All a waste of time.

Accept what is, deal with it if you need to and move on.

When we are attacked in class we don’t waste our time thinking about why or what if. We accept the attack just as it is and direct the energy and flesh in a way that protect both the attacker and the person who is attacked.

By staying calm and moving in the flow we create more flow. This transcends the attack into a neutral force that feels good for both of the components of the conflict.
The person who is attacked moves as soon as they have energy to work with. That knowledge comes from paying close attention to all that is happening. When we first start training this seems overwhelming. It feels impossible. Yet we already know how to do it. When we were children we ran before we were tagged and we moved in conjunction with others in sports and dance. As adults we have to unlearn the things that we think are effective.

We move and the movement itself, along with the aggression offered by the attacker provide us with the resolution. It arises naturally out of the circumstance. All answers come in the conflict, not before, not later in judgment. Everything is in the now. We do the best we can with the matters at hand.

As we learn new ways to move, we incorporate them into our old habits. Little by slowly we develop more awareness, more mindfulness, and more acceptance of what is. The now is never more than we can handle if we stay in it.

There is the real challenge. How quick we are to judge, to whine, and to remember what should be. All a waste of time. We just accept, deal with it or not and move on. In training we are offered controlled circumstances to provide us with stimuli to experience ourselves. We get to see how we respond to stress, to our own judgment, to how another person physically moves.

We can spot these responses and stay with them. We can accept the other human in the exercise. We can be respectful and we can lead and follow the movement and the moment. All becomes clear. If we feel stymied, we feel it and look again for direction in the circumstance. The answers are provided in the patience, the acceptance and the compassion.

The self-knowledge comes from the frustration that arises and is released. The self-acceptance comes from knowing we did our best. The self-love develops as our compassion for the other person comes back to us as we treat them with respect and courtesy while taking care of us both.

Be Here Now again.

Be here now. I never really thought about this until this morning. I just expected myself to do it. I was challenged today to ask myself: Where am I?” Here. Then, “What time is it?” Now. I saw this 3 word sentence in a new way.

I brought this questions to class. I asked Ron, Jocelyn and Anne where are you and what time is it? We focused on that for a moment then I asked them to let go of the story they brought to class about who they were, how they felt about themselves and this experience this morning.

Then I challenged my class to mirror their nage as uke and the same as nage. So if uke felt stiff to nage, nage was to respond in kind. If nage felt quick to uke …uke could become quick. We did this with any attack and the technique that rose up organically through the interaction.

The results were illuminating. Our habits got shook up because we interrupted what is normal for us.
Jocelyn had a startling break though with Ron as uke. She was so in tune with him he thought he was going to get to rest at usual place during the throw and just as he started to settle in she turned again and down he went in a smooth soft circle.

When I attacked Jocelyn she felt quick so I got quicker and it was such a revelation to change my routine of steady aggression. I continued to move quicker than what is normal for me. I used this interaction as a talking point to further illustrate what I meant to the class. Vague concepts can be hard to understand especially when well-loved habits are challenged.
I then invited nage or uke to ask questions or give feedback at any time after a series of throws.

Class was interesting and uncomfortable. I feel like I may have changed an idea that was so ingrained in me that I did not know it was there. I am still letting in come to surface.
Aikido training can be many things to many people. At Berkshire Hills Aikido I challenge long term students to examine the things that they can change, to notice how they feel and how the person feels to them and to watch their own thoughts.

It’s so easy to go sleep and to accept the mediocre from ourselves or to blame others for our choices. My life is enhanced when I feel what is here and now and make centered decisions that rise out of shared energy.

ikkyo and rowing — cousins?

Ikkyo exercise  and rowing exercise. I used to think they were cousins and tried to relate the movement of each to the other because they both involved hips and arms. I said, “Ron, how do they relate to each other?” and Ron said, “They don’t.”  That brought me up short.

And it set me free. Just because 2 things have similar qualities does not always make them the same.  

Ikkyo exercise is an extension of ki and then a dropping of heavy arms with a precise stop at the hips to end. The hips come out, then the hands. The hips come back and then the hands. Perfectly simple and often misunderstood.  Frequently people extend hips and hands together. It is a careful practice to do hips, hands, hands, hips. And it feels so very good: an accomplishment every time it is completed correctly. Very satisfying.  

Rowing exercise is lower and different than ikkyo. When rowing motion is done solo it can be very neat. Hips lead and arms follow at hip level, very relaxed with wrists slightly bent into open hands not clenched fists as they extend out.

