“Every Attack is an Opportunity” 99-year old Klaus Obermeyer on Aikido and Business

99-year old Klaus Obermeyer practices aikido every day. He says it is the only way to keep his body and mind in shape to run a business and still be active. He applies aikido principles in his “win-win” approach to running his business, Sport Obermeyer.

I don’t have any intention to learn and practice aikido. But I do have a strong intention to be inspired by masters of anything to be at my best. Here’s our inspiration on how to approach our problems today:

“Aikido is a great martial arts that has a wonderfulness to it. In Aikido you don’t hurt your partner, you control your partner. If you hurt him, he may come back two days later and hit you with a two-by-four. Aikido brings about peace. Aikido exists spiritually as well as physically. The older you get, the more you use of the spiritual part and a little less on the mat.”

 “It is a peaceful martial art and an interesting mix of technique and extension of energy.” 

 “This is a peaceful martial art form. The idea is not to hurt, but to control your opponent.” 

“The idea is to become one with the attacker.” 

“Every attack that comes at you can be seen as an opportunity. You can make it work in your favor.” 

 “I don’t fight back. I just step out of the way so my opponent falls on his face.”

 “You want to achieve the Japanese state of mushido, where you are totally thoughtless; your mind is blank.”

I stumbled across 99-year-old Klaus Obermeyer during my 40 Days to Change for Good ‘first 50 years alive transitioning into last 50 years alive’ retreat. Born in 1919 in Germany, he moved to Aspen, Colorado in 1947. He formed the company that he still oversees today(!), Sport Obermeyer, in 1950. 

Over the last seventy years, he has changed how we humans play outside in the winter. Here’s a partial list of his innovations: the first down parka from a goose down comforter his mother gave him before he moved to America, the first waterproof-breathable fabrics, high alpine sunscreen, nylon wind shirts, mirrored sunglasses, double-lensed goggles, two pronged ski brakes, lined ski boots, turtlenecks with elasticized collars. 

He’s also an inspiring guy – enthusiastic, energetic, cheerful, healthy, strong, fully alive. I began collecting what he had to say about how he has managed to enjoy ninety-nine years alive. Let Klaus inspire and guide you to be ‘happy from here to a hundred’.

Note: Most of Klaus’s quotes are from his 99th birthday interview. (He was born Dec 2, 1919.) A few quotes are from his 98th and 96th birthday interviews, among other sources.

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