Mind Body Spirit Revisited

A prospective student came in one night and was observing class.  I asked him if he had any questions. He asked “what kind of mind-body-spirit improvement will I get if I train here?  What specifically do you do that improves mind-body-spirit?”  What a wonderful and complicated question.  I believe the student was right to ask such an important question, but I also believe he was looking for a one-sentence answer.  Silly Student.

Most martial arts schools pay lip service to the mind-body-spirit idea, but many do not deliver.  For many the concept is too esoteric, and it is left up to the student to “find” it within his/her training.  Actually I believe it boils down to a relatively simple concept – if you want to strive for mind/body/spirit improvement in your life, you must strive to become perfect at your chosen endeavor.

I had the privilege of watching the “Yamato” taiko drummers give a performance in Lincoln last weekend.  It was phenomenal.  They received multiple standing ovations.  The audience could tell at once that is was more than just a good drum performance.  It was athletic.  It was graceful.  It was transcendent. It was beautiful.  I read that the drummers all live together on the road, so they can pick up the nuances of each other.  Their daily routine consists of a 10K run, followed by weight lifting ( which was definitely required judging from their performance) until noon.  They practice drumming together in the afternoon, and individual practice continues until they go to bed at night.  They are on the road 10 months a year in foreign countries, and either prepare, perform, clear, or travel from their performances.

The Yamato drummers are a clear example of striving for perfection, and the mind-body-spirit is manifest in their performance. “Wait,” you say, “my mom used to say nobody’s perfect”.  That may be true.  But that does not mean you cannot strive to become perfect.  The struggle is what is important.

Do you want to find the mind-body-spirit connection in your Aikido training?  Excellent.  Strive with every fiber of your being to execute your techniques perfectly.  Strive to develop perfect awareness.  Become perfectly calm in your mind.  Will you ever become perfect?  Maybe not, but your training and your life will be taken to a whole new level.  The level of mind-body-spirit.

What is the Ideal Aikido Student? #LNK

What is the Ideal Student?Some visitors who came in to observe an Aikido class one night, noted the adult students starting to clean the dojo, like they always do after class.  “Why do you make them clean the dojo?”  the visitor asked.  I answered, ” I don’t make them clean the dojo.  They are free to leave at anytime.”  The visitor looked at me like “Yeah, right.”, but didn’t say anything.  The visitor was correct in thinking that I did have something to do with the students cleaning up after class.  But the visitor obviously considered cleaning as a punishment, or “beneath” the students.  This misunderstanding is common, and begs the question; what is the role of an “ideal” student?

As a new student, I must understand that, in terms of the martial art, I know nothing, and accepting this is difficult for Americans.  All of us want to feel “competent” in whatever we are doing, even when we are just starting out.  But this is the very first step in learning how to extinguish our ego; our arrogance that we “know something”.  Once we accept that we know nothing, it becomes liberating.  We stop worrying about how we are perceived by others, and concentrate on learing what we are excited to learn.

But even this is not the primary requirement to becoming an “ideal” student.  What makes the ideal student is; the student is willing to learn whatever is required  in order to become a better person.  For example, when the student cleans the dojo, the student is learning to respect and appreciation for the surroundings that allow them to become a better person.   When the student says “thank you” to their partner each time, they are learning that their partner is assisting in their own self-improvement, and this must be recognized.

This willingness to learn whatever is required is not easy.  It requires great trust in the instructor to guide the student in their self-development.  It requires the student to give up their ego, and their own control, and allow others to help them.  However, the benefits from this mentality becomes priceless.  The student starts to excel past his peers, and become a person of power and integrity.

So, at least during class, give up your control, and allow others to help you become a person of power and integrity.  Become the ideal student.

“I Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone” #LNK

You can learn Aikido with harming othersThe martial arts sometimes attract  the kind of people who enjoy doing harm to others.  They want to be “ass-kickers”, and they want to make sure that if they are attacked by someone, that they can “take them out”.  Often, without proper discipline, this annihilate -your-opponent idea gets these people into trouble.  They attack and destroy on little provocation, and wind themselves up in legal battles or in jail.  For this reason, instructors must select worthy students to learn power comes with responsibility.

