Aikido is a constant, delightful study. It challenges me to try my best, and yet constantly displays my errors and weaknesses. How ironic then, that one of the principles is to “Perform with confidence”.
A few weeks ago, I started admitting my failures to the world.
“At the slightest hint of difficulty and pain, the body wants to give up and so it communicates to the mind that it can do no more, and indeed gives up. Once the mind decides the body is unwilling to do something, a tug-of-war starts. It is in such conflict that the body must be disciplined to succumb to the mind.” (This Way To Joy) This is a familiar paradigm – mind as master, body as unwilling and lazy slave; one, incidentally, that encourages us not to listen to our bodies, but to drive onwards regardless.
I spent this evening with 5 other men in a smallish wood-floored room, moving about each other with knives – sometimes bendy rubber ones, sometimes blunt metal ones, and sometimes sharp kitchen knives. That’s a surreal activity. There were moments in that room of connecting with something else. When all 5 were approaching me and I had to identify the one with the knife, I couldn’t do so logically or by assessing each one in turn – I had to trust the corners of my eyes, my instinct, and my body. When one was slashing slowly towards me, I had to learn the rhythm of his dance and join him wholeheartedly in it, no matter what his intention.
One of our radiators wasn’t working last night, so I bled it. Which led (almost inevitably given my plumbing skillz) to the radiator haemorrhaging as I dropped the key under a veritable geyser of increasingly hot water. At 6.30am this morning, with snow still lying out in the garden and a biting wind rattling the corrugated plastic awning over the back door, the boiler refused to kick into life. Worse still, I know that my tender ministrations towards the radiator yesterday are the cause. Not only are we cold – it’s half term so the whole family’s at home – but I’m to blame. Nothing deepens the chill like the knowledge that I did it myself.