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I am a small bit of the universe that is able to look upon itself and wonder.
I'll spend my life on a quest for knowledge and if I'm fortunate, before I die, I'll gain some glimmer of what it's all about. Realizing I'm one part in a play of billions of actors I see that there are many paths available, only a few of which I will be able to take, others of which will be taken by different actors wending their way thru their lives.
Aikido, as it has become evident over the years, is one path I have chosen to further my knowledge of myself and how I fit into the larger scheme of all things. Aikido has enabled me to study aspects of the universe on a personal, visceral level that no amount of book knowledge could replicate. Aikido is like "do-ing" Newtonian mechanics. Practicing Aikido brings Newton's laws of motion to life in ways his equations can only hint at (irimi).
On another level, it's relating to people, once strangers, who have gone on to become close friends; friends who have chosen to join me on this quest, at least for a while. Aikido training and teaching has provided me with the tools and a venue that have allowed me to start to overcome my innate shyness around other people and begin to see the world thru their eyes (tenkan).
There are times when uke attacks with a grab and I'll want him to get this close but no closer so I'll lead with a lure. Other times I want him to establish a firm grasp so I'll lead with bait and let him take the hook.
When luring uke it is necessary for me to move myself in such a way that the intended target seems to remain stationary while the rest of my body evades his attack. The stationary target is, however, just an illusion; the fact is that the target stays just beyond his reach. It seems stationary because it moves only a small distance compared to the rest of me.
When baiting uke I'll let him grab the target and let him assume that he has immobilized me; all the while moving myself off his line of attack. For instance, I can let him grab katate tori while I execute tenkan in such a way that my wrist and hand remain aligned with my center even though the wrist is solidly held by uke. I can execute irimi in the same fashion.
When dealing with strikes baiting is perhaps not the best choice.
I assume natural stance, arms slightly extended in front of me, elbows slightly bent. My two partners take up position alongside me and place a hand under each of my elbows; they begin to lift. Keeping one point and weight underside I maintain my position while they try to lift my arms.
I can adjust my percieved weight upward by dropping my center slightly causing my partners to drop with me. As I do this I notice when a point of eqilibrium is reached and my partners are literally supporting all my weight. At this point I can begin to move around the mat. The motion feels almost like skating. There is no weight on my feet yet my partners are unable to keep me from moving at will.
Many thanks to Mary E. for introducing me to the following exercise.
Have your partner stand in natural stance with his left hand extended. Lightly, very lightly, grasp his wrist with the fingers of your left ( finger tips only) hand and put your right hand on his upper back (again, finger tips only). Do nothing. Wait. Extend Ki to your partner into his back at your right hand into his wrist at your left hand. Do nothing. Wait. Focus your intent on having your partner accompany you. Do nothing. Wait. Imagine both of you beginning to move in the direction his extended left hand is pointing. Do nothing. Wait. When you feel your partner begin to move use only your Ki to encourage him to continue. Follow his lead as you lead him in the direction he wants to go.
This exercise requires patience. Leave your expectations "at the door" and just let it happen.
Motion is the most pervasive characteristic of the universe. Everything in the universe moves. Even space itself is not at rest, expanding as it is. It's as though the universe is taking a large breath.
Aikido is the study of bodies in motion relative to one another. Motion is at the heart of Aikido training.
My technique flows naturally from my movement in relation to uke. During randori I never ‘think ahead' and try to choreograph my techniques, I simply move and let the technique happen itself as a result of my interaction with uke.
I used to live and work in New York City. When I go back there, as infrequent as that may be these days, I like to watch people on the crowed sidewalks as they move against the flow. I've noticed that there are three types of walkers in that situation. First there's the person who apparently has no personal space. This person is constantly being jostled and bumped by other folks moving in the opposite direction. His eyes are usually lowered and he seems to be folded in upon himself. Next is the person who powers his way thru the oncoming traffic. He radiates authority tinged with hostility. Shoulders squared he briskly walks his path and seems, via his body language, to dare others to obstruct him. Then there's the person who moves effortlessly as he weaves his way thru the crowd. His personal space is obvious without being obtrusive and he seems to be able to find openings into which he moves and passes thru without disturbing the current.
