“I’m new” by James Stringfellow

I am learning a great deal about Aikido from a number of different sources. I am saving up to be a part of this tradition on love and movement in early 2009. So in the meantime I am working my way to losing some weight, becoming more flexible, and settling into the right mindset before I even step into a Dojo and learn the right way to respect it.

I feel that there is a 99% true love for this lifestyle and a 1% rogue mentality. But I have to know that the rogue is there. This way I can prepare myself to listen to my instructors and trust them 100%. I know to give 100% to whom I am lending my body in order for them to improve. It causes me to have the urgency to learn properly how to fall and protect myself without resistance. But at the same time to immediately recognize the rogue and remove myself from that Dojo.

I have a very calm personality for most of the time. I have been know to be a hot head though. But it takes me so long to get there. I would soon rather forgive a person and move on from any bad situation working things out verbally and understanding. I love it when I flip the situation on someone to make them feel better about walking away.

Therefore I don’t ever see myself willingly wanting to use Aikido outside of a Dojo. I would only use Aikido outside of the Dojo in the case of immediate danger from a person who is not reasonable and out of control.

It’s funny what the body does when it is off balance. A mentor of mine gave me a demonstration of Ki in the movement of his arm. Once I realized that I couldn’t move it, all of a sudden I was off balance and then lowered carefully face down on top of my desk.

I was mind boggled. I wanted to know what happened to me. Why did my body give in and surrender at that point? It was all about balance. I learned that day that aggressors lose all sense of aggression when they are off balance. From that point the only thing they think about is protecting themselves. It is the ultimate change in circumstance! Such a simple concept. But even more than that a person has to first take the step to surely position himself to commit harm. That is where the unbalancing takes place. The sure momentum and overconfidence of the aggressor through natural centrifugal force almost makes the aggressor turn on himself.

I will learn to fall in two months.


  1. Jeff Watkins says:

    Konichiwa James,

    It’s great to see someone new begin the path with enthusiasm. You wrote that you plan on developing the self a little before you step on the mat. Personally I would suggest (assuming you are physically healthy enough) to start training right away, and just do what you are capable of. A good dojo would let you sit out when you need to, until you are physically capable. We had a fellow aikidoka fighting cancer and training with us; he would sit out sometimes for a time when he was exhausted, and then get right back on the mat as soon has he regained his energy.
    Do what you can as long as you can, then you will lose weight and develop the self faster, and thus start your training sooner.
    But of course I am not advocating just anyone take a break during class when ever they feel a little tired. That is not the martial way. However, some new people have a few more challenges to overcome than others.
    Happy training!

  2. James Stringfellow says:

    Thanks for the advice. I am not terribly overweight but I could loose a few pounds while I save up money for Dojo dues. So in the mean time I am running and stretching. I am up to about 4 miles on a good jog. I also am playing flag football with some of my co-workers a couple of weekends out of the month. I am an ex-college player for Tuskegee University back in the 90’s.

    I see that there are two sides. The person that is practicing the technique and the person that is lending their body. I want to be ready for the latter.

    Yes I am excited. I know the Dojo in Avondale GA will be good for me. I met with them and felt extremely comfortable there. Again Thank you for the advise! Thank you.


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