Welcome to the Brooklyn Aikikai web log. Our purpose is to provide to our community and beyond an online account of weekly articles, thoughts, and community happenings. The web log is moderated by Ryugan and Kate Savoca. We welcome any submissions in regards to Aikido, Zen, Misogi and Iaido or weapons study. We would also be interested in receiving any thoughts on cultural activities or practices that support a healthy, organic lifestyle with particular emphasis on their relation to the above mentioned arts. Please send only serious submissions – we reserve the right to edit articles for content or length, however, we will work with authors to preserve the integrity of their thoughts. Thanks for visiting and please check back regularly!

-R. Savoca

Sunday, February 22, 2009


by Iwona Kupka

For the last few months, the questions I hear the most often is: “Why aikido?”, “ What does aikido give you?” So, this is an explanation for everybody who asks.

Only four months ago, after my first week of practicing aikido, I had a conversation with the Sensei. He asked me how I felt about my aikido classes. I don’t remember everything that I tried to say except for one fact. I answered him: “Because of the fact that English is not my native language, sometimes I don’t know which I am supposed to choose: watching techniques or listening attentively to what the teachers say”. And then the Sensei said, “Don’t worry about your language, just watch!”

Have you ever gotten a piece of advice in your life, which seemed so simple that you couldn’t believe it would work? I think that is what happened to me four months ago.

The next day, after my meeting with the Sensei, I came back on the mat. I tried to just watch…but I couldn’t stop thinking about all my limits: a language barrier, shyness, being exhausted mentally and physically. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t try to take the Sensei’s advice - I did, but…I observed the technique, and I was thinking “Ok, when it is your turn, just step forward on your right foot, grab his wrist and elbow - I think that I get this”. After choosing my “opponent”, I realized that “I DIDN’T get this”. Every class the same feeling - really depressing - again and again.

Just watch, just watch, don’t try to get “everything” at the same moment – that was in my mind, but unfortunately there were a lot of different things in the way also. I can’t say when I started to change but…it happened and it was an amazing feeling and hard lesson at the same time. Polishing my spirit, stopping my impatience, getting stronger physically – that’s what I thank aikido for, and that’s my answer to: “Why aikido?”

I have to add one more element which is perhaps the most important in my adoption of aikido. Because of aikido, because of people whom I meet at the dojo, I learn every day to open my eyes and look for more. I open my eyes on aikido, I open my eyes for me, I open my eyes for the most important things in my life. So, I will come again to the dojo tomorrow and…I will just watch!


  1. Thanks for this post. I see something of myself in it. Not the language barrier (unless I consider knowing the language to be a barrier...), but wanting so much to let my own mental junk drop away so I can see what is happening.

  2. It is so true that a key component of what we learn in class is to watch. Watch the hands, watch the feet, the body.... Learn to be observant. Put our own issues aside and absorb what is being demonstrated. This is so easy to write, but some days so much harder to do.

    Thanks for posting this. Reading your words and Tom's makes me realize its not just my challenge.

  3. Iwona,

    A beautiful article! Thank you! This is perhaps the hardest thing for all of us to get and to try to convey to others: stop asking questions, stop talking, stop doubting... just watch! I'm trying to teach it in the children's classes too. Maybe if they can practice this type of learning while they are young it might not be so difficult as they get older! That is certainly my wish.
    See you on the mat.


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