At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of martial artists enjoy the self-development aspect of training, and do not like the idea that they may cause harm to attackers. It is not that the attacker “deserves” to have mercy upon him/her, it simply is about what kind of person the martial arts student wants to be.  Most of us do not want to be the kind of person that inflict injuries on others, provoked or not. Yet, how can we learn to protect ourselves at the same time?  It would seem like we cannot do both.

Aikido is a martial art that lends itself well to those who wish to not harm others, as it is purely a defensive art.  But  I tell my students at Aikido of Nebraska, with a surprisingly small amount of training, you can readily hurt someone, even in Aikido.  Hopefully a good instructor will also teach you to use only the amount of force required to control the opponent.  Even in striking arts such as taekwondo, or karate, students can be taught to “pull” their punches, so that they can deliver varying amounts of force.  That is why true martial artists learn their art over years; it takes this long to have the control required to use only the minimum force necessary.

There will be rare times when martial arts students will have to use destructive techniques to control a situation, namely when someone’s life is at risk.  But for most, this will happen rarely, if ever, in their lifetimes.  So, it is possible to learn the martial arts and specifically learn to not harm others.  Don’t let “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” as an excuse not to learn Aikido, or any other martial art for that matter.

Do What is Important; Not What is Urgent #LNK

Students often get sidetracked in their training.  They stop going to class because “life gets in the way”.  They stop going because of pressure from work, problems with family members, or they are just “tired”.  Sometimes new students stop coming because the initial excitement and “newness” are over, and going to class seems more “routine”.  These are the same students that tell me they joined the school because they needed to improve their health, manage their stress, improve their well-being, protect themselves, etc.  Where is the disconnect, then?  It is because we are programmed to take care of the problem right in front of us, without regard to its long-term consequences.  We do what is urgent, not what is important.

Have you ever been in a very important face-to-face conversation with a loved-one or friend, only to answer your cell-phone when it rings?  Why?  Because you are programmed to do what’s urgent (answer the phone), instead of what’s important (talk with your loved one).  We all do that from time to time.  But it is important to remember that as we become more and more programmed to do what is urgent, we become a person who just “puts out fires”, who solves short-term problems by sacrificing long-term goals.

We will all continue to have problems in life; this is not the question.  The question is; how do we attack those problems and still reach the goals that we set for ourselves?  By stepping back, taking a larger perspective, and solving those problems for the long-term, not the short-term.  Often this will create more work and problems in the short-term.  Nevertheless, when the problem is solved, it is solved; you will not have to revisit again down the road because you only put a “band-aid” on it the first time.

A famous speaker once said “A successful life is nothing more than a string of successful days put together.”  You do not want to look back on your life and realize that you accomplished nothing because you were someone who just “put out fires”.

Did you join the martial arts because you truly wanted to improve your life?  Great.  Come to class.  Do what is important, not just what is urgent.

Self Defense Concepts #78 – Read Your Opponent

Have you ever wondered how warriors and Martial Artists develop that “sixth sense” that allows them to anticipate movements of their attackers, and choreograph strikes and techniques with 4 or 5  attackers?  I’ll let you in on a little secret.

It’s not magic.

They just pay attention more than you do.

“Reading” people is a time-honored skill, and is useful in all types of endeavors, from poker, to business, to martial arts.  What does “reading” someone mean?  It means that you pay attention to all the information coming to you from that person; how they hold their posture, their facial expression, how their weight is placed, where they focus their eyes, how they are reacting to you and the people around them, etc.

Seriously,  when was the last time you noticed which way someone’s toes were pointed?  Good Martial Artists notice those things.  It tells them which way your adversary might move or strike, whether the will use their feet, hands or with a weapon.

Like anything else, learning to read people is not a skill most of us were blessed with;  it requires patience and practice to master.  As you become more attuned to reading opponents, you will find yourself evaluating people as they walk down the street toward you.  Hone that skill.  It will serve you well in all aspects of life, from music concerts to business meetings.  The more you can learn to read people, the more successful you can become in your own endeavors.

The Law of Presence – You Only Really Have this Moment

Presence - Standing on Kilimanjaro

Martial Arts students often try very hard to push themselves and learn all the techniques required of them.  When it comes time to get ready for testing, many have difficulty, because it requires a new mindset.  They no longer have the luxury of analyzing their mistakes, as they are making them.  They want to “run the projector back” and rehash what went wrong.  Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever listened to a speaker in person or on the radio, and been tantalized by the speaker’s idea, only to miss the next two ideas because you were thinking about the previous one?  While this kind of mental analysis is beneficial, and aids in the learning process, there are times where you must learn to “stay in the moment”.  If this idea is explored further, you start to realize that you really only have this moment to live.

