Twelve years ago, I found myself shyly taking my first steps on a tatami, full of the curiosity of wearing a karate kimono or Gi, rather than out of a desire to practice an art such as Aikido.
Back then, I thought that would be the way I would first enter the world of samurai, with the help of a manly sport, something other than football.
Over the years, I learned that what I thought would be a mere sport, was, in fact, the Japanese martial art Aikido, which translates to "The Path of Peace and Harmony", which has its roots in finding a peaceful way to solve a conflict.
In fact, it is more than an art; it is a multitude of experiences, feelings, emotions - it is mind, body and spirit, the past, the present and the future. It is a fight in which my most important opponent is myself.
“The only fight you're sure to win is the one you don't fight," but that doesn't mean I was taught to be a coward. I'm a rather peaceful person by nature, and yet I still needed time to understand that "fighting doesn't mean hitting; any fool can do that. Fighting means making the opponent fail."
Every training session I go through is a lesson of life – that's what Shihan Răzvan Peristeri tells us every time – a life in which there is no rivalry, but friendship, there are no competitions, but demonstrations, there is no rejection, but acceptance, there is not myself, but US, a team.
The first trophies I won have come out of being part of a team I worked with knowing that they believe in me, just as I believe in my teammates.
My fellow trainees are between 5 and 55 years old. On the tatami I was never considered and I am not seen as just a kid in Gi; I am seen as a real partner, a true team player, and that means I understand the spirit of aikido – a feeling I want to share with you.