A nice piece by my good friend Nick Engelen.

Every year we attend a seminar which is held in the middle of the summer to which people from all over the country and a few from abroad were attending. Last year our sensei was on the list of guest instructors and would teach on the second day. We all practised hard and time passed by fast.

As the temperature would be quite hot and humid today, making it hard to breath, they had promised a break in between in which there was room for a Q&A with our sensei. After a good training session we were all up for the welcomed break. While making ourselves comfortable with our notebooks and water bottles while trying to regain control over our breath the first questions were asked.

On a certain moment after several technical questions Mike asked: ‘Have you ever done other martial arts and do you find them complimentary?’ Sensei thought for a moment and said: ‘Yes I have done a few martial arts and often they are complimentary to each other but there are also things outside of the martial arts that are complimentary to what we do.’ ‘How is that, can you explain?’ Mike asked.

Sensei smiled and replied: ‘Well for example when I started out with martial arts I also picked up dancing. I found that in training my mind was too caught up with all the different movements and details. Then I came across a country dance group and joined in. At first I had the same problem as when learning the steps you try to think about what you are doing. But I didn’t get the time to think about the steps so I learned to apply a state of not thinking and going with the flow. This benefited my martial arts training. To be able to pay my university study I did a bit of door work and a customer service job where I was receiving complaints from angry customers on a daily basis. The door job was at a quiet place but while doing it I learned to keep my composure while being attacked physically and receiving verbally abuse.

This was very complimentary to my sparring and dealing with the stress caused by gradings. Learning to recognise and cope with this adrenal cocktail made me better at dealing with people in general, at the work floor with the posturing, distressed colleague, the frustrated customer on the phone or the testosterone infused drunk in the bar. Also falling in love is a dump of hormones, it can make people do crazy things.

The job in the warehouse where I had to carry heavy stuff gave me a good grip and a functionally strong body which helped me with grappling and weapon work. In the old days the masters said that to master one way is to master all ways, which is true as many of the attributes you learn in the dojo can be taken into daily life.

Like a sense of perfection is a good attribute for any craft. Martial arts study can develop attributes like: An eye for detail and perceiving that which isn’t obvious. The attitude of persistence and commitment, etc… But sometimes we need to see things from another perspective and we learn certain attributes from our other activities. So by mastering all ways we master one.’

Sensei smiled and said: ‘All for one and one for all.‘ Let’s go back to training.’

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and I hope it makes you want to find out more about Aikido