theaikidad

Aikido, Parenting and Everything in Between

Writing carefully, writing slowly

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Dear boys,

I hope you pick up your dad’s interest in writing. Long before there is such convenience as iPads, and other forms of ‘writing’, it is a pen and paper world, for your dad, it still is, no this is not about penmanship, this is about writing, and writing carefully.

This is important because when we say something, wrong, we can quickly say another thing to correct the error, and in a conversation, which is usually fluid, and interactive, micro corrections and errors are made all the time, perceptions and opinions tested, exchanged and argued. White lies and jokes and shared, which is the staple of an open, casual, cordial banter.

Whereas for words, written, is another story altogether. When written down, what a person say can last a long time, and used over and over again, for different context and for different agenda. Sometimes the original reason for what was written, is no longer applicable, the written phrase has long outlived its purpose, it will still be used for other context and conversation.

I’m not so concerned with what is written ‘right’, I’m more concerned with what is written wrongly, it can be costly, it can come back and bite you in the near future.
I think I picked up this habit of writing carefully when I was working in the banking side. Inter-department feud happens all the time and emails are basically e-missiles you send to your fellow colleagues from the offending department to defend your stand. So you have to write your emails carefully and word it in such a manner that you don’t get the blame, and your butt is covered.

Sometimes is can be a complain case from customers and the relevant department would want to find out what went wrong, more often than not, they could be trying to find an un-noticing victim to shift the blame to. Well, that’s some of the realities of your dad’ s work. It is a chair-borne commando’s life.

So the gist of it is, I sometimes will drop whatever I’m doing to write an email, taking up to the entire morning, word them carefully, cover all grounds, all possible arguments, loop holes are covered. At the same time shifting the problem back, making sure that my department gets out of any potential melee relatively unscathed. There are things in the email conversations that are not consistent and that is where your dad zoom in bite that poor bloke and pin him/her to the fault. It is a bureaucratic minefield and while you lay your mines and others lay theirs, the last thing you want is to be killed by your own mines!

It perhaps trained me to think and write, in a responsible manner, a readable manner, avoiding blind side bias, and sometimes plain sighted ones! Things that I’m not so sure about, I’ll try to avoid putting them in word, things that I have a certain authority in, I’ll still have my disclaimer, simply because you can never know enough to know everything. And everyone’s perspective and experience is unique and different, so we can never be so sure.

In a conversation, that’s pretty much fine, in a friendly banter, our mutually unique experiences rubs off one another, be very careful, writing things down, it may seem innocent now, but may turn out to hurt other very much later.
Remember, what is written is recorded, you may write a secret dirty little journal that you think may never see the light of day, and think that others may never know about, can be leaked. When it does, you better be prepared for the consequences!

this is about writing, and writing carefully.

5 things a man look for in a wife

Dear Boys

We will almost never know who we are going to have as our spouse. It is difficult because it is as much a ‘software’ issue as it is a ‘hardware’ issue.

We are talking about endowment, mental, psychological, spiritual endowment, the ‘software’ aspect, and the boobs, height, looks, appearance, the beauty, the ‘drool’ factor-the hardware aspect.

We are visual creatures,a and admittedly, we will be attracted to physically beautiful people, that’s how the superstars of Hollywood earn their dollars. In short, we like beautiful people.

Herein lies the problem, they may look beautiful, but we want the whole package, we also want them to be beautiful people, a software issue, simply because we can never know who a person is inside.

But, we still need to settle down with a spouse. so here are some simple criteria for you boys, when you look for a wife, when you become men.

1-She takes care of her parents/elders

Well, at your average age of courtship, perhaps you will still be needing a a lot of TLC from your parents, it’s a given, but if this girl can dish out as much love as her parents give her, then you might have found yourself a gem.

If she shows respect and consideration to her elders, this is a girl with a good heart.

2- She can cook

Again, she might be too young to actually cook something of a dinner, but she is comfortable in the kitchen, she helps her mum, her aunts with the chores, she should be able to pick up the fundamentals later. In short, she is exposed to the domestic affairs in the house.

Remember, the best way to a man’s heart is his stomach, and the best girl will know the quickest fastest way there to her man’s heart.