Margaret Bonnano once said “It’s only possible to live happily ever after on a moment-to-moment basis”.  Although you can project your mind in to a previous time in the past or the future, you can only live in the present, in this moment.  We “indulge” ourselves by projecting our mind into the past or future, because we are fascinated with the possibilities. Nevertheless, we can only take action right now, in this moment.

So, when confronted by an assailant, you have only now to make decisions and take action.  You cannot afford the luxury of analyzing the event as it happens.  Although horrifying, this kind of event still fascinates us.  Allowing ourselves to analyze the event can cost us our health or our life, however.

So, when testing, the students must stay in the moment, act and react.  There will be time for analysis later.  This proves to be a very difficult lesson in life, and requires patience and persistence to master.

So, avoid the “paralysis of analysis”; stay in the moment.  It is really the only place you can ever be.

What is a Dojo ? #LNK

“Dojo” is a Japanese term that is often loosly translated into “training hall”, but really a closer interpretation is “place of the Way”.  What the heck does that mean?

Americans tend to equate a dojo with a kind of specialized gym – a place to physically train and get a good workout.  A true dojo is used for much more, however.  It has several things that set it apart from a gym.

1) It is quiet;  This allows the student to focus on himself, his thoughts,  and the instruction.

2)  It is serene;  no tv, no ads, no distractions.  This allows the student to, again, focus on his training.

3) it is highly focused; in a gym, you often “zone out” and think about other things to get your workout accomplished.  In the dojo, you must increase your focus in order to avoid injury.

As you can see, a dojo trains not only the body, but also trains the mind and spirit.  It is this element that sets it apart from a gym.  In this regard, a dojo is part-gym, part-temple, and part-shrine, in order to tantalize and stimulate mind-body-spirit all at once.  This cultivation of mind and spirit occurs in a controlled atmosphere, so it can be applied to the real world outside the dojo.

So, come into a dojo, and see the atmosphere for yourself.  You should be able to see a difference from, say, a basketball court, or a bowling alley.  The good news is that the benefits recieved from a dojo outweigh those from a basketball court or bowling alley as well.

It is not a “gym”. 

It is more.

The Only 3 People You Can Ever Be

Sensei Roberts adressing class

Students often get frustrated when training at the dojo.  After making their arms and legs do what they want to for years, they suddenly have no coordination.  I say to them “No, your other right foot, your other right foot!” over and over.  Some even quit training because “I’m not progressing like I thought I would”, or “I can’t do this”.  What did they expect?  Although I believe there are many reasons, bruising of the student’s Ego is a significant factor in a student’s frustration.

As my instructor would remind me at this time, there is really only 1 of 3 people that you can be: 1) the person you project to others, 2) the person that you project to yourself, and 3) the person you truly are.

We all want to “look good” in front of others.  This is where 1) comes in.  We often change the way we act and what we say to accommodate others.  While this is socially acceptable, it becomes dangerous as we start to believe the illusion of ourselves.  Thus 1) can start to become 2) – the person we project to ourselves.  2) is the dangerous person.  We start to believe in our own lies, and thus start the path of arrogance, and self-destruction.

With introspection and hard work, we can become 3) – the person we truly are.  However, the Ego must be put in check in order for this to happen.  You must take yourself down a couple of notches, and accept yourself as the flawed-but-trying person that you are.  Don’t beat yourself up – that is your Ego trying to talk you into becoming person No.2. 

Become person No. 3 instead.

Giri – What is Your Obligation? #LNK

Garden Bridge

OK, I admit it.  I love my smartphone way too much.  I use it for everything; finances, video, weather, investments, music, books – you name it.  I have reduced my home computer use by about 90%.  And because I have an Android phone, many if not most of the Apps I use are free. Really, aside from the “cool” factor, my smartphone has improved and streamlined my life.  But, have you ever thought about those guys who make the Apps?  Do they deserve something, even though they gave me the App for free?  The answer that I tell my students all the time is “Yes, if you use someone’s App for your benefit, you are obligated to that person.” Huh?

