That which is taught and that which is concealed

pic trouée02In the Estibere Vale, Pyrenese Mountains. Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2002

I set my eyes on Aikido when I was a child, one afternoon coming out the Judo class. A teenager was doing Kote Kaeshi. I just stopped and looked onto this new way of using energy. I saw the direction of the thrust enrolling a thread around an axis and pulling a body into a spin. It was no more the action of a leverage. This was something else.

I have met Noro Masamichi sensei since and followed his path. He has quitted but I do not mourn his loss. It will be 4 years since he passed away on March 15th 2013. Yet it is no loss to me for he gave me his teaching which I cultivate every day. He did not give his person, his intimate being. What he gave me, every day I care for it, I water it, I groom it. I bow on entering the dojo, the place where the lesson lives and is alive. I move forward with no feeling of loss. What was given, I give it my attention, my energy, my life. What was not given, I took as much as I could. When I was in the dojo in the days Noro sensei was with us, I set my eyes on what was shown as well as on what was concealed. I am the son of a teacher who was also the daughter of a teacher, on the English side. I am the son of a scholar who was the son of a scholar, on the Vietnamese side. I am also the son, nephew, grandson of athletes and coaches. It was given to me to understand that to receive a lesson implies to open one’s eyes on the visible and on the concealed. This I have always done. So I have no regret, I took what my master wanted me to learn and even more.

Details and principles may not have been explicitly unveiled to me but my master lived through them and by them. They were on exhibition each time I could look onto him. He could not hide himself. He could only wait for a student to look beyond the explicit. Some may say “He did not teach this.” I do not answer this. I simply go back to the dojo to study what was taught and what was on “life exhibition.” Some say to me “These are your words.” The true student is a magician who changes words into exercises and exercises into understanding. Those who stop at words are not studying martial arts. Martial arts is about changing not water into wine but example and words into mastery. A Chinese master said “I change youth into tigers and dragons.”

I took the picture above because I was struck by its beauty. I also took it because when I set my eyes onto mastery, I live it as an invitation to move forward with no doubt that it is calling.

When in doubt, make the next step, put words into action and answer the call.

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