Monday, December 25, 2006

Another Year in the Bag

That's it - training finished for was it for you? I hope you worked hard, had fun, and learned a lot along the way.

What am I wishing for in 2007??
  • have more training time
  • do less business travel
  • listen more
  • be more patient
  • participate more
I want my aikido to show in every moment of every day, like a magic I have; A magic that others will wish they did, too. At the heart of what we do is fellowship and community, not just with each other in Yoshinkan, but with all the people in the world who are training hard every day to give their life structure and discipline, and who use this opportunity to become better people.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone whose support helps give me courage to continue.

Warm Wishes and Happy Holidays!!

Osu! John

Monday, December 04, 2006

Having a "Near-Life" Experience

During the busy nights of drinking last week an interesting conversation happened that I want to share with co-worker, Jae, is a devout Christian. He was raised Christian, and later began to practice voluntarily (not just out of habit). Because he is a practical, smart, single young man in a business of high stress and pressure (PT sales), he is a great mirror through which I try to understand how devout Christians apply their religion to their complex daily lives.

Over many sessions, he and I have discussed the difference between his religion (Christianity) and mine (martial arts). We did so again last Thursday. He related a story to me of his business trip to the US in September, and of nearly having a plane crash on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco. All around him, people were screaming, franctically trying to make cell phone calls, and basically in a chaotic panic. Eeven seasoned flight attendants broke down hysterially. As far as they could tell, it was their last few moments of life. What would YOU do?? Jae told me that he closed his eyes and realized he was helpless, realized he loved Jesus Christ, and that he would go to heaven. He was no longer afraid. he asked me if martial arts would give me the same comfort and piece of mind. He called it a "near death" experience. I call it a "near-life" experience. These are the times that help us break through to the other side of our conciousness and really truly begin to understand ourselves and our lives.

I have not been near death in a long time (last time I was 21 years old). At that time, it would have been hard to say I felt anything but anger. Not fear, anger. That was a long time ago, and now I am married with a family of my own. What would I feel this time?

I contend that our study of The Way is designed to give us courage in the face of hardship, including death. Many take the words of books like Hagakure "The Way of the samurai lies in Death" to mean that one must not embrace life and long for death in every waking moment. Wrong. In fact, study of death through martials arts should yield an appreciation of our own frailty and mortality; and at the same time, our ability to overcome these limitations and be so much more. We must discover the joy of every day, knowing that each morning could be our last. This means leaving nothing unsaid, living each moment as fully as we can, so that even until the last breath, we have been fulfilled and are thus satisfied and ready to let go.

This makes me especially sad when I see people like Seagal-sensei, who has trained for so many years and still knows only anger. Or my wife's yoga teacher, who has trained his whole life and does not know peace. If so, did they both waste their time?

I hope that my last lesson to my boys will be the lesson of how to let go with courage and dignity. Until then, they and the others close to me will know that I love them, because I will tell them and show them often. I will live my life 100% without regret.

On the mats as well, I will give 100% so that I get 100%.

And if today is my last day, so be it.
If it is not, see you on the mats tomorrow.


Have you had a "near-life experience"? What was it??