Sound’s weird doesn’t it?  Being obligated to someone I don’t even know?  The Japanese concept is called “Giri”.  Giri is strictly translated as “right reason”, but more loosely means duty or obligation.  The idea is simple – we live in a society in which we were all completely dependant on each other.  If someone does a service to you, you assume an obligation to repay that person commensurate to what they did for you – whether they ask for it or not.

A Web-designer friend of mine always allows me to pick his brain for free – something for which he would normally charge others.  I always ask him to send a bill to me, but he is too nice to do it.  What he does not understand is that no matter how nice he is to me, he is providing a valuable service to me, and I am obligated to him regardless.  He cannot relieve me of that obligation.  That is my Giri.

The concept of Giri can be perverted as well.  Doing something only to get something in return can turn into an ugly, mafia-style act that has no honor or justice (think the Godfather saying “You owe me a favor”).  No fulfilled obligation is honorable if the act of fulfilling it creates an injustice.

Therefore, I will start making a list of the App makers for my smartphone, and sending them donations, to repay the service they have provided me.  That is my Giri.

What is your Giri?

What Is Your Responsibility in Your Martial Arts Training? #LNK

Reprinted from George Ledyard’s All Things Aikido Jan10, 2011

Ok, so I am attending a seminar with a teacher who decides to do a sword class. I am excited because this teacher’s sword work is extraordinary and I love sword. The teacher started out with a basic flow exercise, which as it happens, is in the first chapter of his sword video which has been around since VHS days. He demonstrated then set folks to work. Folks were pretty much mangling the exercise so he stopped them and showed it again, this time a bit slower. The same thing happened. In fact it happened four times. By the end Sensei was furious. And, I have to say, I was furious.

Of course there were a few people in the room who were not folks from our organization. These folks did little or no sword at their home dojos so one could understand why they had issues. But the majority of these folks were regulars that I see every year at these events. Sensei pointed out that, in his uchi deshi days, O-Sensei would only show them something (no explanation at all) once or at most twice and they were expected to get it. He had just showed it four times, with explanation and folks were still pretty much exploring just about every way possible not to do what he had just shown.

My own partner was a person I had seen every year at this event. He never looked any different from year to year. Even with the added explanation I gave him as I walked him through it, he still never got it. All I could think was what a huge waste of everyone’s time it was. The exercise in question was a basic drill. Sensei clearly intended for it to be the warm-up so he could build on it. Instead he spent half the class on it. He couldn’t get to the good stuff because many (not all) folks couldn’t do the most basic exercise.

I found myself asking what has happened to Aikido? It seems to have become the dumping ground for all the folks who, if they weren’t doing Aikido, wouldn’t be doing martial arts at all. They treat their training as if it is an afterthought done when everything else in their lives allows. It makes me crazy… Does anyone actually think that O-Sensei created this art as a hobby for middle class Americans to do in their spare time?

If this had been an isolated event, a bad day for whatever reason, then that would be one thing. But this happens all the time. Especially when we are talking about weapons work, which happens to be central to this teacher’s Aikido. Sensei yells at everyone, they all look chagrined, then they go home and show up next time no better than they were the last time. What is the point? Year after year of not getting it, year after year of baby beginner exercises with no ability to move beyond in to something with some real content… What is the point?

I mentioned this to another friend and we agreed that, if we had been in a position of screwing up that badly with Sensei, one thing would absolutely happen. The next he time he saw us, we would be total and complete masters of that damned exercise. Sensei would never again have to say a word about our inability to do that particular set of movements.

Yet, what I see is not that kind of seriousness. If I had thought Sensei had meant me when he was criticizing the inability of the group to get what he was doing, I would have felt like going out in the parking lot and slitting my belly from embarrassment. Sensei was treating these folks like children because they were acting like children.

Why do people do this art who don’t care enough about the art, their teacher, their fellow students, or their own training to fix things when they are broken? There are several teachers in our group who are perfectly capable of teaching these things and do so when asked. Way have I never seen any of these folks at my dojo asking for help on things like this? Why haven’t any of us been asked to come to their dojos to do a workshop specifically on these elements which our teacher thinks are important enough to try to teach but the students are so weak in their fundamentals that Sensei can’t even get them to do a simple beginner level exercise?

