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Stillness in motion is the core of my practice. I seek to move while remaining where I am in order to present a target that isn't there but elsewhere when the attack arrives. That is the essence of evasion.
Moving from a standstill is far more difficult than changing direction. The weight of an immobile body tends to sink to the feet and must be redistributed before motion can begin. A body in motion can change direction with relative ease.
When practicing I always keep moving. Having thrown my partner, I make it a point to continue moving while he gathers himself for another attack. In this way I'm never caught flat-footed. Strangely, it's not necessary that I keep my feet moving for this to work. Any part of my body will do. I find that as long as I'm moving something, my weight will remain off my feet and concentrated at my center. This enables me to move easily in any direction without time-wasting weight redistribution prior to moving.
Being constantly on the move also presents uke with a more difficult target to hit or grab. I am always presenting uke with little openings that appear and then go away and I try to keep my tempo varied and non-rhythmical. My motion, while smooth and flowing, is peppered with sudden changes in direction and/or speed.
To get used to this type of moving I rely heavily on the bokken and jo staff. I devise short combinations of strikes and blocks that employ changes of direction and varying speeds. I vary the tempo within the
I am more than the sum of my parts which cannot be summed at all.
There are times, fortunately few and widely separated, when I believe that my views about Aikido should be recognized by others because I have something of worth to say. It's at times like these that Aikido seems important on more than a personal level; that it is meaningful in the larger sense of the word and that I must defend my interpretation of the art when my ideas are assailed by others. This is, of course, laughable.
To think that I have latched onto a Truth and that my vision has been expanded beyond that of a normal mortal borders on delusional. When I begin see Ron as Sage of the Age the time is ripe for me to inadvertently bop myself in the head with my jo staff or trip over my own hakama while demonstrating in front of a packed class. Thank goodness for reality checks!
I am realizing that I have nothing to defend, that the light I use to illuminate my path is my light only, that those who study with me do so not because I have so much to give them but because I provide them a venue to give of themselves and so discover who they are. And that is where the real truth of Aikido lies (interesting juxtaposition of words, no?), the synergy of a class of dedicated students, all of us struggling on our individual roads coming together for a few hours a week to create something beautiful by opening ourselves up to our Aikido.
O-Sensei created Aikido as a way of making the world a more peac
Knowledge of Aikido comes from within, as a teacher it's my job to allow students to express it.
Aikido is, first and foremost, a path I have chosen to travel. The meaning I derive from the teaching I've had and the studying I've done on my own is germane to me and helps shape the road I'm traveling. My students have chosen to come with me for a time and share my interpretation of what Aikido is. Along the way other branches of the path present themselves and sometimes a student will wander away in another direction. We're all responsible for our own Aikido.
As a way of peace through harmony and mutual respect, Aikido works for me. As a martial art that I can use to protect myself and my family, Aikido works for me too. As a vehicle of personal growth and enlightenment, ditto. These ideas are not mutually exclusive.
What I don't insist is that anyone follow my way. I teach my students that Aikido comes from within and it's my job to provide them with a venue in which to explore the Aikido within themselves and help them to express what they feel.
Grab both of your partner's forearms just above his wrists while he stands in a right stance. Making sure that he is squared up and facing you directly, tell him to stiffen by tensing his muscles. Tell him to resist you when you begin to push. Push into him and note how much energy is required to take him off balance. Now have your partner relax the muscle tension. Tell him to let his arms bend slightly at the elbows and wrists and drop his center slightly by bending his knees. Tell him to keep one point and extend ki (or, feel free to insert your favorite metaphor). Instead of resisting suggest that he absorb the energy of the push and let it travel thru his body and on into the ground at his rear foot. Tell him to let the relaxed joints of his bent arms dissipate the force, unlike his stiff arms in the prior test which concentrated the force at his shoulders. Now using the same amount of energy as in the first test, push into him. When he doesn't move begin to increase the power of your push gradually.
As the student becomes more familiar with the idea of absorbing and dissipating instead of resisting forces, have him bring the rear foot closer and closer to the front foot in subsequent iterations of the test until he's doing it from a natural stance with both feet parallel to one another.
As the one pushing your responsibility is to help your partner find and reinforce the correct feeling of being able to absorb the energy of your push. Therefore carefully direct
As an instructor I impart only enough to invoke. My goal is to have each student realize Aikido from within.
Aikido is a matter of attaining correct feeling, of attuning myself with the rhythms I continually set into motion by the nature of my existence.
If I find myself in conflict with another I must examine what fear of mine is providing me with the negative energy required to perpetuate the conflict. Purging the fear will remove the danger and negate the necessity for the conflict to continue. I can accomplish this unilaterally.
Aikido encompasses even those who would limit its growth.
I don't observe the attack, I become the attacker and see myself through the attacker's eyes.
