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Updated: 18 hours 14 min ago
Erik doesn't matter.
Uke is a positive role. It is not just waiting to be nage. Aikido is not about overpowering each other but learning, together, how to resolve unrest, conflict and disorder.
Uke provides nage with the opportunity to feel another persons energy, physicality and essence. Nage provides uke with the opportunity to let go in a controlled environment, to not have to be in total control and to give a gift of energy.
Aikido happens when uke and nage work together to resolve the conflict or attack of the moment. Being as in the now as one can be makes the experience so fun and educational.
By being the best uke or nage we can be in each moment we provide earnestness.
Earnestness is defined as: sincere and intense conviction. It is such a sacred gift to give to each other. In this world where really being seen and heard by others is rare and fleeting we come together in the dojo to see and feel each other deeply as we strive to become safer and more comfortable in the world.
Everyone cant be a wildly athletic uke or a smooth polished nage. Yet we can start right where we are and do our best. That is all earnestness requires of us. We just be who we on any given day.
Some days I feel totally healthy and happy. Other days I feel grumpy and sore. I have practiced when I was limping because of an injured knee from carrying too much weight for my frame. I got to practice from a revolving armless office chair that was actually fun when I got over my ego. I had a chronic back injury for years that is finally fixed by a super intuitive physical therapist and now I can sport freely in all realms. I lost weight and my knees have healed completely.
What I learned through that 10 year process was that I had value on the mat anyway; whether I was perfectly healthy or not. I do have way more fun when I am healthy. But all practice is valuable. So challenge yourself to go to class when you want to be a couch tater.
We love to see you. Yes, even if you cant fall. Even if you are just watching. You matter. As do we all.
I watch from a distance
As the moon dies
Up close, it still dies
Is there no remedy?
Was thinking about titling this blog entry, I'll Be Back, but then realized that won't work, because I am back. Wow, it's been 7 years since my last blog post. that's 7 more years of Aikido without posting about it. That means I must have a lot saved up to talk about. I've seen so much and experienced so much. I've been to a few seminars, and amazingly I'm still learning more and more. I must be getting stronger cause the other day I was able to pull of 200 pull ups, not all at once, but all with in 30 minutes.
I look forward to writing about all the wonderful things and changes that have occurred in my Aiki-life.
Check back soon!
Erik Sasha Calderon
Umbrella of Heaven
Under the umbrella of heaven
I follow my whimsy and delight
Cascades of secret joy
Flowers cover the path
I walk and walk
Ahead, I see home...
I have had the good fortune of experiencing nearly perfect Aikido as uke.
This was too long ago, the teachers that showed me that Aikido are no longer alive.
Now there is no-one. There are plenty of interesting things to study with a lot of teachers, but something is missing. I study. I train. But something is not there.
I want to study the techniques that beginners train. No fancy stuff, simple ikkyo, because that simple ikkyo is missing something essential. No fancy stuff, just simple irimi, because that simple irimi isn't like I felt.
Erik doesn't matter
In each stroke of the bell
We hear the past and the future
Each class continuing without end
We sit and bow before the tokonoma
Our: Sensei, onegai shimasu!
Echoing through time
So I have been back to training for two weeks. That said, it has only been for two classes and the goal is to continue a weekly class for a few weeks, add a second, and perhaps ramp up to three classes per week. With my daughter coming within the next three weeks (and having a 1.5 year old already) I am sure that my wife will need my assistance at home for a few months; so steady as she goes with class frequency for a bit. Important thing is to continue, supplement with daily workouts at home, and to prevent my previous groin injury from recurring.
It is still there...I can feel it. It is deep in my core on the right side and after the first class it felt very irritated. Stayed that way and prevented me rolling on my right during the second class. Important thing though is that class, senior instructors, and Sensei are all about helping me to modify training for now. That said, my goal is to add a little more each week. For example during the first class I did mae ukemi on right and left side (about 5 on each side) well after the warm ups and after having already taken some basic ukemi (falls with collapsed leg backward) during a refresher of the basic kyu 6 techniques. Second class I jumped in line for alternating rolls across the dojo, but could only manage on the left side (my left is very strong) but was not able to roll (or to scared to because of the thought of impending muscle pull) on the right.
