INTROSPECTION.

I was recently asked a few questions regarding my thoughts and beliefs on Aikido. The result of which was that I felt the need to write out, at length, a personal account of what has been going on in my head this entire time. By that I mean, how I even got into Martial Arts, and what has been on my mind when I’m training, and when I’m not training. I want to share with you Part Four of my Introspection. Please read at your own discretion. These are my own highly personal thoughts, and I have no intention of defending them to anyone. Discussion on my thoughts, all day long.

Part Four: Maybe I’m not good enough for Aikido.

I have met some very convincing Aikidoka. By that I mean I found something so remarkable about them, that I wanted to somehow emulate that quality in myself. At such times, I feel like a wannabe. I have to look at other people doing things that I wish I was doing, and I have to look from the outside in. It’s entirely awkward, because I have so much, if not too much regard for my own autonomy. That’s a statement I make against the higher powers that be. I’m so sick of the fact that for some reason, a person that has “only done Martial Arts for 20 years” has little if nothing to say in matters, since the 50, 60, and 70 year olds have laid down the law. At times I find it dehumanizing. I have to withdraw my concern for anything that they do, and work on my own shit. Yet, I still have so much respect for the fact that they are there, authentically as such. I don’t envy them, and I would not trade places with them, I just find that the power and respect differential in the culture of Martial Arts hierarchy to be disturbing at times. Still, I think about Ueshiba, and what he must have went through in his life to provide what has been almost the singular activity in my life that I love completely. Aikido has hard standards that I find unbearable at times. Whether it’s just learning and training the waza, the techniques, or the reading, the studying, the protocol, the culture…all of it, at times, drives me insane. I refer to this as being in the state of having a “fried brain.” My little brain can’t take it at times. So many times, I have thrown my black belt, hakama, weapons, gi, what have you, under the bed, in a closet somewhere, and just left it alone. At least I would try to. It calls to me. It says, “Autrelle. Autrelle. Au-trelllllllle…hey. Psst. Psssssst. Pssssssst. PSSSSSSSSSSST!!!! Remember us, your gear? Come on, come over here, you little guy, you. There you go, pick up the Jo first. Oh yes, YESSSSSS. Remember that feeling? Now the Bokken. Oh yeah. Remember how you used to take us to the parks in the early mornings by the river? You would swing us around, and thrust, and yell in such a fantastic manner with each stroke! Just take us out for some air. No one has to know. It will be our secret. You don’t even have to wear the gi, today. Just take us out for some air…”

I swear to you, this really happens. My fucking weapons talk to me. So I give in, I oblige them. Just for that day. And the next. Then, dammit, a month has gone by, and over lunch, my weapons and I will be having a conversation:

Jo: Hey Autrelle, you know what we haven’t done in a looooong time?

Me: Don’t start…

Bokken: Oh! Jo, I was just going to say that…

Me: Both of you fucking knock it off, I’m not in the mood.

Jo: But Autrelllllllllllle!!!! Come on!!!! It’s so much fun!

Bokken: You know you want to. You KNOW you want to.

Me:: Fuck both of you. You both make me fucking sick, and I should turn you each into firewood.

Bokken: YOU WOULDN’T!

Jo: He joking, Bokken. He loves us. He’s just pissed because we’re reminding that he’s not doing what he really loves, and this is his way of lashing out. It’s not about us. Don’t be so sensitive.

Bokken: Well, what do you think? We could go see Dee and the guys there, go old school? Maybe Leo in Orange Park, catch up on, you know, the federation you’re a part of. Oh! Or James! He always sends you messages and invites to train. And we all know how badly you want to train with Perry…

Me: Seriously, fucking quit it. Just knock it off.

Jo: (Stares at me) You’re being a bitch right now.

Bokken: (Winks at me, bats lashes, pouts) Please Autrelle, please??? Just take some ukemi. You love that the most, you know that.

Me: (Sulking) Fine. If it will make you two happy, fine. Fine.

At this point, the weapons exchange a knowing glance at each other. They know that they have me. It’s sad really. I feel at times that I can barely live up the the ideas of inanimate pieces of wood. My Aiki-Psychosis has given them a voice that berates me for not training when I try to back off of it for a bit. They provide encouragement and support for what I want to do, even when I don’t feel like doing it, or I feel like no one cares at all. It’s wonderful. At times, it’s all I need.

