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Showing posts from April, 2011

Basho and Musashi

I once read a story about the Musashi, and Basho. This story must be apocryphal as they did not live at the same time, but I think of it often in relation to martial arts practice. Musashi was a samurai with a deep interest in Zen Buddhism, and Basho was a poet with a samurai background - both were also known as great travelers.

So, according to the story they met on their travels, and they sat down to talk and rest. As they sat in the forest, they saw a mamushi, or Japanese pit viper, sliding toward them. Neither moved. The viper approached Musashi, and, somehow sensing danger, stopped and changed directions. When the viper approached Basho, however, it slithered over his feet as if he were part of the forest floor.

Sometimes the objective is achieved by not having a fighting attitude.

I love your smile...

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Have you ever caught sight of your face in the mirror and noticed that your face looked tight and kind of...frowny? Everyone has heard the benefits of smiling:

1. It's less work (This is the one that's quoted all the time. It's probably not technically true that it takes fewer muscles to smile, but it sounds good!)

2. Smiling actually changes your mood and makes you feel better. There's lots of research on this.

3. People respond better to you when you smile. Good telephone salespeople will tell you that smiling on the phone makes people respond better - but the best research is to try it.

4. Smiling is good for your health. Research has linked smiling to everything from lowered blood pressure and a healthier immune system to longevity, and more likelihood of finding a life-partner.

5. It makes you more attractive. There's lots of research on this, too, but it's so obvious you wonder why anyone wasted the research money.

6. Smiling will keep your face looking yo…

Frequently Asked Questions in Aikido

At dinner after the seminar I taught in New York this weekend, the subject came up as it often does: What's the best way to respond when working with someone who you think is doing a technique wrong?

In answering this, there are several considerations:
Is the person doing something dangerous, or are they hurting you?Is this person of a higher, lower, or equal rank to you?Do you want to demonstrate your knowledge, or do you sincerely want to learn?First: if your partner is doing something dangerous or you are being hurt, you have to let them know immediately. This can be done in a manner that won't evoke a "fighting spirit" - for example, "I have been injured there, so I have to be careful on that side," or "I'm kind of unsure of this technique, can we do it slower?" or, (one of my favorites), "My old bones can't respond as quickly as I used to, so maybe don't lay on the nikkyo quite so fast!" I tend to use self-deprecating hu…

Women's Kokikai Seminar at Aikido Kokikai of NYC

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Yesterday I taught a seminar for women students at Aikido Kokikai of NYC. It was wonderful to work with these strong women who are so enthusiastic about their practice! I felt honored to teach them.

We worked on ways that women can become more responsive and strong partners so they can feel comfortable working with partners of any size and strength.

We also talked about ways to make our aikido practice "our own," for example by finding metaphors and ways to visualize ideas in practice that are more feminine. (My first idea for a feminine metaphor was the fembots from Austin Powers, but we decided this might be too racy for some. OK, it's just a joke, but they did have to have great posture in order to be able to aim correctly!)

Posture was another topic of the seminar, and all of us experienced how small changes in posture can make a big difference in our ability to respond to an attack.

It was fun to practice with a group of women, although essentially I didn't feel…