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Friday, August 4th, 2000
In the beginning of a practice, the group sits in Sei-za.
The idea behind Sei- za is to clear our thoughts and let us begin a lesson with a clean and clear mind, not affected by all we passed during the day.
This can take a few seconds, minutes and even hours. It's a kind of time for meditation, of a sort.
In all we do, if we want to do it best, we need to become relaxed, with a clear mind, in order for it not to affect our concentration.
In practice, we will have difficulty not only in listening and looking at the teachers examples, but also in working with our partner.
If we had a bad day, we might come with feelings of anger, our muscles will be stressed and our temper short. If we do not clear our mind from these feelings, we will not be able to accomplish anything. Our anger will block our understanding and we will miss the small yet important movements of the practice. Our muscles will cause us to work with our hands and not from our center, and it will also stop our movement and shake our balance. The short temper will bring us fast to frustration, which will only make things worse in trying to accomplish the technique, we will start useing strength and might even hurt our partner.
That is the importance of "letting go" of everything before practice. Entering with no extra load.
It is as if we leave the every- day- life outside the Dojo's door and only pick it up again after practice.
This is also good because worrying about something
I just found an old "make- shift" letter that my sister- in- law wrote to me once, a few years back. It said that every time she comes to visit, I'm not home, I'm at the dojo training. She said it isn't fair and that I should do something about it...
So... the next time-
I took her to the dojo with me!
As long as I got up early in the morning, I might as well use it to rewrite some more enteries:
Wednesday, May 10th, 2000:
Breathing is important in training and the way we breath (the continueing of it, not stopping and holding our breath) allows us to train for a longer peroid of time without tireing.
Not holding our breath:
In excersices like stretching our partner backwards into an arch shape, it is easy to feel the difference in the achievement if we hold the air inside compared with letting it out and breathing softly and normaly.
If we hold the air inside, we will be able to bend only until a certain point.
If we breath freely, our flexibility grows, and we will be able to bend furthur back and with more ease (without starting a headache, dizziness, and not lose balance after coming back to standing position). [This of course, does not imply for people with injury or disease, especially in the back- like a prolapsed disc, scoliosis etc.]
I think that maybe when we hold our breath, certain muscles clench and don't enable us to do the full extent of the excersice. Since they are clenched, our flexibility is limited and we can't bend to the maximum our body is truely able to.
I think that this clenching of the muscles is like a reflex responce of the body to fear (in our sub- conciousness) of falling backwards (in this specific excercise).
As we learn how to fall and roll backwards, we can slowly deal with this fear and feel more free while doing certain excersices.
It is also important not to hold our breath when rolling forwards and backwards. It causes the feeling of exausution after
As long as I'm writing things from my "old" diary, I might as well, move it all here, little by little.
Thursday, April 20th, 2000:
The Tanden is that spot in our body where our energy is said to be stored (in many Eastern religions).
Any movement we do, we should do from this spot.
The Tanden lies in the lower belly, a few finger lengths below the umbilicus. (From health studies, this area is considered to be the humans center of mass. It lies infront of the L2 vertebra, more or less).
To this spot, the energy we breath in gathers and from it we can divide and send it as we please through the body.
In Aikido, every turn, every throw, should be done from the Tanden.
This does not come naturally since over the years we learned to base our actions on physical strength. When we use the Tanden, we don't need to use almost any force at all. Even simple movements we do in daily life can change and become easier to achieve when we think of doing them through the Tanden.
For example- sitting down on the floor with our legs straight before us:
There is a big difference if we go down towards our feet, trying to grab them, compared to useing the thought that we're not bending our backs to go down but rather "send forth" the Tanden, towards our feet.
I find I can get much further down this way.
Actually, this is something I wrote some time ago, when I started a kind of "Aikido diary", so I thought I might as well copy it here:
Tuesday, April 4th, 2000:
There are two types of energy. There is the 'upper' energies that move around us, these are called 'male' energies. They are very strong, but unstable and hard to control. If we use this energy, it gives us alot of 'strength' ('energy'), but we are not stable and easy to take off balance.
The other type is the 'lower' energies, the 'female' ones. These energies are also strong but very stable, 'warm', controled.
One should always try to base their use of energies on the 'lower' ones.
By doing so, their standing posture will be stronger, more balanced and their movements easy, relaxed, yet very powerful.
Useing 'upper' energies is when, in order to achieve something, we push our energy through the upper part of our bodies. As if we try to raise the 'Tanden' above our waist line and so we become unbalanced.
Useing 'lower' energies is when energy is gathered from the ground, through the feet, giving a stable posture of standing and the energies around our legs and abdomen, which are 'slower' moving energies, 'feed' into our movements.
Maybe these differences have to do with the feeling that we absourb energy mostly with our feet (from the ground)- but not only!
And most of our release of energy is through our hands and finger tips.
I think that energy can be 'taken' and 'given' with any part of our body,
Before I started studying, I loved drawing, and the one thing I loved most is the human body. I was (and am) fasinated by it's abilities. I drew tens if not hundereds of human parts in "movement", the knee joint, the elbow, the hip joint... and I remember being frustrated to draw the hands and face until sometimes I just didn't.
I found my fasination grew when I decided to study Physiotherapy, and find it today even more fasinating to see the body's ability to overcome injury.
I'm always having these thoughts about putting together the knowledge I get from Aikido and of Physiotherapy, sometimes it seems so fitting, so intertwining.
No books of human drawings can discribe it, since the are "still" and movement can never be still. it can be broken to stages but it will still not be frozen in time and space.
Movement in Aikido is special, it's natural, but since we long ago forgot about natural things, it isn't natural for us and we need to learn it from basics. The ability to join in movement, to redirect your partner without force is amazing.
Of course here comes the whole idea of "ki", but that's for another day...!
Sadly I don't get to do much Aikido since I moved to another town, and I really miss it. It's hard to train alone since aikido is not meant to be alone, and it seems kind of not in place (haveing people looking at you in a strange way, it's very different than working with a partner, even with weapons).
I feel a bit unfair writing comments about Aikido in the forum, since I'm not really training now, but Aikido is part of my life, even if I have to stop for this or that amount of time.