A few years ago I tried to help folks address their weak weapons work. I set up an event in which I invited two other 6th Dan level teachers from our organization to co teach a weapons seminar along with me. This was the A-Team of weapons teachers in our group and I was hoping to make it a yearly event with Sensei coming every fourth or` fifth year himself. Well, the event tanked. These very same folks who get yelled at by Sensei each year for their incompetence couldn’t be bothered to come train with a bunch of American teachers, who could actually explain what Sensei is doing, and perhaps take folks up a level or two. No, folks continue to feel that it is more important to show up to train with Sensei with sub standard skills and waste his time and everyone else’s than to actually go out of their way to train with a bunch of Americans who might have actually helped them to be better.

I find this attitude incomprehensible. If someone isn’t trying to be good at this art, why do it. Quit and find something else one can be serious about. This is Budo. It is a serious pursuit. Many people take it very seriously. I think most of us are quite patient with beginners as they slowly figure stuff out… they are not the issue. I am talking about folks who have done Aikido for years and years, even decades, and still haven’t bothered to put froth the effort to master the basics so that they can move on. Perhaps they tell themselves that it’s their own practice and it’s their business how much effort they put into it. But it’s a group endeavor, not a solo practice. If it were iaido and you sucked, no one else would care. You could suck for decades and it wouldn’t really effect anyone else’s practice. But everything we do is paired. So when you get paired with someone who wants to train and you can’t even hold your sword properly, you are wasting your partner’s time. When the teacher has to address the group on issues that are simple beginner issues, it means that the teacher cannot take the class forward and do the things he or she might be capable of teaching.

Time after time I have seen Sensei start to do something really interesting and then have to change what he was intending and dumb it down for folks who never get any better, year after year. I pay the same amount to attend these events. I take the same time out of my life as these folks. Yet I can’t get what I need from the training because these folks won’t do the work.

Perhaps Sensei shouldn’t even be teaching folks like this. In music someone at his level would never be teaching anyone but advanced student via “master classes”. Less advanced student actually pay to watch these master classes. But Sensei has not chosen to do that. He still is trying to connect with the larger student population. I think that is admirable but I do not see that this same population understands that it is a privilege to train directly with someone like Sensei and that whenever you choose to get on the mat with him, you have a responsibility to work hard, take what he shows away with you, and come back better next time. That is the absolute minimum expectation. If you encounter something at a seminar that baffled you, you should make yourself crazy trying to get it. It should be gnawing at you constantly that you didn’t get it.

This whole “we have all the time in the world” attitude makes me crazy. It’s ok that I didn’t get it this time just leads to a whole series of I didn’t get it this times. Eventually, you have simply gotten into the habit of not getting it. You decide that you didn’t get it, not because you have been too lazy to tear it apart and chew on it until you have figured it out, but that Sensei is “special”, someone far beyond us mere mortals and it’s ok that we don’t get what he is doing.

This art of Aikido is amazing. It has the potential to take someone out into the unknown, to be trans-formative, to really change ones perspective on everything. perhaps change the world. But with folks treating it like a casual hobby placing it pretty much in a tertiary place of importance in their lives, or beyond, that not only won’t happen, these folks end up impeding the efforts of the folks who do want to do the work. If folks don’t want to train, they should get out of the way of those that do. I am not talking about the fact that people will make differing levels of commitment to their training. Some are striving for real mastery and other simply wish to attain a solid competency. I am talking about that group of folks who stay incompetent year after year because they will not work at it. Sure their are varying degrees of natural ability. Some folks pick some things up quicker than others. But, if you are one of the folks for whom things are difficult, you have to work harder. You don’t just accept that you aren’t any good and won’t be. You strive harder. That’s Budo.

This art requires serious people training seriously. The rest is a waste of time in my opinion.

Posted by George S Ledyard

In Self Defense, in Life, If You Get Knocked Down 6 Times, Get Up 7 #LNK

One of the sayings that I vividly remember my instructor talking about was the saying ” Get knocked down 6 times, get up 7 . . . “.  When he first said it, I thought “Yeah!  Stay tough!  Don’t give up!”, but as I look back on it, it really had so much more meaning than I was initially aware.  Many “simple” messages are like that, aren’t they?

In Aikido, one of the reasons that conditioning is required, is because we repeatedly get thrown to the ground, and must get back up and do the technique again.  On a good night, we may get thrown down 80-100 times. Doesn’t sound so bad? Come and try it, I think you will agree you will get a good workout.

Some Martial Arts students view getting knocked to the ground as a “failure”.  Aikido students view it as just another night of training.  What is the difference then?  It is the meaning assigned to the experience itself (falling).

