“…I have discovered even if you are a self-made man, you can unmake, and even re-make yourself just the same with no ill-consequences—in fact, quite the opposite.”
This is something I said to myself very recently, and in particular, about my Aikido. Allow me to explain the significance of this statement to myself.
Aikido for me has been a journey much like other journeys I have embarked upon. Being a very unintentionally unique individual, I approach many things in a vastly different way that most, and this has proven both difficult, unavoidable and a saving grace to my path in life.
I took a long break from any training in Aikido, a time to reflect upon specific interests in my life and to “reset my brain” a little. I discovered sometimes there’s a seemingly vast and permanent frustration with many things in life, and so if there’s a mistake that is perceived as unchangeable, a bleak outlook can develop. More interestingly, I discovered often I am so close to what I build, good or not, it is difficult to see accomplishments or opportunities to change.
When one trains in Aikido, as most of the people reading this do, perfection is something of a hurdle we all must deal with, as we’re trying to do it properly rather than improperly. We all have degrees of satisfaction we feel when we train, and how we view ourselves when we do. I, for example, am my own worst critic. I am exploring how and when this debilitates me and when it helps me. It is a complex habit to adopt, and a harder one in which to work with.
Outside the dojo, I discovered that something foundational which we may have been doing for a long, long time that we may not understand or like, can benefit hugely by simply doing the exact opposite of what we feel we were doing “wrong.” This requires trusting yourself, not an easy thing to do for many people. It is indeed risky, from enduring outside criticism to being actually painful or damaging. This is where the trust is essential.
I, again for the sake of example, have a few times recently, said this: “If you are doing something wrong, or want to change, what makes you think you know what you’re doing enough to make a decision?” In addition, it occurred to me in the same thought, “You trust another person more than you trust yourself.” Yikes. Good point, self. I’m glad we had this talk. Suddenly, my inner self didn’t know what to do when I suddenly recognized the problem, and experimented with the opposite. If it manages to work, I assumed I would stop trusting myself, because of the blame I may have had leading myself down that “bad path” in the first place. Just like my efforts, it is the exact opposite: I am suddenly seeing my efforts and self as reality, my doing, my design, and now I can do something about it. That is absolutely liberating and wonderful.
Experimentation is essential when I don’t have an answer, but when I do have the urge to theorize and observe. In Aikido, we have good people to help us along in our training. We don’t have to train alone, in fact, it’s quite impossible. I have tossed aside fears of trying something different in training, even if it is not necessarily known or foundational. I have trained in ways with people in my dojo where they didn’t even realize they were helping me, because no words were exchanged, I simply asked for something with my practice and received it by achieving it. In respect and in fair trade to my partner, I gave them my full attention and maybe they have used the opportunity to train with me to achieve something similar…something personal. There are no words to describe it, everything just seems to fall into place. My fear becomes my focus, my anxiety becomes my power, my hesitation becomes movement.
In “real life,” we don’t always have a partner, but you can always partner up with yourself. There is no limitation to how much you can apply what an art like Aikido can teach you, beyond the body, beyond the mind. Often times, I find my largest opponent isn’t “that dangerous guy on the street,” it is the choices I make, the attitude I have, and the foundations I lay down for myself.
This is how I discovered I can rebuild who I am or even when I think all is lost, and all has been abandoned by logical mind, heart and spirit. We train to go with the flow, and I’ve discovered there’s always a choice.
Suddenly, our closest ally, our best training partner, the one we have the choice to be connected to, is ourselves.
– Kyle Weiss is currently 3rd Kyu at Aikido of Reno. Check his blog postings out at www.burncards.com