Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Make the World your Dojo

An Example of Aikido in Everyday Life

      The other day I was at the park with my wife and son.  Being the ever adventurous two year old, he wanted me to push him in the swing.  After pushing him to the appropriately semi-dangerous height, I kept him pushing to maintain this height to which he squealed in delight.  It was at that time that I realized I was unconsciously using my aiki.  I was standing to side of his swinging arc, and catching his butt on the upswing, not stopping his motion, but feeling the motion and adding just a slight push down right on the top of his arc to keep him swinging at the same height.  I was going with his motion, and then adding energy to over extend where his motion was naturally going.
Tenkan footwork
      So I decided to use this opportunity.  I got into more of a stance, and started to concentrate on using my hara, my center, on each push.  I then got an even better idea of moving to push him.  As I pushed my son, I would tenkan from one side of the swing's arc to the other, still pushing with my hara.  What was weird with this experience was I had a hard time not making swing higher.  Pushing him this way, I kept adding too much energy, he kept going higher.
      This was one of those opportune moments where you realize, as O-Sensei said, aikido is a natural art.  Everything can be aikido.  I haven't got to the point where EVERYTHING is aiki, but I am trying to make all my movements natural.  Ever time I'm doing any sort of movement, I try to be conscious of any awkwardness or resistance to natural motion.  Here is an example I remember from my high school physics class.  Sit on a chair or something, and swing your legs.  You can feel a natural rhythm to your leg swings.  Now try to increase the frequency of your leg swings.  Not the amplitude, i.e. height, but the speed... It is hard.  That's because the mass and length of your leg gives it a natural motion.  Going against that nature requires more effort than it's worth.
      I mention this because my life has not enabled me to go to the dojo as much as I'd like to right now.  But, I can still practice the ideas and physical philosophy of aikido where ever I am.  Again to quote O-Sensei: "Make the world your dojo."

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