For information on the upcoming August 2016 Zen and Aikido Class … follow this link.

For new visitors, this is primarily a working site to let students know what we covered if they have to miss a class.

We are a unique Albuquerque Aikido school in that we combine both Zen and Aikido training into a single curriculum – integrating zazen (seated Zen meditation) into every Aikido class. We certainly urge you to look around. If you are absolutely new to Aikido, check out the About Aikido page. If you want to know a bit more about Zen and Aikido, check out the About BHC page. Read student comments here.

Note that we only accept new students four times a year and our next window for enrollment will be the summer session starting in mid-February. You can follow this link for more info.

Aikido is a great martial art … combining Zen and Aikido is the ultimate. If you can’t wait until May to start your training in Zen and Aikido, here are several other Albuquerque Aikido schools that you may want to look into. (Not all offer Zen training.)

Always happy to answer any of your questions, you can leave a comment or see the Contact page. You are certainly welcome to observe a class. This past winter session filled completely, so you can e-mail me to request a spot on the waiting list for the upcoming spring session. Last, you can subscribe here to receive notices of all upcoming classes

Thanks for your interest in Both Hands Clapping. Jim Redel

What you will learn and practice in this 13 week session

In a word – a lot (actually that’s two words)

It's always a bit iffy talking about what you will learn in a class like this - it will either seem like too much or too little, and, depending on the new students coming in, you might blaze right through and actually cover twice as much material. But here goes.

At Both Hands Clapping, there are 10 basic Aikido defenses that every beginning student must learn in every class. So, at an absolute minimum you will learn these 10 basic defenses. (Every 4th kyu student will actually demonstrate these exact 10 throws on the last day of class. You will get to 4th kyu after you have been studying regularly for about 10 months.)

As a note, there are another 10 more advanced defenses that are learned and practiced regularly during the advanced Aikido classes. Throw in the fact that we will eventually practice all these throws from both seated and seated-standing positions and while holding or defending against weapons and then with multiple attackers and you can see why Aikido will continue to challenge you for many, many years.

But back to the 10 basic defenses. It should be somewhat obvious that in order to learn and practice these 10 techniques, you will also have to learn a slew of warmups (stretches and footwork drills) and you will have to learn how to protect yourself (forward and backward rolls) ... and you will to learn how to sit zazen. So you (we) will have a full 13 weeks of training - we always do.

With all this in mind, I've attached a couple videos for you to look at. The first is the warmup set we will build up to. We start the first night with the first two or three and then keep adding until the set is complete by week 6 or so. The second video shows the 10 basic throws that you will learn and practice. Note, the video shows each throw from 'both sides' (grabbing the right arm, then the left), and also shows the roles reversed (attacker, defender). Having each partner assume both roles is an absolute must in aikido. (No one ever gets to 'just throw' - not even instructors.)

As always, happy to get your thoughts, to answer any questions - leave a comment or e-mail me ... Jim
My e-mail

Zazen Reminders

For new visitors, this is primarily a working site, designed to keep students informed of the current state of training. We are an intentionally small school … combining Zen and Aikido training into a single curriculum. You are free to look around. If you are absolutely new to Aikido, check out the About Aikido page.

Note that we only accept new students four times a year and, coincidentally, we are accepting new students for a couple more days. If any of this interests you, now is the time to act. Last, I am always happy to answer any questions. Jim

The cutoff for new noon-time students is Monday (the 18th) and for new evening students is Tuesday (the 19th). The next ‘window’ for new students will be mid-November. For more info, follow this link.

We’ve covered this in class, I thought I’d take a moment to post it formally. I like to think that there are three pillars to good zazen:

  • A stable, comfortable base
  • An elongated torso
  • An energized center

A stable, comfortable base.

