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No reason why sweat can't as easily be combined with joy as with grim.
My partner and I come together in the middle of the mat, no designation of who is nage or uke, no expectations as to outcome. The exercise is designed to blur the lines of attack and defense such that we are both engaged in both simultaneously. We operate with grabs only since another aspect of this exercise is to learn to follow my partner's energy flow while he follows mine.
I grab his wrist and he ignores the grab so I let go and grab his shoulder. He attempts kata tori ikkyo and I fade away from the shoulder grab in favor of a grab somewhere else. During all this he has grabbed me at my elbow and evaded my own ikkyo, his other hand goes for my shoulder and I turn but he feels my intent and switches to another attack. We are constantly in motion and eventually one of us will over commit and end up getting thrown. The next pair will take our place and continue the exercise…
We usually do this with two pairs of people on the mat simultaneously, the rest standing around the edges waiting to enter the fray. There's no set order, as soon as a throw is executed two people jump in and begin.
The energy in the room becomes palpable as the exercise goes on, everyone intent on either participating or waiting to have a turn. The room is silent except for the noise generated by the moving bodies and the occasional slap as someone takes ukemi.
Sweat and smiles are always evident when we finish.
Chaos and clarity merge to unity, at now, when all is clear then and when are without meaning.
I remember as kids we used to lay in the grass on warm summer days and watch the clouds pass overhead. We would pick out shapes that appeared in the cloud formations and watch as they were transformed by the wind and heat of the sun into other recognizable objects. There was no sense that the continual metamorphosis was in any way other than natural and as one set of clouds passed from view we would move on to the next finding new things to ooh and aah over. Childhood (and I mean pre-teen childhood) was a time when there wasn't much past to clutter up my mind carried around like so much baggage, and the future was some far off thing that would arrive some day but not in my lifetime. It was a time of both newly found self-awareness and a realization that now was all that mattered. It wasn't until I grew much older that the weight of years behind me began to grow heavy and the shortness of years before me became readily apparent.
Coping with change as a child was easy. While settled in the present change didn't feel like change because there wasn't a reference of continuity to measure newness against. The present was a series of unconnected unique encounters called life.
I find that my students often have trouble when a technique they have been doing one way for years is all of a sudden different in some way. To them the change seems sudden while to me it's a result of c
Assume a right stance. Have your partner stand behind you and put his hands on your shoulders. Tense your body and resist as your partner pushes on your shoulders forward and slightly down. Have your partner note the amount of force required to move you off balance. Return to the initial position. Now relax, keep one point and instead of resisting your partners push absorb it letting it flow thru you down your front leg and into the ground. Initially your partner should use the same amount of force required to take you off balance in the tensed example and slowly increase the pressure as you become more adept at absorbing and channeling his power.
As you gain experience with this exercise begin to close your stance until you can perform it in natural stance with feet parallel. You can also vary the direction of the push so that your partner pushes forward and up instead of forward and down. Or have him exert unequal pressure at each or your shoulders attempting to rotate your upper body while also trying to push you forward.
Perform the same set of exercises with your partner pulling instead of pushing.
Ki exercises enable me to discover correct feeling which embodies my most dependable state of being where mind and body are coordinated. They go beyond being testing tools, becoming aids in Ki development and strengthening when repeated over and over. Practicing Ki exercises allows me to feel the subtle chang
As I age I notice that my eyes are not what they used to be. Reading anything less than a banner headline is impossible without glasses and when I'm tired, my mid range vision gets blurry around the edges. Sight is the sense I rely on most when getting around in the world. Hearing, smell, taste and touch are decidedly secondary players in this regard. So it's with some trepidation that I watch as the years roll on by and my eyesight degenerates.
In class I will occasionally institute a blindfold drill where nage must execute technique while deprived of her sight. We have several variations of this drill: nage and one uke, nage and multiple ukes, nage in a circle of ukes, guess the attacker's identity. When I practice these drills I'm amazed at how quickly the other senses will compensate for my lack of sight. I am usually able to hunt uke down and engage him on my terms rather than simply waiting passively to be attacked.
What I am discovering is that sight, because it is so dominant, will drown out other more subtle clues as to where the attack is coming from and when it will be launched. This realization is leading me to hypothesize that an acute sense of vision can actually impede Ki development.
Teaching I add my ripples to the pond. Out they travel from the center of my experience and touch many lives along the way.
I knew from the outset that one day I would teach Aikido and have my own dojo. Teaching is my way of adding to the song of Aikido. As I give back what I have learned from others and discovered for myself I weave new threads into the Aikido tapestry. It doesn't end there though. Some of my students will go on and become teachers in their own right. Aikido will be enriched by their experience and knowledge. Aikido is no longer a single art. That ended when O-Sensei took on his first student. Each practitioner brings to the mat an Aikido colored and shaped by who he or she is.
This is why the argument over which Aikido is the real, true Aikido is pointless. Aikido has become so multifaceted that the argument is rendered meaningless. I think that O-Sensei intended Aikido principles and techniques to be applicable to all situations that may occur in one's life and that with dedicated study and a correct attitude anyone should be able to master said principles and techniques.
It has been argued that Aikido philosophy has become irrelevant in the modern world. The words ‘peace' and ‘harmony' are said with a sneer in the voice as though the ideals represented thereby are without worth and need no mention in the context of a martial art. So today you have Aikido being taught as a pure fighting system without regard to the philosophical foundation tha
Ki is the bond, my source of unity with all things.