3- She saves

My wife doing nails on her own, with one of her girls

As the saying goes, ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, well what does that makes the husband/boyfriend then? It is alright to spend, but if she scrimps and save to buy a Michael Kors bag, buys Prada, does nice nails, and make every attempt to make herself beautiful with material things, then you might want to be vigilant. She cares more about herself than about you, or the relationship. Besides, a well manicured nails hints that the girl cannot do housework, simply because she would risk damaging her well groomed keratin. She spends too much to look too beautifully groomed to get to the housework.

If she saves for her school fees, if she saves for her own expenses, chances are she can save for the family the next time you are going to start one. How she spends her money will tell you how she saves her money.

Wife on the Treadmill

4-She has physically active lifestyle

No, I’m not talking about super athletes, well if you are one, or you found one, good for you, but please read my point 5. Being physically active doesn’t mean her gym, or yoga membership, that only shows you what she spends on. More importantly, she keeps fit, jogs, cycles, swim, the usual basic exercise. Nothing fancy, because sometime you simply have no time for fancy Zumba classes in a posh gym. And you still need to exercise, so? She is not afraid to pick up a good ‘ol trainers and go for a simple jog.

Not only that, being interested in sports and exercise helps anyone thinks better, builds better health. Heck, just don’t look for a woman who is sedentary, looks pretty, but smokes, drinks and party all night. I can live with a woman who drinks and party in her life, but smoking? It crosses my line. Period. If you got a girl who smokes, chance are you smoke too, and your dad find out your girl smoke, I’ll know you do too.

5-She treats men as her peer

Yes, many women don’t understand men, as much as men do not understand women. As much as there are Male Chauvinist Pigs, there’s the female version, The Feminist. Stay away from The Feminist as they will treat men like they are of a different breed. They are not difficult to spot. For matters about men they don’t understand, they have an expression of exasperation, roll her eyes, and exclaim with a sigh ‘Men!‘. Oh yes, men does that and simply replace it with ‘Women!’

If they don’t understand men, instead competes with men, it makes gender harmony difficult. Men are inherently competitive, we love to compete, that’s right, with other men. It is not that we cannot compete with women or vice versa, but we are looking for a spouse, not a competitor. If we compete all the time as spouse, with our spouse, then the marriage has gaps to close up.

This point is important, because if your wife treats you like peer, she will be a valuable team player. She will help you as much as she can, because if you win, the team wins. If she has a ‘that’s not my department’ attitude, then she cannot learn, she cannot cross train to take over your role if you are down. She thinks big picture, not just herself, but herself in a larger context. As your team player, she will not be afraid to speak up against you, for the betterment of the team. She will not allow her bias to get better of her, and simply write you off as ‘Men!’

First published: Nov 9, 2015 @ 07:04

Finishing moves

Finishing moves

‘When we have an ego, we will always want to throw our partner.’

Harry sensei not focusing on throwing the uke. The uke fell on his own merit

Harry sensei always scolds us for focusing on throwing our partner, which points to our overly inflated ego. He always says that, ‘When we have an ego, we will always want to throw our partner.’ We want to look good throwing our uke, and in that myopic quest, we missed out the more salient focus, improving ourselves, our technique.

I’ve long known that we need not worry about our uke, as long as we do the waza properly. The uke will fall if the technique is proper and complete.

What I failed to understand is what Harry sensei is driving at. It is not about the technique, properly executed. It is the finishing.

Where is the point of finishing?

As we continue our practice in Aikido, it seems like a lengthy, longitudinal continuum. Practice never ends, or we actually do not know where it ends. Or more microscopically, we think our technique ends when our partner falls, and we end up focusing on the throw, and gets scolded by Harry sensei, for doing our technique improperly.

In a metaphorical sense, Aikido is like life. It is never ending, a circle. There is no beginning, nor ending, so we keep doing our waza, day in, day out, and gets scolded the same way, so much so we are numb to our sensei’s nagging. It all sounds the same. Not it is not the same, once there is a level of epiphany to open our minds to what our sensei is actually saying.

New level of understanding

There is an ending and beginning in a circle, we as humans, sees it, as the Earth revolves around the Sun, day will end and night will begin, as a part of a continuous process. As Aikidoka, we train to become discerning to where it ends and begins.

