This is a sentence from the Chinese classic Texts, which I learned from Suganuma Sensei many years ago. It means: “To match the reaction to the changing circumstances”.
In this life, we will be surprised. Things do not always flow calmly, as planned. There are storms. And pandemics.
The ability to choose the reaction is particularly important.
The ability to change the reaction according to a specific need – is a crucial ability!
Of course, this connects to Aikido in a very natural way: We practice a technique again and again, honing it to the best of our ability.
Nevertheless, we practice different techniques. In no situation will we have only one option. We will make a point of practicing a variety of techniques for dealing with a specific attack. Still, when we practice “Jyu Waza”, “Free Techniques”, the emphasis is on “don’t Stop!” we practice our ability to change the reaction. In “Free Techniques”, if a certain technique does not work, we want to switch immediately to another.
And then life offers us a situation quite different from anything we knew before.
No one has prepared us to a situation in which we need to be cooped up at home for weeks and months.
In this situation, that has changed in front of my eyes, how do I adjust my reaction?
I shall use an example from the dojo:
As we all know, Aikido is based on physical interactions. We meet each other in a hall with mattresses on the floor, and most of the activity is based on paired practice, the emphasis being on contact, and “feeling” one’s partner.
A little more than a month ago, when we were instructed to keep two meters between each other, we started training with weapons. This is one of the privileges of Aikido practitioners.
But when we were instructed to stop meeting each other altogether, I was shocked!
How shall I continue to instruct the art of Aikido that we all love so much – without meeting?
I did not sleep for a few nights.
Then my wise wife said: “teach on the Internet”.
I did not take her seriously. It cannot be done!
And then the charming Aaron Atlas gave me the same advice.
I started thinking about it.
It is true that we cannot have lessons they way I learned and the way we are all used to practicing.
But, if a higher meaning of Aikido is “To match the reaction to the changing circumstances”, the current situation is just a test of our flexibility of thought and of our creativeness.
The members of the Dojo are cooped at home with all their family. Especially during times like these, the ability to take an hour to themselves is a big gift, maybe even bigger than in regular times.
So, in the last few weeks, we instruct Aikido using the “Zoom” app.
We keep in touch with friends which we love, we keep in shape, stay flexible, we move.
The feedback received from our friends is heart-warming and very encouraging.
I am proud to be part of our Dojo: I am proud of all the instructors who have adjusted to this drastic change in a truly short time.
For example, there is Aaron and Shai’s initiative to give Aikido lessons for parents and children, or Guy’s initiative to do a warmup via Zoom every morning. These are creative answers to a new situation.
I am also immensely proud of each one of you. Even though this situation is not one you are used to, you put on your Do-Gi and join our lessons.
I thank all of you for your support and encouragement.
How do you match your reactions to the changing circumstances?
If you have an example, even a small one, you are very welcome to share it and inspire everyone.
As always, I will be very happy if you share.