Category Archives: Aikido

Walking with G’d

B”H

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge. They become aware of their own vulnerabilities, their nakedness, and see to cover it up. When G’d calls them forward, they are afraid, and hide, instead of walking with Him.

I had a chance to share this story with some Aikido students of mine, where I explained that the great tragedy here is not that they ate from the tree of knowledge (face it, they didn’t know any better), but that they hid instead of owning up to it, and were afraid to walk with G’d when he called. I ended saying “Do not hide. Bravery is when you realize you are weak, but still say what needs to be said, or do what needs to be done, and in so doing, walk with G’d.”

I see the students weekly, and through the medium of Aikido teach trust and respect. One of the teachers has taken an interest, and helps in class.

This teacher recounted what happened last Sunday. Sunday is their off-day. No classes, and teachers will take them out of the orphanage to eat a boxed lunch and to see a museum or have fun outside. It was proposed that they go to a certain museum. One of the students, C.C.., said he did not want to go, and would not say why.

“Then offer up an alternative.” said the teacher. C.C. offered no alternative. “Then if you don’t say why you don’t want to go, the other students will go, and I can take you back to the school [the orphanage] to do homework.” Yet this still did not satisfy him, and his gloomy silence persisted over lunch, which C.C. refused to eat.

Finally, the teacher said. “Have you forgotten what [the Aikido teacher] said? ‘Do not hide.'”

And C.C. said without tears or agitation that the museum was the last place where he had seen his grandmother and his father, and the place where his father had abandoned him.

And the teacher asked “Do you think, being brave enough to say this, that you are also brave enough to go to the museum?” And C.C. said “I think it is worth a try.”

But it came to be that the time had passed where they could go to the museum that day, so the teacher said “It’s already afternoon, so we’ll play some badminton instead of going to the museum today, but next time, you can tell us you want to go, we will all go together.”

[… and so doing walk with G’d.]

My student is growing up 🙂 Also, what a great teacher she was, to have persisted in asking for the answer.

Psalm 19:8-10

The Torah of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The mitzvoth of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them righteous.

Because I have shared the mitzvah of studying the Torah, I have participated in this story.

Every mitzvah counts.

Why did I start reading the Torah? Because I missed Chabad Japan (www.chabadjapan.org Donate!). After many years of living away from Japan and not studying the Torah with Chabad Japan, I tried to find some people to study with, but was dissatisfied with their interpretations, but what could I do but study by myself? This led to finding commentaries online, to studying with my family, and to sharing the story of Genesis 3 with the children of the orphanage.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, once said that every setback is a chance to grow by spurring us to draw on untapped resources. So it was that my disappointment led to me to finding ways to study by myself. So it was that C.C. is learning to surpass his abandonment by not hiding from it.

If I have done nothing else in Taiwan, I have at least played a part in this story. Yet after hearing this story, I begin to see possibilities, and that there is so much more to do.

We are living in the time of the redemption, where there are many tools by which we can amplify good. Every mitzvah counts. May we through our actions shine the light of lovingkindness out into the world. May we thus make the world more joyous and habitable. May we not fear that our shortcomings will prevent us from doing so. May we direct our attention and energies outwards as G’d bade Adam and Eve. May we make straight the road for the Messiah. And may He come quickly in our time.

一歩づつの合間

今夜道場の方々とサルサのライブを聴きに行き、踊った。武道、舞踊、音楽三昧の一夜だった。踊っている時には、足を踏まない合間がある。それこそ、一歩一歩が大切で、安穏に踏んでいなければならない。止まる合間を感じないと動きが荒れてしまう。これはまさに武踊一如。

長年、日常でも、出張でも、暇でも、忙しくても、笑っても、落ち込んでても、毎週に規律よく稽古していたら、とにかく合気道が一つ息抜きの合間になっている。

そして、少なくても歩く時に安定に踏むことができるような体づくりになった。これからも長く、稽古の相手の皆さんが日頃の修行でそれぞれ一歩づつ邁進できるよう、心からお祈り申し上げます。

