Saturday, September 04, 2010

Keep the Lights On part 2

Last November we honored my 40th anniversary in Aikido by having a fundraising event to help us pay our power bill. It was wonderfully successful, with teachers and friends and students from 40 years on in coming and celebrating. This year the power bill is again lurking, and a 41st anniversary is much less dramatic, so, as Foster Gamble named it, we need to do another"Help Us Keep the Lights On" fundraiser. Linda Holiday sensei is celebrating her 40th year this year(and I will be participating) in November, so October is a better month to run ours.

A date that seems to work on multiple fronts for now is October 10th, a Sunday. So I am envisioning an event with some training and an after training celebration/party of some sort. Even though a lot of this needs to be further organized, please for now keep this date in mind. And any suggestions as to the structure of it please feel free to share with me.

One topic that came up during the dojo building section of the last CAA meeting(last Sunday) was that people act on "why" and justify it with "what". How does this relate to running and maintaining a dojo? For example on an obvious level, "Why should I do a martial art?" Self-defense. Exercise. Meet new people. An interest in oriental philosophy. Now the question now becomes, what would meet these needs or interests? Now the important thing for us is that aikido becomes the "what".

So this is a question we might all ask ourselves: why do we do aikido and also what made aikido our "what"? When I was a teenager in the'60's martial arts were very exotic. You saw snatches of them in the James Bond films and here and there in action films. Diana Rigg in "The Avengers" and Bruce Lee in "The Green Hornet" were both very important influences on me. So my why is that I wanted to do martial arts because they were doing them on tv. My what was initially Shotokan karate. At the time karate was much more exotic than judo and so that was what I looked for. And I helped start a club on the UC Santa Cruz campus. And though I enjoyed it, I found my why shifted things. I found I had an interest in Oriental philosophy and mysticism. And as my why shifted to that I found that my what shifted to aikido and t'ai chi ch'uan.

A very significant figure in shifting my why was Ueshiba Osensei. I read an article about him in Black Belt magazine. He was referred to as the most spiritual man in Japan. Quite a statement. And he was prominently featured in an article Robert Frager wrote for Psychology Today magazine entitled "The Psychology of the Samurai". The pictures of him showed a man very advanced in years and yet he glowed. Even shined. Somehow despite the years he didn't seem old. I remember watching 8mm movies of him during workshops Robert Frager and Robert Nadeau co-taught at the Castro Street location of Aikido of Mt View. I remember telling myself that I wanted to do what he was doing. I was privileged to start with 2 people who personally knew the founder. And it was also significant that they are both Westerners who saw him from a perspective different than that of the Japanese culture. Anno sensei during his recent visit said that he never thought of aikido as just Japanese because Osensei used to talk so much about the universe. And I was also fortunate to train in Japan with people like Anno sensei, who got the universality of Osensei and what aikido is.

So from where I am now I am almost all why. There is very little what to aikido and my reasons for doing it. Why do you do(or are you possibly considering doing it) and how can we make it your what?

Here is another ipad recording of 2 of my favorite Chet Baker pieces. I'll have to someday go into the why/what of music for me.


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