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It is necessary, first of all, to free myself from the constraints of belief. Belief in and of itself is neither good nor bad. Problems arise when I let my beliefs box me into positions that I am compelled to defend though events would lead me to believe otherwise were it not for my stubbornness. My beliefs should form a scaffold from which I can build and not a cage in which I will be bound.
Aikido is one way I have of rendering my universe for others to see. During practice I am painting a picture or creating a living sculpture of how I see my world. If I become constrained by belief my Aikido will have no way of flowing freely. If, on the other hand, my belief is without bonds it will shape the nature of my Aikido and give it meaning.
O-Sensei taught that Aikido should always be practiced in a joyful manner. A constraining belief system will rob me of my joy and affect my practice in a negative way.
"In general, a contraction of reference accompanies an expansion of awareness, and an expansion of reference accompanies a contraction of awareness." The Laws of Form by G. Spencer Brown page 10.
Each of us creates the universe in our own image. No two of us will see, hear, taste, smell or feel (in the tactile sense) exactly alike. We can agree on generalities such as that apple is red or that ice cream tastes like coffee but we won't experience the red or the coffee in exactly the same way. As individuals we experience the universe, each of us, in a completely unique way. The birth of a baby brings a universe into being and the death of a person causes a universe to dissolve into …?
Awareness is largely involuntary. I am, I see, hear, smell, touch and taste. I process the stimuli and produce the world. I remember, and in remembering I create the past. I wonder, and in wondering I create the future. As my past and future roll out behind and before me my point of reference expands, thereby diminishing my awareness of the present.
I tell my students to coordinate mind and body. Easy to say, but what does it mean? I explain as follows: My body is always where it is in space and time. It can't be anywhere but where it is. It is always at ‘now'. My mind isn't fettered in the same way as my body. It isn't tethered to now and can be anywhere anytime. So to coordinate mind and body both must be at now.
With mind and body coordinated I have contracted my reference and t
In a universe consisting of a single point, motion and stillness cannot be distinguished. Introduce a second point into that universe and motion/stillness are instantly differentiable.
I have noticed that when I am moving with a partner on the mat there comes an instant in the execution of a technique where all motion seems to stop, yet we are not still relative to one another. It is at this point that we become a single entity, our motion in concert such that we seem to be standing still. Our centers meet and merge at the center of conflict which nage has occupied and uke and nage disappear. The center of conflict is the anchor point at which stability and resolution are brought about. The restoration of order from the chaos of the attack results in the dissolution of the conflict and hence the disappearance of the center of conflict. Correctly executed, Aikido resolves conflict without decision, without a ‘winner' and a ‘loser'.
I seek always to occupy the center of conflict as nage. Drawing uke into my sphere, our integration removes the internal reference point that defines our motion relative to one another. The center of conflict becomes simply the center that is ours in mutuality. We are one, if only for the moment, and our conflict ceases to be.
I remember Maruyama Sensei would speak of Aikido as a vehicle that would lead the student to enlightenment through dedicated and diligent training.
I have noticed that as we move from the 'center' of Aikido (O-Sensei) the further away we get generationally, the more the idea of competitiveness begins to make its way into the art. The words 'right' and 'wrong', 'real' and 'fake', 'legitimate' and 'contrived' etc. begin to show up in the lexicon of Aikido more and more often. These diametrically opposed ideas form the nucleus of conflict, competition and strife.
O-Sensei wrote "there are many paths to the top of Mt. Fuji..." I take this to be a metaphor for the growth of Aikido as it has spread throughout the world. Dissemination invariably leads to change. How many of us remember the old grammar school experiment where a story was told to the first student in the first row who then passed it on to the person behind and so on until the last person in the last row heard it and was told to repeat the story so all could hear it? The resultant story was never the same as the one originally told by the teacher. Aikido is no different. Each teacher will change the story a little bit. That teacher's students who go on the become teachers themselves will embellish the story further. This is what makes Aikido such a rich and beautiful art. It's like a living, breathing entity that changes all those who encounter it and is then thereby changed by those it touches.
Aikido is the union of Mind, Body and Spirit.
Past and future approach now without limit. Aikido is now.
Motion is the agent of change. Aikido is the study of motion.
Move on the intent. Aikido coincides with intent.
Conflict is born of fear. Aikido purges fear.
The center of conflict is external to the participants. Aikido is the occupation of the center of conflict.
Winning and losing continue conflict. Aikido is resolution without decision.
Conflict is continuous and ever returning. Aikido is the realization of this.
Opposites create tension. Aikido integrates opposites to form a tension free unified whole.