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Fall seven times, stand up eight

It isn’t about "not falling down", but how you stand up after you’ve fallen.

People have many experiences in their lifetime. Good things, bad things, fun things, sad things, etc.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in many different ways. Some people have had their income seriously affected to the point where his or her life has changed dramatically. Others have felt irritable and upset by not being able to go out freely or communicating with others like they did before the pandemic.

And it’s not only COVID-19, there are also other disasters, injuries, diseases and social conditions that have serious impacts on our lives. But even with these challenges, as long as we are alive, we must live.

The most important thing to understand is that within this context, it’s not about choosing a lifestyle that avoids all difficulties and calamities, but instead it’s about how to respond to the unexpected calamities that happen.

I have experienced some serious illnesses and have needed to evacuate during the Chuetsu earthquake, and recently I’ve experienced the difficulties of caring for my mother who is suffering from dementia. Very few people will experience smooth sailing throughout their entire lives. This reminds me of the famous saying "Life is full of valleys and mountains".

The important thing for both adults and children is not to go through life without falling, but how to stand up after you’ve fallen.

In Aikido, we always practice a technique called “ukemi” (which means falling down without hitting our head). Whether you stumble or fall, ukemi is a practice of protecting those parts that are most important (your head and spine) so that you’ll be able stand up again. I learned from my sensei that of all the techniques that we study in the martial arts, it’s actually this ukemi practice that is the most important part of our entire training. I learned from the martial arts that we can stand up from any type of fall if we understand how to protect those things that are most important to us, and that these lessons can also be applied to our daily lives as well. Even in the most difficult situation, as long as we protect what is most important to us (our lives and our spirit) we will definitely be able to stand up again.

The image in the picture at the top of this blog post is a Japanese “Daruma” doll, which is displayed in many homes and businesses across Japan. It’s made in a shape that will stand back up again if it falls over, and it is accompanied by a saying “Nanakorobi Yaoki” which literally means “seven times falling, eight times standing” and can be interpreted to mean “always rising after a fall.”

Life is exactly "Nanakorobi Yaoki" isn't it?

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