Black Belt Essay Question and Answer by Huy Nguyen
Huy Nguyen’s Black Belt Test Essay Question Given by Kevin Pickard Sensei – “If Aikio is supposed to be natural, harmonious and effortless, why is it so difficult, exhausting and frustrating?”
Let’s analyze each aspect of Aikido:
1. Natural: Look around us, either in a macroscale like the universe and planets or a micro one like the ball of the pens, we’ll find that things are natural in circular or spherical shapes. Circular/spherical objects are optimal for movements, for example, the wheels of the cars, the cogs of the watches, the turbines of the rockets, all are circular. Aikido techniques are mostly circular and spherical, hands and legs movements are composed by smaller to larger circular movements. The rounder the movement the easier and more natural it becomes (try any ukemi, the rounder the body shapes, the easier the fall becomes).
2. Harmonious: Practicing Aikido brings individual body/mind and inner strength together, connects shite to uke, sensei and students, creating a harmonious synergy in the dojo. Sensei reminds us to be aware of the surrounding, to connect to the ground, to connect to each other to facilitate the harmony of Aikido.
3. Effortless: the harmony between shite and uke, aikidoda and the environment makes it possible for the practitioner to better anticipate, predict the opponent’s moves, effectively counter-use the opponent’s strength to dissipate and neutralize the attack. To trust the forms, to be proactively defend any attack and to do no evil make Aikido an effortless art of self-defense.
Then, why is it so difficult, exhausting and frustrating?
Our body is used to a different ways of behaviors. Before Aikido, we grow up breathing shallowly, just to satisfy our thirst for oxygen. We walk briskly, as light as possible, to reach our destination the fastest we can. We tense up when we encounter danger, flex our muscles to tackle difficult tasks. Our mind controls our movements. We hardly pay any attention to the partners, trying to perfect our forms. We don’t connect to the ground, on the contrary, we make ourselves as light as possible without any effort to center ourselves. Thus it’s very challenging to learn Aikido, to change our lifelong habits.
My friends, fear not, with diligent and hard work, patience and determination, we will practice Aikido and natural, harmonious and effortless we will find in this beautiful art of self-defense.