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So what is blending anyway? Simply put, blending is congruent motion. Initially, when uke attacks and I move to blend with his motion, I seek to align our paths such that there is no point at which the arcs of our movement intersect. In so doing, if my timing is accurate, I will leave behind a void in which he will find no support for his structure. He will, of course, try to correct his balance and I will follow his lead, still parallel with him, slightly ahead of him, adding to his energy. In this way I will choose where and when we do finally intersect. The point of intersection is where our paths will diverge and the technique will happen. Blending makes it all possible.
"All the principles of heaven and earth are living inside of you." - Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace, Translated by John Stevens.
The Ki of heaven, the Ki of earth; the knowledge of where I'm from and where I'm going; the principles and techniques of Aikido; all right here inside of me, growing and blooming as I continue my practice.
I was very fortunate to have had a teacher who understood that Aikido is a process that is learned from inside; that as a student, I needed to discover Aikido myself and that his job was to guide my process of self discovery and not spoon feed me the answers. I owe Sensei Maruyama a debt of gratitude, the repayment of which I hope is continually being fulfilled as I carry his teaching methodology forward with my students.
I offer my partner one end of the jo and he moves to take it. Following his lead, I lead him along the path he has chosen keeping the jo just out of his reach. I never try to force a direction on him; it's enough to simply let him decide where he wants to go as he tries to grab the end of the staff. Changing directions in response to him I may move my hands to the other end of the jo and offer him the end I have just relinquished. On we go, continuously shaping the pattern into randomly varying simple and complex weaves, forming a threefold tableau of interconnected energies. If he does manage to grab the jo he just lets go and we continue as before.
Descriptions and instructions regarding Ki development are all just metaphors folks. They're pictures used to aid me in identifying and strengthening what I feel to be going on within my body as I perform the various exercises. I use metaphors to give my feelings illustrative substance that I may continue to draw on and further build on as I continue to learn and grow. When the feeling has been reinforced to the point where I can summon it at will I dispense with the metaphor, it's no longer necessary as the feeling itself becomes the reality without need of external support.
Aikido is simply the method I have chosen to engender the growth and strengthening of my Ki. That Aikido technique has varied applications is a nice side benefit; but my primary goal has become, over years of training, Ki development. I make no secret of this. Others have other goals and there's room for all under the tent. I have my own training to tend to in addition to the nurturing of my students so I leave the "whose right" debate to the people who have vested interests in being right. Not my problem.
Debating over Ki metaphors is like trying to debate the blueness of the sky on a sunny day or the sound of music. All are intimately entwined with the feelings of the observer and, hence, subjective in nature. Scientific analysis of Ki is just another set of metaphors attempting to describe the underlying reality, no more or less correct than any other descriptive endeavor. I use whatever metaph
There are times when I have to step back from what seems important to reflect on the fact that importance is a relative concept. What seems important to me in the moment may actually be inconsequential when I realize that out there in the world all sorts of events are occurring that trivialize what's going on in my reality. Times like those call for gratitude on my part.
A lot of the Ki exercises we study are designed to enable us to remain immobile while being pushed or pulled in various directions or otherwise distracted by our partner. At first glance it may appear that we are training to resist the forces being applied in order not to be moved. This assumption is derived from the fact that outwardly it does appear that resistance is exactly what is going on. Inwardly, hidden from the observer outside, what is happening is that the student is learning how to absorb and redirect the applied force so as to give it nowhere to "rest". A force with nowhere to rest can perform no work, it has potential only. The force can be directed into the ground, as in some Ki tests, sent back to its source as in kokyu dosa or stored at the recipients one point to be released in an explosive counterforce.
This absorption of force is a kind of strength quite different from muscular strength. It's more strength of will than strength of fiber. It's what gives the experienced aikidoka the feeling of extreme heaviness that seems all out of proportion to her physical stature. It's the mountain that falls on you during a well executed timing throw.
I see aikido as primarily a process of self-discovery; a pursuit of my relationship to the universe, my own spirit and my fellow human beings. As such, my understanding of aikido grows from within me as a result of continuous training and contemplation. My growth and maturity as a person and as a student of aikido are so intertwined as to be indistinguishable. The study of aikido is a process of maturation wherein my life experience helps shape my aikido development and vice versa.
As an instructor, I find it difficult to express what is going on inside of me as I continue to grow as a student. It is only recently that I have begun to relate to my students my process of learning and discovery as divorced from the transmission of the form of my aikido.
Self defense transcends all martial arts while encompassing them all.
The nature of conflict involves opposing viewpoints colliding at a particular place and time (the center of conflict). Without the collision the conflict cannot happen. Suppose Wellington had made a wrong turn and instead of getting to Waterloo to meet Napoleon ended up somewhere else instead. Or suppose that Napoleon, arriving at Waterloo first, had arrayed his forces in such a way that Wellington, upon seeing the forces so situated, realized that an attack would be suicidal. The conflict would have had to have been postponed until another day; or if both parties took the ensuing time to rethink their positions, may never have happened at all.
Aikido allows me to approach conflict from either point; go off in another direction or occupy the center of conflict in a safe and unassailable position. But allowing me to approach conflict from either point of view doesn't guarantee that either approach will be available to me should a conflict arise. Suppose I find myself surrounded by six attackers who, unlike their movie counterparts, aren't so dumb as to attack one at a time. It would seem that going off in a different direction is not an option; and although I may be able to occupy the center of conflict my position will hardly be safe or unassailable. In a situation such as this "It is necessary to develop a strategy that utilizes all the physical conditions and elements that are directly at hand. The
If I seek to control another person, to have him bend to my will, I must accept the responsibility that goes with that control. I cannot in good conscience abdicate my responsibility because it may inconvenience me. I have chosen to subjugate another human being and he is, therefore, in my charge.
In practicing my Aikido I look to control only myself. Uke has complete freedom to do as he pleases. I lead and follow and so look to see the world from his point of view but just slightly ahead of him.