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August 2009

54. Last Post on This Title (Although the Overall Topic Lives On)

"I fear the silence because it brings the truth".  Song lyric by Pink.

I once knew a woman who couldn't stand silence.  You'd go to her apartment and every room would have either the multiple TVs on and tuned to the same channel or the multiple radios on and tuned to the same station.  When asked why, her response was, "I need the company".  This of course caused me, and many others, to cock our head to one side, scratch our ear and say, "HUH?".

If you have a poor self image then of course you can't stand the silence or being alone for any given length of time because it eventually results in your mind taking over (your subconsious that is) and thoughts begin to arise unbidden.  These can be on something that went right or wrong and could have happened yesterday or in our childhood.  For those with low self-esteem, they more usually are on what went wrong and are unpleasant and this neurotic dwelling on past, unpleasant events will retard if not stop any possible progress in our Aikido career.

Shrinks tell us that reliving and dealing with our "dark" side is the only way in which to reconcile ourselves to it and thereby move forward into a more positive and progressive life, with the failure to do so naturally holding us back in the "darkness".

Pedestrians live in darkness and humans live in the light since they are more willing to "deal with it".  Pedestrians do not like living in the dark (unless they're REALLY messed up) but cannot come out of it due to fear of what might happen and what emotions may arise.  As my parents and grandparents used to say, "Quit whining and just deal with it and be an adult.  What's past is past and if you fouled up just be careful to not do it again and if someone took advantage of you then get away from them and don't be so gullible next time".  I always thought that advice was very succinct and to the point and a motto to live by.

So lets end this search for "Being Human" as a series of "same title" posts and instead take a broader approach.  (It was getting too difficult to do that anyway as a blog is supposed to be a little less structured.)

Humans look forward, have long term goals and are willing to look inward and improve who they are.  Pedestrians do not and are totally satisfied to remain exactly as they are since it's "safer".  But as a guide for moving forward then consider what we have looked at since Christmas;

"He's mad that trusts in the lameness of a wolf, a horse's health, a boy's love or a whores' oath."

"Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little to no influence on society."

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

"He who does not punish evil commands it to be done."

"You gotta go there to come back."

"I fear the silence because it brings the truth."

Consider it on your own and see whence it takes you.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
August 2009

53. We Shihan Sift People to Find the Humans - Part 9

"You Gotta Go There To Come Back" - music album title by the Stereophonics

Been off line a while now due to work and a very hectic summer both at the dojo and the office getting dan promotions behind us and starting work on the next batch of gradings, doing a total redesign of the dan certificates to a very traditional motif and design but, decided it's time to climb back into the saddle.

Pedestrians are those who are unwilling to follow the advice of the album title (do they still call it an "album" or is it now "just a CD"?).  Fear is a powerful dissuader and fear of what you'll find when you get there is indeed a "fearful" thing to behold.  Will you find that your entire concept of martial arts has been faulty for years?  Will you find that the way in which you deal with fellow players and students makes you a bit of a "doo-fuss" or arrogant?  Will you find that you are just playing "dress-up"? 

Or, will you find that you are stuck in the same rut you were in 20 years ago and even tho' you've been promoted a dozen times and are now considered to be the "Gran-Poobah of Aiki-Dokey" or whatever the heck you do at the dojo, your ideas, your understanding, your ability has been static and has failed to progress.  You adhere to the same-o-same-o with no apparent effort made to increase your understanding and evolve the ryu.

Know here that I'm not speaking of actually mutating the ryu nor am I speaking of changing it  or manipulating it or making it "more combat effective" (lower your voice when you say that phrase so it sounds more intimidating kind'a like the new GI Joe movie).  I'm talking about UNDERSTANDING THE RYU which I have found and truly believe will change the way in which you teach and perform in it.

Years ago (probably 25 or 30 so it's been a while) an old Judo player named Mac (if you knew him Mac is all you need to know who I speak of) told a joke that many of us took as a being a thinly veiled jab at some of the driftwood and dead-weight lurking around the tatami during week-long training seminars.  You know the ones; they're wearing a 6th or 7th dan but during the seminars they sit off to one side and pontificate or smoke cigs or pipes.  They sport the costume but I never really remember seeing their butt on the mat actually doing the work like the rest of us.

So here's the joke;  "A guy wanted to go bird hunting so he went to the local Rent-A-Bird-Dog Store.  He walked in, asked the prices and took the cheapest dog name "White Belt Dog" and went hunting.  He came back the next day and told the store proprietor, "My God!  That was an incredible dog!  He pointed and found every bird in the bush.  That was the best hunting day EVER!"

The store proprietor said, "If you think that "White Belt Dog" was good then you need to try "Shodan Dog".  He's incredible and works really, really hard to do the job for you!"

The hunter paid out and took the dog.  Next day he comes back and says, "OMG.....OH MY GOD......THAT WAS GALACTIC....THAT WAS ORGASMIC.....WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DOG!  I shot until I ran out out shells and my shoulder was bruised and the ice chest was completely full"

Store proprietor says, "Well; then you need to try my oldest and most experienced hunting dog.  He's pricey but worth every Yen.  He's called "Sensei Dog".  The hunter says, "I'll take him!"

Next day the hunter comes back and he is P.O.'d.  "This is the most worthless dog I ever saw.  All he does is sit in the corner lapping sake out of his dog bowl, makes eyes at all the bitch dogs that walk by, licks his crotch and barks!"...............................

Get the picture?  Since they never trained to speak to of they never progressed past a certain point and never really knew whether or not they could walk the talk or just talk the walk.  They never "went there to find out" and the only way to get there is to go there; e.g. grab someone of equal or higher rank (preferably bigger than them and harder to move into kuzushi) and then see if they could fling'em around and make the system work by experimenting and training with bigger/smaller, taller/shorter, faster/slower, etc/etc. fellow players; the experience of which cannot help but improve even the Sensei' ability.

How many times do we go to a seminar or visit someone else's dojo and they stand up there and teach but they have a BMI in excess of 35 (meaning they are morbidly obese) and talk about how effective the system is and how good they are.  When was the last time they pushed away that bucket of fried chicken and went to the gym, followed by a rousing session of koryu kata and a little randori to cool off?

Just because you run the dojo and have been around forever doesn't mean that you should not train on a regular basis to keep up your skill sets and move forward.  After all; any Aikido player can be a pedestrian  and so can a Sensei for that matter.  That's why I make a resolution on a regular basis to get myself back into it the fray; once I realize that I've been slacking off.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, Tx
August 2009