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Pauliina Lievonen
09-05-2005, 04:28 PM
I hope the title is clear enough. ;) I thought maybe it would be interesting if I wrote down my experiences with trying the drills from time to time.

So I had a chance to train today, briefly, with a more-or-less equal ranked/experienced dojo mate.

This time, I tried to be more open and welcoming instead of pushing away in my attention to my partner. It became very clear when we reached my limit for receiving violence, because this time, when that limit got crossed, I'd really flinch and turn away. Last time I dealt more with "hardening" my gaze. On the other hand, as long as I was still able to stay open, it became more possible to play with the distance and angle between us. My partner (after we switched roles) had a tendency to lose distance and get a bit run over by me. I don't know if that was a clever way of attacking on my side though, I wasn't really thinking about tactics just pushing forward. Which I tend to do, as attacker.

We added deflecting. Observations: The idea of deflecting tends to take my attention to my hands or my partners (or legs if he's kicking). Which is a very basic mistake! The conditions of the drill really brought this out again. In general (I wasn't aware of this at the time) thinking back I realize that I was mostly very focused on my partner, albeit in a different way than before, and not very aware of our surroundings. Not quite all the time, we didn't collide with anyone and I have some recollection of the people training around us.

We went back and forth between deflecting and just moving with hands in the back, because it seemed necessary to take a step back in the drill from time to time. One reason was that allowing ourselves to deflect the attacks seemed to also allow for a sort of ...false safety. So the deflecting could also became a coping mechanism. There was a difference in feel when it wasn't defensive deflecting but accepting deflecting if that makes sense.

...I just realized, writing this, something vague and hard to put to words about how I was holding my arms a bit stiffly, and stopping my own footwork at some point. As if thinking that I should move in some particular way, and not allowing myself to move freely.

We tried entering behind uke but that seemed entirely impossible! There were a couple moments where I could deflect almost everything and keep a nice distance and feel quite free, but I couldn't irimi from there. I don't know if there's something specific to look for there? Or is it just too soon?

I was pleased that I didn't turn away from the barrage in the first fase of the drill, until a clear point where my limit was reached. In the second fase this didn't happen at all, probably because I was coping by stiffening at that point. I'm thinking that a clear "breaking point" is actually a good sign because it means there is no attempt at hiding from it?

Comments and suggestions are very welcome, of course!

kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
09-05-2005, 09:25 PM
Pauliina,

An amazing exercise of self-reflection! Yes, you are on the right track - as you are hitting or experiencing all of the main elements of the drill and how they provide insights into the mind and/or into the body/mind.

Something I did not pull out as much as one could in the other summaries on these drills is this:

The reason that that irimi is chosen as the final aspect to be obtained is because there is really only one way to get it. You have to stop wanting it to happen. This is the same thing for the Angle of Deflection and for metsuke. Only folks can get through these things (i.e. angle of deflection and metsuke) with (for example) strength and stubborness and thus force these things to work at a level from which they can at least deny to themselves that they are not doing them wrong. With irimi, if you want it to happen, if you try and find it, or if you look to do it, you will undoubtedly become distracted from what else you need to do. Forcing the irimi simple won't do - or if it does it is too greatly forced and thus too hard to deny that it is being done incorrectly (i.e. totally different from how it feels in body art kihon waza). And as a result, because what else you need to do is not being done, as you enter into self-feeding cycle of distraction (i.e. a lack of awareness, an incapacity to be in the exact present as it is being experienced), you cannot irimi from within that context. You are right - it is indeed impossible. At this point, the drill becomes a type of physical koan.

If you try to irimi, you will bog down in your awareness. Thus, for example, your Angle of Deflection will tend to become forced and then eventually it will fall behind what is happening. As a result, your emotional content becomes more and more plagued by anxiety and by feelings of anxiousness. This in turn makes you look more to doing irimi but this only repeats the cycle with every loss of awareness multiplied exponentially. The only way to irimi is to let it occur by itself. Like all koans, this makes no sense intellectually, but makes perfect sense intuitively - which is why we can either do it or we can't - though we learn a lot about oursevlves each time we try (whether we succeed or not). In my opinion, a whole lot goes into being in the moment under martial considerations. These drills help point the way.

From here, from what you say, it sure looks like the drill is working for you. My advice, just keep going with it. You will get there in time - all without trying. :-)

dmv

Abasan
09-05-2005, 10:58 PM
After reading your experience, davids drill seems awfully familiar. Its like I saw systema's drill on movement. Of course we don't have systema here, and all i know about it is from the dvds i bought.

But all in all, it sounds the same.

