There is something to be learned from a rainstorm.
When meeting with a sudden shower,
you try not to get wet
and run quickly along the road.
But doing such things as
passing under the eaves of houses,
you still get wet.
When you are resolved from the beginning,
you will not be perplexed,
though you will still get the same soaking.
This understanding extends to everything.
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, The Hagakure: A code to the way of samurai
I have always been thinking that what we do on the tatami should somehow reflect life outside the dojo. A particular field of study that always have been very interesting for me is how we deal with failure. How do we react when we fail in our attempt to do a particular thing? This is something we face every day in the keiko to a smaller or greater degree. We also experience this in life. However, in life the consequences might matter more. For the samurai failing might mean death. For us, in our world, it might mean getting fired from our job. In the keiko we hopefully gain the ability to adapt to the reality of the situation and select the best choice open for us, instead of getting perplexed and acting accordingly.
So how do we react when we are unable to do a specific movement? How do we deal with the situation when our partner is successful in tempting us into a contest? What happens inside of us when we are being thrown and are unsuccessful in making an elegant fall, but tumbles down like an elephant? We are in the dojo to learn these things. If we could do them already we would have to raise the bar to find something else we are unable to do, so why do we feel this way?
What would we do when somebody “steals” our table during the time we are ordering at the café? Do we get into arguments or fights with these people, creating bad feelings in a situation which is basically meant to bring good feelings? More importantly: How do we feel if we decide to give the table to the other group? Do we feel that we lost; or that we are offering them a table, adapting and finding a different place ourselves?
So elegantly put by Jorma Lyly, and what I chose to be the title of this blog post: “It is life or death; However in a joyful and comfortable manner.” What we do may be very comfortable and filled with joy, fun and good feelings. However, at the bottom of it all everything we do is a very serious matter.
Enjoy your keiko! Aikido make people happy!