質疑並玩耍的心態

這陣與同學透過練習及討論之些心得。
一, 和一位學長練時要不怕地表達出動作。如上班時需在上司前表達意見,甚至被駡時也要把該說的說出。我們不只在練身体,亦在練一個心態。
一, 我們可以質疑技法。特別在自由稽古中,覺得有空間必開,逃開, 阻擋時,我們可以這么做。但,要以玩耍的心態,不得比勝負。如此我們自然會避開死板的練習,將練習化而為活動的探索
一,不要讓對方受傷。自已也要當心不要硬撐著對方的壓力而自已受傷。則,衡量對方的容量。再說,不能比勝負,做不出來就算了。逃不開對方的技法,也算了。
一,最重要是兩人有沒有運動到。日人曰練武時要先「作身」。在討論細節之前,學生須有基礎的体能才可以了解。
一,開祖盛平大先生曰「目で分からんことは言葉で言ふても分からん。」釋是「眼睛看憧的,用說的也聽不𢤦。」
一,我與弟妹練時要謙虛。我亦未明皆答,惟練得久些已。皆學長姐與學弟妹練時必亦然。
一,教和練不同。學長姐教學弟妹,容易。與學弟妹練,較難。先輩要學如何和後輩練。怎么做得呢?我曾有本部道館的學長說「白帯にも稽古をさせなければ行けない」意為也要未昇段的

In Focus

We had a teacher visit from Japan with two students, to teach an Aikido seminar. During the seminar, I was doing freestyle with the bigger one. I’m about 60kg, so he must have been about 90kg, a former sumo wrestler, I heard.

The teacher walked by when it was my turn to throw. “You’re being nice.” She observed. “You should throw harder.”

“Harder?” I asked. I did a series of three iriminage techniques on my partner, at growing intensity.

“Yes, that’s better.” said the teacher.

Turnabout is fair play, so when it was my partner’s turn to throw me, he threw hard, too. Aikido has ancient jujitsu roots, but the techniques have been de-lethalized just enough that they can be done at full speed for practice. For a few minutes, I felt myself acutely alive. When I was slammed into the ground, I rolled out of the fall to attack again. When he attacked, I broke his balance, led him along, then slammed him into the ground. Everything curiously in focus. I can play the experience back in slow motion.

Over a decade of training. Freestyle practice brought into focus by the intensity of training with an unpredictable and skilled attacker. Aikido is many things. It is aerobic exercise. It is postural improvement. It is a bone-strengthener. It is good for metabolism. It is a way to meet people. But it is also the joy of finding a compatible partner and slamming each other into the ground until you each are panting and sweaty, and bow to each other saying “thank you for this experience.”

尊敬

昨日の合気道の稽古の後、後輩と一緒にかき氷を食べに行き、やっぱり甘いので、喉の渇きが治まらない。それで後輩が店主に水のかかったき氷をひと碗頼んで、それを分かち合った。

「先輩は飲みますか」と聞いた。

「はい、いただきます。」と一口飲んだら、お碗を返した。

後輩が碗を両手で取り、軽く会釈した。その時に、私がお碗をとったときに同じ動作をしたと初めて気が付いた。後輩がそれをまねしただけだ。こういうお碗での飲み物の取り方は一度モンゴルの草原でテントで泊まったときに夕方にウォッカの碗を回して泊めてくれた家族と分かち合ったことで学んだかもしれない。なんだか、されたらすごくうれしい。

 


自分が好きということは正当化する必要がないだろうな。

高校、親が外語の教科書をよく買ってくれたが、ある時に「積分学の成績がそんなに良くないので、あんなに漢字を勉強せず、数学を習ったほうがいいだろう。」といった。

俺が怒って「いや、そんなことないよ。」といった。

でも、一番の親孝行そして自己尊敬で大切なのは自分の幸せに自分で責任を取ること。平静で「これで私が幸せになるから。」といえること。

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.