Pauliina Lievonen
09-06-2005, 05:27 PM
From here, from what you say, it sure looks like the drill is working for you. My advice, just keep going with it. You will get there in time - all without trying. :-)

Thank you David! That's good to hear.

This going back and forth is very very useful.

Reading what you wrote makes me think that when we got to the second drill, I was coming against the same things again as in the first one, and even at the moments where I felt free I probably wasn't. Little moments of self-delusion there, heh. Or big ones.

Anyway, I think I know how to proceed for now, I'll report back again some time. :)

kvaak
Pauliina
off to bed

Charles Hill
09-07-2005, 12:32 AM
Pauliina,

I am very interested in hearing about your experiences. I, too, am working on how to incorporate David`s drills, so your posts are very helpful

Charles

Tim Griffiths
09-07-2005, 04:59 AM
What are these drills of which you speak?

I've missed something, as I've been off for a while, both practice and reading aikiweb (they go together for me) due to injury - if you thought left/right differentiation was important in aikido, let me tell you its much more important in hang gliding, esp near a cliff. :uch:

Tim

Pauliina Lievonen
09-07-2005, 09:57 AM
A quick reply - look for a thread called "Quickness and accuracy" , in the past few weeks. Somewhere along the thread the drills are discussed and IIRC David gives a link to them. I'd look for it for you but I gotta go.

Charles, glad to hear that, that's why I thought I'd post here instead of emailing David privately.

kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
09-07-2005, 01:20 PM
I'll try and write more later, but here is the link to the original thread - which includes the links to the drills in question (video) and some commentary on what one is doing in the drills, etc. (for those who would like in on this conversation but aren't sure where this all started).

thanks,
dmv

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8728&highlight=quickness+accuracy

Pauliina Lievonen
09-09-2005, 05:42 PM
A short burst of practice again after class tonight. Class incidentally was about kokyu and aiki (sensei's words, not mine). :)

Partner this time was less experienced than me, sankyu I think. She needed some encouraging hitting me at first, but got quite enthusiastic as we went on. :uch: :p

Writing stuff down afterwards seems to be a good way to do this, I don't have time to observe when I'm in the middle of it. This time it was all easier, I guess partly because my partner just wasn't as experienced. I kept to turning slightly off-line for a while. For some reason I was blinking a lot, maybe because she was mainly aiming for my face... but still, I could sort of welcome it in and almost feel comfortable, like when it's raining hard and finally you just accept that you're going to get wet. I could prevent some of it landing just by turning appropriately, something I wasn't able to do last time.

Deflecting also felt more ... obvious, like I didn't have to try that hard. And then, suddenly I just slipped through to her back. :D It felt really nice, not clashing.

Actually the more interesting thing of this evening was that I was watching myself a bit in class before this. And indeed, I can observe myself going into different modes when we do our normal kata practice. Even with something as predictable as a pre-agreed shomenuchi, I can see that reaction in myself of not really wanting to accept the attack. heh.

Well, that's all for tonight.
kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
09-09-2005, 05:48 PM
Pauliina,

I'm sorry I haven't been able to write - I hope to be able to do so later this weekend.

However, just a quick note - I wanted to suggest maybe filming yourself, so you can watch youself in sort of "real time" but as a third perspective. This usually provides surprising results/insights.

Talk later, again - thanks for sharing. Sounds great.

david

Pauliina Lievonen
09-13-2005, 05:32 PM
No worries David. I'm treating this as a training blog, and whenever anyone wants to comment, feel free.

Tonight we had open class and I thought I'd not get any drills in, but after class I asked a dojomate who used to do wing chun (sp?) if he wanted to hit me and he was more than happy to do so. :)

I think "getting creamed" is the expression to use for what happened. :D :freaky: I found myself looking away, turning away and down and generally trying not to be where I was. Deflecting was never even an option. No, actually I did try --- he just used my deflection to get in. :p

If I was doing aikido for self defense purposes I would be very worried now. As it is, I suddenly had a glimpse of a much bigger challenge than what I've met before.

Funny thing is, even when I was very clearly getting overwhelmed, it didn't really bother me very much. I mean, I was reacting in less than helpful ways, but I wasn't feeling frustrated by that. I did wonder if I should have asked my partner to take it a bit easier, but then I thought, what purpose would that serve? Other than making me nice and comfy again? probably it's just something that has to be experienced again and again until it's not so overwhelming anymore.

sleepy kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
09-13-2005, 05:44 PM
Hi Pauliina,

Just another quick note: I casually fimed some of our intermediate versions of this drill - where we still keep every parameter the same but allow for fuller contact (wearing protective gear). I'll try and post that soon.

thanks,
dmv
ps. that's really interesting about the wing chun - remember, I posted a video of a wing chun practitioner as a problem for those that just thought they would irimi, etc. how funny. ;)

Upyu
09-13-2005, 06:52 PM
Interesting topic, and oddly enough I think comes into play into the power generation necessary to make this kind of body skill to work.
I've noticed that forgetting all the relaxing the gaze, hardening the gaze, feeling more open, or confronting etc, if you simply try to "stand", and keep all points connected, then power will manisfest itself in your technique.