Always, always, always make sure you have a stable, comfortable base to do your zazen. Play around with this a while if you have to, but make sure you can rock side to side and front to back without feeling like you’re going to tip over. A good indicator for you will be how firmly your lower legs and knees are touching the mat. If you don’t feel rock solid, if your keens are up, if you get very sore in a short time, these things must be taken care of first. There are a couple things to try:

  • A taller zafu (meditation cushion)
  • Pad or pads under the lower legs, knees
  • Sitting in seiza, with a cushion between your legs
  • Sitting in a regular chair.

And find that combination that allows you to build up to sitting pain-free for 30 minutes. Now there may be some discomfort that last couple minutes, (the body is not well-designed to sit that still for that long) but no serious pan!

An elongated torso.

Natural breathing is so, so vital to zazen, and you will never fully experience it slouched over. Play with the image of holding up the ceiling with your head, tipping your chin down slightly.This lifts your upper carriage, makes plenty of room for your diaphragm and lower belly to freely move up and down, in and out. Your eyes are soft and looking out about 6 feet (when seated on the floor). Never close the eyes. The torso will probably be tipped forward ever so slightly. This is natural.

An energized center (hands and arms).

I call it the 3 energies. 1.) Energy in your hands as you make a nicely rounded, almost delicate mudra, held up off your lap. The thumbs are touching lightly, where a piece of paper between them could be pulled out, but would not fall out. 2.) Energy in your forearms as you keep your thumbs from rolling back to your abdomen. 3.) Energy in your elbows as they are held slightly away from the body, but not thrown out dramatically. (As if holding eggs in your armpits.)

Final Thoughts

Zazen (seated Zen meditation) is the main tool in a formal Zen practice … with other tools being chanting, work practice and the tea ceremony. And formal Zen practice is a pivotal part of our Zen and Aikido classes. While ‘thinking’ is fine for learning Aikido throws, it is ‘not fine’ when it comes time to freestyle practice. And understanding the nature of ‘thinking’ is the primary goal of Zen practice.

Decisive, Appropriate and Natural – Zen and the Martial Arts

In ethology (the study of natural movements in animals), there is this idea of taxis (pronounced taksis). Taxis describes movements by an animal directly toward or directly away from a stimulus. Toward a stimulus is positive taxis, away is negative taxis. I think we naturally understand this idea of taxis and really, we see it nearly every day. For example, negative taxis describes a person going "anywhere away from here!", and positive taxis describes a person going "to that great new restaurant that they just heard about!" In negative taxis, where you end up is not really so important as long as it is not where you started, in positive taxis, where you end up is everything.

In Zen and the self-defenses and all the martial arts, we can readily see this same sense of "stimulus" and "movement". For example, Zen often holds up the idea of suffering and shows us how we can escape it. (Negative taxis.) Likewise, it also holds up the idea of waking up, and shows us how we can attain that. (Positive taxis.) In the martial arts we can be moving away from fear and helplessness and insecurity or we can be moving toward self-confidence, understanding, skill, etc. Moving away, moving toward ...

For me, one of the great attractors of both Zen instruction and the martial arts traditions is that they are so often filled with "positive taxis". That is, in both disciplines it seems that some teacher is always pointing, urging us on, moving, moving. But not just moving 'anywhere but here', but moving toward something specific, something positive. And after many years of Zen practice and Aikido training and many, many sanzen (personal encounters with a Roshi) and many demonstrations by Aikido masters, I've come to see three qualities that are consistently held up for us to aspire to. These are: decisiveness, appropriateness, naturalness.

Decisiveness, appropriateness, naturalness ... and so that we're all on the same page, by decisiveness, let's mean "displaying little or no hesitation". By appropriateness let's mean "fitting the occasion" and by naturalness let's mean "free of pretense". And for a quick sense of where these three qualities came from, let's take a quick peek into the sanzen room. (During a Zen retreat, the sanzen room is where a Zen student will meet with his Roshi - where the Roshi will check the student's understanding of some problem he's working on.) When posed a question, the student must respond immediately. Any hesitation and "out you go". But a quick response that is inappropriate will get you booted as well. And lastly, a decisive, appropriate response that is "all about you" is yet another reason to have Roshi reaching for his bell (requesting you leave). It's clear that Roshi wants decisiveness, appropriateness and naturalness - and what are his parting words as he sends you on your way? "MORE ZAZEN!"

