Posted by: dougis | November 8, 2010

What does Kokikai Aikido mean to me (2010 revision)

For those of you who don’t know in Kokikai Aikido we are asked to write an essay on what Kokikai means to us as a part of our Shodan (1st degree black belt) test and barring something unforeseen happening I will be testing for this at camp in 2 weeks.

I wrote this same essay quite a while back but wanted to revisit it and see what has changed (and no I haven’t reread the old one yet).

What does Kokikai mean to me? There are two aspects to my answer, things you can touch and the things you can’t.

Let me start with the tangible things that I associate with Kokikai and then I will talk about the less concrete (but to me more important) ideas.

First and foremost Kokikai Aikido is a martial art. That means that I am learning to defend myself and those around me by training. I do not for a moment delude myself into thinking I can handle any situation which arises, however the physical training and mental process of training have helped me to better deal with anything that comes up than I would have before I started.

Along those same lines the art involves physical exercise. I am in better shape in a lot of ways than I was before I started and am always aware of a comment a senior instructor once made, “vigorous ukemi is the difference between growing older gracefully and not”. I won’t go so far as to say it is the only way, but if you can take ukemi with some regularity and well then your body is doing something right.

In addition to the physical changes it has made on me, Kokikai has also brought many new and wonderful people into my life.  While the art is engaging and enjoyable for the physical aspect, it is the people that I get to train with who make me passionate about it. I can honestly say I have never been around another group of people more caring and sharing than those I have met through Kokikai and my life is much richer for knowing them.

These people are integral to one of the less tangible things that Kokikai represents to me, the relationships it fosters. All of them are more than willing to help one another out in many different ways and whether it grows from the art itself or the art attracts people with those qualities I can’t say, but I will say that the friendships I have forged here are some of the strongest I know.

These bonds forged through the art help to illustrate the final idea that I want to talk about, always trying to improve yourself and help others to improve. In Kokikai we are always challenged to present our best whether it be posture, technique or just how we act in any given situation. We are also challenged (if we are honest with ourselves) to make that best even better over time. This always doesn’t mean that I am better tomorrow than today but rather that over the next year I am better consistently than I am today. We also work on helping others to be better (which in turn makes us better and so the cycle continues).

Out of all the things Kokikai means to me this last idea is the one thing that most stands out in my mind as the essence of the art, “How can I be better tomorrow than today, and how can I help those around me to be better as well”.

 

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