I’ve always claimed it: Aikido is really useful right when your morale is low. To avoid training when you are down in the dumps is a bit like avoiding food because you’re hungry. Until we don’t grasp this, we haven’t grasped the real essence of the practice.
Now, maybe I should refine the concept more, since this has just happened to me last weekend. I avoided practicing in a very important and luring seminar, even though I had paid in advance. Why? I didn’t feel like it, I had low spirits…
E’ noto come il Natale cristiano sia stato “posizionato” dalla Chiesa appena dopo il solstizio di dicembre, nella accorta opera di sovrapporre ad ogni festa pagana una festa cristiana, così come aveva fatto con le chiese costruite sui templi romani. La festa pagana del solstizio d’inverno (21 dicembre) era festeggiata sin da tempi immemori. Il sole raggiunge il suo punto più basso dell’anno a mezzogiorno sull’orizzonte il 21 dicembre (considerato astronomicamente l’inizio dell’inverno) e sembra fermarsi lì per pochi giorni (solstizio : il sole che “staziona”), poi “riparte” – ed è proprio questa la chiave di lettura. Si ricomincia, nuova vita, si va verso un tempo migliore. In occidente come in oriente, si festeggia l’inizio della fine della notte artica, un periodo duro e buio (il giorno più corto, dopo il quale le giornate si riallungano), salutando l’inizio di uno migliore, più luminoso e ricco di speranza.
Japanese martial arts – properly speaking (I mean Budo, not Bujutsu) have been created as a means to self-improvement. The aikido founder clearly talked about a practice to shape honest and truthful people. Judo and karate, just to name the most famous, are no less. Probably, their involvement in combats and competitions, the prizes and the achievements affected the practitioners’ ego, which has been inflated instead of diminished. But aikido has no competitions, so the problem must be found elsewhere, since aikido is not certainly a discipline which is immune to attention-seeking behavior. Yet, one of the practice’s goals is exactly that: limit your ego.
Come on! What’s the problem! Everybody knows Aikido is love, Aikido is life. Isn’t it?
So let’s start and in doing so, let me also point out that not all the concepts described below are my own, but they are also inspired to someone who knows far more about Aikido than me…
Someone says: “Why am I doing Aikido? Only for the girls…”. And he highlights the irony with: “I can touch all the women I want and I’m also being paid to do it!”. A very attractive practice, many will agree… And we can also easily overturn the matter in favor of the other sex (let alone for gay people!). I would also add: not only I’m paid for doing so, thay also thank me! During class, when the teacher practices with some of the couples, he tuns people upside down and etiquette requires them to even thank him! With a Japanese-style bow!
Aikido has much to do with sex. Irony comes easy when practice involves a couple rolling on a carpet while sweating and panting… Furthermore, we don’t talk about opponents but partners. Some teachers even urge partner exchange during class, although some more traditional schools rule that a couple should stay together forever (I mean, for the same training class). How boring…
Questo quadretto carino è da sempre nella nostra casa – intendo da quando vivo con mia moglie (2005). Lei lo aveva già da diversi anni prima e ci tiene molto. E’ una vecchia illustrazione di inizio novecento, realizzata per la ditta francese F-L Cailler, produttori di cioccolato. Ne abbiamo una stampa su lastra metallica appesa ad una parete in cucina. Che c’è di strano?
Not long ago, I got the opportunity to have a chat with one of the most notorious female Aikido experts, Micheline Tissier, who holds the rank of 6th dan Aikikai. She was the amongst the first European women to get awarded such a high grade by Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. She is also one of the too rare women that occupy a technical function within their federation. I was absolutely delighted when she accepted to answer my questions and discovered that she was of a very direct and honest character, never dodging a question and she often surprised me with the sharpness of the views she expressed on many subjects.