Charles Burmeister wrote:
However, don't kid your self into believing that you're moving beyond a path of form training. In my eyes all you have done is added more form to your forms. [For this I am referring to the exercises on David's website…which I like by the way!] In order to reproduce the desired affect in others you have to create rules and boundaries. The whole process has to be defined and then practiced…correctly. What is so different about the exercises that you employ from that of doing jiyu waza with committed attacks?
Using Charles' fine points to elaborate more upon my own (not really replying directly to Charles)...
As I said before, I am not advocating a rejection of form. And by no means am I suggesting that what we should do is add more forms. In short, the reconciliation of form and non-form is not an architectural matter. It will not come about either subtracting and/or accumulating things. It is at its heart an epistemological and/or an ontological matter. It is not about "things" but rather it is about "how we through our body/mind come to relate to things (but also ideas and our own sense of identity)." In other words, we cannot understand a reconciliation of form and non-form to mean that we either do not do Ikkyo and/or that we do new versions of Ikkyo. A reconciliation of form and non-form is about how we relate to Ikkyo at every level of our being. Thus, when one undertakes spontaneous training, one is not going to see an absence of things and/or of form and/or of rules and boundaries, etc. There is never going to be a construction that does not take place in space, and there is never going to be a space that is not constructed. No environment can escape this -- this is the nature of Reality as it is experienced. This is true whether it occurs inside the dojo or "on the street." Why? Because it is the subject that both experiences reality and that thereby constructs reality. Reality is always constructed. This is not a downfall of training. This is THE much needed aspect that leads to cultivating a spontaneity through training.
There are two important places where this aspect is used to gain reconciliation. I already mentioned one of them in the last post: how forms training and spontaneous training reflect back upon each other in order to deepen our understanding and/or realization of both. This is very much related to how the subject constructs reality by experiencing reality. The second place has to do with the cultivation of non-attachment. For the cultivation of non-attachment to take place, there must be some thing, some idea, or some sense of self, etc., to which we may become attached. In spontaneous training, we are attempting to cultivate non-attachment. If it were possible (and it is not) to construct a pure space free of all constructs, we would lose our chance of cultivating non-attachment because such a space would offer nothing to be non-attached toward. To attempt to build such a space (which again, I would remind you is impossible) is like cutting your head off to get rid of a headache.
At a simple level then, one is not looking to get rid of Ikkyo, or to add newer versions of Ikkyo. One is not looking to gain a form or to gain an anti-form. One is looking toward a type of being that can exist without being attached to form. What makes a technique like Ikkyo viable in a spontaneous environment is twofold: first that it is tactically sound in its architecture and its application, and second, that the practitioner is not attached to it. However this is not enough -- or what I have said is not descriptive enough. For what is Ikkyo? What all goes into Ikkyo as we are experiencing it as a practitioner of Aikido? I would say it is also all those substructures of forms training (see earlier post above) -- the means by which we are introduced to Ikkyo. As experienced by the subjective self, Ikkyo is, yes, this arm pin, etc., but it is also the means by which it is transmitted, etc. Combined, these things are our experience of Ikkyo -- our reality of Ikkyo. It is all of these things combined, because the nature of how the form is transmitted and how it must be learned, but also due to the nature of the small self and how it experiences reality, to which we must become non-attached. Toward this end, and because a spontaneous training environment both cannot and should not be a pure space with nothing to be attached to, such environments rather should be a space where attachment is both made obvious and negatively experienced. In addition, as much as possible, it should also be an environment where non-attachment alone succeeds and/or it alone is experienced positively. This is all one needs in order to construct a spontaneous training environment.
That said, I do not think it is accurate to suggest that what one can witness in our beginner drills is simply the construction of more forms. Rather, it is the beginning of cultivating non-attachment toward forms, toward things, toward ideals, and toward a sense of identity, even toward the constructs of the drill itself. In that way, while not rejecting forms training, it is very much different from it. So different, that should one return to straight forms training, once having cultivated adequate levels of non-attachment, forms training itself will become a spontaneous training environment. I mentioned this before.
Now is this different from Jiyu Waza? No. However, is it different from a "Jiyu Waza" that has been thoroughly subsumed by a culture of mediocrity? I would say, definitely, YES. How can you tell the difference? Try them both. It is not so hard to tell the difference from within -- only hard on paper. Video is also good at times. There is another thread here on how you can search for videos through Google.com. On those pages, there are many "randori" and "jiyu waza" demonstrations that are more about a continuation of being attached to form than about cultivating a non-attachment toward form. There you will see a "jiyu waza" that has been thoroughly subsumed by a culture of mediocrity and thus there you will see several forms that are not tactically viable in their architecture.
On another point: Before we all start talking about what the "masses" require and/or how we must limit our aspirations for "their own good sake," let us as a generation give it a shot. The time is ripe. These topics are on the minds of a great many practitioners even if the actual means are not yet firmly in place for most. Using a metaphor: Head up the mountain, see who follows. You cannot head up a mountain by waiting for everyone to head up with you. When you ascend first, I think you will be surprised by how many "masses" do just fine without "their own good sake" being taken as a reason to default on your own aspirations. At our dojo, as I said, our training is organized thusly, and every member, from every lifestyle, participates. Like now in other dojo where there is no such training and/or where it is just now being formulated, our deshi do this at their own level, at their own pace, and according to their own needs. That they are heading "upward," that they are oriented toward a reconciliation of form and non-form, is all that is important. We cannot ignore the significance of this orientation simply because of some false compassion where some unidentifiable Other that we call "the masses" makes it seem like it is better to do nothing than to do something.