©™ 2003 - 2011: OWH Industries - Ueshiba Aikido : Victoria, Canada
All Rights Reserved
Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
< Click here for the Articles Page
Sep 27, 2011

"Better keep yourself clean and bright;
you are the window through which you must see the world.

George Bernard Shaw

What a lovely quote that is similar to sayings referring to the martial way, or Budo, as a path where a warrior polishes the self and character; where when a samurai speaks about polishing his katana (sword), he is also referring to the polishing of himself; or his soul. How you wield a weapon and present yourself is often how you see the world.

These past few weeks in class, I have reiterated how important respect, behaviour, manners, etiquette, and discipline are - to lay a foundation for the study and practice of Aikido. This is part of the code of conduct that is universal in Aikido Dojos around the world; pretty much like knowing what to expect and do when you step into a Catholic Church or a MacDonald's anywhere in the world.

As we continue to polish ourselves, to keep ourselves "clean and bright", tangible attributes that one may want to strive for may be those represented by the seven pleats of the hakama. They are: Benevolence, Honour/Justice, Courtesy/Etiquette, Wisdom, Sincerity, Loyalty, and Filial Piety.

There are some simple things that can be reinforced at home to help with this practice: knocking on the door and asking for permission before entering a room, looking at the other when conversing or being spoken to, using both hands when passing items to one another, being punctual, being tidy with personal items and one's bedroom, being accountable by doing exactly what is said and promised, standing when dad, mum, or your spouse approaches, and addressing elders appropriately and treating everyone with dignity and respect: for instance, addressing parents as mum and dad or father and mother, and teachers, neighbours and elders as Mr, Ms, or Mrs [name or better still, surname].

In martial traditions, awareness and respect are important. Cultivating this attention to the other can be challenging with the lure of technology, many entertaining distractions, and peer pressure. The process of rediscovering and increasing one's attention can simply begin with looking at the person speaking to you, being courteous, and being present to the other - even if it is a brief span of time to begin with.

There are many benefits in this, one of which is showing appreciation to the person speaking. Coupled with dojo practice, attention spans and alertness will eventually increase. As the quote advises, it is the inner being that is to be polished - which is why Aikido remains a martial way, budo, and not a sport. The objectives are long term, acknowledging and respecting our mortality as we practice each technique. When faced with mortality, awareness and appreciation for life are increased, hopefully allowing for better life choices to be made. This is why a person seriously on the path of Aikido will not be engaged in the competitive ring for sport. Why beat another person down?

Being attentive to the other is often sadly overlooked and dismissed because of the many aforementioned pre-occupations. When the speaker is finished we say our "goodbyes", sometimes absentmindedly because we expect and take it for granted we will see the person again. How often we forget that that farewell may be our last with the person. A recent example (and for each there are many daily examples around us) was in my church community when we bade farewell to a very familiar, active, smiling, cheerful, and healthy friend after Mass the Saturday before. No sickness and no injury. By Wednesday, she was gone and was not at Mass the following Saturday.

So perhaps the next time a farewell is expressed, it may be a good idea to look into the other person's eyes and really mean it - to be a bright beacon of light, love, and joy for the other. As you be that for others, it will be reflected back to you.

See you in the Dojo.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.

(© Copyright September 2011: Rafael Oei)

Click here for the Ueshiba Aikido Website

< Click here for the Articles Page

©™ 2003 - 2011: OWH Industries - Ueshiba Aikido : All Rights Reserved