In Sunday Aikido Class, I trained with beginner student Eugenia on ryote kokyunage hanmi handachi. Eugenia as the attacker (uke) grabbed both my wrists with both of her hands from a standing position. In suwari (sitting postion), I threw her to my side. She practiced her forward rolls for the first time. I keep my hands in front with my arms straight. I lead the uke to my side to throw. The uke runs around my back to take the fall.
Eugenia attacked my left side. I opened my arms to the left. I moved my hands in front to my right side with my arms straight. As Ishibashi Sensei instructed, I threw the uke straight like an arrow. Everything quiet.
I slowed the technique to teach Eugenia how to take the proper forward roll. She knelt her knees on the mat and placed her hands in front. I told her to roll her body over the top of her head. She did. However, she tipped over to her left side taking her forward roll. She was afraid. She held her breath when she took her forward roll.
I told Eugenia to breathe out when she takes her forward roll. I said, “When you breathe out, you let go of your fear inside.” She followed my instructions. She breathed out taking her forward roll. She came straight over the top, landing safely. Everything quiet.
I said, “You have to let go of your fear inside. Even after all these years, I still get afraid sometimes when I take falls. You have to let go.” I didn’t just mean that for the Dojo. Eugenia nodded. She got it.
Aikido is freedom. In Aikido, I enter the attack, enter what I fear. In the center of the attack, in the danger, I let go of the fear I hold inside that I’m not good enough. Letting go is the hardest thing that I do in life. Amen.
So, why do I hold my fear inside, when that only causes pain and suffering? Why is it so hard to let go? Although fear sources my suffering, I hold on because it’s familiar and what I’ve known for years. My fear that I’m not good enough came from Dad. When I was a little boy, whatever I did or didn’t do only made him so angry at me.
When I let go of my fear inside, I can invent myself. That can be far scarier than holding my fear inside, holding on to the past. I invent myself from mushin, the empty mind. I choose who I am and what I do. I’m responsible for myself. I don’t blame my fear inside, anymore. It’s all on me. Just saying.
The late NBA Legend Kobe Bryant said, “Failure excites me.” When I fail that gives me what I need to work on. I do what’s meaningful to me. I overcome myself. Just train.
I was in love. I let go of the fear I held inside of I’m not good enough. I said, “I love you.” She loved me but was not in love with me. I got it. I dared to fail bravely and failed bravely. I have nothing to do with what on goes inside someone else. I do have a say in what goes on inside me. I forgave myself for being in love. I forgave myself for being imperfectly human, too. I let go. That was the bravest I have ever been. Just saying.
In Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I let go of the fear I held inside. I dared greatly. I failed greatly. Not the fairytale ending I had in mind. That’s just life. I love myself for who I am and forgive myself for who I’m not.
In the bigger picture, I let go of the fear I held inside and dared to be me. I’m always good with that. Just saying. Amen.
Support The Good Men Project on Patreon to help us build a better, more inclusive world for all.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto