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DISCIPLINE AND TRAINING
HYGIENE

by Cheryl Matrasko

I recently 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.

Sam,
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.

Your opinion:

"I think that a good will and plesure is also needed to practice aikido then only clean clothing."

"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 Foreword was 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".

C. Matrasko

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.


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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
(C. Matrasko as uke)
1978 C. Matrasko

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1/4/2001