Likewise, like Paulina observed, the second your "intent" or intention goes to a local part of the body, the mind scatters, muscle tension is induced, brute force is applied etc etc.

This applies to all techniques, even atemi.
Its the reason why many Kickboxers, Muay Thai, what have you, can't generate the same kind of power once you get this mind set, and by the same token, it's hard for them to grasp this notion of to generate power in the strikes :)

(Physiologically what happens is that your entire body is recruited to generate power as a whole, in an instant, as a result of this mentality)

In the case of one of the strikers mentioned above, if you were to measure the "wave" of force to see how deeply it penetrates, it wouldn't penetrate at all, and only impact on the surface, after which the force would quickly decline indicating more or less local strength being used to generate the power.

In a nutshell, whatever the opponent does to you, you don't just blend, you accept, but at the same time you never give up your vital "balance". I've found it helpful to simply "fight" to "stand", even as I recieve blows, throws, or what have you. Oddly enough, when you lash back it's simply a result of the "compression" inside your body building up, which you release back at the opponent, without intending to do so.

PS
For this mindset to work, this also assumes that your body is linked and generating a force across all points of your body in 6 directions :)

Pauliina Lievonen
09-14-2005, 04:32 AM
In a nutshell, whatever the opponent does to you, you don't just blend, you accept, but at the same time you never give up your vital "balance". I've found it helpful to simply "fight" to "stand", even as I recieve blows, throws, or what have you.

I just realized that I never replied to your pm. I'm sorry.

Sounds like you do some practice similar to the drills we've been talking about here? Would you like to describe some of what you've done?

I can work in a connected way... but I haven't done a lot of training to increase the power I can generate that way, if you see what I mean. So I'm stronger than I would be if I wasn't connected, but not any stronger than that.

David,

"just irimi" ... :D :D :D If anyone was irimi'ing, it was my partner, he was irimiing me off the mat and all over the place. He was wishing for gloves, too. I'm looking forward to seeing the intermediate versions of your drill.

I don't think I've seen the video of a wing chun practitioner?

kvaak
Pauliina

Ki No Nagare
09-14-2005, 11:27 AM
Hey, Ik heb een vraagje aan je Pauliina, ik studeer in hilversum en woon zelf in de buurt van gouda, ik zou graag eens willen zien wat voor een aikido je in utrecht beoefent. Dus zou je me misschien het adres kunnen geven? Of iets dergelijks...

In ieder geval bedankt,

Stijn.

Pauliina Lievonen
09-14-2005, 01:10 PM
Hoi Stijn, our website is:
www.jikishinkan.org

You can find the lesson times, and location there. Ezra sensei is coming to Utrecht on the 24th if you want to combine your visit with a very interesting seminar.

tot kijk op de mat, hoop ik!
kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
09-15-2005, 12:45 AM
Here is that video of us doing the same drill but with fuller contact - wearing protective gear.

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/shikakuintermediate.html


dmv

happysod
09-15-2005, 03:45 AM
I'll give 5-1 on odds for Sean in the next vid as long as he's allowed to use elbows...

Thanks for the vid David, nice to see your version of protective gear was for those delicate shins and hands only, I was expecting something as outre as protection for the head (TKD body armour and hakama, it may catch on...)

senshincenter
09-15-2005, 08:57 AM
Ian,

Well, we have mouth-guards too. And there are instep pads at the end of the shin guards. :-) We'd just like to not have our face more cut up than necessary - so we can go to work the next day and not frighten people - that kind of thing.

The aggressor in the drill is allowed to use anything ballistic - which includes head, knees, elbows. The only thing at this level they are restricted from doing tactically is shooting, etc. However, in the moment, through doing the drill, I have found that most folks stick to punches (over kicks, knees, elbows, etc.), as punches give them the best odds (they feel or believe) for either hitting their partner, cutting them off at the angle if they miss their partner, and/or for keeping their balance against the eventual kuzushi. Since the "defender" is restricted from launching a counter-attack (e.g. stop-hit, etc.) and/or from grappling him/herself, etc., the use of kicks (e.g. to close the range) and elbows and knees (e.g. to address infighting concerns) is somewhat diminished - allowing one to take advantage of the added capacity for balance that punches (for example) often allow for. Hence, why (I think) we see the flurries made up of punches more than other ballistic tactics.

will write more soon,
dmv

happysod
09-15-2005, 09:25 AM
Sorry David, but I think I can get better odds on Sean as you won the last round so handsomely... also Sean T-shirts available in the foyer now

Actually, the reason for the elbows remark is that was the first thing that came to mind to stop you scuttling off round the back so nicely. Does the drill also have have the aggressor stop trying to go ballistic once taken off balance to prevent scuffles? (OK, I should really wait for the next installment, feel free to ignore in favour of a more deliberate response later on)

senshincenter
09-15-2005, 09:57 AM
Hi Ian,

lol.

