Putting on my Gi

by Frank V. Gordon

I had been practicing Aikido for about three years. I was going through a very difficult time in my life. My career was foundering, my life at home was a train wreck, painful all the time. I went to the dojo every night that I could, seven days a week. When I got on the mat during those days, I was a fearsome uke. My attacks were always hard, always powerful. I wasn't afraid of being hurt because I didn't care. If I could goad the Sempai to pound me, it just meant I'd sleep better that night. Nage was harder because I had to maintain a lot of self-control, which I did. Though angry, I was always very careful not to hurt anyone out of my anger.

Slowly, over a period of many months, I noticed something in the changing room. Stripping off my street clothes, slowly, it started to feel as though I was stripping off my problems. At least for a while. Everything got folded and put in my bag. My clothes, my grind, my daily agony went in my bag. Putting on a clean white gi, looking towards the mat, I started to be able to leave the rest of my life with my street clothes. I began using the changing of clothes as a punctuation mark in a very deliberate, conscious, way. Change direction, focus attention. Change direction, focus attention again. And again. Be on the mat. Be off the mat. Not halfway. Don't look over your shoulder, turn and face your problem. Turn and face your next problem. When its done, its done. Enter. Do what's next. Tension and relax. Hard and soft. Yin and Yang.

Over a period of time, I got my life put back together in a better way. I learned how to be more present, and less focussed on the future, the past, the should-have-been's, the ought-to-be's. My life is pretty good today and I'm thankful.

When I go to the dojo, everything gets folded and put in my bag.

And then I put on my Gi.