3 year anniversary and Reflection Shinanagians

Phew, after many homework days I can breathe a sign of relief for tonight to write into this blog. I swear I’m not ignoring it, but my “life” so to speak has pushed aside the things that come naturally to me. As the title states, it is my 3 year anniversary in Aikido – about 2 weeks early. Nonetheless I feel that I should mark this  because 3 years ago prior I basically relearned the art.

I use the term relearned loosely since I first trained in collage for two years (read the description in the ‘about me’ section). The Sensei at that time was a middle-aged man. He first trained in Jujitsu, then had moved into Aikido. He had trained under Chiba Sensei, and his student Pablo Vázquez Sensei. Subsequently his Aikido form was quite powerful; rigid, with a dash of Jujitsu influence. Focusing on weapons and technique, he would subsequently – and unfortunately – prove to be one of the many “run of the mill” instructors to me. Well meaning, yet there was no really spark to his teaching, personality, and/or his transmission of the Aikido. Don’t get me wrong, he was a powerful guy standing at 6′, being the broad chested white Caucasian male that he is, and he knew his stuff, but there was something there that was missing – especially compared to what I have now.

Unfortunately I stopped Aikido at the beginning of my senior year in pursuit of making the most out of my last year. Namely to get accepted into a fraternity and focusing on graduating with a job! Unfortunately both didn’t pan out as well as expected and I subsequently spent the next 2 years working in Los Angeles and up in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I finally found dragged myself to take some classes at the community college near my house and decided why the hell not to take the Aikido course there. Toke it with a 3rd Dan (who I still meet on occasion), then heard about some badass Shihan who was teaching nearby and thought to myself once again: Why the hell not.

That was August 2008. The rest so far, is history.

In 3 years I’ve worked my way up from 5th kyu to 1st kyu. I will be eligible for my black belt test in December of 2012. Assuming the world won’t end I should be fine. Looking back at my time I have grown so much…yet so little! I have only brushed, not chipped, brushed the surface of Aikido, my martial arts journey, and myself as a human being. God it’s scary just thinking about all of this.

Have I improved as an aikidoist? Oh hell yeah. Have I only began my journey as “being me”? Oh yes. If there was anything concrete that I had gained from my training, it’d be that you are always changing, always reforming, always pliable. The moment I thought I “had it”, I’d run into something that’d challenge my sense of self (in the dojo) and I would allow myself to change. Sure I have gained some rough edges since my training, but I suppose with new ideas you have new problems. It’s all in the journey, the voyage…

With that said, I plan on unveiling some new stuff as time goes by. I have made some personal discoveries over the months and I feel that there will be a time when these discoveries will intertwine with my journey as a martial artist and I would like to share at the very least, tidbits of my findings.

In other news, I’ve updated the “about me” section, the title of this blog, and the header. Hope you guys like the header (I designed it myself – I’m working on my photoshopping skills). As for the title change, I finally settled for The Journey of an Accidental Aikidoist. My first title The Accidental Aikidoist felt dull – and I didn’t like the initials AA. Then I changed it to one thing and now back to its current title. My apologies for those of you who already have it set. But this title is a sure thing.

Till next time ladies and gents!

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.