Infinite Possibilities

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Discipline is the Refining Fire by Michael Aloia

Discipline is the Refining Fire

To be more exact, self-discipline is the refining fire by which our talent becomes ability. Without it, we remain raw and untapped – our potential never truly realized. Self-discipline gives us that edge – the focus, the will. It sets us on a path and keeps us from taking a wrong turn. Self-discipline is the spark to ignite progress when the flames begin to fade and fire seems to die out. Self-discipline sets us apart from the norm.  It keeps us hungry and it builds character. Self-discipline keeps us in the game long after everyone else has gone home or given up.

As the world watches its best athletes compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics, we all witness first-hand what self-discipline can achieve – it achieves greatness. This greatness is not necessarily determined by a gold or silver medal, but the sheer feat of being on an Olympic team. At that moment – win or lose – they are one of the best of the best. Achieved through self-discipline.

As we go through our daily lives, our own self-discipline standards and practices will play a major role in our ability to achieve. Again, it is not the difference between winning and losing, but the difference between who we are now and who we will become tomorrow.

Be the difference!

– Michael Aloia
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Check out Michael’s books: “How Aikido Can Change the World” and “Rescuer Mindset

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Today is Your Day by Michael Aloia

Today is Your Day

We often hear others who are about to embark on a new direction, a life modification or new perspective that they will begin their adventure tomorrow or the ever popular “Monday” start date. The question always seems to arise – “why not today?” Is today not good enough?  Is today too soon to make the first step?

The words of Ben Franklin always seem to ring out making it as true now at it was then: “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today”.  There is no time like the present.  To quote a line from the movie Rocky 3, “There is no tomorrow”. Though that may seem harsh and appear to be without hope, it is reality. Tomorrow has yet to be and sadly for some, may never come.  Putting something off until tomorrow creates a loop-hole in our commitment – an escape clause – an easy way out.

This is why today is the most important day of our lives. What better time to start something new or different than today? Why would we wait given the reality? Tomorrow never comes to those who choose not to live today. Today is what makes tomorrow worth living for.

Our day is today – seize the day!

– Michael Aloia

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Real and Lasting

Real and Lasting

The founder of Aikido created a system, rooted in ancient ways but primarily based on his own martial experience and even more so heavily influenced by his personal spiritual and religious path.  His connection to those beliefs as well as his connection to the universe is often difficult for both outsiders and practitioners to comprehend fully.  In some regards, we will never truly understand since we did not walk in his geta.  However, the teachings of Aiki are universal and reflect more on the context of self than on the martial aspects.

There is conflict in us all and to deny otherwise is losing touch with ourselves.  True victory is self-victory – masakatsu agatu. To be able to move forward we must accept and embrace all that we are.  Though we are given, lead or shown the “way” does not always mean we will walk it. This is the human condition – this is the challenge we all face. Nevertheless, the path is always there for us to take – it is a matter of choice. We may not feel the same as or understand the Founder’s position, take or beliefs, yet that does not negate our own path and efforts. Consider, however, that our martial path is completely different from his.  His choice of art, style, culture and faith makes what is different the paramount difference. 

Take for example Karate and Aikido. The two arts, though born from the same culture, have completely different philosophies – two different ends of the spectrum.  One is to devastate – a winner and a loser – no equality, where the other is to enhance mutually – no winner or loser – each equal.  Given just this one aspect, coupled with the belief or philosophy of the West in being taught to stand our ground, win at all costs and that there is no one more important than me – then we may have an internal conflict which ultimately seems to find its way to the external.  Aiki poses this challenge to its practitioners.  How do we overcome ways of the mind and ego and permit ways of the spirit to flourish. The defeat of another is ultimately the defeat of one’s self. How do we find the equality in a situation, how do we both mutually benefit? 

Aikido is about strengthening “we” as the individual to enhance the quality of all life – not about winning in a fight. We must be honest with ourselves for it to be effective. Beating someone or hurting another is easy – we don’t need martial arts or budo training for that.  However, to make a real and lasting difference in ourselves and allow that difference to make an impact in another is extraordinary.  There are no competitions or trophies for such accomplishments. Thus, Aikido has no competitions or trophies. It is all personal achievement – often remaining without external praise or reward. 