Yes, the aggressor can do all of these things - at least he/she is allowed to. If we see the aggressor not doing them it is more because they are being entered upon and having their balance broken in the midst of their strike and/or during their plans to execute the next strike. In other words, while the defender is not pro-actively checking against such things, the aggressor in his/her own aggression is preoccupied from doing such things.

However, I am sure one will get that practitioner that seeks more to NOT be taken off balance than to attack the defender - in which case the things you mention become more viable. However, such a student would come to face a lot worse hardships than being taken off balance come higher drills where the defender is allowed his/her own ballistic weapons.

It is not only therefore more conducive to this drill that the aggressor see it as his/her job to hit the the defender (fast, hard, and many times) rather than prevent him/herself from experiencing the kuzushi, it is way more conducive to other drills, and to one's survival rate in those drills, to have many hours of practice learning how to apply ballistic pressure on your opponent.

If a student starts to defend more against the kuzushi than put pressure on the defender, we simply allow the defender to strike. This always motivates the "aggressor" to be the "aggressor" again - funny how that happens. :-) Most folks however can follow the instructions - which were to apply as much ballistic pressure on the defender as possible. With the kuzushi being so gentle, the fear of falling doesn't play such a big part in resisting the instructions.

Anyway, I think if you look at the slow motion parts one can see that the aggressor is either in the midst of the strike he is throwing or his plans to throw the next strike when he is entered upon. In this way, we enter with a (type of) pre-awareness or we enter with a blending of uke's action/reaction. Martially, in my opinion, irimi requires both things of us in order to be a viable tactic - which is what separates it from simply moving forward or in.

I'll take two shirts and one hooded sweatshirt if you got 'em. :-)

thanks,
take care,
d

Ron Tisdale
09-15-2005, 10:50 AM
Nice stuff David. I like how your attacker doesn't magically unbalance himself. Do you have clips like that that show more traditional aiki-waza? I realize that this is a drill, and that is not the point of it. I was in a similar situation a couple of weeks ago, and I had no trouble using standard boxing skills in that situation, but got off very few entries into aiki-technique.

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
09-15-2005, 11:01 AM
Hi All,



Speaking generally here – sharing my thoughts…


I would like to address the difficulty that has been mentioned in regards to the last aspect of drill three – entering fully to the back of the aggressor.

As I said in the previous thread on quickness and accuracy, irimi is a huge part of Aikido tactics. The point of these drills is of course to see more clearly into our body/minds for the purposes of cultivating ourselves according to the moral/social and spiritual aspects of Aikido (e.g. non-resistance over resistance, harmony over disharmony, acceptance over rejection, etc.). However, this does not mean that irimi itself is not a desired-for end. It only means that in the “desiring” for irimi, whether we achieve it or not, we may learn a lot about ourselves at a levels we do not often experience off the mat (and perhaps not often on the mat either if we do not do some kind of training similar to this). Nevertheless, irimi is present in the drill and just as real as any other Aikido tactic we have come to know. As such, we must relate to it in that way. What does that mean?

This means that when we irimi under these conditions, conditions that have to be considered by any standard as a disadvantage, we should still perform irimi in the same way that we have seen it performed in Kihon Waza. This means it is not enough to just get to the back of the opponent any ol’ way one can. What one has to do is to irimi to shikaku. And that means: One has to have timing and spatial aspects that correspond to the moral/social and spiritual aspects mentioned above – one has to enter without resistance, with harmony, with acceptance, etc.

This all makes sense to us, to all of us, I would imagine, as not many folks would say that we should rather try and enter with rejection and with resistance – with disharmony. However, this sense it makes is something more akin to our intellect and/or at most to what we might want to call the more surface levels of our body/mind. We know how we should enter, and we may have even entered that way before – here or there spontaneously or regularly in Kihon Waza training. However, in these types of drills, a deeper part of ourselves is reached and when that happens it feels like the “sense” that we understood intellectually and/or with the more surface levels of our body/mind is nowhere to be seen, felt, or heard.

