027) Budo and Our Community: Week of March 1, 2009

This week’s topic came to me as I reflected upon the loss of one of our student’s father-in-law.  Having lost my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law last year, I personally know the impact of such a loss.  As our dojo community grows, events, positive and negative will occur and impact us all.  In many respects, I believe that this is an important aspect of our budo development.

Budo is all about creating, sustaining and growing our community.  These last couple years have been a time of building a new community with the creation and growth of this dojo.  It has been an absolute honor and privilege to train and train with the students who have come to this school.  Not all have stayed, but on a whole, the community is growing in size.  More importantly, the depth of the relationships amongst all of us within the dojo is expanding as time goes on.

Many people view budo in the narrow confine of self-defense.  This is akin to building an impregnable castle in which to protect one’s self.  The walls that keep others out also keeps one within.  I believe that the founder of Aikido envisioned a higher purpose of budo.  I believe that his goal of spreading Aikido throughout the world was designed to create a larger, caring community that transcended the differences that so frequently result in conflicts.  We certainly need to be able to be secure and safe within our community, but this should not come at the cost of exclusion, indifference, bigotry and other things that divide and separate us from one another.

We cannot escape the greater reality that our time alive is limited and that ultimate separator cannot be avoided.  I can only hope that this larger reality helps us to see the benefit of spending the time that we do have together to make our world a better place to live in.  Aikido can be an effective vehicle to help accomplish this goal.

I have frequently pointed out that when we maintain a positive connection with another person, they soften, despite their best intentions to freeze, resist, oppose,….  This physical consequence mirrors the social, emotional and psychological consequences of this manner of interacting with others.  We are left a proactive choice before having to defend ourselves.  We can actively seek to create new and positive connections with those around us.  This enlarges and strengthens our community from within.  We can also build wall around an the ideal of an impregnable castle, locking others out and ourselves with.  The choice is ours.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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