“Chasing Butterflies,” by Nev Sagiba

“The Way is not a street but an attitude! Showing up at the dojo without equivocation when you think you are “too tired,” is one of the secrets of mastering the art..”

Chasing butterflies is a fools game. If you sit still and simply notice, they will land on you. Let them go, they do not belong in a collection but to Nature alive!

Over the years I’ve met a few millionaires. The salient feature I noticed is that the truly successful and well adjusted ones are not obsessed with chasing money. Money leaps at them and they can’t get rid of it.

I asked myself why? Speaking to the average was of no avail because the warped logic is, “Because they have money they don’t need to chase it..”

On the surface this appears to be correct but closer observation is that this is an excuse the insincere use to refuse to change themselves and their entrenched habits of chasing and basically wasting a life hankering after what they are making unattainable by either complacency or too much unskilled striving.

Let me explain. I noticed this in other areas of life as well. Some guys attract women like bees to honey. They also don’t strive. The chasers seldom catch more than a cold.


And then along came Budo and I noticed the same thing. Winners don’t care about the relativity of winning or losing or looking good. In training they are in it for the experience. They are not frightened of exploring possibilities. Refreshingly, this naturally makes them look good because they are not hung up on it.

Watch the people who force rote kuzushi. Transparently they will come unstuck the day they come across a non-compliant attacker. What then?

The kuzushi of Aikijutsu are mostly for setting up effective atemi and not intended mainly or solely as “throws.” In the occasional instance of kuzushi felling an opponent, that’s just a fringe benefit. Ukemi is for safety in practice and to learn kaeshi waza. Morihei Ueshiba’s “Applied Aikido is 90% atemi,” was not intended as waffle but practical advice.

What I noticed with the millionaires, the good ones, is that they tend to hold the fortunes but not statically. Rather in motion. Their focus and orientation is not money obsession, but rather creating and service; on generating new experiences. The benefits then simply flow on.

Those who think in the creative dimension dare to step off parochial trends to innovate. They dare to experiment and to learn from mistakes/learning curves. They are not frightened to err but then learn quickly. The bad ones strive obnoxiously too much, too hard at other peoples expense and fearing mistakes learn very little if anything; and so they end up making big ones instead.

If you are ruthlessly honest with yourself, you will have gone through a stage where you trained until you dropped and that’s when revelations about aiki opened up. If not you have not yet started. When you are too tired to get in your own way with excess of ego, then, and only then does deep inner ki unlock. The said-to-be, “mysterious” ability to relax will then begin to arise. Over time it can become a habit that will be an immense asset.

Showing up at the dojo without equivocation when you think you are “too tired,” is one of the secrets of mastering the art. In the course of time you will discover that effortless effort works best, but only if it is honest and lucid.

Teenagers a few years ago had an insult for sleaze. The slang, “try-hard,” which they used on whom they disdained. That’s self-explanatory. Stop “trying” so hard and do if appropriate or don’t if not.

The bad millionaires tend to lose more fortunes than they make. They mostly end up bankrupt in more ways than one. They were always poor in their thinking. The good ones remain unfazed and continue to create. With or without money. That is the key. Money is not wealth but a reflection of it. Wealth resides in a particular attitude. Equally so skill in Aikido is not denoted by, “throws,” but rather the effortless kuzushi that reflects your own stability. If you want to chase after “throws” then try judo where you will both usually end up on the ground. What is that outcome telling you?

Morihei Ueshiba’s.. “Making something out of nothing…” is the attitude. This requires fully integrated centeredness, something the true budoka cultivates daily.

Interestingly, busy people have time to do a multitude of things but idle people are always, “too busy” to create, preferring to sit wasting energy wallowing in envy, excuses and other deleterious habituations.

The old budoka would often say, “Do the technique for its own sake, as if the opponent does not exist.”

In the old text, the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, a sage and Kshatriya (warrior caste) censured attachment to results, “One who performs action without attachment to results, will obtain the best result.” The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama another born Kshatriya, as well as many other sages pretty much paraphrased this.

Instead of processing and allowing for errors, our original teachers in life, to happen naturally so we may then correct ourselves through repetition, we too often fear what others watching may think and with ego at the helm, we instead prefer to make fools of ourselves attempting to mimic those who have found the Way, by instead forcing and striving. To become enabled to find the Way for ourselves, mistakes need to be embraced in order to overcome them.

Learning and refining is the true purpose of spaced repetition drills.

So there you are, stop trying so hard once a week or once a month. That’s not training. Instead train daily. Your body receives ample recovery time all day at the office despite the enervation of prolonged hypercerebral tasks. Remember, bodywork cannot be treated as an academic task. To develop and maintain the body-mind connection in all its attributes, daily use is a requirement. Conversely, if your job is a physically active one, use proper recovery e.g. three days a week with a day off in-between and moderation monitoring your energy output. Proper nutrition helps.

Then in training enjoy the ride, spills and all. You learn more from ukemi than you do from waza provided you are paying attention to details. If you’re not enjoying training you may be straining. If so back off, modulate to your best balance.

Treat training as an enjoyable daily recreation, not a burdensome task. Take it seriously as budo should be taken but also follow the Founder’s advice, “Training should be fun!”

One day when you least expect it someone will say, “Wow!” By then, having found your Self, you will not care for either praise or blind criticism.

Skill, wealth and all good things come to those who practice regularly, not those who strive too hard, nor those who wait, wish, hope, procrastinate or refuse to acknowledge error with intent to correct it despite the pain of doing so.

Just do it. Doing less to achieve more is the core nature of Aikido, the little one we practice in a man made dojo and also the great one which is the Kannagara no Michi of the Universe Itself.

The Way is not a street but an attitude!

Bill Mollison Quotes

“On a more mundane level, of using aikido on the landscape, of rolling with the blows, turning adversity into strength, and using everything positively. The other approach is to karate the landscape, to try to make it yield by exerting your strength, and striking many hard blows. But if we attack nature we attack (and destroy) ourselves. We can only hope to understand, to use what is there..”

“More observation, less perspiration, aikido not karate.”.

“The underlying philosophy of permaculture is.. working with the land, not against it.  It’s essentially a matter of using the principles of Aikido,.. allowing one to turn adversity into strength and use that energy positively. One way is to ask, “What can I demand this land to do?” Ask instead, “What does this land have to give me?” Anyone who asks that question will naturally work in harmony with the earth to produce a sustained ecology.. And achieving that goal will naturally strengthen us, too, since our survival depends on the health of the earth..”

“What practitioners of permaculture farming do, then, is cooperate with the earth and avoid the use of force..”

Nev Sagiba


  1. nice article. Good advice for the aikidoka

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