"MORE ZAZEN!" Can more zazen ... more of our butts on a cushion ... really deliver decisiveness, appropriateness and genuineness? Hmmmm. Roshi seems to think so. Can Aikido ... blending with several attackers and using their own energy against them ... also deliver decisiveness, appropriateness and genuineness? Hmmmm. The Aikido masters seem to think so. How about you?

Let's begin by taking a closer look at each of these qualities.

Zazen and the martial arts and decisiveness:

Decisiveness: "displaying little or no hesitation." In self-defense training, the question would probably be, how can you not be decisive, but in zazen, can we really be decisive while 'just sitting?' Can we "display no hesitation" without moving? Doesn't decisiveness naturally require action? And in a martial arts situation, doesn't the fact that the Aikidoist executed a technique show decisiveness?

And the answers are ... Yes. Yes. No. No.

So, let's first agree on the source of our decisiveness in this moment. And that source is our complete acceptance of the moment just as it is (warts and all). For example, in walking to sanzen, so many, many students are remarkably "decisive" when they have an answer for Roshi and are remarkably "indecisive" when they do not. But don't they see that (especially as Zen students) they should be equally decisive in both having an answer and in not having an answer? Don't they see that the source of their decisiveness isn't in their answer, it's in the acceptance of the moment. And a martial artist in a self-defense situation who throws one, two three attackers ... doesn't that show decisiveness. Maybe yes, maybe no ... look closely, can't you see the brain wheels turning. Can't you see that slight hesitation between attack and throw. All action is not decisive.

Zazen and decisiveness: The zazen posture and zendo etiquette constantly require the active acceptance of this moment, again, warts and all. Is your base relaxed and solid? Is your torso elongated? Is your chin down and head high? Are your elbows away from your body? Are your hands up off your lap and rotated forward? Are they forming a delicate but energetic mudra that is lightly touching your belly? Are you actively quiet - no clearing your throat, no sighing, no sniffing, no yawning? Are you actively still - no shifting, no scratching, no stretching? In short, are you actively accepting all that goes into your zazen posture in a zendo setting? This is decisiveness in zazen.

The martial arts and (in)decisiveness: Three attackers approach and you wonder "how did I ever agree to this?" OK, now "how do I get out of this" and "never do it again?" Moving to the left, the first attacker thrown - "two more and I am out of this pickle." And you turn to face the second attacker and are startled to see the strike has already landed. Luckily the attack is slowed down as you feel a light bop on the head. You throw the second attacker, but the third is more of the same ... startled and throw. The bottom line, you can't be decisiveness until you can fully accept this moment, until you can fully embrace this moment (warts and all).

Zazen and the martial arts and appropriateness:

Appropriateness: "fitting the occasion."

Zazen and appropriateness. So what is appropriateness in zazen? "Fitting the occasion" ... there's the key. Are we responding appropriately to the bells and clackers, bows, tea and chanting and the movements of our fellow sitters? Are we ahead of the bell, late to the bow? Do we forget to put our tea cup away? When walking, have we fallen out of step with the person ahead?

The martial arts and appropriateness: So what is appropriateness in the martial arts, in self-defense? We previously mentioned "fitting the occasion" ... in a self-defense situation, we may say instead "fitting the attack." The foundation of such an effective art like Aikido is the richness of the number of throws available (thousands by some counts). The purpose of so many throws is that each one is applied to a single, unique attack. In a sense, because the number of attacks is 'near' infinite, then the number of defenses should be 'near infinite.' Anyways, in the martial arts, appropriateness is the proper fit of the defense to the attack.

