5 Lessons from aikido

Saw this on Mokuren Dojo. Thought you might like it…..

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who have some interest in or respect for aikido, but don’t have a teacher or perhaps your teacher is teaching you some other art and you wish you could explore some of the ideas from aikido. Following are five lessons that I consider to be the heart of aikido. I think that if you get nothing else from aikido, you ought to think about exploring these five ideas.

ma-ai – if they can’t touch you, they can’t hurt you. If they have to come to you to touch you, you have the advantage of knowing what they are going to do, and you get a chance to act while they’re doing it. So, try to keep them outside touching distance.

tai-sabaki – anytime the enemy positions themselves where they can easily touch you, reposition yourself where they can’t easily touch you.

airen – compassion – pity – mercy – love – you can (often) defend yourself effectively without attacking the “enemy”.

shomenate – whenever anything goes wrong, hit them in the face. This one technique will solve 80% of your problems, and it will set up all the other techniques in the system.

kito (yin-yang, in-yo) in any situation, energy waxes and wanes. Riding the direction and rise and fall of energy is often wiser than opposing it.

Visit Patrick Parker’s Mokuren Dojo.


Self-Set Limitations

Very interesting reading from “The Thoughtful Sensei” blog. Reinforcing the importance of revisiting the basic principles of all techniques and preserving them as they were originally intended – Phil.

As we progress though our martial arts career we set out goals and how we will reach them. The rub sometimes comes however in how we maintain that or those goals once we actually do reach them.

I was involved with a filming project years ago with my old Sensei and I was taken through just about the entire advanced kata system with personal one-on-two lessons (me and my uke). One film covered Koryu Dai Roku Kata and my uke and I must have spent a year to a year and a half working on that one kata of 39 waza in order to get right to Sensei’s satisfaction before we filmed it and demo’d it at a summer clinic. That was some work and he covered the correct way to illustrate each principle (as embodied by “a” waza) plus how to allow uke attack and confound (or attack and then attempt to cancel out tori’s efforts).

Notice I said “illustrate each principle as embodied by a waza”. This is probably one of the most confusing and least understood rationales behind correct and principled kata practice and staying within the template. You are not simply “doing technique” after technique; you are using a physical koan to illustrate a universal principle. You can argue with me that varying a specific technique can be done but it’s difficult to state that “modifying and changing” a base-line principle has any efficacy.

After all that work some 15 or so years ago, I looked up one day and realized that I had forgotten big sections of roku and could no longer simply step on the mat and throw it so I went back and pulled out all my notes and old VHS tapes (this was all pre-DVD) and re-taught myself the kata correctly. As we worked back through it all the old comments and excessive verbosity that Sensei had made came back and in fairly short order the kata started to feel the same.

Thinking on this phenomena I realized in a moment of mental insanity (partially fueled by sitting at the sushi counter, where I do some of my best “ki-analysis”, with too much uni and sake in me while I screamed “omakase” at the cutter and with him yelling back “gomen nasai”) that if I had not made a committed effort to go back and remember it the way I was taught I could have lost it forever and simply have gone forward doing progressively weaker and weaker versions while fooling myself into thinking that all my new variations are the way that it’s always never been done before.

The difficulty, and indeed the trap that waaaaay too many Sensei fall prey to, is that of mental laziness. Much has been written about the proclivity of the human mind to work on learning something and then once it starts to feel “good” we slack off and never progress past that point. This is likely where the phrase “good enough for government work” comes from. A real danger here from the ego standpoint is that of knowing more than everyone else around you but not knowing as much as the person who originally taught you and who was billed as the “go-to” all those years ago. If not careful, a Sensei at that point will begin to self-reference, fall prey to the “halo-itis”and now you’re really in a tsukemono (pickle) barrel.

To read more of this story please visit the Thoughtful Sensei’s Blog


The Seven Virtues of Bushido

Fancy living life according to the Way of the Samurai?

1. Gi – Rectitude or Integrity

Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself.
To the true warrior, all points of view are deeply considered regarding
honesty, justice and integrity.

Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.

2. Yu – Courage

Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A true warrior must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is living life completely, fully, and wonderfully.

Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.

3. Jin – Benevolence or Compassion

Through intense training and hard work the true warriors become quick
and strong. They are not as most people. They develop a power that must be used for good. They have compassion. They help their fellow man at every opportunity.

If an opportunity does not arise, they go out of their way to find one.

4. Rei – Respect

True warriors have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove
their strength. Warriors are courteous even to their enemies. Warriors are not only respected for their strength in battle, but also by their dealings with others.

The true strength of a warrior becomes apparent during difficult times.

5. Makoto – Honesty

When warriors say that they will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing what they say they
will do. They do not have to “give their word.” They do not have
to “promise.”

Speaking and doing are the same action.

6. Meiyo – Honour

Warriors have only one judge of honour and character, and this is
themselves. Decisions you make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom you truly are.

You cannot hide from yourself.

7. Chugi – Loyalty

Warriors are responsible for everything that they have done and everything that they have said, and all of the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to all of those in their care.

To everyone that they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true.


Dojo Survival Guide

Here is a guide that Phil has found.

It is very interesting for beginners and experienced practitioners alike, not matter what martial art you are learning:

“The dojo can be a perplexing place. Everything is different – the clothes, the atmosphere, the terminology, the etiquette…it truly is a whole different culture. Why then are we expected to jump in without any knowledge of what to expect? Even experienced students get tripped up by the intricacies of the martial arts.

Every dojo has its own way of operating, but over the years I have found certain foundational concepts that lead practitioners to success and longevity in their training. I have also noticed some very common pitfalls that trap students in ways they never saw coming. It is my goal with this ebook to give students of all ages and ranks a deeper understanding of how to prosper in their chosen art.”

Download the complete Ebook for free at:
The Student Guide to Surviving a Traditional Dojo by Matthew Apsokardu