So one of my blogging buddies, Seven Years in a Drawer, asked me to write about aikido. Since I love nerding out over it I figured I would make a post about my experience so far. : D
How did it start?
It’s actually a pretty funny story, at least to me. Frank, a coworker and I were talking about working out, biking I think. Something to do with the gym. It came up that I wanted to do something more boxing related, but that I really didn’t want to learn how to hurt people. That wasn’t the point of it, I just felt like I should know how to fight and defend myself. Part of my warrior mentality I guess.
Anyway, he mentioned that he had been looking at a form of martial arts that I might be interested in. Aikido Orlando Dojo. We poked around at the website before we left work. At the time it was 1am. I went home and looked further into the website because I was super curious.
One of the things on the website that caught my attention was, “Harming your opponent harms yourself.”
Since I am exploring more into Buddhism this mentality really jived with me. It’s not about beating your opponent into a bloody pulp, or about being a killer death machine with your elbows (even though I joke about that a lot). Aikido is about being able to react to a hostile situation and defuse a threat.
I noticed there was a class at 7am that morning, so I set my alarm and got there towards the end of the class. I spoke with Sensei Ian for a while, and sort of impressed him with how much research I had already done on aikido and the dojo.
The first session was free, so I said I would think about coming back and trying it out at some point. It wasn’t until I got back to my apartment that I realized I had left my wallet at the dojo. I felt it was the Universe’s way of telling me to go back.
I’ve been a member of the dojo since mid-January.
How does it help me?
There are a lot of ways that aikido helps me.
It gives me something to be part of. The members of the dojo are so accepting. Everyone has been the ‘new’ student, so there’s no judgment on not being able to do rolls, or forgetting what hand is suppose to grab where, or what position your feet are suppose to move to. Everyone is learning and growing, and everyone is willing to help foster that growth.
It has helped make me more confident in myself. No, I may not be the thinnest person on the planet. And honestly, I’m never going to be, and I’m ok with that. I can still do pretty awesome stuff. I can still have a strong connection with my body and feel its potential. I can still be strong and capable. I can prove to myself that I can overcome fear.
It’s not that I think I’m a badass and want to go walking down dark allies to be a vigilante, beating up muggers or anything. I don’t know how to really explain this side of the feelings. It makes me feel good to be able to preform the moves.
And this is where I show my INFJ colors and start talking about energy and connections and stuff that people think I’m crazy for. Zero fucks given. I’m going to talk about it anyway. : D
When I do a move correctly, I can feel the energy pass from my partner into myself, and then back to them. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s very much like dancing. You can feel the connection to your partner. It’s more than just physical touch.
It’s sort of like trying to explain color to a blind person. If you’ve never experienced energy before, then none of this will make sense. There’s nothing to base the words off of. Nothing to relate it to. How are you supposed to know what blue looks like if you’ve never seen color?
Once you experience it though, you’ll never forget it. It’s one of the main things that draws me to aikido and taekwondo.
There’s the added health benefits. Aikido isn’t about strength or speed like a lot of other martial arts. In a lot of ways it’s like yoga. You perform the moves to the level you are comfortable with. It still has you moving around though, and it can be a fantastic workout if you make it one.
I also have amazing instructors to help me. They are super encouraging and that means a lot to me. They want me to do well, and there’s never any pressure to be better. They answer any questions I have, even if it’s not really related to what we’re being shown. They indulge my curiosity, and my introversion. Especially sensei Jan and Beata. They’re amazing.
I’m pretty big on tradition, and there’s a lot of that with most martial arts. I am able to clean the shrine and help take care of the dojo, which makes me feel like I’m an actual member. I feel invested in my dojo and the heritage and mentalities it represents. I like what aikido stands for, and so it gives me something to have pride in.
Over all aikido has been a fantastic experience for me. I feel like it is helping to build me into a better person and it will be something I continue with.