The past year I have spent grappling with one central issue: whether to truly accept responsibility for my life.  On the mat and off, I reached crossroads that asked me to finally and firmly chose whether to take my life and my training into my own hands, or to let them both slip away from me, to hamper my own personal growth, to die.  My preparation for Nidan has been saying yes to being vulnerable, saying yes to the truth, and honoring uke and uke’s falling sword, whether uke is another person or myself.


A Glance Towards Nidan


How is it that four and a half years have passed since my shodan?  What do I have to show for it?  What has changed about my Aikido?  What has changed about me?  What have I learned?  What am I working on? 

I could spill a lot of ink answering any one of these questions; in all likelihood, it would devolve into gratuitous navel-gazing that would be of interest to no one other than myself.  Having said this, I will attempt to explore some of these questions in the space of a few pages in what might amount to a coherent narrative.    



Sitting by newly lit campfire
Next to river
Dusk approaching
I listen
To the conversation of
Uncountable trillions of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen
Bound together as water molecules
Loosely coupled to neighbors
Affiliated in their allegiance to gravity
Continuously moving
Down the upper reaches of Ohanapacosh River
Past the La Wis Wis campground
Where my wife and I
Enjoy the last evening of our vanagon camping trip
Washing evening dishes


Getting on the Mat

Over the past seven months, I developed an undiagnosed case of dizziness. This dizziness has crippled me in my daily life when it is at its worst; it has kept me from going to college classes, from walking safely for distances longer than a block, it has sent me to the ER when my friends cannot keep me upright. Almost ironically, this aggravating and confusing dizziness has kept me from my practice of balance and calmness. The art of aikido has previously centered me in times of distress and grounded me when my life seemed to crack around me.


Why I like Aikido! 2000

We ask the children who received promotion to 6th kyu to share with us ‘Why they like Aikido.’  The following are the writings of Two Cranes Aikido’s first green belt candidates.

Why I like aikido and what it helps me with   by LP

Those are the two questions. What are the answers? Keep reading and you will find out.


To Mom and Dad

From an old martial art teacher - about martial arts lessons and children.

I'm going on 50 years old, which really isn't that old, but to talk to you about what a child, your child, stands to learn from taking martial arts lessons, it's old enough. I took my first lesson at the age of 9, received by first degree black belt at 19, and this year I will celebrate my 30th year of teaching and assistant teaching the martial arts.


Practice in life

In my life I have multiple practices I try to use regularly in an effort to create the calm, peaceful place in which I want to live.  I sit, I write in my journal, and I do aikido.  Still my life, is full of chaos, pressure, and a modest but to me still distressing amount of interpersonal conflict. Practices like sitting and writing help me clear my mind, settle my emotions, and bring me to a calmer place from which I can emerge better prepared to face the various demands of my life at home and at work.


Cleaning Day at the Dojo

In the rhythmic chore of cleaning, the chatter of my mind settles.

As the messiness of sanctuary increases, my heart overflows.

The chaos of my mind is replaced by the chaos of dust set free.

High on a perched arch, I reach to brush away the particles that obscure the light.

On our hands and knees washed with water we laugh about elated pleasures of small creatures.

As the messiness of sanctuary is polished away, the shining brilliance of gratitude fills me.

For my training partners who dare to continue to polish their own souls


On Nonresistance

What follows is an attempt to summarize what I have been trying to say in class regarding Kyu test demonstrations.


When my colleague Dan Murnan visited Blue Heron dojo this spring, I asked him to consider one aiki principle from Kimberly Sensei’s teaching that he thought was particularly important.  Right away he said: “Nonresistance.” We tried to embody that principle in the last part of our training that day.  Since then, I’ve been thinking how important it is to embody this principal as we refine our technique, and test ourselves by training harder. 



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