Nasake, an Aiki perspective
Nasake may well mean “compassion, benevolence, sympathy or mercy”, depending on its intended usage. It may also connote feelings of “mercy”, or “tender feelings” for another, and for a variety of reasons.
A term often encountered, is ‘Bushi no Nasake”( Compassion of the Warrior), or the chivalrous or compassionate attitude prized in the samurai of centuries past. Perhaps the storied Knights of Merry Old England, or of warrior classes from other cultures, would have produced similar examples of “knightly” behavior.
The Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, also seems to have made the concept and practice of “nasake,” a key cornerstone of validating and explaining his Aikido. The combination of his religious beliefs, his vast experiences in training and utilizing his martial skills, and of his deep inner convictions of a spiritual need for peace in his environment, have appeared to strike a chord in the hearts of many who are attracted to the Aiki Principles within his Aikido.
In the daily training environment of most Aikido dojos and systems I have encountered, the one common thread that I can identify with, is this common commitment to focus on having a benevolent regard for training partners, and by extension, to the environments in which they operate. This “habit of kindness” is indeed, a most refreshing and inviting aspect of aikido training and interaction.
For me, the most consistently effective martial art “technique” I have both encountered, and used successfully, is a genuine smile. Mistakes and misunderstandings are much more easily forgiven, even when injuries unfortunately occur. All other fundamental aspects of Aikido’s martial identity are kept in place, but still benefit greatly when training partners agree before hand, to be conservative with pace and intensity. When familiarity and trust develops, both pace and intensity may be increased with mutual consent.
How often have I been admonished, when confronted by doubt, or frustration, to avoid “speeding things up”, and to choose to be more deliberate, and focused on maintaining control over my emotions, and my responses. By employing a fuller range of motion, maintaining correct posture, and following the natural openings for both ukemi and nage opportunities, my training partner and I have a more consistently satisfying practice.
As an added benefit, I find that I have become more gentle with myself, using additional time and space to work things out within my own mind and spirit.
The valuable and desirable feature of nasake in my training, both on and off the mat, makes me happy, and my training partners as well.
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