I have been thinking a lot lately about who I am in the aikido world. I receive healing from my partners to deal with my problems, but what can I offer in return? Sure the healing works in both directions, but only a very few are interested in that part of the practice. It took me about a decade to realize that this was why I always came back to the dojo day after day to get my “food”.
It always bothers me when I am assumed to be something I am not. Both being in a position where a teacher are using me for something which makes people watching think I can do things I can’t, and when people expect me to have certain abilities in relation to which grade I have. Or even worse, if they act in a certain way based on the grade I have.
For me the grade is a political tool. It is a false symbol of qualifications. My partner will feel my qualifications when he/she is holding my arm. It will be slightly different for each partner, depending on what they are looking for, but that is the real me. Not an image set up by some standards for what I am supposed to be able to do or not.
In some eyes I have acquired some skills over my years on the tatami, while in other’s eyes I am a complete beginner. I have more than once lately been mistaken for a beginner by my partner when I have been wearing white clothes and also sometimes in my normal outfit.
I have never made any efforts in aikido. I went because I needed it. From the very first and all the periods I have been going through I have felt the need for the practice in a very urgent way. Now I have some theories for why I need it so badly, while others can take a break for some weeks, months of even years without going insane, but before I just mindlessly went to the practice to have my “daily fix”. Because I have never made any effort, I feel that it is completely undeserved to get any compliments for what has happened as a result of my practice. I did not choose it. Life led me to it. There is really no other way I could have gone.
Everybody is practising for a different reason. It is important that we accept each other for who we are and not try to push people into changing into someone that they are not. Accepting others for who they are have always been easy for me, but accepting myself for who I am is more difficult somehow.
So who am I? I am ME. I can’t say in words who I am, and it does definitely not say on the Aikikai diploma I just burned, but I can show you, if you grab my arm.
Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!