Throughout my 25 years of Aikido training with Sensei, he wasn’t about enlightenment per se. Oh, not at all. I loved that about Sensei. Nothing lofty. Just make it work. Although, he wished for me to become the greater man. He said, “Just train.” After I earned 3rd- and 4th-degree black belts, I got it. Sensei really didn’t care about rank. Just train. Work on making myself greater.
In the big picture, Sensei guided as I reinvented Aikido as my own Art. I had to make it work for me, regardless of circumstance. He wanted me to pass my Art on to others, not necessarily just reproduce what he taught me.
For Sensei, Aikido was never about him. Consequently, his lesson: It’s not all about me, either. Legacy sources from the past, but lives in its value now and in the future. Aikido looks different now than it did in the past. And Aikido will look differently in the future than it does now. Because: It’s supposed to.
Sensei was the Father, I needed. He was also my Hero. He guided me in discovering the Hero within, as well. Bruce Lee said, “True knowledge is self-knowledge.” The Mastery Path is self-discovery, self-acknowledgment, and self-forgiveness. O-Sensei said, “True victory is victory over oneself.” Oh no, Mastery ain’t easy. I continually learn dedication, grace, and humility.
In my Aikido training with Sensei Bobby and Hanshi, I “enter the attack and die with honor”. Hanshi said that when you defend, you can be defeated. Never defend. Instead, awase “to match up” meets the attack with your attack.
I move into the attack and apply the technique, whether nikkyo or kotegaeshi, on myself. The opponent is incidental, rather he doesn’t really matter. That’s O-Sensei’s Aikido. I overcome myself, not my opponent. I discover who I am. I discover the possible Hero within.
The Mastery Path reveals the hero within all of us. Although self-discovery is useful, it becomes more valuable when passing that on to others. That’s what Sensei did for me over the years. Hopefully, I inspire others in summoning their own Hero within.
Summon the Hero within? Well, just train. Keep it simple. Do your job. Discard the superfluous. Refine what’s works. Remember, make your art work for you.
Mastery is about love, not perfection. Wabi-sabi. Cheryl said, “Life is imperfectly perfect.” Do what you love to do, for as long as you can. Mastery is about grinding it out, because you love what you do. We don’t stop training, because we get older. We get old because we stop training. Yeah, I’m 57 years old. I know what I can, and what I used to do. And the twain shall no longer meet, at least in my lifetime.
I’ve gotten wiser in my Aikido training: learning ways to heal and regenerate my body. As long as I become a little greater each practice, regardless of scale, and that I’m able to pass on something valuable, then it’s all worth it.
In the end, I wish to be the ‘empty vessel’, having given away everything that has been gifted to me over a lifetime, be it from Mom, Sensei or others. Hopefully, the next Generation will discard the superfluous and reinvent what works for them. I hope that they have lives that they’re proud of. I hope that they too, create their lives as their Work of Art. Amen. Amen.
This post was previously published on www.facebook.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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