Aikido

Andrew_Marunchak_trophyI’m actually a fairly difficult person to motivate and, unless I truly enjoy something, the chances are such that I will not give it my all. As far as physical activity goes, the main motivator for me is to be with the people I’ve come to know over the years through training. If we all went our separate ways, I’d be left with a void so vacuous in my soul that I’d have a very difficult time keeping grounded. I’m not accustomed to winning things, when I do compete I always make sure it’s against overwhelming odds as that’s the only time something ever feels ‘real’ to me.

We all need a hobby, I’ve been doing Aikido for ten years now, it’s something I was introduced to by a colleague. Since that day, I’ve trained in a number of different dojos and environments, some of which were inside, outside, on mats that were soft and mats that were hard, even on ice. Whether it be in a school, a sports centre or the elements themselves, despite their differences the pursuit is always in the name of self-mastery. Taking people who may lack physical intelligence and cultivating it, or providing an opportunity to those blessed with an abundance of talent and receiving the direction needed to overcome conceit.

When you move so far outside of your comfort zone, everything else seems easy by comparison.

Alternative approaches

It was by choice and remains as one of the most powerful transformational periods of my life. That fine line between obsession and discipline is often quite hard to discern, especially if you don’t get a glimpse of the wider context. A good teacher always provides the opportunity for reflection via access to different perspectives.

Over the weekend, our dojo took part in the second annual Shoshinkan competition, established to promote and demonstrate Aikido in a variety of scenarios. There were multiple demos and events, all of which were outstanding and would leave the most seasoned practitioner feeling somewhat humbled. The transmission of Aikido as an art is notoriously difficult for a number of reasons, but suffice it enough to say that different teachers have very different objectives and the only way one can truly experience the entire spectrum of what it has to offer is through embracing this variation – sometimes considered taboo. Aiki is still a new art, it’s still less than a hundred years old and everyone has an opinion regarding the direction of its progressive evolution. One day I’ll be qualified to give you my opinion but, in the meantime, I’m happy to receive the joint first place trophy from the Kihon Waza portion of the event, which focuses on a series of techniques comprised of throws, recoveries and controls/locks. The prize is shared with your partner, whom you have trained with and cooperated through the rounds to reach the finals.

So thank you, Azveed Alam Malik, for loving what you do and training as often as you can and to my teachers, Sarah Cullerne and Richard Brownbill. Without such obsession, achieving anything of value is almost impossible.

My utmost thanks to my teacher, Sensei Sarah Cullerne, without whose technical mastery and constant support this would have not been possible and to my original teacher, Sensei Richard Brownbill, who gave me, what I believe is, the strongest foundation in the art that anyone could ask for.

Now to make the most of the Christmas season! Long overdue a good food binge.

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