An interesting article by Nev Sagiba

“Movement is life, stagnation is death.” An old saying found to be true in all things. Indeed the only universal constant is change and the navigation of change and challenge a necessity of existence. Navigating change necessarily includes interaction, relationship, not as a mere idea, or a postponed hope for “when things get better” (they never do) but right now, right in the thick of it. If we neglect this responsibility, the consequences usually build up with explosive results in the end.

The song rightly goes, “Life is what happens when we’re making other plans…” Sitting on our hands and waiting for others to make the first move is not usually good strategy. It is fear based and all fear manufactures disaster. You don’t build relations or bridges by either waiting and doing nothing or interfering aggressively in the lives of others without serious consequences following. If anything, good relations are what will see us through as a species for we are stuck together on this “good ship” the earth, for the long haul.

At the moment global warming followed by an snap ice age not only threatens all of us with mass, if not total extinction. Then nuclear proliferation is helping to seal the guarantee on this in case nature forgets something spiteful. Then we are “running out of water,” understandable since over 95% of the planet IS water it only makes sense. What else is there? And there are endless terrorists out there to detract attention from issues we should be noticing. The list goes on. But could it be that the real problem is not “out there,” but rather “in here?”

What is our REAL threat? What is it that really threatens our existence far worse than so many partly understood matters?
Could it be THE LOSS OF SANITY? Should we perhaps be well served focussing on understanding the causes of psychiatric distress?

Psychiatric diseases, statistics tell us, exist in ever increasing proportions. We all have relatives so I don’t need to elaborate. But fear not, “scientists” are working on a pill, which when pigs fly, will give you instant sanity. BUT WILL OTHERS NOTICE? That is the question.
Honestly, “a pill”… well such “scientists” are duly in need of it themselves, for alas, no pill will give you the clarity of cosmic consciousness. That dear brothers and sisters, must be EARNED.
If you’ve been through a bad divorce and your kids have been ripped away and contact maliciously denied, unsupported by society and “the system” and visitation rights not enforceable by “the law,” it can really hurt.

People squabble about greed, money “get, get, get” and “me, me, me” but that’s not the issue. THE DESTRUCTION OF HUMAN LOVE and opportunities to express it, caring for and nurturing another life is issue indeed. I’ve known people to kill themselves over that pain and others end up in psychiatric hospitals. Indeed one friend told me if it were not for his karate kata practice out the back of the psych ward, he would have slashed his wrists. His wife had left and he did not know what was happening to his kids. He rebuilt his life and his dojo and was luckier than some in that he eventually got to see his kids.

When my turn came I got to understand that thin thread in yer face like. I did not know such pain could exist. I had assumed “guys are tough” and had never really understood it, when seeing others go through it. When my turn came, the only time I was not falling apart was in the dojo. The rest of the time I was a mess and my life took years to rebuild somewhat. My anchor? The dojo. Aikido.

Why is it Aikido, indeed any budo helps you hang in and maintain some degree of honour and dignity and pulls you back from committing the final act of disgrace, seppuku?
Budo, the mitigating of violence through self-improvement did not originate in Japan a few hundred years ago. It was simply identified and rediscovered. The principle of Budo originated in THE ORIGINS OF THE UNIVERSE ITSELF. It is our core attribute, not merely a hobby.
Animals play fight. Reclaim yourself! Animals play fight. Not only does this prepare them for flight, fight, hunt and the various nuances of survival, but it keeps them sane and balanced. Children naturally express this innate predisposition but, in “civil” society it is usually beaten out of them. Usually this error can be traced back to religious ideology. It’s not “nice” according to self proclaimed “experts.”

This repression of an innate natural tendency breeds suppressed energy and unbalanced psyches and a lot of nice social pretence as a veneer covering much frustrated anger, distorted views and potential for real violence. In some cases, it can also be the the beginning of poor co-ordination, stuttering, dyslexia, dyspraxia and other dysfunctions, some deliberate and others involuntary. A more developed expression of this social disorder became noticeable when the game “Paintball” was introduced. A lot of noise was made about banning it. Guess by whom? Religious fundamentalists, the very people who enjoy making real wars, inflicting suffering in the name of a god, the “right to life” people. Very interesting.