The famous psychologist Victor Frankl  wrote a wonderful book called Man’s Search for Meaning.  In it, he described that any particular experience that one person had, was less important than the meaning that the person assigned to that experience.

For example, A woman may get raped and view it as a devistating experience, or, through being an advocate for other victims, view it as an empowering experience.  The same experience can ruin your life or empower your life.

So, when you get “knocked down” in Aikido, or life, how are you going to view it? As a failure, or a empowering experience?  We must get knocked down in order to learn how to pick ourselves up.  But the bottom line is; there are no devistating experiences, only learning experiences.  So, no matter how many times you get knocked down, get up again, and use it as a empowering experience.

Self Defense, Fitness, and Badassness #LNK

Reprinted from trueselfmartialarts.com

Nhan-Esteban Khuong, L.Ac.

These are the three most common reasons people start martial arts training.

Martial Arts, whichever the style, can be a physically demanding practice so fitness applies without question.  As far as badassness goes, I couldn’t think of another word that really encompasses the concept of power, freedom, connectedness, and raw awesomeness combined into one, but that’s pretty inherent also.  Self defense . . . now this is where it gets sketchy . . .

Self defense meets the Law of Attraction.

The conventional understanding of self defense involves the concept of “scenario training.”  This means that the student is given a theoretical scenario in which an aggressor is in some stage of attacking the defender (student) such as a surprise bear hug, a choke, a sucker punch, threat at knife point, etc.  The student is then shown how to disable the attacker and escape.

Sounds practical right?

In theory, this is a solid approach to self defense training and in cases whereby an individual has a high percentage of encountering an aggressive situation such as military personnel and peace officers, scenario training is warranted and essential.

For the rest of us however, regular use of scenarios for Martial Arts practice and self defense will increase the likelihood of encountering a dangerous self defense situation.

This is obviously an observation rather than a proven statistic, but it’s an observation based on more than two decades of personal Martial Arts experience.

The concept at work here is simple and one that is well understood within the realm of personal development, it’s known as the Law of Attraction: the focus of one’s thoughts and attention will attract more of it.

In other words, if you go to a self defense class once per week and every session involves two hours of imagining a crazed and violent assailant in a dark alley, chances are that your thought patterns will be drawing that situation closer to reality outside of class.

It’s kind of like getting a new car and suddenly you see tons of people driving the same car.  Your focus on the new car has increased your awareness of the same within your environment and has therefore increased its presence within your conscious reality.

On the one hand, awareness is key to self preservation and prosperity.  Being aware of the shady group of hoodlums down the street will help you to avoid confrontation.  This applies to all areas of life.

The key is not to focus on the danger, fear, and desire to avoid it so intently and regularly.  Once the shady group of hoodlums is identified and one’s route and behavior adjusted, life goes on.  The darker course of action being to identify the threat and develop paranoia and obsessive fearful behavior which in turn attracts attention and an increase in danger.

The art of fighting without fighting.

So if scenario training is out, what can we do?

Scenario self defense practices do have a place, but they should not be the focal point of one’s training.

Instead, Martial Arts training should develop key physical attributes such as speed, balance, strength, control, reflexes, and reality based self defense movements and techniques without the fear, rage, and drama of a scenario.

Mental and emotional attributes such as ferocity, focus, awareness, discipline, playfulness, and love within a combative yet positive context are also essential and very constructive in and outside of class.  These skills and attributes, if properly trained, will have tremendous carry over into an individual’s life, not just for the purpose of self defense but in the realms of family, business, school, and others as well.

Scenario self defense training with stong negative imagery and emotions for specific, unlikely, and undesirable circumstances should be kept to a minimum and used intermittently at best.

Daily practices that enrich your life in positive and fulfilling ways while developing broadly applicable personal skills and abilities should make up the core of your martial arts training, effectively building the foundation necessary to overcome, excel, and flourish in body, mind and spirit, regardless of circumstance.

Nhan-Esteban Khuong, L.Ac.

Martial Arts Self Defense Open House October 9th,10th at Aikido of Nebraska #LNK

Aikido of Nebraska will be hosting an Open House on Oct. 9th, 10th, Sat-Sun afternoon. The Open House will go from 1:00pm – 4 :00pm each day, and is open to all the public.  Attendees will be able to see a traditional Martial Arts Dojo, and view the students in regular practice.   Refreshments will be provided. Please come see us! We would love to see you.

