Of course, I knew it was a martial art. But I conveniently focused on the art component of that. On the beauty and power of movement, of understanding the mechanics of the body and how to leverage those mechanics in effortless motion. That's what I wanted.
When I came home from my first class, other details lingered.
The reality of uniforms and a practice full of ritual (things I generally cringe away from).
And that the names of all of the techniques are in Japanese (in spite of wanting to be very good at languages, I've proven myself to be quite terrible at speaking them).
An ongoing list of the things that had some underlying personal discomfort, and that, in other situations, I've given myself permission to walk away from.
Somehow, I convinced myself that those points (and patterns) of discomfort weren't enough to walk away this time.
I'm a few months in to attending regular classes now.
Those art components I focused on before I got to class, those things are part of Aikido.
I am also reminded often that this is a martial art, developed out of combat situations.
"Now, do that same movement, but do it as if you actually intended to hit someone, not just reach for a glass of water."
Hearing things like that, things that bump me up against the line of my own unfamiliarity vs. unwillingness in action keeps me showing up for class every week.
I am motivated by my own discomforts, and a desire to shift the boundaries that limit my participation in the world.
I am compelled by the intersection of force and beauty. And the seamlessness of technique when performed well.
Last week, I wrote about wanting to develop a more flexible body awareness, to work on an ability to be both internally and externally aware and present. And to be able to shift my focus within that awareness.
Aikido is one of the things that is helping me toward that.