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Yep, we all get confused-- we fumble about with techniques with which we are unfamiliar. We furrow our brows and grimmace while we try to process subtleties-- or even the gross movements of certain waza , or variations of waza we already "know".
It is one thing to accept confusion and move on, it is another to keep yourself confused, by "thinking too much" (as my instructor's have described it) perhaps as some sort of excuse for not gaining immediate proficiency.
Yesterday I found myself in one of these confused states and discovered that I was actually inhibiting myself by holding too tightly to my confusion. Upon realizing this I tried to shift my attention from what I didn't understand about the technique to letting myself flow through the mindless familar elements. Of course, I did not execute the technique perfectly, but I felt myself absorb the basic differences much more rapidly than if I had tried to "think" it through.
There must come a point (perhaps in the mid/upper kyu ranks) when one has to begin trusting their training and body-memory more than their brain.
Some questions--- to question.
What is the difference between Brain and Mind?
Does the Mind exist in the Brain alone?
Can the Mind litterally be in the Hara or Center?
What does it mean to use the Mind as a shield?
What is the state of no-mindedness?
Where does the no-mind exist?
So I've missed a few days of practice. I don't think that I am alone in feeling a bit strange when I miss practice. Its probably like missing any workout. I feel more irritable, tight, slow.
I have had a chance to meditate-- just a few minutes a day. And I've been concentrating on my breathing while walking to and from work. These things combined with streatching, ki exercises, and katas help alieveate the symptoms of missing practice. They help me recenter and relax.
During these days off I have had some time to think about my Randori experience and how it relates to the world and my Self-Rebellion.
Chaos is nothing more
Than the reflection of our own confusion
And evidence of our inability to comprehend
The complexity and scale
Of the universe in its entirety.
Is it possible that the desire to find an order or pattern in chaos is what keeps us from rising above it, or flowing with it? This desire to find pattern is like trying to predict the future-- a distraction from the present.
The desire divides our minds--- we rethink the past-- we try to discover how it will inform the future-- the present passes. One must enter the present competely. Perhaps then multiple enemies become absorbed into one self-enemy-- perhaps then all things come into focus.
the trick then is entering the present.
If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can
see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop
The Universe is full of it. Ask anyone.
It isn't hard to get overwhelmed by it each day.
Apparently, there is some way to flow through it without getting taken down-- without getting beaten up, exhausted ,or injured. Aikido is supposed to have something to do with teaching us how to swim through this chaos. I don't think that it is a method-- perhaps a set of guidelines or strategies would be a better description. Maybe it is something even more intangible--- something that Chaos can't get a grip on-- something too illusive to strike. It must be a state of being.
I want very badly to achieve this state of being. I want very badly to be immune to the madness. But I have a hunch that my desire is going to get in the way at somepoint. It will probably keep me from breathing-- make me grab hold of the Chaos-- anchor me too it and therefore absorb me in its madness.
Is "siezing chaos" really the best translation of Randori? I have heard it translated that way. But now it seems entirely opposed to a successful method of dealing with multiple attackers. May be there is a better translation:
One's own Self-Rebellion
With other Self-Rebels
Is an excellent method
Of improving one's faculty
For dynamic understanding.
Here is a little brainstorm that I've been entertaining.
Aikido, Ethical Codes and Otherness
Most aikidoka that I have spoken with over the last year and a half claim that their training in aikido has effected every part of their life. While the type and degree of effect is different for everyone I would feel safe assumeing that any effect has been a postitive one-- increased awareness, compassion and confidence. Day to day I become aware of a new effect that aikido has had on my understanding of and interaction with the world. Recently, I am most aware of my own rising ethical standards.
I have never studied ethics formaly. Notice, however, that I have informed you of this difficiencey before allowing you make the assumption that I am trying to pass myself off as some sort of expert on the subject.
An ethic is a principle of right or good behavior. The diffculty in discussing ethics then is apparent from the beginning, for, in order to behave in a right, or good manner towards others we each require a certain code, or at least a referance point to measure our behavior with. In an ideal world we might imagine a certain Prime Code that could be the standard by which humanity measured itself. Sadly, such a Prime Code seems more like a theme for an epic work of utopian science fiction than
The Self-Rebel's mind should be like a sponge.
