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Someone on Facebook recently asked what your sensei says regularly that sticks in your mind & helps inform your Aikido or other Martial Arts practice mentally, physically, or spiritually?
I actually misinterpreted the question as asking about things Sensei says about Aikido that inform my life outside the dojo. Off-the-mat Aikido. Here are the things (not his actual words, of course) that came to mind, plus a few more, that stick with me:
Constant reminders to settle, check our own posture and alignment. Be in integrity with ourselves.
Attend to doing what we are doing as well as we can, not to trying to make it affect our partner.
Notice where we are, and where we are going. Being aware of these things is what allows opportunities for positive transitions to arise.
Keep our eyes up and see the big picture. Don't focus attention on the attack.
Work with others at their level. Help them be safe, and don't pile on information or levels of detail or finesse they are not yet able to understand.
It's not about having a soft or a hard style. It's about being appropriate to the situation.
If you operate at the mind-based level of planning each action based on if-then decisions leading to codified responses, you won't experience freedom in your actions, and you will always be limited in what you can achieve.
And one that I heard for the first time in tonight's class, that seems to fit here: If your attacker wants to retreat, build them a golden bridge on which to get away.