El Khan

Yesterday I went to Khan El Kahlili with my grandmother, something we’ve been talking about for a very long time but didn’t have the chance to do. It’s always nice to go there, if you want to see something that hasn’t been changed for decades, or perhaps centuries. These are the same buildings, those are the same people, only dressed slightly different. The same tea with mint, the same kabab. Everything.

However, the sweet is never complete (الحلو ما يكملش). I was on my nerves 70% of the time, thanks to those ******** who kept starring at me or throwing flirtatious words, with absolute no regard to me or my old grandmother. And even though I was concerned with my dress code, and kept it in mind to wear something long  and comfortable, but to no avail. More than once, I was dying to go to this ******* , grab him and maybe try kotegaeshi or iriminage, but didn’t want to make a scene.

Harassment is becoming a disease in our society which won’t  be redeemed.

El Shayatin

A couple of days ago (or was it weeks?) I went to see El Shayatein movie -finally- ! When I first heard about the idea of turning the old stories into a movie, I was a bit scared that the low production of the Egyptian cinema might ruin it. I also got to know that this is the first commercial movie for the director, and I beleive that starting with an action movie is a big challenge. Plus, some of my friends didn’t like it much. But I couldn’t say no to go and watch Ahmed (from Egypt), Osman (from Sudan), Elham (from lebanon), Qeis (from Yemen), Boemir (From Algeria),,,,  🙂

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I loved: the lighting (except for a couple of mistakes), the location, the camera, the colours (isn’t called art director?), the fights techniques, the actors

I didn’t love: some of the conversations (a bit too much), it’s a bit like Ocean 11, there is no Kamal, unjustifiably prolonged in the beginnings, Dolly Shahin showing lots of flesh,

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The funny thing is that 99% of the techniques used in the movie is AIKIDO! I discovered that I know the guy who trained Sherif Mounir for the fighting scenes. He is a very good aikidoka. It was funny watching the aikido techniques on the big screen 🙂 Tab3an my friends kept telling me “and you say that it’s a peaceful martial art!” , I couldn’t help myself from laughing in the middle of the fights 🙂 I can name almost all of these techniques!

Anyway

It’s a nice movie, not a “super” action one though, but definitely I would love to see more from the Ahmed Abu Zeid, he has a new vision, and I think it will be a fresh breeze in the egyptian cinematography.

Take the lead

Akhiran I managed to kidnap my mother and head for a long weekend in the north coast. I always beleived that only fools would bring a laptop when they go on vacations, but here I am, at 11:30 pm, sitting in the living room, the sea is surprisingly quiet tonight, I have just finished watching Antonio Banderas in “Take the lead“, an insipring movie of ballroom dancing teacher who decide to try a new way in teaching high schoolers.

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What touched me in the movie was something else,,, there was a scene when the kids really loved dancing to the extent that they danced everywhere, in the metro, moved their feet at classes, moved around the house as if they were waltzing,,,, THIS IS THE FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOU ENJOY DOING SOMETHING.

I used to feel this too a long time ago.

https://i1.wp.com/www.aikidofaq.com/bilder/gif89/kote2.gifIn Aikido there is a uki (the attacker) and nage (the defender / the thrower), when u are the uki, you try to attack ur partner and discover his points of weaknesses, while at the same time feel his movements in order to be safe. When u are the nage, you calculate the movements of ur partner, his speed, his direction, anticipate what’s the best reaction to his attack, then u ‘take the lead’ and direct him in the best place where u are in control, all this by steady and smooth footsteps and body movements… So basically it is just like a dance. So PLASE, if anyone told u Aikido is the art of breaking bones, know that he talking nonesense, beleive me.

https://i1.wp.com/www.aikidofaq.com/bilder/gif89/juyi.gifI won’t go into the details of energy flow and harmony, which are the esense of Aikido, because this is not the appropriate place. It’s just that I am angry at myself. very angry actually. I love aikido. I spent years dedicated to the art, not just me but my friends too. I had great memories, and awful ones too. We had many laughters together, but I can also remember some tears….. So why did I lose this feeling of dedication? why for 3 years have i erased the wonderful experience of 3 other years! I keep telling myself I will get back to the dojo, I will get my white gi and my black hakama, will bring my wooden jo and boken and will proundly enter MY dojo, the place where I used to feel peace and serenity. But I don’t. I went to the dojo a couple of times during the past 6 months. I even commited myself to go at least twice per week for a month (Mid January till mid feb). So what is happening? will it be dropped from my schedule once and for all??? will I afford to lose this few moments of harmony?

