A note on Thanksgiving

I am grateful that the Universe allowed me to come into being, and for my parents who brought me into this world.  I am grateful to my family for allowing me to be as I am but also challenging me to be more.  I am grateful to all the teachers that I have had who were both patient and tough with me as was needed. 

I am grateful for this training that I have given my life to and that has given back to me immeasurably.  I am grateful to our dojo and my students for they have fed me more than they know. 

And I am grateful for the sun, the sky, and the stones, the water, and the wind through the trees.  And even in times when things can perhaps seem dark, I am grateful for the ability to hope and believe in love.

My gratitude to all of you,

Ryūgan Robert Savoca

Why I practice Aikido- A. Shridhar

I practice aikido because it is my path. This is not what I would have said five and a half years ago when I started.

When I started aikido, I had no idea what it was. I had just moved to New York City from living in India and London, and was starting life over on my own. After about 22 years of dancing, I had decided to stop. I had studied one year of Indian martial arts while in Bangalore and knew that I wanted to train in a martial practice. I did not know why. It was like I was in a pitch black room and was following a simpler, more basic sense than sight. My friend said, “you should check out aikido, I think you would like it.” Watching class, I knew within a few seconds that I would like Savoca Sensei to be my teacher. In a way, as much as I found aikido, I think it also found me.

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PERSEVERANCE (or HOW TO GIVE UP)- J. Jones

Sometimes, your bread does not rise.

After you mill the rye berries into fine flour in a hand-powered mill until your arms are tired; after you feed the sourdough starter fresh rye flour and water, and let it ferment overnight; after you get up in the morning and mix the tangy-smelling starter with white flour, water, caraway seed, and sea salt in a 40-quart bowl, enough dough for 24 or 36 loaves; after kneading this mass by hand until you're tired and sweating; after waiting for the dough to rise, forming it into loaves, and waiting for them to rise again; after baking the loaves, sometimes, nothing happens.

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Elevator by N. Calonge

In 1859, the Cooper Union Foundation Building was opened with the mission to promote social mobility through subsidized education in arts and engineering. The building itself was an example of foresight and massive inventiveness, having been the first 'skyscraper' of its time (it was five stories), and was designed with an elevator shaft before the elevator was even invented.

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Psychodynamic Irimi- A. Rodriguez

On my way out from work, about to exit the lobby, I heard someone call out, “Hey, doctor!” I turned around, and this tall man came up to me.

“Hey, you the doctor that discharged me with no meds, man!”

“Ummm…”

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Thoughts on Japan and Shugyo, by M. Croes

You would think that a 13-hour flight might have you sleeping through most of it—but not when you’re heading to Japan!

One of the greatest experiences in my life was the opportunity to travel and train in Japan. There, at Ichikukai Dojo, we trained intensely in Misogi, a purification practice through chanting and breathing. The training was hard, rigorous, and painful, though I can’t say much about the specifics of it (you have to experience it for yourself to really understand it).

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a bull in a china shop - by martine baruch

That’s what my behavior was when I first began cleaning sensei’s office - but rightfully so! Anyone who enters his office can agree that there is some serious energy contained in that small room - an energy that both comforted and intimidated me. As I began to pick up and dust the many items, I came to a horrifying realization: everything was precious and delicate and fragile and important. I found myself shaking when I had to pick up an inscripted zippo lighter and after I dusted off a couple of seashells I placed them back down as if they were fine china. Two hours later I had finally finished cleaning the office. 

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The Importance of Cleaning

My apartment had taken on an interesting smell. It wasn't unpleasant, it was just noticeably different. I set out to find the source but there was nothing out of the ordinary. No moldy food in the pantry, no forgotten piles of doggy accidents. In fact, my apartment seemed clean. I try to take time every day to clean the big messes in my apartment. No dishes go unwashed, my counters are cleaned a few times a day and I pick up all the cardboard Jet (my dog) has torn and tossed around.

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The Duck or the Dog?

In the changing room, after the 2nd kyu test we had just sat through, Diego asked me, “So what did you think of the test?” It was December, my third month in the dojo. By then, I had discovered that class often left me at a loss for words.  Watching the examination,  the martial nature of our training was apparent to me for the first time.  I felt that in a substantial way, Aikido was a way into matters of life and death, of living and dying. Not that the practice itself was dangerous; but that the techniques were about something much deeper than form alone.  And I must confess that my initial reaction to that 2nd kyu test was a feeling of fear. 

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If You are Not Sitting...

If you're not sitting, the Sensei said, you're wasting your life.

That, more than dying and death, the pupil feared most of all. Too easily he imagined himself old and dried up on a bed worn out and sad under a threadbare blanket looking back--as the light dimmed and the warmth faded--searching through all the spent years and finding nothing of more value than a broken promise, a forgotten dream.

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