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October 2008

30. But I'm Not Sure About This

Internal dialog can be interesting if we slow down enough to listen to what the little person in the back of our brain is trying to say to us.

One of the important lessons inherent in a serious martial arts study, most especially a MA such as Aikido, is the growing awareness of internal dialog's that can impact our training and in some cases, if not fully understood, can cause us to quit our training without really knowing why.  Some therapists refer to these dialog's as "tapes" that were programmed into us by our parents, our siblings, our peer group and by our life experiences.  Worst of all, these tapes can run in the background and cause us to make important decisions based not on the facts of a given situation but instead on the unvoiced and unidentified fears from our subconscious.

Lets quickly look at only two that I see on the tatami on a very regular basis.

The first is "hand in the face".  In Aikido, throwing uke, setting up a technique, or achieving separation from uke to enlarge the ma-ai (combative distance) is usually done by placing a hand in the face and either pushing or threatening a strike which physically shoves uke away or causes them to react on a subconscious level by jerking their head/entire body back to stay off of that hand.  Once understood this becomes quite valuable in training and of course in self-defense since you are using the natural human reaction of protecting the eyes for Aikido purposes.  Aikido is quite good at teaching the recognition and use of these natural fears in ways that other martial arts simply do not.

Men who have never been in many fights as a kid have a natural fear of this as do women; women having been taught that they never touch a man's face or allow their face to be touched due to the potential sexual content.  Additionally, girls fight much less in grade school as kids than boys do and unless they have been trained (unusual for the most part for little girls) then instead of balling up their fist and striking the face, they claw, scratch and pull hair such that striking the face is not second nature nor natural for them.  Men are much the same.  There has to be either prior experience or training to make it natural.

This fear of touching the face is conquered over time by placing the student in a non-competitive, non-combative training atmosphere and by going through the technique over and over until, over time, it becomes a "no-thoughts-required" kind of response in normal kata practice. 

Eventually any man or woman will easily be able to do any waza requiring hand-in-the-face first as part of normal practice, then as part of normal kata demonstration, and then as part of normal randori.  At that point, it has become a natural response on the intuitive/subconscious level and the fear of placing your hand in someone's face (to throw them) or of having them place their hand in your face (as part of practice or randori) is no longer of concern.  The fear has been conquered and it since it no longer bothers you, it becomes a valuable "arrow in your quiver" of waza upon which you can draw.

The second fear (or subconscious concern) is grappling aka ne-waza.  This for the most part originates in two areas of concern; the first being sexual (for men and women both) and the second being that school-yard fear of the bully sitting on your chest and pounding you senseless.

For men the sexual part is a fear of being considered homosexual.  Even if that is not their personal preference, the cultural programming says don't roll around on the ground with guys otherwise someone might doubt you.

For women the sexual part is a natural and completely understandable fear of rape.

Both of these fears/concerns are subconscious and completely natural and both can be conquered once again by simply going to class and training.  By doing so, we conquer the fear and begin to understand how it has influenced our life, thus leading us to the realization that we don't have to let it control us unless we choose to.  Again, another extremely valuable "Aikido for life" lesson that on the surface has nothing to do with MA and self-defense and yet has everything to do with Aikido/MA/Self-Defense.

If you have been attacked and are on the ground and the guy is on top with sex on his mind, or with pounding your skull flat against the ground on his mind, then at that point in your life the fear is real and you become powerless to protect yourself.  Because you allowed your fears/concerns to detract from your training; you are now unprepared and the fear, having been fully realized in a true-to-life and dangerous situation has completely paralyzed you and, unable to get control of your emotions, you are unable to think or react properly.

Training in ne-waza allows you to work on relaxing, focusing, breathing and on thinking about strategy and technique.  You push aside the fears and concerns that make you want to do anything else in the dojo other than grappling, regardless of what Sensei says.  The problem is, the only way to understand how to fight and defend on your back is to do it ands to do it often; kata style, slowly and focused, repeat the move, etc., etc., etc.

Over time, focusing only on the practice with a partner that you trust not to hurt you (because you both play and train with full attention paid to  Kano's dictum of "Mutual Welfare, Mutual Benefit") allows you to pay no attention to the "sex" or the "bully" "internal tapes" that you have playing  inside you, but instead allows you to focus only on doing the work and having fun doing it since it's a challenge and an interesting part of your time at the dojo.  Pretty soon you become a real ne-waza person and you pay no attention to what the attacker on top is or is not trying to do.  You just focus on the principles and the waza and you submit them.  Submitting a real attacker simply becomes another dojo training exercise because the fear has been conquered and it becomes "just another day at the office".

