Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the
world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to
over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a
wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history,
humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.
If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced
features available, you will need to register first. Registration is
absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!
I have a lot of different thoughts rattling around my head about my training, and most of them are half-formed. I think my posts here have tended to reflect this. Driving home last night from keiko I kept coming back to a handful of thoughts. The most prominent of these wasn't so much a cogent idea as much as a new way of looking at the proportion of thought-to-action I have been manifesting. I have been very "mind-heavy" in my "gyo" and it has led to a very "body-heavy" way of moving. "Intellectually," I've recognized how stiff I am; how tight my shoulders are; how my chronic body aches and injuries are a sign of improper integration of...something. I understood it on a more visceral level last night.
Part of the reason I've been so mentally caught up in this idea of Aikido is that it represents a means which appears profoundly useful to affecting great effects in how one can live one's life. It provides physical stimulation for a healthy body, mental stimulation for a healthy mind, and when approached with a serious attitude, it refines these things to a razor-like edge. It is a way of organizing different functions of the mind and body (i.e. mind-body) and developing them into higher orders of function. The pressures we put ourselves through are a kind of gravity drawing things together, cooking them into new transformations, drawing them together, transforming them again and again until we have something diamond-like...or ore-like dependiing on how much intensity we app
Lately I've been reminded of the time I was paired up with a nidan for randori and not only couldn't perform a single technique, but was stabbed repeated until he made sure I knew what we were practicing and said, "...randori." "Yeah...I know," was my thought, "I just suck that bad."
People make too many generalizations.
Of course it's a natural part of learning and operating, but it is something that seems to make a lot of problems. It's based in presumption, which leaves a person somewhat more dependant on outside factors. In conversations it can distract from valid points; in fights is can get you hurt. My attraction to martial arts has to do with the general idea of awareness: both internal and external awareness; each one informing the other. One of the key aspects to this that comes to my mind is the ability to perceive subtle differences. When I was training regularly there wasn't an uchi deshi program at my dojo, but I often served similar functions (small parts of the role). I consider this kind of training to be very useful, even though there isn't often any kind of obvious "martial" technique/method involved, because it forces you to pay very close attention to what is going on around you; to read the needs and wants of the people around you.
Recently I read the chronicles of D'artagnan (didn't end anything like I guessed it would), and one of the characters, Athos, has a lacky named Grimaud whom he has trained to understand what to do in any situation without many, if any, verbal cues. It describes how Athos would make a slight gesture most people wouldn't even notice, but Grimaud would be able to figure out everything that would be needed.
Interestingly enough, the training was described as being very severe by today's standards. In s
"intellectual training, physical training, virtue training, ki training-these produce practical wisdom." He added that it wouldn't do for even one of these to be missing, that lacking any one of them would render everything for naught and inevitably slow one's overall development. One must, he told me, always maintain a harmonious balance among these.
This was borrowed from the link above. I read it and felt compelled to copy it on my blog because it seems to capture that certain je ne sais quoi of my raison d'etre.
When confronted by the simple truth of these words I can't help but know that my practice is definately lacking.
I'm sitting here bouncing on my exercise ball with my 2-month old son, watching the Daily Show and contemplating the fate of the world. You know, small stuff. After reading about nuclear disasters, watching a show on megaquakes, and watching politicians whip people into mindless sound-bite derived frenzies, it's hard not to worry about the fate of my two sons. Then I think about all the huge dreams I had as a younger man and compare them with the "lesser" realities I made happen (despite having had a lot of support), it becomes easy to get discouraged; to become a fatalist; to see 2012 as some doomsday period.
Life is complicated; life is simple. It's unfathomable in any real depth, and I sincerely believe we're just a bunch of big-brained (neurotic) apes slapping labels on things so our minds can feel like we have it figured out...at least, figured out enough...long enough for us to build a new tool with which to break more nuts to stuff in our gullets.
And this is where my idealism tends to kick in. I look at the roughly 11,000 years of history we've scraped together out of the sands of deserts (a blink's worth on the whole); I look at the astounding level of tool development we've acquired in the last 100 years, let alone the curve seen in the last 30; I see how my 2-year old learns things I thought he wasn't paying attention to and my 2-month old smiles at me almost every time I say hi (it's not gas!); I see people building themselves up and the (corny as it may sound
The handfull of times I've made it to keiko this year have had a nice feeling of "getting back on the horse," despite still being fairly few and far between. The kenjutsu and jojutsu forms sensei Barrish practices these days are mostly new to me, so they really help reinforce that feeling of beginner's mind.
This last saturday I missed the morning misogi because I was up late tending to my sick 2 year old and so overslept. I also just barely made it to keiko on time so I started with a bit of a rushed feeling. It quickly went away as we headed out to train next to the river. We went through a series of paired ken and jo forms and moved on to taijutsu before coming back in to the jinja to finish up the keiko.
At one point I was able to take ukemi from sensei as we worked on a tachi waza omote sankyo variation. One of the things that always stands out to me in training is how different everyone feels. As uke I'm always looking to "pour" into nage, and depending on the nage, I'm always looking for how to do that. The interesting thing about sensei is how obvious my movement is. Almost without exception, I simply don't feel like I have an option...and even where I feel like I have options, I always feel like I have to play catch-up to his initiative.
It's really quite fascinating too how this adds to my form as nage. Taking ukemi from sensei I often have the feeling that my structure gets "squared up." I've often noticed how good my bad shoulder, neck, and back feels when
Brief though it's been, it feels very good to get on the mat again. It was such an unusual feeling to put the gi back on because on one hand it was so familiar, but on the other it was very new feeling. I just kept thinking what a new, old feeling it was and how there's no replacement for the visceral experience of practice.
One of the key things that stood out to me was the difference between being a 19 year old and a 32 year old. I certainly don't remember there being quite so many pops and clicks to my movement. I've been beat up by my job in construction, so my wrists aren't flexible like they once were. I've unlearned a lot of whatever I may have learned about not using my shoulders too, particularly when it came to practicing suburi, and I had to keep reminding myself to relax, stand up straight, and feel the ground with my feet.
One point of interest to me was how the katatetori portion of waza has changed a bit. Not that I had the older version we practiced down very well, but it was still strongly in my muscle memory so I had to constantly remind myself how I was going to suppress nage instead of just sort of doing it. I also really enjoyed the new swordwork drills.
All in all it felt so great to be there, to see people I haven't seen in a decade still training hard and refining their practice; not flaking out like I did. Being around people like that is great for people like me who do tend to go off into flights of fancy. It sets an example...a firm reminder o