David M. Valadez
Walking behind and following the Patriarchs, so the Path is traveled.
We must remain steadfast - like a rock resting in place.
Aikido honors the path of least resistance, but not the weak of body nor the weak of mind.
Martial practice requires one to develop an operational fitness, a functional weight-to-strength ratio. The warrior must be strong, but this must always be balanced against mobility.
To defend, your spirit must be an advancing one. Yield or shy in your heart-mind, hesitate or waver, and the attack against you will find its home.
There is no Peace without renunciation.
There is no renunciation without Discipline.
Fear is the impossibility of Love.
Love is freedom from Fear.
A dojo is not a "man cave." It is not a place where one goes to escape from the world. It is not a break from reality. On the contrary, it is where we confront the very nature of our reality, where we deconstruct our world and make it anew by wiser means, and where we come to expand our experience of family.
In the present, there is nothing to regret and nothing to avoid.
Body like a wave, mind like a calm pool.
If you want your child to succeed, you will first teach your child how to fail. The child that does not know how to fail learns to take no risks. There is no success for the one that does not risk. The child that does not know how to fail never learns from their experience. Wisdom is thus beyond them. There is no success without the wisdom to orchestrate it. Teach your child how to fail, and Time is on their side. Success waits on the horizon for them.
For the non-warrior, pain is proof that a thing cannot be done. For the warrior, pain is an energy that transforms the impossible into the possible.
The Body is the vessel and the weapon.
"Shoshin," Beginner's Mind, is not only the doorway to all learning, it is the ultimate lesson learned.
Before you can expect your children to practice respect, you must teach them about honor. And, before you teach them about honor, you must teach them about bravery.
The coward can respect nothing and no one.
Nothing reduces performance like fatigue, but nothing improves performance like training to fatigue and pushing through it. This is what you must consider, address, and balance.
When you are committed to training, the issues that keep you off the mat are woven through your practice, and thereby you come to use those issues to learn more about the mat and the mat to learn more about those issues. When you are not committed to training, the issues that keep you off the mat just keep you off the mat.
The Way of the Warrior is above all else The Way of Bravery. It is a rejection of all forms of cowardice in our life, be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
The Way is not marked by our pleasure; nor does our displeasure mark a straying from the Way.
Love is an action, or it is nothing at all.
Upon meeting a Zen master at a social event, a psychiatrist decided to ask him a question that had been on his mind.
"Exactly how do you help people?" he inquired.
"I get them where they can't ask any more questions," the Master answered.
To practice an art is to practice it daily. To master an art is to commit a minimum of four to six hours a day multiplied by decades of practice. Make the jump. Change your self. Change your life. Change the impossible. Begin by getting on the mat every day. End by having been on the mat every day. While there may be more to training than this, there is nothing to training without this.
We train in Budo to forge and sharpen both our heart and sword. We do this so that when one is found wanting the other will sustain and uplift. Thus, we keep centered when and where others will falter.
What did you do today to heal yourself?
The very engines of self-transformation, commitment, discipline, and valor, necessitate the fuel of self-observation, that willingness to look deeply at oneself and the capacity to see oneself clearly.
Not choosing a lesser way of being, this is your first step into the dojo, this is the substance of all your training, and this is the depth of your practice.
Question: What is the best thing you can do for your child's Aikido practice?
Answer: Begin your own Aikido practice and train alongside them.
How seriously are you training?
A Zen master out for a walk with one of his students points out a fox chasing a rabbit. "According to an ancient fable, the rabbit will get away from the fox", the master said. "Not so" replied the student. "The fox is faster, but the rabbit will elude him" insisted the master. "Why are you so certain?" asked the student. "Because the fox is running for his dinner, and the rabbit is running for his life."
Here are three truths of combat effectiveness:
- All skills are perishable.
- When faced with a disruptive environment, we do not rise to the occasion. Rather, we fall to the level of our training.
- Our performance level output is proportionate to the duration between our last day of training and the time of the incident in question.
Question: Is your training paradigm consistent with these truths?
