Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Gift of a Black Belt

Last Saturday I tested for my shodan in aikido and was awarded a black belt. People asked me how it feels. To be honest, I feel no different because getting a black belt was not my aim. At the same time I feel deeply touched because I have devoted myself completely through sunshine and rain, and in a sense, to have come this far without giving up along the way is what I’m most proud of.

Looking back there were numerous times I questioned my sanity when things got tough. Especially when it came to the aikido forward roll. I was never talented at being up-side down nor I enjoyed it very much. The forward roll seemed to me like purposefully tossing myself onto the ground and hoping my body will be round enough to carry me through so I can make it to the other side and be back on my feet again. In a way, I thought I had to be at least a little crazy to attempt such a stunt. I was – a little crazy – priding myself as a good athlete I didn’t want to back down from such a challenge. Wanted to protect myself I often closed my eyes, held my breath and prayed I won’t get hurt. I suppose my teachers were amazed at times that I’m willing to try and other times I would tremble in fear while everyone else proceeded before me. There were times I walked out of it all together. Not to mention injuring my right shoulder a few months into the training when I tossed myself too high off the ground with my eyes closed, and later only to discover that I have landed on the weakest part of the shoulder that was not meant to support such weight. I cried my tears and swore I would never put myself through another ordeal again yet somehow there was another force quietly pushing me forward.

The Aikido Forward Roll

Four years have gone by that I rarely missed any training at all. I selflessly worked on anything else the dojos needed from mopping the mats, updating the website, hosting oversea guests, to teaching the kids class. There was never a day went by I didn’t at least think of aikido. Why? I really can’t say. After years of training my goal-oriented ego has been washed away slowly. I could no longer say I train so I can look good in other people’s eyes because I no longer care. I don’t do it for the money, I don’t do it to gain approval, I don’t do it to even be physically fit. Unknowingly the subtle flow slowly pushed me forward through my sadness, through the obstacles, through sunshine and rain and somehow I found myself on the other side of the forward roll – landing on my feet continuing to walk forward.

What did I give up? A lot. I had to give up fear. I had to give up aggression. I had to give up the need to be perfect. I had to give up indulging in my neurosis. I had to give up forcing a particular outcome to suit my needs. I had to give my limited view of separation of humanity. … The list goes on.

What did I gain? Even more. I gained true self-confidence. I gained a disciplined mind. I gained the awareness when I’m acting from ego. I gained the ability of acceptance and peace. I gained a keen sense of focus amid emotional turmoil. Most importantly I gained love and compassion for myself and the ability to expand that love outward.

The truth is, the black belt itself has no meaning, yet this black belt is a symbol of my perseverance. This black belt reminds me to stick to my path through thick and thin – knowing I will land on my feet and walk forward again each time I fall.

September 29, 2012 - Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Death & Rebirth, Self Realization, Tears, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Flo, it’s your show. However I have experienced that and probably the the rest if your list with Visual Arts, meaning expression and initiative. What does this say? Nothing! It’s like that though. IE “I had to give up indulging in my neurosis.” What does the confrontation with the question “What do 10,000 hand painted steps of gray look like and how to balance them out” This being without aesthetic value however derived from it, “Paranoia and the removal of it” Ha! On and On.
    One thing, a comment of yours “I hate unyielding persistence” and “the black belt itself has no meaning, yet this black belt is a symbol of my perseverance” Ok Hun, I guess it says “I want to win!” A matter for interpretation.. You did. Frank

    Comment by Frank Seidl | September 30, 2012 | Reply

  2. I remembered this story about a young apprentice seeking enlightenment from this zen master, for years all he was asked to do, was mop the floor, chop the wood and fetch the water. So one day, feeling frustrated, he asked the master what else he can do, zen master told him to mop the floor, chop the wood and fetch the water, until one day he finally Realized it and became a zen master himself. “The breakthrough is not about doing, it is about undoing (ego)”- Douglas Harding. Sounds familiar Flo? Thank you for showing us the road map, you have given us hope that we all have a shot at it ^o^

    Comment by tai | September 30, 2012 | Reply

    • Before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water. ^_^

      Comment by Flo Li | September 30, 2012 | Reply

      • PETER: Now more than ever, I am looking forward to reading Stoner. :)JACE: Come and join us at our F2Fs, and you will soon be exahcnging books with the members! 🙂

        Comment by Retta | May 16, 2017 | Reply

  3. Beautiful post. Open heart. Thanks.

    Comment by successcreator | September 30, 2012 | Reply

  4. Dearest Flo,

    You are such an inspiration. thank you for leading the way for me. you are truly an untethered soul.

    in deep gratitude for who you be,

    thank you for kicking off my morning with joy, celebration, humility and peace,


    Comment by sailesh ranchod | October 1, 2012 | Reply

    • If your arltices are always this helpful, “I’ll be back.”

      Comment by Tilly | May 16, 2017 | Reply

  5. I don’t believe in “Goal orientation nor apprenticeship”. I believe very much in creating unknown circumstances
    and attaining an end product of new over yourself. This is hard to do. I believe in that, self initiative. Though through apprenticship
    you may not have to give yourself up to a master or to a spiritual state there are elements contained in the experience.
    These elements that belong to self initiative. A chance to lose If that be what it is and that is almost impossible.
    A chance to win If that be what it is. Objectivity, the ability to exist without influence without influencing.

    Endurance is another state of existence that I would disregard.

    Arrogance is not recognizing your self and using it and what it is as such.Reality of fact. This is being arrogant.
    You don’t have to be humble to the fact, you just need the fact and it’s your responsibility.


    Comment by Frank Seidl | October 5, 2012 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the gift 😉

    Comment by Rahul Panwar | October 11, 2012 | Reply

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