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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > April, 2005 - Levels of Application
by Lynn Seiser

Levels of Application by Lynn Seiser

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IMHO, there are many levels of application in Aikido. With consistent and persistent training and practice, with honest and genuine intent and intensity, it is natural and inevitable to grow and evolve in Aikido.

The first level of training is in the technical application of Aikido. We know, remember, and revisit this level. Okay, some of us have never really left this level. Moreover, every time we do, we move onto something new and come back to it. It is where we consciously have to think to get off the line of attack and where to put our feet, hands, and center. We consciously attempt to keep our feet, hips, shoulders, hands, head, and eyes facing the same direction at the same time. We think in steps and probably count to ourselves as we verbally tell ourselves what to do and when.

The next level of training is the sequential application of Aikido. First, Aikido requires some connection on a physical, mental, emotional, visual, auditory, or energetic level. Then we enter and blend with the approach and attack rather than avoid or resist it. Next we redirect the inertia, momentum, and energy of the approach and attack and begin unbalancing our uke, training partner, opponent, or attacker. This naturally moves into either throwing or controlling the situation. Finally, we let go and move on.

Then comes the conceptual level of Aikido application. Training may be ordinary Keiko, more intense rigorous Shugyo, or purification Misogi. Shoshin means to develop and maintain a beginner's mind, always humbly open to learn. Do not worry about Mushin (empty mind) or Satori (enlightened awakening, awareness, or realization), they seem to some when you let them, not make them. Kamae means always to keep the body stance and posture aligned, relaxed, balanced, centered, and ready. Musubi means to connect and always stay connected. Mitsuke is the soft eye focus that allows the use of the periphery vision to detect motion and to see through any opponent or obstacle directing the Ki or energy. Ma-ai means to always establish and maintain the appropriate distance to be efficient and effective. Irimi means to enter. Awase means to blend, always moving with rather than resisting. Tai-sabaki means to turn the body following vertical or horizontal circular and spiraling paths. Kuzushi means to take and break balanced, from the initial connection and contact always keep them off balance. Ki means the continual cultivation, focusing, and extending or projecting of energy, spirit, intent, and aliveness. Kokyu, similar to Ki, means the breath that coordinate and unifies all movement and mechanics. Zanshin is that lingering after effect of mind and spirits letting every one know there is still a connection.

Finally, Takemusu-aiki is unconscious competence. No conscious thought or effort is required. Aikido applies itself as the natural, creative, and spontaneous response to any given approach, attack, conflict, problem, or situation. This stage comes of its own through consistent and persistent training with honest and genuine intent and intensity over a long period of time. It is a level you have to get out of your own way and let it happen because you just cannot make some things happen.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!

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