“I am transformed when I practice … NOT!!” by Bruce Baker

How many hundred of posts, articles, and quotes have I read that mention in some way that someone is transformed when they step onto the mat, into the dojo, or are morphed into that super-hero when trouble is in their faces?

It is not the dogi that give you the power of Aikido.

It is not the dojo that transforms you into that other person you probably aren’t in your everyday life.

It is not some supernatural power from beyond.

It isn’t the fact you pray, or worship in whatever way you do within the practice of whatever religion you practice.

It is … the fact that you learn to integrate all the best things you learn to offset the worst things you will encounter, and the fact that you will somehow learn to find harmony and balance within that life you will live.

There is no magic that can’t be figured out if you want to figure it out. The tricks you learn of mind, of body, and even the mechanics of how the human body works, or how the mind can overcome, to a degree, some of those mechanics … will teach you how and why masters can make you look like a rag doll when you are their partner or uke.

I can not stress enough … that at some point …. the world outside the dojo … the world inside the dojo … the morals and ethics you seek as part of your goal for practice inside the dojo and the morals and ethics you practice outside the dojo … must be integrated and be combined into the human being who will be the member of society.

Maybe this is obvious to some people, and it is does not need to be said, but considering the white-wash that appears in some of the comments, the blog, the articles …. Maybe the OBVIOUS needs to be said.

This development tool, this practice of socialization and integration of some martial arts ability that becomes AIKIDO PRACTICE is a transition of hate into a practice that can teach one to transform ourselves and integrate into our lives, but we are not supposed to lose sight of the harmony/disharmony of the world around us.

I walk into the dojo and I am transformed into … Oh please … learn to use that mind-set as a tool … because eventually you will need to use it in an instant when circumstances are not so ideal.

Get it into you head … these lessons are teaching you to use the power of body and mind, and even of spirit, so you can participate as a member of society transforming that society, let alone … helping to create a better society. It is not done for your teacher, or done for some religious purpose, but it is a way to recognize the negative aspects of yourself and world around you and learn to have some way to deal with those aspects on terms you can understand that you come to practice aikido.

Follow the rules, do the time, and learn your lessons when you practice Aikido, but at some point … step back and realize what the practice is supposed to do to help as you realize things about yourself and the world around you.

That is about as clear as I can make it. The rest is up to you.

Don’t take this the wrong way, we will all have that illusion, because it is part of the natural process of learning, but I speak up because the tool to realize how to use this mind-set, how to break out of the illusion, is to realize …. there is more to it than what you feel today. Things will change, and so will you to adapt and change for the world of tomorrow.


  1. Jose Santos says:

    You posted a good point here. A good martial art demo or lecture either be it in a dojo or elsewhere can have a mesmerizing effect on new students or novices. Sometimes striking their spiritual sensitivities.
    But, is it a better way to learn if they realize these “illusions” themselves?

  2. bruce baker says:

    I probably should NOT comment on my own blog, but then again … I do and say a lot of things I shouldn’t do.

    There are pearls of wisdom everywhere, but the person who can still perform a random act of kindness, who can help someone when god put that person of need in their way, or simply be able to speak up clearly when muddled minds seem to blabber on endlessly … ah …. that is when all your lessons come to mean something … when you actually are called to do something at that moment in time.

    And it may be the smallest thing, a word, the smallest unimportant thing … but it will change the entire course of events because you have learned your lessons well.

    And my point is … every so often, question things from the ground up and see how big the big picture grows as you grow over time and distance. Not that you should change drastically, but do it as a mental exercise to help you grow.

    I see it as INHERIT THE WIND, where Spencer Tracy puts the Bible and Darwin’s book together because it is not separate but a continuing battle of intelligence of man to figure out how the two fit together.

    Maybe we who try to fit the two together, be it Aikido into a world that fights against harmony and only respects strength and brutality, are fighting a losing battle, but over time and distance … hatred and brutality kills all, ruins all … there must be something to balance out the negative even though positive and negative must exist side by side with each other in harmony, in balance.

    My point is … there will only be a small few who grasp the bigger picture, who can see both the positive and negative, who can feel the influence of subliminal signals from nature that drive the human race, yet we have the vision to speak up.

    If it is one person, they will be seen as crazy. Two people, they will be agitators. Three or more … people will start to wonder, but until there are thousands in the millions speaking up, seeing the same thing … those ideas and voices will be drowned out.

    I saw that happen last year in the USA presidential election. Voices drowned out as the media countered common sense, and and now nearly a year later some sanity begins to return as even the media cannot hide common sense.

    Politics aside, even though under the surface of Aikido there is a political and economic game going on behind the scenes … I hope, and sometimes pray, that saner more enlightened minds will speak out and maintain the spirit of peace and harmony aikido was supposed to bring to heal the madness of the world.

    I simply want people to expand their vision so we can avoid some of the worst parts of violence and war but that ain’t gonna happen as some people stick their heads in the sand as they either lay down on the side of peace or the side of war.

    There is a place in the middle where history says …. you … human race … you aren’t smart enough yet to figure it all out. You need to learn more lessons …

    The greatest structure, no matter how great it may be when built, will someday crumble and fall …. we should no less be aware that what we practice today is for us today. Somehow .. we got here. Somehow it is gonna go on to the future, but the whitewash is gonna wash off, and the building is gonna fall down needing to be rebuilt someday. I wonder if the people in the future will have the tools to rebuild that building, that structure? I would hope we leave enough clues behind … they can.

  3. There are two tangential points I would like to attempt.

    First is the feeling of transformation. It’s not all hooey. Most people do shift gears. O Sensei may have lived aikido 24/7, but most of us have day jobs. The issue is that if this is going to be more than “going to the movies”, if it is going to work when you need it, you need to be able to shift gears very quickly. There aren’t any telephone booths anymore, Clark. In San Francisco I walk out the street door mentally locked and loaded… with the safety on.

    Second, the illusion of transformation; sloppy practice leads to illusion. As Bob Nadeau once commented with some disgust, “You tank for me. I’ll tank for you and we’ll call it harmony.” Some stuff only works in dojos because it doesn’t really work there. I remember going to a place I won’t name, where my entrance was greeted with some anxiety. There was this nice, big, young, strong guy. Nobody seemed to want to train with him. Hey, nobody seemed to want to train with me either, so we were meant for each other. His problem seemed to be that when he was told to grab, he GRABBED. I thought it was fun. I guess nobody else “liked his energy”.

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