by Sean Hannon
"If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing. Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly."
- Morihei Ueshiba
As we learned in Part Two of this article on expansion, Aikido is so much more than just a martial art. It is a whole way of life. Indeed, those who practice Aikido quickly learn that it is, in fact, a microcosmic arena for life. When regular daily problems at home or at work come up most people do the same thing as most martial arts teach. They push back, contract, shrink - they shift into a defensive posture. Sometimes they contract into adverse behaviors like excessive television watching, alcohol or overeating. Others contract by complaining, gossiping, hiding or ignoring their predicament. Aikido teaches us to address our challenges differently.
Is expansion a natural response? Think of how a muscle grows. When muscles are exercised, the muscle fibers are broken down (contraction), but then life responds not by shrinking the muscle, but instead the muscle fibers grow back stronger, bigger (expansion). The result is a net gain in growth, not a net loss.
Look at other forms of nature. What do most flowers do when the sun shines upon them? Do they expand or contract? Most expand in the warmth of the sun and then contract at night when the air cools. Look to the Universe. Is it expanding or contracting? Most astrophysicists agree that the Universe is in an expansive state. You're part of the Universe too. Don't you think that you are meant to be expansive, as well?
If you think about it, Aikido is a philosophy more resonant with life than many other martial art styles. Life is about growing, not shrinking; about expanding, not contracting. And, yes, while it is true that everything in life (physiology included) contains both reciprocal qualities (similar to the Taoist concepts of yin and yang) a balance between the two should not necessarily be the desired outcome. For example, most people would be upset if their monthly expenses and monthly income were in balance to one another because that would suggest that they were not gaining financially; that they were not saving. They were staying at zero. Balance implies the same on both sides. Balance means zero. Zero in physiology means dead. Only a corpse is "balanced." Instead, the desired outcome between expansion and contraction should be a net gain in expansion. Some might say that life, itself, is about expansion. Aikido is about expansion. Therefore, Aikido is about life.
Life is designed to be abundant, to be expansive. Why contract? Think about it. Has contraction really ever served you in the past? Aikido teaches people to grow, to expand when faced with challenge. If you don't believe that life is meant to be abundant, then you need to discover Aikido and make that discovery. Come find out why Castle Rock AIKIDO may be a great place for you to discover your physical path to self-mastery.
Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free.