Monday, February 12, 2007

The Gentle Warrior

We sauntered past another milestone in the Cage household over the weekend…my beloved husband attained the rank of “shodan” or first level black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. In simple terms: “It employs locks and holds and utilizes the principle of nonresistance to cause an opponent's own momentum to work against him or her. Aikido emphasizes the importance of achieving complete mental calm and control of one's own body to master an opponent's attack. There are no offensive moves. It traces its origins to Japanese martial (samurai) traditions dating to the 14th century, and it was developed as a modern form in the early 20th century by Ueshiba Morihei.” (from Wikipedia)

As with most things Japanese there is a lot of ceremony that goes with the practice, which makes it very interesting to watch. There was an actual test of techniques in front of a panel of judges, then a ceremony in which the three shodans received their belts and hakama and put them on, and gifts were exchanged. Even though it was pouring all day, about 30 people made their way up the mountain to our house for a pot-luck party after the festivities at the dojo were over.

The fact that he didn’t start training until he was 42 and it only took him 6 years to get his black belt is a testament to his dedication and effort. I’m just so damn proud of him. But, I refuse to wrestle with him anymore, it just isn't a fair fight. He knows a lot of Japanese now too, a useful side effect. In the next few years he hopes to travel to Kyoto with his sensei (teacher) and other students to train and see where it all started. The sensei at his dojo looks like the librarian at your local elementary school, a slight blonde woman in her late 30s with a pony-tail. Many of the most accomplished practitioners of this art are women.

Here’s the kanji, or calligraphic symbols for Ai, Ki and Do, which means harmony, spirit and the path or way, respectively. D’s planning on getting his first tattoo of the kanji to celebrate this event, he’s not sure where its going to go yet. Cool, huh?

Here's a little demonstration video if you're interested, and yes, that is a lady throwing that big guy around like he was a wet noodle.


  1. Wow! Quite an accomplishment!

    My husband just started studying Aikido this past fall, and is really enjoying it. And I'm really enjoying washing his Gi three times a week!

  2. Wow! Congratulations to your husband. It sounds amazing.

  3. That's great, D! Congrats - a lot of hard work goes into that but you must enjoy it. Love the tattoo - super cool! -Kym

  4. Wow! That's amazing. Good for him - you both must be so proud!