Seven pleats of Aikido
June 10, 2019

Seven pleats of Aikido

Many times people aim to change their life by accepting a new job offer, going abroad or starting a new relationship. Very often they even seek happiness in another person. Eventually, they set an appointment with a psychologist to figure out what is going on and how they got there. Life is challenging, it requires you to be adaptable, be able to deal with the difficult situations, understand other people. It requires to be physically and mentally strong, be prepared for anything. Anastasia has started her own spiritual journey in a different way. She has discovered aikido.

Anastasia has a degree in engineering & radio operating, she focused on radiophysics, digital signal processing, circuit design, etc. At the moment she works as a test lead. Many years ago, when she was interested in Japanese culture, she has stumbled upon an article about aikido.

"What immediately attracted me is the concept of aikido — redirecting the energy of the opponent against him. The stronger is an attack, the stronger is a negative result for the opponent. I find it the highest form of justice."

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It all started with dance. Anastasia was dancing throughout her whole life, however, once, while doing tricks, she hurt her back. The accident affected her abilities and she had to terminate her dancing career. Of course, she did not want to leave the sport completely. She realised that it is the time for her to try herself in something that she always wanted to do.

"It took me only 5 minutes to find a nearby Aikido club, which I considered a good sign. I fell in love with aikido from the first training. With this beauty. With the gracefulness of movements. Every move looks unreal, it seems impossible to understand how do they do that. Of course, you immediately want to learn it, you want to move the same way, become a performer, a professional. I have accepted the challenge."

Therefore, she started to attend training almost every day, from Monday to Friday, sometimes on weekends as well.

"Every attended training is one step forward, every missed — two steps back. It is very important to be consistent. After every session I impatiently look into the next day, I cannot wait that else will teach me sensei, what else I will learn."

But why aikido is such a life-changing adventure?

"Besides self-confidence (now I know how to deal with one or another situation), I think that aikido is applied art. Yes, it is not just a martial art, because it is also some kind of art of living. As it often happens in life, our opponent is always taller, stronger, faster… So there is no point of fighting — you cannot win. The same thing is about communication with people. Why should we get involved in the conflict with the louder or smarter person if we can just miss this attack? It is interesting to use it in everyday life on the psychological level. Secondly, aikido teaches me to find beauty in everything. It develops my creative potential, for example, all of my performances… (yeah, not competitions because otherwise there will be no one to participate in the next ones)…usually just not only reflect the technique. I try to invent a story in movements. At the moment I have so many ideas, who could ever think that martial art can develop creative thinking — it is still a mystery for me."

In aikido, not an element, movement, even garment is made without reason. Kimono and hakama, traditional aikido garments, also have its specific meaning. For example, hakama has 7 pleats, which aikido practitioners carefully unfold after each training. These pleats symbolise seven moral values or an ethical framework for a warrior. Even when you fold your hakama, you have to remember those rules. The aikido practitioner does not have a goal to kill their opponent, he just wants to stop the opponent’s aggression through wisdom.

"We want to bring harmony and peace to the world. Aikido is a way of harmonising energy. I still learn to perceive the world this way and harmonise my life. I think many people should learn it."

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Sensei tells Anastasia that every aikido exam is how you would perform in the real-life stressful situation on the street. Are you going to frighten and forget everything you learned, or you will allow your body to react because it got already used to these movements? Also, the more you learn, the more you find out how much more there is to learn.

"Your way does not have some kind of logical end, this is the eternal path of development. Every time you are making a new step, you think that you will not be able to make it but then you are actually there, on the top, and looking back you realise that the previous step was so simple. Now you are on the mountain, and there are 10 mountains ahead, million of mountains. This is some kind of confirmation that you are moving forward and continue improving yourself."

Everyone, who enters into the studio, finds their own purpose.

"Some want to become more confident (and nothing can help you more than the person twice as taller is flying above your head), some want to get rid of stress and release the negative energy. It’s true — every time after training you feel lightened and emotionally stimulated. Some people want to understand their body better and establish a physical and mental equilibrium. Because in real life we allow being hurt ourselves. In aikido, we learn to react to external irritations because aikido is about adequate reaction to inadequate aggression. Some people learn to understand others better, this way of hearing starts through physical actions, through prevention of partner’s actions. Some people want to strengthen their body and in aikido, this is a very mild, step-by-step process, and this is why it is, in my opinion, the most effective. There are hundreds of reasons why you should learn aikido but I realise that each of these reasons is a way to internal harmony. Every one of us finds and will find something that makes us fulfilled and balanced. In aikido, it is an incredibly interesting way of exploring yourself and the world and the best part is that it is endless. Every training is even more useful and interesting than the previous one."

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