Forgive me as i ramble:
As is often the case with the people i hang out with, an interesting thought came to me a moment ago while reading a comic book. It was an issue of Street Fighter ( Street Fighter Legends: Sakura issue 1 for anyone who cares to know). The comic series, and the Street Fighter mythos in general, often brings up the question "Why do we fight?" It deals with martial artists of all sorts of different styles and various levels of skill running around the world fighting each other with the somewhat vague goal of "getting better". Something about this always appealed to me for some reason, though i probably couldn't explain why.
For a long time i've followed along with the belief that the crazy struggle people put themselves through learning a martial art by punching and kicking and generally sweating themselves to death was, though a hard path to walk on, an eventual door to some....higher truth? or maybe atleast a better understanding of myself. Now i'm not knocking that idea at all, as a matter of fact i've met quiet a few people i respect that have taken that idea to a level that i might never achieve with a cheat code and made it their own. Biljac Burnside Sensei would be among those. Here's a guy that has dedicated practically his entire life to the study of Seibukan Shorin Ryu (very cool style, but a tale for another day) traveling around the world to learn and teach it. He fits the stereotype of "the humble, honorable gentle fighter" and he's a great guy to talk to and a wonderful teacher. If you've ever met him he's the classic example of what i'm talking about.
So anyway, to get back on a track only i may be able to follow, i'm reading this comic book and it dawns on my how different i am from the days of Seibukan and how i've "gotten better".
As demonstrated by the topic of discussion on the Fugakukai boards of "Why we keep training after green belt" Every martial artist, or atleast guys like me who take one since i doubt i could fall under a title held in such high regard, has their various reasons as to why they keep doing it. Why, for instance, they may kill what little free time they have between work and school that they might need to study to drive 400 something miles a week when the car holds up and the money for gas is available to take the trip to learn how to NOT hurt somebody. It's a weird paradox my mind has somehow adjusted too, the learning how NOT to hurt someone as a method of improvement. When you've gotten so used to gauging how well you're doing by the meter stick of fighting and your potential to inflict pain on someone and possibly gaining some grasp on who you are and where you want to be, it's a disorienting mirror image to find that in a relatively short amount of time what you've learned gauging yourself by the meter stick of "get behind the guy and get the hell out of the way".
Every class of aikido i go to seems to break down some idea or another i have about the whole martial arts ideal. I will say that no other experience i've had thus far compares when you're dealing with your own private struggle vs. self. All the punches i ever threw against the Seibukan dojo's makawara board have yet to compare to what i've learned about myself while just trying to walk around on the balls of my feet. I guess that's the reason i have for coming back to the dojo every week, aikido allows me to redirect frustration into self improvement.
God bless anyone who actually made it through my crazy stream of consciousness writing to this sentence.