Most of us have been on a course at one time or another and learnt some really important things, only to find that by the time we reach the office on Monday morning, what seemed so simple at the time now looks rather more difficult. By way of example, I went on a First Aid course recently and as a result, now have my certificate updated for the next 3 years, but in honesty, I don’t feel that much better equipped to deal with an emergency than before the training and I’m hoping I do not have to find out for real, whether what I learnt, stuck.
The truth is that unless you use it, you lose it.
So the only real way to bring about a change in the way you think and act is to practice hard until the new habit is deeply embedded in your psyche and in your body.
One powerful tool for this is aikido, which many people think is just a martial art. Personally, I prefer to think of it as a philosophy for life that uses martial art technique, to prove that even when physically attacked, it is possible to manage conflict peacefully and positively. The idea is not to break your attacker, but to blend with them. You need to use the energy created, to direct what you have to see as a partner, rather than as a opponent, to a better place, whilst maintaining your own safety and integrity.
Over the years, I have had many people come to my club, and pretty much without exception, they are amazed at how this can be done and they are genuinely in awe of the way in which it can be achieved so gracefully. Of course, the truth is that it only looks this way, because I have practised regularly and studied deeply for some 30 years. This being said, I have had students come and go and many report back, that what I showed them on the mat actually changed their lives and helped them deal with some big problems. It is this that keeps me motivated. By way of example the following story comes from one of my students who has studied on and off for a couple of years or so…
by Janet Shiel, 5th Kyu
Burwell Aikido Club – England
Sensei said to us,
“Eventually, you may find yourselves using Aikido in everyday life,
in everything that you do.”
Well, it was not long before I found out that this was true.
I was driving back from Cambridge in my little Vauxhall Tigra one foggy evening, with my partner, Chris, and two friends, Fred and Lucy. The visibility was very bad, and then suddenly through the dense, but patchy fog, appeared a very large deer. It paused on the grass verge to the right. Nothing fawn-like about this beast, it looked more like a blooming great stag.
RELAX! I thought – taking my foot off the accelerator. Lucy was screaming in the back seat, fearing we were about to crash. Fred in the front covered his face. “FFF********!!!!!!”
NOW BE AWARE OF EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. Hedge to the left, deer to the right, road clear ahead. It was about to cross in front of us. No time to brake!
RELAX AND AVOID THE DANGER. I waited just a millisecond.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Then. at the very split second it crossed in front of us, I turned the wheel to the right. We missed the animal by a hair’s breadth and then I steered the car left, back to my side of the road. It was so close that we could see its white hairy belly, and the breath from its nostrils, as it seemed to fill the whole windscreen.
Waiting for the right moment to move meant that we avoided disaster. The deer was now safely on its way as were we, both parties uninjured.
With my sensei’s teachings ringing in my ear, the morals of this story were clear:
Avoid conflict whenever possible.
Whatever life throws at you, try to stay calm!
This is just one simple story among many that illustrates how people have taken what they learned on the mat to deal with problems they faced in life off of it and managed to produce wonderful results.
Some of these stories come from immensely experienced practitioners and some from almost complete beginners, which given what I said at the beginning of this article about the need to practice new skills, is miraculous. I guess the truth is that people found that when they actually practiced what they learnt on the mat in real life, that no matter what their level of experience, the ideas were so powerful that even for the beginner they worked.
For all you business coaches out there, you will find that the principles taught within Aikido are probably very familiar to you and core to your work. Aikido offers a powerful and potentially new way of embedding that knowledge in your clients. Just find an Aikido teacher to work with.
This article was submitted exclusively to Aikido no Sekai by Quentin Cooke Sensei. All rights reserved. You can also submit Aikido or Peace related articles to Aikido no Sekai via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quentin Cooke Sensei, 7th Dan
In 1984, Quentin Cooke Sensei began to practice Aikido within the Ki Society of Great Britain, which later on became the Ki Federation of Great Britain. He stayed until 2000 having attained the rank of 4th dan. A need to create a less traditional group structure led Quentin Cooke Sensei and his brother to found Aikido for Daily Life (ADL) in 2004. He also affiliated his dojo to Yuishinkai International under the guidance and teaching of Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei, one of the founder’s original students. He encourages people to celebrate what we share rather than seek to emphasize our differences: “There are many ways up the mountain”. In 2011,Maruyama Sensei awarded Quentin Cooke Sensei the rank of 7th dan.
Apart from running his club, which is a qualifying member dojo of Peace Dojos International and chairing Aikido for Daily Life, he is also the Director Aiki Extensions,currently acting as Chair for the organizing committee of the International Aiki Peace Week.
The article above is just one over 80 stories from around the world, taken from the recently published book that Quentin Cooke Sensei edited titled; “A Way to Reconcile the World – Aikido Stories from Everyday Life“.
(Please also see:”8 Tips to Making Peace a Habit“)