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Friday, April 26, 2013

Excerpt from a Godly Warriors lesson for Today at Aikido of Northwest Kansas

It's a funny truth, but Jesus talked a lot about how we had to surrender our lives to gain true life. He made it clear that if we did surrender everything that we would gain everything, as well, but we still had to give it up (Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”). Ironically, AFTER trusting and following Jesus and while 'giving up our lives' continually, we get the Holy Spirit whose gifts include SELF-CONTROL. This may seem funny, at first, that we have to give up our lives to gain life and THEN we get more ability to control ourselves, but it actually makes a lot of sense and parallels Aikido progress.

In Aikido new students have to learn to 'go with the energy given' in a technique and just move. This can be one of the hardest parts of Aikido for many—especially for perfectionists or those who feel they need to have control at all times. There are SO many things that we can focus on in even the most basic technique—say cross-hand wrist-grab wristlock-throw kota-gaeshi. It is possible to write pages on that technique about foot position, timing, balance, breathing, shifting weight at the appropriate times, angles, torques on and through wrists, maintaining extension, keeping centered, making sure to keep weight underside, being relaxed throughout the technique, blending with the attacker's direction and energy, and even where the eyes should look at different parts of the technique. However, the more a new person focuses on more and more details and tries to CONTROL every aspect of the technique, the worse the technique usually gets. The mind literally cannot keep all the details going at once when consciously thought through. We HAVE to learn to let go of our need to control everything with force of will and muscle and RELAX while just starting with one or two things. Only once we let go of our rigid control can we let the movements of the technique and the actual DOING of Aikido teach us. We may have additional help from those who have more experience (as we do in a Christian walk) or even direct advice from instructors or manuals (again parallels the Christian way), but we still have to learn to LET GO and RELAX and TRY. Ultimately, our greatest teacher is the movement and the flow itself as we learn to listen to it (much like we learn to listen to God and the Holy Spirit). Eventually, a student gets much better at this and can even 'see' and guide many techniques with a high degree of accuracy while they are occurring; in the sense that they can now hear the flow and move within and even guide a technique (as opposed to how they started off by trying to forcefully control a technique through exerting their internal strength and power) they have gained so much more control of any incoming attack and of a technique—and in a way they never could have done by controlling every little detail. This is a great irony, and it is a great truth in both Aikido and the Christian walk. To truly listen and 'hear' and learn, we have to first give up our need and desire to control all parts of our lives/the techniques and attackers in our lives. Only then are we TRULY able to learn from the Aikido/from God and life.

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