February 22, 2009
by Iwona Kupka
For the last few months, the questions I hear the most often is: “Why aikido?”, “ What does aikido give you?” So, this is an explanation for everybody who asks. Only four months ago, after my first week of practicing aikido, I had a conversation with the Sensei. He asked me how I felt about my aikido classes. I don’t remember everything that I tried to say except for one fact. I answered him: “Because of the fact that English is not my native language, sometimes I don’t know which I am supposed to choose: watching techniques or listening attentively to what the teachers say”. And then the Sensei said, “Don’t worry about your language, just watch!” Have you ever gotten a piece of advice in your life, which seemed so simple that you couldn’t believe it would work? I think that is what happened to me four months ago. The next day, after my meeting with the Sensei, I came back on the mat. I tried to just watch…but I couldn’t stop thinking about all my limits: a language barrier, shyness, being exhausted mentally and physically. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t try to take the Sensei’s advice - I did, but…I observed the technique, and I was thinking “Ok, when it is your turn, just step forward on your right foot, grab his wrist and elbow - I think that I get this”. After choosing my “opponent”, I realized that “I DIDN’T get this”. Every class the same feeling - really depressing - again and again. Just watch, just watch, don’t try to get “everything” at the same moment – that was in my mind, but unfortunately there were a lot of different things in the way also. I can’t say when I started to change but…it happened and it was an amazing feeling and hard lesson at the same time. Polishing my spirit, stopping my impatience, getting stronger physically – that’s what I thank aikido for, and that’s my answer to: “Why aikido?” I have to add one more element which is perhaps the most important in my adoption of aikido. Because of aikido, because of people whom I meet at the dojo, I learn every day to open my eyes and look for more. I open my eyes on aikido, I open my eyes for me, I open my eyes for the most important things in my life. So, I will come again to the dojo tomorrow and…I will just watch!