First Degree Black Belt is the beginning of keiko (study).
After years of training, the basic forms of Aikido start to live in the body, the heart, the mind, the way music lives in a musician.
The idea is to become a brush, writing peace in the world.
Chris came to the dojo several years ago with a background in training with Nobu Iseri (whose dojo was across the street in Ojai from where Living Aikido is now). She told me before she started classes, “I want to get my black belt!”
Every Dan presentation in our lineage is crafted by the promoter as a self-revelation: not only of martial skill but of the deep self to be witnessed and held by the community.
Some presentations are about the physical challenge inherent in the practice. For a candidate who regularly trains with her grandchildren, you might think that would be the case for Chris’ presentation.
Chris’ Aikido is a tapestry of her life: her inspirations, her faith, her service. Her narration of the techniques and concepts of Aikido in the context of her story was connective and liberating for those of us privileged to be there. She piece-by-piece narrated us through the techniques and experiences of Aikido and told us the stories of her inspirations in life and her involvement(s) in Aikido.
After the presentation, she commented, “All right, let’s do this in 2 years and see where I am then!”
And I thought, “Now there’s a bold way to schedule your nidan (2nd degree black belt) presentation!” Which is not what she meant, but which made me chuckle.