So, in order to act "fitting the occasion" or to respond "fitting the attack", we must have a true sense of awareness of what's going on around us. In decisiveness we looked inside, for appropriateness we must extend our awareness outside of ourselves. And the source for this awareness, the source for this quality of appropriateness ... is gratitude. Through gratitude we connect naturally to all that makes up this moment, all that is around us. We are grateful for the zafu (cushion), the zabutan, the tan, the zendo, the world the universe, the cosmos. In the martial arts, we are grateful to our attackers and the challenges and the lessons they will teach us. We are then in turn grateful for those that have come before us, our parents, our parents' parents, our teachers, our teachers' teachers. We are grateful for the warmth, the coolness, the sound of the birds, the sounds of the city. We are grateful for our fellow sitters and their support and energy and their stillness and quietness. We are equally grateful when they are not so still and when they are not so quiet. For this is a moment that is emerging continuously, and for that we are grateful.

Formal Zen practice is more than sitting with eyes half closed. It is a dance of bells and clackers and bows and tea and chanting and walking. And when we respond appropriately it is a beautiful dance. Martial arts training is also more than just moving and throwing, it is the perfect match of attack and defense. And when we are filled with gratitude and we defend appropriately is also is a beautiful dance.

Zazen and the martial arts and naturalness:

Naturalness: "free from pretense." Acting genuinely, with ease, effortless, without thinking, just doing. We've all experienced all of these at one time or another throughout our lives. And inevitably we ask why can't we act this way all the time? How is it that I am at one time so self-conscious and at another time so free from thoughts?

It's no secret, the source of naturalness is non-attachment. That is, how can we be 'doing' naturally when we are attached to this idea of who is 'doing'? How can we be 'acting' genuinely, when we are attached to the idea of how we are 'acting'? How can something indeed be effortless when we are attached to the outcome of effortlessness?

Zazen and naturalness: In zazen, we always come back to the breath. We watch the breath, we lose track of the breath and we come back to the breath and we lose track of it once again. When watching the breath, we are constantly confronted with the dilemma of whether we are simply watching or whether we are watching and controlling. So I'm watching my breath, "Am I breathing naturally?" Who is this "I"? If I'm not breathing naturally and I'm controlling the breath, who is that "I"? If I'm not controlling, who is this "I" that just determined that "I" was in fact only watching and not controlling. And so the dialog goes. And occasionally the dialog bores us or wears us out and for a moment there is something unique, something quiet. And we are slightly, almost imperceptibly, forever changed. And that's why we do zazen.

The martial arts and naturalness: In a self-defense situation, we always come back to seeing clearly and moving freely. An attack will occur and we will naturally plot a response. And that plotting has made as late to respond. And so we soften our gaze and focus on moving freely. A throw and another throw and then we start evaluating, which leads to planning and scheming and that planning and scheming has made us late to respond. And so we soften our gaze and focus on moving freely. Again and again. And then that perfect throw. And we are slightly, almost imperceptibly, forever changed. And that's why we study the martial arts.

We've all experience natural, genuine, selfless, spontaneous action. It is not the domain of the enlightened. The idea of non-attachment as source of natural, genuine, selfless action is also not the domain of the enlightened. But there is a domain of the enlightened, and there is a path ...

Final Thoughts:

Zazen is work. Zazen is hard work. The martial arts are hard work ... a seamless self-defense is hard work, Aikido is hard work. In Zen practice there is a chant called Kozen Daito which finished with ... "Work had. Work hard." Strive for decisiveness. Strive for appropriateness. Strive for naturalness. There's another line ins Kozen Daito "but if he single-mindedly applies himself to the study of his own affairs, he is the very one who has a daily interview with me and knows how to be grateful for his life." On balance, decisiveness, appropriateness and genuineness are not realization, but they can, in fact, be the seeds of a realization, your realization.

