Does output always have to equal input?

At that moment I was enlightened: the source of budo is God’s love – the spirit of loving protection for all beings… Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. – Morihei Ueshiba

I’ve been thinking a bit about the common training notion that “output = input” with regards to the uke/nage training relationship in Aikido. The thought is essentially, uke sets the pace for how hard he’s thrown by the force of the attack. If uke wants to go be thrown harder then they come in with a stronger attack. If they want to be thrown softer then they come in with a softer attack.

lately, I’ve been trying to slow down the speed of my techniques. Even as an attack comes in faster, i try and slow down the rhythm of my partner and I, so that output (the throw) does not equal input (the attack), but slows down. This is a purposeful decision on my part. It does not have anything to do with furthering my technique. Rather it is to align myself with O’Sensei’s thoughts on the “spirit of loving protection.”

There is such wonderful metaphor in Aikido. The Aikido mat provides a microcosm of the world where we can find a safe place to practice conflict resolution, speaking our truth and meeting opposition with love. So lately, my Aikido practice involves slowing down the pace of the attack. Meeting the attack with gentleness. Although I’m tempted sometimes to throw strong I choose to throw softly.

This practice prepares me for the things that happen everyday: Meeting an antagonistic coworker with a soft voice and a smile; Not being affected by an agitated driver that cuts me off on the road; dealing with the daily pressures of life with ease and kindness. My Aikido practice changes as it always should. There are many lessons that are available to us on the mat. I’m enjoying exploring this aspect of my training right now.

On Gratitude – 2009

I have had much to be grateful for this year. I am blessed with good friends, a smart, healthy son, some great guidance by an amazing teacher, and I was able to buy my condo this year. I am grateful for the gifts that I receive in the form of family, friendships, advice, all the small and big things that have given me the ability to grow, learn and love.

I have understood and made the distinction that, although we come across many instructors in our professional and personal lives, we come across so few teachers. A true teacher has the ability to transcend the discipline they teach and relate it back to our lives. They make their art truly alive and pertinent to our lives. I am grateful for the ability to be under the tutelage of my Aikido teacher, Bob.

Twitter and facebook have, remarkably, been a place that I have been able to connect, reconnect and meet new people with common interests. I am grateful for the many people behind the @names on twitter, and all those that I have friended on facebook. For some it may seem trite and irrelevant to have and cultivate online relationships, but there are people behind their twitter handles that have some great things to say. Some have become closer to me than I would have thought possible in such a medium. I stay grateful, happy and welcome for these friendships.

Moving into the new year and new decade, I wish you all much growth, love and happiness. I hope that we all can love the simple things: family, friendships and warm hearts. Happy New Year.

Onegai shimasu (Let us begin)!