I used to think that all men were saviors. Then I thought all men were abusers.
When I was a little girl I thought men kept us safe and protected us from the world. After I started training I thought all men hurt women and there was no hope.
Now I know the truth is complicated. Good men exist. Good men do bad things sometimes. Bad men do bad things and maybe good things sometimes.
No man is coming to save me. That is my job. I can learn from all situations. Every single moment can teach me more about survival and thriving.
I spent many years looking for my knight is shining armor. Trust me…he is not sitting on a bar stool.
I starting training in Aikido and found a good man: but better than that I found a good woman who no longer was willing to be saved or be abused.
In aikido I found my own power. It started subtly as I trained with men who were rough around the edges but had good hearts. Men who encouraged me to roll and to wear my white gi pants to fit in; that didn’t care if I looked pretty or got sweaty.
There were men in that dojo that were self-absorbed and sexist …just like there is all over the world. There were men who did not want to be taught by a woman and who told me that women can’t get strong enough to protect themselves.
I just kept training and teaching. People that did not like our way at our dojo went away. We find that good people stay. We found that men are good and strong and respectful just as women are good and strong and respectful.
As we change, the people that we surround ourselves with change too. I am responsible for the choices I make. As men and women train together they can receive and give the best from each other.
Uke is a positive role. It is not just waiting to be nage. Aikido is not about overpowering each other but learning, together, how to resolve unrest, conflict and disorder.
Uke provides nage with the opportunity to feel another person’s energy, physicality and essence. Nage provides uke with the opportunity to let go in a controlled environment, to not have to be in total control and to give a gift of energy.
Aikido happens when uke and nage work together to resolve the conflict or attack of the moment. Being as in the now as one can be makes the experience so fun and educational.
By being the best uke or nage we can be in each moment we provide earnestness.
Earnestness is defined as: sincere and intense conviction. It is such a sacred gift to give to each other. In this world where really being seen and heard by others is rare and fleeting we come together in the dojo to see and feel each other deeply as we strive to become safer and more comfortable in the world.
Everyone can’t be a wildly athletic uke or a smooth polished nage. Yet we can start right where we are and do our best. That is all earnestness requires of us. We just be who we on any given day.
Some days I feel totally healthy and happy. Other days I feel grumpy and sore. I have practiced when I was limping because of an injured knee from carrying too much weight for my frame. I got to practice from a revolving armless office chair that was actually fun when I got over my ego. I had a chronic back injury for years that is finally fixed by a super intuitive physical therapist and now I can sport freely in all realms. I lost weight and my knees have healed completely.
What I learned through that 10 year process was that I had value on the mat anyway; whether I was perfectly healthy or not. I do have way more fun when I am healthy. But all practice is valuable. So challenge yourself to go to class when you want to be a couch tater.
We love to see you. Yes, even if you can’t fall. Even if you are just watching. You matter. As do we all.