Brian Kagen pick: “Midlife Lessons from Aikido,” By Nannette Matilac

“I marvel at the age-old wisdom inherent in the techniques, like the principle of the unbendable arm and the movement in strong beautiful circles, whether these are centrifugal or centripetal. Watching the black belts move with effortless grace reminds me of all the ninja TV series I watched from childhood. Blessed are those who are born to practice aikido – those who transform like superheroes on the mats. I know I can never be like them in this lifetime. Still clumsy even after a year of aikido practice, I found comfort in the fact that most of the black belts have been practicing for years, if not decades.”

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

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  1. …bless you. you’re doing well to see so much after your first year. i found i could measure my progress by how much or what the senior folks did i saw. one of the really nice things about Iwama style is you can get something useful from it at any level of your own training. but, then, those are my roots…

  2. These words by Nannette Matilac did something to me: “But of all the myriad things I’ve learned, the greatest is about love. Mushy and corny as this may sound, it’s true.…. Morihei Ueshiba…understood well what Jesus demonstrated to humanity over 2000 years ago: Love your enemies; love your neighbor as you love yourself. In aikido, winning by defeating the enemy is not truly winning. Aikido is supposed to bring people, even adversaries, together in harmony. Unlike other martial arts, it is not about fighting. Thus, we permit the attacker to complete his attack, allow ourselves to empathize with the attacker, and let in love and compassion to be able to understand the attacker’s combative state, which may be a result of his/her psycho-social situation or level of human consciousness. “If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along the path indicated to you by heaven and earth.” That’s Morihei Ueshiba speaking from the heart.” Those words gave me a severe case of humility. In my Aikido life since 1966 I have never been able to put it so well. Thank God for beginners and the beginner’s mind!

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