These fears are purely subliminal and subconscious and although they are powerful, they can first be conquered and later fully understood resulting in a high level understanding of Aikido, self-defense and martial arts in general; not to mention the new and more in-depth understanding our ourselves and our fears and the growing ability to apply this to our daily life off the mat.

Aside from self-defense, self-awareness was probably one of the most valuable life skills that I acquired from the last 40 years of Aikido training and teaching and I still work on it every single time I put on my gi and hakama.

Most wondrously of all, it was a skill that was given me in a very sly and subtle fashion.  I went to class and just did what Sensei said.  After lots of mat time, I became desensitized and a hand in the face and rolling around on the mat with another guy simply ceased to bother me.  It was just another part of the training regimen, leading to personal knowledge and understanding that increased my self-confidence and martial arts ability and allowed me to focus more intensely on the learning.

Focusing on the learning and not the fears is valuable to anyone, in any facet of life, work, or family.  Acquiring that ability makes you infinitely more than what you were.

Now turn of that plasma HD, go get your gi-bag and get down to the dojo and put your hand in someone's face and do a little rolling around.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

Aikibudo Kancho

Aikibudokan, Houston, TX

October 2008

29. Broadness

A quick note for a sunny Sunday evening while in the backyard with the laptop and enjoying a cold one.

Many years ago when I began training Aikido was very new to Texas.  It had been around on the two coasts but as far as Texas went, it was virginal fresh territory for any Sensei with a genuine pedigree and an active dojo.

Because Aikido was so new (the dojo I began training at was one of only maybe half a dozen in the entire state and all of those were satellite dojo of the man who became my primary Sensei) and because Aikido had this mystique surrounding it, the large majority of my contemporaries and I engaged in a broad study of things that on the surface had little to no relationship to the martial arts; or so we thought.

On the main page of this "blog" (which has instead rapidly turned into a PhD. level lecture covering the relationship of Aikido to things "not-Aikido") I have placed books and other study sources for those truly interested in a higher-level study akin to that I and my training partners undertook all those years ago.

Aikido, and the life-changes that it can bring to those who live their life as an Aikido Player, is more than simply a few ukemi during class.  It is curiosity, a willingness to explore things that others do not, it is a quest to understand who we are and what made us who we are.

I initially put a couple of books up and with each one, I put a little blurb about my opinion of the work.  Today, I will take most if not all of the opinions off and begin listing more works with links to sites that will have readers opinions.

I will list by level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) the study materials that I and many others found of immense benefit in our studies of Aikido.  While not directly "Aikido" per se; these works apply to many areas including; self-awareness, intuition, physical fitness and coordination, kinesiology, psychology and the like, all of which while make you a higher-level Aikido player.

Remember; Aikido, Zen and the marital arts are more than just throwing uke around or sitting on a cushion and breathing through your navel.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008

28. Aauuuuummmmmm :-]

The boy was hot-wired like a hamster tied to a car battery.

That was the first thought that came into mind as my hatamoto described the scene at a local computer store as he attempted to pay out.

Hatamoto (we'll call him "Hat" for short for privacy) is at the check out counter at a the computer store.  He had just pushed his buggy, loaded to the gills with computer "stuff" to the checkout counter and in order to get there he had "motor-vated" past a whole slew of folks patiently awaiting their turn at running up their charge card balance.

"Hat" is filling out the paperwork and talking to the clerk when suddenly one of the "I'm waiting in line to spend money" folks screamed at him, "I'm going to kick your ........... credit card".  (That's not what he really said but I'm trying to nice here).

Mr. Credit Card Kicker then proceeds to get'him some "runny-mouth" (that's country talk for mouthing off when he should be keeping quiet) and after talking about how much he didn't like "Hat" spending money before he could, he got out of the Que' (I always liked the Brits and their funny abbreviations) and walked an incredible long way to stand just out of arms reach of "Hat" and get'him some more "runny-mouth" directed towards "Hat".

Long story 'kinda' short ............ "Hat" didn't have to work his Aikido magic on him because Mr. Credit Card Kicker walked away mumbling to himself, so "Hat" went to the parking lot, loaded his car and drove off to his office to hook up his new video game players.

When telling me this story, it wasn't to inform me of the nice customers down at the computer store; it was to tell me about him scaring himself.