I think many take mae ukemi for granted but they shouldn't as for some it is harder on the body than others. Myself, my body shape is that of a pear so I basically roll like a box until I get the edges smoothed out. Ha! This is worsened if I am having sciatica on the right side as I am on 80% of days. Ukemi and waking up the body does seem to 'mask' the pain though. So it is convenient that I am back as a kyu 6 because I know I will be made to take mucho mucho ukemi till I am worked in.
On another positive note, I had made the decision NOT to ask to come back as kyu 4 which is where I originally left off. I will get there eventually again, no big deal, and I get to enjoy the journey from the beginning again. At the end of the first class though, Sensei approached me and asked me how long I had trained previously. I told him and I guess that I kept some good forms over the years and it is amazing what muscle memory does when it is re-triggered. Anyhow, he noted kyu 4 on my new membership card so it was a good feeling.
The Qi Gong and the standard pre-class warms ups at home daily are definitely helping me to feel more strong and stable. Gotta work that psoas muscle right it is every important for a strong core.
Onwards and Upwards!
The mist stretches
For a million miles
There is no escape
Lacking any choice
I continue on
All I can see is
The rocky path
Alive with intent
I move to the edge
And jump off
I was born
To pain, doubt, fear,
Perhaps, with some relief
And, maybe some love
But, such are the conditions
Of all births, surely
I learned to navigate
The ups and downs, downs,
More downs, of life
I tried not to become too bitter
And was as successful as some
I sought out answers
To this and that - and more this
I even sought out answers
To questions I didn't even know I had
A much more difficult task
Let me assure you
Sometimes I catch glimpses
Fleeting glimpses of something
Something beyond the obvious, but
As Lord Buddha once said:
You're fucked whatever you do!
At least, that's what I think he said
But, then, he was always
Saying weird shit -
Weird to me, anyway
Be that as it may
While I still search
I don't, in actuality, expect
To find any real answers
Today in class I got triggered
I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I felt teary and shaky inside. We were doing an irimi nage and Ron asked us get inside nearer to uke that I like to. I like to take their balance earlier to avoid the intimacy that comes from a closer in throw.
When I was 24 a really big guy, about 66 who must have weighed at least 350 pounds knelt on my shoulders and shoved his penis in my mouth and down my throat. I thought of him in class while the panic attack was starting. I felt my body disappear and the trapped feeling come back
In the past I have stayed on the mat when these feelings come up but today was different. I did not try to deny the feelings. I noticed them. I gently observed to myself, Oh, you feel nauseous
are you going to cry?
Next, I felt my feet on the blue mat. I noticed the other people in the dojo
There was Jocelyn. There was Anne. I see Ron.
I breathed deliberately in through my nose and out through my mouth several times. I kept moving. I attacked when it was my turn to be uke. I consciously asked questions through the panic that was hovering about a correction I received as nage. I felt my hakama with my hands; I felt the inside of my mouth with my tongue. And I could not feel my center.
Near the end of class Ron had us a do a centering exercise. I told him I could not find my center. He reminded of an exercise we do to explain centering to someone who has never met her center.
He told me to place my hands on the outside of my abdomen just below my belly button. Then he asked me if I could feel my hands on my abdomen. I could.
He said, Go inside your body with your consciousness just between your hips under your where you can feel your hands. He asked, Can you feel your center? I could. I lost my center when I took my hands away but I found it again each time he reminded me how to do it again. It took three times before I was able to keep my center. I asked him for help all three times. He patiently reminded me how to do the exercise.
I am writing this because I have been training in aikido for 30 years. This simple centering exercise still helps me. A better way to say it is that it saves me. I dont have wander about anymore in a panic.
Trusted people help.
I can help myself with a little changed behavior like noticing how the mat feels to my feet on the floor. The panic attack subsided. I was able to stay in the now; accepting that, yes, a big man hurt me when I was 24 and I dont have to hurt myself today.
When the judgments pop up on the mat what can we do about them?
You know what I mean, sometimes in my head I hear "you (meaning me) suck", or "uke (meaning you) should relax more or follow better" and so on
None of the above is conducive to blending or correct feeling. So what I do is notice the thought, feel the feeling and keep training. My experience is that the process of noticing, feeling and continued training works very effectively. I am not wasting any time or energy denying or minimizing my negative self-talk. I am not building a case against uke by focusing on what I think is wrong with them.
Usually for me, those kind of thoughts are proceeded or followed by an uncomfortable feeling.
