New Schedule and Location for 2016

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Pick low-hanging fruit first

A few years ago, someone on an online forum asked one of our greatest teachers, "What are the principles that make aikido work?"  We all expected a bunch of the usual - ma-ai, taisabaki, unbendable arm, etc... but when he responded with his list of the principles of aikido, it began...
#1 - Recognize and accept responsibility for your contribution to failure.
Wow!  At that time, we had a little game going where we would take one of these points and discuss it for a week on the forum.  The results of those discussions came to be this massive compilation of aiki thoughts.  I thought that now, after 15 years or so of greater exposure to aikido, I'd go through the list and see how my thoughts have changed (hopefully matured) over the years.
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So, "recognize and accept responsibility for your contribution to failure..."
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To me right now, this is speaking of picking low-hanging fruit first.  If you liken it to a fruit tree, the material that is internal to yourself is the low-hanging fruit and the stuff that is external - that you can attribute to the enemy or the environment - that stuff is progressively farther out of reach.
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Instead of obsessing about some obscure, hard-to-reach, external fruit, it makes sense to first gather what you can from where you stand.  That is, work on the internal before the external.
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As an example, consider some simple self-defense scenario.  Perhaps a monkey dance chest-push.
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You could spend a good while working on how to flow with the force of the push while maintaining your base, how to drag the enemy off balance, how to pummel him to submission.  You could deal with all that first, and it's sorta tempting to do it that way.  But this principle suggests to me that you can gather a greater volume of fruit faster if you accept that the situation is at least to some degree your responsibility.
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The factors that belong to you are easier for you to control - easier to get hold of - than the factors that belong to the enemy and the environment. Perhaps you could have re-thought your lifestyle, avoided the monkey dance, de-escalated the conflict.
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The part of this conflict that belongs to you is yours to control.  Why not take ownership of as much of it as possible!
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Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com