So our waza does not end wiith us throwing  our uke.

Our uke takes an ukemi as the consequence of our finishing.

Where we look at the problem, is the problem

That is very much a cliché, but it is true, in this aspect. Harry sensei has seen this happening for decades; techniques that are too fast, or too slow, to jerky, too stiff, not soft enough (one of his pet gripes), not relaxed and the list goes on.

All these problems point towards the focus on throwing our uke. We as the nage wants to throw, lock, pin our uke, as in a role, our uke is ‘attacking’ us, and we need to ‘defend’ ourselves. This thought process does not escapes us in the technique and we get arrested by the thinking that we have to successfully defend ourselves, by throwing, locking and/or pinning our uke. We seal the deal, even before the uke commence the ‘attack’.

Aikido is continuum

Aikido practice is much bigger than that, as part of the continuum of life, we need to discern and decide where our waza ends, and it ends at the point where our uke takes the fall. After that, everything belongs to the uke, which is the falling. The problem begins, when we extend our influence into the uke’s fall, which is totally unnecessary, and that is where the ego rears is head.

it is the form, not the falling

So we do not decide when the uke will fall, of course, in an irimi nage for example, we will know, from practice; when the fall comes, and we focus on that ending. So we need to free ourselves from that, and let the fall comes, when it comes. We are not determinant of the fall, we can’t, that is the uke’s job. Our job is our job, to execute the technique and focus on improving ourselves using the good grace of the uke’s participation.

When we have an uke who is selfless, skilled and totally devoted to the role of an uke, we as the nage cannot mess things up by stepping into and influencing the uke’s ability to take a fall. Let the uke fall, we just focus on improving our technique, and constantly polish again and again with the help of the uke.

The Purpose

The Purpose

…the world feeds us and we need to give back to the world.

Dear Boys,

We all wonder what is the purpose of our existence. This is the ultimate rocket science, and not many has figured this out, but those who do, live their lives in the greatest of wonder and splendor.

My Dark Side

Of late, I am mired in a cesspool of dark thoughts that surrounded me, slowly but surely, I get stronger from this constant battle, inside of me, and through my own doubts, critical thinking and understanding of my own vulnerability, I begin to understand why I am like this, and what it is to be done with me.

A lot of good meaning people tried to help, Steve told me it is a mid life crisis thing, your mum told me it is a certain insecurity. She has her point, we will talk about that in a while. But I realized that I am mildly, depressive.

Depression

The thing about me is, I will always find an answer to my woes. There are incessant questions, issues and problems that I tussle with everyday, in my head. Somehow, I always have the intuition to come out of it, with an answer.

To that day, I was browsing through Facebook, and I came across this article ‘The Mental Health Issue Men Never Talk About‘; while I don’t believe at that time of reading, that I am ‘depressed’, I decided to try an online Depression Test, and lo and behold! The test results showed that I am ‘mildly depressive’.

It was one of those casual test, 16 questions, I did it on my phone and I wondered at the results. At this point, I need to be critical and careful about ‘branding’ myself, but I let that reality sink in a bit. Being ‘mildly depressive’ didn’t hit home, it was something else, but while I am at it, depression does feels like something I am feeling now. so I am going to deliberate on that a bit, my mind will always comes to an answer.

Sniffer Dog Mind

My brain is like that, a kind of sniffer dog, and when I let the mind wander, I will pick up vibes and nuances that resonates strongly. Sometimes, my mind will pick up a fake scent, lose a scent, or a very faint scent. Whatever it is, my sniffer dog mind will wander, and relentlessly seek out and find, whatever that is out there.

It is a process, and the mind needs to wander, you will need time for the dog to go around up and down in the most non-linear way. So I don’t stand in the dog’s way, and whenever I can, and have the luxury of time, I let the dog wander, and bring back the quarry, whatever it may be, and I think my dog is on to something.

What we are here for

The journey in my mind of late, has been perilous, and dangerous. There is a chance that I might go crazy, turn into someone completely different, and I think that is the message I am getting, I need to be someone completely different, as right now who I am, is not serving the greater purpose.

