PDA

View Full Version : The Box


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


SeiserL
03-28-2011, 04:36 PM
Breathe in, inside the box
Breathe out, outside the box
What box?

I remember being told that first you learn the form, then you learn variations of the form, then you learn the formless. First you learn the craft then you learn the art. First you learn to color within the lines, then outside the lines, then without lines.

Many people think inside the box. They are often the most productive. They have a linear sequential thought pattern that gets things done. Yet, they seldom have an original idea about what to be productive about.

Other people think outside the box (all over outside the box). They are often the most creative and artful. They have more of a mosaic thought pattern. They are the dreamers. Yet they seldom get their creativity and art to the point that it is actually produced.

Some people say there are lovers and there are fighters. And then there are those that are both.

Is life an either/or proposition? Can we actually have the best of both worlds? Can we learn the form and practice the formless? Can we think both inside and outside the box?

Some of the best teachers I know are perpetual students. Some of the best students I know are perpetual teachers sharing what they have learned.

In the Aikido dojo and on the Aikido mat, we are nage/tori and uke. We train to the left as well as the right. We are sempai and kohai. We are learning and we are teaching. We lose ourselves and find ourselves in the practice of our art and the personal development and changes in thought and movement required to make Aikido work. It is Aikido in a generic form and it is our specific expression of Aikido as an art form. We learn the Aikido basics to practice the advanced Aikido variations and application, to strive for spontaneous response and expression. As all poets, we search for the words to communicate and describe what can only be experienced.

In our online forum, we each attempt to communicate to others our conceptualization of what Aikido is to us personally. Like the old tale of several blind men touching different parts of an elephant, we seldom have the same experience or use the same words to express it. Some of us have shared space and time face to face together in practice and have some insight into the other's words and expressions. Others of us blindly and deafly misinterpret what the other is saying simply because it does not match our experience or expression.

We can keep our focus inside the Aikido box and be very happy. We can look outside our Aikido box to find new learning and perspectives to bring back within our Aikido box. We can learn new things that do not directly apply to Aikido. Like a mobius strip, the inside becomes the outside and the outside becomes the inside. Eventually we may learn there is no box; there is only the direction and daily discipline of our own personal development.

I have always heard that higher levels of logic and organization are always more inclusive, while lower levels are more exclusive. This is a simple distinction (not judgment) of being more specific or more general.

Why am I discussing this? As most people here know, I love to cross train. Currently I train in 4 different martial arts (Aikido, Iaido, TaiChi/ChiGung, and Escrima/Kali). I don't really try to integrate them. When I do Aikido I do Aikido, when I do Iaido I do Iaido, when I do TaiChi/ChiGung I do TaiChi/ChiGung, and when I do Escrima/Kali I bash.

Aren't each one of these system complete or enough? Yes, each is complete and each is enough all by itself. If I saw myself only as an Aikidoka I would only do Aikido or if I only saw myself as an Escrimador I would only do Escrima. But my identity isn't the specific style, but the generic martial artists. There are those who study martial arts (its what they do) and there are martial artist (its who they/we are).

Identity is the box we draw in our minds to define who we think we are. Anything inside the box is us and anything outside the box is the other person. The box is self-defined and self-perpetuated. The box is self-changeable.

One of the biggest changes in the self-box is to stop thinking in terms of "I" and "you" and start thinking in terms of "we" and "us". This is the unity that connects couples and families. Without it, their relationships break down. Likewise in Aikido, we must connect and move as one unity.

How do you define who you are as a person and as a martial artist? Do you always draw inside the lines of the box or are you always outside the lines of the box looking in? Is your box small and constricting or large and expanding? Does your box have thick or thin lines? Is it a box or a circle. How did you create the box you are currently in? How can you change it? What would you change it to?

Thoughts?

Breathe in, inside the box
Breathe out, outside the box
What box?

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.

crbateman
03-28-2011, 05:13 PM
A thought-provoking article, Lynn-san. Thanks for putting it out there.

While I am somewhat "box-phobic", I do have one... My box has a door, as I prefer to play outside. The door has a latch, so I can retreat inside and lock it when I need to. My box also has a window, so I can keep an eye on things from inside, and come out to play again when the time looks right...

Janet Rosen
03-28-2011, 06:13 PM
Many good points to ponder! I've always been one of those "what box?" people...
One thought to share: I agree that when I am "doing" one thing, my focus and concentration are on that thing - whether it is aikido or topstitching a seam or interviewing a patient. However, I am always integrating these things and applying lessons learned everywhere applicable (aside for fans of "Stand on Zanzibar" - I realized reading it as a teen that synthesizer pretty much summed up how my brain works). An example, to keep it within the m.artial arts: being introduced to the iaido concept of pushing the sword rather than pulling it when drawing (and vice versa on sheathing) immediately changed (and improved) how I did iriminage in the aikido dojo.