Blending Physical Therapy with Martial Arts

http://clarkson.edu/news/thumbnail.php?img=news%2Fphotos%2Frussek-aikido.jpg&size=200

“The physical aspects of Aikido overlap with the physical aspects of physical therapy in many respects. For example, in physical therapy, when I am laying my hands on a person to stretch out a muscle, I have to be relaxed for them to relax. If I touch a person when I am tensed, they’ll tend to be tensed. In Aikido, it’s exactly the same way. The same physical skill and the same sense of connecting to a person from my center that is used in Aikido are used in physical therapy.” – Leslie Russek

Verbal Aikido: 7 Ways To Handle Difficult Customers

These days I am in an Aikido mood 🙂 This article discusses how ‘verbal’ aikido can be used in handling difficult people (be it customers, colleagues, whatever)

Using the principles of Aikido, you too can diffuse anger and demonstrate amazing control over all aspects of verbal attacks. People using “verbal aikido” can respond to heated situations directly and assertively without being pulled into the drama of the battle and they can lay the foundation for win-win resolutions:

1. An Aikidoist strategically calms down the attack. This is done by both the use of relaxed body posture and open hands. Verbal attacks from irate customers also need the same calming strategy. In Aikido, the master will step aside rather than confront the attack. This takes the power and speed out of the attack and allows the master to stay centered and calm.

2. Aikido never meets force with force. In fact, there are no direct attacks and very little striking or kicking. When dealing with angry customers it is natural to respond to an attack with an attack.  While we may feel justified in launching our attack because we’ve been attacked, we must realize that a defensive (forceful) response only escalates the original problem.

3. Aikido emphasizes quick, decisive movements that are designed to use the attacker’s force against him. This is done through evasive movements, body shifting, and leverage. Taking this to a verbal level, you’d take a customer’s intensity and sense of urgency and use that to your advantage. Instead of letting the customer’s intimidation tactics negatively impact you, you turn that energy back at the customer by pacing his actions.

4. Aikidoists blend with their opponent’s energy. In Aikido, this looks as if you move toward your opponent and then change places with them. In a verbal attack, blending with your customer is finding common ground with the customer. You can blend with your angry customer by listening with a sincere intent to understand their pain, frustration and needs and then responding with empathy.

5. Aikido students learn to turn with their opponent’s force and let that force go past them. don’t get caught up in the emotion of anger. Instead, allow the customer to express his feelings and don’t take comments personally and don’t allow your feelings (anger, rejection, offense) to control ur responses.

6. An Aikido Master never seeks to kill his opposition. Our goal is to never  blow someone off. Our goal is to find more diplomatic ways to communicate and reach win win resolutions.

7. In Aikido, all opponents are considered partners. Think of your angry customer as your partner and let this mindset direct you to use interactive dialogue to work with your customer to solve the problem. Try to not resist or coerce your “partner.” Work with your partner, talk with your partner, and seek solutions that benefit the customer and the company.

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(a quick note regarding the animated gif image, this technique is called Kotegaeshi, or wrist turning throw. First of all the aikidoka goes off line the attack, blends in with his opponenet, controls the center and oblige the uke to stop the aggression by pinning him on the ground, and finally taking the knife from his hand)

 To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury in the Art of Peace.”O’sensei

“I do not think badly of others when they treat me unkindly. Rather, I feel gratitude towards them for giving me the opportunity to train myself to handle adversity.” O’sensei
 

Ukemi and Moving on

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In Aikido, one of the first things you learn is ukemi or how to fall (literally how to receive the ground). At the beginning it may seem hard (it took me months before I was able to digest the idea of falling!), but eventually when you visualize it and know its dynamics, it will seem very easy. Just imagine that you are a ball rolling on the ground 🙂 you have to fall on the ground gradually, first your hand touches the ground, then your shoulder, then your back and ultimately the rest of your body rolling over. So in case you had to fall, you will go unharmed, and you will get back fast on your feet ready to face another challenge.

Now how can we reflect this idea in our daily life? First you have to plan ahead before an actual problem happens, secondly you have to exercise this plan regularly till you are certain that you can do it for real, thirdly after facing the danger you have to stand up from this problem with no remorse ready to face new challenges….