Society will challenge us, people will doubt us, so we become a fraction of ourselves so that we can fit society, and the expectations of those around us. We do all that to become accepted, but the irony, and boys, this comes from experience, the more we try to get that acceptance, and fit in, the more we get rejected. It is a lesson I learned again and again, to fit in, we need to stand out. Nobody ever fits in to anything, anywhere. When we try to do that, all we do is become a shadow, it dims the world.

Action!!!

While I am at it, one word keeps ringing out, act. Put out action. Time for deliberation is over, the time to act on things is here. As a Piscean, I over-think and over analyze things, a lot, which is good for a critical mind, and bad, when it comes to action. The first 40 years of my life has been dedicated to thought; I need to know what I know is absolutely true, robust and resolute. I need to know my intrinsic value.

Once the thinking is cleared, it is time for action, acting on life always guarantee an outcome. While the outcome might not suit what you expected, the next action you must take, is to either work harder to get the desired outcome, or adjust your expectations of the outcome. To get all these done, needs action, not thought.

Action that benefits others

The world has turned too much into a ‘Me’ world. while that is fine, to better that; the ‘me’ has to give back to the world, so that the ‘me’ can continue to be ‘me’. When what we do, does not benefit the world, and make the world a better place, the world we are in will destroy us eventually. So don’t lie to yourself to think that the ‘me’ will continue, irrespective of what the world becomes. It doesn’t, the world feeds us and we need to give back to the world.

And we can only do that in our own unique way. So boys, as your dad, you need to find you own way. I can guide, provide resources, but you have to use your own guile and cunning to make sure that you can benefit the world, and not just benefit from the world.

 

Your first Aikido sensei

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Christmas 2014

Who is your first Aikido sensei? Who is my first Aikido sensei? The fellow teaching you how to turn, roll and wears a funny black pleated skirt-looking pants?

You first Aikido sensei is your parents.

Your mother showed you love, and affection, your father protects and nurtures you. They are the foundations of love and harmony that Aikido is all about.

I watch last evening as Harry sensei taught this young Aikidoka how to roll properly. As I watched, I came to this realization that he is like a father teaching his son. I can feel that because I am a father myself, and I would use the same energy, attitude, of unconditional effort, openness, hands on to teach my sons, whatever they are learning. I saw that in Harry sensei last evening, the effort, and unconditional love is the same.

It was a very profound experience as the whole relationship paradigm in my Aikido training was radically shifted. I left the class with a feeling of total awe, and more importantly a renewed sense of humility.

It was more than that.

Training with NUS students has opened another level of understanding for me. These young boys and girls, is easily 20 years my junior. And I had almost 20 years of training in Aikido. That said, what about Harry sensei, he has close to 50 years of training! He has been training long before anyone one in class was born!

So when I look at the faces of my young fellow Aikidokas, the youth is still there, the innocence are still present. I can sense that because, given another 10 years, my elder son, Ian, will be 19 years old, about that age of a NUS student.

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With Ian in Hong Kong 2011

They still carry the dreams and aspirations their parents have for them. Edna, Jia Hwee, Tri, Glenn, Jade, Darius, Cathryn, Rachel, just to name a few names, their parents gave them the names, very much like how I bestowed upon my sons, theirs. They came to class, to NUS with their parents, in spirit and in faith. Hence, you are not simply training with that person, you are training with a person who has been exposed to love and affection, with understanding and attention long before they stepped into an Aikido class. So they are an expert in their 18- 19 years of living, and me? I’m just a beginner in their lives!

That can be said for Harry sensei himself! He has parents, his parents has aspirations for him, perhaps they’d wanted him to become someone of stature, or they had other expectations, I wondered, had his parents came back and look at him now, taking a class, 6th Dan in Aikido, would that had been what they wanted from him? Certainly my parents didn’t expect me to embark in Aikido training.

More often than not, we did not choose to embark on our Aikido journey, but somehow stumbled into it, and continued because of certain circumstances that compels us to continue, it was probably one of the last thing our parents expects of us.

