Dear parents and students,
Welcome back to the Dojo!
Grateful thanks for all your lovely, thoughtful, and generous Christmas cards and gifts. It is all most appreciated. I do hope that you had a most restful, meaningful, and joyful Christmas and New Year season. Thank you.
We had a wonderful first week back in the Dojo, welcoming some new students and their families to our little Aikido community. We also reviewed basic movements and techniques during the first week of classes to clear the cobwebs after our long holiday season.
This brings me to the point that I brought up in class last week; to recognize that each practice with our partner in the dojo is an exercise in learning to overcome and surmount a stressful situation. What is more stressful than being faced with an imminent attack? Facing the possibility of being physically harmed and hurt by an attack is easily overlooked in the comfort and familiarity of daily or weekly Aikido practice with familiar students and friends. A simple shift to recognize that each encounter with your partner is an opportunity to practice various responses to a potentially violent threat, while remaining as calm and as composed as you can be, will help to improve your practice experience in the dojo.
To enable this to occur requires each partner to play the role with sincerity. This means that when playing the role of Uke (the person who attacks and then receives the technique applied to them), please grab, punch, or strike with intent - not violently or aggressively but with precise and conscious intent to meet your target (the Tori's arm, head, or body. "Tori" is the person who is being attacked and who has to respond and apply the technique). This enables the person receiving the attack (the "Tori") to feel the approaching energy in a tangible, non-violent way, in the safe practice environment of the dojo. That way, it may be easier for Tori to treat the attack as being "real" and a threat to be neutralized with calm efficiency. In time, and with practice, you will surprise yourself at how quickly you are able to respond to your partner's attack, even when your partner inevitably and will quite unconsciously accelerate the speed of their attack.
A shift in attitude will add a different dimension to your practice. As with everything that we do in the dojo, the practice is to be consciously alert to our environment and potential situation, and to be accountable for our decisions and actions. It begins with the little things: bowing with intent, moving with intent, and leading with intent. Being mindful of the little things helps to embed this as a positive habit. Habits that include seemingly insignificant things like putting things back in their proper place after use; consciously greeting one's parents, partner, spouse, colleagues, or school teachers/staff even when we don't feel like it; or other mundane things like packing and throwing out the trash, compost, or recycling without being asked, and without complaint. Working to be consciously mindful of our thoughts and actions eventually becomes more effortless with each little act.
As we continue through the Winter term, may I kindly remind students that in the spirit of Aiki, I continue to encourage you to introduce and interact with the newer or younger students while waiting for class to begin. Being in a new environment with unfamiliar observances can feel intimidating and confusing, as you may have felt when you first joined the dojo. Help the newer and younger students ease into their practice by that first kind "hello" and friendly introduction, "hi, I am..."
Information for the Winter classes can be found on our website under "Notices". Please remember to register ahead as under Saanich policy, students who are not registered are not allowed to attend classes due to insurance liabilities. Perhaps consider signing up for the year-long registration option.
To keep our database current, please inform us if you have a change of address, new email, or new contact numbers. And if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
For your convenience, here is a calendar you can print and put up on the fridge.
See you in the Dojo!
With peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei
Ueshiba Aikido Victoria
© Ueshiba Aikido Victoria – Jan 2019