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Old 08-14-2006, 03:39 PM   #18
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 104
Re: Rhythm/Speed/Musubi - How they work

I agree that musubi is not the same thing as timing, or as some combination of timing, rhythm, speed, motion, etc. All of those things happen, by definition, as they are elements of physical interaction. But they are not the only thing that is happening. I very much like Ledyard Sensei's image of being "inside the attack," and am reminded of an event of a few months ago:
Four police officers had stopped a man on the street, right in front of a hot dog stand in my town. My spouse and I were eating at a table in front of the stand, and we watched as they searched the man's pack (he had an outstanding felony warrant), and a couple of the officers prepared to handcuff him. Everything was very low-key, with the man standing relaxed, the officers all around, overwhelming force and all that. But I kept watching him. Maybe it was the day, but I felt that he was about to make a break. And just as the cuffs were about to go on, away he went, bolting forward and wheeling sharply to his right, towards the stand. In that instant I also wheeled right, and remember feeling as though we were on connected turntables. He had started perhaps 15ft. from us, and given the layout of the tables he had to pass by me on one of two possible paths. One step to my right seemed to steer him towards my preferred path.
As he approached, running full speed, with four officers in pursuit, we were already met. The technique (irimi nage, as it turns out) felt like an afterthought, and in any event was interrupted about halfway through by a flying tackle by the lead officer.
Nothing in my training had specifically prepared me for dealing with someone who simply wanted to get past me, as opposed to attacking me, though the two situations involve significantly different behavior. And nothing in my training has had anything to say about optimal use of outdoor furniture for detaining fleeing felons. I have long taken it on faith that Aikido's methodology, though not obviously effective to many people's eyes (no scenario's, no sparring, relatively little full-speed practice), does in fact prepare its practitioners for "real" situations.
Musubi might be hard to define, might actually be hard to think about -- thus our inclination to explain it away as just a vague Japanese term for testable phenomena. It's hard to think of a parallel, but I am reminded of the old saw that, "Dance is just the vertical expression of a horizontal intent." This is the empirical view, the one that draws obvious -- and perhaps most often true -- connections between partying and getting laid. But a friend of mine responded to this idea rather vehemently, saying, "No, no, that's backwards. Sex is just one expression of dance. Dance is the realer thing." Perhaps musubi can be seen, then, as the source of timing, rhythm, etc.
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