Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?
Very thought provoking...
There is much to agree with and much to question. To start with, I would like to say that I do agree with most of what has already been stated. I remember when I was still in Japan pondering this same line of thinking of how do I get past the form's technical stage to the next arena of "instant application" (a.k.a. AIKI)?
In an effort to continue this conversation, I feel I have to ask you to define applicable AIKI in a martial context as well as spontaneity in a martial application. I feel that there-in lays the crux of the problem in that we all will probably not agree on the exact nature and complete acceptability of the application of AIKI.
My interpretation of AIKI in these instances is - whatever is necessary to resolve…
I leave my interpretation open-ended on purpose. For me to limit my response is to limit my choice of resolve. An altercation can be returned to harmony with one bone shattering block of a strike or similarly with the slightest of touches. It depends on what is necessary for that situation. I agree, as others have eloquently written before, that there are different levels of these applications.
I am a believer in practice the forms and the AIKI will come. Keep practicing until the forms become formless. In order to forget form you must know form. In my opinion, the apex is reached when one finally realizes that the techniques in-of- themselves are useless and not the form! They are nothing more than the vehicle to carry the message of proper space/time/distance along with proper body mechanics and proper application. Not a means to an end (e.g. I am grabbed -- I apply shihonage). They can be (as I stated before in the shihonage thread) if the situation lends itself to be perfect for that technique which usually it isn't.
It is my belief that the techniques are the teacher of the correct forms (the underlying lesson that is essential to each technique). In other words, when I practice katate-mochi shihonage, it is immaterial that uke has grabbed my wrist and I want to apply a shihonage technique to counter his grab. What is material is how my body mechanics line up for me to correctly apply a shihonage technique at that very instance. Not because I want to or even because that is what I have been trained to do, but ONLY because that is what is proper for that moment in time [AIKI].
It reminds me of the following analogy (in short). A person is walking in the woods and comes to an impassable river. On the bank lays a boat. They use the boat to cross the river. When they get to the other side they then leave the boat and continue on their way. To continue to carry the boat would only be a hindrance and would take that tool outside of the original context of its intent.
With the knowledge that is gained through cooperative training, a person learns what a proper technique should feel like (in a controlled environment). In a practical application scenario it should then "feel" obvious when the technique is not proper for that application and we must move on to the next available option. The problem from my viewpoint is that many tend to hold on to the belief that the techniques themselves are the end means instead of moving on to the understanding that what they actually should be looking at is what lays underneath the technique, the underlying principles of AIKI that are taught through the mastery of the techniques.
This brings us very quickly to the non-attachment that David has already been talking about. If I cling to the notion that when my wrist is grabbed I counter with shihonage I have already failed AIKI.
So how do we resolve this situation? Good question! A beginning is very much what has been already stated. Committed attacks with testing of proper mechanics to make sure the mechanics are solid.
I was at a clinic not to long ago when I was working out with a high kyu. Every time that I would strike with a basic yokomen attack he would flinch during his block. I always attack committed (with control) in a manner that is appropriate for that student. Not to do so cheats the student and cheats the art. I finally had to stop him and tell him to trust in what he has learned so far. Trust in his ability to defend against my attack.
I stop students all the time after they have launched the attack of the wet noodle or the heat seeking fist and ask them, "What is that"? Many times I won't even move out of the way when they launch an uncommitted attack. Then I explain the difference and demonstrate to them the ‘whys' and ‘how comes'. A good portion of students just don't know the difference and it is my responsibility as an instructor to keep them real.
My instructor has said a million times to me and others, "If you attack/apply/defend like that all you're going to do is piss them off!" He keeps it real for me and that is what I try to do for my students now. Hopefully free of any attachment and/or delusion!