall – “What I want” is easy to identify, how to determine “what I should”?

A warrior is steadfast and consistent in his actions. But when I am not sure of what determines correct actions, how can I be steadfast. If there is any lingering doubt, all spontaneity is lost, the strength of purpose actually leaks away. Many times there have been instances where I thought I had the answers, only to find later that they were incomplete, partial and sometimes wrong.

My actions which at that time seemed to be ‘What I should do’ turned out to be ‘What I should not have done’ later.

None of the warrior codes seem to leave any space for growth. As I age, my perspective changes. Some things I did, when I was young, now seem inappropriate. So what to do. Does a Samurai cut his belly open when he is old and finds that he did something in his youth that seemed absolutely correct then but now appears inappropriate.

Course correction is an integral part of life. The right path seems to be so narrow that I am always going this way or that. Slightest gap in alertness and the mind goes on a tangent, and when I regain my balance the boat is so off course.

I have no answers, not even an outline or part outline of one. But some possible patterns have emerged. I use the word ‘pattern’ because this feeling of having caught the correct thread happens during events and actions so diverse and different with no common characteristics that it must be some kind underlying pattern.

For example – my Aikido training. As a novice I tried to learn the technique like 1-2-3, you know step wise. Get out of the way, slide hand along arm and grab palm, tenkan and so on. But I found that more I concentrated on getting each step right, more I lost the overall spirit of the technique.

When using the ‘Jo’, if I tried to get my ‘Tsuki’ correct by watching each action, first stance, then move left hand like this then right hand like that … , it invariably went wrong. Instead if I concentrated on taking the Jo and thrusting it into my opponent’s solar plexus most efficiently, everything falls into place easily. Somehow the technique self corrected itself when I am simply aware of the spirit of what I am doing.

It seems that the more I focus on one thing, the other things, equally important things, went out of focus.

It seems like driving, a new driver always holds the steering tight, haunches the shoulders and concentrates hard on the front. While the veterans hold the wheel loosely, and give equal importance to central and peripheral vision, easily retaining awareness of what is in front and coming from the side at the same time.

The Benefits of Aikido

The benefits of Aikido are many, and can last a lifetime. As a path of self-development, Aikido leads towards the integration of mind, body, and spirit – towards making us complete human beings, which not only benefits us, but benefits the people around us.

Physically and psychologically, Aikido is at the same time very complex and yet very simple. The changes it can make in our lives begin at the surface and go as deep as we let it.

Specifically, physical benefits of Aikido practice include increased balance, coordination, reaction, and sense of timing; improved posture, flexibility and aerobic conditioning; a greater awareness of our bodies and how we express ourselves through our bodies; and a more relaxed and confident presence.

Mental benefits include this increased self-awareness and relaxation; better ability to resolve conflicts and deal with stressful situations in a calmer and more positive manner; greater self-confidence and self-discipline; and the constant challenge of self-development and learning new skills.

Spiritual benefits include being able to improve one’s own quality of living; to break or change old habits and conditioning; to see things with greater clarity and perceptiveness; and to have a greater intuitive understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Aikido is well-suited for self-defense. Aikido techniques are done against a variety of attacks – kicks, punches, strikes, chops, grabs by one or both hands to wrists, elbows, shoulders (from front or back), combination attacks, some knife or gun attacks, and attacks by more than one person. Because it trains not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well, it is a holistic approach to defense and self-protection. Aikido training develops one’s energy and expression of energy and enables the practitioner to maintain a calm state of mind under adverse conditions. On one level, with increased awareness and self-confidence and better posture and movement, you will be able to avoid potential situations. On another level, if someone does attack you, your training will enable you to react in a way the attacker may not expect, which may diffuse the attack by itself.

Yet on another level, if you are in a situation where you do have to do something, Aikido teaches you basic, effective body movement, techniques, escapes, and immobilizations that you can use to protect yourself in many situations.

“While Sensei’s Away…”

On 4th May 2006 the Dojo Head Paritos Kar Sensei left for Tokyo, Japan, to train in the Hombu Dojo.

Manisha writes:

A fortnight’s over, a month-and-a-half more to go and we miss him already. That’s how long it will take for Paritos Sensei to return from his two-month long trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Of course, Sensei was as excited about his leaving, as we were not! The reason for his excitement – he intended to practice four sessions per day at the Aikiki Hombu dojo, each session being an hour long. But a recent email mentioned five sessions!!

And while Sensei’s away, everyone, but everyone, is trying his / her best to keep things running as smoothly as possible. The evening classes are being taken alternately by blackbelts Ken, Jean and Taka. Hats-off to them. The morning classes are being taught by our dear Julia. She’s always there for us to fall back on, thank God.

Guess who else is putting in an effort by being more regular? Good ol’ Rana Dutta! (Poor Sensei tried so hard to make this happen in his presence.)

Well, all in all, if students are willing to go out of their way to take classes; if Rana is suddenly more regular; if Yulia and Manisha are trying to keep the dojo free of dust (and intruders) so that Sensei doesn’t faint when he returns, its all because of our love and respect for him. Its because we all know that he’s giving us so much more than we’re giving him, and its not just aikido I’m talking about. Thank you Sensei.