Zanshin & The Last Samurai

I am not a very big fan of the movie The Last Samurai, I didn’t like the idea that the American captain who became some sort of a hero, is the one who ultimately tries to save Japan’s glorious traditions in the face of imperialism. But the scenery is amazing, the acting is very good (especially that cute Japanese kid 🙂 ), also there was this scene where Tom Cruise was learning how to fight using the sword (he wasn’t fighting well at the beginning), and then aguy came to tell him that he is thinking too much and advised him with 2 simple words “No mind” ! And then Cruise fought like a real warrior… For me it was a new concept, how can one stay focused without using his mind? It didn’t make sense to me. And then later on I started to understand a little what it means to have a relaxed alertness, and I felt how important it is to keep this attitude. For example, the best times a person can perform a job is when he is concentrating in his task and at the same time he is not tensed or on his toes. That’s when a person can really excel. That’s Zanshin.

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Zanshinis a term used in the Japanese martial arts. It refers to a state of awareness – a state of relaxed alertness. The literal translation is “remaining mind”. In several martial arts, zanshin refers more specifically to the body posture after a technique is executed.

What are the elements for Zanshin?
Shisei (posture); Metsuke (eye control); Ma-ai (engagement distance);Kiai (focused energy); and Ki musubi (connection)
Kime (decisive focus); Riai (essence of the technique);and Kanken (intuition/awareness) 

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I tried to find the exact quotes of this scene in the Last Samurai, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it, but I found other interesting ones here:

Emperor Meiji: Tell me how he died.
Algren: I will tell you how he lived.

Katsumoto: You believe a man can change his destiny?
Algren: I think a man does what he can, until his destiny is revealed.

Algren: [narrating] They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seem such discipline. I am surprised to learn that the word Samurai means, ‘to serve’, and that Katsumoto believes his rebellion to be in the service of the Emperor.

Simon Graham: [narrating] They say Japan was made by a sword. They say the old gods dipped a coral blade into the ocean, and when they pulled it out four perfect drops fell back into the sea, and those drops became the islands of Japan. I say, Japan was made by a handful of brave men. Warriors, willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word: honor.

Algren: [shouting] What do you want from me?
Katsumoto: What do you want for yourself?

Algren: [narrating] Winter, 1877. What does it mean to be Samurai? To devote yourself utterly to a set of moral principles. To seek a stillness of your mind. And to master the way of the sword.

Simon Graham: [narrating] And so the days of the Samurai had ended. Nations, like men, it is sometimes said, have their own destiny. As for the American Captain, no one knows what became of him. Some say that he died of his wounds. Others, that he returned to his own country. But I like to think he may have at last found some small measure of peace, that we all seek, and few of us ever find.

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Aikido with your spouse??

In an Aikido forum I found a discussion about whether a couple can train together in the same dojo (=training place). It was from a man whose wife asked him if she can join his Aikido class because she would like to become more involved to what he does for fun. There were many responses to this post, some said it was a recipe for disaster and others said it was a great idea. Some even told their stories. I found some interesting replies,, Masalan..

“Met my girlfriend at aikido, we’re getting married in a year or so. I’m her aikido instructor, off the mat she’s my girlfriend, on it she’s my student and we are very sensible about separating the two.”

That’s impressive! For those who don’t do martial arts, the status of the instructor (sensei) is quite unique. He should be treated with the utmost respect. So when it comes to having a sensei as a husband, this can be very delicate.

“I can’t imagine a better experience than practicing aikido with your spouse. I started Aikido with my wife about a year ago, and we have been having a ball! … It is almost like having a training partner around everyday. Cooking together, or any daily life stuff, becomes so much fun when aikido is stirred in the mix. I will often be attacking her with a wooden spoon etc., or she will go to hold my hand and end up applying yonkyo.”

“Aikido has made a lot of our conversations, and actions a lot smoother, learning to get off the line and blend is a good thing, especially with your spouse! However….. We have a different relationship than most couples. We are quite happy being together in very small spaces, we have lived aboard a boat and sailed over half the planet for the last 12 years.”

I would LOVE to experience this 🙂 Playing around with Aikido at home can be so much fun 🙂 me and my friends sometimes do this at cafes or at the club, and people would stare at us, but it is just so much FUN, Imagine how it would be if you’d share this with your partner !! And as for sailing together across the globe!! I would definitely LOVE that!

-sigh-

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