We’re only halfway through 2020, but it’s already been one for the record books. Have you asked yourself how we got here? Have you wondered where we go next?
I’ve been hesitant to write this post. There’s so much hate currently – so much criticism, fear, and anger. There have also been moments of laughter, beauty, and love. As I do believe we reap what we sow (aka what we put forth into the universe comes back three times), I want to be part of those better moments.
That brought me to a few questions. What energy do I put out in the world? What seeds do I sow? What would the heroes I write do?
[Yes, as a writer, I do see things in terms of plot twists and character development. Writing also helps me to see things from each character’s point of view. All are hazards and perks of living a writer’s life. Side ramble complete – back to the main plot.]
It’s been an intentional choice to keep my social media feeds free of politics and controversy. I don’t see this as weakness, fear, or ignorance – I see this as my attempt to put good energy into the world. It helps that I enjoy what I post whether it’s cloud porn, cats, or chocolate. I also love Supernatural, sarcasm, and sweets so I post about those things too.
Warriors in any battle need moments to rest. They need laughter and love. They need to remember what they are fighting for and why it’s worth it.
I may not be on the front lines of the battle, but I like to believe I have a place as everyone does. I’d like to believe my books, my writing provides a moment for warriors to escape and recharge. I’d like to believe I add positive energy into the world.
How does this apply to surviving the pandemic?
What’s the martial arts lesson here?
On the mats, we use the attacker’s energy to control and change the attack into something we can survive. We maintain our center (control over ourselves) and we blend with the force of the attack directed against us. Precise positioning, correct distancing, and targeted timing allow us to use the energy given in a new way. We can re-direct the attack so we do not get hurt. We can protect ourselves and others from attacks.
Covid-19 is an attack. Social injustice is an attack.
The energy of those attacks is out there and available for use. It can become something that invigorates us…or it can be something that destroys us.
Just as there are many expressions of ‘reap what you sow’, there are many views on how to respond to attacks in martial arts terms. There are many martial arts, many dojos, and many practitioners. Aikido is my path, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily the best path for you. However, it is what I know and love so it’s what I share here. Below are a few quotes from Morihei Ueshiba (founder of aikido).
When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way.
When life is victorious, there is birth; when it is thwarted, there is death. A warrior is always engaged in a life-and-death struggle for Peace.
Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.
Progress comes to those who train and train; reliance on secret techniques will get you nowhere.
True victory is victory over one’s self.
What’s the right response to the current attacks? How do we find peace when we are struggling to survive? How do we find control in chaos? Where is the love and hope in times of hate and fear?
Let’s get back on those mats! I’ve rambled through the other five parts (Pandemic Survival: Lessons from Martial Arts Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) about these lessons, but we are going to talk about them again. Why? Because it really is all about training. There’s no magic formula or shortcut to bring us martial arts skills…or peace. Instead, we must train and keep training. We must stumble and fall, then we must get up and train more.
Each moment we train changes us; each moment we don’t train also changes us.
The choice to train and how to train is ours and ours alone.
Breathe – So often when stressed, our breathing gets shallow. We even hold our breath. Take a moment and research what happens when we do this. Find out the physical and mental impact of such stress. Then, take a moment and breathe. Don’t multitask and try it while reading this, working at your desk, cleaning your house, watching the news, or whatever. Take 10 seconds to breathe. Close your eyes, breathe in as you count to five; breathe out as you count to five. Do this throughout your day. BREATHE!
Move – Physical attacks are rarely all-encompassing. A strike to your face typically doesn’t include a kick at the exact same moment. The attacker has a single bullseye in mind for their attack. Move to be outside of that center point. Even an inch lessens the impact and throws off your attacker. MOVE!
**Just as breathing has mental, physical, and emotional components so does moving. You don’t have to ‘let’ others change your mind; you can move your mind. Others’ emotions don’t have to become yours. You don’t have to argue back – you can move to try to see things from someone else’s point of view. This doesn’t make your opinion less valid. You can see where someone is coming from without agreeing with them.**
Relax – No, this doesn’t mean slouching on the couch doing nothing. This means correct posture, stable footwork, and efficient energy. On the mats, this is unifying your breathing and movement from above in the best form possible. This also means no anticipation, no judgment [look up mushin for more information]. You use the attacker’s energy instead of your own. This is only possible if there’s strength and stability (peace) inside you. Trust me when I say this: it is entirely possible for nage (person doing the aikido technique) to take uke (attacker) down and then fall down themselves. Off the mats, you can also be taken down by attacks if you don’t have control of yourself. Angry words can make you angry and fear can cause you to freeze. Again, it’s not just physical but also mental and emotional. RELAX!
Breathe – Move – Relax.
We are all warriors fighting battles. You may be on the front line as an essential worker during the pandemic. You may be pessimistic or optimistic. You may be a law enforcement officer or protester on the streets. You may be angry or grateful. You may be working from home or unemployed. You may be scared or confident. We each have a place in these ongoing battles.
We may not feel we had a choice about where we landed on any particular battlefield. We do have other choices. We can decide whether we train when we’re tired and sore. We can decide if we’ll fight with honor or take an easier path that hurts others. We can decide what happens after we stumble and fall (and yes, we will all face failures throughout our lives). Making these choices whether big or small is our training! This is how we find our center, our control, our peace regardless of what energy is surrounding us. We breathe – we move – we relax.
Do not allow others’ energy to determine your path.
Live and train as a warrior. Be a warrior. Be the best warrior you can be. Embrace your personal path as a warrior and allow others to do the same.
How about I end this rambling series with a quote from Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid? “Either you karate do ‘yes’ or karate do ‘no’. You karate do ‘guess so’, (get squished) just like grape.”
It’s your turn now! What lessons have you learned in 2020? Are you training? How have you changed…what additional changes do you want to make? What will you reap? What kind of warrior are you?
Always feel free to comment here or use the Contact tab to send me a message!
Until next time, breathe, move, and relax, Rahkis!