Sunday, January 27, 2008

Aiki Principles

I Love Wikipedia! I just zoomed over there to look up the genus of “irony” and found featured on the home page the history of Aiki Jujitsu the martial art I practiced! It’s rare to ever find references to it. Since moving to a new city, I have been missing my Sensei, Ric Cameron. He knows so much about the history and principles of the art as well as the practice.

Being “poor student” I have not retained nearly as much as I would have liked about the art. Takeda Sokaku innovated Aiki JuJitsu just prior to the turn of the 20th century. The Ju Jitsu part is mostly about joint locks and bone crunching techniques. But where things get interesting is in the Aiki part.

This quote* from Sokaku’s son Tokimuni, “Aiki is to pull when you are pushed, and to push when you are pulled. It is the spirit of slowness and speed, of harmonizing your movement with your opponent's ki. Its opposite, kiai, is to push to the limit, while aiki never resists.” (Read about my conversation with a buddhist monk tomorrow for more on this idea).

Aiki Jujitsu greatly influenced Aikido founded by Morihei Ueshiba. My life continues to be informed by Aikido’s main precept which is: “to fight so that no one will lose”. I admire the wisdom inherent in that phrase. The philosophy behind Aikido is that of the skilled warrior first being compassionate.

Wow. Imagine that! How would global conflict change if our warriors’ first skill were compassion?

I see corporations moving to this stance of fighting so that no one will lose. Instead of Competition being the main driver, Cooperation and Collaboration is emerging. Instead of “us against them”, there is “us with them” mentality that is more pervasive. The Gen X’ers have insisted--in fact they would say “Us IS Them”. And Boomers looking for more meaning in their lives are searching for a new alignment of the personal and meaningful with corporate vision and mission.

(Except maybe in broadcasting and online video distribution)/

* = Pranin, Stanley (1996). Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu: Conversations with Daito-ryu Masters. Tokyo: Aiki News. ISBN 4900586188.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Toronto Rocks!

Returning to Calgary from a trip to Toronto, I was walking through Terminal 1 behind two guys dragging giant duffle bags. One guy had a lacrosse stick over his shoulder. Not a common sight, so I looked down at the bags and saw the Rock’s logo.

I knew I would be elevated to Awesome Aunt status with the nephews if I could score an autograph. But felt too timid to ask.
The two voices in my head were arguing about if I had the guts when I stepped forward with my pen. How could I not ask? What would I say to my nephews, “I would have got the Rock’s autograph but I was too scared...”?

The wonderful Aaron Wilson took me over to where the rest of the team were checking in for a flight to Edmonton and I got my autographs. THEN I remembered, just in time, that my Macbook Pro had a camera! Sweet! Here I am with the gorgeous-and-talented men from the Toronto Rock. ( This is where the Dare and Do have a little bit more power than just the Dream!)

Hey Tommy and Jamie, who’s your favourite aunt now? Oh yeah, I’m right over here...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Void your Warranty!

Did you ever have friends who used to take stuff apart?
You know the toaster, the dishwasher, the lawnmower, the TV? I had a cousin who was amazing at this. Jimmy could take anything apart and fix it. And I wish I’d hung out more while he did.

These days with disposable mindsets, we tend not to fix stuff. Or if we want to, don’t know how or where to go to find out. If we didn’t have parents who encouraged deconstructing to build understanding of how things function, then we are likely at a loss.

The other day my daughter kicked my fancy iron off the counter--she was dancing on the island at the time. The iron smashed and Lauren looked glum. “Oh good!” I exclaimed, “Now we can take it apart and see how it works!” Imagine the look on her face.

We need to know how the world around us works. We need to be unafraid to tinker. To explore. To change things up.

When the maintenance man came to fix my dishwasher, he told me that there was no one to take his place when he retires. No one with communication skills who could also tinker with stuff until it worked. This is NOT GOOD. So I got him to agree that if I got some kids in a room with an old dishwasher, he’d let them wield tools and take the sucker apart! And the idea of Tinkering Studio, or whatever we’ll call it, is born!

Saturday I met with some like minded Tinkers--or is it Tinkerers--who want to make it ok for kids to explore the mechanical and technical world around them. I was as excited as a kid with a toy train! We made some progress on where this could and would go.
And soon we’ll be opening a Tinkering Space where kids can come and take stuff apart, build new things out of old things, and generally do what adults get to do in their own workshops. Get curious and busy!

More to follow. It’ll be great!