Aikido - A Study in Grace and Persistence

On November 12th, three adult members of the Two Cranes community offered Dan demonstrations – two shodan, one nidan. Not by and of itself a remarkable event in the life of our dojo, in which an ever-growing group of people ranging in age from 4 to 66 show up and train in the art of peace on a regular basis.

Two things made this group stand out, however. All three of us are women over the age of fifty (two of us over sixty), all having begun our continuous study of aikido later in life. And all three of us hold a PhD. Each one of us had already demonstrated high levels of skill and education in our chosen fields – two of us in psychology, the third in comparative literature. Each one of us had from our disciplines a deep understanding of the value and necessity of persistence, of simply showing up to master material even when it was initially difficult or seemingly beyond our reach.

To move from the realm of the cerebral/intellectual to that of the embodied practice that is aikido is not as much of a shift as it might seem. Aikido offers each of us a study in relationships that provides insights into the people we study, interact with, or treat. It provides each one of us with a solid foundation of centeredness and calm that is useful in weathering the challenges inherent in our occupations.

Entering aikido in the middle of life when our bodies are less flexible, aging, and carrying the realities of the changes that we have gone through has also called us, as older students, to delve more deeply into the spiritual and energetic components of aikido. O Sensei, after all, developed aikido well into his life, after he had already mastered other forms of budo; aikido is at its core an art of wisdom and maturity, no matter what age one is. In that way, the dan tests of November 12th, 2016 represent perfectly what aikido is about – a martial art of peace, of energy and connection rather than conflict.

Laura Brown & Mary Childs