I recently heard something interesting from someone who hangs out with a lot of successful entrepreneurs. He said that most of them don’t seem stressed out much and are generally quite relaxed and in control. This blasted my view of the rich business person I previously had out of the water. I always thought about these people as being super stressed, constantly being on the edge of having a heart attack. Having heard this leads me to believe these people hire others to do that. It’s the ones who are self-aware and in control of themselves (aiki) that usually start something and own it. Interesting insight, I thought.

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a guest post by jeff black – part 1 “thoughts along the aikido road”

“In Aikido 1 + 1 = 1”
Paolo Corallini Sensei

“You should train as if your uke is an extension of yourself.”
Morihiro Saito Sensei

“Gather your partner. Simply move together.”
Sakeda Yoshinobu Sensei

“It’s never about the throw, it’s about connection.”
Mary Heiny Sensei

Each act, each memory, each like, each dislike creates our story. We use this story to define who we are. It shapes our interaction with others. The stronger we hold to the story the more we force it on others. In aikido when we force the throw we fail to listen to our partner and our response comes from our story and not from what is appropriate. In zen it is said, eat when you are hungry, rest when tired. This is how we break free from the story. In the tea ceremony each movement, each action, each thought is not part of the story, it is not from habit. You grasp the tea kettle and feel it. It is shaped and made to pour the tea. You pour the tea. The cup is filled, it needs to be shared, the cup is passed to another. Acceptance, reverence for the gift. It is made to be felt, it offers its self to you. You accept again, this time from the cup. There is no separation, everything, everyone is included. You vanish.

kokoro = “heart, mind, spirit”

Japanese word for person is ‘hito’ = to hold the spirit.

“The body made subtle, we call the mind. The mind made visible, we call the body.”

Mary Heiny Sensei talks of the heart melting as uke attacks, it gives a whole different perspective if we look at the heart as mind. I am thinking that O’Sensei had this definition in his thought as he kept referring to opening the heart. Open the mind, let the big mind, the mind of the universe enter into you. There is no merging with uke (attacker), there is only one, there has always been only one. We with our limited perception separate from the one, from unity.

O’Sensei said, ” All I have to do is keep standing this way.” Perhaps on the ‘bridge between heaven and earth’.

Jacob Atabet by Michael Murphy, “I think we can enter the place where matter is rising from mind.” “”What is there to fear? Life and death are simultaneous. 2,500,000 red cells are being born and consumed every second! We are living flames, burning at the edge of this incredible joy.”

Again to hold the perceived opposites at the same moment is to experience unity. kokoro = “heart, mind, spirit”

This is where my aikido is taking me. I find so much more than just a throw… Sort of another view of the saying that in Aikido 1+1=1

Jeff Black currently holds the rank of Shodan and trains regularly at Aikido of Reno.  Having trained in the art, off and on, for the last forty years or so, Jeff is a wealth of insight about the art of Aikido.  This will be the first of three weekly installments of his post.  


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self discipline: the anti-marketer

Marketers spend bazillions of dollars a year to overcome your self-discipline.  They invest a lot in the hope that you will be vulnerable to caving in to their request to buy what they have to sell.  I have nothing against marketing.  Market away for all I care.  I’m just saying that we’re very susceptible to what they’re pushing.  Us martial artists have an advantage, though. Not only can we physically take out a marketer if need be, but our self-discipline is at a higher level than the status quo who easily clicks ‘buy’.  What?  You’re wearing a Snuggie right now while reading this?  C’mon, now! Anyways, what I’m getting at is the more self-awareness we have, the better chance we have standing up to these marketers who try to make us believe we need something we actually don’t.

Look at Facebook. With Facebook on our phones, we are one click away from distraction. Trust me, I love Facebook. I’m the first to admit, though, that I am on it way too much.  Marketers have made it really easy for us to have that open stream of influence from them with apps like these. How about not having the ap?   You log in once to facebook and if you don’t manually logout, you stay logged in indefinitely.  I know it takes effort, but how about logging out of facebook after you use it in the morning, making it inconvenient to log back in? How about not turning on the tv when you’re bored? With a little self-discipline you can be in control of your attention and override the marketer’s multi-bajillion dollar marketing schemes. You are not a statistic on the bell curve. You are an outlier. One that only buys when they want to buy. One that only logs in when they want to. Oh, wait, Fergie just posted a new video…

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happy holidays?

Well, did you have them? You know, happy holidays? I did. After being away for a few months of teaching abroad, my wife came home a couple days before Christmas. Sure was nice spending time with family and friends just basically lounging around. As I get older, I realize this time of year has seemed to lose its magic. When I was a kid, the holidays were so much more exciting. Kinda sad, really. As we get older, life beats us up a little bit more and more every year. We hear of the suicide rate going up this time of year and all of a sudden, what was once an uplifting thing turns into a depressing, dark thing. How’d we let this happen?

This year I tried to turn that around a bit and really tried to enjoy it. Not in a childish, fake way, but a calm, fulfilled way. It still wasn’t like it used to be, but at least I feel I made a conscious decision to try to turn it around. Instead of being bitter that others had more than I had or wishing I could buy more stuff for my loved ones, I just tried to enjoy it for no reason at all.

Why should our happiness and fulfillment be justified? Why do we always have to have a valid, logical reason to be happy? I’m coming around to believe that we don’t. It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg. What comes first? Being happy, or the reason we’re happy? Do we need to do more stuff to make us happy, or do we need to be happy first in order to do the stuff that comes from that? Something worth pondering as we go into 2012, I guess. Here’s to a great one.

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breaking patterns

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A lot about Aikido training is about pattern breaking. The fight or flight response is automatic. People who train to fight are honing that natural instinct. This is fine, but leads to different ends. A really great thing about Aikido training is it can be tailored towards whatever it is you’re trying to achieve as a mindset or as a physical skill. I’m at a place where I’m trying to break the patterns of the lizard brain, which are automatic. If the signals that it’s sending me are automatic, without my conscious thought, and I’m acting on them, aren’t they, in a way, controlling me? In Aikido we can work on overriding these signals. Our techniques are designed against the will of the lizard brain. Our lizard brain doesn’t like them. One thing the lizard brain doesn’t realize is that we don’t, thankfully, need its help much anymore. In a few cases, sure. If you’re dodging a bullet, saving a child from walking in front of a bus , or running from a wild bore, I suppose listening to it would serve you well.

It’s not only the patterns of the lizard brain we can work to break. We can also try to break the patterns of sloppy technique, balance which is off, mindset while training, etc. Maybe you’re not very martial and are trying to do be more technically sound. Whatever they may be, these patterns we should be trying to break come natural. They don’t leave easily. If you train the same way, comfortably, every time, you do nothing but ingrain those patterns. The dojo is a perfect laboratory for this, but can be done off the mat as well. Recognizing those patterns and intentionally breaking them, replacing them with new ones, is where it’s at.

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