30 oktober 2011

Celeberating 50 years of Aikido in the Netherlands

On October 23, around 400 Aikidokas from around the country celebrated 50 years of Aikido in the Netherlands with a special one-off seminar. Some 42 instructors from various schools and generations showed their approach to Aikido, capturing the rich diversity on offer today.

Francisca Sensei - who taught one of the classes - and several of our own Aikidoka were present as well. Below are some pictures that capture the mood of the event.

21 oktober 2011

As for the body

As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious
and full of detail; it wants to polish itself; it
wants to love another body; it is the only vessel in
the world that can hold, in a mix of power and
sweetness: words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity and virtue.

(Mary Oliver)

5 oktober 2011

Meanwhile in our dojo....


On and off the mat I have been wondering about intimacy. I see people, including myself, struggling with it on a daily basis and I have been asking myself: what, really, is intimacy? And how does it appear on the mat?

I guess intimacy comes in many shapes and forms. There is the physical and emotional intensity of lovers. There is the unconditional bond between parent and child. And there is the easy familiarity of old friends who have seen the best and worst of one another.

So what is common to these three examples? Or better said: how to define intimacy? If I may offer a suggestion – far from final – I would say: intimacy is the connection that occurs when two people fully see and bless one another.

To me, the words ‘see’ and ‘bless’ are crucial. By seeing I mean that we truly notice the other as they are. Not what we think they are or ought to be, but as they appear in this world with their gifts and shadows alike.

The blessing bit is important, too. Blessing means showing people that everything we notice about them is good, worthy and loveable. It’s an odd notion, perhaps, because we’re used to forcing our opinions and beliefs unto others. But enforcing our own views is, in a way, a subtle act of violence.

When you see and bless someone, you send them messages like ‘you belong’, ‘you have something to contribute’, and ‘you are loveable’. Wouldn’t you want others to approach you like that? In my opinion, it is the basis of healthier and happier relationships.