Rather, we are left there almost dumbfounded, but this dumbfoundedness takes place not only intellectually. It also occurs emotionally and physically. In other words, at a common sense level, we are present but we are present having no idea of what to do or of how to do it and we are not even really sure why what is occurring is occurring. There is a kind of “gap,” or a kind of “chasm” (which is probably a word closer to the subjective experience), and this is very much related not to what we know intellectually and/or at the surface levels of our body/mind, but rather it is related to what or who we are at our core. By default then, because of how the body/mind is one integrated whole, we are also seeing the point at which our capacity for moral and spiritual behavior faces its own chasm.

Those of us that may be interested in either one of these chasms (which should always be considered simultaneously since they cannot really be separated) are going to wonder how through all the training, through, for example, all the Kihon Waza, we still have within us this darkness, this chasm, which remains impenetrable. In the other thread, I mentioned that, for example, Kihon Waza, in its pedagogical structure, for its reasons of transmission, assumes many things of us. To be sure, it does not assume its prescribed physicalities. Moreover, if we are capable of training in forms in a very alive fashion – which is what we should all be doing and what forms assume of us – Kihon Waza does not even assume those internal qualities and/or virtues necessary to support the prescribed physicalities. Rather, forms come to cultivate these things in us by having us repeat them over and over again. This is perhaps similar to how a child learns through observation and then imitation, etc. So where does the gap or chasm come from? What is forms not designed to address?

To be sure, the chasm is fed by our inability to perform prescribed physicalities in the exact way that they are being prescribed. The maturity levels of the character traits and/or virtues that support our prescribed physicalities also feed it. Moreover, there are indeed things like body conditioning, and experience with the particulars (e.g. adrenaline dumps, etc.) of these types of situations that also come to feed the chasm. Thus, if we are able to address these things, we are able to shed more light into where there was only darkness (only this dumbfoundedness and/or this great distance from employing Aikido tactics under spontaneous conditions as they are employed within our forms). However, much of the chasm remains even if these things come to be addressed.

If I were to take a guess at why that might be in regards to Kihon Waza, I would suggest that it is because while Kihon Waza need not assume our physicalities and/or the relevant character traits, etc., it cannot help, because of its reasons for transmission, but to assume that that which it is not transmitting remain at a level of unequal presence (i.e. a kind of idealized un-present). When forms work on this strike or that strike, or this response or that response, in order to do this or that, forms, in their right to idealize time and space, presume that things are in an unequal state of presence and/or non-presence. Please understand this: It is not that forms do not presume that there are follow-up strikes, counters, etc. It is not that forms bring attention to one thing by ignoring other things. Rather, it is that forms must reject the nothingness or emptiness of combat in order to make something exist – something that can be studied and transmitted. In this way, Kihon Waza assumes that we are capable of reconciling this emptiness in our lives – in our actions, our words, and in our ideas – for the sake of transmission when in reality we have achieved no such reconciliation. More truthfully, probably we alone assume this through our forms training. In reality, this is most likely where Shu and Ha training are meant to relate to each other. Because we are not innately capable of this reconciliation, and because forms only assume it of us (or we assume it of forms), this chasm may remain no matter how much Kihon Waza we do.

In spontaneous training, we do not face a presumed reconciliation of the nature of the universe (i.e. emptiness, constant change, co-dependent origination, etc.). In spontaneous training, there is no kick or strike, no wrist grab, etc., that is manifested over and above the emptiness which marks it. There is not this thing or this situation or this scenario in which we must be alive, or in the moment. In spontaneous training, we experience no “A” to our “B” – even if “A” and “B” can be witnessed by a third non-participating party. In spontaneous training, we do not seek to relate ourselves to the strike or the kick or the grab, etc., that has erupted from the fabric of emptiness – as it might in Kihon Waza training. In spontaneous training, I would propose, what we are being asked to relate to is the emptiness itself. Until we can relate to this emptiness itself, that chasm will remain a chasm of darkness, of ignorance, etc. When we can relate to this emptiness itself, that chasm is exactly what is needed – for inside that chasm lies our own emptiness, our own place/time in the emptiness of which nothing escapes, or own capacity to reconcile with ourselves as we reconcile with the greater universe. In spontaneous training, emptiness, which cannot be transmitted, which is the antithesis of any effort to transmit anything, is the only “presumption” being made – and its hitting you in the face over and over again saying, “Welcome to the reality of the living world.”



