Aikido – the path to self-perfection
My topic is “Aikido the path to self-perfection”. I chose this topic because I feel that it best represents my journey to Shodan.
My journey began before I started Aikido. I was about 17 years old and over-weight. One day I decided to make a change and so I started to run. Over some time I lost about 40kg. When I looked in the mirror I saw great improvements but I was skinny so I started to go to the gym and within about 2 years I was in good shape. I did a couple of body building competitions and in my best shape I ranked in the top 5 in New Zealand for my weight. I felt good about my body, but after my last competition, I remember looking in the mirror and not recognising myself. In my mind I still saw that fat boy.
Mastering physical perfection externally did not fulfil me internally and gradually over time I lost interest in the gym.
One day, many years later, a friend of mine said to me “I’m going to this Aikido class, do you want to come with me?” I had never heard of Aikido before but was happy to go along to check it out with him, so off we went. I remember being absolutely amazed. How somebody smaller than you, can so easily lay you on the mat.
After the first class, I was hooked.
Early Aikido training consists of learning the basics. Foot work, body movements, falling and various techniques. I learned the physical strategies as they were taught to me.
During training one day, I was becoming increasingly frustrated. The teacher came and spoke to me and simply said “Greg, it’s not all about you”. I left class that day even more frustrated and a little pissed off.
After taking some time to process the events of that day, I came to realise that my teacher was right, and for the first time I understood that the mental side of Aikido is just as important as the physical. The relationship between uke and nage is much more than a physical one. Understanding and observing ones opponent is essential.
In the Riai training manual there are six elements of Aikido. Relaxation, rhythm, timing, speed, balance and kokyu ryoku.
As I practice Aikido and learn to master the above elements I am able to begin to feel an awareness and a connection between myself and the people around me.
Aikido allows me to train not only my body, but also my mind and spirit. It has taught me to look closer at myself and my surroundings, not only during training but also in my everyday life.
Through Aikido I am on a path of learning that can only allow me to better myself and for this I am grateful.
I would like to finish with a quote from O’Sensei.
“Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be
trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow.
You are here to realize your inner divinity and
manifest your innate enlightenment.”
Roban for shodan grading
22 March 2014