合気道 Black Belt Essay by Aayush Shanmugam
Black Belt Essay
By: Aayush Shanmugam (Age 12)
For getting a black belt one of the requirements is to write an essay and give a speech based on a question that sensei gave us. The questions that were given to me were “What is the spirit of Aiki – Why do we need to be humble – and How can you stay humble after earning your black belt?”
The first part of my essay topic is “What is the spirit of Aiki?” Keeping in mind that aikido means “the way of harmony with the forces of nature,” To me, the spirit of aiki is the spirit that makes me want to succeed. to me, It means that if I set my goal on something, I will not give up until I accomplish that goal. For example, in a football game you don’t want to lose, so even if you have the better team you won’t automatically think you will win. you will run faster instead of relaxing. Similarly in aikido, when we are doing techniques in class you can’t just say to yourself that you know that technique and just not put in energy to try to do it right.you have to give 100% energy and effort into everything you do. even if you are not feeling well, you should put forward 100% of what you can do every time.
The next part of my question was “why do we need to be humble?”
We have to be humble because you can’t think too highly of yourself. that thought of “I know this, I’m not gonna try” is going to make you lazy and not focused, so for example, even if you have done a technique, you have to think that there is a lot of room for improvement and you should get help if you are confused on a small step like if the last step of a technique is a cross-step or a shuffle. You should not think that it would be embarrassing to ask for help even if you are a black belt and know lots of techniques. some people have strengths and maybe your weakness is one of another person’s strengths. You also have to respect the fact that some people are stronger in some techniques than you. even if that person is a lower belt than you, you should get help because if you think too highly of yourself, you will not get it right at an important time, and that could be bad, whereas if you actually ask someone, you can use it the right way, and avoid any bad possibilities like say when you are in danger. Even the best of the people that are doing aikido and even those people who teach this martial art are still learning, even though it is in a different way than most other people. Even if you are a teacher, you can’t think that you know everything that you teach. Let’s say that you are teaching a group of people about the forward roll, but when you demonstrate how to do it, you do it with a slight error that you don’t notice, but a student of your’s notices, and you say that he should not tell you what is right and what is wrong. That would not be a sign of being humble, but that is a sign of thinking that you are too good for everyone else. If you were humble, you would have told the student thank you for helping me or something like that which shows that you are humble.
Finally, the last part of my essay question is “how can I stay humble after earning my black belt?” There are many ways that I could be humble after earning my black belt. One example of being humble is thinking to yourself that you are a white belt even if you are wearing a black belt. This thought of you always learning is called a beginner’s mind and it basically means that even though that you are a black belt, you still have to have the mindset that we all had when we started aikido. That mindset of we had to learn what everyone else was doing, and even if a black belt has done that before, they would have to still think of themselves as beginners. Another way that I could be humble is that when I am helping out with the kids class, I should think of myself as a student or a learner, but I am learning in a different way, by teaching that move to others. If a lower belt than me knows a move better than I do, I will ask them for help. That’s another way that I could be humble. I could also do more classes instead of thinking that I know everything and get sloppy and lazy, but instead go to more classes, and polish up on techniques. Even if I have done that particular technique before, that does not mean that I am perfect at the technique. I just have more and more to learn about not just that technique, but more to learn of aikido in general.
In conclusion I would like to thank my great senseis who have helped me achieve a lot over the years. I would also like to thank my amazing friends and family who have helped and encouraged me throughout this journey. Thank you to everybody who came today.