On Saturday morning we had a really interesting class, with lots of fun exercises, including a sort of 6-uke slow/easy randori, which was really enlightening. Then there were exams – two for 6th kyu, and a 4th kyu. Dang, that 4th kyu test looks challenging (and exhausting).

After class we had a BBQ/potluck party, with inflatable Sumo suits. We often have some kind of party after exams, plus this time Jason and Karen (the two in the video, along with Sensei) were celebrating 10 years in Aikido. A fantastic time (and lunch) was had by all.

You can see more videos of all the fun on my YouTube Channel, under Aikido of San Diego: http://www.youtube.com/LindaEskin

Create each day anew by clothing yourself with heaven and earth, bathing yourself with wisdom and love, and placing yourself in the heart of Mother Nature. Your body and mind will be gladdened, depression and heartache will dissipate, and you will be filled with gratitude.

Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei), from The Art of Peace, translated and edited by John Stevens

[A month ago I would’ve thought of this as some lovely idealistic vision, but it’s becoming my real daily experience.]

There’s been a discussion on AikiWeb lately, “Aikido Changed My Life!" about the ways one has been changed by Aikido.

I have been practicing Aikido for only a little over 6 months. Even in that short time I have had many experiences of not recognizing myself, more so in the past few weeks.

The changes I can explain are changes I have intentionally made – better fitness, weight loss, a more disciplined approach to some things at work and home. (I shared some of these in a post before my first exam ”Reflections at the First Milestone“, and will share more recent ones another time.) In making these changes my practice of Aikido is a piton* in the rock face – a source of support and safety that enables me to climb higher.

But there are many changes I cannot explain. I’m happier, more settled, less cynical, more focused. I’m more aware of the emotions of people around me, more willing to be open and vulnerable with people, filled with gratitude, deeply touched by kindness. I’ve grown, and watched others grow. Things that were hard are easy. I never expected this.

This path is taking me through some unfamiliar but breathtaking territory.

*Pitons ("PEE-tahn”) are those metal pins that mountain climbers pound into cracks and then hook onto to keep them from falling to their deaths if they slip.

coffee and music
missy meows around my feet
the hunter’s moon sets

Linda Eskin
At the beginning of a month of stepped-up training & goals.

Astronomy note: The Hunter’s moon is the full moon after the Harvest Moon. Full moons set near dawn.