Friday, October 29, 2021

"So What!"


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.

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