A huge “thank you” for everyone’s efforts in helping us raise money for the Mat Fund these past few months. We now have 10 new mats at the Chandler dojo! They look great and feel great too!
Our fundraising efforts continue…since the last newsletter the water sales alone have brought in another $57. Thanks to all who buy water and an extra thank you to all who put in a little extra when they purchase a bottle or two. With the water sales and the purchase of 10 of the old mats our Mat Fund is now at $584! If you’d like to donate water for us to sell please let Teresa Sensei know.
We have 15 mats left to replace so we will be coming up with other events in the near future to help the Mat Fund continue to grow. I am open to suggestions for ways to do this as well as help in executing the idea. See Teresa for any ideas you may have. If you are one of the people who put your name on the list to buy some of the old mats, consider paying for them now as opposed to waiting until we order again. Paying for them now will help increase the Mat Fund and we’ll be able to order sooner rather than later. Think about it and let Teresa Sensei know if you’d like to pay for your mats in the near future.
There will be NO CLASSES on Mon., Sept. 5 as the Red Mountain Center will be closed for Labor Day.
There will be NO CLASS on Mon., Sept. 5 as the center will be closed for Labor Day.
There will be NO CLASS on Sat., Sept. 10 as we will be attending the Aikido Fall Camp seminar in Prescott. We will meet at Sensei’s house for breakfast then carpool up to Prescott. See Sensei for more details.
There will be NO CLASSES on Tues., Aug. 30 or Wed., Aug. 31 at the Chandler dojo. The Chandler Community Center will be doing it’s annual stripping and refinishing of all the floors. We are lucky because August has 5 weeks this year, so we’ll still get in 4 weeks of training. The city actually considered our schedule when planning for this so if you get a chance let the front desk people know how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness.
Ah…another school year is upon us. I know that’s not very exciting for everyone, but it is a wonderful opportunity for you to train. I hope you take advantage of what an ordinary day of school can present in the way of Aikido training.
Remember that Aikido means “the way of blending with energy”. Not all energy will come in the way of physical attacks. And blending doesn’t always mean to literally step off the line of attack. Here liesin the many opportunities you’ll have to practice Aikido.
During any given day you’ll have mutiple opportunities to “blend” with energies of all sorts. There won’t be many times you’ll actually have to defend yourself in school, but there will be plenty of times you’ll have to “blend” with energies that aren’t physical. It may come in the form of a teacher’s bad mood, someone teasing you, a big pile of homework, or a day where nothing seems to be going right for you. Regardless of the situation you have to remember one thing…you are only in control of yourself. How you react or what you decide to do in that situation is the only thing you can control and that is hard to do. But, with practice and a conscious effort you can improve and get better at handling tough situations. Talk about these times with your parents. Together you can come up with ways to “blend”.
I’d like you to practice extending your ki (energy) as you go about your days at school. Projecting positive energy outward can have a dramatic effort on those around you. You can turn someone’s day around just by smiling at them or helping them in a time of need. This is especially true if they are habitually grumpy or mean. Go out of your way to be friendly to someone who is routinely rude, mean etc. This can eventually soften them to a point that at least they’re nicer to you and who knows maybe they’ll be nicer to everyone else as well.
It’s hard to be the first one to say “hello” or smile, but it can make a big difference in someone‘s day, even if you don’t see it. It’s hard not to smile when someone smiles at you or to say something in return when a person says “hello”, but it’s worth the effort and it’s my challenge to you as you begin this new school year. Make it your mission to be kind and helpful, to do your best on everything you do and to be there for others when you see a need.
Even if you’re not aware of it, others are constantly watching you. Be sure that what they’re seeing is a good example and you’ll be spreading positive energy without much effort and that will help make the world a better place.
Have a great school year and I’ll see you on the mats!
Teresa Mastison Sensei
During our recent work with weapons the story of Miyamoto Musashi came up. There’s a ton of information on him on the internet along with countless books that are about him and/or reference him and his skills. But, no doubt about it, he was one of Japan’s greatest swordsman. He is revered as Kensei or the sword saint of Japan.
His skills with the sword are legendary, but it is the accounts of his many successful duels to the death with a bokken (wooden sword) that prompt this article.
When we work with weapons we often talk about treating the wooden weapon as if it were real, which almost always brings up the stories of Musashi. In the hand of such a skilled practitioner the bokken is as deadly as a sharpened blade.
Briefly – Miyamoto Musashi (1584 – 1645) was a master of strategy, was self taught in everything (swordsmandhsip, sculpture, painting, as well as poetry), fought in multiple wars, developed the art of two swords and spent his life searching for enlightenment. By the age of 13 he had his first duel in which he was attacked with a wakizashi (short sword). He threw his opponent and then struck him down with a bokken. He constantly traveled the countryside engaging in life or death duels in which he used the bokken and never lost. He believed that he needed to experience life or death situations in order to achieve enlightenment. His most famous duel was against a samurai named Sasaki Kojiro. They were to duel on an island. Musashi arranged to arrive late to throw off Kojiro. On his way to the island it is reported that Musashi took one of the oars and carved a makeshift sword. Once on the island, Kojiro was angry because Musashi was late and got even angrier when Musashi did not respond to his insults. Kojiro attacked aiming to cut Musashi down the middle, but Musashi attacked at the same time landing a crushing blow to Kojiro’s head with his makeshift sword. While Kojiro was down he tried to strike but Musashi landed a devastating blow to Kojiro’s ribs and he was dead.
This is only a snippet of Musashi’s biography and I focused mainly on the lore of his swordsmanship, but it gives you a glimpse of the power and control he must have had. He obviously lived in another time where differences were handled in a more permanent way and honor of self and clan dictated that one’s life be put on the line at any time. After reading this type of information I try to wrap my mind around living in an era of duels where your training could literally make a life or death difference. I try to equate it somehow to my life, the way things are today and wonder what my training is doing for me. It’s a lot to think about it and there aren’t any clear answers, at least for me.
Musashi also wrote The Book of Five Rings, in which he shares his thoughts on strategy in combat based on swordsmandship. It is highly regarded even today because it can easily be applied to business dealings as well as to military purposes. There is a lot of relevant information in this book that can be applied to our everyday lives if taken in a broader sense. It’s worth your time to read it.
I encourage you to read more about Musashi and broaden your understanding of his contribution to Budo.
Teresa Mastison Sensei