So I breathe in deeply, I exhale fully and wait my turn, then I do the next thing I am supposed to be doing, whether it is bokken movement, attacking my nage of throwing my uke. I pay very close attention to what I am supposed to be doing and before I know it my mind is clear again and my spirit flies free.
I can't control what my mind thinks initially.
I can respond in a powerful way by being present with my thoughts and feelings, letting them pass and focusing on the task at hand.
After several weeks of preparation I am ready to return to the dojo next week to resume my training. Basically starting from square one after many years away. One of the biggest regrets in my life but feeling excited and anxious to make Aikido part of my life again.
My right hamstring is still aggravated and I cannot tell whether it is injury or nerve related. Must be injury as the pain is localized ether at it's origin at the inferior hip or at it's insertion behind the knee. Never pain in both places as it switches off. I have been doing daily aiki tai so, qi gong (thanks for the recommendation Lynn), and stretching post warm up. Some range of motion has returned but the pain itself is still there.
Ran the Surf City 1/2 Marathon yesterday and did decent in spite of no training per se. This was not part of my prep training and was something I had scheduled several months out. Was able to do warm up this morning so, hey, I guess I still got some push and drive going. Funny how those wonderful endorphins from even light exercise make you feel great even if you are extremely sore and limping around the day after a race.
Plan is to take a few recovery days this week and then return for perhaps 2 days per week so as not to over do it like last time which caused a groin pull from lack of rest. Wish I wasn't so injury prone but that is not the case. Hopefully my preparation and then consistent study will reduce that likelihood.
Until next time.
Silence & Stillness
Only in silence and stillness
Can you truly know yourself
From this source of knowledge
And deep, deep strength
You can go forth
And swim in the sea of suffering
That is called the world
And actualize the path to end it
Who am I?
Tell me, who are you?
The Buddha is queried
I am he who woke up.
Was the response
So goes the ancient story
So simple, so profound
So, when I sit, once settled
I start off my session
With that very question:
Who am I?
I let it reverberate
Bounce around inside my head
I watch it slip over the edge
And come back up
Again and again
Who am I?
Who am I?
I am still waiting for an answer
I have been continuing my daily Aiki taiso, stretching, and (recently included) Qi Gong morning sessions at home in preparation for a return to training in February. Going from a completely sedentary 10 months (no excuses for this so I resist the urge to make them here) to an immediate return to training would only cause reinjury to either my groin, hamstring, or right knee...so any and all prep work I can lay down now will only enhance my training now. Additionally, I am about 15-20 lbs heavier than before. Gotta get the weight down.
As far as range of motion and lower back discomfort in addition to the snapping hip everything feels a bit stronger from doing consistent Aiki taiso. I may even consider pushing the return to the dojo back in additional two weeks to continue preparing.
Started a new job two weeks ago corporate job sitting at a desk all day but they're very progressive and they encourage the 2020 20 rule getting up and stretching every 20 minutes and walking every 20 minutes . So I do a lot of stretching at work and whatever else I can in my office without looking like a complete crazy person.
Progress is good on words and upwards will touch base again here in the next two weeks
He had mastered kata
And thought himself invincible
A real dojo tiger
But he had not thought beyond
Beyond mere form, mere kata
At the place where victory
Wasn't assured, wasn't preordained
A warscape where blood,
Pain, and death lived
The awakening was shocking
Was brutal - but his opponent
Called blood, pain, and death, home
To be treated with the fear and respect
They deserve and demand
And be paid a regular tithe
So, planning for victory
Also meant planning for defeat
The opening was where it always was
In the space between the forms -
The gaps - where true victory lies
We are running a beginners class and I am buoyed by the response. We had 3 new people on the mat on Thursday night. Other times in recent years we have had no response to the offer of a beginners class.
When we first started offering basics classes about 25 years ago the response was great
.often 12 to 14 people would attend. It seems to me that the trend now had been for more confrontational arts. I think MMA has had an influence on people who are interested in martial arts.
Maybe now the pendulum is swinging back to people being interested in martial arts for other reasons than to beat people up or to be stronger than everyone else. I sure hope so. We are ready. Let the influx continue.
Only in pain
Can you know pain
Only in joy
Can you know joy
Only in experience
Can you know experience
Thinking and learning
Will only get you so far
Drop them off at the threshold
Mystical everyday life beckons