The achievement is real and lasting and its personal.

 –        Michael Aloia

Michael is the Dojo Cho of the Asahi Schools of Aikido and President of the non-profit organization Aikido United International

Check out Michael’s book How Aikido Can Change the World

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What We Make of It

What We Make of It

We all share the same path, yet we will all experience a different journey. This does not make it right or wrong or even less valuable.  Actually, the lessons learned on the path/journey are only truly valuable to the one who experiences them firsthand – the direct, personal contact that takes place. Through those experiences and more so how we choose to embrace them, or not, will not only affect us but also those around us. This is the ripple effect.

We often confuse the word “serve” with “servitude”. Though similar looking and sounding, each have a distinct definition and ideology attached. We are to serve the best interest of others – our fellow man, the community – the world.  But first we must serve the good of ourselves.  This means to do things that enhance us internally – building a better person – enhancing our character, strengthening our spirit, etc. Servitude means to be enslaved to another or thing. This could also denote a winner and loser concept. We are left with nothing else but to follow one way, giving up our own ability to make a real difference. Because of the often confusion of words and their meaning, people will often dismiss the idea of serving others or helping others unless it equates to some return gain to them.  However, the return gain is a better community – mutually finding a way – hence the ripple effect in action.

What Aikido was when it was created and what it has become and ultimately what it means to each of us are not one in the same.  Aikido is what we make of it, what we do for it and what it does for us. The definitive ripple effect in our lives.

– Michael Aloia

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Check out Michael’s book How Aikido Can Change the World
Michael is the School Director of the Asahi Schools of Aikido and President of Aikido United

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Martial Zen

Martial Zen

Martial spirit is basically the “warrior within” each of us.  Martial zen would then be the practice or training to hone those inner skills of the spirit creating a better individual.  However, one does not have to practice martial arts or a fighting system to practice martial zen for the spirit.  Whatever path someone chooses to follow, martial zen can be achieved – a chef, business owner, priest, musician, parent, etc… 

Martial is defined as being warrior-like or suited for war, relating to soldiers or military.

For those in the Arts, martial has come to mean a discipline – not one imposed by others but one imposed by self. Thus, the study of self.  We are always at war, so to speak, with ourselves – defining right from wrong,

However, in our own personal reality, martial is whatever you want or make it to be.  It is an individual thing – an individual path we each seek to travel, explore and discover. Who is really to say different? To say that “this is martial” or that “this is not” is judgmental and limited. Martial is more of a belief system. “Martial” was developed to deal with an issue at hand, thus, the many styles and approaches – almost a particular reaction for a particular action. This is why we see such diversity.  And that diversity can be embraced and learned from by experience rather than what often happens where we question and condemn.

Budo is a martial way, thus, is a disciplined way of life. How we choose to discipline our lives is our decision.

Find your way…

– Michael Aloia
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Persistence and Fairness

Persistence is never giving up.  Quitting is never a choice and failure is not an option.  Staying dedicated to the process shows focus, determination and self discipline.  Goals will not be reached unless we work to make them reality.  Without accomplishments to persist to, life would be a series of nothing.

Equality goes beyond race, creed or color.  Fairness is a human right which needs to be maintained by everyone.  Treating each other with the same respect, compassion and understanding as we would ourselves only creates a world of unity and peace.  To have peace with others we must first be at peace with ourselves, demonstrating respect compassion and understanding.  How we treat ourselves is how others will treat us.

Persistence and fairness are two main ingredients for success.  We can easily make the decision to reach our goals come what may, weathering the fiercest of storms, but at what cost?  Do we sacrifice relationships, comradery and integrity just to achieve such?  Do we step on others just to reach an end?  What is success without being about to share it with others?  Lonely maybe?  Fairness keeps us honest and respectful – of others and ourselves.  Persistence keeps us committed, disciplined and true to the way – helping others as we help ourselves.

Considering the choices we make as we look to attain the rewards of what we seek is the way of budo.

– Michael Aloia

Check out Michael’s book How Aikido Can change the World – now available
Asahi Schools of Aikido
Want to make a difference: Aikido United International

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