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6 Responses to INTROSPECTION.

  1. Eric Holcomb says:

    Autrelle,

    Take two haloperidol and call me in the morning. 🙂

    About the age thing, yeah, it can be ridiculous especially from the perspective of people who grew up in modern democracies. So many of us have been taught that our opinions matter in some way that it is hard to get past a sensei saying flatly, “No, that’s wrong”. It’s made worse by the fact that frequently the difference is just between what this teacher is teaching and what we learned from another old guy.

    I remember one precious little flower who clearly believed that her opinion was as worthy as that of sensei’s. He was giving instructions on making a fist correctly and she chimed in with a, “And you can do *this* too” where this was something different. Sensei laid down the law. She never came back — her loss.

    Anyway, we all have moments when we need to bite are tongues and listen. It’s hard. Often though, it’s worth it.

    BTW, good luck on winning that argument with your weapons. My guess is that it ain’t gonna happen… and that’s fine too. 🙂

    Take care!
    e.

  2. autrelle says:

    Ha ha! Like I said, this was a lot of introspection, fleshing out and committing to words some of the things that have been in my head lately. I really don’t have the gumption to disrupt the dynamic. It exists for a reason! Just me whining.

  3. Matthew White says:

    I do a lot of that introspection myself. Aikido is hard. Makes us do thing we’d rather not do (like change). About once every year or 18 months I have to sit down and say “why are you doing this?” And every 3-4 years I get so pissed off an frustrated I wanna say screw it and just quit. God knows I’d have more time for my family, my other hobbies, myself.
    But everybody who does aikido does it for their own reason. Maybe not a good reason, but it is their own.
    My question for you is, why do you train with who you train with? From what you posted here, it sounds like your problem isn’t with the art, it’s the teaching staff.
    I hate to be divisive, but if you really don’t like the organization you’re in, get out. Train on your own or find another group. Start a group.
    It may be that you find out that you’re problem is really your ego, and you grow a little and return to the fold.
    Or it may be that you find out that you’ve been stuck under assholes for a long time, and that you’ll be able to grow more elsewhere.
    Could be a slippery slope, and you need to know yourself, your motivations, and the risks involved. But in the end, it’s YOUR practice. They don’t own it. They can only dictate it if you give them the authority.
    And of course, you could just be whiny. We all get like that at times.
    Good luck.

  4. autrelle says:

    Matthew.

    This was an excerpt from about 5 different writings. Musings over past thoughts. I have no problem with anyone I train with, or “under” these days. Everything is all good. Thanks for your reply though. I know what you mean.

  5. angel maszy says:

    Have you ever read any of Tony Robbins’ stuff? In Awaken the Giant Within he explains the best way to make yourself better at anything is to find someone else with the qualities, knowledge or whatever it is you are striving for and learn everything you can from them, make them your mentor. Definitely not a wannabe. Good stuff! Keep it up!

  6. Eddie deGuzman says:

    Been there, felt that. I started at age 20. I’m 45 now. Why do we do it? Because we love it, that’s why. I’ve been a member of two dojo in my martial career, one in the U.S. and one here in Japan. Apparently, my old dojo is suffering from political turmoil and the training and members are suffering from it.

    Here, I’m lucky enough to train at a small dojo where it’s not a problem. My senpai always say my technique isn’t right, mostly because it’s not. My problem is not them, but why my technique works or doesn’t. This is the hardest, cruelest critic. And it’s the biggest motivator. We train to learn and improve, to better ourselves. Consistency is crucial in aikido because there is a feeling to good aikido that can only be gleaned and remembered by touch.

    BTW, I met Eric on wordpress and was able to train with him at honbu dojo last spring. Congrats on your recent promotion! All in all, I must have taken 5 classes there. Doshu and two other shihan were cool, but one guy was on an ego trip and on my last visit, one fellow was just nuts, completely un professional, lost his temper yelled at me and insulted me in class. It reminds me of Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re going to get.”

    Matthew is right, you are responsible for your own training. It took me a while to learn this. So by all means watch others, emulate them, steal techniques, experiment and explore. And then make it yours.

    Cheers, Eddie

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