|At my Black Belt exam with an 80s perm, photo by my dad|
In Aikido, there are countless metaphors about life “off the mat”. Most importantly, that Aikido is about non-violence. You can read about one such experience on the dance floor here.
No Violence, Know PeaceWhen I think about it, it makes perfect sense. A person who feels safe, secure, and at peace, is not going to attack anyone. And that’s most of us most of the time. So why do so many of us walk around the world with our guard up?
If You’re Off-Center, You’re Easily ThrownIf this off center person comes into my space, and I am aware, I will feel the incoming vibe or attack before I even see it. Then from my center, move with the intruder and guide us both to safety. The energy is diffused, the violence deescalated, and peace restored. But if I’m off my game at that moment, I will be thrown off by the person.
Off-Center, Off-KilterIt’s the times we get off center that we want to yell at the driver who did a crazy thing in front of us, or the paper jam in the copier or the computer that acts up. Someone with a mind to attack another person is definitely off center. So my practice in Aikido was to stay in my center when my partner came after me, and to use their incoming energy to guide them to the floor and pin them, or to throw them. We learned to roll, so this didn’t hurt on the receiving end.
Nonverbal Communication of Non-ViolenceIn Aikido we learned to pin people without hurting them, and without malice or vengeful thoughts. It
is simply a stance of “I do not allow violence in my space.” And that includes in myself. It’s a physical communication that they will not be harmed.
Same Thing Off the MatIt’s the same with life off the mat. If I go into a tense situation at work or with family, and I stay in my center, I will not be thrown by what happens around me. If there is anger around me, I will either remove myself or be the place where Peace shows up. I can practice both on the mat and off to be a place where Peace shows up.
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