“Day after day
Forge and polish yourself”
-Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
We often speak about the sense of community that we are trying to build in the dojo. This often leads to thoughts of potlucks, friendships, and general feelings of support and camaraderie. While this is true and these things matter a great deal, of perhaps more vital concern is the community of training that is built on the mat, person to person.
It seems an obvious thing to say, but it is not really possible to progress and grow in this art by ourselves. Our progress is, for better or worse, dependent on the efforts of not only ourselves but also on that of our training partners. Like a rock tumbler that turns rough and coarse stones into hardened and polished ones, our training community functions in much the same way; not a single rock would be polished without the presence of the others. I hope the message is beginning to become clear.
Seasonal transitions are notoriously difficult to absorb and often lead to us transitioning right out of the habits we are working so hard to build. This is where developing a selflessness in our training becomes of paramount importance; every choice made to retreat to the comfort of the couch and TV after a long day’s work, or to hit the snooze button on a dark and rainy morning, robs your potential partners of their practice and stunts and diminishes yours. An often overlooked martial principle is action when the moment demands, not waiting for it to align with your own terms. This is about dealing with your condition in the present, the inescabable here-and now; not waiting for something like an arbitrary turn of the calendar to fill you with magical resolve and motivation.
“Cancel all my commitments and come train?” you say, “it’s not so easy!” This is, of course, far from the expectation and would be a signal to run (quickly) in the other direction if it were. But identifying those moments where choices needs to be made about the type of person you would like to be become critical. Our martial path is not one of endlessly accumulating techniques; this would be quite boring and of dubious long-term utility. It is utilizing these techniques to continually grow and develop, both physically and on a much deeper level.
This is best accomplished together.