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"Close Your Mouth And Keep Your Soul Inside."

Teaching Aikido on the mat is only a small part of the job as an Aikido instructor.   Off the mat, we continue to answer the many questions from students -- sometimes in person, sometimes via email or texts.  It makes me feel like an advice columnist. This day, Miss Know-It-All received a fan mail, asking about "being focused". To my eyes, this student often lacks focus on the mat.  Even when he tries, his concentration oozes out easily.  He says that, when he meditates, he often focuses on his breathing.  Yet, during practices, when so many things are going on, it turns into a mess.   "Does this make any sense at all?" he asks. On this, he is hardly alone.  I remember feeling that way before.  To this day, when I engage in activities that I am not proficient at, I can still feel this way.  To varying degrees, other students exhibit similar problems, too. He got me thinking about what "being focused" really means. I watch people practice in class all the t

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