Aikido of Nebraska had an Open House in March that was wonderfully attended, and fun for all who came.  The Open House is designed to help those  people see that training in the Martial Arts is an enjoyable and beneficial endeavor.  The student at Aikido of Nebraska is allowed to progress at their own pace and safety is at the forefront.  The Open House also allows people to see the rich culture of the Martial arts in an educational venue.  Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and find out everything they always wanted to know about the Martial Arts, and Aikido.

So come join us at the Aikido of Nebraska Open House, for a few hours of fun and education.  Details below;

Aikido of Nebraska, 4209 S. 33rd St.  Lincoln, NE.  68506



Saturday, October 9th 1:00pm- 4:00pm

Sunday, October 10th 1:00pm- 4:00pm

Shugyo – Tomorrow’s Battle is Won during Today’s Practice

“The problem with this country is that a man can live his entire life without knowing whether or not he is a coward” – Berryman.

In case you never thought about it, life is difficult.  Once you become an adult, there is no one to hand-hold you or to protect you from lif’e problems.  In fact, unless you take responsibility for yourself, and deal with life head-on, you will most likely get run over.  On the other hand, living in this affluent society, you can get by and survive without ever having to get out of first-gear.  Thus many in out society live just above the “survival” line, getting run over with life’s problems, but never sinking so low that they have to “work” to survive.

In case you never thought about it, war is difficult. Samurai would continually work on ways to improve their skills.  There was no such thing as complacency or “getting by”, because simply “getting by” as a samurai meant death on the battlefield.  The Samurai would relentlessly train themselves to prepare for battle.  They understood the maxim “tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice”.

One of the ways a Martial Artist trains himself is throught the practice of Shugyo.  “Shugyo” means  austere or severe training.  The warrior will drive himself far past his physical  and emotional limits to harden his spirit, and prepare him for the unknown and unforseen.  For the modern Martial Artist, this experience is both grueling and frightening , but allows him/her to emerge with a new perception, a new readiness to win “tomorrows battle”.  He/She is prepared.

It is necessary in today’s modern society to seek out the challenges which were once part of a Samurai’s daily life.  Shugyo should not be performed routinely, but I bet every Martial Artist who has gone through Shugyo will remember it vividly.  It changes your life.  It prepares you for all the battles in life that you will need to win to become successful.  Employ “Shugyo” in your life.  Tomorrow’s battle (in life) is won during today’s practice.

Todd Roberts

Bujutsu – Having Fun in the Martial Arts while Training with Deadly Seriousness #LNK

While demonstrating a technique the other night, a new student said to me ” I am nervous about doing that technique, Sensei.  I am afraid I might hurt my partner”.  I replied  ” You should worry about all your techniques causing injury.  You are studying combat arts.”  While I am happy that the students are concerned with the safety of their partners, and I try to instill concern for their true attackers, sometimes the student must sit back and realize that what we do is not a game.  This is a school of combat.  This is serious.

Although many educated people might catagorize differently, Martial Arts schools could be categorized into 2 broad classifications; schools who teach Bujutsu (Martial Tactics), and those who teach Budo (Martial Way).  Schools of Bujutsu emphasize one thing; victory on the battlefield.  They learn tactics and techniques for the goal of disposing of enemy personnel .  Budo, on the other hand, teaches combat techniques for the goal of self-development, of becoming something “more”.  Most modern Martial Arts schools have chosen the Budo-type of school, as it applies to most people better.  Both schools can offer excellent training and significant mental and physical benefits to their students.  Some schools of Budo start to focus only on the self-development aspect, and consequently lose something in their training.

Here is the secret that those schools of Budo miss.  In order to become a better person mentallly-physically-spiritually, you must train with deadly seriousness – you must train as if you are on the battlefield – you must train with Bujutsu – you must train for “life or death”.  Only then will you push yourself beyond your own boundries.  Only then will you push your physical and emotional limits.  Only then can you become something “more”.  If you make it “life or death”, you will bring your training to a whole new level.

Now, training with deadly seriousness doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and enjoy yourself.  It is OK to laugh with your partner at your mistakes, and enjoy the fellowship of the dojo.  But you also must be able to switch back into “training mode” quickly and train seriously.

So, go to your next class at the Dojo, and have fun.  And train with deadly seriousness.