Our world is sick and has been filled with a growing dis-ease. It has gone on in many ways, subtly for a very long time. The hate filled speech and violent actions we are seeing more and more of are symptoms of a world out of balance.“The purpose of the Art of Peace is to fashion sincere human beings,...one who is free of hesitation or doubt, and one who understands the power of words.” O’Sensei
While working in the social service industry working with mostly homeless and those coming out of the prison system I experienced first hand how our speech can be as brutal to the emotions and mind as constant body blows can be to the physical body. This was not just true of those we served but I saw it grow in our own service professionals that were constantly bombarded with this level of violence.
Witnessing this I developed a training program addressing this issue with both staff and client. This training drew heavily on Aikido, other conflict resolution teachings and communication methods. The most enlightening part was just watching people become aware of something that had so slowly crept into their being that it was unnoticed. Once the pattern was pointed out motivation was easily found to make the necessary change.
I am old enough and young enough to remember the race riots and wars of the 1960’s and ‘70’s. I experienced the tearing apart of family, and neighbors.
I remember a time in the early ‘80’s I had to tell my drivers for an airfreight company to not stop for stranded motorist in Northern Idaho because of a Neo-Nazi group that was ambushing people. My life, as many of yours, has been profoundly shaped by those times. Times I do not want to repeat.
Any of us that have trained in Aikido for any length of time has been asked, “why do you train in Aikido?” My answer has always been for the last 33 years, ” to save the world, one uke at a time.”“Aikido is a vehicle for preserving and fostering human life, a means of preventing murder and mayhem” O’ Sensei
As practitioners of Aikido, as explorers of the Way of Harmony we are uniquely qualified, and positioned to foster peace and healing in our world. I can’t count the number of times I have been feeling off, dark, or out of balance, gotten up and put some solid energy into kata or into just shadow Aikido. The immediate re-balancing and return to lightness is undeniable.
O’Sensei was known to perform kata before a demonstration to clear the air and re-balance the energy. Is this not what we are doing each day and night in our practice at the dojo? When Fumio Toyoda sensei passed on to eternity no one was quite sure of what to do with all of the emotion....well, except that everyone just started showing up at the dojo and trained, and trained, and trained....“Aikido is the study of the spirit” O’Sensei
In our practice of the physical movements of our technique we learn to lead. We learn to feel tension in our partner as well as in ourselves. We learn to see the bigger picture. We learn how to create space.We learn how to fill space. We learn how to take the energy of an attack directed at us and turn it so it
has no real target and so is released back to the universe not contained, not contested, harmless.
I did not have much time with Toyoda sensei but he certainly touched me and there were a few moments and sayings that are constant companions of mine. “What is your intention?” Perhaps the most powerful question we can ask ourselves and a question we need to ask of ourselves often.
If our intention is to study Aikido we can not mindlessly make our practice wrote. We must make it a mindful exploration of all aspects of Aikido and how that can effect our lives off the mat.“Victory over oneself is the primary goal of our training. We focus on the spirit rather than the forms, the kernel rather than the shell.” O’Sensei“Fiddling with this
And that technique
Is of no avail.
Simply act decisively
Without reserve.” O’Sensei
I encourage all of us that practice this Art of Peace to “simply act decisively, without reserve.” Do this by applying the lessons of Aikido in everything you do on and off the mat. Take every opportunity to share your Aikido with the world. Take every opportunity to challenge yourselves to be a better human.
A Call to Action
As Aikidoka we are in a position to lead the conversation and thereby lead our communities to a more peaceful way of being. Train hard in the dojo so that you may extend what you have learned to the larger community.
Our dojo will be hosting a training seminar with emphasis on training for peace in the next few weeks. More information to come.
I will also begin exploring off the mat training with local community groups so that those who are unable to join us on the mat can still benefit and contribute.
I am interested in hearing more ideas on how we as students of Aikido can use our super powers for good.“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 for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.” O’Sensei
It is no longer enough for us to keep our training in the dojo. We must positively engage with our communities. We have too much to offer, we have a responsibility to our world. Take the lead, create a better more peaceful world!James Landry Dojo Cho Roshinkan Aikido Dojo