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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Aug 25, 2010

"The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection,
the source of unlimited techniques."

O Sensei Ueshiba Morihei

We had three successful and enriching Aikido Warriors’ Camps this year. Thank you for your support and interest. During each camp, as I take the students through activities, games, and classes, illustrating and highlighting Aikido principles, philosophy and techniques, invariably I receive varied responses and reactions. For instance, students with no prior knowledge of Aikido, attending the camps for the first time, sometimes wonder what being respectful and polite, especially to one’s parents and to elders, have to do with Aikido and self-defence?

The underlying theme and thread through my sharing, and the basic foundation on which I structure the camps, is being aware of and cultivating personal accountability, integrity, and responsibility (AIR). The backdrop on which this is presented is the fact that we all have a limited time here on earth, and that each moment is crucial in propelling us in the direction of our choices; whether made consciously or unconsciously. Practice behaving and acting appropriately at every moment, as though that moment may be the last: purposeful living with no regrets, in peace and harmony with all. Think about it: the circle begins and ends with itself, as does life, with each one of us.

The self-discipline practiced and demanded of any Aikido practitioner who sincerely wants to excel on this martial way is to make these choices consciously, beginning with the desired outcome in mind. Make choices and decisions with accountability, integrity, and responsibility to oneself. When this is possible, behaving the same with others, and the community at large, will become second nature.

Aikido is a personal path. Obtaining the serenity necessary is to be comfortable and to be at peace with oneself. Growth and development in the Way is holistic: aligning spirit, thought, word, and action. Only with a peaceful and calm demeanour can the right action be clearly discerned, resulting in unlimited techniques. The execution of fluid techniques stem from a person’s character and demeanour, cultivated from this seemingly unrelated attitude and behaviour – being polite and respectful.

“But did not O Sensei go around testing his technique with challenges?” There came a time when O Sensei realised that there had to be more to just fighting in Budo, which resulted in his development of Aikido – a synthesis of the different martial arts he had been practising. Subsequent challenges were only received from others, because O Sensei’s search had come to an end with the formation of Aikido. He was serenely at peace.

With regard to the physical execution of each movement and technique, cultivating a peaceful spirit requires that a student does not compare oneself with another. Each student progresses at a different pace, understanding, and attitude. Do not concern yourself with what a Sensei says to another student. As a Sensei, I will say what is appropriate to one student, and something else to another, depending on what is required to nurture and guide the student toward the same movement or technique. Focus on your own practice, and be concerned about your own progress. You will cultivate concentration (con=with, centra=centre: i.e. with your centre), and a more receptive and peaceful attitude. The best way to develop your centre is to focus on yourself and what you are doing, not on what others are doing, or what the Sensei is saying to other students, questioning: “which is the correct way?” What is correct for one student may not be for another.

As a child, learning to harmonise with others begins with cultivating a respect for ones parents, then elders, and then others.

See you in the Dojo

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright August 2010: Rafael Oei)

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