Week 6 day 1

OK, I made it. I think I’m coming down with a cold but I made it to the gym. After the first couple exercises I felt warmed up and was able to work at an almost normal pace. Last night I attempted some jumping jacks to start my calisthenics a few times a week and unfortunately heard a “click click click” in my shoulder. I still have some pain in my right shoulder from a fall I took at Aikido a little more than a week ago. I will ask my teacher to look at it on Thursday if I’m still in pain and by then, may go to the doc.

Till then, slow and steady is the way to go for me. If I can’t go at full pace, I CAN go at a reduced pace. I’m going to add one more day too to fill in my tuesday. So hopefully by the end of the week I will have blogged “Week 6 day 4”.

Reflecting on the Esoteric Teachings of Professor Okazaki

After our Aikido class yesterday I had lunch with one of my Friends, Jim. We talked a bit about how we started in martial arts. I told him that my fist exposure was not in Aikido, but was in fact in Ju Jitsu when I was a kid, around the same age that my son is now. I asked him if he had ever heard about Danzan Ryu Ju Jitsu and he said that he had not. Danzan Ryu was founded in the late thirties by Professor Seishiru Okazaki and was the form of martial art that I started learning for a few years way back in my child hood.

I told him about the esoteric teachings as described by Danzan Ryu’s O’ Sensei, Seishiru Okazaki. I believe that every martial artist should know and understand these principles. A translation of his esoteric principles can be found here:

To paraphrase and abbreviate:

  • Have gratitude to your teachers
  • Be gracious to your family
  • Be a productive citizen of your country
  • Do not be afraid of the strong or despise the weak
  • Show restraint and modesty
  • Be a good teacher to those who need it
  • Train hard and learn diligently
  • Remain calm in crisis

I love the fact that the art I started with is rooted in such love and respect. These are principles that can be used regardless of the art. These are principles one can use to cultivate themselves as growing and loving men and women.

In his esoteric principles he describes his art as Judo, elevated from Ju Jitsu and claims it to be a “finer moral concept called Judo, ‘the way of Gentleness'”. I am greatly moved by Professor Okazaki’s esoteric principles. As he refers to “Judo” I do not believe he is referring to a series of techniques making up his art. Rather, he is referring to the more esoteric “way of gentleness” that needs to be cultivated to become a better person and live a better life. To end this morning, here is a quote from the esoteric principles:

“Remember always parental love and one’s enormous indebtedness to teachers. Be grateful for the protection of Heaven and Earth. Be a good leader to younger men. To lead younger men well, will in the long run, mean to attain proficiency in the skill of Judo.”
– Professor Seishiru “Henry” Okazaki

Week 5 Day 3 – Wahooo!

Alrighty, then. It is the day after thanksgiving and I’ve completed Week 5 day 3. I’ve made it to hte gym 3 times a week for 5 weeks. I’ve added Aikido 3x a week for the last couple of weeks, and have gotten a walk in a few times a week as well. I think that this is a good mile stone. I think it’s time for me to add some calisthenics at home now.

An excellent resource for calisthenic exercise is here:

The exercises provided here are good basic core, arm and leg exercises. No gimmicks, just the promotion of natural movement. Back to basics as it were. Tomorrow, I think I’ll start with that and then move on into monday where I will start week 6, day 1 and Aikido that evening.

For my friend, Linda Eskin

Linda has been writing about Aikido and states that she is a beginner. She is new on the mat. I do not believe she’s been training longer than a year. She maintains a blog at http://www.grabmywrist.com and writes everyday.

Aikido is lucky to have such an enthusiastic student. It is sometimes easy to get caught up in the mechanics of the art, and lose the big picture. We sometimes use terms like “beginner’s mind” as just some things to say and forget that we should keep this mind set always. Linda’s wonderment of our art and appreciation of how it affects her personal, spiritual and professional life is nothing short of awe inspiring.

