Stiff vs. strong.

When I restarted Aikido last year, I was very stiff. One of my friends at Sentrum Aikido in Oslo, Renate, was “mad” with me, when I hold her too hard, and didn’t “read” her movement. Of course, she was not shouting at me 🙂 She just let me feel and told me after that. Then, when I started with Tor Anton, the head instructor at Sentrum Aikido, he confused me a lot in the first lessons. I could not apply any technique on him. Then he asked me to wait, to calm because I was always moving too quick and opening too many loopholes. Even during my 3rd kyu grade, few times he reminded me that I needed to calm down. Doing that way doesn’t mean I am weaker than before. Renate said recently that she felt my strength clearer. Another friend told me that when she grasped my hand, she could feel something strong inside me even I was not using my muscle. That also reminds me when practicing Wing Chun, my teacher said I had “heavy” arms, but it’s not because I was strong inside, but because I was not relax enough; my joints had too much friction.

Pain or without pain.

Many people say Aikido likes a fake, it cannot protect you in a fight. Well… Aikido is still a martial art. It is actually dangerous if you perform technique quite sharp. Because mostly, the Aikido techniques apply to different joints, the attacker can receive many pains, with broken arms, shoulders, even neck.

On the other hand, we train Aikido with a spirit of communicating with other people, opening our heart. It is not using Aikido techniques for killing people, but talking to them peacefully. Tor Anton, in several training sessions, told me when we practiced Yonkyo technique: “Do it right, you don’t need to create pain. It can come later, but it is not necessary.” I repeatedly had that feeling when attending seminars with Jorma Lyly and Matti Joensuu. Our superb girl at Sentrum Aikido, Kamilla, always smiles when doing Shihonage. And in the last eight days, I have trained with Thorsten Schoo, we have also focused much on the natural movement and connections, which don’t create tension and pain for both uke and tori. All those senseis, they had different teachers, but I guess when they become masters, they meet each other virtually in common points.

That is what I want to learn: Aikido without pain. Still effectively but without pain. That is also one important principle in our ordinary life, I think. Punishment is not always the best way for educating someone. Suddenly I am thinking about the prisons in Norway, where prisoners can still have TV, books, good living conditions, etc. By the time, they can find out again the human being part inside them, make them be good people for the society again.

Thorsten and I had an interesting conversation on the way to the seminar with Miles Kessler in Alpen last weekend. Appreciating each person identity and helping each person to find out who they are from inside are important parts through practicing Aikido at Seishinkai. That’s what Mirjam, my friend at Seishinkai Aikido, has felt and shared me yesterday too. We can see the same in Buddhism. It says inside each person, you are the Buddha already. You just need to find out. Aikido is one way to do that.

So, let’s do Aikido without pain. Aikido makes people happy 🙂

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