By Greg Urbina Aikido of Albuquerque
During the first class at AOA’s fall seminar held on October 2016 with Alex Peterson Sensei, Philip Sensei calls me up for ukemi. He gives me the opening and I attack. I’m on the floor, Sensei has me down: only he decides when I can get up. I feel pressure in my arm release, so I get up as fast as I can. It’s Sankyo, Sensei turns, I do everything I can to keep up with him, a pain shoots through my arm. One slip, if I miss one beat, if I put my guard down for one moment, I’ll be spending the next few months sitting seiza, watching class with my arm in a cast. I’m on the floor again, all my bones still intact. Sensei let’s go of my arm, I need to get back up, Omote is over and it’s time for Ura. Then three more sets of this. I need to get back up. During this seminar Alex Peterson Sensei said “if you want to be forged you need to go to the hottest part of the fire”. After hearing this I reflected on my own personal progression of dealing with conflict.
I’ve been practicing Aikido for four years now. About three years ago I was a fourth kyu in the Soto Deshi program. I was working as a supervisor at a grocery store making just enough money to get by. I wanted to go to school but I didn’t have the money or the time. The whole reason I originally joined Aikido was to prepare to become a police officer and I needed some college credits to qualify for the academy. I didn’t want to quit Aikido, I loved it, but I needed to work, and I also needed to go to school. I kept thinking about how I could manage doing all three, but things wouldn’t fit. I needed more time and money to go to school. I could not afford to pay for everything if I cut my hours at work. If I cut my hours at the dojo how much would my training suffer? Eventually I was so frustrated I couldn’t even focus on training. I ended up failing my third kyu test and eventually my Sensei’s recommended that I take a break from the Soto Deshi program and focus on work, paying bills, and going to school. I was told the Soto Deshi program will not be going anywhere.
I was now able to spend more time focusing on work and eventually I became a manager, not easy. I would work on homework late after I got off work. Some days I would sleep for a few hours and try to make the 6 A.M. morning Aikido class, then go to school. My hours at the dojo went up and down, and my training did suffer. I did not make the best grades and I gained about about 40 pounds and took on some debt, but at the end of summer 2016 I got the credits I needed. I stepped down from work and joined the Uchi Deshi program at second kyu.
I could have quit Aikido many times and found some cheap excuse to save face, but I would be a lesser person because of it. Every time I take a class, I have some kind of obstacle to overcome. You can call it conflict, you can call it fire, you can call it yourself, but to get through it you need patience and dedication. I still don’t know how to take proper ukemi for Sankyo but I’m getting on the mat tonight.