Well, thanks for letting me share.

david

Ki No Nagare
09-15-2005, 11:19 AM
Domo arigato gozaimasu, ik zal het zekerweten overwegen!

senshincenter
09-15-2005, 04:28 PM
Hi Ron,

Thanks for writing. Right now I don't have any of the more advanced versions of this drill on film - where one might see what you are asking about. Hopefully I will soon.

take care,
david

senshincenter
09-16-2005, 05:13 PM
Here are some other drills that I think supplement these drills mentioned here:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/atemi.html

Pauliina Lievonen
09-16-2005, 06:32 PM
Rather, we are left there almost dumbfounded, but this dumbfoundedness takes place not only intellectually. It also occurs emotionally and physically. In other words, at a common sense level, we are present but we are present having no idea of what to do or of how to do it and we are not even really sure why what is occurring is occurring.
It's late again but I want to write before going to bed... this was very very recognizable from my experience last time with the wing chun guy. After this paragraph you lost me. :o

Tonight, another partner again. After a while, she observed that after the first blow I started looking angry. I hadn't realized that, but right she was, it was another variation of hardening my gaze again. It didn't help either, as of course it wouldn't, she could keep entering. I tried to soften my yes and accept the attacks, and again had the experience of suddenly having much more space and time in which to move.

Describing what I mean with softening my eyes... looking with acceptance, accepting that yes, someone is going to hit me and they are going to succeed, but not getting stuck (not feeling defeated) with that idea either, just as not getting stuck with the idea that I should do something about it. Just acceptance seems to be enough. The way I call the difference to myself is being stuck or being free, I also feel physically freer to move when I am... not stuck. It's accepting the attack on a different level than ever asked for in our normal training, because usually, the attack is prescribed and so it's not necessary to accept it, emotionally.

Actually getting hit doesn't feel all that disturbing, up to a point, anymore. I kinda like it. :freaky: Up to a point...

Deflecting was on the border of possible. It is distracting, I get stuck again by the need to move my own arms. I start to plan, and that takes me away from what is happening.

David, when you do these drills, how long do you spend on them in one go, more or less?

My partner remarked that in order to keep attacking she had to tell herself "That is not Pauliina". I found that slightly disturbing.

I'm starting to get bothered by my ...mental state when we are doing ordinary kata training. There is so much going on, so much internal noise that I haven't been aware of.

I'm falling asleep typing, better go to bed. :)

kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
09-17-2005, 12:59 PM
Hi Pauliina,

We do not really use a set time. It is more that we use reps -- usually three or four attempts (or successes) per set, then you trade roles. When folks have a handle on the drill, that can take anywhere from about 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or at most a minute. We would trade roles after that. If a person is still in the early levels of acquiring the skill sets relevant to the drill, that might take quite a while (if we still use the number of reps to determine when we trade roles). In the latter case then, we would use a time limit that is determined according to exhaustion levels and/or having a more well rounded training session (for both partners). That usually has us with a specific role for no more than about 3 minutes.

Your reflections are helping me run through some of my own. Hoping you would be so kind as to let me ramble through some of those thoughts here…

For the sake of this discussion, I would like to simply define "Aiki" as the proper harmonizing of Yin and Yang aspects. From here, it can of course come to mean many things and even come to achieve many things. I do not mean to dispute any one of these things over and against any other of these things. However, I would like to pull out one element that strikes us the most from within these drills: That the tactic of Aiki is as much a bodily one as it is an emotional/mental/spiritual one. This is such an obvious statement. However, it is this obviousness that makes us, in my opinion, gloss over how much forms training, for example, may not only assume it of us but of how it may assume it of us.

In forms training, for example, we understand that in order to "blend," or to "connect," or to "harmonize," etc., we must not only move our bodies in a certain way. We understand that also having a particular mental state is very relevant to how we can move our bodies. Thus, to move our bodies to blend, to connect, or to harmonize, we often allow our minds or we often encourage our minds to adopt either these imaginings (i.e. the thought "blend," the thought "connect," the thought "harmonize") and/or something very similar (e.g. adopting a sense of openness, etc).

For some of us, due to our personal histories, in which we have gained our habitual ways of experiencing the world around us, the thoughts of "blend," "connect," and/or "harmonize" may be something that is very difficult to adopt any time, any place. For others, with a slightly different habitual way of experiencing the world around us, such thoughts may be something we are capable of manifesting in some places of our life but we may have difficulty adopting them under the various martial settings of Kihon Waza. Some of us may be able to adopt such thoughts under less intense Kihon Waza training sessions (e.g. training at lighter levels, training with a peer and not your Shihan, etc.), and some of us may be able to adopt them even under extremely intense Kihon Waza training sessions. As a result, relative to our capacity to adopt such thoughts we gain or lose the benefit of such imaginings in regards to our physical applications of Aiki in Kihon Waza.

