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Cheryl Matrasko
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Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor
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Discipline and Training
Spirit of Martial Arts?

by Cheryl Matrasko

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 wondering:

" . . . 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 protection).

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

Cheryl Matrasko - 5/24/2003,  10:49 PM
c-matrasko@aikido-world.com

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 Shaolin
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 Journal.

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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
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1978 C. Matrasko

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5/24/2003