Navigating Troubled Times
Payet Shihan’s Holiday Message
Dear Students and Friends of Aikido,
Thank you for all of your support this year! First of all, Mugenjuku Aikido has grown over the years and will celebrate 10 years in March 2019. This is a milestone of our growth! Together as a family, I look forward to celebrating this special event with those who will make the trip to Kyoto. For those who cannot travel physically, we will celebrate with you and all our supporters worldwide in spirit.
Second, I would like to acknowledge the various reasons why we practice Aikido. According to our personalities, life experiences, culture and educational backgrounds, we all differ in temperament and will tend to practice The Art of Peace for different purposes and with different opinions. If we happen to live in a “rich” country without the threat of war, Budo tends to be more of a leisure activity, and in that environment we might be more attracted by its philosophy of non-violence, kindness, and spirituality. But if we live in a more economically-challenged environment with the threat of poverty, violence, or even war, our view of and purpose to practice Aikido will be more defensive, conflict-resolution based, and filled with pragmatic approaches. However, this generalization is not always true, and you can find different temperaments in distinct environments.
In my experience, if one is passive in nature, one tends to enjoy the softer aspect of the art and practice moving meditation, connection, and sensitivity; if one is more aggressive in nature, one tends to look for the martial aspect of the art to enjoy physical, dynamic, and technique-based training. There are many different ways of training within the Art of Peace – there is no right way or wrong way. Aikido itself is a way. It doesn’t matter if your dojo focuses on the practical aspect of aikido for self-defense, or the physical aspect of aikido for fitness, or the life-experience aspect of aikido for conflict resolution, or the therapeutic aspect of Aikido for balancing the body/mind/energy, or even the religious aspect of Aikido for seeking peace and enlightenment – remember that aikido itself is all of that and much more! There’s no need to judge another way of training due to their particular disposition. You yourself can enjoy The Way that is best for you and train accordingly.
Third, I feel a sense of responsibility to remind ourselves that Aikido is not the act of opposing one of these attributes against one-another. If you feel the need to point out “this is what Aikido is, and this is what Aikido is not” then please take a closer look at your own thinking. It is my belief that Aikido practitioners (especially instructors and educators) have a responsibility to elevate ourselves above seeming contradictions and find the deeper non-dual experience of Aikido. From that space of harmony, we can inspire students to be more, to respect themselves and each other, to be compassionate in challenging circumstances, to train harder in the basic forms, and to truly understand the core principles of Aikido and make this world a better place.
Our world is in troubled times – people are more aggressive and intolerant; governments are only seeking short term solutions to problems; countries use their rights and privilege but forget their duties and obligations – overall there’s more selfish thinking of “me first” and not caring for others and our environment. This attitude can be seen in all levels of society. It is important that Aikido and the Budo community at large be the example we want to see in the world – to truly live according to Ueshiba sensei’s principle of Love, respect, empathy, and constructive criticism, and to offer support where needed. Together let’s train harder both on and off the mat, live the life of Aikido, and make our individual contribution to the world. Let’s be better people in 2019 and from there maybe a better world can blossom out of our collective power.
My dear Aikido friends, once again thank you for being here – with your loving and supportive service to the world. I love you all! Please be good to each other and stay positive in the coming year. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
Love from Kyoto, Jaques Payet, Dec 2018
I hope you can relate to my one-cent holiday wisdom!
Question: How to be happy in a troubled world?
Answer: Just say “Thank You” from the bottom of your heart no matter what happens – take the attitude of “I don’t mind” and use whatever is offered no matter how bad it seems as a training tool for your Aikido journey. Use anything negative and see if you can turn it into something positive. In Aikido, happiness is made easy.