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July 09, 2013

Don’t let your guard down even after a victory

When we make mistakes or run into a problem, we tend to think about the reasons and causes for it, but when things are progressing well we often do not think about it. Of course it is good if things are really progressing well but sometimes when things look smooth or things happen to go well by chance, it can actually be quite dangerous. During this time we are most likely to become careless and we will tend to stop Ki flow.

Big mistakes and problems do not occur suddenly without reasons.

Before some problem arises there are usually at least a few small signs to alert us. We often overlook these signs until we finally meet the result. If we pay attention to these small signs and determine the cause of the problem, we can avoid making big mistakes and going through big problems. The danger is that these signs can be hidden by the feeling of “all looks well at first glance,” and as a result we are unable to notice them.

A good example of this occurred when one of my uchideshi was driving the car to take us to a seminar.

Usually when the traffic light turns yellow it means that the driver should start to slow down, but what he did was to step on the accelerator and speed up. If it happened only once, it could have been by chance, but after watching him more closely it seemed that he did it regularly and it had become a bad habit.

I pointed out his mistake, and he responded, “Yes, I understand”, but it was clear that he did not really understand the reason why it was not correct. So, I told him to pull over at a safe spot at the side of the road so that I could explain this to him.

When driving, there are no zero percentage rates of accidents.

However, the probability rate of accidents can be reduced as close to zero as possible. This is usually determined by our daily habits. To believe that everything will always be fine just because we have not encountered any major accidents when driving in the past, is actually a big mistake, as it makes us become less aware and more careless even when there are tell-tale signs given.

By driving through even when the traffic light turns yellow and not getting into an accident only proves that the driver has been lucky so far. By speeding up and driving through on a yellow light actually makes an accident hard to avoid, especially if there are impatient cyclists or pedestrians trying to cross from the side of the road.

Having a habit of slowing down and getting ready to stop when the traffic light turns yellow actually reduces the chance of getting into an accident or causing one. Now the uchideshi understands how dangerous it is to have this bad habit for the rest of his life. As a result, he has changed this bad driving habit.

At times when things look very smooth and there appears to be no problems, it is important to ask ourselves whether it is really as smooth and safe as it appears. “Is it really going well?” “Could it be that this just happens to be smooth?” It is very important that we continually check our habits, behaviors, and our thoughts.

The same thing applies to Aikido practice.

When we get caught or stuck on a particular art or movement during training, we normally make an effort to find out the reason for it and do our best to become better. This practice will help to give us confidence and a positive attitude. However we believe we can do well, we do not often improve those techniques without learning the cause of our mistakes.

Sometimes things move smoothly and sometimes they don’t. We need to be more careful when things go well. When it looks well, please double check. In reality it could be really dangerous sometimes.

It is very important not to stop Ki flow in daily life. A well-known Japanese saying goes, “Don’t let your guard down even after a victory.” I try to keep this in mind every day.

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