Instruction, Internalization, Validation

After 25 years as both a Zen student at the Albuquerque Zen Center and as an Aikido student and teacher ... having attended over a dozen week-long sesshins (intensive Zen instruction retreats) with the late Joshu Sasaki Roshi and countless weekend martial arts workshops with various Aikido legends, I've come to see a commonality in the teachings of both Zen and Aikido masters. It's a three-step progression, where the three steps are both 'necessary and sufficient'. Note: Necessary and sufficient simply means that you can't neglect any one (they are 'necessary'), and you don't need any more (the ones we have are 'sufficient'). I see this progression as (can you guess?) Instruction, Internalization and Validation. Of course, none of this is new, I simply offer these ideas in words that may resonate where others haven't, and I offer these ideas for you to perhaps use in understanding the approach of our Zen and Aikido classes here at Both Hands Clapping.

The point is, if you are going to take Zen instruction, if you are going to train in Aikido, if you are going to study any martial art, any self-defense, then it is vital to know the way forward. It is vital to know what a teacher can actually give you and what you must do for yourself.


Of course, for any path, for any system or dharma, there needs to be a set of guidelines, a model, a direction, a framework, the rules that we agree to and that we play by. This is 'Instruction.' In the visual of 'many paths up the mountain', Instruction lays out the path of just one master, just one path up the mountain - usually recognizing that it is not the only path to the top, not the only dharma, not the only martial art or self-defense ... but it is likely a proven path - one that the master and students have successfully used to get to up that mountain. For Both Hands Clapping students, our Instruction is the integration of zazen (and more zazen) with training in Aikido and flavored a variety of concepts that Joshu Sasaki articulated while he was alive - 'zero', 'plus and minus', 'true love', 'I am self', 'mutually opposing activities', 'subject-object-distance', and so on.

It may be worthwhile to take a minute and talk a little about the 'top of that mountain' ... what it is that we're after. For nearly 30 years, by profession I've been an electrical engineer. As an engineer, I am mostly interested in those things that can actually be seen and touched and measured. So, for me and our Zen and Aikido students, the 'top of the mountain' is - that when confronted by multiple attackers, we present a decisive, appropriate and natural response. When we can stay calm and respond spontaneously to the host of attackers before us (without plotting and planning and scheming and judging), we will have reached the top of the mountain.


Internalization is the stage of being able to put our own words to the Instruction that was passed to us. To recite a teacher's words is to be a simple parrot. Each of us occupies a very specific time and place with a history unlike any other. Our teacher's words reflect our teacher's history. We must take those words and make them our own ... we must find our own voice.

And there is almost nothing here that a teacher can say to help us. In fact, the task at hand for most teachers is to simply get us to question what we are seeing, what we are hearing, what we are experiencing., all what we have taken to be true. And when we question everything and break it all down and 'peel the onion' until there is no onion ... and then when we put it all back together, it is very, very unlikely that our words will be the same as our teacher's words. Our teacher's instruction has become our instruction. This is 'Internalization'.

Unfortunately, the internalization process is a fairly twisted process. The instruction is generally a new and strange vocabulary, with new and strange concepts. And from where we stand, there are many contradictions. But in the hands of a knowledgeable, engaged teacher the internalization process can be a little less frustrating in that a teacher can try to keep us pointed in generally the right direction. But all a teacher can do is point ... the work must and will be all our own.


But all of this is will be for naught if we can't 'validate' the Instruction. And what is Validation? In short, Validation is that well-known cliche of 'letting go' ... of letting go of both the Instruction and our Internalization. As you may guess, it is the hardest of the three steps. This is the 'breaking of the bond', the 'inversion of context', the 'stepping off the 100 foot pole', the 'not choosing', the complete acceptance of one's Buddha nature, the demonstration of 'original face', the stepping through the 'gateless gate', etc. This is the obstacle where we can and will continually delude ourselves into thinking that we've 'got it!' (and as humans we have a near infinite capacity for delusion).

