Teach and Learn the BASIC
by Dam Amaranto, 5th dan Aikikai
Aikido is one of the modern martial arts that anyone can infinitely enjoy. It is very rich in cultivating values that are useful in everyday life - perseverance, patience, integrity and respect for excellence- aside from the health benefits it offers.
Aikido is quite difficult to understand. From a beginner's point of view, it is a mystery. To a seasoned practitioner it continues to be a question. Personal experience and observation tell me so. Teaching the art without a thorough understanding of the "why's", the what's", and the "how's" can break enthusiasm, give birth to discouragement, blind interest, and eventually, resignation.
A solid foundation is an important element in any field of endeavor. It is the key stone. In aikido, it makes for a strong body and a sound mind. Teachers and students must master the basics. Be at the moment. Exercise precision. Then expect much in the results. There are no short cuts in an art that is bounded by the phenomenon of the natural laws.
Experiential in nature, aikido means going through the basic and fundamental routines that make for a strong technique. The technical aspect (the how) builds the needed skills. Attitude directs one to the right path. And to attainment of the goal. The cumulative efforts, if consistent with the methods, make for the results that become powerful as time goes on.
Here is a simple formula that can help any practitioner -beginner or not - develop what is essential for continuous progress in aikido. BASIC will guide teachers, would-be teachers and students to achieving quality aikido.
B - Be Serious. One has to focus and be keenly attentive to the lesson being taught in class. Strong engagement to details is a must in recognizing what to learn - and unlearn.
A - Allocate Time. Knowing what we want to pursue and change, deserves attention. One must create space for it. In the whole scheme of things, time should be an integral part of it.
S - Set Goals. Realistic and measureable goals are equally important. To monitor progress, seek feedback from your teachers. Submit to periodic examinations. Choose a path - breakdown or breakthrough. Growth is never an event, it's a process.
I - Interact. Practice regularly and frequently. The dojo is a fertile ground of opportunity to enhance skills. The insights - priceless. It is a venue to replace fear with understanding. Success comes to those who are willing to learn and "act upon one another".
C - Challenge to overcome self. Drop your limitations and be unlimited. Stretch yourself. There is always room at the top. Make a mark and leave a positive legacy.
This BASIC guide will lead one to one's unconscious competence - the frequently invoked state of "no mind".
(1994 August 01)