New Experiences, New Attitudes

In this blog I have often written about the challenges I’ve met here in Africa as well as about trying to grow as a person (I hate this expression ‘grow as a person’ but don’t really know how else to put it). I came to think of it again today when I met yet more challenges and contemplated their effect on me…

This morning (at 6am!) I attended a local Taekwondo class here in Awassa, Ethiopia. I must admit I have always been quite prejudiced against all other martial arts besides Aikido having a bit arrogant attitude that my kind is the best. Now here on this continent where I cannot as easily as at home brush aside all the open-minded friendly invitations, I’ve already attended Karate class in Dar es Salaam and now it was Taekwondo’s turn. I didn’t do any better in Taekwondo than when I tried the Karate katas; all these different kicks were just too much for my comprehension, but I had loads of fun trying. And what made me especially happy was the fact that I could relax completely and drop any necessity to show to anybody that ‘I’m an aikidoka and I will always do exceptionally well in any martial art’… No, I was happy to be silly, adventurous person who is ready and willing to try anything that comes on her way 🙂 I mean, this was the first time ever I felt completely free from showing off and I liked myself much better that way (even though my kicks must have looked pitiful to the young guys who were mastering the art beautifully 😉

This trying of new things open-mindedly without the fear of making a fool out of yourself is as good a drug as endorfines you get from just normal practicing. I’ve also considered taking up jogging (which I have always been appalled about) since so many people seem to enjoy it tremendously. Last weekend there was a half marathon here in Awassa organized by Ethiopia’s grand man in long distance running Haile Gebreselassie. I didn’t run but watching the happy endorfine filled faces that entered the finish line I wished I had… I also read earlier Christopher McDougall’s excellent book Born to Run which in it’s part helped opening my eyes to the beauty and value of other activities besides Aikido…

In the end of the Taekwondo class I faced yet another challenge when requested to give an ex tempore speech to the students. Since I felt very grateful for the revelation I had had during the class I didn’t want to say just something indifferent but really put my mind into it and I do hope the students felt my sincerity and maybe that even opened a little space in their minds towards acknowledging all the martial artists belonging to the same family aiming at self growth and demolition of aggression within ourselves.

After the Taekwondo class I rushed to give Aikido class for children at the Awassa Youth Campus. I believe my experience at Taekwondo made me more fun and more approachable teacher that morning and I felt very close to the children… And again I was suddenly put into a tight spot! After the class we always sit a while in a circle and the students are free to ask questions from the teacher. Now Demelash, the dojo-cho, made me a question that was clearly inspired by a couple of girls in the class who are more advanced than most of the kids: How to keep up the interest towards the training when you sometimes feel bored in the class, even frustrated? This was another subject I didn’t want to pass lightly but wanted to say something meaningful, something that would genuinly help these girls to continue with their training. I don’t know how well I succeeded in my words but again, I was being sincere and I do believe sincerity makes a difference in this world…

All these openings of one’s mind and challenges to say something that matters made me feel that I have succeeded to grow a little today – thanks to good people who create the opportunities…:-)

Happy faces at the finish line

Happy faces at the finish line

The marathon was a big happening and also the audience took everything out of it.

The marathon was a big happening and also the audience took everything out of it.

So how did this thing called Tenchinage go again...?

So how did this thing called Tenchinage go again…?

The quality of the photo is terrible, but I just had to put it here since I cherish so much the moment this photo was taken.

The quality of the photo is terrible, but I just had to put it here since I cherish so much the moment this photo was taken.

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