An unexpected journey

An unexpected journey

A long, long time ago in the shire of Crofton Downs, I stumbled upon a band of Aikidoka practicing in the local school hall. Their quest was to follow the teaching of Morihei Ueshiba.

I was promptly invited to join them.

Little did I realise the impact that learning Morihei Ueshiba’s teachings would have on me.

During my working days I deal with conflicts on a daily and sometimes hourly basis and colleagues often ask me how I am so calm and rarely get flustered.

I proceed to address (bore) them with the fact I am able to be in the moment and direct queries and complaints into agreed outcomes, as one would do practising in the Dojo. And no, I have not used Irimi-nage on any clients to date.

I can say that there is nothing better than turning an angry complaint into a peaceful resolution. Not every interaction ends with the client winning, so sometimes a virtual high fall is used, but there is never any lasting damage, only silence and peace.

It is also often noted by clients and co-workers that I never answer the phone until it has rung three times. Why you may ask?

  • One ring, to disengage in my current activity
  • Second ring to jiggle and breathe (thanks to Richard Moon),
  • And the third ring to centre myself, ready to answer the call.

But as with any journey, unexpected and unplanned incidents occur, throwing a curve ball swiftly in the way.

I have had two such major events.

The first, an unfortunate accident with a tanto which penetrated my left eye, resulting in the loss of most of the vision in that eye. I was hospitalised for only seven days, the expected stay for an eye trauma event is generally longer. However, hospital staff were amazed how quickly I recovered. When I reflect on it, I have never recalled recovering so quickly from an injury and I put it down to both wanting to get back on the mat to continue training and having gained a little knowledge of the principles of Aikido.

The second event was failing my Blue Belt grading. This was an immense blow to my ego and taught me a very valuable lesson on how to deal with failure with dignity. I did not run away and give up Aikido and I know people were highly surprised that I went for a drink afterwards, attended the post grading function and turned up at the next training day.

From that day, I have used centre-ing, presence and employing a peaceful mind to deal with the ups and downs of life.

If, unlike my blue belt experience, the grading panel award me with a Shodan ranking then the next part of the journey will begin.

Thank you for your time and I would like to thank all Sensei who have assisted me on my training path. Shihan Nadeau, Henry, Danny, Matt, Mark, Conrad, Lyn and last but by no means least, Lachlan, who has sharpened my Ukeship up with the terrifying words on a Saturday morning ‘I am not sure this is going to work’

Domo Arigato

Paul Holohan
Roban for shodan
22 March 2014