It Begins with GROUND

Thanks to Annie Styron Leonard, we begin our Kata with the acronym GRACE. The G in GRACE stands for “Ground to the Earth Below”-- a logical and profound place to begin a Kata.

When people speak of grounding, they often think of earthing which is done barefoot outside, absorbing the earth’s nutrients. We do not have a barefoot protocol in ITP, but I say: If you can do the Kata outside barefooted, all the better. I feel more energized when I do. In ITP we tap the imagination. We first feel our feet grounded to the mat, floor and thus earth below with a  stream of root-like energy flowing down through the earth crust to the core below, and then a wave of energy flowing back upward to the soles of our feet, up our spine and out the crown of our head. 

Grounding or earthing has generated more interest and acknowledgement with such noticeable benefits as reducing inflammation, chronic pain and stress and increasing energy, helping improve sleep and heart rate variability, blood flow circulation and a plethora of other research-backed benefits. 

Our society loves to glamorize “enlightenment” as if it is all in the heavens above, glorious light shining down upon us mere humans on this planet. With grounding, we are activating a source of energy alive within us all.

O'Sensei said, “In good training, we generate light (wisdom) and heat (compassion). Those two elements activate heaven and earth, the sun and the moon; they are subtle manifestations of water and fire. Unify the material and spiritual realms, and that will enable you to become truly brave, wise, loving and empathetic.” [The Art of Peace: Teachings of the Founder of Akido (page 127]

George Leonard hinted at the G in GRACE in his book The Way of Aikido, Life Lessons from an American Sensei: [page 135]:

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Breathe deeply. Let the breath expand your abdomen, not just to front but also to back, the sides of the pelvis, the floor of the pelvis. Imagine a beam of ki from the centre of the earth moving straight up through your body, out of the top of the head, and upward to the zenith of the heavens through your body, down to the earth's centre, straightening your posture, connecting you to the earth.” 

When we begin our Kata with G for GROUND, we are activating heaven and earth energies within us. We are activating our imaginations, which is an amazing, powerful practice on its own, to connect what the earth vibrations below have to offer us. Just trying to visualize these earth energies moving through our bodies is a profound practice. It's interesting that the ITP Kata begins with the imagination. Grounding benefits are real -- no doubt -- and using our imaginations to help push and pull this energy helps. And activating your imagination is a pragmatic practice which has the potential to help spark joy in the world. 

When we visualize G for GROUND, we are also acknowledging the present moment, noticing where we are standing and preparing to take action. It is a good time to thank yourself for showing up in the world. We do not do that enough. 

When we GROUND, we are connected to the earth's beat vibrations and this is profound. Even if you cannot feel the earth's energies, you can imagine what you feel, and if you cannot imagine, you can practice imagining. It does not matter because with the intent of G for GROUND, you are in fact doing something powerful for yourself and thus the world. 

Morhihei Ueshiba aka O’Sensei declared, “One does not need buildings, money, power or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the only place to train.” [The Art of Peace: Teachings of the Founder of Akido, page 56]