008) Week of October 13, 2008: Learning

Each of us have come to this dojo for our own reasons.  Regardless of the reason, we are all here to learn (Teacher/sensei most of all).  What are we seeking to learn?  How are we seeking to learn?  How open are we to learn?  From whom we will learn from?  The list of questions can be endless, yet there must be some starting point?  Here are some guidelines that may assist you in gaining some benefit from training at this dojo:

1)  This Is Not A Gym: If you come to this school seeking to find solely physical exercise of both an aerobic and anaerobic nature  for just you own physical development, than you have most certainly come to the wrong place!   Kai (as in Shin-Budo Kai) means association.  Association implies a connectedness amongst the individuals.  There is a collective effort that goes into making an association an effective and meaningful one for all/most of it’s members.  The moment you cross the threshold into this dojo, the physical manifestation of this association comes into play.  Do you put your shoes in the shoe rack?  If you see some dirt on the ground, do you pick it up?  What commitment do you make towards seeing to it that the training environment is a clean, safe, and meaningful environment?  What do you bring to this environment to contribute to this association?

2)  Sensei Is NOT Responsible For My Development:  You are not a robot who needs to parrot the movements of a teacher.  My job is to help you realize your own unique potential to do we are are basically capable of doing by virtue of us being humans.  I am not simply teaching content, but a process.  This process is designed to help your deepen the depth of your character so that you can perceive at a deeper level, and thereby use that information to change yourself and how you interact with those around you.  I can simply offer guidance, but it is up to each and every one of you to become your own best teachers!  If this process begins the moment you enter the dojo and ends the moment you leave the dojo, then you will most likely be on a long road to nowhere.  Practice is 24 hours a day.  As long as we are alive is as long as we have the opportunity to develop.

3)  You Must Learn to Move Beyond Idea of Self-Defense: If you have come to learn Aikido to defend yourself, welcome to the world of the absurd!  Defend yourself against what?  An “evil eye,” and angry word, a push, a punch, a knife, a pistol, a machine gun, anti-tank rocket, ICBM………….  Aikido is about the capacity to connect to another human being.  Can we use the connectedness to feel “bad energy” and leave the environment?  Can we use that connectedness to redirect the “bad energy?”    Can we use that connectedness to make ourselves and those around us more peaceful, more connected and safer?  If we change our perception of Aikido to look at this art in those terms, then maybe we can see that waza is just one small part of that process.

This is just Part One of Learning:  This process should begin to help us focus on our work TOGETHER.  We seek to all work together to make a meaningful change in ourselves, and through this, our worlds.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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