SeiserL
03-28-2011, 07:26 PM
While I am somewhat "box-phobic", I do have one... My box has a door, as I prefer to play outside. The door has a latch, so I can retreat inside and lock it when I need to. My box also has a window, so I can keep an eye on things from inside, and come out to play again when the time looks right...
Yes agreed.

We all have a box that we design ourselves.

Mine is more cardboard and can be found empty in the back alley.

Thanks for reading and responding.

SeiserL
03-28-2011, 07:30 PM
I've always been one of those "what box?" people...

Yes agreed.

The nice thing about a box (like a cup) is that its usefulness is in its emptiness.

We can put inside it anything we want.

We can also open and retrieve anything inside any time or place we want.

They are content free.

Thanks for reading and responding.

jurasketu
03-28-2011, 09:43 PM
For me, the Invisible Boxes are the ones that bring the most annoyance and joy.

I mean, having a purposeful [mindful] box is a good thing. A properly designed and situated box can keep things sane and rational in a world of chaos. Such boxes bother me not at all, I know they are there and why they are there. I know (mostly) what is inside and what (vaguely) is outside.

And sure, I am as stubborn as anyone when told my purpose built boxes are too small, turned the wrong way, upside down, crooked, flimsy, what have you... They are my boxes - my own counsel shall I keep about them.

But it is the Invisible Boxes that have erected themselves unintended by me around my thinking, doing and knowing that provide those wonderful moments of revelation when I finally step outside their ephemeral walls. Often that moment occurs at the prompting of a friend, teacher, lover or even a disinterested observer. It is annoying because I think, "How come I didn't see that sooner or why didn't anyone tell me that before?". But it is joyful because it teaches me that I have plenty still to learn and much room still to grow.

Robin

aikishihan
03-29-2011, 10:45 AM
Hello Lynn,

Thank you for another fine article on perspectives that we need to consider, and avoid being boxed in by our lack of vision or education.

Perhaps we can look forward to other geometric metaphors in the future that may illuminate other blind spots and hidden pathways for us. Using the “box” metaphor is most useful, but we must not be content to constantly be led by the example of others. For some of us, we need to emulate your example and find unique and original parallels in our own lives to better appreciate and fashion our respective journeys.

For instance, the ability to make firm decisions on a timely and expedient basis strikes me as being equally important. Too often do we lapse into indecisiveness and self doubt, even when our inner voice prompts us to act. Is it not preferable to ignore the seeming cacophony of outside voices and well intentioned advice to make our lives simpler, and resolve to decide for ourselves the direction of our training methods, and our growth? Perhaps as a psychologist, you can share some hints or clues as to how to develop such a more fundamentally sound self image, and to find the courage to proceed.

Thanks again for your supportive comments and viewpoints.

lbb
03-29-2011, 11:33 AM
To play further with the metaphor: boxes get broken. Sometimes they get broken by something within that's become too large or too non-box-shaped to stay in the box, sometimes they get broken from outside. It's not always a good thing. For every time the box gets broken into by a benevolent outside world gently making its way in and exposing you to all kinds of good things, there's a time the box gets shattered by a traumatic event. When the latter happens enough, you sort of give up on boxes. I guess you could say this is a case of going "beyond the box", but it's not really a positive direction. There are good ways for boxes to break, like a peat pot coming apart in a garden as a plant starts to grow. There are also myriad bad ways, so beware box-breaking for its own sake.

SeiserL
03-29-2011, 12:08 PM
For me, the Invisible Boxes are the ones that bring the most annoyance and joy.
Yes agreed.

Many boxes we see and know are there. We are used to their shape and the safe boundaries they provide.

Other boxes are less obvious and we have to be both self-reflective and open to the reflections given by others to become aware of them. Perhaps these are the ones that are hidden in the boxes we are aware of.

Perhaps the question is, is this box useful?

Thanks for reading and responding.

SeiserL
03-29-2011, 12:16 PM
For instance, the ability to make firm decisions on a timely and expedient basis strikes me as being equally important. Too often do we lapse into indecisiveness and self doubt, even when our inner voice prompts us to act. Is it not preferable to ignore the seeming cacophony of outside voices and well intentioned advice to make our lives simpler, and resolve to decide for ourselves the direction of our training methods, and our growth? Perhaps as a psychologist, you can share some hints or clues as to how to develop such a more fundamentally sound self image, and to find the courage to proceed.
Thank you for your kind words.

