Aikido: My Path of Self-Discovery

Testing for sandan. Photo by Joe Buglewicz
Testing for sandan. Photo by Joe Buglewicz
Taking ukemi for a sandan test. Photo by Akiko Yamamoto

“If you have practiced Aikido or any discipline for a few years, you might recognize her discoveries, stumbling blocks, and her gratitude and joy for all of her like-minded ‘travelers’ who have encouraged and supported her over the years. It is a personal yet universal journey and tale.”

~Hans Goto, Shihan

From the Introduction:

I began training in aikido fifteen years ago, and it would be impossible to relate how much it has changed my life. The way I see the world, and the way I travel through the world physically, emotionally, and spiritually, has been profoundly altered. As the essays in this book will show, I’ve thought a lot about aikido— in the universal sense and also in terms of my own practice.

I still have moments in class or especially during a seminar when there are a lot of people on the mat when I look around and wonder how I got there. I had never in my entire life once thought of practicing a martial art; honestly, it was not on my radar of sports to take up or hobbies to pursue. Not even a little bit! The way I found aikido is described in the essay “My Aikido Path.”

I’m fortunate I found a wonderful dojo where I could train, where my teacher knew how to nurture my aiki spirit, and where I found a community of aikido friends. Many of the people who trained at the dojo when I started are no longer there; they’ve moved to other cities or states, or have simply moved on. It happens. Lives change. Priorities switch. A few of them were my mentors, and I still miss them even though they’ve been gone for a long time. Their names still get mentioned when I’m training or teaching, and their legacy remains in me. New people have come up the ranks, and they are now my aikido family. I’m grateful to have trained with every single person who has stepped through our doors. Through it all, my teacher has been consistent. She is dedicated to her students, and she constantly pushes me to be better.