The bigger stronger man attacks. In the immediacy of the attack, the smaller person doesn’t have the recourse to run the hell away. Running away is optimal, but maybe, you’re alone. Maybe you’re with someone who needs protection.
You defend against the attack. When you use force against force, you expose your aggressor’s distinct advantage and reveal your own weakness. What will you do, instead? What can you do?
In Aikido, I match up with the attack in my attack, awase. When I defend, I can be defeated. The late Mizukami Sensei said, “Wait it out. Take a glancing blow if you have to. It’s one time.” The wise French Aikido Sensei said, “Enter the attack and die with honor.” I wait it out. I invite the attack to come to me.
In waiting it out, I might take a glancing blow. Still, I move into the attack, move into the danger. I let the attack pass, perhaps taking a hit. I don’t count on getting away scot-free. I apply the Aikido technique to myself. The attacker doesn’t matter. I overcome myself. No contest. No fight.
Enter the attack and die with honor. It’s one time. I invite the attack. No resistance. No defense. Bruce Lee said, “Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba said, “Opponents confront us continually, but actually there is no opponent there.”
I apply the technique to myself, whether it’s ikkyo, nikkyo, or sankyo (Aikido wrist locks). I don’t look at the attacker. I look at the world in front of me. I make the technique work, regardless of the attacker’s size, strength, and speed. I make it work.
O-Sensei said, “True victory is victory over oneself.” I’m my GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) opponent. Whatever circumstance or personalities arise, I can invite them in. In that bigger picture, I invite life in. I have no meaningful opponent other than myself. I work on myself, not on others.
Healing myself in Aikido, in meditation, in writing, in therapy with Lance, I have compassion for others and for me. When someone occurs as an asshole, it’s that I distinguish my asshole qualities in them. More than just saying. Therefore, I work on that. I apply the technique to myself. I work on myself. I grind it out.
Cheryl Hunter taught me the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi: The beauty in our imperfection. We’re all imperfect. We’re human, after all. Cheryl said, “Life is imperfectly perfect.” I invite my imperfectly perfect life. I just train.
Among my happiest times were saying “hi” to my late Mom and the late Mizukami Sensei, inviting them into my life. On Sunday mornings before Aikido class, I caught up with Sensei sweeping outside the Dojo. I said, “Hey, Sensei.” He smiled, “Hey Jon. What’s up?”When I visited Mom at her seniors home, I waved, “Hi, Mom.” She smiled waving back. I laughed too. Mom wasn’t wearing her glasses like she was supposed to.
Years ago, Mom and Sensei met when she came to visit me in Los Angeles. They became good friends. They got how meaningful the other was to me. Before I left for Christmas vacation back in Honolulu, Sensei said, “Say ‘Hi’ to your Mom for me.” Before I returned back to Los Angeles, Mom said, “Give my regards to Sensei.” Mom and Sensei invited life in. They invited me in.
Mom and Sensei are no longer with us on Planet Earth. The Planet is a far greater place for them to share their lives. Mom and Sensei still inspire me to become the greater man. If I could, I would tell Sensei, “Say ‘hi’ to my Mom for me. I love you both…” Rest in peace. I love you, always.
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