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I had an interesting discussion the other day about different styles and how aikido, specifically my level of aikido, compare with each other. At some point in the conversation it was brought to my attention that it doesn't matter what the style is. What is important is the level of commitment the individual has. The difference in commitment is readily noticed between practicing martial arts for competition versus practicing for self-defense (self mastery, self improvement, self realization, etc).
There is a definite amount of respect I have for those people who commit to training their mind and bodies to the point of being able to compete. Not being extremely competitive myself, I can only imagine that there is a certain amount of precision involved in competitive training, i.e., knowing the rules about where you are allowed to strike, knowing which strike zones are worth more points, etc.
There is a definite amount of respect I have for those people who commit to training their mind and bodies to handle being attacked on the street by multiple assailants. Someone who sets out to attack you has definitely committed themselves to your demise and your ability to handle that will be demonstrated by which person is able to walk away from that situation voluntarily.
So maybe it's worthwhile to find some similarities between these two scenarios. Doing this might help find out what the real differences are.
l. They both invoke an enormous amount of
I've been watching videos of my sensei doing Misogi. We did Misogi no Jo last Friday in class. So naturally I've had Misogi on the brains lately. This has lead me to think that maybe my mind is really where Misogi needs to stay for a while!
You might be thinking that I'm speaking metaphorically about Misogi, but on the contrary, the mind can benefit from Misogi. For me, being able to clear out all the obstacles in my mind, like work, fear, daily distractions, is what mental Misogi means to me.
In the meditation that I have studied, it's often encouraged to simply let thoughts simply happen without any intention of repressing the thoughts. It's almost as if to say "Sensei is chasing me around the dojo and aims to strike me with a sword - OK" Notice the lack of the period. It was replaced with OK. A period would have signified an attempt to stop that thought. So instead, the period is replaced with OK and the next thought comes and goes in the same manner. Practiced like this, Misogi becomes a way of letting go of the clutter and riding the "train of thought" versus controlling it
One of my earliest memories of training at Shinkikan was seeing how Sensei never seemed to keep the back of his feet on the ground. At least most of the time that I saw, he always had his heels elevated when he was in kamae. Seems that doing this also keeps your alertness elevated. Maybe this represents a crossroad of physical and mental posture...
Sensei did! I started back at the dojo a few days ago after about a two month break to let my wrist heal at least a little bit. Last night was the first night back that I got to train with Sensei. One of the techniques we did was tsuki kotegaeshi with a tanto. When he attacked me, it was comparable to a large cargo truck running over a bug! It was AWESOME!!! I hope to train with the intensity and energy level that he trains with some day.
In addition to getting knocked on my arse and enjoying it, I did manage to learn something while training with him. I noticed when he attacked me it seemed like I was trying to push the attack away rather than bring it into my center. I'm going to focus on that so that I can make my techniques tighter.
It's good when your teacher gives you really good advice about how to train. I am constantly reminding myself about a particular piece of advice my Sensei often gives about the importance of a committed attack.
For the past month and a half I've been applying that advice to the sole purpose of healing my wrist. Simply nothing else matters other than letting my wrist get better.
A good teacher gives advice that can be used in more than one way. Domo arigato Sensei!
Attack your opponent
Attack them so that they feel injured even before contact
Leave no doubt that they will be hit
Sincerity of attack is important in the learning process. It offers lessons equally important for nage and uke. With a sincere attack, nage learns the value of moving their entire body. Techniques can't be forced, and so just using your arms is very self-defeating. Someone will be stronger than you.
Uke also learns by giving a sincere attack. This might dive a bit more into the yin/yang of everything, however. Nage's lesson was very physical in nature, learning how to move the entire body, becoming part of the attack instead of resisting it, blending in the same direction, not relying on physical strength but rather the momentum of the attack. The counter side of that lesson is the philosophical aspect, this is what uke learns. The more sincere uke's attack, the better the technique will be. Ultimately, this will send uke flying courtesy of Aiki Airlines. So, if you isolate the act of attacking someone, this is creating imbalance. Uke really just needs to learn to calm down and stop attacking people!!!
This two month forced break from Aikido already has me wondering about what technique I will do when I get back on the mat. Since it was sankyo and kotegaeshi that likely took me off the mat, I will probably avoid those techniques with the same enthusiasm that I avoid running barefoot over a bed of nails with scissors in both hands.
It's been about two weeks already but I think this break will be good. It's really forcing me to think about the way I practice and what got me into this spot in the first place.
Sensei is constantly reminding everyone to give sincere attacks and to be honest when attacking nage. At the same time, he admonishes the idea of using brute force against a technique. I'm going to explore the difference in my next few posts. Stay tuned...