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I move through space and I am solid, yet when viewed from my one point space is what occupies most of what I am. It's a matter of perspective. Choose a sufficiently small frame of reference and I become as empty as the universe vast distances separating my constituent parts; expand that same frame of reference enough and I become a point source without dimension. Perspective. Frame of reference. Relative. Will the real me please stand up?
Sometimes, when I'm taking a breather, I watch my students move and notice how some of them move freely as though any resistance to their motion is non-existent, while others always seem to be moving through a viscous medium that hinders their progress. Watching, I wonder at the nature of motion. Why isn't it the same for everyone? Is it simply a matter of anatomy? Are some people inherently stiffer than others? I have seen students become supple in their movements as a result of many years of training and it's always amazing to behold. One day I'll be watching someone and I'll say to myself -- hey, she's really flowing through that technique, where'd that come from? -- and then smile.
Friction impedes motion. Aikido training, I have discovered, reduces friction within my body and, consequently, improves my ability to move. When I extend Ki the space within me expands resulting in less friction and freer movement. Relaxation is product of reduced friction within the body. This leads me to the conclusion that practicing Aikido will engender relaxation. The common notion is that one has to relax first if one is to perform technique with Aiki. I believe this is putting the cart before the horse. Continued study of Aikido will, in and of itself, lead the student to the correct state and Aiki will arise naturally.