As a metaphor, everything can be a box, a circle, or a triangle (or any other geometrical shape). The limits are only in our conceptualization and application of the principle.

There are those external voices I need to listen to and those I need to ignore. There are those internal voices I need to listen to and those I need to ignore. Wisdom/serenity is knowing the difference. And then there is the silence.

Thank for reading and responding and being such a formative influence on a path I have learned to love.

SeiserL
03-29-2011, 12:20 PM
To play further with the metaphor: boxes get broken.
Yes agreed.

So get broken and some were broken to begin with.

Others are meant to be broken out of. Their usefulness is in the usefulness and challenge they provide.

I once heard that the box is the cell we keep ourselves in. We created it and we hold the key, yet we stay within it thinking it give us safety and security. Yet freedom is in our hands, our minds, and our hearts.

In reality perhaps the box cannot be broken because there is no box.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Diana Frese
03-29-2011, 01:51 PM
Great article, great comments. Thanks, everyone!

Peter Goldsbury
03-29-2011, 02:50 PM
Then there is Pandora's box, of course (actually, it is a jar). But I suppose this takes the metaphor in another direction... :D

PAG

SeiserL
03-29-2011, 04:13 PM
Great article, great comments.
Thanks.

Please feel free continue the conversation.

Thanks for reading and responding.

SeiserL
03-29-2011, 04:17 PM
Then there is Pandora's box, of course (actually, it is a jar). But I suppose this takes the metaphor in another direction... :D PAG
All directions are welcomed.

I truly enjoy seeing how far and in what direction the metaphors can go.

I grew up in Pandora's box, but at the time we called it Detroit.

Thanks for reading and responding. Always a welcomed voice.

guest1234567
03-29-2011, 05:44 PM
Thanks Lynn for your thoughts provoking post. My box would be invisible, elastic and open so that I can go in and out.

SeiserL
03-29-2011, 07:13 PM
My box would be invisible, elastic and open so that I can go in and out.
What makes you go inside the box and how far in do you go?

What makes you go outside the box and how far out do you go?

Thanks for joining the conversation.

graham christian
03-29-2011, 08:32 PM
Hi Lynn, an excellent piece. Thank you.

The concept of in a box or outside is a good thought provoking and educational tool. I can also equate it with labels where people have to put labels on everything and when they put labels on you they are then putting you in a box.

What do we do with criminals? Put them in a box. Etc. etc.

For me I see myself as someone on a path of ridding myself of boxes. Emptying them bit by bit until I discover what's left is an empty box and then discarding it with laughter.

When I discover the truth that I am both inside and outside of a box there then becomes 'what box?'

Thus the two minds you mention are part of the one true me so if I am comfortable with one way then I need to discipline myself on the other in order to create inner peace and not be stuck in the one box.

At which point I'll only use a box to stand on.

Regards.G.

guest1234567
03-30-2011, 02:08 AM
What makes you go inside the box and how far in do you go?

What makes you go outside the box and how far out do you go?

Thanks for joining the conversation.

When I'm inside my empty box I breath in taking all the things our teacher is showing us and after the class still inside I think about it, collegues asking make me come out to share these things with them.
By the way when I first read the title I thought of the movie with Cameron Diaz..

SeiserL
03-30-2011, 05:22 AM
When I'm inside my empty box I breath in taking all the things our teacher is showing us and after the class still inside I think about it, collegues asking make me come out to share these things with them.
Yes agreed.

We bring in what we think they are teaching us.

We let out what we think they taught us.

Seldom are the two congruent.

But that is next month's column.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-30-2011, 06:07 AM
The box is an illusion and the inside/outside the box a false dichotomy.

There's no box.

SeiserL
03-30-2011, 09:23 AM
Thus the two minds you mention are part of the one true me so if I am comfortable with one way then I need to discipline myself on the other in order to create inner peace and not be stuck in the one box.
Thanks for reading and commenting.

IMHO, the ultimate box is the one labeled identity.

There is no me to be inside or outside the box that doesn't exist either.

But, they are useful constructs.

Thanks again.

SeiserL
03-30-2011, 09:25 AM
The box is an illusion and the inside/outside the box a false dichotomy. There's no box.
Ultimately correct.

There is no box or dichotomy.

Seeing through the illusions is the work. We have to let it happen.

