received an e-mail from someone that scouted the internet and found the Northwestern
University Chicago Campus Aikido web pages that we support and I instruct.
I have left out this person's e-mail address
and he should only be known as "Sam", for his protection and anonymity.
"I read your page about
aikido, the site "What do you need to practice Aikido". I think that a good will
and plesure is also needed to practice aikido then only clean clothing. I am sorry if I
you don't agree with me.
Futher on it is a nice page.
Greatings, Sam "
This person (Sam) is referring to one of the
web pages created for the Aikido at NU Chicago Campus dojo at: http://www.aikido-world.com/nuchicago/aikido-c.htm.
I found this odd communication very
interesting and thought provoking, in spite of his poor choice of words, misspellings and
bad use of grammar.
At times, I am sent some very respectful and
complimentary correspondence about the web pages at NU. I sometimes receive e-mail from
teens and children, as well as the regular goof-balls that just want to harass and argue
with anyone in the martial arts community. My usual response to the junk mail is to dump
it. I decided to take a chance and address this one. I'd like to share my response with
the AWJ readers here.
Thank you for taking the time to write.
As far as:
"What do you need to practice Aikido", it was merely placed in the context of
the physical dress that is required in Aikido practice at NU. What I wrote is a very
common answer for those aspiring persons inquiring as to what is required for Aikido
practice on the mat.
However, Aikido training is much more than a simple perception of the few words you felt
should be added. You will understand this when you have devoted more time to training and
have more experience in Aikido.
"I think that a good will and plesure is also needed to practice aikido then only
"Good will" is not necessary for training, and "pleasure" is one
feeling gotten as a result of some stimuli. It would be desirable to derive pleasure from
Aikido practice --- as it is positively reinforcing. Good will is an intent from some
entity to another entity, but not necessary for martial arts practice. As for pleasure
being necessary for Aikido practice --- I would say the proper word to use would be
"satisfaction". Pleasure would be a desirable result
of good training, but more so -- I would like the students to derive personal satisfaction
from their training. Perhaps your words were ill-chosen because of a language problem, as
I note there are many grammatical errors as well as misspellings in your e-mail to me.
Clean clothing is a necessary requirement for practice in all Asian martial arts dojos.
You are not familiar with the Asian cultural protocol when it relates to training. Close
contact is crucial to working out in Aikido as well as other Asian arts. And it is
considered personally offensive and bad manners not to be prudent in your personal
hygiene. The Japanese (and other Asian cultures) consider cleanliness an important part of
personal and martial discipline. (I am Japanese). In a Japanese dojo, you will be
reprimanded and told to leave the mat if personal cleanliness is not observed. Cleanliness
in the body and your training is one in the same -- it is inherent in the training.
Actually, disease has been attributed to the lack of proper personal hygiene.
In the military, keeping your uniform clean, being dressed impeccably, your bedding
properly made is all a part of the discipline within training to attain the best quality
of military prowess and skill.
In addition, Cleanliness is the responsibility of each and every student in the daily
maintenance of the dojo -- where the students must each play a part in cleaning and washing
the dojo floors, toilets, etc. This is one aspect of martial arts practice ---- that of
discipline. The student is not just an individual but a part of the dojo and this
discipline builds character as it strips the individual from the narrowness of the mind
and bad habits so that you are able to improve your abilities - unimpeded . Please find
support for training and discipline in many literary pieces of Asian martial disciplines,
one being "The Spirit of Aikido", by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Copyright 1984,
Kodansha International, ISBN4-7700-1350-7 C0075 P1030E ( in Japan ). The
masterfully done by Taitetsu Unno where he explains training and discipline.
This "discipline" is one aspect of the training that the martial artist
maintains his/her entire life to keep the ability of the Aikido craft alive and sharp.
Cleanliness (personal hygiene, personal responsibility for the dojo maintenance) is
considered imperative in training!
Thank you --- it was nice to respond to your note.
Keep training diligently, clean your mind, and it will open many doors for you. As my
former Japanese instructor used to say - "Keep your teacup empty".
The concept of personal hygiene on the mat and
in practice was much more than Sam had thought of - or expected. That's okay. As
long as we can maintain ourselves are as positive and as clear thinking as we can, we can
keep learning and extending possibilities beyond our own barriers.
C. Matrasko 9/8/98
Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the
department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the
LAN Administrator for Northwestern University Medical School - Department of OB/GYN, and
assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law. She started Aikido
in 1965, studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out
under many well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei and
therafter following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in
Northern Shaolin Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu.
Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus and
supporting Aikido World Journal.