Aikido in me

  • 17 August 2017

Like the mirror… Like looking in the mirror… Like being the mirror…

I’ll introduce you aikido in me as a starter, as a person who just entered this path. This article is an aspect of my life, maybe it is the same, maybe it is different for those who make room for aikido in his/her life.

Typically, I am in love with the martial arts since I was a child.This is because I watched I lot of films about them from primitive to contemporary. I’ve always questioned one concept, the harmony… How is it created during a conflict? Being in conflict with your enemies and fighting them is not an art but it is a vital importance in the world where contrast and fighting are inevitable. Knowing him and yourself… Comprehend…

While I was studying at the university exam, I met with aikido as a concept, as an idea. At that time, I believe Aikido had gained a fame in Turkey. “The different thing between Aikido and other martial arts is that Aikido is using your opponents power against him”. That’s a phrase that I heard a lot. Although, we can argue or discuss this saying, throughout next 12 years I have wondered Aikido and imagined when I’ll start at Aikido. However, I was not sure if I’m ready to enter this path. I could not feel that whether I was read or not. Japanese culture and language, my western based academical education and my career, teaching or to be taught, education-life, hypothesis-practice, western philosophy-eastern philosophy… When I entered this path, all have had their meanings. I realized that as a starter, thinking of aikido practices is a productive area. I want to thank my teacher for giving me the opinion about writing and sharing this article.

In the training we did recently while it was raining outside, make me feel like, I was walking on the earth while it is raining without any fear. Despite there are others on that earth road, actually you walk this road alone, bravely. As I smelled the forest and the earth. Since I made myself go with water image, it may not be a coincidence that I see Aikido as a river which I am a piece of the flow, just as the life. Both being a part of the whole, a drop of the flow, and building your own path… This experience was invaluable for me, as a modern person who gets stuck in the cities.

The other thing that Aikido taught me is perfectionism and being monitored. Aikido is a path, where you watch, you are watched, you are evaluated. Yet you should not surrender to your ego. You should focus the flow between you and your opponent. But it is hard. However, what that thing is, is let you reach beyond the love or the hate between two people in conflict. The first technique in the first training let me discover the power in the human body and the harmonical flow between bodies. Maybe it is because of the thrill of the first things… Like a momentary glowing happiness or satisfaction. Spiritual, somatic, mental satisfaction… Comprehend a person with your body and with his/her body… Like the mirror… Like looking in the mirror… Like being the mirror… This is very different from the performance-based evaluation.

On the other side, it offers an experience of life and reality: It is impossible another person to take my place where I stand. Being equal is very unlikely. Although our levels, skills, and knowledge are not equal, we can mirror each other.  While we are working on a technique I increased my skill on a certain part of the action, such as ukemi, another person working with me learn how to break down my balance. In the everyday lives imposed by an ideology that even pushes you to compete with your friends, you are both teacher and student in the dojo. You do not carry anything metal such as a clock, jewelry. There is nothing to show your status, your marital status, or the time of the flow… You are not wearing extra thing except for that white kimono. You are like nude. The attitudes that you already reveal with your body, the flow is another kind of nudity. We are not equal, we are not the same, but we can fight like dancing with harmony.

Beyond them, there is a phenomenon that creates resistance in a new person: Discipline and submission… On the one hand, this touches the contradiction of being an individual in the nature of the person, and on the other hand, creates a tension in the way that cultural habits slide from discipline to idleness or comfort. For example, I want to change what I touch and learn. First, I surrender to it, try to conceive but I cannot get rid of my doubts. It’s a human thing. It is a very compelling and consuming. At this point, for a beginner, Aikido and the rules of the dojo can draw a very external, repulsive picture. On the one hand, there are individualism, comfort, and habits, and on the other hand, there are the postmodern, lofty individuals of today moving within ‘fluid love’… Feeling forced to obey the laws of the dojo creates a contradiction. To be honest, as a skeptic person who likes to create his own rules, I have not been able to overcome it yet. But I have a belief: Aikido will convince me over time why some of these rules should be – perhaps because of it is a martial art. – It will reduce my speed and ambition and raise it. On the contrary, it will allow me to contact it with his flexibility and to transform it into myself. Perhaps I will remember the phrase ‘What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.’ while transforming. The way of being a master is a way that can never be done, but perhaps I will be able to walk on the path to becoming a butterfly.

I’m trying to do the movements as best as I can. For me, they are only movements, not a technique. I entered a path, trying to identify it manually. The novice excitement… I learn with the pain of my own body. I learn people with their eyes and bodies, before their words in the dojo. Like jumping from the middle of a flowing river, or experiencing the happiness, the fear, the tension of joining while a swaying rope is on the move. I look and say yes, I am a fool and physically stupid. It is a typical example of a modern Turkish woman and man embedded in academic and mental work.  To notice. Not only my body but also discover a non-verbal world, a flow, a way. It’s hard to me who is just a starter. But I guess I know why I waited ten years. I expected to be ready for Aikido. Ten years ago, when I first wanted to do it, perhaps I was not ready the pain, constant ache, rules and that instant feeling of insecurity and tension that I feel every time I went to the dojo. You have to prepare yourself for the path. Aikido is not one of the top priority vessels in my life, not the aim of my life yet. But it’s like a little wordless simulation of your life, relationships, struggle, love.

Yasemin İLKAY – METU Aikido Society

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