Mark Chiappetta wrote:
What personally works for me on the mat is the following: I try to keep my mind empty until I perceive an imminent attack and at the moment I perceive it I think of completely dominating my opponent by penetrating his circle of power and displacing his center. This usually puts me well inside the attack without trying to avoid the attack proper.
No doubt your technique is effective, but ... if, in light of what has been discussed here I am striving to be "in" the attack, I am not trying to dominate the attack -- I am participating in it.
I will what occurs -- not what I wish to occur. This is recommended in my religious tradition and many others. I am simply willing the attack that is already occurring as though I were uke making that attack. An aphorism in line with this thinking:
"If you will be happy, you will what happens."
I find that when this sensibility becomes particularly vivid for me it takes on a deja vu quality, where the time sequence is slightly disjointed in my favor, even though I do not consciously perceive the actual events any more slowly, nor am I able to consciously act upon them any quicker. And yet things seem to fall into place of their own accord. The deification of luck, Fortuna, in many cultures, is likely predicated on this same experience. William James decribed this as the "noetic" quality of mystical religious experience.
When I am "in" it, I do not feel that I am dominating uke, any more than I dominate my own hand to scratch the back of my neck. It itches -- I scratch it right where it itches -- even though I cannot see either my hand or the back of my neck when I do it.
This sensiblity is most distinct for me at times in performing kumitachi variations in ki no nagare. In those moments, uchitachi's sword feels simply never in the way, any more than my head is in the way when I scratch my neck. My regular kumitachi partner is our resident iajutsu yudansha instructor. I know she gives me nothing, whatsoever. When it clicks I seem move to the right spot without having to "see" where I am supposed to be moving to, anymore than I need to see the back of my neck to scratch it.
I wish I could walk around with that feeling. It seems I get snatches of it a little, more and more, at various points in the day as time and training go on. I guess the "abstract term" is expanded proprioception, but whatever you call it, it is a fascinating state to experience, even if only for brief flashes.
Mark Chiappetta wrote:
At a seminar, I've heard Chiba Sensei say "you must penetrate" in this context and he related to us a koan given to him by O'Sensei in the form "how do you cut the center of a circle?" After many years of sitting on this he realized that in order to cut the center of a circle, you must 1st be inside the circle. As I was taught, this is the purpose of irimi.
I have trained with Chiba Sensei, for a brief time, and this koan makes much sense to me from that training. I recall him being quite amused at me as uke when he performed kokyu tanden ho on several occasions. He chuckled at me as we sped up and I kept coming back in again and again, almost jiyuwaza, but he was always there just as I thought I got back in.
My sensibility is more in striving to never leave the center, even for a moment, and never having to seek to move to the center since, if I get my mind right (as my D.I. used to say) I am (hopefully) already there. Uke's attack is centered there, and by centering his attack on me he cannot be the center any more -- unless I allow it. This is sort of the obverse perspective of what Ledyard Sensei describes, but not in any way different from it.
My sense is that if I wish to be in the center, I should simply -- be in the center. I have found that the more I try to distinguish the center from where I am, the further it seems from me. Tautology or not, it has helped me to think about the problem.