Recently, she wrote the following:
and it reminded me of a meeting we had at our work once. One of the chairs from our parent company came and talked about the stages of competence. Those stages are:

  • unconsciously incompetent
  • consciously incompetent
  • consciously competent
  • unconsciously competent

As an example of this, take someone who has always wanted to learn French. They go about their lives not realizing that there is a desire to learn the language and being unconscious about their inability.

Perhaps they go to a French movie and are moved by the tonal qualities of the language, see on the screen the expressive involvement that the attributes of the language allow for and realize that they do not know this language and want to learn it. They are now conscious about their incompetence in the language.

They go take a class, and another, and then another. They first struggle with “Oui” and “merci” but after a semesters worth of classes, they are now able to ask where the bathroom is, who put the pen on the table, and please pass the snails. They are now consciously working to be competent in the French language.

Then, after years of practice, studying, reading Voltaire, Baudelaire and Proust, trips to France, and discipline, they now can dream in French. They understand the small subtleties of the French Language. They can talk on a philosophical level with ease on the nature of man, God, and our universe. French, now has become as easy as breathing. They have become unconsciously competent in their mastery of the language.

This process happens in our art. I really appreciate Linda’s blog, and I enjoy the metaphor from her recent post, “Scanning the instruments”. When we do this more and more, we become more adept at our art, whatever that art may be. We can have that instrumental scan happen on a deeper level and as a part of habit verses conscious effort.

Week 5 day 1 – On persistence

Recently, Robert Nadeau Sensei did a series of seminars. The theme was “Don’t ask what you have to do to get ‘this’ done. Ask who you have to be.”

I regret not going, however, I can do some thinking about this theme and take it to my own conclusions. There is a saying in T’ai Chi, “The mind moves the chi and the chi moves the body.” I think that both of these thoughts are extremely profound. I am finding that both of I can enact both of these themes in my life, then I can live better and healthier.

I am one for small examples. I think that it is much more worth our endeavors to have small examples of positive action and thought than one big one. We can create small examples many more times than we can create the big ones. So, my small example today is this:

I took a fall in Aikido on Saturday. We were doing some free form training (Jiyu waza) and as I uke’d for my training partner, I got tangled up in his legs as he threw me. Rather than roll out of the throw I came straight down on my shoulder. I had never hurt myself in Aikido before and felt upset that I let this happen to me. I quickly thought that all of my efforts for the last few weeks would be for naught and that I would not be able to go to the gym for a few days or train.

But, Nadeau Sensei asks of us, “Who do we have to be to be to get ‘this’ done?” I think I know the answer. I have to be persistent, determined, patient and consistent. This doesn’t mean killing myself. This does mean taking care of my shoulder with ice, ibuprofun and arnica cream and waiting till I got up this morning to see if I could go to the gym. My shoulder still hurt. It wasn’t as bad as Saturday or Sunday but it still hurt. Well, there are other things I can do there. I can jump on an elliptical rider for 30 minutes. So I dd. 30 minutes. I may do this again on Wednesday and then attempt weights again on Friday. Part of the process for me is just simply knowing my limits, and working with them. This means I need to neither over or underestimate them. I can’t lift, but I can walk. So I’ll walk.

OK, I have to start my day now. See you next time.

Onegai shimasu!

Week 4 Day 3 – patience

Today I completed my last work out of my 4th week. I am seeing the benefits of being more consistent in my training. I keep on adding weight, even just a little at a time. I’m also managing to get back to the dojo a few times a week. Currently, my schedule looks something like:

m – 30 min circuit, Aikido class at nite
W – 30 min circuit
Th – Aikido
F – 30 min circuit
S – Aikido

I’ve also started “brisk walks” around my campus at work. Walking is a simple thing that I keep on forgetting to do. Recently we added .25 mile markers. Once around is 1.2 miles and takes about 20 min walking briskly. I can fit that in too.

So things are good. Consistency helps in many different areas, my work, my social life, and lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good being more active. Next week, in the spirit of patience and not overdoing it. i’ll just add a few walks.