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Lessons from the dojo

I’m a silly person. I spent a lot of time wanting to write rather than writing. So I’ve decided to start blogging a bit more, and while the primary focus of this blog is religious, I’m going to broaden the topics to cover whatever the fuck I want.

With that said, let’s talk about Aikido; namely, the things I learned in class last week.

Last week in class, we had a couple of new white belts in class, which I love. First, because I love seeing new folks on the mats, and second, because that means we go back to the basics a bit more, and we can hear the same questions, and come to different understandings about the answers, or learn a new way to do something, or correct a bad habit we’ve fallen into. There’s a lot to be said for working with folks you’ve known for a long time, but new folks are a breath of fresh air.

I was working in a three person group with one of the white belts and a black belt when Sensei came to work with us. The white belt asked a question I remember asking to – “What do you do if someone is using this move/aikido against you?”

Sensei’s answer was simple – “Don’t let them use aikido against you. If someone is using aikido against you, you are likely in the wrong.”  We don’t learn attacks in Aikdio except what we need to be a good uke. The art of Aikido (which translates as “The way of unifying with Qi” or “The way of harmonious spirit”) has no attacks because we are not interested in attacking. We defend.  We protect ourselves. We get out of the way. The first move in many cases is a turn – irimi, we move in, tenkan, we move out.  Most of the moves traditionally end with a pin, not a knockout.  I once saw an illustration explaining how different fights start and end (two people meet and one kills the other, they meet and one provokes the other and kills him in ‘self-defence’ vice versa, etc.). All the fights ended with one or both people dead or injured, with the goal of Aikido being the result of such a situation being that either the fight does not start or is ended in a non-fatal, ultimately non-injurious way.

The Aikidoka strives not to start a fight, and if they cannot avoid it, to end it safely. Ideally, both people should walk away from the encounter. We blend with an attack rather than fight against it. We stop before things go on, and we get away. But basically – we don’t start shit.

I made such a face that Sensei asked what I was thinking about, and I pulled her aside to share that I was both pissed off and justified.

See, I had an ex who used to tickle me. I’m not…against tickling. It has a time and place. But if I say stop, you need to stop, period.  With them, I would say, “No really, stop now.” and even”No seriously fucking stop it”. Yet they would not, and I couldn’t make them stop, as they were bigger than me and had the better hand to hand training. However, eventually on at least one occasion, later in my training, I snapped and wound up getting them with a sankyo, which is…not fun. You don’t want to be in one.  I think that fairly clearly states that no, I am not ok, and you really need to stop now.

I always felt bad about that, though. It hurt their hand and wrist, and they complained all night and was very upset, because they need their hands for work, and I generally don’t want to hurt the people I loved.  Between that and how upset they were, I sincerely thought I was in the wrong. But. Here’s the thing. I literally cannot put someone into sankyo if they don’t have their hands on me, unless they are trying to lay hands on me. That’s not how it works.

I’d like to pretend that they were really upset that they had ignored my requests to stop and felt like a bag of dicks because of that and how I had to get them to stop, but let’s be real here, they were upset that they got hurt end stop. The fact that my boundaries were crossed was what caused the pain didn’t factor into their thought process.  That was not the first or last time my boundaries were crossed like that, but if theirs were crossed it was always a Very Serious Situation.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person is to pin them until they think about what they’ve done. Also, while they have every right to lose their shit when their boundaries are violated, I can and should have the same reaction. I shouldn’t have to put up with it and one of the few things I regret is that I did.  I’ve also learned that historically I have been willing to put up with boundary violations from someone I care about and I’m not into that anymore – it was like being with my ex-husband all over again but without the ‘because I wanted to!’ foot stamp.

The other thing that happened in Aikido is I had a bit of a breakthrough regarding how I feel interacting with people.  I’m three years in, but still very skittish.

See, I was ordered into martial arts by Angrboda. And I know a big part of that was to help me get past much of the fear and anxiety I have, particularly around men. I am a survivor of sexual assaults, and I still have anxiety and PTSD.  Even though I know that I am safe in the dojo, I still get nervous, especially when I’m the only woman in the class. It’s not rational, but trauma isn’t rational.

And of course, over time, its gotten better. But I still get skittish when folks get too close to me.

One sensei likes to include techniques that can be used in practical situations, and we were practicing a technique to get away if you are pinned to a wall, front or back. My partner was being very polite when he was pinning me from behind – the pin we were working with was one hand on a shoulder, pinning to the wall, a knee up on a leg, and a hand/implied knife in the lower back. I finally looked at him and said “Listen, if I get pinned to a wall like this, no one is stealing my money. They would be right up in my grill.” I kindly did not say that this had happened to me before. Dude didn’t need that info. and once he confirmed I was ok with it, when it was my turn to practice with my face in the wall, he’d get right up in there.

