Posted by: dacalu | 15 November 2013

The Practice of Love

This past weekend I had a wonderful opportunity.  I visited Enso Center in Redmond, Washington where I attended a seminar on Aikido led by Nick Lowry Sensei.  I had a wonderful time seeing family and friends (5 other Mixes teach at Enso Center), but I also learned some new and wonderful things.  Nick, like me, sees martial arts as an opportunity to learn something about life, both spiritual and practical, and he introduced me to a great concept.

Tokui waza literally means your ‘boasting technique,’ that one special go-to attack or defense that fits you perfectly.  Nick put it in a new context for me.  He referred to it as a ‘default’ technique, the comfortable and automatic movement of your body that, after years of practice, flows from you naturally in stressful situations.  It may change every few years, but if you practice regularly, you have a fall back.  (In case you’re interested, mine is a very short irimi nage, but 5 years ago it was kote gaeshi.)  I would call it intuition, but it really requires more than that.  Tokui waza comes from internalized training – effort to produce effortlessness, mindful practice to generate unconscious reaction.

All of this got me thinking about my social tokui waza.  What behavior do I fall back on when I find myself tired or stressed?  How do I treat people when I no longer have the energy to think about about how I treat people?  To put it more directly, I want to know if I can be an unconscious Christian.  Have I practiced enough that forgiveness comes naturally?  Can I say that love is my default option?

You need not be Christian to have such a mindset, but you do need practice.  Dare I say it, we need constant practice, because it can be so easy to fall into habits of selfishness and surliness, even malice, if those are the things we repeat.  It’s not enough to want the right thing in the moment.  I think you need to train constantly, practice techniques of grace and compassion over and over again, so that when the time arises, they flow naturally from you.

Tonight I wish for all of you good practice, good teachers, and good partners in your practice of life.  Give some thought to your tokui waza – what it is an what you would like it to be.  I know I will.

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