Ai – harmony

I was in a bookstore in Frankfurt and saw a book about Vietnamese food. They have a quote: "Ăn trông nồi, ngồi trông hướng." They translated into German. I asked my German friend, what that German sentence means and how he understands that sentence. No surprise, he told me that the translated version implies during the meal, you should pay attention to eating, enjoy the food. However, the meaning of that quote is different. It's about caring people enjoying the meal with us.

The same situation in Aikido. We are practicing Aikido. People can talk a lot about Aikido, but during training, people forget that they are doing Aikido. Many times!

AI means harmony. We have many ways to explain harmony. For me, I try to become the one with my partner, either in Uke or Tori role. For doing that, please don't run away from your partner, don't disconnect the contact between us.

I was in training with a new beginner, and whenever I did something, she seemed to be scared and wanted to "run away", even when she was in Uke role. I understand her fear, but uke means you are "attacking", there is no meaning if you already run before you finish your attack! I always tell my beginner partners that in Aikido, we don't hit people hard, we are not only training techniques but more important that we are also practicing our mind not to hurt people. I had that fear when I practiced before with my teacher Tor Anton in Sentrum Aikido, or with Kuribayashi sensei before. They really freaked me out, and it's not easy for me to complete any technique happily 🙂 Training is one way to remove the inside fear, Bjørn Eirik sensei repeatedly tell us in his seminars.

In the 2016 Norwegian summer camp, Nakamura Nobuaki sensei showed us a version of torifune, with Uke really relies on Tori. That exercise not only helps tori relax their body, shoulder but also helps both Tori and Uke build trust between them.

Of course, being the one is not easy. I have been trying to do that. I know people have taken years and years to do that. But at least, if you keep that mind when you are training, that we are doing AIkido.

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