This time, I picked the move up much quicker.  I actually do pretty well while learning with a bit of an extra push like that, and the adrenaline seems to make everything a bit sharper.  By the end of it, I was able to get out of the pin and atemi (strike, or feint a strike) to the face.  I was quite proud of myself, for getting it, for remaining calm even though it was an unpleasant and uncomfortable position to be in again.

My partner’s reaction to it was rather interesting as well. He was willing to do it, but clearly, very uncomfortable because to do that to another person, or to a woman, was clearly not in his nature.  He’s intimidating on the mats, and very intense, and it’s a good reminder for me that most dudes are *not* a problem. Its just the ones who are. That whole not being able to tell until its too late thing. But overall, I felt very good about this class as well.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A Prayer for my Divided Nation

facingthefireswithin

Things are looking dark right now, and many friends feel that.  I have seen swirling anger at levels that I cannot remember before and friends deeply divided in many directions.  Rage and violence are in many places. I fear I may lose friends as well.  In meditation this morning, and after, I wrote this:

Hail Heimdall! Help those who must keep the watch and remind them to do it well as well as to remember ALL of their duties.

Hail Hermod! Let those who must bear the memories and stories of the dead be inspired to carry that duty well.

Hail Tyr! Remind us that Rage, even Righteous Rage, can be the Fire that engulfs us all. “For Fenris must be chained, or Chaos will be King!”

Hail Freya! Remind us that the Passions we all bear do us credit, but can sometimes go too far.  I call on you…

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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

For the past few months, the same memory has been floating up to the top of my mind. I figured I might as well share it here. I think it might be a reminder to share more of myself than just what I think are ‘important woo things’, because its a reminder that its the little things which can make the biggest difference


When I was as the end of my time in massage school, we were sent out on a variety of externships to get practice with real world clients. For one of mine, I chose to go give massage at a group home for mentally ill folks, many of whom were (recently) formerly homeless, who were at a point in their treatment where they were transitioning back into living and working. We were giving relaxation chair massages, nothing fancy. It was mostly a chance to practice intake and working with strangers. I was in my white pants and fancy little polo shirt from the school, looking all neat and professional for all that we were throwing pillows and towels on a table for folks to lean on – no actual massage chairs were available for offsite work.

My last client of the day was late and not a happy camper, but I didn’t have to be anywhere and he looked like he needed the massage. I sat there while he painstakingly filled out his intake form in wobbly block print, hands shaking the entire time. He had trouble spelling, especially his medications. He asked me how to spell one of his meds – seroquel.

I told him, and mentioned I took it as well, and he was so surprised. Its hard to describe, so many years later, when I can’t recall the exact words. But while before we started we talked a little. I was taking seroquel at the time because I used to depersonalize; for a very long time, my doctors thought I was bipolar (long story short, while I am OCD and clinically depressed, the BPD was a side effect of the hormones I’d been on.) I told him that I was bipolar, and he said he was too. That some of the meds he was on made his hands shake and his muscles hurt. And he was amazed to see that I was doing “So well”, even though I didn’t feel like I was at the time. Shit, I still don’t feel like that. But just that little bit of sharing made a huge difference to him. He left that day smiling, because he said he figured if I could be ok and be doing so well as a massage student and what not, that he could do ok too.

Its a good reminder for me that how we perceive our selves against others is relative – I certainly didn’t feel like I had my life together compared to other folks I knew, but to this man, I was a light in  a dark place. And I learned that sharing some of the things folks hide about themselves can make a huge difference to someone struggling with the same thing.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A Mother’s Day prayer for those whose earthly mothers are lacking

Happy mothers day to the moms, soon to be moms and trying to be moms in my life. To those of us with terrible moms we choose to be estranged from: at least our dads are cool.

A Mother’s Day Prayer
For those whose earthly mothers are lacking

Hail Angrboda, Mother of Monsters:
May I have the will to keep on my road, even when lost.

Hail Sigyn, Mother of Grief:
May my sorrows be bearable, even when sharp

Hail Freya, Mother of Treasure:
May I remember my value, even when knocked down.

Hail Frigga, Mother of Light:
May I remember that even when in darkness, light comes from me.

Hail Rind, Mother of Vengeance:
May what comes forth from me be my revenge, a life well lived.

