Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: David's Drills
Speaking generally here -- sharing my thoughts…
I would like to address the difficulty that has been mentioned in regards to the last aspect of drill three -- entering fully to the back of the aggressor.
As I said in the previous thread on quickness and accuracy, irimi is a huge part of Aikido tactics. The point of these drills is of course to see more clearly into our body/minds for the purposes of cultivating ourselves according to the moral/social and spiritual aspects of Aikido (e.g. non-resistance over resistance, harmony over disharmony, acceptance over rejection, etc.). However, this does not mean that irimi itself is not a desired-for end. It only means that in the "desiring" for irimi, whether we achieve it or not, we may learn a lot about ourselves at a levels we do not often experience off the mat (and perhaps not often on the mat either if we do not do some kind of training similar to this). Nevertheless, irimi is present in the drill and just as real as any other Aikido tactic we have come to know. As such, we must relate to it in that way. What does that mean?
This means that when we irimi under these conditions, conditions that have to be considered by any standard as a disadvantage, we should still perform irimi in the same way that we have seen it performed in Kihon Waza. This means it is not enough to just get to the back of the opponent any ol' way one can. What one has to do is to irimi to shikaku. And that means: One has to have timing and spatial aspects that correspond to the moral/social and spiritual aspects mentioned above -- one has to enter without resistance, with harmony, with acceptance, etc.
This all makes sense to us, to all of us, I would imagine, as not many folks would say that we should rather try and enter with rejection and with resistance -- with disharmony. However, this sense it makes is something more akin to our intellect and/or at most to what we might want to call the more surface levels of our body/mind. We know how we should enter, and we may have even entered that way before -- here or there spontaneously or regularly in Kihon Waza training. However, in these types of drills, a deeper part of ourselves is reached and when that happens it feels like the "sense" that we understood intellectually and/or with the more surface levels of our body/mind is nowhere to be seen, felt, or heard.
Rather, we are left there almost dumbfounded, but this dumbfoundedness takes place not only intellectually. It also occurs emotionally and physically. In other words, at a common sense level, we are present but we are present having no idea of what to do or of how to do it and we are not even really sure why what is occurring is occurring. There is a kind of "gap," or a kind of "chasm" (which is probably a word closer to the subjective experience), and this is very much related not to what we know intellectually and/or at the surface levels of our body/mind, but rather it is related to what or who we are at our core. By default then, because of how the body/mind is one integrated whole, we are also seeing the point at which our capacity for moral and spiritual behavior faces its own chasm.
Those of us that may be interested in either one of these chasms (which should always be considered simultaneously since they cannot really be separated) are going to wonder how through all the training, through, for example, all the Kihon Waza, we still have within us this darkness, this chasm, which remains impenetrable. In the other thread, I mentioned that, for example, Kihon Waza, in its pedagogical structure, for its reasons of transmission, assumes many things of us. To be sure, it does not assume its prescribed physicalities. Moreover, if we are capable of training in forms in a very alive fashion -- which is what we should all be doing and what forms assume of us -- Kihon Waza does not even assume those internal qualities and/or virtues necessary to support the prescribed physicalities. Rather, forms come to cultivate these things in us by having us repeat them over and over again. This is perhaps similar to how a child learns through observation and then imitation, etc. So where does the gap or chasm come from? What is forms not designed to address?
To be sure, the chasm is fed by our inability to perform prescribed physicalities in the exact way that they are being prescribed. The maturity levels of the character traits and/or virtues that support our prescribed physicalities also feed it. Moreover, there are indeed things like body conditioning, and experience with the particulars (e.g. adrenaline dumps, etc.) of these types of situations that also come to feed the chasm. Thus, if we are able to address these things, we are able to shed more light into where there was only darkness (only this dumbfoundedness and/or this great distance from employing Aikido tactics under spontaneous conditions as they are employed within our forms). However, much of the chasm remains even if these things come to be addressed.
If I were to take a guess at why that might be in regards to Kihon Waza, I would suggest that it is because while Kihon Waza need not assume our physicalities and/or the relevant character traits, etc., it cannot help, because of its reasons for transmission, but to assume that that which it is not transmitting remain at a level of unequal presence (i.e. a kind of idealized un-present). When forms work on this strike or that strike, or this response or that response, in order to do this or that, forms, in their right to idealize time and space, presume that things are in an unequal state of presence and/or non-presence. Please understand this: It is not that forms do not presume that there are follow-up strikes, counters, etc. It is not that forms bring attention to one thing by ignoring other things. Rather, it is that forms must reject the nothingness or emptiness of combat in order to make something exist -- something that can be studied and transmitted. In this way, Kihon Waza assumes that we are capable of reconciling this emptiness in our lives -- in our actions, our words, and in our ideas -- for the sake of transmission when in reality we have achieved no such reconciliation. More truthfully, probably we alone assume this through our forms training. In reality, this is most likely where Shu and Ha training are meant to relate to each other. Because we are not innately capable of this reconciliation, and because forms only assume it of us (or we assume it of forms), this chasm may remain no matter how much Kihon Waza we do.
In spontaneous training, we do not face a presumed reconciliation of the nature of the universe (i.e. emptiness, constant change, co-dependent origination, etc.). In spontaneous training, there is no kick or strike, no wrist grab, etc., that is manifested over and above the emptiness which marks it. There is not this thing or this situation or this scenario in which we must be alive, or in the moment. In spontaneous training, we experience no "A" to our "B" -- even if "A" and "B" can be witnessed by a third non-participating party. In spontaneous training, we do not seek to relate ourselves to the strike or the kick or the grab, etc., that has erupted from the fabric of emptiness -- as it might in Kihon Waza training. In spontaneous training, I would propose, what we are being asked to relate to is the emptiness itself. Until we can relate to this emptiness itself, that chasm will remain a chasm of darkness, of ignorance, etc. When we can relate to this emptiness itself, that chasm is exactly what is needed -- for inside that chasm lies our own emptiness, our own place/time in the emptiness of which nothing escapes, or own capacity to reconcile with ourselves as we reconcile with the greater universe. In spontaneous training, emptiness, which cannot be transmitted, which is the antithesis of any effort to transmit anything, is the only "presumption" being made -- and its hitting you in the face over and over again saying, "Welcome to the reality of the living world."
Well, thanks for letting me share.