This twisted logic presumes an inexpensive game of skill and spilling of coloured paint to be bad, but real blood spilt through very expensive mass murder, for a mere ideology, to be OK. And thus, through unnatural suppression of safe expression in the name of “good” we head myopically toward a world of ever increasing crime, war, religious intolerance, terrorism, abuse and injustice. Suppression and fake niceness has caused these cankers to proliferate in today’s world. And simply watching football for sport only makes voyeurs. It does not work the innate healing processes we all contain.

There is an element of deep honesty in play fighting because among reasonable beings it is conducted with integrity and an attitude of mutual respect and thus gives rise to healing of the psyche. A deep inner relaxation arises which provides a balanced view of life because such contact eliminates unfounded fear. This tends to not only provide a more realistic view about real violence and the ultimate futility of it, resultantly predisposing toward the cessation of needless strife, but it also makes for a more sane, constructive, creatively enabled individuals who tend to be empathic and more considerate of bringing about lasting benefit to society as a whole.

Healthy and respectful expression of suppressed energy is not “bad” as supposed by the complacent and too far gone. Energy is natural. It is life force and it seeks release. We no longer need the intensity of life giving aggression required to hunt for food. We have the supermarket. As humans whose creative potentials are many, it is possible to safely release such stored energy for creative purposes. The authentic martial artists I have met are the coolest, calmest, most respectful, happiest and humbly confident people I know. They have nothing to prove and would rather do anything but engage contention. Deep sanity tends to have this effect. Something balances inside us when we engage the discipline of play fighting which makes us less predisposed to mental poison and unfounded reactivity. Not as an out of touch entity riddled with fears and delusions, rather as a dynamic, well prepared and aware, calm and conscious navigator of life.

In the studies of embryology and neuroscience it is well known that at certain stages of life when particular, essential, communicational expressions and bonding cues, are not experienced, the neglected individual becomes psychically stunted. Psychically stunted people are predisposed to pathological fear unfounded in actuality, and this leads to real violence because the mental poison they carry causes them to jump at shadows, blame, vilify and demonise everyone who appears different and who is not inside their little circle. The pathologically dysfunctional tend to invent warlike gods to justify and excuse the atrocities they would like to commit on people who generally don’t know or care if they exist, but who become aware of them when they attack. This corrosive disorder coupled with theft, has been responsible for most warfare since time began.

Some of the healthy cues in sane human development are: the art of trauma free childbirth, mum hugs baby, breast feeds baby, parents cuddle children, laughing together, family eating happily together without arguments, mutual respect, teamwork, etc. These release a whole host of essential biochemical healing peptides, hormones and endorphines which trigger healthy thinking and behavioural patterns and can be traced to a healthier, more productive and psychologically balanced adult life. Neglect in these areas tend to make for stunted individuals, emotional cripples, abusive, reactive and angry. And also hard core criminals, depending on the degree of neglect and abuse.

And whilst it may have to become a whole life path for those among the abused and violated who make the choice to RECLAIM THEMSELVES, it is a preferred option to simply falling by the way because self-inflicted paralysis is not real goodness. A whole industry exists to attempt to assist this reclamation and the authentic budo arts of some form or another have served, in part, to add to the healing of many psyches.

Contained in the sense of touch is a vast array of potentials extending beyond the skin as the feeling principle. When unlocked, this soul principle transforms the individual and places that individual more in tune with the great harmony which is the universe, something not experienced by average intellectuals or knuckle draggers alike. Somewhere between a rigidly locked head trip and abandoned sexual expression exist a vast array of tempered nuances, a cosmic keyboard of possibilities. Why do these lie dormant between a morass of opinions/ideologies/beliefs/fears and the impelling urge to express the procreative urge or simply violence? WHERE IS THE HEART? Why do most people fear themselves and choose to remain in denial of their innate creative potentials? Since time immemorial most of the poets, artists, prophets and avatars and great contributors to human evolution were strategy and combat enabled individuals often born, raised and trained as warriors. Some just had raw courage anyway but they were all peaceful warriors, protectors of humanity.

