Re: Article: A Re-transliteration of Osensei's "Kannagara no Jutsu" by "The Grindston
Very nice job. I think it is very difficult in the West for most folks to understand the way in which O-Sensei viewed our training. Interestingly, the top Systema teachers, Vasiliev and Ryabko, actually have very similar ideas about what is going on during training to the way O-Sensei seems to have understood it. Michael Ryabko can often be heard talking quietly as he works with a partner. He is praying. It is my understanding that the top Systema folks view their practice as a way to bring themselves into accord with God's Will. That certainly fits with how O-Sensei viewed training.
These days we have a split occurring in our country in which increasing numbers of people describe themselves as "not religious" but as "spiritual". This individual re-invention of the individual's spirituality has both positives and negatives. The danger is that with people being able to pick and choose whatever hodge-podge of ideas they believe in, one can find that practice becomes less about bringing oneself into accord with the Will of the Kami but more about structuring ones views to fit ones pre-conceptions.
This is one of the reasons I believe that O-Sensei should be kept at the forefront of our thinking about what Aikido should be. We all tend to try to suit Aikido to ourselves rather than use Aikido to change us. This is hollow and simply results in a kind of "feel good" practice. Real personal change requires dedication and commitment but is especially requires the warrior's attitude to face the "death" of who we think we are. Training hard without a spiritual underpinning such as described by O-Sensei simply results in getting stronger and tougher. Changing the training by putting the major emphasis on "affirmation", which is easy to do as it makes for a happy dojo with lots of students, takes away any real impetus to change on any deeper level.
O-Sensei talked in this lecture about bringing the opposites together. Aikido seems to have split into two groups: one which sees Aikido as a spiritual practice and one which sees Aikido as a martial art. These two groups generally look at each other with distaste... "those guys are just brutes" or "they're just a bunch of aiki fruities". Neither group understands that what they have done is removed the part of Aikido which makes them uncomfortable. They have shaped the practice to fit themselves and ignored the part that might have forced them to make some substantive personal change. Neither f these approaches fits what O-sensei meant, I think, when he talked about training to put oneself in accord with the Will of the Kami.