“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
– Bruce Lee
In Sunday morning Aikido practice, I continued reinventing my falls: forward rolls and backward rolls. I worked with Sensei Bobby for the entire class. We’re dear friends in over 30 years of training together. The late Mizukami Sensei taught us.
My reinvention alters 30 years of bad habits. When I roll correctly, I can train more intensely, can train truer. When I roll correctly, I don’t hurt. I heal my body. I heal myself.
Practicing the backward rolls, Sensei instructed me to not force my body backward. I raise my hands in my center line naturally extending backward, keeping my head in the center line, too. I look behind as I roll over.
Sensei said, “Don’t defend on the fall.” Be open to the fall. Keep the top of my feet flat against the Dojo mat. I make contact with my shin flat on the mat. Sensei reminded, “Relax your face.” Yeah, I need to chill on the fall. I said, “I need to smile on the fall.” We both laughed. I practiced about 100 rolls.
Then we worked on my forward rolls. I squat down, keeping my butt down closer to the mat at the start of the roll. Like the backward rolls, I keep my hands in my center; this time leading forward. Rolling on my right side, I use my left hand as a gauge for the mat. I make contact with the mat, behind my lower right shoulder. After landing, I keep leading my body forward. Forward rolls were easier. A little easier. Just train.
I’m Yondan (4th black belt). After 30 years of Aikido, I’m a beginner again. Yeah, there’s a big difference from 28 years-old learning to fall as opposed to 58 years-old learning to fall. I train as hard as I can. I have fun. I heal myself, too.
I told Sensei, “I’m getting there…” He said, “You’re there. Now, practice 10,000 times.” He demonstrated his roll. He said, “That’s 10,000 times correct.” We both smiled. I practiced over, and over, and over, and over again. Adhering to my social distancing, too. Just saying.
At the end of class, I said, “I have to practice about 9,950 times more…” Sensei and I both laughed. Well, I did way more than 50 rolls in class. I’m guessing only 50 were correct. Again, just saying.
Mizukami Sensei had told us over the years, “Aikido is about repetition.” Mastery too is about repetition. Practice 10,000 times and more. Just train. I let go. I free me. That’s meaningful.
So what’s worth practicing 10,000 times? What about kindness?
Kindness wasn’t natural for me growing up at home. Dad really didn’t know how to raise me. Consequently, he was always angry and terrified me, as child. Although, that distinction of Dad’s experience followed years after my childhood suffering.
As a boy, I was never going to be good enough for Dad. Really, I was never going to be enough. So I mastered hating on me. That practice lasted for many years.
I had to grind it out to heal me. Like Sensei said, “Just train.” In my Aikido training, meditation, writing, and therapy work with Lance, I began to love myself for who I am, and forgive myself for who I’m not. I practice that every day. Practice makes the unnatural natural. Something, I got from Mizukami Sensei. Nothing, but mad love and respect.
After returning home from Sunday Aikido practice, I went shopping at my favorite Japanese market in Torrance. I waved “Hi” to 20-something Matthew, one of the young store clerks, who helps me out a lot. I asked, “So are working ‘til closing?” He smiled, “No, I get off at 5:30 pm.” We caught up for a few minutes, and I took off.
Later, I was taking a breathwork class (breathing meditation training) with Cheryl. With COVID-19, the class was on-line. When the class started, Cheryl texted that she needed the website link. She was having difficulty accessing the website. So I emailed her the link.
Cheryl was just about to blow off the class. She had gotten a bit annoyed, to say the least. I got it. I texted back that she needed to click on the Zoom link enclosed in the email. Amen, it worked. She got on-line. The class was awesome.
Sure, being kind to Matt and Cheryl was easy. They’re both kind, good folk. Still, I need to practice kindness. Starting from my new zero, I’ve got to practice kindness 9,998 more times.
Put in the work. Just train for what’s meaningful. Sure, practicing something 10,000 times is a whole lot. Anything that is meaningful to us, takes something from us.
Mizukami Sensei said, “Just train.” It’s not like you have to get somewhere. You’re okay right where you are. You choose who you are going to be. Just saying.
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