Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido
Aikido has a wide range of students with different paths and reasons for training. With so many different perspectives, its hard to draw any kind of objective conclusion about what is and is not success or what is or is not the highest form of training.
I argue that many paths do have one thread of commonality - self-improvement. Since we cannot change who we are, the better solution to improving our life is to become more efficient. I can't get bigger, so I must become more efficient at using my strength. I can't get rid of conflicts in my life, but I can become better at resolving them. And so on. The highest form of training is being honest with yourself.
That is a hard charge in aikido. We don't fight, we don't criticize, and some dojo promote for, "giving it the ol' college try." There is an old saying, "When you shovel horse manure long enough, you forget that it stinks."
I'm on a journey to be better. I get to pick what I want to get better at, no one else. I don't shadow box with an alter ego, I don't wrestle with UFC grapplers, and I hold myself to the physical and spiritual benchmarks of my instructor, my association and the teachings of the founder (as I understand them). I am critical of myself and my training and I honor my instructor and my dojo and I will not let them blemish in the eyes of others. I will not let myself become something that tarnishes the history and legecy of aikido. While I'm on this journey, I go alone with my dojo, my friends, and my family behind me cheering me on. When I get to the end, I will raise my arms and spin in a circle to see those that supported me, and who I surpassed. And Survivor's, "Eye of the Tiger" will blare...
I know that during this journey:
1. My instructors will criticize me if I lose focus or begin to lie to myself.
2. My peers will encourage me to improve and challenge me to improve physically.
3. My personal study will encourage me to grow spiritually to meet the the mysteries of aikido.
Oh, John Stevens has referred to movement in stillness and stillness in movement in several of his books. I believe he even uses images sometimes.