Aikido: “It’s like surfing.”

I took a co-worker to Aikido practice a few weeks back. He was a complete beginner, but was an accomplished surfer. His body was flexible, and he moved a lot. When I trained with him, it was a good workout.

After practice, he made comparisons with surfing – about how he was reminded of learning to maintain one’s balance, about sensing the momentum of a wave, and moving with it.

He asked me – “Today, everyone was very polite and accommodating to each other. Is Aikido ever nasty?” I told him yes, it is a martial art, and I have been guilty of throwing people hard when they resisted. But at the same time, I expect to be thrown very hard when I resist, and it is very fulfilling.

“People do Aikido for different reasons. We can help each other to become stronger. It can be like a dance. But it is a martial art. Ultimately we are studying how to fight. What about surfing?” I asked.

Well, the thing with surfing is that only one person can ride the wave. Everyone is watching for where the wave will come, and it’s a fight to get to the spot where you can ride it. If you are strong enough and can read the waves well enough, you can be the first one to the spot. When I was learning to surf, we would travel places, and sometimes the local people wouldn’t let us surf. My instructor would get really mad, and sometimes there would be fistfights on shore. But, in the water, there’s little you can do.

I used to do that, too. I was good enough that I could ride the wave whenever I wanted. But now, I don’t think that that is such a fair thing to do.

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