All bodywork, but in particular, interaction bodywork such as play fighting among friends, when consistently practised, can contain a rather complete spectrum of physical training possibilities including; elements of free movement, can be aerobic and cardiovascular as well as anaerobic, incorporates some elements of resistance training (isotonic and isometric) and constantly deals with variable and unexpected dynamics. Each movement (kinetics and isokinetics) includes retro-gravity negative resistance, plyometic exercise as well as developing muscle synergy, flexibility and muscle tone, speed of body to eye co-ordination, equilibrium and adaptivity. This must have physical health benefits. BUT IMPORTANTLY, WE ALSO WORK WITH THE BODY-MIND CONNECTION OR CHI/KI AND THEREBY REDISCOVER OUR INNATE POTENTIALS OVER TIME. THIS MAKES US WHOLE. It integrates the limbic system, cortexes of the brain, massages the nervous system and balances the primitive survival instincts.

The Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, made it a conscious choice to reconnect every day. By regular, moderated survival training we not only awaken the life force within, strengthen the force field around us and balance all our vital energies, but also we begin to resonate in tune with the Great Harmony of the Universe, which is the blueprint of Creation itself. We learn how to fine tune fruitful relationships. By regularly practising thus, we become enabled to live in relaxed readiness and wakefulness and can call upon these reserves at will. Because we increasingly learn to resonate with the great symphony of creation and the survival impulse which is intimately related to the Breath of Life, we can begin to understand the spiritual impulse, the bridge, the door to infinite possibilities which are rooted in the One. Anyone who applies themselves can awaken to these dimensions which are all around us all the time. There is nothing to be confused about or to “figure out.” JUST BREATHE, MOVE and NOTICE.
Whatever the level of intensity or otherwise, people who train martial arts of some kind have to make sincere and respectful contact with other human beings whilst simultaneously pressing the envelope of danger. All the senses are more fully activated as we play fight. And this gives rise to the awakening of many nuances of potential, balance, awareness, intention, response and strategic capabilities and respect.

Irrespective of one’s philosophical or ideological leaning or lack thereof, one thing is certain. Everyone who trains regularly has experienced those post-training balanced altered states of consciousness, constructive, clear-thinking and visions of renewed possibility. Feelings of well being, love of life and confidence that incrementally take over and inform our lives thereafter for the better. What is this telling us? We are mammals but we are also “spiritual” beings. We play fight. And as we do, we resolve and heal unresolved attributes of ourselves and thereby we RECLAIM OURSELVES!
Those who do not play fight and continue to carry and build up unresolved issues eventually become so bitter and twisted inside they want to do real harm to others and themselves ranging from insensitivity of antisocial behaviours and serious crimes, to poor decisions in “high” places that compromise the integrity of the planetary wellbeing.
A healthy, sustainable humanity begins with individuals reclaiming themselves using whatever reasonable means works best for them. In my view, healthy, sincere Aikido and the various authentic Budo, as a way of life, practiced with integrity, are good means to achieve this in a sound and honest way. Families and societies who train together stay sane together.
And sure, should you be attacked, there is no doubt that the effects of good training will increase your chances of survival. But as a human being, unless you live in a war zone, that’s almost of secondary importance; because when increasing sanity begins to exist at all strata of society, there is less fear and where there is less fear, it tends to makes violence in all its forms, proportionately less possible. A society where justice, peace and freedom of reasonable expression is firmly established, tends to open up endless opportunity for useful and much overdue human creative expression.
Inside each of us there is that perennial child who wants to play and dance with life. Maybe we have all become hardened by the vicissitudes of life to some extent or another and have forgotten this. But there is nothing to stop us, other than ourselves, from learning to play again and to play responsibly. Aikido and Budo training is such a way to reclaim ourselves irrespective of what the world outside is doing. In correcting our minds, our attitudes and thereby our actions we influence the world differently and more in accord with the Great Harmony of the Universe. Indeed, our self-correction, improvement and enlightenment serves to add goodness and uplift to the world because with a clear mind it becomes better possible to address external problems more effectively.

We may as species yet stand a chance. Despite the odds, I’m optimistic. Besides, when has the universe not been full of interesting surprises?
But it may depend on a different focus of attention. Not in changing the world, but changing ourselves first!
Are we ready?

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