Framing Your House

A classical aikido throw being practiced. Tori...

A classical aikido throw being practiced. Tori maintains balance and structure to throw uke, while uke safely takes a forward roll (mae ukemi). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Poet Maya Stein  wrote about a potters effort to sculpt a face, “Her fingers could not handle the finer points of the clay, and so it’s face warped into a caricature with oblique white ovals for eyes and improbably round lips. There wasn’t much to the skull or the ears, and hardly a trace of the jaw line that marked her own silhouette. She was simple and doughy; the roughest of creatures, but such is the beginning that marks any beginning: vague outlines, hopeful guesses at proportion, an innocence of form and shape. The hard work will come soon enough, of course, the ruthless attempts at getting it right and the self-flagellation that ensues when failure hits, the way we chew and scrape at our own tender insides. So she will do her best love her now, this uneven, funny being, and hold her for exactly what she is: blameless and forgiving. “

Reframing this text in the context of aikido goes something like this:  In the beginning her hands could not handle the finer points of the technique, and so her face froze into a frown with wide questioning eyes and improbably questioning lips. There wasn’t much to her effort, and hardly a trace of completion that marked her finishing throw. She was simply and clearly, the most awkward of students, but such is the beginning that marks any beginner: stumbling entering steps, hopeful guesses at positioning and proportion, a clueless innocence of what exactly comes next. The hard work will come soon enough, of course, the ruthless attempts at getting it right and the self-flagellation that ensues when failure hits, the way we chew and scrape at our own tender insides for our inadequacies. So we Uke, do our best to support and take Ukemi for her now, this uneven, clumsy being, and honor her for exactly what she is: a work in progress just stepping on the path…just exactly like we did in the beginning and continue to do one practice and one technique at a time.

Why should we martial artists be different from a potter, musician, weaver, or swordsman?

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