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Showing posts from August, 2012

Continued Growth

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I spoke to an aikido student during a Kokikai Aikido camp in March. I understand he is a fairly well-known mathematician. I asked whether it was challenging to work with human beings, who react differently every time, as opposed to mathematical constructs. He surprised me by saying that his biggest challenge was in dealing with things happening in real time, with no recourse to contemplation or consideration.

Then he said something that was quite poignant. It is fairly accepted in scientific circles that most mathematicians do their groundbreaking work when they are in their 20s. By the time they're 35 they are "over the hill." With their best work behind them, it's time to make way for the new stars. This student said that for him the most rewarding thing about Kokikai practice is the possibility of continued growth throughout his lifetime. Before he practiced aikido, continued growth was not part of his outlook.

It may seem like no big deal, the idea the you can c…

Lessons from Childbirth

My one and only childbirth was not the drug-free, fully natural experience I planned. Despite 6 weeks of Lamaze training and a very caring delivery nurse, I ended up with an epidural, an oxygen mask (because of my low blood pressure) and an episiotomy. The fact that my son weighed 9 lbs. 3 oz. at birth explains much. But something the delivery nurse said (before she went off shift, leaving me in the hands of a much less motherly person) has stayed with me for these last 24 years.

In between the contractions, you need to relax.

The inability to relax between the contractions is the source of a lot of our problems, isn't it? When traumatic events happen its very difficult to let go of the them. Our minds relive the experience, churning and churning with visual images, emotions, and imagined conversations. And our bodies retain the tension, becoming cramped and immobile. These patterns are unfortunately reinforced by physiological changes. A substance called myelin acts like Teflon,…

Can a Woman Really Defend Herself?

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The other night as I left a music jam session after 10pm, I was asked if I needed an escort to my car. I reminded the guy who asked that I have an advanced martial arts degree. He looked like that wasn't a very convincing assurance of my ability to defend myself. I joked, "If you would like, I can walk with you to your car and protect you."

I was bothered by this interaction. It was as if 18 years of training was unimportant when faced with a difference in gender. I have no beef with this guy personally. His response was based on social conditioning; it is not normative to imagine a woman could protect herself better than a man, or that she could protect him.

But the fact is, someone who is well-trained in martial arts is more likely to have a fast and appropriate reaction to danger than someone who is not. And successful self defense simply does not depend on superior physical strength. For example: is physical strength the best defense from a gunshot?  You might also …