The man that cannot fully humble himself before another man but believes himself capable of practicing complete humility before God is deluding himself. He may think it is a matter of preference, but therein lays the ignorance of his pride. In truth, humility is a matter of capacity. It is no different from the man that cannot lift 100 pounds but believes himself able to lift 1 ton. He may prefer to lift 1 ton all he wants, but his inability to lift 100 pounds already told the truth, that he is too weak to handle the greater weight.
The allowing of oneself to fall topsy-turvy involves a reconciliation with one’s fear and a non-attachment to one’s ego-identity. Rolling is often the first real obstacle by which the spirit is forged anew and made stronger than it was before in Aikido training.
Shutting down the power of others so that you may feel in control is not you being powerful. It is you being fearful. Solve this riddle, and you will have solved the mystery of Aiki.
"Confidence" is always being sold in the martial arts. But true confidence is a product of work, of a particular kind of work. It is a work whereby you come to know that your body is strong, flexible and coordinated, and whereby you come to know that your mind and your spirit have faced the adversaries of boredom, of fear, and of wanting to quit, and that you have defeated them before and will do so again. Then, true confidence is cultivated, and it will not fail you in your time of need.
No matter how "positive" a manner this modern generation of entitlement is going to try to transmit Budo by, the Way of the Warrior is always going to involve discipline. And, sooner or later, discipline is always going to mean sacrifice. And, sooner or later, sacrifice, at the very least, is always going to mean discomfort. Hence, sooner or later, Budo will either enlighten you to the wisdom of sacrifice and discipline, or it will leave you to yourself as is, to your undeserved sense of entitlement, and to your need for comfort.
Either way, Budo wins.
“If you want to obtain the secrets of such wonderful techniques, drill yourself, harden yourself, undergo severe training, abandon body and mind; follow this course for years and you will naturally reach the profoundest levels.”--Yamaoka Tesshu
I believe to "abandon body and mind" is to "abandon ego, bias, and judgement." And, I believe the "obtaining of secrets and profound levels of wonderful techniques" is to have "more connection with self and others." I believe this is what Tesshu is saying. But the question remains, "Why through severe training?" The answer is as classical as it is simple: Because ego attachments can and do hide in the body/mind’s need and desire for convenience and comfort, and in the associated fear yet unreconciled, and it is by that desire and fear that we remain egocentric and ultimately disconnected from our self and others.
I know today it may not be "fashionable" to speak of austerities to a populace that has become so fragile physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but this is the rationale and reason behind shugyo, and it is of shugyo that Tesshu speaks.
What today's Aikidoka seem to misunderstand is that there is a difference between the joy of cultivation and the cultivation of joy. The former is of Budo, the latter is of Mappo.
While the training involves reconciliation, do not think for a second that you can walk the path of the Warrior and avoid suffering. Suffering is intimately tied to the cultivating of the Warrior and to the reconciliation he/she ultimately seeks.
Today, Man likes to challenge himself. She will do squats for a personal record, a workout for time, run a race filled with obstacles, scale rock walls, compete against herself in marathons, etc. But Man will never be as challenged, nor prove himself as brave and capable, as when he looks to live a lifetime of cultivating his spirit and of forsaking his attachment to the material world.
"Working as hard as you can" is not quite the same thing as, "Doing whatever it takes." In Budo, you should always look to do whatever it takes, not just work as hard as you can.
Love can only happen after at least two worlds have been destroyed.
It’s been said that we do not rise to the occasion, but rather we fall to the level of our training. We should know then that the level of our training is determined by the following:
- The amount of days you train per week.
- The number of hours you train per training session.
- The length of time between your last training session and the critical incident you are now facing.
- The amount of intensity and sincerity you brought to your training.
- The number of live aspects your training environment included.
- The relevance of your training components.
- The intelligence behind your training paradigm.
- The amount of synthesis your training required between your body, mind, and spirit.
- The amount of honesty you brought to your training debriefs.
- The amount of thirst you generated for more training at the end of your last training session.
Motivation is a luxury the warrior cannot afford. Repulsion to any lack of virtue within him/herself is what he/she cannot do without.
It is not my position that the art of Aikido is non-violent. My position is that training in Budo, reconciling one's fear, pride, and ignorance, can make the option of non-violence available to the Aikido practitioner at a time of appropriate need.