He said that the entire time that Mr. Credit Card Kicker was yelling at him for absolutely no apparent reason and walking around to get closer to him to yell some more, he was absolutely calm and unconcerned and was not worried in the least and, was actually more concerned about doing some really serious things to Mr. Credit Card Kicker than he was about all the commotion.

Apparently this was the first time that "Hat" had this internal understanding of being "dead calm" inside.  I told him that this was a good thing.  Aikido is supposed to develop our ability to dispassionately step back and look at our opponent with no emotion being involved.  By reaching this important point in his Aikido development (only done by long-term, seriously focused training) he had effectively transcended emotion and now could make a studied decision as to whether engage, or not engage, the "enemy".

More important, this decision could be made based NOT in emotional distress but instead by evaluting whether Mr. Credit Card Kicker (or someone like him at work, on the street, in the beer hall, where ever) was just gettin'him some "runny-mouth" and could therefore safely be ignored like a parent chosing to ignore a kid wanting candy at the supermarket; or whether it was an actual and serious threat to personal safety that had to be dealt with.

Long-term, seriously focused training; there is no other way.

The benefits of Aikido will never fully manifest themselves until they suddenly appear as a wonderful surprise.

Come To Class

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX

27. Todays' Ethical Thought - Rep vs. Character - Part II

Answer from "The Ethics Nag"; BOTH!

Both reputation and character are equally important in my view.

Many people write/think/speculate that only character matters at all; or that character is the more important of the two.  IMHO this thought process is terribly incomplete and reflects a total lack of understanding how to train; whether you are training in Aikido or in life.

I was always taught that in my everyday life I should always, always, always apply Aikido principles in everything I do and say.  When walking through a door, push it open using same hand and foot.  When approaching or being approached by someone, even a friend or family member, and you shake hands or hug, move off-line just a little.  When standing still and taking a first step in any direction always make that very first step an opening step for the body drop; don't move your feet together before stepping forward as that will raise your center of gravity.

In other words; consistently applying the fundamental principles of Aikido in everyday life means that you are training those principles 100% of the time so that they will always be there when you need them in a conflict.  To only apply and use the principles when on the mat and ignoring them off the mat means that you are spending more time "de-programming" yourself than you are "programming".

So character and reputation are the same.  If reputation is how you act in public and you (theoretically) are on your very best behavior and character is how you act in private then acting in private like you act in public only reinforces that public persona.  Pretty soon, they become the same and now your reputation is the same as your character and your reputation becomes greatly enhanced because you are genuine ALL the time.

Believe it or not, most people who are "sensitives" (street definition: not walking around with their heads shoved somewhere dark with their ego in bloom) can readily tell the difference when someone doesn't "seem" or "feel" genuine; and that's just the untrained civilians, not even considering skilled Aikido players who have made a life of developing their abilities to read body language and immediately be aware of someone parsing words, using verbal nuancing and sophistry or exhibiting situational ethics.  They can read non-genuine's a mile away like they walked into the room wearing a glowing neon hat with the words, "Hey, I'm a liar and a cheat and if you turn your back on my I'll prove it to you" burning like fire in the night.

Be consistent.  Your Aikido should apply to every physical action and emotional state you engage in whether on or off the mat.  That will make your skills explode and you'll "Become Aikido" and as Ueshiba was once described, "In all of his everyday actions he never showed an opening for an enemy" (paraphrased).

Your life should also be consistent whether in public or in private.  Practicing your table manners in private means that they will always be there at the formal banquet, at a friends house for a casual evening or at the Elks BBQ (you won't slip up and start licking your fingers because you don't have to think about manners, they simply "are") and practicing your honesty, ethics and morality means that those patterns will exhibit themselves automatically and without conscious thought so that everyone detects only consistency from you (you won't let your "mask" slip off by accident because you dont' have to continually think about not lying, cheating or stealing).

Consistency, an important Aikido principle and Life principle; but then again, they're the same aren't they (Aikido and Life)?

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008

26. Todays' Ethical Thought - Rep vs. Character - Part I

Since I've spent several days now beating that dead horse called, "Seabiskit", er, ah, "The Ethics Nag", I'll make this thought really short so that you can chew the cud for a while;

Reputation is how people view us when we're in public and have on our "goody, goody, two-shoes face".  For the most part we're going out of our way (if we have any sense at all and don't have our brains out playing with them) to put on our best face and best behavior and best table manners.  We want to make and be friends, we want to get along at work, we want our clients to like us, we want to get along with our mother-in-law, we don't want to spill soup on our tie or drop the chicken bone on the floor; you fill in the blank.

