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All have said their prayers
Invade their nightmares
To see into my eyes
You’ll find where murder lies

James Hetfield – Harvester of Sorrow

More than anything the reason I practically have shaped my life around the study of aiki is because I intensely enjoy it. The feeling of being thrown without any sensation of force or pain is incredible. However, I am also drawn to the idea itself. An idea of a different way; a way historically quite unusual for the human race: a way of harmony, gentleness, care and love.

This is not the most malicious example, but it demonstrates the point I want to make. During my trip to Kristianstad for an aikido seminar I took a train part of the way. A girl on the train was calling all her friends telling the same story over and over, characterizing her own voice and the voices of the people she had met that morning.

Apparently she had been to the doctor for some problem she had. The treatment was over and she was healthy now. By being altogether unpleasant (without doing anything illegal) she had forced the clinic to pay her back all the money she had paid for her treatment. Basically by being unpleasant, making threats about continuing being unpleasant preventing them from continuing their work until she got what she wanted. She was obviously very proud of herself, loudly bragging about her prowess to all her friends.

Pražský Hrad July 2011

Some statues outside Pražský Hrad July 2011

I wish that the world did not ever reward this kind of behavior, but the reality is grim. The history of the human race is a display of all other than “human beavior”. The balance of the world is controlled by power, money, weapons and ability to destroy, maim and kill. Likewise, techniques based on pain and on exploiting weak points of the partner does often work. However, it does not satisfy neither my interest nor my need.

I would like to find a different way. Not defeating people with neither strength, technique nor weapons, but a completely different way. I do not wish to participate in an arms race where we are constantly looking for counters of techniques, counters of the counters, and so on.

Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, January 2010

A wall painting I saw on the road to Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, January 2010

There should not ever be a trick. It should not ever include discomfort or pain. There should never be a threat. The partner should never be forced to do something that he/she does not want to do and afterwards the partner should stand up smiling or even laughing wanting to go again. It should be real every time.

I find it very difficult to share my enthusiasm for this with people who does not practise, and even with people who practise, but only to defeat their partners. Aiki is difficult to explain and even more difficult to do.

So I am inspired by the opposite of aiki. Everything in the world that is wrong inspires me to continue to study this different way of behaving, this different way to think or even different way to live. However, like I said in the beginning of this post: The main reason I study aiki is because I love it. Every session is a true feast for me, the definite high point of the day and the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I experience every partner as a exciting new dish of the great buffet on the tatami. It makes me happy, it makes my partners happy.

Enjoy your keiko. Aiki make people happy!