The first step is to open the door. You can not step through the threshold of a new experience without first opening the door. Next open your chest wide and breath in deeply, now step into the dojo. And so begins the journey of Aikido. A journey that teaches us to enter into conflict with open minds, open hearts, and open hands.
Many are afraid to take that first step. Fear keeps the door closed. They peer in through the window in wonderment and disbelief at the sight of movement and joy within. For these people we hold the door open and invite them in to watch from a closer more comfortable vantage point. We redirect their disbelief into a tangible experience that gently cracks open the shell of fear that keeps them contained. In time the new student finds a level of comfort that allows the shell to be peeled away. With support the student expands into the new open space.
This opening begins the exploration of a new way to work with conflicts in our lives.
In order to work with conflict we must give it some space. We must open up to allow the conflict some expression. This is the beginning of conversation. Listen to the words, to the emotion, to the body's movement as the conflict is given voice.
Our training allows us to move freely and be safely present, opening ourselves to receive the message. It is only by opening the door to receive the conflict that we can hope to work with it. You can not see what is behind a wall. Only by opening a door can you know what awaits you on the other side. It is our practice that allows us to safely open that door and begin the process of listening and molding the conflict into something new.
At the beginning of each class we openly invite others to teach us, Onegaishimasu. Aiki taiso opens the paths in our body and mind so that energy may flow freely. Our posture is opened so that we may breath more deeply and learn to be solid in our stance as conflict arises around us. Our practice of tai sabaki teaches us to move freely and with balance opening a space for our partner to enter. As technique is created we open a space for ukei to fall. A safe place for our partner to fill.
Consistent training conditions the body, mind, and heart to stand amidst the turbulent conflict in our lives, to move without constraint, opening ourselves to the possibilities that create positive change. I believe this is the true value of our training in Aikido. We do not have to look far for this conflict. It is in ourselves, as are the doors waiting to be opened.