Character is how we act when there is no one in the room but us and we can do what we want, when we want and the way we want.  No one will see us and we are not trying to impress anyone.  We can eat the way we want, we can poot and belch to our heart's content, we can eat off the floor with our fingers if we want and wear dirty panties if it makes us happy and there's no one there to criticize or look at us funny-sideways like.

Which is more important; reputation or character?

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008

25. Fear and the Un-Fearful - Part III (The Making of A Hard Man or Woman)

In class a couple of days ago one of my male players was joking around with one of my female players.  It was all good natured and well meant as they have a good platonic relationship both on and off the mat.

He said something about her that caught my ear; "She's not a real woman.  She's an Aikido player."

I thought about that for maybe one second before I began to discuss with them the actual depth behind that off-the-cuff (but very astute) remark and how Sarah Palin and my background in South Texas came into it.

When vigorously studied over a long period of time, Aikido rewires the inside of your head.  The Sensei I studied and trained under for 20 some years was fond of stating that if people knew just how powerful Aikido truly is and just how radically it changes who you are (how you perceive yourself) and how you interact with others in all circumstances, that some folks would try to have it outlawed.

Consider this; you go to work everyday and are generally a mild-mannered employee/drone.  Your boss is known for coming into offices and either speaking very sternly or in stressful meetings, raising his voice and yelling at people.  He has done this successfully for so long that he knows no other way.  He has come to think that domination is the best way to motivate people and since everyone needs their job, they knuckle under and say nothing and over time become the very things that they promised themselves in school that they would never become; their parents, desperate to keep their job and becoming an empty suit going no-where in a hurry.

You get a wild hair one day and sign up at a dojo and begin training in Aikido on a very faithful basis.  You can't get enough mat time and you grow to love ukemi.  Sensei talks incessantly about principles, fundamentals, looking your training partner in the eye without emotions being involved, only bring a positive attitude onto the mat, leaving your ego in your shoes and your shoes outside the door, controling breathing, posture, living a life in balance and harmony, etc.

You begin training in faster and faster attack scenarios and eventually get to multiple attacks and randori and weapons.  Over time you build faith in your ability to engage in self-defense and multi-channel processing (being able to talk to someone on the sidelines while you deal with an attack, meaning that your Aikido is now intuitive and no longer needs your conscious attention).  You can throw and talk and to those untrained civilians who do not know any better, it seems like you are two different people inhabiting the same body; one a fast moving Aikido/self-defense person and the other one a very relaxed and centered person having a conversation.

Now you go to work one day and the boss starts yelling at you.  Your Aikido kicks in and you automatically center yourself, take a calm attitude and your breathing pattern changes.  You might have a very brief stomach flutter as a tiny bit of adrenalin kicks in but after that, your face is as flat as the wall, your eyes are just watching the yelling fool in front of you and you no longer display the fear that your boss has become used to.

He's no longer getting the normal response and ....... it ....... scares him.  He no longer knows how to deal with someone who isn't afraid of him.  Your new-found internal strength allows you to step back as you never have before and to dispassionately evaluate your job, you career potential, your boss and his empty promises, your co-workers good and bad and everything about them, their actions, and the company statement.  You are relaxed and you begin to notice things, attitudes, circumstances and on-the-job ethics that you have never seen before because you, until now, had been walking around in haze of fear, a fog, more concerned about survival than observing what has been going on around you.

This is how I made the life-changing decision to quit my career in commercial banking and become self-employed.  After so many years in Aikido including filming projects and teaching seminars, I began to quit being afraid and started actually LISTENING to what was being said and WATCHING what everyone at the bank was doing to themselves, their co-workers and their subordinates.  I began to not like it very much at all because I began to see the lack of focus, lack of ethics and honesty, the self-deceptions, barbaric career drive that destroyed so many relationships and marriages, the use of alcohol and drugs, and the use/abuse of anyone who could advance your career by you walking over their dead body. 

When I worked in Asset Management and Liquidation for the RTC (Resolution Trust Corp.) during the S&L bailout 80 to 100 hour weeks were not uncommon.  I worked next to attorneys who billed the government for 150 hour weeks at $500 an hour while only being on the job 10 to 4 every day (do the math yourself).  I had to tolerate supervisors who had whiskey bottles in their offices and who went to "Men's Clubs" every day at lunch and then home to the wife at night.

