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SmallRock's Blog Blog Tools Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 09-24-2004 11:04 PM
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 7
Comments: 0
Views: 22,178

In General Previous Essay for Aikodo Class Fall 02: Is Aikido Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #2 New 07-16-2004 03:27 PM
To say 'Aikido is...' can be a dangerous beginning to a broad generalization, which can lead a person to think thay must choose one tine in a forked road. I believe Aikido can be many things. Yes, it is a lot like dancing. The concepts like musubi, and ma ai certainly lead to such an observation, but that sense of timing and spatial understanding is imperative for martial disciplines. Take boxing for example. The martial art of boxing requires one to be quick on their feet and maneuverable in order to dodge jabs and other fast punches. That same boxer must also have a good enough spatial concept so that s/he will deliver an effective blow with appropriate power generation and extension to score against the attacker and possibly stun them enough to land another blow before they dodge or parry.

Consider also that the lack of connection, lack of musubi, lends itself toward injury. The nage must have an understanding of timing and positioning of their uke in order to deliver an iriminage or shihonage (for example) without causing significant injury. The uke is also responsible for cooperating with a nage who might be learning a technique for the first time to perform the task. Aikido has never been described as easy in my experience, the dance in learning allows the nage to create a new neuromotor program that will make the technique easier when the timing, spatial differences, resistance, or variety of ukes, makes the task more difficult.

When I think of training, I certainly consider the martial aspect, but also I consider the importance of connection with my partner and the potential for creativity within that connection. I have found that, much like musicians 'jamming', where they are spontaneously creating music through their own rhythms and harmonies, a good connection between uke and nage can create something as well. I have trained with many physical types of people, having varying levels of somatic amnesia, and different physical manifestations of their personality. Some moments feel purely martail, but in some moments I try to 'harmonize' or create a rhythm that will benefit both of us. One that is neither too dominant nor too submissive, neither overbearing nor disconnected. I cannot say that I am always successful, but in doing so, I have had fantastic moments of learning; a spontaneous act which can deliver an excellent moment of understanding an element of a technique that I hadn't seen before. Though these moments can be 'dancy' in the sense that they are two people 'jamming' or cooperating, I have come out of them knowing better how to execute a martial technique in some variation effectively.

Yes, some senseis accentuate the dance aspect more than others, but this does not mean that they lose the martial altogether. I had a friend who trained in a more martial dojo, and then had to move. When he started training at a new more 'dancy' dojo he had said '...they have a really fantastic sense of turning on center...' This was the gift he had received from that training. It would seem that it is also a reminder that variety in training can have its benefit.
It is important as well to address the agenda of the practitioner. If a student is looking only for an exercise in which they feel connection to their partner (whether real or imagined) they may lose the martial technique in their practice. Or if a student is looking only to find better ways to beat an opponent (whether the intent is protective or aggressive) they may forget the opportunity to enhance technique by training with musubi and by doing so lose that better understanding of body language, weight distribution, center, and timing. I started training in Aikido with the martial agenda, and through both positive and negative expereinces I've found that I want to meander more toward the center.

Such a question might lead a person to ask what O'Sensei meant to teach, but it would be fallacious to draw conclusions without consulting the source. There have been too many arguments about which of O'Sensei's students carries the true inherent line of 'His' Aikido. I would assert that Aikido has many paths which lead up, and it is up to the student (of any rank) to find the path which suits them.
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