Thanks for reading and responding.

phitruong
03-30-2011, 09:45 AM
what happens if the box lined with mirrors from within and without? do we know which is inside and which is outside? oooohhhhh i think i just mess up my brain on that one. i got to stop thinking like that; actually, i should stop thinking altogether. oh wait, already there! personally, my box is a chinese take out box; you just can't stop with one bite. :)

SeiserL
03-30-2011, 11:04 AM
what happens if the box lined with mirrors from within and without? do we know which is inside and which is outside?

personally, my box is a chinese take out box; you just can't stop with one bite. :)

Yes agreed.

In many regards the inside does reflect the outside and vice versus.

If we look at modleing, mirror neurons, and memes we can see this in action.

I will join you in the box, please make mine Kung Pao Chicken.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Diana Frese
03-31-2011, 05:55 PM
Lynn mentioned cross training and it reminded me of something:

It was l981 and a few of us from the Y Aikido class were on the lawn of a house one of the students was renting...

The kata Bassai looked fierce but I felt I had to say something polite when Chuck ( whom I later married as a matter of fact ...) offered to teach our group Karate. I remembered the demos our Aikikai had given at the Manhatten center years ago which to me, who had come from college modern dance and women's judo, looked scary.

But later, I thought about the offer, but by then Chuck had moved to Massachusetts. But his college friends were senpais in a dojo not too far away.... Eventually he moved back to our town and they encouraged me to persuade him to teach here.

First impressions are one thing, but by the time I saw the kata on the lawn, unknowingly I was already partway out of the box I thought I was in. Atemi had been taught throughout my years in Aikido, and as I got older I became more and more interested in balance exercises.

I had learned a few from various Aikido teachers and in two hour classes at the Y included these right after the warmups before the actual techniques. I told the students, "now we must do our Nureyev lessons," remembering that Joe Namath the football quarterback had taken up ballet to improve his footwork etc....
So although beginning Karate was not that easy for me, it was enjoyable and it made sense, the time was right.

Expandable boxes: when we see that what's on the other side actually does relate to what's inside ...

We do learn from others too, but Chuck and I are each other's teacher -- he's from Karate, I'm from Aikido. So I hope this story relates to this column, uke and nage and being each other's teacher.

The Y was a pretty big box where you can learn about a lot of things, meet a lot of people, etc....
Not a "big box store" but a pretty big box all the same...

Diana Frese
03-31-2011, 06:23 PM
oops, I left out that the Aikido demos were in the intermissions of Karate tournaments. I wasn't scared of Aikido, but probably would have been scared to be in an Aikido demo at the time. The karate tournaments looked scary. Sitting in the audience, however, I heard some people comment about Aikido, "Look, they're flying"

SeiserL
04-01-2011, 05:27 AM
Lynn mentioned cross training and it reminded me of something:
IMHO, because O'Sensei did not accept people unless they had a background in striking arts, the box called learning-to-punch was not included in the box called Aikido.

Now that people are coming straight into AIkido, learning-to-punch is still not included inside the box called Aikido.

One of the major observations and criticism of Aikido is that we have to go outside the box and learn an art to bring it back inside the box to restore the completeness of the previous box called Aikido.

I enjoy having many different boxes to play in.

Excellent point. Compliments and appreciation.

Mary Eastland
04-01-2011, 09:06 AM
A box or a path? If I wander too far away it becomes something else than what I started in. After being corrected I am free to choose again.
I have wandered far from my box or path on occasion. I am back ...gently expanding the perimeters.
Mary

SeiserL
04-01-2011, 10:15 AM
A box or a path?
Good question.

IMHO, a box could be a path and a path could be a box.

Metaphors are flexible that way.

If the box is big enough it could contain the path. Take the box of honor, its with you where ever the path leads. Or is it the path of honor can take you in and out of any and many boxes?

Or was the question rhetorical or a koan?

Lan Powers
04-14-2011, 11:36 AM
MMMM Mine is more of a bag, really.
stuff it full, drag it around, rummage about in it to find your treasures....
fold it flat and drape it over your shoulders for your cape of power....
cloak of invisibility, snuggly comforter, dishrag of invisibilty
(for all the Eric the Viking fans):)
I find that there is a hole in the bottom of it though, so I have to be careful to not lose the hard-gained treasures (at the time) I keep putting in. Lose some, others come, so...

yeah, more of a bag thing.
with a hole

SeiserL
04-14-2011, 05:13 PM
yeah, more of a bag thing.
with a hole
LOL

If it didn't have a hole there would be now way to put new things in or take old things old.

Thanks for reading and responding.