My bosses got the corner offices and the big salaries while the rest of us "supported" their efforts.  Worst of all though was walking into the boss' office and after asking how to advance our career, we were told to do exactly what they were doing; to wit, walk over the dead bodies of our co-workers and move up the corporate ladder.

I simply couldn't do it and could no longer look at myself in the mirror.  My Budo ethics had finally taken control of my soul and there was no looking back.  Aikido had finally given me the power to stand on my own, be my own man, act soft or hard as the circumstances warranted and work "with" people instead of "against" people.  I laid an untimatum out to my first wife about our future only to find that I had grown and matured while she had not.  I divorced her, changed jobs, re-married, positioned myself for a new career over a two year period, and did it.  They had a buy-out and I was given the choice of moving up the corporate ladder and moving to San Francisco or taking the buy-out package.  That decision was one of the easiest I've made.  I made it so fast I spun the head off of the corporate "talking head" who made it.

After I left with a full years salary in my pocket and full benefits, I suddenly realized that I could never have done it without the strength Aikido gave me and the clarity of thought.

I finally understood my family and their hard attitudes way back when.  After much Aikido you too can become the "steely-eyed cowboy" in all the movies and books, calmly watching the horizon for the dust from the approaching indians; you are now a "hard man or woman" because you no longer are intimidated by a yelling fool.  After all, if you can deal with someone trying to take your head off at full speed and with multiple attackers, then this guy yelling his head off is just a big weinie.

Old style South Texas cattlemen were the same; a hard life just gives a calm attitude along with the spine to do what's necessary, IF (IF) you determine that something more than being watchfully quiet is required.

In our society, for all the protestations to the contrary, people are used to submissive women and fawning gutless men.  We are taught to occupy these roles from childhood on as being the societal norm.  A man who "stands-up" is denigrated as being a "cave-man" in this over-feminized society.  The paradoxical thing though if you think about it long enough is that in a society that has become "over feminized" to the degree that this one has been, it has had only two results; produced men who haven't a clue as to how to be a man so they over-react and become the "cave-man" that they aren't supposed to become, and a whole bunch of women who act like Beaver Cleaver's mom from the tv show as they wear a summer dress, pearl necklace and high-heels while they clean house, bake cookies and prattle on about whatever.

So now we have Sarah Palin who comes on the scene with photos of dead moose and wolves in front of her while she holds the rifle, and she has, "gasp....CHILDREN AND SHE'S NOT STAYING HOME TO RAISE THEM...GASP, DOUBLE GASP"


Sarah Palin, to someone like me who was raised in much the same type of frontier, "root hog or die" environment is simply a "hard woman" who adapted to circumstances and knows how to stand erect and get the job done.  She very much reminds me of my mother (who was a horse-whisperer/trainer" before that became popular) and of my great-aunt who rode a conestoga to town and was the first female principle and then superintendent of schools in a little district in deep South Texas.  They were achievers who intimidated weaker men and women.

Just because you as a man aren't used to dealing with strong women doesn't mean you can't learn.  Just because you as a woman aren't used to dealing with what female liberation claims it wants but is frightened by, doesn't mean that you too cannot become an Aikido player who is not a "woman".  The player that got that comment is very feminine but when she needs to be hard I'll be the one selling tickets to the butt-kicking and my wife and I (she's a hard-as-nails 6th degree black belt herself) will sit in the stands with some hot sake and watch her surprise the poor fool.

The same can be said for any woman who sticks with Aikido long enough and for any man who sticks with it also.  Training heads-up with strong women produces men who are more balanced and who no longer fear a stong woman.  Both sexes benefit because both have a new appreciation of the full development possible and begin to understand how either a man or woman can be gentle and hard all at the same time.

The Japanese called it "Balance".

You don't have to vote for Palin unless her politics is what you're looking for but you should respect her as a strong person.  Don't have a herd mentality that says because she can think for herself and is govenor of the largest state in the union, she's an intellectual lightweight.  She hasn't built the career that she's living today by baking cookies so I strongly suspect that she's a quick study and is able to quickly adapt and learn whatever it would take to become VP or Prez.

If you think Palin's a lightweight because that's become the way in which you identify and vocalize your primal fear of her as a strong individual then I've got some "lightweights" in the dojo I'll be happy to introduce your to; they're called "Hard Men and Hard Women"; normal people who just happen to live life as "Aikido Players".

