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Harry Potter and the Accidental Aikidoist


I’m currently reading the Harry Potter series at the moment. My reasons being the 7th movie is coming out at the end of the this year and thought it would be a good refresher to read all seven books back to back marathon style. Currently I’m half way through the 4th book “Goblet of Fire”.

Honestly I’m not a fan; I was caught up in the wave of Harry Potter fan-ism when the books came out almost 9 years ago and I thought then “why not?” Once I was finished with the last book 3 years ago I simply put the books on the shelf and left them to gather dust. Now that I’m reading them again it’s been a strange, new experience reading about a teenage wizard going through his rite of passage years.

Quidditch anyone?

The whole train of thought is long and complicated, but I’ll start by saying that life as a martial artist should be seen as a rite of passage. Anything really. J.K. Rowling does a superb job of painting how the character – and the soul – of the boy Harry Potter evolves throughout the series. I notice how detached Harry Potter is from all the things that would normally distract any teenager and is able to just be there. The events that happen around him and to him are seen through someone who doesn’t put a lot of baggage to them.

Everyone has emotional baggage; whether it’d be a horrible upbringing, bullies at school, bad relationships, overachiever status, whatever. What I relate to Harry is that things are just – and should be – seen as simple. Not simple as in child like or watered down mind you, simple as in without baggage from self.

You’re trying a new technique, say iriminage, a choke hold, leg sweep, front kick, or any martial movement. You mess up, you try harder. The guy doesn’t go down, you try harder once again. You curse, you apply more pressure and more strength and still the guy doesn’t go down. You say “fuck it” and you sulk off thinking that you didn’t apply more strength and you go to the gym or whatever and you bulk up, not realizing that the problem is not that the guy is twice your size or that your arms are too short (or whatever). It’s the way you’re looking at the picture – and at yourself.

Granted that strength is required in certain areas and physical flexibility is a must (I have the near misses to prove it). But what I’m saying place yourself in the shoes of a 14 year old (wizard or not) and look at the world through those eyes. Everything is fresh, everything is new, everything is just is. You see the world for what it is and that is that. End of story, no ifs, ands, or buts. The world is not what should be (although you protest vehemently at times) but what matters is what you can – or will do in the wizardry world – given the circumstances. You don’t accomplish a choke hold or yonkyo by cranking on the wrist. It might work it might not (it hurts like a mother though). All you have is your character and your wits and you realize that you didn’t have to work like an ox for your opponent to eat concrete. So what you bang your head once, twice, thrice (or 10) here and there; you’re a teenager and you’re just trying to pass your classes, get with the cutest girl (witch) on the block, and avoid Lord Voldermort from kicking your bucket.

All the meanwhile trying to stay sane.

Blimey, I am so screwed.

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