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I had just enjoyed the earliest morning keiko I have ever attended (0530) and after the session, before breakfast, I were watching the sunset from the bubbling and steaming hot water in the pool of a Japanese bath. As I was flowing around in the warm water streams with sun shining on my face I realized how similar it is to falling. Just flowing around, letting the streams of water move my parts in a natural manner. The warm sun light was also contributing to the sensation, making it very, very similar to a really good throw.

I believe that the best throws can’t be felt at all. I have been searching for this for a long time, but I did not meet anybody who can actually do this until this month. I remember grabbing his arm and then I fell. There was never any sensation of being thrown. There was no distortion of the feeling in the grab. The grab felt good and I did not feel any twisting, turning or movement in his wrists. It was just very easy to get the perfect grab and then, nothing. However, still I fell, not hard, not with great speed or energy. I just fell, comfortably, naturally, as floating around in the hot water with sun in my face.

A Japanese bath. Picture by Japanese Guest Houses.

Both when observing what happened to others and when experiencing it happening to myself I think it could be compared to being filled with water. If there were several partners in a row, you could see the first one being filled, then it flowed to the next one, and the next one and so on. When it came to me all my joints became loose and took the position of maximum volume for the body, as if being filled with water. The spine was arching back, the arms came out from the body, just as if I were a ballon being inflated by something. The sensation was lovely. I felt completely safe. I felt in the grab that the person throwing had no hidden agendas and the sensation inspired trust. There was absolutely no feeling of him trying to control me or force something on me. He was merely inviting me for a joyful ride.

What happened in my mind? I remember only a little bit of it. It was like dreaming. When you wake up, you don’t remember. You just have a feeling remaining. The feeling that remained was a good feeling, like if I had received some positivity energy. I do remember a feeling of exclamation in my mind as I touched him. I have no better description of it. It was like experiencing something extreme. If you are frightened or scared this happens, but in a negative way. It was the same feeling of exclamation, but in a positive way. Like if you are most utterly struck by surprise that something very good is happening. This was such a big experience that there was not room for any other thoughts.

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Roppokai with Seigo Okamoto sensei May 2014.

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Roppokai with Seigo Okamoto sensei May 2014. Photo by Jim Svensson.

An old trauma from my past that was stuck in my body and mind was released and came rushing back to me during the first break. Long forgotten, but still present. Garbage I had been carrying around without being aware of. It came out in the light, and during the next session it was washed away. That feeling was indescribable.

I remember doing misogi training back in the day, but I never really understood it. Now I think maybe I understand it a bit more. Having this feeling, washing through both the body and the mind, it feels somehow clean afterwards. Like both the body and the mind has been purified by good intention. This kind of training clears away regrets from the past. It wipes the consciousness clean and puts our focus on what we are doing right now. It also keeps us too busy to worry about the future. We are here right here, right now. There is nothing else. Being focused on the present make me happy, and I think maybe it works like that for most people. Worrying about what has happened before and what will happen in the future eats away on us and prevents us from enjoying the life we have right now. Planning builds up expectations and ambitions which might not be made real. When the goals are shattered our soul gets filled with a ruthless cry, as Metallica sings. Without any plans, without ambition, without desire, everything become more simple. We just are. This is what I would describe as being happy.

Throwing without ambition is a very special quality. I believe a good throw should be in such a way that we are surprised ourselves by the result, rather than trying too hard to throw the partner. This is part of what I think we have to wash away with our misogi, with our keiko.

I have also experienced that cold showers really helps putting our mind to the present. 30 seconds of cold water at the end of the shower really help put my feeling back inside my body. I get my focus back to my own belly. Our minds have a tendency to wander to the corners of the world. It is a nice feeling to gather everything from time to time, focusing on only simple things. Life has a tendency to complicate everything so a little misogi is really like healing for me. Still, the showers are just a droplet of water compared to doing aiki with one’s friends, but sometimes cold water is all we have available.

People often ask me why I have chosen to do this training and furthermore why I have chosen to let it take over my entire life. I have never had any idea what to say to them. Right now I am getting more and more certain that I did not chose aikido, and I did not chose that it should become such a big part of my life. I am me. We can’t choose what to love and what not to love. We just do. There are things inside of me that needs this training. It is therapy for me and I feel that it is doing me good. The only choice I ever made was to allow it to happen. I left my plans for a career in physics, I left my country to do the keiko every day with like minded people who loves the training as much as I do. I am sure that they did not chose it either. We were meant to do this.

Monday evening in Stockholm December 2012. Photo by Roland Hultberg.

Monday evening in Stockholm December 2012. Photo by Roland Hultberg.

So why do I feel this way about it? The question remains, even if there is no choice in how we should feel. I feel that I am being cured by the training. It is feeding something inside of me that is empty and hungry. The aiki flows trough me and lights up the dark space and washes trough the messy places, putting order to the chaos. I am sharing this lovely experience with my very best friends. But, why do I love this training so much? When I go to the bottom of it, I still have no clue at all.

Enjoy your training! Aiki make people happy!