Haragei (belly talk)

Monthly newsletter of the Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
Vol 2, Issue 2February 2011
In This Month's Issue
Mastery in the MA
Aikido in Real Life
Featured Article
Elbow Lock
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This Month's Thought:


"People in this world look at things mistakenly, and think that what they do not understand must be the void.  This is not the true void.  It is bewilderment..."


Miyamoto Mushashi 


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Here is our February issue for 2011.  February is a month for re-confirming our relationship with that someone special.  However, you made a commitment to train in Budo, either to yourself or jointly (with someone else, e.g. your spouse, boy/girl friend, etc.).  So, don't forget to re-confirm your relationship with the personal commitment you made when you began training.  Your focus on and drive for your personal growth takes support from all areas of your life including spouse, family, friends, teachers and co-workers.  As they have supported you in your martial endeavors, you should be certain to express your gratitude to them for that support.

Hope to see you on the mat,

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

 Elbow LockMany observers, and indeed participants, of the martial arts consider them (the MA and esp. Aikido) to be a pacifist activity, dedicated only to the improvement of body, of mind, and of spirit.  They state, and teach, that "true" martial arts are not for violence or for self-defence or for sports or for fighting.  Instead they declare, quite strongly at times, that they are non-violent activities designed only for some form of universal love.


Of all the martial arts taught today, Aikido seems to be the worst of these.  This is likely due to the teachings of O'Sensei in his later years where he spoke of non-violence, of love, and of universal peace and understanding.


It is true that Aikido can and indeed is non-violent in it's intent and it's teachings but to simply state that it's non-violent is missing a much larger picture. 


Good and Evil do exist; of that there should be no doubt regardless of what the "People of Gaia" or "The Hippie Generation" may think.  Read the newspaper one day to see this proven or go sit in a church pew to hear this preached within a religio-spiritual context with example after example given as part of the lesson.  However a problem sometimes arises (likely from too much preaching) that may sometimes lead one to beleive that Good is inactive, dull and placid while Evil is active, interesting and anything but inactive.


"Turn the other cheek" is the teaching of Christianity, of Amida Budhhism and of many religious belief systems that permeate our lives and indeed, should one spend much time reading Ueshiba then one may come to believe (and profess) that Aikido has this philosophy.  But turning the other cheek is not simply an idea that deals with letting the opponent/enemy beat on us until his arm gets tired and he goes away leaving us in the gutter; an exercise in passivism and masochism as-it-were that benefits neither party in the "mis-communication".  Instead, turning the other cheek should be considered a challenge to us to become more than a simple Pavlovian Budo-Machine that explodes into rage, revenge, and multiple Shoman-ate after Kote-gaeshi after Osoto-gari at any slight provocation or word/action or deed directed at us.


When challenged, a mature individual (and a seasoned Aikido player) should turn the other cheek in the sense that initial avoidance (of the challenge in life ouotside the dojo or of the waza on the mat) is the best initial Aiki-response and that understanding and negotiation are preferable to the knee-jerk of violence.


BUT ...... Aikido also says that should avoidance, non-confrontation adn negotiation fail then using our Aikido to control the situation in a non-harmful way is not only allowed but expected.  Avoiding the aggression, blending with it, controlling and re-directing it's energy, spirit and initial intent can in the end be more useful, proactive and positive then the alternatives; thus the initial victim is spared from pain (and masochism) and the initial attacker is spared from sin (and sadism).


 L.F. Wilkinson Sensei 

Mastery In the MA

Being consistent in training is an important factor in mastering Aikido or any other martial art.  The principles are "consistently" the same across almost any range of endeavor whether that be gym or dojo

L.F. WIlkinson Sensei
This blog speaks to how to learn new skills.  A different view, it holds some truths one might consider.  While not reallly directed towards a study of Aikido and the MA; the writer does have some ideas applicable for most anything.
" ............ Just do it. There is something to be said for just diving in and trying it. Presumably, you have some idea of how your desired item is created or performed and you have the right tools. There is likely more trial and error involved with this method of learning, but I understand some find action preferable to reading or watching someone else. ........ "
Aikido in Real Life 
Tomiki Sensei taking Shiho-nage

A monthly commentary from Aikido players about how it has affected their day-to-day activities or helped them avoid unpleasantries.




Sensei asked me to relate a couple of Aikido moments that I have had recently. 


Thankfully the moments had nothing to do with violent actions but were just the subconscious taking over and the training coming out.  About a month ago, I was at school talking to a classmate (Rene) when another classmate (Robert) walked past. 


Rene and I were at the back of the classroom, in a small path b/w the wall and back row of seats. As Robert walked by, his hands were down by his side. I noticed, through my peripheral vision, that his hands were moving, my next conscious thought was "Why am I so far away from Rene", now about five steps.  Robert had this look of surprise on his face.  Apparently after noticing his hand movement, my subconscious kicked in, I guess thinking there was a threat.  I had reached out with my right hand and pinned his right hand (it was closest to me) to his hip and I slid along the walkway until I had him leaning on the outside of his feet. When I realized what was going on, he was at the point of losing his balance. 


He told me, afterwards, that he thought I was going to give him a hug but then I had him moving down the row and he had no idea what was going on.  He was laughing b/c he had never seen anything like what I did and could not believe how effective it was.


Next moment. 


This is really a Jo thing but it makes for a nice `moment'.  I was at the driving range (golf for those of you who do not play) with a friend this weekend.  I keep feeling a small gust of wind, like a bokken sliding past you, followed by a `whooshing' sound.  As anyone who has spent anytime at a range can guess it was a club swinging right behind me.  I took a step forward and turned around to see what was going on behind me.  My friend was so into hitting balls that he lost track of where he was.  The grass was really bad, so after each shot, he would take a small step forward for a new patch.  As I turned around, he put down another ball and went into his back swing. 


Now, I doubt he would have hit me but he was angled, hitting at a green on the far left side of the range.  As he reached the top of his backswing, I moved in with my club and placed it across his forearms and hands.  I had him locked in a very nice off balance. 


It's all about balance, Jo or Aikido, you take his and you have the advantage.  One of the great things about what we do, in my opinion, is the look on the faces of people who see/feel what we are trained to do.  Those stunned faces have turned into questions like "How did you do that?" and then I get to explain Aikido and talk about the dojo.  I feel so lucky to be able to train with sensei and everyone else.  How often in ones life do you get to do something that is such a positive, life changing activity?


Ben Gregory

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About Us:  We've been teaching independently since 1998 and are now one of the largest aikido dojo in the Houston metroplex and South East Texas; offering instruction in Muso Zato Isana Tomiki Ryu Aikido, Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo and Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido.  Commited to the preservation of traditional Budo and Japanese martial arts, our goal is to preserve these disappearing art forms for the benefit of future generations.  If you have any questions about our classes and dojo activities then please contact us.  We are a member dojo of The International Aikido Alliance.