Feet are in hamni for both and posture is chest open and shoulders back.

When ikkyo exercise is practiced with a partner nage does it in a relaxed and regular way not “more” because we are being tested. Uke extends their arm so nage has to lift through uke’s arm to accomplish the extension.  Nage’s challenge is be natural and do it just like they do when there is no resistance.  

For rowing exercise uke grabs nage’s wrists and pushes gently as nage extends out and pulls gently as nage rows in. Again the challenge is to move naturally and not get muscly just because there is resistance.

Sometimes I ask nage to stop working with uke and show me how they do it with no uke. Then I ask nage to resume working with uke with resistance in the manner they just demonstrated with no resistance. It is very challenging because we forget that we are looking for a dependable feeling in ourselves not an accomplishment of moving the arms of another.

Resistance ought to always be appropriate for the person doing the exercise. To be helpful uke should push or pull just a bit so nage has some energy to work with but not so much that they feel discouraged or develop a “pushing with muscle” feeling.

While they are not cousins Ikkyo and rowing are fundamental exercises in Aikido training that give us opportunities to develop strong extension of ki using our whole bodies with the emphasis of the hands arriving last.

Mindful again

Aikido helps with mindfulness because each nage must be in the now with each uke in each moment. We feel what happens as we move to reconciliation together. Uke offers their energy as a gift. Nage creates a framework and accepts the gift as it is offered and moves with uke in the trough of energy.  Energy is given by uke, nage and the blending of the two.  The sum of uke, nage and energy blending creates more than is given. It creates harmony and a beautiful feeling of peacefulness.

Pumpkin Pie-ish!!

Gluten free, sugar free,  almost free dairy Thanksgiving was delicious this year. We had turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole, boiled onions and the best for last….Pumpkin pie-ish.

I made the crust from nuts, pecan crackers and 3 apple pie Lara bars. I ground them up separately in the food processor and patted the mixture into the pie pan. I baked the crust- like substance (winky face here) for 15 minutes at 350 and then added my Libby’s pumpkin from the can, mixed with 1/2 cup apple cider and 1 half cup ½ and ½, 4 eggs beaten and 24 Sweet and Low. I added some pumpkin pie spice and baked it for 1 hour, covering the edges with my long unused pie edge cover at 30 minutes in.

I always keep a sense of humor and lightness when I bake gluten and sugar free. Some of the results have been less than yummy. This pumpkin pie, however, is a keeper. I have not had pumpkin pie for 12 years since I stopped eating sugar.

Juli and the pie.

I served this pie with Sugar and Dairy Free Cool Whip and everyone liked it, even the sugar and gluten eaters in the group. One comment from a Facebook freind was that my pie was better than a regular pumpkin pie that she had later that day. That is a fine compliment. I can’t wait for Christmas so I can make it again.

Darkness descending

burn burning candle candlelight
Photo by Hakan Erenler on

This time of year I can feel the darkness in my soul. Ron lights candles for the front windows so I can see the flickering light when I drive up the road after work. This year we put up a holiday tree. It sparkles gaily in the last window. Just writing that makes me smile and shores up the hope in my heart.

When I look out the windows at work at 4: 15 PM the blackness is descending. The street lights get long in the snow flakes and tears form in my eyes. I walk back into the light of the office and finish up my day’s work reminding myself of the candles, the tree and Ron waiting at home for me.

advent blur branch bright
Photo by Pixabay on

Each day is a new day. I share this because I know I am not alone. The darkness feels lonely, isolating and heavy: all an illusion. I have tools to cope. The light always comes back. Long summer days will return and the warm sun will shine again.

Does Aikido work?

There seems to be need to defend aikido. As in :”Why do you train in Aikido. It doesn’t ‘work”?”

It depends on how we define “work”.

The benefits I have received from my training include:

* Spacial awareness
* Safety consciousness
* Enhanced spirituality
* Increased flexibility
* Enhanced physicality (ability to move freely at 60 years of age)
* Awareness of what it mine and what is yours regarding what to change
* Enhanced ability to see my own side of the street
* Enhanced ability to see the good and not so good in others and accept them as they are
* Not to mention, I am more patient, and much less likely to blame others for my responses.

We all train in our own ways and get our own results.


I would say Aikido “works” for me. Does it “work” for you and how does it “work”?