One on One-An Interview

I still keep this little black magazine commemorating the 15th Anniversary of Aikikai(Singapore) dated 18th September 1995, which i guess was about the time i started Aikido. This is an interview with Harry Sensei, typed out word for word, in true fidelity. … Continue reading

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No shadows

How can one really improve in Aikido?

Usually I don’t blog about the ‘how to’ of things. But I’m trying to look at this from another angle.

So how can one tell that one’s Aikido has improved?

It is the degree of hate one has in us. You see, with hate, we cannot progress. It is also not a matter of duality. love/hate, good/bad. It is not either, or; neither, nor; this or that.

Life and Aikido is all about ‘this’ about the ‘is’.

As big as our human heart is, it can be quickly filled up by the wrong substance. like hate. Once there is hate in your heart, there is no more love, not even a single bit. It is that extreme. Either you have it or you don’t There is no “40% love 60% hate”. it is 100% of everything. and sometimes when we are doing ‘good’ out of ‘goodwill’, but truth to the matter is, when we search deeper, it is borne out of something lurking in the shadows. The act. manifested is good. the deeper movements is dark, and shadowy.

Most of us dwell there, which is normal, because we have all been hurt before. We are all no angels, none of us are born pure. All of us are born out of ignorance, and almost all of us will die, in ignorance. So the shadows is fine.

But every now and then, our true nature breaks free, and shine, shine so brightly, shadows disappear. Only the bravest can stand such light. Because such light illuminates everything about us. Surely most of us wants the light to fall on the good. But the true light source with shine, on everything. There is no place for shadows. And it will be uncomfortable.

Only the brave can stand being uncomfortable in the light of things (pun intended). Because only the brave, is brave enough to allow the light to fall on the shadow.

We all know where our shadows are. But instead of bringing light to the shadow, we allow our light to be consumed by the shadow. Cool dark places is nice and comfortable. But in order for us to growth, in fact for anything to grow decently, is a good healthy amount of light.

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Hurt or Happy?

Nobody writes a ‘self-hurt’ book and becomes a worldwide best seller. Everyone is cashing in on ‘self-help’, ways to find happiness, bliss, pleasure, and all the good stuff. It even appears that happiness is so hard to attain that you have to read a book to ‘learn’ happiness!

What about pain, hurt, hatred and all those unpleasant things?

We don’t need to learn them as it appears that we get hurt easily, we get hurt all the time, we experience pain frequently. Pain is easy, pain is commodity. Happiness is gold.

But the funny paradox is sometimes, we are driven by pain, hurt, and all those unpleasant stuff. We became masochistic, we derive pleasure out of pain! and suddenly, pain and pleasure seems all the same!

But it is not.

The other funny thing is, we delve a majority of our time justifying our hurt. We focus an inordinate amount of time getting over the hurt. When we get hurt so easily, we seem to have a problem letting go of the hurt, just as easily as we gotten them. It should be a case of ‘easy come, easy go.’ but it is not the case. We focus on the easy things, and forget to spend our time cultivating the happiness of things!

Happiness on the other hand, gets left out because we spend so much time commoditising hurt, and pain, we get so comfortable dealing with the quantitative effects of pain and hurt, we begin to think that we do not deserve the realm of happiness. we get so comfortable with pain, we are no longer comfortable with pleasure. So it become painful to be in pain, and even more painful to be happy.

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Open hand, Open heart

I think some years back, Harry sensei shared with us a physicality of extension.

He says as we walk, we should extend out our fingers, be conscious about your palms when you walk. More often than not, the fingers are slightly curled inwards, at best. Perhaps, balled up in a fist, at ‘worst’?

So I began that habit, so when I walk, my palms are straightened, as much and as often as I can remember. My palms are slightly open, extended. not overly extended.

It was a small habit, and I can tell right now after years of doing that, the fingers are much more relaxed and when I move, I can mentally imagine the direction of move from the tip of my fingers.

It is likened a paint brush, my fingers, you cannot paint a good, decent painting when the pain brush bristles are curled. Bristles are straight, soaking up the colours and putting them on the canvas.

Our fingers are like paint brush, and they cannot paint a beautiful picture if they are curled. Only when we open our hands, exposes out heart, exposes our vulnerability then there is a chance for our lives to improve.

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Boy’s Weakness

A 10-year-old boy decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.

The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. “Sensei,”the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” “This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.

Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.

This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. “No,” the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.” Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament.

He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.
“Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”
“You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered. “First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.

Moral: Sometimes we feel that we have certain weaknesses and we blame our creator, the circumstances or ourselves for it but we never know that our weaknesses can become our strengths one day. Each of us is special and important, so never think you have any weakness, never think of pride or pain, just live your life to its fullest and extract the best out of it!


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Tying my belt

I cannot remember how to tie my black belt last Tuesday for class.

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What is Aikido?

It is always good to revisit this question, no matter how long you’ve been in practise. As a matter of fact, the long you practice, the more relevant this question is.

Is Aikido peaceful? No.

Is Aikido harmonious? Nope, sorry.

Is Aikido effective? Might as well ask, how ineffective is Aikido?

Aikido, is nothing more than 6 letters in the English alphabet put together, to sound like something.

Aikido is nothing more than putting up the white attire, and for some black pleated flare pants.

Aikido is what you find on YouTube, and the videos on ‘How cast’.

Aikido is what our mind try to make sense of.

Aikido is none of that.

All that man, try to make sense of Aikido, fails, utterly fails because Aikido is way beyond that, that is to say Aikido is like the universe, is like an insult, as a matter of choice the former or the latter.

So the next time you try to ask what Aikido is, please do not forget to give yourself one tight slap, or two for good measure!

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Aikido is difficult because it is imperfect.

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