Haragei (belly talk)

Newsletter of the Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
Vol 2, Issue 3March-April 2011
In This Issue
Mastery in the MA
Aikido in Real Life
Featured Article
2 Swords on Beach
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Rob Sanchez - Shodan

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This Month's Thought:


"Randori practice is something that is done to give life to the real power of those techniques that were learned through kata.  That is to say, randori provides the power to complete a painted dragon by filling in the eyes."


Tomiki Kenji


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Here is our March & April issue for 2011.  We had originally planned on a monthly edition but have since considered that bi-monthly may work better and enable us to spend a little more time on each issue and put a little more thought into these sometimes all-too-brief articles.  If we happen to write on a topic that catches your interest then you can (and should) make use of that wonderful medium called "The Internet".  Google can work wonders and I think you'll find that millions of others before you have already established the search terms and pathways for just about any question on zen, budo and the martial arts you can think of.
This time of year March comes in like a lion but out like a lamb and April showers bring May flowers; or so they say.  I've always found tho' that March is the demarcation line between 1st quarter resolutions and ideas, and April the beginning of whether or not we've actually begun the process of following thru' on those ideas and goals.
So grasshopper .... what did you resolve 1st quarter and how is April going for you.  Remember that sometimes life does get in the way of our Budo but it's never too late to get back on track at least a little.

Hope to see you on the mat,

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

 2 Swords on Beach

Some "Off the Cuff"
Semi-Random Observations of "Zanshin" from Different Angles and Assorted Sources:


Zanshin roughly translates as "remaining mind" or "the mind with no remainder."  This is the mind of complete action, complete follow-thru, completed "completion" and the mind of no-hesitation ... a mind completely in tune with all around it/you and fully intuitive with each action creating itself without the interferences of conscious thought.. 


It is the moment in kyudo (Zen archery) after releasing the arrow and the moment in Aikido of completing the waza and then stepping back with full awareness of the downed opponent and the totality of the surroundings. 


When you are taking a step, it is your weight moving smoothly with no easily discernable rise or fall and with the next step beginning as a movement that naturally follows the one prior and that begins naturally on its own. 


In breathing it is ONLY this current breath as it happens now whether breathing in or out and it joins with the waza; syncing itself in a musubi-like connection.  Zanshin can also mean "remaining mind" in the sense of completely following through but leaving no trace that you were ever there.


When your actions and parts (body, breath, focus, speech, waza, mind, spirit) are separated and operating independently from each other then no true or "real" action can reveal itself in your presence because you are locked into doubt and hesitation and are fighting the urge to quit.  To a Sensei this is immediately made apparent in the players' momentary hesitation; sometimes a physical "hitch in the getalong" that is vague and not readily apparent except to a another seasoned player, mature in the concepts.  The momentary interruption of the "flows" and of the "energies" can intrude like a thunderclap on others; zanshin being "contagious" to those who understand how "not to understand".


Zanshin is living in the moments and in the circumstances that arise now; not before and not later; in the margins between yesterday, today and tomorrow, before "then", "now" and "to be".  One is not "listing" things in life that need to be done but instead, one is "living" in this moment, right now, right here; a valid comparison being the moment of "la petite mort".


In zanshin; one is not even really aware of what has been done, what needs to be done or what should be done.  One is not aware of what others think, or of what their opinions may be, or of outside considerations.  One with zanshin exists only, only at this one moment, this one place, this one time, this one event ..... this one "being"; intuitive with nothing else existing.


In the martial arts, Zanshin means having no break in our activity, because there is no time to take back a stride or atemi or a lock and "fix it".  It also means going beyond mere waza/technique and simulaneously negates the ideas of "tactics" and "strategy"; those more propertly belonging to the dimensions of kihon, kata and randori.


We cannot force the situation at hand to fit to  or conform or change itself to match the waza.  The irimi, the tenkan, the blending with and the understanding of the attacking energies (of the other person) must be adjusted immediately to the energy of the partner.


In practice we must go beyond strategies of defense and hesitation. We must open up to the energy of mind itself as it expresses itself as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling and thinking. Penetrating into this energy, we must go beyond all barriers and must merge with an become one with the attacker, the surroundings, the flow of the moment, as it were.


Zanshin means to do each thing completely, totally and with complete focus only on "that thing".  Zanshin then means, a mind of continual readiness, like a mirror ready to reflect whatever is shown to it.


Zanshin means leaving nothing behind and pushing nothing forward. It means paying attention to our lives.


 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
Part of Mastery should consist of physical fitness.  After all; if you can't work out then how will you ever master anything, much less martial arts which are, in the end, very physical.  As we said last issue .......................
" ............ 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. ........ "
I found this link and read it and found it a good indicator of just how easy it can sometimes be to fall "out of shape".  I've noticed that at age 59 not being and staying active can really push down your fitness levels fast   .... scary fast.  So I'm posting this link and hope that you find it of interest; esp. if you, like me, work every day in an office environment.  See you at the gym.
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikido in Real Life 
Tomiki Sensei taking Shiho-nage

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




 Bright As Day ...


Within the last year to two years there have been recorded in the Houston area several dozen robberies that occurred when the victim drove into the driveway of their own home and as they either pulled into the garage or parked their car just outside the garage.


The robbers came up on their blind side as they got out.  In some cases only a purse or briefcase was stolen.  In other cases the victims were assaulted and then were robbed.  In all cases, the robbery/assault happened either at late dusk or after dark when the decreasing sunlight made seeing difficult.  Almost without exception the houses were on streets with poor lighting and the homes themselves did not have security lighting installed.


How can we prepare our houses for this potentiality, remembering that we can't stop the truly committed felon but that we may be able to dissuade most others?


The answer is as plain as the light bulb that gets in your eyes when you turn on the lamp.  Light up the area in the front of your garage so bright that no one will be able to stand just in the shadows as you drive your car up.  At the very least, take out that pitiful excuse for a light bulb that comes with your home (the one I refer to as Contractor Cheapskate, the 10 watt bulb that the contractor claims will light up an entire city block) and replace it with something really powerful.


In my garage I changed not only the wiring set-up but also the entire light fixture.  Instead of a small light bulb that does little I installed a high power halogen contractor grade lamp.  Now when I or my wife drives in at night and the garage opens the light automatically comes on and the inside of our two-car garage is a bright as day.  Best yet, it is so bright that it lights up the entire driveway and a good part of the front yard.


This bright light in our garage, combined with the front porch light (which has a light sensor and comes on automatically at dusk) and the street light makes the front yard bright enough so that no one may easily hide without being seen.


This will help you see dangers before you park the car and turn off the engine.


The next action that you can take is to watch what pops up in your headlights as you drive up to the house.  Don't just wait until you are 10 feet off your driveway; start looking at reflections, movement, people, unexplained differences in what is normally on your street (e.g., unfamiliar parked vehicles, especially those in poor condition or vans) and begin the evaluation process 100 yards down the street and all the way up to your front door.


If you spot something that concerns you then regardless of what your momma told you, it really is ok to do a drive by, circle around and drive by again and if it still concerns you, slam it in reverse and call the police to do a house check or call a neighbor that you trust and get their help.


Never walk into something that your intuition tells you not to just because you don't actually see the guy with the gun standing there.  Trust your ability to know what your street and your home are supposed to look like and if it's changed, ascertain why before making an error.



 L. F. Wilkinson Sensei


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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.