Saturday, March 21, 2009

Aikido in Bloom

At many dojos, seminars, and events we notice a flower arrangement on or near the shomen. Flowers add an astetic beauty and bring about feelings of peace, but I feel that there is a deeper meaning to the flowers, which I will discuss in this month's installment.

Flowers, and all plant life, begin from a simple seed. If left alone, this seed may or may not develop. With care and nuturing it will grow and flourish into something beautiful. Much like a student walking through the door, if left alone they may or may not grasp Aikido. If they are nutured by their sensei and sempai, only then will their art begin to grow and bloom.

A flower does not just sprout into the beautiful plant that we see and recognize as a flower. It is very basic, sometimes very unattractive when it is in the budding stage. It's only after this nuturing and maturing stage that it will bloom to reveal it's inner beauty. Aikido is much the same, in the beginning it's awkward, very basic, and sometimes down right unattractive. The flower doesn't give up and neither should the student. Continue to develop your art, practice hard, and with enough training your art will bloom.

I am often reminded of a quote I saw some time ago. I'm not sure who came up with this, but I feel it fits well into this discussion. The quote says " I will not complain that my rose bush has thorns, but rather marvel in the fact that my thorn bush grew a rose." The literal interpertation is easy enough to understand. If you spend your life worrying about the thorns, you won't have time to enjoy the roses. The Aikido twist on this is that if someone spends all their time focusing on what's wrong or bad with their techniques, they will never enjoy what's beautiful about their Aikido. Try to spend your time on the mat looking for the good, or the roses, in your art. Don't worry about the thorns. Just as with the flower, there will always be thorns in life and with a little care they can be pruned and trimmed away.

Each and every person that walks into the dojo is a thorn bush that is seeking to grow a rose. It is sempai and sensei's duty to nurture that thorn bush and help to point out the roses that begin to grow. As time goes on, the thorns can be cut away to reveal the beautiful flower that is budding. The next time you practice, try to seek out the roses and enjoy the beauty instead of pointing out the thorns. If we do this, we can all grow together and enjoy the garden that is Aikido in bloom.

- Sensei Mike

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