Tuesday, February 26

Sensei means one step ahead

I’ve been asked why I’m doing this blog at the end of my training instead of the beginning. Excuse me, getting a black belt is not an end point but the starting point. When you get shodan rank the attitude is “ok now you’re ready to learn aikido.”

Huh? What the hell have I been doing all this time?

Let’s say you decide to learn how to play the guitar. You buy one, find a teacher and the next thing you want to do is play “Stairway to Heaven”. The look on their face means they’d like to smash the damn thing over your head and not waste their time. If you asked the top guitarists in the world about their skill, most would say they are still learning.

Tohei Sensei is 88 and despite having had several heart attacks and strokes is still at it. A friend told me old her boyfriend once asked her “Why are you still training after black belt. Aren’t you good enough?” he ignorantly inquired. That’s why he’s an ex now.

In this culture achievement is viewed as an excuse to stop. Been there, done that. Did Jack Nicholson stop acting after getting three Oscars? No. Did Payton Manning give up football after winning the Superbowl? No. Did Britney Spears give up - ok, bad example but you get my point.

Often when people achieve black belt they stop. Not me, I assure the sensei I’m not going away. Like a bad rash I’ll always come back. As many times as I wanted to quit I couldn’t, this is too important for my spiritual growth.

“Be not afraid of going slowly be afraid only of standing still.” goes the Chinese saying.

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