I do not want to say that such mind/body connections are not an important part of training overall -- they are. Nor do I want to say that this is not a vital part of both Kihon Waza training and thus then not of Spontaneous training -- it is. I also do not want to say that there is no value in going from a life that cannot imagine such things to a life where one can imagine such things even under very intense martial settings -- there is a great value in such a thing. However, something entirely different seems to be going on in Spontaneous training -- something very different from a corresponding of mind to body via attributes like the imagination.

In spontaneous training, we are looking at a state of being -- not merely an imagined state of being or merely a disciplined state of body - nor any kind of connection between the two. There is no relevance (but for how it hinders us) to what we are thinking or how we intend to move in spontaneous training. There is only who we are. For it is who we are that creates the experience itself. No other reality, no other experience of the drill, exists outside of this our being. Moreover, it is the rawness of our being that dominates what we are able or unable to do in the drill since it is our being that is manifesting the reality we are experiencing. Thinking this, or attempting that, only comes to make us succeed less as we struggle to resist the rawness of our own being and the experience of our own being/reality by attempting to create some sort of intermediary between the doer and the deed being done.

In form's training, this intermediary is possible because the form itself exists as an ideal and the subjective self is then able to coast along its spine -- constantly measuring itself against it. In forms training, there is a division between being and reality -- since "reality" has been idealized and thus somewhat separated from being. Thus, for example, there is the form, the person doing the form, and the person measuring him/herself against the form. Meaning, as the form is an idealized space/time, it creates the possibility for the subjective self to be separated from its objective aspects. Because of this, we are able to do the form, trying to blend (for example), and we are able to do the form thinking, "blend" (for example). In spontaneous training, such imaginings manifest into the experience/being/reality only as a fettered mind. As a result, such imaginings do something very different from what they may do in forms training. In spontaneous training, such imaginings will corrupt our physical capacities at performing Aiki because they remain what we think and not necessary who or what we are (i.e. being/experience).

To be sure, there is much overlap here, and indeed then, many aspects of this come up in forms training -- especially during the early stages of our practice. However, what is important to note here is that when we experience frustration or fettering, for example, in these drills, we are not ever going to experience them in light of some idealized space/time, and, as a result, we are not merely experiencing frustration and/or fettering, we ARE frustration, we ARE fettering, and the there is no outside experience to these states of being. This is what gives us the overwhelming sense we often experience in these drills. It is that there is no outside to the experience because there is no outside to us -- no idealized space/time that is not us and by which we can measure, experience objectively or subjectively, etc.

Under such a model, I am skeptical of how much progress we can achieve through simply gaining more insight to how we react and thus to who we are. To be sure, this is a vital part of the training, however, it seems that at some point we are going to have to address the being we are so as to address the experience we are/have. Under such a model, we cannot simply intend to move with Aiki -- to blend, to connect, to harmonize. Under such a model, we cannot simply imagine "Aiki," "blend," "connect," "harmonize." Nor can we under such a model simply hope to get used to the intensity levels being experienced. Etc. Under such a model, if our being/reality/experience of the drill is plagued by various habitual reactions to Fear, Pride, and Ignorance, for example, we are going to have to address these things as the very "I" we are. In my opinion, this would mean that rather than attempting to address our fear reactions with more drilling, etc., we may want to adopt a practice more geared toward a cultivation of who we are/experience as Fear. For example, to offset fear then, let us throughout our lives practice compassion so as to cultivate more compassion within us. In addition, for example, to offset pride, let us practice mercy so as to cultivate more mercy within us; to offset ignorance, let us practice faith so as to cultivate more faith within us. To develop compassion, let us practice more servitude in our lives; to develop mercy, let us practice more charity in our lives; to develop faith, let us practice more prayer in our lives. After all, the goal here is not to think or imagine Aiki, nor even to move with Aiki. The goal here is to be Aiki. At some point then, we are going to have to ask, for example, "How is continually observing myself ducking down when I should be looking up going to allow me to be Aiki?"

Other topic:

Here are two videos I put together so folks can see a different stage of learning in the drill.

See the videos here:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/learning.html

dmv

Pauliina Lievonen
10-07-2005, 06:01 PM
Hi again,

as it happened I ended up leading all three classes that we offer last week, and with a cold this week. So it's been a while since I got to train at all. Finally got better and went to the dojo tonight, yay. :)
We do not really use a set time. It is more that we use reps -- usually three or four attempts (or successes) per set, then you trade roles. Ok. That's more or less what we've been doing as well. Just felt good.