But when we attack this problem long enough, hard enough, we will eventually understand that the core of the Instruction all along has been to just 'let go'. And the last thing we have to let go of is the Instruction and our Internalization. (Don't worry, there are no trade secrets here. This is not a shortcut. It is very unlikely that just reading this will instantly open you eyes.) And so, it is nearly impossible to achieve Validation without the guidance of a true teacher. And while Validation can occur at any time, in any place, it is invariably the result of some challenge presented by a master teacher like Sasaki Roshi.

But Sasaki Roshi is dead. And so who is here to challenge us now? In the dojo, each attacker is Roshi. Each attack presents us our next challenge. And our challenge is simple. Can we act decisively, appropriately and naturally in the face of multiple attackers. Can we demonstrate our mastery of the martial arts, of self-defense, of Zen and of Aikido. If so, our journey to the top will be complete.

Universe, Aikido, Mind … Zero Is

Yin / Yang and Zero

At Both Hands Clapping, we talk of an inner silence ... the stillness and quiet that comes when our internal dialog finally takes a break. In our Zen tradition, we call this silence 'Zero'. In other traditions, this inner silence may be called 'beginner's mind' or 'nothingness' or 'the void' or 'original face' or 'true love' or 'ultimate truth'.

But now, be aware that we actually use the word Zero in a couple different contexts. First, Zero is indeed this state (or 'no state') of inner silence. But more importantly, 'Zero' is usually used as a shorthand for something that may be better called the 'activity of Zero.' And that's what I want to discuss here. You don't need to know this to do zazen, to do Aikido. But the understanding this 'activity of Zero' will give clarity to your zazen and offers you the chance to do fantastic Aikido.

This 'activity of Zero' is actually quite elegant - and, in fact, describes very well everything that we come in contact with, everything that we 'know' and everything that we can imagine. Now, in our Zen tradition, this 'activity of Zero' is very, very similar to the Chinese notion of yin-yang ... a philosophy (or model) where all things can be well understood from the perspective of the interaction of two mutually opposing entities, called yin and yang. We've all heard of yin and yang, and are very familiar with the yin yang symbol. But our Zen tradition expands this concept of yin and yang to include a notion of Zero. And in our tradition, everything actually cycles between the 'states' of Zero and yin-yang. Or more precisely, everything cycles between the 'no state' of Zero and the state of yin-yang. In our tradition, there is only one thing in the cosmos that is ever fixed, and it is this 'activity of Zero.' Of course, we hear this all the time in the cliche ... "The only constant is change'.

Yin / Yang and Zero and the Universe

As an example, let's look at the 'activity of Zero' as it applies to the whole universe, specifically to its expansion and contraction. In the state of yin-yang, yin represents expansion and yang represents contraction. (And of course, expansion and contraction are really abstractions of how gravity and such works on stuff.) And the universe will expand when yin dominates (momentum and repelling forces are great) and will contract when yang dominates (gravitation and attractive forces are great). And so, the yin-yang model quite nicely explains how the universe will always be either expanding or contracting, depending on which group of forces is dominating.

But what about the 'time' where the universe itself does not yet actually exist. The state of infinite potential, where all matter is packed into zero space, is called a singularity. And in this singularity, the activities of expansion and contraction do not yet exist. This is our 'no state' of Zero. This is our 'no state' of Zero as it applies to the universe before it was a universe. Now, because the 'activity of Zero' is fixed, this 'no state' of Zero can never be fixed, it will inevitably split into the activities of expansion and contraction and the universe is officially formed. There will be a big bang, the repelling forces will dominate and the universe will immediately expand. But in time, the attractive forces will start to dominate and the universe will just as inevitably contract and will return once again to a singularity ... the 'no state' of Zero. Again, it is this cycling between the 'no state' of Zero and the state of yin-yang that is the 'activity of Zero'.