What I find especially interesting is the idea that there are secrets to developing Ki power, secrets that few know and fewer are willing to share.
Ki power is developed through dedicated training, slowly, over many years. The strength of my Ki is proportional to the amount of time I have spent seriously studying and practicing Aikido. No mystery, no secrets, no incense, no magical phrases chanted over and over; just long, hard, sweaty practice.
Ki exercises (development), Ki testing (correctness) and Aikido technique (application) all contribute to developing my Ki power. Ki power is a naturally occurring phenomenon that exists within me and needs only to be exercised daily over a long period of time to be strengthened.
It's no different than strengthening the muscles. Perform the correct exercises and as the years go by my body will grow stronger. No mystery, no secrets, no incense, no magical phrases chanted over and over; just long, hard, sweaty practice.
I know now that the knowledge I seek is there inside of me. If I open myself up to it and let my Ki flow back from where it came it will be replenished tenfold as I continue on my path
When attacked I become the attack, when attacking I become the throw.
For an attack to be "real" it must be composed of three elements: strategy, tactics and intent. Strategy and tactics of an attack can be easily simulated in the dojo. An attacker's intent is to maim, disable or otherwise harm the one being attacked for whatever reason. I'm not aware of any Aikido dojos where intent to harm one's partner is an integral part of daily practice. I have been to many Aikido classes, seminars and camps over 30 years and I have yet to see anything that can be termed a "real" attack on the mat.
Often Aikido students mistake speed, strength and resistance for reality when attacking. These are all components of an attack, but in and of themselves do not constitute a "real" attack. For the attack to be real the intent to harm must be present. The attacker must forego all restraint and really want to hurt the defender. This is what happens in uncontrolled situations that occur outside of the dojo.
For me, the reality of Aikido training is learning to ignore uke's intent. How can this be accomplished in the dojo when intent is totally absent from an attack? Exactly! Constant training in the absence of intent allows me to see and react to the mechanics of an attack without having to deal with uke's emotional baggage that is fueling his intent. Aikido has taught me that there is no distinction between uke and nage and hence, no conflict. An attack is a gift, an opportunity to
I am more than what I am. There is something that is me that is not made of me but exists beyond the limits of my being.
I make choices every day. When to get up, what to have for breakfast, what to wear, go to work or not, how to get there etc. It seems that I am continually confronted by alternatives in life's decisions. Many apparently automatic responses are really conscious decisions. Don't cross the street while traffic is moving, don't leap off that high building and the like. It would seem that decision making occurs on different levels with regard to consciousness. Patterns related to danger evoke decisions without my having to think about them while non life threatening patterns allow me the luxury of consciously debating which direction to take... choices.
In my study of Aikido I am also offered a multiplicity of choices as I progress. As such my view of what Aikido is has changed throughout the years. I chose, in the early years, to concentrate on the martial side of Aikido. I sought to relate technique to ‘real' situations. How would this or that technique serve me in a fight? I wanted to know why we didn't get into stable seemingly strong, immovable karate-like stances prior to executing technique. I was young and threats were always just around the next bend in life; or so I chose to believe... choices.
I'm older now having survived all those fears unique to the young and find that Aikido provides me with a venue in which to venture down other path
I always carefully observe how students distribute their weight when preparing to receive an attack. I note which foot receives the major portion of their weight and watch as they attempt to move smoothly into the technique we are practicing. Over the years I have noticed that no matter which foot takes the body's weight, the center must rise before it can move in a lateral direction. This is due to the fact that before a weighted foot can move the weight must first be transferred somewhere else.
Try this: get into a right stance and lean forward so that most of your weight is over your right foot (front). Now withdraw your right foot as though moving along the trajectory away from an oncoming yokomen strike. Notice that before you can move your right foot you have to shift your weight off that foot first. In effect, your center must rise. This takes time and you are vulnerable while executing this move. You can perform the same experiment with the rear foot only instead of retreating execute irimi by stepping in with the rear foot.
Now try this: Walk from one end of the room to the other. Notice how the trajectory of your center remains ‘flat' with respect to the ground. Also notice that you're not as aware of your weight shifting from foot to foot as you were in the prior example. This is what I mean by having no weight on your feet.
When you walk naturally you are moving from your center. Why should your motion during the execut
I coalesce at now. I leave my past behind in the dustbin of history and open myself to a future that rushes at me but never quite arrives. Past and future are orders of arrangement that I construct to help me cope with now. After all, the moment is all there is and it has no span either backward or forward; it simply is.
In Aikido class I practice technique. Techniques are executed repeatedly in order to hone skills, develop Ki, coordinate mind and body etc. I tend to mentally call my own play-by-play and provide color commentary as well. This behavior is a denial of the moment and a clinging to the concepts of past and future; as though berating myself for a perceived lack of technical skill in the technique just performed (past) will improve my performance executing the same technique later (future).
I am so oriented to punishment/reward driven behavior. Patting myself on the back for a job well done on the mat is no different from chastising myself for blowing that shihonage. Both are ways of using past behavior to affect future results. Both are ways of avoiding the now.
I am at my most powerful state when both mind and body are coordinated at now.