Well. I got to reading my last entry, and your last, and this got me thinking in a new direction.
In spontaneous training, we are looking at a state of being -- not merely an imagined state of being or merely a disciplined state of body - nor any kind of connection between the two. In other words, not thinking about accepting the attack for example? Or more effective footwork, or maintaining maai, or something like that.
There is no relevance (but for how it hinders us) to what we are thinking or how we intend to move in spontaneous training. There were a couple brief moments tonight, where my partner exclaimed "nice" (and I couldn't say what was nice about that moment, in that moment, myself) that were times where I wasn't thinking anything in particular, just moving.
Thinking this, or attempting that, only comes to make us succeed less as we struggle to resist the rawness of our own being and the experience of our own being/reality by attempting to create some sort of intermediary between the doer and the deed being done.I'd read your post when you first posted it, and didn't make any sense of it the first time. Reading it again, this does describe very accurately my experience with the drill so far, apart from a couple short (but sweet) moments. :)
For example, to offset fear then, let us throughout our lives practice compassion so as to cultivate more compassion within us. In addition, for example, to offset pride, let us practice mercy so as to cultivate more mercy within us; to offset ignorance, let us practice faith so as to cultivate more faith within us. To develop compassion, let us practice more servitude in our lives; to develop mercy, let us practice more charity in our lives; to develop faith, let us practice more prayer in our lives. After all, the goal here is not to think or imagine Aiki, nor even to move with Aiki. The goal here is to be Aiki. At some point then, we are going to have to ask, for example, "How is continually observing myself ducking down when I should be looking up going to allow me to be Aiki?"
I was going to protest that I don't see how compassion would offset fear. But to be honest with myself I do see it. I just don't want to think of actually practicing it. :(

I don't quite see how to make the connection from what you write here to the drills though. Maybe a bit absurdly put...maybe not...a perfectly compassionate, merciful and faithful person, in a spontaneous training situation like the drills...wouldn't have trouble with it? :)

Tonight's training was firmly of the kind you described in the beginnings of your post, and it was useful and enjoyable, but I feel that even though we could go on in the same way, and I could get increasingly effective at dealing with the intensity and so on, that I'm in a way repeating the same.

kvaak
Pauliina

Edwin Neal
02-04-2006, 12:44 AM
i couldn't get the videos... maybe that would help, but i have no idea what you guys are talking about... sounds like you are sparring, but then going all stream of consciousness afterwards and saying stuff that honestly makes no sense to me... i understand some of the words and concepts, but... duh it reads like i don't know just random words or speaking in tongues... if someone could break it down for me... i still can't get quicktime to play... maybe it would make sense... but you're just sparring right???

Edwin Neal
02-04-2006, 12:47 AM
"Thinking this, or attempting that, only comes to make us succeed less as we struggle to resist the rawness of our own being and the experience of our own being/reality by attempting to create some sort of intermediary between the doer and the deed being done."

what???

jss
02-04-2006, 05:33 AM
"Thinking this, or attempting that, only comes to make us succeed less as we struggle to resist the rawness of our own being and the experience of our own being/reality by attempting to create some sort of intermediary between the doer and the deed being done."
what???
Here's my interpretation:
Yes, they are sparring exercises.
And the above sentence can partly be summarised by :"You're trying too hard. Go with the flow. Let the technique happen. Be in the moment. etc."
However, he builds a 'philosophy' on that which results in ... a specific use of language? :D The advice I quoted above is useful, but how does one go with the flow? How does one stop trying? Can you learn how to switch 'being in the moment' on/off at will
I think David is trying to discover, analyse, etc. the mindset needed to be succesfull in sparring (and thus actual fighting). And not just for martial reasons, but for ethical, philosophical, ... reasons as well. Since is aikido is supposed to be this compassionate kick ass martial art.

Edwin Neal
02-04-2006, 12:10 PM
thanks Joepn, thats sort of what i thought, but like you said the language was kind of confusing... i was just thinking that it was like in some dojo's they have different names for techniques and concepts and the descriptions of them are sometimes hard to understand... i am interested in watching the drills... if i can just figure out why i can't get the video... thanks again for your help...

senshincenter
02-04-2006, 07:27 PM
Here's my interpretation:
Yes, they are sparring exercises.
And the above sentence can partly be summarised by :"You're trying too hard. Go with the flow. Let the technique happen. Be in the moment. etc."
However, he builds a 'philosophy' on that which results in ... a specific use of language? :D The advice I quoted above is useful, but how does one go with the flow? How does one stop trying? Can you learn how to switch 'being in the moment' on/off at will
I think David is trying to discover, analyse, etc. the mindset needed to be succesfull in sparring (and thus actual fighting). And not just for martial reasons, but for ethical, philosophical, ... reasons as well. Since is aikido is supposed to be this compassionate kick ass martial art.


That's a very good summary Joep! :)

Thanks.

Edwin, I'm sorry you can't see the videos - are you running the latest quicktime?

d

Edwin Neal
02-05-2006, 12:18 AM
still trying to get it together... i need soem kind of upgrade...