We need to give back, our parents has been our first Aikido sensei, and now when we learn how to love and live in harmony from someone else, we need to give this back to them, perhaps now that we’ve grown up and our parents might have thought that their kids no longer need so much love and care, but they still do care and love us, just as much, or perhaps more. Now that we are adults training in Aikido, we need to love them back. Things we learned in the dojo, we need to practise it with our parents, let them know that their love and efforts has manifested, their kids has not wasted their love and effort, well we may not be everything our parents wants us to be, but we can let them know that their love and efforts hadn’t gone to waste, their children has done fine and is now learning how to love on the foundations that they have given us.

First Published: Nov 26, 2014 6:32 AM

As of current: Harry sensei is now 7th Dan Shihan.

Over Correcting

White Belt

A couple of lessons back, a chirpy white belter, Mary asked me if what she was doing was correct, as I partnered her. I told her that just enjoy the moves, as it will be too much to correct as almost everything she is doing is ‘wrong’.

We need to understand that getting from ‘wrong’ to ‘right’ in martial arts, takes a heck of a long time, and sometimes, you will go from wrong to right and back to wrong. Personally for me, as long as the Aikidoka enjoys the moves, and stay relaxed, avoids injury, that is a decent session of Aikido.

One thing we must be careful as beginners is the penchant to over correct, we analyze over the nitty and the gritty, until we think that everything we do needs improvement! Well, duh, that is precisely why we come to the dojo right? To day by day, unlearn our habits, and learn something that is closely resembling Aikido.

…is very un-instant gratification

Nobody gets it right at the onset, so why even bother to try? It is a long arduous process that is very un-instant gratification. The more you try to get it right, the more wrong it will get, for beginners, there is only a general sense of body movement, positioning and effectively use of our strengths. the other stuffs we learn along the way.

So everytime I go to class, I will look forward to enjoying the movement, enjoying the company. Right movement will come from right attitude, and when you enjoy your movement, you will be cultivating the right attitude.

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A couple of lessons back, a chirpy white belter, Mary asked me if what she was doing was correct, as I partnered her. I told her that just enjoy the moves, as it will be too much to correct as almost everything she is doing is ‘wrong’.
We need to understand that getting from ‘wrong’ to ‘right’ in martial arts, takes a heck of a long time, and sometimes, you will go from wrong to right and back to wrong. Personally for me, as long as the Aikidoka enjoys the moves, and stay relaxed, avoids injury, that is a decent session of Aikido.
One thing we must be careful as beginners is the penchant to over-correct, we analyze over the nitty and the gritty, until we think that everything we do needs improvement! Well, duh, that is precisely why we come to the dojo right? To day by day, unlearn our habits, and learn something that is closely resembling Aikido.

…is very un-instant gratification

Nobody gets it right at the onset, so why even bother to try? It is a long arduous process that is very un-instant gratification. The more you try to get it right, the more wrong it will get, for beginners, there is only a general sense of body movement, positioning and effectively use of our strengths. the other stuffs we learn along the way.
So every time I go to class, I will look forward to enjoying the movement, enjoying the company. Right movement will come from right attitude, and when you enjoy your movement, you will be cultivating the right attitude.

First published:  Jul 15, 2015 10:33 PM

White Belt

A couple of lessons back, a chirpy white belter, Mary asked me if what she was doing was correct, as I partnered her. I told her that just enjoy the moves, as it will be too much to correct as almost everything she is doing is ‘wrong’.

We need to understand that getting from ‘wrong’ to ‘right’ in martial arts, takes a heck of a long time, and sometimes, you will go from wrong to right and back to wrong. Personally for me, as long as the Aikidoka enjoys the moves, and stay relaxed, avoids injury, that is a decent session of Aikido.

One thing we must be careful as beginners is the penchant to over correct, we analyze over the nitty and the gritty, until we think that everything we do needs improvement! Well, duh, that is precisely why we come to the dojo right? To day by day, unlearn our habits, and learn something that is closely resembling Aikido.

…is very un-instant gratification

Nobody gets it right at the onset, so why even bother to try? It is a long arduous process that is very un-instant gratification. The more you try to get it right, the more wrong it will get, for beginners, there is only a general sense of body movement, positioning and effectively use of our strengths. the other stuffs we learn along the way.

So everytime I go to class, I will look forward to enjoying the movement, enjoying the company. Right movement will come from right attitude, and when you enjoy your movement, you will be cultivating the right attitude.