So where are we? The argument is that our 'Zero', or our 'activity of Zero' can actually be used to understand everything ... EVERYTHING. So let's look at Aikido. Aikido is all about the resolution of conflict. Now, the 'activity of Zero' tells us that while conflict is not always present (although it sometimes seems to be), it is inevitable. When considering Aikido, the 'no state' of Zero might be easily called harmony or peace. Harmony and peace is that time before conflict has even come into existence. But the 'activity of Zero' reminds us that harmony and peace is never fixed and that it will inevitably give way to the two activities - 'conflict' and 'resolution'. The 'activity of Zero' very subtly tells us that the instant an activity of conflict appears, an activity of resolution also appears. (And for us, through our Aikido training, we become an activity of resolution.) Once conflict and resolution appear, there will be a natural interaction between them ... and inevitably, inevitably they will both disappear - resulting once again in harmony.

And so we really have a new paradigm. The 'activity of Zero' reminds us that conflict is a natural, inevitable consequence of harmony and peace. And in a sense, one can't exist without the other. And the activity of resolution will always accompany the activity of conflict. But realize that resolution can take on very many different personalities ... and our training in Aikido can give us a remarkable alternative.

Final Words

From the above discussion, it should be obvious that Both Hands Clapping is not your average martial arts instruction. For us, yes, we study and perfect the powerful, beautiful, graceful self-defense called Aikido. But in our practice we see Aikido as the perfect manifestation of the 'activity of Zero'. And when we finally and completely reconcile the workings of the mind as the 'activity of Zero', then we will see every moment as the manifestation of the 'activity of Zero', every moment as the manifestation of Aikido.

And so now, off to zazen ... can we reconcile the working of our own minds as this 'activity of Zero'? In our minds, what is this 'no state' of Zero? Since Zero is never fixed, what are the two mutually opposing activities of the mind that inevitably come into existence, and how are they manifested? There is an answer, there is realization, there is understanding. Many before us have awakened to this exact realization, we can too.

Moon – Water

The Both Hands Clapping Logo

The Both Hands Clapping logo shows the moon being reflected in water. The moon being reflected in water is a very, very common theme in Zen. And likewise for Both Hands Clapping, the moon and water symbol provides us a visual image on how true martial arts training should be reflected in our lives.

In the moon-water 'model', the water is the water, the moon is the moon. The moon has no power to change the water, just as the water does not, cannot change the moon. It is simply that the moon is reflected in the water. In fact, the moon is reflected in every bit of water - it is not that 'the moon reflects here' but 'the moon does not reflect there.' The moon is reflected in even the smallest drop of water.

And so, a legitimate martial art, a legitimate self-defense should be exactly like moon and water - one reflected in the other, neither changing the other.

So, what is 'not' moon-water. The fact is that there are many Albuquerque martial arts schools, aikido school, schools of fighting or self-defense that are in a real sense designed to change you ... to turn you into something you are not. And so, you should consider ... can a martial art or a self-defense actually change a person? And if you think about it thoroughly, seriously, you will have to conclude that, of course most martial arts can and will change their students. That is, many, many martial arts are predicated on convincing the practitioners of a certain view of the world and their rightful place in it. This 'convincing' sets a 'model' of the world and how you should 'see' it (usually as in 'populated with inherently evil people' or at very least 'populated with people who want to take from you'). And, of course, how you 'see' the world affects how you interact with it. And give it some more thought and you will conclude that you 'are' how you interact with the world. There simply is no other 'you'. That is, when a martial art changes how you naturally interact with the world, it has changed you.

And so Zen and Aikido instruction at Both Hands Clapping is not about convincing you of a certain world view. The world is not this or that, it is not up or down, it is not left or right, it is not naturally good or naturally evil. It is not filled with people that are out to harm you or to take from you. The world is as it is and you are as you are. You are who you are at this moment and you will best interact with the world when you see the world and people not through the lens of 'good and evil' but when you see it clearly and can move freely. And that's what Zen and Aikido training in Albuquerque is all about.

See you in the dojo. See you in the zendo. Be sure to look for the upcoming classes starting the week of August 11th.

As always, happy to get your thoughts, to answer any questions - leave a comment or e-mail me ... Jim
My e-mail