Stepping Off The Mat, Second Edition

Stepping Off the Mat

In 2004, Sensei Rick Berry completed work on Stepping Off the Mat, a book of his thoughts about—and experiences with—the martial arts.

America’s fascination with martial arts continues unabated because these arts demonstrate an obvious power. This book will set you on the path to positive mind and purpose, while leading to the inner power and accomplishments that martial arts training uncovers.

Read Excerpts

pages 68-69 “Late one rainy Saturday afternoon…”

Late one rainy Saturday afternoon I was sitting in that tavern watching Berk play or at least attempt to play pool. The tavern was nearly empty that afternoon and I didn’t feel like playing so all I did was watch. That day, Berkley was having a particularly difficult time staying focused and couldn’t seem to run more than two balls consecutively. The guy he was playing was beating up on him pretty badly. He was normally a very proficient player, but obviously had other problems on his mind. While holding a conversation with him between shots I asked him to do me a favor. “As you walk around the table, pay attention to your breathing. Consciously slow your breathing down.”

After several minutes he seemed to relax. I said to him “when you’re aiming and stroking the cue stick, breathe in, then exhale halfway and hold. Shoot your shot. The next time, breathe in as you are stroking and exhale on the shot. Use whichever method works best.” He did that for awhile. I said, “keep relaxing, however, the most important principle for you to practice is to picture the ball falling in the pocket just before you shoot your shot.” It worked wonders on him. It was pretty incredible to watch him gradually start to flow around the table as he was shooting. Eventually, he was practically dancing around that table. He wanted to know who I was and how I used those ideas. I told him that I taught those principles in my art.

page 141 “Through entirely different situations, the discoveries kept coming.”

Through entirely different situations, the discoveries kept coming. I learned that I was training my supervisors on how to properly direct me in the performance of my duties at work. I discovered this by paying attention to how I conducted myself on a daily, or rather, minute by minute basis, and by holding conversations with them about how to deal with the problems of life. My immediate supervisors learned not to fear me so the situation was more than mutually beneficial to everyone concerned. When given several jobs the first thing in the morning, one of the principles I learned was to do the worst or most unpleasant job first. This made the rest of my day more enjoyable. What developed is called trust.

Several years passed and on one occasion, a supervisor asked me to critique his methods and his approach when he was forced to discipline a subordinate. He wanted to know if his handling of confrontations had improved. Winning is a state of mind.

page 190 “The martial arts do not necessarily produce students of good character.”

The martial arts do not necessarily produce students of good character. The arts in and of themselves do not necessarily develop fine, up-standing practitioners. Close association with instructors of good character and strong personal convictions is what develops students of good character. We must pledge our commitment to this goal and work on it daily, my Brother!

Taking Aikido off the mat is what this work is all about. This realization can happen to you just as it happened to me one day. I am waiting in line for service at a counter in a local mall and this situation evolves. The line of customers is moving very slowly. I begin to grow impatient at the slowness on the part of the person being served ahead of me. I’ll call her the “served.” The served is indecisive and she apologized for being slow. Then she calls her child who is running between two events. The child is busy playing with a woman blowing bubbles for her on the other side of the aisle and deciding what type of drink she wants from the clerk. Something changes as I suddenly become a disinterested observer and forget self as I watch the game of interaction between the child, the parent, and the server. The parent takes charge of the child by asking questions and the child calms down.

Things change again as I observe the action between the parent and the server and the parent comments to another customer about how patiently I am waiting my turn to be served. This comment throws me back inside myself. I become the observer of me watching the whole event. It is the universe showing or telling me how patient I’ve become. You can use the name God instead of universe if you wish. But this event now becomes Aikido in action.

Read Reviews

“This book shares a similar trait to books such as The Book of Five Rings. By that I mean: you do not pick it up, read it over the course of a weekend, and then put it back on the shelf. No, this book you pick up, read a little, sit down, think for a great while, and then pick up again a little later–maybe reading a new passage, maybe re-reading the same passage you had read earlier…”

Read the rest of this review and others at

Pictures From The Book

Purchase Stepping Off The Mat

First Edition

Stepping Off The Mat by Rick Berry
This first edition of Stepping Off The Mat was inspired by Sensei Berry's experiences during his employment at the Reynolds Metals Company and later at BP Oil, where there was a feeling of negativity among the workers. He began to write articles for the company newsletter in an attempt to nullify that attitude. This book is more or less a result of those writings.

Purchase the first edition of Stepping Off The Mat at or

Second Edition

Stepping Off The Mat, Second Edition
In this second edition Sensei Berry added a few more chapters, one entitled Blogging, where he looked back at some of his blogs and the responses from readers. There are two options for purchasing Stepping off the Mat now: one is a printed version and the second is a digital download version for E-Readers. Both are available from

To purchase a printed copy, please visit this link: To purchase a digital download copy, please visit this link: