A blog with some news, reports and articles from the Aikido community around the world.
Edited by Lawrence Warry & Ze'ev Erlich

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 2013

1. Ten Tips on How to Practice Aikido for Life
Recently K.F. Leisinger sensei came to give a class in The Netherlands, still active at the age of 83 years old. Here is a photo of his recent class:
Over the years, it has been noticeable how Leisinger sensei has been taking care of himself and such a longivety doesn't come without a disciplined approach. Looking at the hombu dojo, we have many fine examples of the lifelong approach to Aikido practice (Tada shihan, and the many veterans who still practice on a regular basis there in Tokyo). Furthermore, the lineage of O-Sensei and the Ueshiba family demonstrates that the practice of Aikido can form a legacy which extends beyond multiple generations. These masters of Aikido have, above all, mastered how to survive the Aikido path of the decades and, whilst some luck is required, there are probably a lot of things one can do to make the chances higher that you will be able to survive to such a great age and still enjoy the Aikido practice.
The ultimate challenge, is therefore how to survive all those years in the world of Aikido.
Here are my 10 recommended tips you could try to apply which may help you have a long Aikido life:
Tip 1. Practice regularly. The regular (if not daily) practice will encourage a continuity in your Aikido path. When one stops and starts, stops and starts regularly, this becomes your regularity and, over a long time, it becomes a life of "stop and start" practice! With this habbit, it is very easy to get out of the rhythm and the path of progress is then not so clear. That said, it's also good to have a break from the routine if you've been over doing it. Some common sense is required for the balance (see tip number 5 below).
Tip 2. Practice carefully. Injuries are sometimes an unfortunate reality of Aikido practice. If we want to practice for all our lives, we have to take care to minimize injuries as much as we can. So, try to be aware of yourself, your limits, and your training partners and their limits.
Tip 3. Practice intelligently with age. Naturally, in 20 years time, the body won't let you do the things you do now. Aging is also a reality which we don't have to and should not have to resist. As we get older we will have to recognize our limitations and adapt our training accordingly. Slowing down is part of the evolution but it does not have to be a negative experience. By slowing down as we get older, we get to appreciate the learning evolution much more and this is an enriching experience of growth.
Tip 4. Watch what you eat and drink. If we are abundantly consuming sugar, saturated fat, red meat and alcohol in our diet and, in addition, putting a physical demand on our bodies, it is logical that the body will undergo a lot of stress. This is a very yang (acidic) state. Try to balance it out by eating organic and nutrition rich foods. It is worthwhile investing time in the study of nutrition at least to the basic level that you understand what kind of nutrients your body needs for a regular aikido practice in order to maintain a healthy balance and, in more physically demanding times, in order to help the body recover its hydration and energy levels. Your attitude to diet in the short term is an investment as it will have a long lasting effect for your future state of health.
Tip 5. Manage/prevent burn outs. Whilst point 1 was about practicing regularly, it should not be taken to the point of practicing mindlessly and relentlessly. The gun-ho approach is sometimes looked upon as the one and only true way to being a tuned-in martial artist. Whilst this attitude may give a person a reassurance that in the short term they are practicing to a certain level of reality, I suspect that actually they require some fantasy to imagine themselves as the die-hard samurai seeking martial nirvana. I don't think this can last a long time without a cost physically and/or mentally. An over-obsessed regular practice can simply be too much for some. In such a case, prevent any burn-outs by varying the routine. Maybe go to a different dojo or do another complimentary activity (for example, yoga), or maybe you'd like to go on an Aikido course somewhere sunny or simply just take a break for two weeks. Whatever will allow you to reacharge your batteries and return to your regular practice with a new sense of enthusiasm.
Tip 6. Manage your relationships. Another reality of Aikido is that Aikido organisations are run by humans and, much as we are all about harmony, the group dynamics cannot be avoided. Regardless of the activity, when you get a group of humans together, there is always going to be a struggle in the group's evolution. The challenge is to be able to relate positively to other people in a group and be on good terms even if there are differences in attitudes, motivations, agendas, etc. I remember Fujita sensei often making this point strongly. The fundamental way to do this is to recognize first and foremost that everybody in the group should be there because they want to practice Aikido. When the Aikido practice is priority and the politics are secondary, there will be the opening to maintain good relationships with the other people in your group and other groups.
On the other side of relationships, maybe you have a spouse and children. It is no good if you lead your independent life and you didn't discuss/negotiate with your spouse about when you can and can't go to practice. The balance has to be made so that all loved ones are attended to in your life agenda.
Tip 7. Manage your work. The minority of people make Aikido their full-time job. There are a lot of people, however, who are "semi-proffessional" Aikido teachers. Such people lead a demanding lifestyle (I speak as one of them). On top of a regular weekly Aikido programme, such people still have to make a living. There will be the need to arrange the day job so that it is compatible with your outside work Aikido arrangements. If the burden is too demanding to have both a normal job and an Aikido teaching job, a compromise one way or another will have to be made. Long term happiness with a compatible work schedule, will generally lead to an equally long term happiness and continuity in Aikido.
Tip 8. Be flexible. Things won't always go the way you want them to. Maybe you will eventually get an injury or there are structural changes to your life. Maybe the dojo will have to close down and you will have to find a new location. It is important, in those challenging times of resistence to your regular schedule, to be flexible with the new situation(s) and to have a strong will to go on. "Never give up" as Yamashima Sensei often says. Flexibility in the mind is often helped by a flexible body so make sure you're stretching effectively and regularly!
Tip 9. Have a sincere and genuine love for the practice of Aikido. There's no point in forcing yourself to go to a practice if you're not in the mood. The sincere and genuine love for Aikido comes from the heart and will allow you to want to seek your inner child and come to discover more each time about this never ending beautiful learning process.
Tip 10. Always come to practice with a beginner's mind. The beginner's mind is fundamental for a life long of Aikido. The moment you know everything, you can already stop! :-).

2. The Samurai Game® Comes to The Hague. 23rd & 24th of March!!
On the 23rd and 24th of March, The Samurai Game's chief facilitator, Lance Giroux, will be in The Netherlands to conduct our first ever public Samurai Game. The Samurai Game® is basically a practice of Aikido philosophy without actually doing Aikido in a physical way but rather in a more metaphorical way. In this way, the Samurai Game practice aims to trigger participants to think about the decisions they make in their lives and their patterns of behaviour. The Samurai Game® was invented and founded in 1977 by the late George Burr Leonard († January 2010), senior aikido instructor and co-founding instructor of the Tamalpais Aikido dojo in Californian, veteran fighter pilot, modern thinker, philosopher and writer of several books, co-founder of the Esalen institute and one of the pioneers of the Human Potential movement and integral theory. As a veteran fighter pilot, Mr. Leonard became bored with the comparatively dull routine of civilian life and looked for ways to spice up his own life and the lives of others. This is supposedly one of the sparks which ignited Leonard's motivation towards development of the game.
Go to the facebook event page ( and/or send an email to if you're interested to join this weekend workshop.

Lawrence Warry (Editor)

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