Hail Jarnsaxa, Mother of Strength:
May I always be strong enough to always do better than my past.

Hail Hela, Mother of Death:
Take what sorrows I cannot bear any longer and lay them at the feet of my ancestral mothers, so they may know I tried.

—-
Creative Commons License
This work by Úlfdís is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Concepts in Modern Polytheism – Antiquity vs. Modernity

Concepts in Modern Polytheism – Antiquity vs. Modernity

MystikNomad

*Note: This post is very Euro-centric, because that’s what I know and that’s the viewpoint of most of my readers. Circumstances were/are different in other places, especially when we’re talking about living traditions, so while some of this can be extrapolated for those it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. Keep that in mind when reading. I am also so not an expert with all of this, so if you find any mistakes please feel free to PM me and let me know!

“Antiquity” and “Modernity” are concepts at the core of quite a few debates in modern polytheism. That makes unwrapping them a great start to this “Concepts of Modern Polytheism” series!

To begin, I guess the first thing to understand is that Antiquity and Modernity don’t refer to time periods. That’s the obvious place our brains go, and where a lot of these discussions seem to founder, but it’s not…

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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Spiritual Molestation

H/t to Wintersong for posting this today.
While the article comes from a Christian perspective, about a Christian action,
 
1) its good to see other Christians calling this stuff out and
 
2) It’s always something to keep in mind. There is a big difference between the give and take of hospitality and the gifting of charity – hospitality has a give and take between a host and guess.
 
Sure they may be in an unequal position in hospitality, but if you are giving charity, charity out of the good of your heart and the love of your God(s), then charity? Is not conditional. Ask if you can pray for someone LATER, after you handle the issue at hand: feeding a hungry person who is so hungry, they’re willing to risk pain and humiliation to ask for some food.
 
Don’t be a dick. You shame your Gods with such actions.
 
—–
“To demand that someone do something that makes you happy before you will give them food is not to show the love of God, nor is it loving like God does. It abuses people in the name of God and bears witness to the idea that God is abusive and power-hungry to someone who has good reason to doubt God’s love in the first place. It is, instead, to work against the love of God and the message of Jesus. It is anti-gospel and, in fact, anti-Christ.” 
Read the full article, Spiritual Molestation, by Hugh Hollowell
 
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Posted by on January 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Practical Rune Magic: Ior

Practical runic car magic: I have a friend who uses Isa as their go to protective rune for their car and while driving.

I can see why, since Isa, as the Ice rune, is a great rune for sliding on by and making sure you’re not seen (such as when you’re speeding, or parking illegally.)

However, the downside to that is the same as the upside – sometimes you don’t see ice. The few times I’ve used Isa and forgotten to remove it have generally ended with folks just missing me at the last minute.

Earlier this summer, I had a little incident with my car where the passenger side window would not roll up. I was not able to get this fixed for over two weeks because I didn’t have the funds to repair it. I also live in a somewhat rough neighborhood where leaving your car window open isn’t the best idea. Plus…rain was coming.

So I did all the practical stuff – removed my EZ pass, phone charger, anything I couldn’t afford to lose and locked the glove compartment. Parked on a main street with the window facing the one way road. But before that, driving home, I was angry and frustrated, particularly as had I been told by the person who gave me the car the motor was going, I’d have stopped using it until I had gotten it repaired!). In my frustration, I ran through the runes in my head looking for help, and bam, there it was. Ior.

Image from Shadowlight: Iormungand

Ior is the rune of the World Serpent, which is found in the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc set of runes (The Futhorc is 33 runes – the 24 runes from the Elder Futhark with an additional aett +1). One of my teachers associates Ior with the keyword of BOUNDARIES. Clearly – Jormungandr is literally the boundary between Midgard and Ginnungagap; encircling and protecting us from the void.

So I galdred Ior in my car, and I also like to make the Jotunmobile look like a great crouching beast that one wouldn’t want to approach.

Two weeks with no window and some really pathetic plastic coverings, and not a thing was damaged by human or rain.

I used it again recently which is what inspired this post.  I was desperate to get to my appointment. I had to pee and I was having a hell of a time finding a parking spot near my doctor’s office in Old City at night. I finally parked illegally on the block of the office, in front of a hydrant, and again placed Ior on my car before running in.  I figured I’d have a ticket by the time i left – in fact as I was stepping out my car there were cops both walking and driving down the street.  Not a thing.

I personally prefer Ior of Isa as a protective rune for items in motion, but I’d love to hear other folks experiences with both in the comments.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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