When I practice technique I look to minimize my physical contact with uke so as to give him no inkling that there is any danger at hand. Leading him while I follow his lead I want to create a void into which he will move where, with a slight touch, I can disturb his balance and effect a throw. I never seek to overtly control uke. By keeping myself just out of his field of vision I am able to suggest that he must move in such a way as to come and find me. Once he has chosen a path I encourage him to continue along it thereby accelerati
"It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law."
"The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered"," published Lippincott's Magazine (March 1896).
There is only one Dance. Many forms of Dance exist. Is there only one true form of Dance? There is only one Painting. Many forms of Painting exist. Is there only one true form of Painting? There is only one Music. Many forms of Music exist. Is there only one true form of Music? There is only one Aikido. Many forms of Aikido exist. Is there only one true form of Aikido?
It has been said that those who are not doing Ueshiba's Aikido are not doing Aikido for, after all, there is only one Aikido. But isn't all this quibbling over what is and is not Ueshiba's Aikido really a debate over the form of the Aikido that is being practiced? I have yet to see a universally accepted definition of what Aikido is, much less an accepted definition of what Ueshiba's Aikido was. Before Ueshiba took on his first student there was only one form of Aikido, Ueshiba's. But as with any art form, as soon as more than one person engages in it the form of the art has the potential to change and grow.
The form of my Aikido is in harmony with the function(s) to which I
I assume a right stance. I relax, keep one point and have my partner grab each of my wrists and push, easily at first then with steadily increasing force. As I absorb the push I let the energy flow thru me into the ground via my rear foot. When I have balanced his force with my absorption I bring my rear foot forward until I am in natural stance with both feet parallel. Moving from my center, I slide one foot forward and extend Ki into my partner moving him backward. I do the same with the other foot as I begin to walk my partner across the mat.
I can vary this exercise and use two partners, one to each wrist, grabbing with two hands and practice as outlined above.
When performing this exercise the choice of metaphor is strictly up to the participants. The imagery isn't the issue, it is finding and enhancing correct feeling that enables me to channel and redirect the force that is being applied by my partner.
When I move my motion forms an eddy in the fabric of the continuum, the echo of which, moves out in all directions from my center.
Training. Training. And more training.
Aikido is a form of `do-ing', it is learned via performance.
It has been said that one must be shown each and every nuance of Aikido in order to `correctly' perform the techniques and, as a consequence, grow. Otherwise the student will just continue to practice incorrectly forever. I do not subscribe to this view. Aikido practice is a self-correcting process. Continued training allows me to learn the principles from the inside out. My body, mind and spirit are simultaneously affected during practice. As a result all three are tuned to the movement of the techniques and adjusted as I gain experience.
The feedback I get from training continually provides me valuable clues as to the correct direction of my effort. As I build on the knowledge gained from practice I perform the techniques more efficiently, increase the strength of my Ki and gain greater understanding of Aikido in general.
When all else is gone and I stand bereft of my masks, naked to the universe arms wide eyes open not feeling not seeing, then I will find Ki.
Knowing is a hindrance to learning. The minute I know something I cast the knowledge into stone and assume that which I know will be invariant with respect to time. Therefore I will no longer seek to learn about it. This type of reasoning leads to stagnation of my intellect.
For instance: 1 + 1 = 2 is a very elementary equation in arithmetic. It is one of the first things children learn and hence know about numerical relationships. If I then insist that 1 + 1 = 10 someone who knows that 1 + 1 = 2 will argue that I am incorrect. When I point out that 1 + 1 = 10 is indeed correct provided the base of the number system in which the equation is rendered is 2, the other person's knowledge is thereby challenged.
That, however, is immaterial to the discussion at hand. It is the initial reaction to my assertion that 1 + 1 = 10, ‘you're wrong, 1 + 1 = 2, I know it.', that's important. The act of knowing has created a barrier to learning; a barrier that is easily scaled provided the knower is willing to expand her horizons.
I see this all the time in Aikido. As I age and grow, my technique evolves to accommodate the physical and psychological changes I am continually undergoing. New ideas occur to me that when integrated into my Aikido change it's form. So today's technique looks somewhat different from the technique I taught aforet