And if Palin really does become VP then email me and let me know who'll be selling the tickets to the Palin-Pelosi gunfight at high noon.  That's one that even an old cowboy like me wants a front row seat to.

"Hey!  Where can an old boy from South Texas get a taco and a cerveza?  Pass the sal y lima, por favor!"

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

Aikibudo Kancho

Aikibudokan, Houston, TX

October 2008

24. Fear and the Un-Fearful - Part II (A Hard Man or Woman)

Aikido is supposed to make us more than what we are when we begin training.  When I was a kid growing up in cattle country on the border with Mexico, in a part of the United States that has always been confused about who it is (we're not American and we're not Mexican so I guess we're Texans) life wasn't necessarily brutal like a third world country but it wasn't easy either.

During harvest time every one in the Rio Grande Valley carried guns because of all the cash from selling grain sorghum, cotton, cattle, citrus and the like since even to this day The Valley as it's called, is a major agri-business center in the United States, not quite on the order of the Imperial Valley in California, but close.

Having to always work 18 hour days, carry guns either on your hip or in a holster screwed into the dash board of your pickup or car or having a saddle gun while you're sitting on a horse and working cattle, being real-friendly Texas style but always looking over your shoulder at the guy behind you while taking the measure of the man standing in front of your while he offered you his hand, makes a hard man and in the case of the women in my family, a hard woman.

Mr great Aunt was another hard woman.  She literally rode to South Texas as a girl in a conestoga wagon pulled by oxen so the frontier wasn't really all that removed time-wise and attitude-wise from my upbringing.

So all of this applies to Aikido how, precisely?

Look at this election and how so many people from the hard-left liberal press to women's liberation organizations to female editorial writers to the man sitting next to you at work; look at how they hate, absolutely hate Sarah Palin.  It's breathtaking in its' transparency and in its' viciousness.

They attempt to rationalize it by such statements as, "She's an intellectual lightweight" or "How can she raise kids and run for VP" and "She's a nature hater because she approved culling timber wolves and she shoots moose and makes moose burgers", yadda, yadda, yadda, ad nauseum to quote a retired TV comedian.

Well, all I can say as an Aikido Hanshi who teaches and encourages everyone of his students to stand on their hind feet and get in peoples' faces if needed and to have confidence and to fear no one and to become more than what they are when they start and to read Ueshiba's story about being weak as a young man and to be great and self-confident and self-reliant and learn Budo and improve and develop mind, body and spirit so that everyone respects you and your confidence and your ability to recognize wheat from chaff ............. all I can say in a nice way that's fit for consumption by minors is "Bull Sheeets, you'll all lying through your teeth because she scares you to death!"

While I personally don't agree with all of her positions politically and think that she has a lot to learn about Washington politics, her immediate impression on me was that she was just like all the women I grew up with as a boy in cattle country.  Carry a gun, know how to use it, speak her mind clearly, bust down the saloon door to the "old boys club" and give the fat a_____holes a good talking to, direct, confident, self-reliant, AND able to get up before sunrise and leave the kids in bed, shoot the moose, field dress it, take a slice home for breakfast, get the kids up, fed, off to school, and then go off to work herself and slay the dragons, then take care of the family that night, early to bed and do it all again without any apology to the effette "weinies" who can't understand why she doesn't want to stay home and bake cookies.

Criticising her politics is nothing more than a thinly veiled smoke screen to hide the fact that they've never dealt with or had to accept a "hard woman" before.  All of them, the small minded men who criticize her (while they have day dreams of her naked and holding a deer rifle); and most especially the women who pretend to be "women's rights advocates" but only if it's on their miniscule terms, are nothing more than pretenders who say they want strong, independent women but run aways backwards making the sign of the cross in front of themselves when they actually meet the real thing (and not some imitator at the country club halloween party).

Next - Part III - What Aikido Does

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008

23. Fear and the Un-Fearful - Part I (A Hard Man or Woman)

When I was a young laddie' in deep (Deep) South Texas I grew up in John Wayne country.  Actually, where I grew up even "The Big Guy" would have had issues in dealing simply because it wasn't drug store cowboy country; it was Real Cowboy Country and life could be pretty direct in the way it would sometimes rare up and bite you.

