Last month, I received an
e-mail from a reader that read my article on
Self-Training in Aikido. He
explained the he was not in active practice for health reasons and was
" . . . how to "keep in
touch" with the spirit of the martial art... given that it's a martial
art dedicated to the improvement of humanity in general (as in someone
does something nasty, the martial art is used to help the person become
less addicted to hate), like, thinking positively from day to day. I am
wondering if that would qualify as being a good way to compensate for
the lack of
training in my life. Just wondering what to do, since I miss practice
ever so much."
I found this e-mail a very
nice humble query and was very pleased to find someone not afraid to ask
questions. It is so refreshing to find those individuals that have the
strength and courage to ask! Sometimes it is those individuals that are
not so honorable that hide what they don't know and do not have the
maturity and courage to ask questions for fear someone might find out
that they don't know everything! I am so happy to find those that have
no fear to keep learning and exploring - they will go places!
My response to this
e-mail was as follows:
(The name and e-mail address has been omitted for privacy and
Thank you for writing us!
For Aikido, it is necessary to have an experienced and trained
instructor for instruction. Having a so-called Aikidoka use muscle and
speed to try to get the technique to work certainly illustrates a person
that needs better training and/or another instructor to help.
Aikido is a martial art. It is a practicing and active warrior combat
form. It's roots are combat practice. Aikido is also a martial art that
the defender joins the movement of the aggressor with his own to gain
control and balance. In many instances, this taking of control from the
attacker is constantly fluctuating in the entire attack. What I mean by
this is that the entire movement can contain not one but many different
moves by the nage to maintain his own balance and keep the attacker off
center (footwork, hip and stance changes, etc.). The attacker becomes
the defender and the nage becomes the attacker - the roles will
interchange several times in one aggressive movement. Technically
speaking this is a combination of kuzushi, kake and tsukuri. So, in
saying all this - the martial art of Aikido, in itself - is not directly
"dedicated to the improvement of humanity in general".
It is through the practice of the martial art that we learn about
ourselves, our likes, dislikes, our own humanity, our frailties, our own
fears, and most of all - the things that we really don't like to see in
ourselves. With this all being said --- the martial art training or the
discipline is what actually breaks your barriers down, allows the
undisciplined to be able to be disciplined, and make the student more
susceptible to learning and accepting of knowledge. Some of our own
attitudes and perspectives often are the root cause of our own
misunderstandings and parallax point of views. So, we never really see
truth, the situation and world around us or our inner selves in an
honest perspective. Dedicated training - the rote and repeated
exercises, strenuous moves, and exhausting daily physcial and mental
routines are designed to break down our own self-made walls - so we can
see ourselves better and enable our own hard temperaments to soften so
we can become accepting of new knowledge and function with a much
clearer mind. This is just the beginning of the training. It is the
daily struggle with ourself, inner-self, and our training is what makes
the discipline for ourselves. This constant or daily discipline can help
us find ourselves, bring us inner-peace, and connect us to self-
actualize our own humanity This is not a new concept even to the Western
hemisphere see Abraham Mazlow, Psychologist and Professor, specializing
in Humanistic psychology and considered a philosopher. I considered him
to be my idol in the early 70's when I was in college.
I believe that no matter what martial art or activity you practice (and
it could be oil painting, sculpting, etc), if you maintain the daily
practice and challenge your own mind and body in practice, as a
discipline - you will be able to see that the peace first comes from
each individual's attempt to find it within themselves. Any one of many
activities that allow you to extend, expand, challenge, and allow you to
uncover your inner fears and feelings will help you find inner peace.
This in itself is an improvement in humanity. If you cannot develop it
within yourself, you won't really know what and where to look for it
anywhere else. It starts within yourself.
If you cannot practice
physical activities, you can certainly involve yourself in other areas!
If you would allow me to suggest philosophical or cultural studies! I
love these areas. Community colleges offer extensive courses!
I receive questions such as yours quite frequently and they are all good
questions! I appreciate them very much.
I'll be posting this to our website to help everyone. I'll omit your
name and e-mail address for your privacy and protection.
I hope this helps,
Cheryl Matrasko -
5/24/2003, 10:49 PM
© 2003, Cheryl Matrasko - Aikido World, Inc. All rights reserved
Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the
department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the
LAN Administrator for
Northwestern University Medical School - Department of OB/GYN, and assistant LAN
Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law. Cheryl started Aikido in 1965,
studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out under many
well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei and thereafter
following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in Northern
Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu. Currently, she is
instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus and founded Aikido World
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