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In my aikido life I have seen and felt many teachers. Some had more of an impact than others, which of course is the natural way things go in life.
With some teachers the things you learn are just another training methode for the same thing, but with others there is something more.
One of the teachers that influenced my aikido was Henry Kono sensei. He talked about balance, not about taking balance of uke, but of maintaining balance. This was very hard to understand, and obviously also something very hard to explain. Henry Kono sensei tried. He had all kind of gadgets to help explain the idea of maintaining balance. Sticks, wheels and even balloons. And he tried to explain it with words. He tried so hard. He even voiced his hopes: even if you don't get it now, I hope that some of you will get it in 5, 10 or 20 years.
O'Sensei why cannot we do what you do? Because I know about Yin and Yang.
So, I am this simple academic who thinks he knows about knowing stuff. I studied Yin and Yang, it's dynamics, it's meanings. It didn't help.
I was doing it wrong, or I didn't understand what Henry Kono sensei was trying to say.
I was lucky enough to overhear Henry Kono sensei speaking with a Japanese lady in our dojo. They were talking about the same thing: how you had to understand Yin and Yang to understand Aikido. (This is what was explained to me later, because I don't speak Japanese). But one of the things that I found amazing, is that when he was speaking with this Japanese lady he didn't mention Yin and Yang at all. She explained to me that O'Sensei said that he understood about Izanami and Izanagi and that his students didn't understand about Izanami and Izanagi.
I had read the Kojiki, (I wont claim I understood the Kojiki, because it is quite special) I recognized those names as the gods that created Japan.
So I went back to the Kojiki and read the stuff about Izanami and Izanagi again, and again, and again.
What was so important that everybody was missing?
I always liked Henry Kono sensei as a teacher, but one thing I felt always when he was teaching is that he struggled, probably because what he was trying to teach was so hard to explain with words and near impossible to see when someone did it.
Now I don't claim to be some super talented student. I struggle all the time, in aikido things don't come easy for me, but persistence is one of my strong points. And having felt Henry Kono sensei I knew there was something I was looking for.
What if Yin and Yang were not what we were looking for? What if it was just one of the ways that Henry Kono sensei was trying to make us see what he had seen? Maybe Yin and Yang were just a way to try and explain it, like the gadgets and balloons.
I have this idea that what Henry Kono sensei was trying to get across actually consist of 2 parts and, here comes that hard part, knowing these parts just isn't enough. Of course my way of describing it will be completely flawed and probably in 10 years I will laugh my head off about the things I am writing here, but I am still going to try.
Uke needs to be the perfect complement of nage, not because he/she wants this, but because it simply is. Both move around the same pillar without being important themselves. Nage is merely an observant of what is happening when the balance is maintained.
I cannot do it. I try, I try, I try.
Erik doesn't matter.