Mom and Dad owned a spread and worked it with his brother and their father back during the time of the Bracero program by which Mexican workers were brought into the US for agricultural work on a special visa program during planting/harvesting season.  They grew hygear (a no longer used grain sorgham that had to be cut and shocked by hand), cotton (picked by hand as there weren't good cotton strippers back then that didn't break down every 5 seconds) and they also ran cattle.

They would put the men in the field and would feed them since no one had much money until the crops were harvested and delivered to the elevator or the cotton gin for cleaning and baleing.  Since theft was rampant, Mom would pile the both of us in the pick-up truck and she would take along an old Colt 41 Long that had a bird's beak grip.  That was the pistol she always carried until Dad bought her a Luger P38 that fired 9mm.  She could hit a running jack rabbit with that pistol 30 or 40 yards off so a man was hard for her to miss as the sight picture was much larger.

We'd escort the trucks that pulled the trailers full of picked cotton to the gin until it was weighed and she had the weigh ticket in her hand.  Then she'd go back to the farm and escort the next one in.  We did that all day, every day from before sunrise until after dark until all the crop was in.  Dad in the meantime was in the field where he carried a Colt 45 Hog Leg that fired a bullet the size of your thumb.  He was managing the Bracero's as they worked the cattle and cut the grain and picked the cotton.

After all the crops were in and Mom and Dad got paid, the men got paid so that they could go home to Mexico to their families and then make plans to come back next season.

Some of the Braceros' were a bit iffy in the "honesty" section (if you know what I mean) plus, the spread was out a ways from town so if anything happened, you were literally on your own (an hour to town and an hour back assuming the Sheriff was even there and not already out in the field chasing someone elses' thief, no cell phones, no fax, no email, no 911 phone numbers and the spread had only one undependable party line back at the ranch house).  So what they did at payday is something that sticks in my mind today over 50 years later, even though at the time I was a really young kid.

Mom kept the books so she would go the bank with Uncle Bill (both packing hardware of course) and come back with a bag full of cash.  They would lay out an old blanket on the ground and sit on a stool on one end of the blanket and then lay the stack of cash (a pretty good size stack at that) in front of mom.  She would call each man forward and the Bracero would sit on the other end of the blanket and she would look at the books and then count out his cash after which he would get up and leave.  This repeated itself until she had paid out each man.  It's important to understand that since it was hand labor back then that it took most of the day to pay out anywhere from 300 to 500 Bracero's.  That's a lot of immigrant labor and a lot of cash laying around when they started.

In all those years they never had any issues with attempted robbery at pay day except maybe once or twice (and I remember once that Uncle Bill told me they buried the bodies in the back 400 acres, he smiled that evil smile he always had so I never knew if he was joking or not since the adults didn't share everything with an 8 year kid).

Why no problems with seasonal labor from a poor country with all that cash laying around?

Simple; a hard life makes a hard man or woman.  Mom would lay her Luger beside her on the blanket while she paid off each man.  Dad would stand behind her with his 45 Hog Leg (big damn gun and when he let me shoot it once it knocked my on my ass).

Standing up in the bed of the pickup truck that was behind them (to get a vantage point) was Granddad with a Remington 30 Saddle Pump.  That one shot a bullet as long as your index finger.  Granddad used to carry it when he was younger and worked as a Reserve Texas Ranger and Cattle Agent.  He could shoot like no one I've ever seen.  Once when we were dear hunting I wounded a big White Tail and he didn't want to spoil the meat since we had to have it to eat so he jumped out of the car with that saddle rifle and shot both front legs out from under a running buck.  He shot and broke both front moving legs that aren't any bigger than your wrist, off a running deer a good 30 yards away.

After that, I always believed all the stories they used to tell about him because he snapped both shots off faster than most semi-auto's can do; fired the first, pumped in the second round and fired that one off and pumped in a third round just in case he needed it.  He didn't; two shots for two legs faster than you can say, "Field dress", (Wow).

Uncle Bill was always off to one side with a 12 gauge so basically, with 4 crack shots all carrying big guns, there was seldom if ever any problems.  I use to go white-wing hunting with Uncle Bill when I was in high school and college and once saw him using a 20 gauge to drop dove out of the air while holding his shotgun in one hand and a beer in the other.  The boy could shoot and everytime he popped one on the wing, he'd turn and smile that evil smile at me, making me glad he was my friend and not my enemy.

Part Two - What the H____ Does this have to do with Aikido?

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008

22. Today's Thought - Sheep and Wolves - Part IV

Commercial Banking vs. Investment Banking.

Following the rules/principles of your profession (martial art) vs. not following the rules/principles of your profession (martial art).

