A Student's Experience
In the time I have been coming to the dojo many things have happened for me. They are all small, but cumulatively aikido has had a major impact on my life.
I am a woman with a disability, I have a prosthetic limb. My difference has never held me back, in fact throughout my life it has challenged me to try harder, go farther and do more.
I fell in love with the ideals of Aikido long before I was able to practice. When I finally got here I had a lot of fear - it occurred to me what if I can't do this, what if I quit, what if I can't do it because of my leg? In my head I knew this would not be true because aikido is designed for all people - that is what makes it beautiful. I once knew a Sensei who could not lift one of his arms higher than his shoulder, yet he was teaching. So I put my fear on a shelf, followed my heart and I came...
At first I fell over a lot, I had difficulty with small things like where to stand, the language, even looking people in the eye. As I practised I learned that my artificial leg was becoming an advantage, it helped me to keep my foot angled properly in kamae. I was used to being mindful of my centre and where my feet were with respect to the ground so sliding my feet came quite easily. My balance, confidence and concentration have really improved. Breakfalls are becoming automatic for me so if I do slip and fall, which for me happens rather regularly ;) I dont get hurt like I once did.
The most significant change has been in my spirit. I have learned that I do have discipline, that although I have fear, I have courage to work through it. Aikido is also helping me to learn to work cooperatively with other people. Aikido helps me to release stress, to have fun and to laugh. It teaches me also to not take myself so seriously - when I have a blood pouring out of my one knee, the strap on my prosthesis keeps falling off and I just can't remember the technique - I have to laugh.
Hiryukan Dojo under the leadership of Stephen Ohlman Sensei is a wonderful place to practice, to learn superb Aikido and to have fun. So come - learn to love Aikido as I am doing.