Moments of clarity should be embraced
and immediately squeezed dry.
The following state of confusion
Should be embraced and squeezed likewise.
Thus the mind is always prepared to receive
fresh input from the Universe.
"Have you ever forced it?" was a piece of graffiti I saw near the entrance to The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. It was an appropriate message left at an appropriate place (many art students are guilty of it).
This is my meditation for this afternoon.
How many of us are guilty of trying to move to fast? When does working hard or being dedicated to the art of aikido risk being excessive or fanatical-- when does it rist being counterproductive?
It seems to me that when I "forcing it", I have forgotten the principles of aikido. When I force it I forget to blend-- I forget to breathe-- and I forget to relax-- I risk hurting myself and others.
Does the desire for progress in this culture get in the way of our growth --how can one move any faster than the world around them? Should our practice be informed by the fable of the Tortise and the Hare? Is it that simple?
When our focus is concentrated on the aquisition of a specific goal, do we limit the scope of our perception? Is such concentration a weakness? Is single-mindedness opposed to no-mind? Is this the lesson of a belt system? To allow ourselves to progress at our own pace despite it?
The questions that I ask myself now is, "Is this journal a good way to defeat my ego? Is this a way to gain victory over my self, or am I merely enforcing somthing that is detrimental to my own growth?"
I'll try my best to keep up with my entries. I am working on a piece now called either "Aikido and Otherness" or "Aikido and The Ethical Use of Power" perhaps in a week or two I will paste it in here.
Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss my novice understanding of Aikido, or if you want to begin your own Self-Rebellion.
By participating actively
One begins to recognize
The Self-Rebellion (or lack thereof) in others.
Such vision gives birth to strength and compassion.
None of my observations should be taken as budo by any beginning practitioner of this art form or as heresy by any of the danship. Instead, for true guidance, I suggest reflecting on one of my favorite of O'Sensei's poems of The Path--
Techniques of the Sword
Cannot be encompassed
By words or letters.
Do not rely on such things--
Move on toward enlightenment!
Second, let me preface this article by making it clear that I am by all means a master of Self-Rebellion. Consider me the founder of the art the coiner of the term and an accomplished practitioner. Meditate upon my own poem when you are struck confused by my words and letters.
Relies solely on the words
and hypocrisy in your own mind.
Embrace them and your confusion--
authoritatively declare your ignorance
to the world!
Since I began my pursuit of Aikido approximately a year ago I have heard the art described and defined in many ways. I am still pretty uncertain what I've actually committed myself to, but enjoy it nonetheless. I find a bizarre comfort in my oscillating mental states of clarity and confusion during practice. I attribute this comfort to my prior and continuing practice of Self-Rebellion.
It is not my intention to write a complete treatise on the concept of Self-rebellion. Instead, I will describe it simply as the struggle between the destructive and constructive forces of the self. Self-rebellion reveals the self as fundament
How many times have I started a journal with the intention of making regular entries? More than I can count. I have stacks of journals-- gifts from friends and family-- countless legal pads I buy three for a dollar at the drug store. I've never filled one. On average there are ten to twenty blank pages left in the back.
I also never have never kept a running narrative of my life. My books are always filled with brief notes, brain storms, doodles, arguments, angry frustrated rants -- mostly telling myself to get off my a** and do something besides doodle.
The closest I have ever come to actually keeping a regular journal is one that I have been keeping for about two years now. I call it The Self-Rebellion. This is the first public journal I have ever attempted.
I know, by this time you are wondering what this has to do with Aikido, because, after all, this is an Aikido site. Well, it just so happens that my exploration of Self-Rebellion preluded my study (almost obsessive) of Aikido by six months.
Currently, on the 24th of January, 2005, I am a 4th Kyu student at the AAA affilliated dojo of Jikishinkan in Brooklyn, NY. I did have some prior expereince with the martial arts, I studied Tai Chi in Boston for about two years during college. During grad school in Chicago, I tried a bit of Ninjitsu (hmmm.)-- not realizing that AAA's headquarters was only a few minutes away. It wasn't until I moved to New York that I discoved Aikido, and from the moment I watched my fi