04-19-2010, 12:00 AM
There is no adequate substitute for feeling Aikido. Metaphorical descriptions be they conferred by word, picture or video; cast in the language of science, philosophy or arcane concepts out of the depths of time are rendered unsatisfactory when what is happening is actually felt by my partner and me.
I learn Aikido via the interaction of my partner and myself as we move about the mat practicing technique, Ki exercises, randori or whatever. As training time progresses I become familiar with how I feel when things go smoothly and naturally. I learn to feel when I have connected with my partner and we move in concert rather than conflict. Feeling provides me with all the feedback I need to determine the effectiveness of my performance. When I feel bumping, pulling, pushing, tugging, towing, undue exertion... I immediately know that something is wrong, we're no longer connected, and I then seek to reestablish my link with my partner. Aikido practice is self-correcting. If I just pay attention to how I feel then, with time, I will be able to refine my practice in such a way as to continually approach correct feeling which is my most natural and strongest possible state.
Along the way, I endeavor to dispense with metaphor as a substitute for feeling. Metaphor is a seductive but limiting tool for trying to encapsulate a dynamic process in static imagery. Metaphor is an order of magnitude removed from experience. If I rely on metaphor to bolster my understanding and perpetuate my growth in Aikido I will surely stray from the path which is laid out before me but must be felt to be really experienced and understood.
(Original blog post may be found here (http://ron-aikidothoughts.blogspot.com/2010/04/one-hundred-and-sixty.html).)