Aikido, Golf & Horse back riding

What’s the thing in common between golf, Aikido and horse back riding?Well, for the first instance you’d say that there aren’t anything in common, but in fact there is. In these three activities one has to be in harmony with himself and with the others, and without cultivating this sense, one can’t perform his best.

For Aikido: Aikido practice was meant to be a way of experiencing this fundamental connection between the pieces of the Great Whole. It wasn’t intended as a “fighting system”, in fact the practice of the art was meant to eliminate fighting since violence occurs only as a misunderstanding of the true nature of the world and Aikido practice was meant of be a path of realization which illuminated rather than obscured this truth. So in O-Sensei’s Aikido the statement “masakatsu agatsu” is meant to reinforce this truth. “True victory is Self Victory” is another one of the core Aikido concepts.

Actually, Aikido means literally the way of being in harmony with Ki (internal energy), and to achieve this, one has to be in harmony with himself, his opponent and ultimately the universe. One last thing about Aikido, when you do a technique you have two options: omote or ura, the first thing (omote) generally means that you have to be in front of the attacker, it is a more vigorous way, some people describe it as the ‘fight’ option especially that you have to enter with an atemi (a tiny strike to distract him). The second (ura) is when you go behind the attacker and absorb the attack, that’s the ‘flight’ option. Note that the use of the words fight and flight is not very accurate in the vocabulary of aikido.

For Golf: At the beginning one has to understand the connection with the ball. I can’t recall how many times I did good practice swings and then when it came to hitting the ball I hit it terribly! This has to do with ‘fear’, a surprising thing for non golfers, but it’s true, every golfer has a moment of fear from the ball… Anyway, let’s get back to the harmony issue. On a higher level, one has to be in harmony with the golf course itself, he has to feel the wind, to understand the field, and here I don’t mean the simple physical part of it, no, here I mean the spirit of the place. I may sound weired but this is what they say. 

Here I quote Bagger Vance, it’s a conversation between Bagger and Junuh:

  • Inside each and every one of us is one true, authentic swing. Something we were born with, that’s ours and ours alone. Something can’t be taught to you or learned. Something that got to be remembered. Over time, the world can rob us of that swing and get buried inside us under all our woulda’s and coulda’s, and shoulda’s. Some folk even forget what their swing was like. You keep swinging.
  • But I don’t have any balls.
  • Don’t worry about the ball or where it’s gonna go. Just swing the club. Close your eyes.
  • Close my eyes, You can’t make that ball go in.
  • You have to let it. Feel the club. Feel the weight of the club. A deep perfect line. Dropping in, soft as butter. Listen to the sounds of the night. Keep swinging that club. Feel the breeze coming off the sea. Keep swinging that club until you’re part of the whole thing.”

    For Horses: The first rule I heard when I tried horse back riding was how to balance my weight in order to avoid a fall, the second thing is to keep pace with the horses movement, to anticipate its next move and go along with it. I was told that when the horse is walking slowly I have to really feel the rhythm of it’s movement, so when it starts to trot I would follow the same rhythm. Again it is all about harmony. Fear also occupies a part in my mind when I ride (unfortunately).

As a conclusion, golf, aikido and horse back riding all depend on harmonizing yourself. But for me there is another thing in common which is FEAR. 


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