The center of conflict is the focal point of any attack. If the attacker can occupy this point she will more than likely control all aspects of the conflict. That is why, as nage, I always seek to occupy the center of the conflict. In this way I can see the situation from any point of view that I wish. When I link myself to the center of conflict I become one with uke and so merge attack and defense into one entity thereby neutralizing the intended harm. There are many phrases used in Aikido instruction to illustrate this point: lead uke's mind, lead the attack, harmonize with uke, redirect uke's energy etc.
For this to be effective I must willingly abandon thoughts of defending myself and simply immerse myself in the flow of the action. It is only then that I will be able to achieve the unification of the opposing forces that form the nucleus of the conflict, and bring forth a new frictionless unity of purpose. Attack and defense disappear and resolution without decision emerges.
That which I am always was, always will be, though in other guises yet to be revealed.
As I have grown older the reality of my mortality has pounded ever louder on my door. I have begun to think about what it is that ‘I' am and what makes me so keenly aware of my own existence. I am me in this form for the briefest of time. When that time is up I'll cease to be me as I am and…. what?
Is that it? Will I just sort of unwind; my body decompose and its constituents return to the universe to be reconfigured in some other guise at some other time and place? And what of me that isn't my body; my awareness? Is awareness simply a function of being human and alive? Does awareness arise from the interaction of chemicals in my brain? Or is there more to it?
Aikido training touches more than my body. It hones my spirit as well. While training I am afforded a glimpse of something larger than myself of which I am an integral part. In my view of the world, we as human beings are part of a larger consciousness that is struggling to awaken and grow; to take its rightful place among other such entities which in turn will give rise to an even larger consciousness etc. If we manage to outlast our self-destructive tendencies and get off this planet to expand throughout our galactic neighborhood we will eventually reach a critical mass and so give birth to what we are destined to become.
This is a very simple example of one way to teach a beginner to move from his center. Have nage stand in a natural stance. Touch the top of nage's head and say ‘concentrate here'. Put the fingertips of your hand just below nage's collar bone and push with increasing force towards the nage's spine and slightly downward. Note how much force you have to exert in order to move nage off balance. Return nage to natural stance.
Touch nage's one point and say ‘concentrate here'. Put the fingertips of your hand just below nage's collar bone and push with increasing force towards nage's spine and slightly downward. As you push, remind nage to ‘keep one point' and ‘extend ki'. With practice nage will be able to absorb greater amounts of force applied to the push than you initially used to push him off balance.
Once nage can perform this exercise successfully from standing it's quite easy to have him begin walking into the push and move you off balance. The exercise is performed as above but instead of standing and absorbing the push, nage literally walks into it. At first, while consciously avoiding concentrating on one point, nage will be taken off balance because his upper body will not move forward as he begins to walk. When nage switches to keeping one point he will begin to be able to walk through the push with relative ease.
The choice of metaphors you use to help nage visualize what is going on in this exercise is unimportant. You can talk about ground path, facial cont
Recently Mary and I visited the Kaufman house, at Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. After touring the house and grounds I thought to myself, here is a prime example of the principles of Aikido applied to daily life. The house is in perfect harmony with its surroundings. It doesn't so much sit on the site as seem to grow out of it, more like a natural formation than something built. The amazing thing is that Wright only visited the site once before designing the house. Now Wright never studied Aikido but he must have been aware on some intuitive level of the principles that underlie the art. This became evident to me when I sat and contemplated how the house conforms to the site.
I read about Aikido and whether or not it is an effective form of self-defense or how it ‘measures up' against other martial arts in regard to destructive capability and I wonder if people aren't maybe missing the point. Aikido is an engine of creation. Practicing it creates good feelings among the participants. Studying together with my students in the dojo I become aware of the community that has grown and developed from a collection of individuals who formerly had no relationships to one another.
I have begun to see what O-Sensei was trying to say about Aikido and how its dissemination throughout the world would make the world a better place in which to live. When quoting O-Sensei in this regard I am usually met with a response the starts with the equivalent of "Yeah but…". I ha
In my view, the universe I find myself created from is also a product of my creation. Everything I learn, see, hear, feel, smell and taste gets combined within me, the result being my view of the universe. When I am sad and depressed the universe appears dark, cold and inhospitable. Conversely, when I am happy and uplifted the universe welcomes me with light, warmth and abundance.
Aikido training teaches me these things. Before Aikido I lived in a universe that was something other than me; a large mostly empty place in which I was less than a grain of sand on a beach. Now I can see that I am not in the universe at all, I am of it. The realization of the difference between ‘in' and ‘of' has had a profound effect on me. Aikido training is teaching me to cultivate peace within myself and hence bring peace to my universe. I believe that this is what O-Sensei discovered; that if enough people grow peace within themselves the world would perforce become a more peaceful place in which to live. Inner peace begets individual freedom which can be very frightening to some. Perhaps this is why some folks seek to suppress the idea of Aikido as a way of peace and harmony.
A while back I had to deal with a nagging back/rib injury, the pain of which waxed unbearable and waned to almost non-existent. When the pain rose the world seemed a hostile place. The light too bright, the temperature either too hot or too cold, strange smells assailed me in most unpleasant ways. Conversely, the