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The goal of the practice – is the practice.

Franck Noël

I have not once attended a single session of aikido when I wanted to do something else.  If I would rather go to a concert, I will; if I would rather go see a movie, I’ll see the movie; if I would rather stay at home and relax, I will do just that. I only do aikido when that is exactly what I would rather do than everything else in the whole world. Still, I end up practicing at least once per day if that is possible for me at that time. I have been a training addict since the age of ten or so and I have been doing several different forms of training. However, I was always pushing myself into doing it for some sort of goal or to achieve some kind of result. I wanted to be bigger, to be stronger, to have more endurance, to be more skilled at something etc. That training was also fun to some degree, but never anything even comparable to what I know training can be now.

Life is so full of compromise. We can extremely seldom do exactly what we want. There are always some limits or some rules or some consequences that restrict our options, imprisoning us. Most of the time when we do things it feels for me like not having the time to tune the guitar completely. It is almost in tune, but when playing there is always some flaw in the tones that makes everything turn a little bit sour. We don’t have the time to do what we wish to do with our work, or we don’t have money to do what we wish to do for our vacation or we have to make a compromise with a group of people which leaves everyone rather unhappy with the result.

With aikido, in my opinion, there are no such compromises. There is no time limit for getting a certain result. There is no competition around the corner putting the pressure on us to be able to make things work like so and like such at that certain point of time. There are no career related examinations, but merely examinations that changes one number into a different one (and these can be taken when we are ready and need not follow a certain progression to not get drowned in loan). We might put restrictions in the practice to study certain areas of the art. However, these restrictions are added on the premisses of the practice, for the benefit of the practice. Thus they don’t compromise the value of the practice.

We have for once the time to study without compromise! We are allowed to go for the best feeling every time. The throws might not work, but there is no need to; they are merely study material for further enjoyment. We might end up doing something completely different from what our initial thoughts were that it would end up with, but that is OK as well. We have no pressure from others what we should be doing.

The Norwegians at the seminar with Endo sensei in Stockholm february 2011. Photo by Jacqueline von Arb.

I also choose to look at my aikido choices outside of the actual keiko in the same way, and this is of course partly what results in my view presented in the two past paragraphs. I go where I want to go for seminars. It might be a few thousand km further than a different seminar, but I go where I know I should be. I might be expected to go certain places and not to other places, but still, I go exactly where I know I should be. I do my examinations when I know I am prepared for it and I take it where I want, with whom I want or not at all. For me aikido is the thing that is most pure and free from compromise that I can think of. I know that many fellow aikidokas does not feel this way about the practice, and have more politics in their choices. I pity them a bit for that actually. For me the absence of compromise is a very important reason why I am so crazy about aikido.

The other reason I would mention here is the social aspect of the art: The communication with the training partner. I tried a few other martial arts and researched several, but this aspect is clearly most prominent in aikido. When I train with a partner, at home or at a seminar, I connect with this individual at a deep level. After a few minutes I know things about this person, and this person knows things about me that non aikido friends might never learn about each other during a lifetime. I have actually arrived at a point where I almost only know people in aikido. So naturally I love to do aikido since I associate that with hanging out with my friends.

We touch therefore we are.

There are of course so many other aspects of aikido that contributes to my feelings for the art. However, I think I will limit myself to these two today (communications and absence of compromise). Why I chose exactly these two I am not sure. On a different day, I might have chosen two others!

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido make people happy!