For the past four years I have be a student at an Aikido dojo. An Aikidoka, if you will. I started late in life, I was almost 50. I would not claim to be very good at it, but I have been persistent. It has been a life changing experience.

Aikido is a difficult martial art, full of blending turns and throws. It challenges me every time I step onto the mat. It carries a philosophy of compassion that forces me to reevaluate my own ideas of what a proper response to a threat is.

But from the beginning, it intrigued me, led me in, and confounded me. It took me months to do a shoulder roll. I still don’t do them as well as I would like. The blending techniques and throws require thousands of repetitions to master. Perfection is elusive, even basic competence might take a lifetime.

My test for Nikyu, brown belt, is a week from Sunday. I do not think I deserve it, and would be happy to study another year, but testing is a funny thing. You cannot ask for it, conversely, if called out to test, you cannot refuse. So I will face this as I faced many things. Somehow it has become part of the path my life has taken.

A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.
–Morihei Ueshiba


5 thoughts on “Humbled

  1. I started Aikido in December of last year. I am 56 and know exactly what you are talking about. I too find it inviting, intruiging and sometimes confounding, but I love it. My Dojo is full of wonderful people who are happy and eager to help teach me. Age has its disadvantages too. Those accursed rolls…I found out I have arthritis in joint joining my clavicle to my shoulder. Wonder where that came from? Do the roll incorrectly and you will know it.

    I intend to stay with it. Its too compelling not to, despite the fact that it hurts every time and I am sometimes less than graceful.
    Thanks for this.

  2. You will do fine on your nikyu test; your sensei would not be telling you to test otherwise. I celebrate my 10th anniversary on the mat in July, and the learning continues. I find that to be the compelling thing about aikido; no matter how long you train, there's always more. If you want to feel like you “know” a martial art, it will frustrate you no end. But if you enjoy learning new things, you will never be bored.

    Just enjoy your test for what it is: a demonstration of what you have learned so far. Be clear in your movement, show good zanshin, and you will shine. Let us know how it goes!

    If you're ever in Cincinnati, bring your dogi:

    I'd love to train with you!

  3. Good luck with the testing. I also agree with David. You wouldn't be picked if the sensei didn't think you were ready.

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