Not paying attention to what has always been known about how to run a bank (or train as a martial artist) is what created the current financial crisis in exactly the same way that not paying attention to what has been known for milenia about how to train in martial arts is what gets people in trouble in self-defense situations.

Every martial art is based upon one of 3 essences; the pure base form upon the principles of the art is formed and with which the waza are built.  We can call these the "Elementals of Budo"  (We'll cover the "Universals of Budo" some other Blog and speak to the mental and philosophical).

First Elemental:  the attacker moves against you and your response is to use power to directly oppose everything he does (direct opposition of power by using superior power).

Second Elemental:  the attacker moves against you and your response is to attach yourself to them and use movement to off balance and topple them (attaching and blending your movement with them to achieve superior posture and balance).

Third Elemental:  the attacker moves against you and you avoid before blending your movement with him and only then look for an opening for a termination (avoiding, blending and redirecting)

All martial arts fit into (are) one of these elementals so when you train, the only way in which to build true intuitive responses is to "follow the rules" (just like in banking).  If you forget the rules by trying to apply power vs. power when you should be avoiding and blending will always get you in trouble because your mind is trying to make too many decisions at once.  Pick one elemental, train only in it and over time, you will be able to internalize the correct responses (based upon that applicable elemental) and build the faster intuitive responses possible.

Many times, failing to do this (train only in one elemental) and trying to go cross-elemental (being everything to everyone) builds over-confidence.  Have you ever met someone who said, "I take the best from everything and only use the parts that work!"  I have and the idea of learning a handful of karate moves and some Krav Maga and somee BJJ and a little kung-fu only means that not only will your mind go crazy when you are attacked and scared and over adrenalized but it also means that you are likely a pretty lousy karate guy, or Krav Maga guy or BJJ guy or kung-fu guy; master of all trades and definitely master of none.

Being Master of All Trades can be misleading; it can create the arrogance that comes with believing that you have it wired.  You won't realize that you have issues with your response times and will walk into a problem; all because you failed to "follow the rules".

So the sheep (let's call them "sheeple") are never taught (and never think) to follow the rules and so they wander around not realizing that the kickboxing class they're taking will not prepare them to face the wolves no matter how many times they kick the bag.

The wolves (meat eaters all) love it when the sheeple (vegans all) take a "fake" martial art thinking that they'll never have to use it in real life.

Remember that martial arts are supposed to give you the ability to avoid issues and never use the martial art in anger.  However, you always want the capacity to be there.

Train like a wolf, not like a sheeple but always do your best to not become a wolf.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008

21. Ukemi Part Two – Internalization and Reflexive Training

Playing catch-up this afternoon so I'd thought I'd go back and complete Ukemi Part One.

The human mind is interesting.  The conscious mind takes a long time to make a decision when considering something that it is not familiar.  It takes even longer if it is actually confused or scared and may even go into neural-lock (the cranial version of vapor-lock).

Conversely, if the sub-conscious is making the decision and if it is basing that decision on well-known information that has been programmed into the sub-conscious by repetitious training (of the correct sort) then the difference can be as far apart as 1/10th of a second vs. total neural-lock.

Which speed do you want your brain to function at during a self-defense situation?  "Yes, Mon Capi'tan ..... stop all engines, station keeping" or, would you prefer "Si, Mon Capi'tan.....warp drive engaged, all ahead full, damn the torpedoes, weapons hot!"

How do you get to the warp speed?  Correct, long term practice is the only way in which to the internalized ability to take any ukemi, at any speed, in any throwing or projection configuration and take it automatically, without thought and without delay.

How many?

Consider AS A MINUMUM an article I read years ago that described the difference between a country club hacker who can stomp everyone else at the club, and a real player who is good enough to go to Wimbledon.


That's Ten Thousand.

Ten Thousand Hours of practice by doing redundant, properly formatted, repetitive practice.  Only by this method will the subconscious mind be able to program the correct response that will come into play when the speed and adrenalin levels are so high that using the conscious mind will only cause the reponse time to be too long; so long that serious injury, death, etc. could be the result.

Gee Sensei, that's too long!  I can't do that!

BS (anybody know the Japanese for BS, if you do, send me an email because inquiring minds want to know).

That's right, I said bull sheets.

Just go to class and do the work and before you know it you too will have a few hundred thousand hours on the mat.

In case you didn't read that right I said, JUST GO TO CLASS.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
October 2008