On Sunday, August 31, 2008 i was honoured to receive my yellow belt in Aikido. I have been studying Takemusu Aikido with Victor Arcega Sensei for about 18 months. This has been a long and challenging journey and through it my commitment to this beautiful and transformative art has deepened to become the centering pillar of my life. Receiving my belt was a complete surprise--in our dojo, Sensei awards belts at his discretion when he feels that the student is ready to embrace the next level of responsibility. (And for yellow belt, it also means i don't need to look at my feet anymore! Which means i can now wear a hakama. Woohoo!)
I began this journey hoping to learn some things that would enhance my facilitation skills and support me in my quest to more fully embody my Open Space practice. I have found so much more. I can't really express how much this honour means to me. There were many times when i questioned my ability to manage the demands of the mat. I sometimes felt a bit cheeky about starting a martial art as a 40+ mother of young children with no background in any sport let alone a martial art. And here i was, bad knees, bad back--bad joints in general--out of shape, over-weight and scared as heck walking on the mat to try and learn what is widely regarded as the most demanding of all the martial arts. So let this serve as an encouragement to all of you who think you are too old or out-of-shape to live a dream. Find a group who will support you and go for it. Determination and guts will take you farther than you can imagine from where you sit now.
Which brings me to some appreciations: to my husband George and my parents for supporting me in the most practical way by their willingness to care for my children so i could attend class--even when they didn't understand the appeal (okay, okay, addiction); to my Sensei, Victor Arcega--for sharing his time and energy and irreplaceable knowledge and for creating a dojo where joy and love are what we practice most; to Senpai Floyd Blades for his teaching and sharing of his enthusiasm for this path; to Senpai Christle Blades for being a source of joy, inspiration, encouragement and just plain fun; to my classmates at the Vimy Dojo--Rob, Al, Robert, Miles, Christine, Van and David--and the Gabriola Dojo--Patrick, Judith, Leah, David, Jim, Alex, Jack, Viva, Kim, Daniel--a deep bow to you all for what has passed between us and for coming out to play!; and to Toke Moller for introducing me to the vibrations of Aikido.
And to finish off, the quote from O-Sensei that has upheld me most throughout this first stage of my training:
The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art of Peace to all that you encounter.