FYI – There will be no classes this Tuesday, 12/7/21.
Back to normal next week.
Making your new year's resolutions? Want something physical? stress relieving? fun? meaningful? Try learning a martial art at Aikido Kokikai of Rochester!
We apply martial arts principles for both real self-defense applications as well as the resolution of daily conflicts. There are no cage matches, points, or artificial weight classes on the street nor are there the equivalent in the office. Conflict, physical or otherwise, is usually asymmetric, the strong of either will or body want to have things their way. We need the right set of tools for the job. Genuine martial arts are designed to level the playing field and give you an advantage over larger, stronger, and multiple attackers. The strategies, self-discipline, and the development of inner calm under stress from martial arts are equally suited to the rigors of daily life as they are to the common experience of the battlefield known as the street.
You can even start any time, even January 1st at our annual New Year's Day Class at 10am. Regular classes are Tuesday-Thursday evenings . You will learn both mental and physical skills that apply to reducing stress in your daily life as well as to self-defense in a fun and welcoming environment. Check us out at www.aikidorochester.com for more information. Don't live near Rochester, NY? No problem, there are Aikido Kokikai® dojos around the country. Find one near you at https://kokikaiusa.org/group-directory
The natural movements of the body.
Elbows, knees and fingers bend. Torsos twist. The body's joints follow natural laws based on their design. Unlike many arts that attempt to break these ... "laws", Aikido obeys and uses them to steal balance and throw our attackers upon the mercy of gravity and the concrete jungle. Aikido Kokikai® is a truly elegant path that reserves our energy for the movements that matter rather than overcoming bone and sinew.
Learn more via the links to the right.
#aikido #dojo #kokikai #MindBodySpirit #womensselfdefense #selfdefense
“Did you exchange, a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?”
-Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here"
Such a deep question and one of my favorite lines in music. Though it is doubtful that the meaning I take is precisely what the band originally intended, it's their fault for leaving such profound line just lying around. As a martial artist, that line has always struck me as what should run through our minds the instant we see ourselves or another in peril. We can contemplate that question all we want, but we can only truly answer it in that instant that demands one. Am I truly willing to fight back, to so "no" to a mugger, to stand up to a bully, to not just sit idly by on a SEPTA train for eight long minutes. Or, will I choose to bear the mantle of oppression? What else could we call that fear to get involved and permit another's pain or even our own.
It is an interesting choice of words for this lyrical question. The participants in war are seldom those that brought about the situation. They are generally reluctant participants. Despite important roles to play, they would much rather be home watching their children play, holding their spouse, or just running to the corner store. But they aren't. If they had the power to wish themselves home, they would certainly be tempted.
There are stakes in conflicts. Most assuredly they are proportionate to the situation. If someone steals a purse or wallet, yes they get the contents which can be replaced, but that isn't the only thing exchanged. Success begets success, if they get our stuff, they are emboldened to repeat aggression to another. Worse yet, we are forever impacted by that violation. The same is true of any theft or assault, from a copped feel to a car-jacking. That feeling is the cage.
This certainly is not intended to say that all fights should be fought. As martial artists, we learn that we never fight a battle you cannot win. You don't go after a force three times your size and expect to come out unscathed. But that is where defining the battle comes in, or more precisely stated, defining the objective. It may be wise to fight a battle you cannot come away from unharmed or maybe even not at all, if that is not the objective that matters. The objective may be to protect another, either to delay long enough for help to arrive or for them to escape. Or it may be risking that bloody nose to not live in the emotional cage built by a bully.
There are infinite what-if scenarios and there is no general prescription that could hope to resolve them all. It would be foolish to suggest one. Thus we can only answer this profound question in the context of a particular instant. The one thing we can do now, before that moment, is wear the same mantle of responsibility shared by most every creature on earth, to learn to protect ourselves . We bear that unfortunate duty by training in some form of martial art (Aikido, Boxing, firearms, etc.). By giving our future selves a set of tools that can be called upon, we create true options. Because in that moment, when the question is put to us, our ability to answer will be limited to what knowledge we bring to that moment.
Perspective, like patience, is not a gift often granted to the young. If you think back to who you were 10 or 20 years ago compared to how you are now, what you know, how your values and priorities have evolved with your life experiences you'll understand what I mean. The pain of the struggles your bore then have faded a bit, what at the time seemed like nothing but stress and angst, you may now be able to see the lessons in those experiences, even value them.
What does this have to do with practicing a martial art like Aikido Kokikai®? We function best when relaxed and clear minded. Experience and perspective are the things that allow us to face stressors yet manage the natural fears and anxiety they conjure. If you have handled a similar situation before, you are likely less stressed than you were the first time. If you have handled similarly valued situations, you will have less anxiety over equal or lesser valued situations.
In martial arts, we may have fun doing it, but we practice to resolve very serious situations, ones that threaten life and limb. A good practice partner will physically attack you with 100-plus-a-little-bit percent of what you can presently handle to help you grow. Practicing and gaining confidence in this manner provides you with experience of managing your primal fight or flight mechanisms. The same mechanisms are triggered by any source of stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional. Perspective is gained by being able to value stressors objectively. Is this situation really as serious as we are making it, or is it likely just another bump in the road like so many others. One of Sensei Maruyama's trademark phrases is "So What!" which he brings out when large athletic ukes attack. "So What!" is not a question, he says it as an exclamatory, it is a message to uke, an attitude that it doesn't matter they are big and strong and fierce, do Aikido correctly and it's going to be ok.
"So What!" is a declaration of experience and perspective. Maybe the next time you are faced with a difficult or stressful situation, start by asking "So what?". Eventually, it will no longer be a question, but a truth. You got this.