David Valadez wrote:
"Would you say that such a response could be considered aikido?"
I would say yes for three reasons. First, I would say yes because of how such a response relates to the overall training of Aikido -- as described in the article (e.g. the interdependent relationship between striking tactics and throwing strategies and the vice versa). Second, I would say yes because of how important striking tactics and strategies are to truly spontaneous training environments, and then because of how important truly spontaneous training environments are to the cultivation of the deeper aspects of Aikido. Third, I would say yes because I do not define Aikido by its basic curriculum and/or by any other architectural manifestation. On one hand, Aikido represents a methodology for personal cultivation and, on the other hand, a harmonizing of Yin and Yang energies marks it. In either case, striking is not at all outside of the scope of these things and thus neither is it antithetical to Aikido training and/or Aikido application.
"The question David brings to the table is can aikido resist the degradation of martial arts as we (as a society) continue to reduce the effort that is required to participate. A friend of mine is a chef and once explained the purpose of a reduction as this, ĎA reduction removes water from the sauce. Through concentration, the sauce's flavor will be strengthened and therefore create a more flavorful taste when eaten. But, if the sauce is reduced too much it will burn and become inedible.'"
This is right on the money! This IS the question one should pull out of the article and this thread.
"So do you mean that you can refine yourself to react to what is, instead of what you think is, only through what you term "real" training?"
Of course, I would never reject the idea that personal cultivation happens or can happen via forms training. It can and it does. However, I would propose that forms training can only take us so far in this regard. This is because ultimately there is a lack of congruity between our deeper inner selves and anything that is fabricated, constructed, of the material world (the world that is made -- if you will). Forms are a made thing. To penetrate and/or reveal, and thus reconcile our inner self, I would propose that we need a tool that is of the same nature. Our inner selves are marked by emptiness -- in the Buddhist sense of the word -- of pure potential, of unknown. Alternately, we can say that our inner selves are of a state of pure Is-ness. We are at this level beyond our intellectual capacity and so we require a vessel that is of like essence to truly expose ourselves for what we truly are. This is where spontaneous training environments come into play in Budo. This is why, in my opinion, "takemusu aiki" is so upheld by Osensei.
Forms are a constructed reality, and as such, we cannot NOT relate to them via what we think. Yes, to refine ourselves to react to what is, instead of what we think, yes, it is only through real training that we can do this -- i.e. training environments that are marked by the same nature as our inner selves, by pure potential and by the unknowable.
"How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?"
This is the constancy of the practice. In a way, it is no different from any other type of spiritual cultivation that orients itself toward such an end. Think of Zen, with the Master's tailoring of the teachings to have the disciple WAKE UP! You do it with constant modification of the training -- all aimed toward not having the deshi become attached to their own identity, their own fear, their own pride, their own ignorance, nor to the teaching itself, nor to the teacher.
For example, the videos in the article were not filmed for the article. They were part of "waking" my deshi up to the assumptions (what he thinks of reality) that have come to him unconsciously through his own training in Aikido. He had allowed himself (as we all do) to be conditioned to the belief that if he did not commit he would be further from "defeat". I explained how this happens to aikidoka near the end of the article. For him, in his own words, that class was one big WAKE UP! Yes, it was a modification of the teaching, and in the end it shed light on the role of commitment, the reason behind Uke's choreography in Kihon Waza, the relationship between tactics and strategies, etc., but ultimately the real lesson was on how we may still be trapped by our intellect, by our habitual responses, even when we may feel the most free and the most natural (or when we are told to feel free and to act natural).
"Can you really be all-aware?"
I have to believe that we can. I have faith that we can.
"We seemingly cannot escape the effect of other peoples' emotions. Are we really learning how to -- ahem, distance ourselves from them in aikido? To manage that effect?"
I would not say that awareness comes from some sort of Vulcan restriction on emotions. Rather, it is when we are slave to our emotions that we become most blind to them, and thus most unaware of them and of anything else. Self-awareness cannot have us emotionless. When we are self-aware, we love not less, but more deeply. Etc. Take note of how distant we are from our uke or our nage when we are being plagued by fear. We find it impossible to do anything but travel inwardly (egocentrically) with our minds and with our bodies. We become selfish in our thoughts and in our actions. Are we to search for a state of no fear? No, this is only a reaction to the fear -- still. We are to seek a reconciliation to the fear -- meaning we must be aware of the fear, at the exact same time that we are aware of how we are responding to the fear. Then and only then do we have a chance of remaining aware of our partners -- and thus of relating to them, of remaining intimate with them. Aikido brings us closer to others by bringing us closer to ourselves. In this closeness, there is a oneness that exists -- in us and in the other. It is the same who ever we are.
bye for now,