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Old 11-15-2006, 03:24 PM   #34
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Aikido: The learning of natural movement

Erick, I appreciate your analogy to swimming and I agree thoroughly with your approach. It's also interesting to consider that babies lose the breath-holding instinct after they learn to sit up and are affected by the desire to be vertical in gravitation. Interesting points all around.

Gernot, I see what you're saying, but you're already on the level of "refining" the natural abilities into an art, while I am looking below the level of refined art to the raw materials from which the art is created.

It seems to me that almost everyone now believes that the martial arts were "figured out" or "thought up" abstractly by some genius somewhere and then worked out from an abstract concept of principle to a reliable application in human interactions. I used to believe that, myself, but now I see it more like production of wine. We sometimes hear of animals that get drunk off fermented berries and I suppose the first discovery of wine began with finding some of those berries. But while it is natural for berries to ferment if left alone, it's another thing to find enough of them to do anything with and quite another thing to find these berries on a consistent basis. You finally have to figure out what's happening in nature and cultivate that, then refine the process until you have a reliable and consistent way to produce the effects that we originally find in nature. And in many ways, the product so far exceeds the quality and appearance/effect of the natural product that one can forget entirely that it all comes from something that happens naturally in the world without human intervention at all.

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote: is entirely possible that many people will quickly pick up at a young age the "natural" way to let the body absorb such a force spectrum in the best possible way (i.e., to minimize injury and stress on individual parts), and also will build up requisite sinews, muscle and bone, and develop breathing and behaviour to enable existence in such a hostile environment.
From my observation, all children do this reliably unless they are psychologically or physically traumatized at an early age. But they tend to lose it quickly because it is such a subtle thing that it's easy not to notice its workings and because an older, experienced person can soon defeat even the best of naive babies. However, if the parent prevent's the child's being traumatized and actively guides their development to cultivate these responses, I believe that a great, refined skill can be developed while they are very young. A good example is the son of Akahori Sensei, the judo teacher at the Yoseikan in Shizuoka. I met that boy when he was twelve years old or so, doing judo like everyone else. But he was being raised by a master of judo, 24 hours a day, and by the time he was fifteen, although he still was not terribly large or muscular, he had become unmoveable for me and I was nearly 40.

Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
...clearly most people never learn such a mode of movement, nor develop their bodies for it. Exercises for this development exist, as Mike Sigman, Robert John, Dan Harding and others have in several cases explicity described, and their practice is gruelling, exactly because the hostile environment I described above (or a vastly more complex superset thereof) is being mentally duplicated and simulated.
I think these things can be developed in a natural lifestyle without their being experienced as "grueling" if the child is never led away from his natural mode of movement. That doesn't mean that he keeps moving "like a baby," but that the baby evolves through adventurous interaction with the world, climbing, digging, pulling, pushing, even wrestling, etc., into a well developed adult. If an experienced teacher introduces the important principles into such a natural life, they will act like yeast and make the refinements in a natural process that will not be perceived as anything special at all. It's like the Zen saying that Zen practice is like walking in fog. You never notice it while you're in it, but when you go inside, you find that you're soaking wet.

So the final art is neither entirely natural nor inevitable, but must be built on natural materials to be reliable, consistent and replicable.

Best wishes to all.


"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
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