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 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.


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