View Single Post
Old 06-19-2009, 07:20 PM   #1
George S. Ledyard
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
The Practice of Aikido

As I have started to develop a sense of how the principles function in Aikido and the other "aiki" arts, it has become increasingly clear to me that Aikido is a personal practice that has little to do with practical self defense or fighting. Aikido is the study of connection. The Aikido dojo is a laboratory in which the student investigates the infinite interaction of consciousness with the material realm of the body.

Human beings are alive energy systems. Aikido not only allows one to integrate ones own system (mind, body, spirit unification) but provides a method for developing an intuitive understanding of how there is no real separation between all conscious beings. We are all part of Great Mind. It's not that we have to learn to be "connected". We are already connected and nothing can change that. It is the illusion of separateness that causes us to act "as if" we were.

The practice of Aikido provides us with an experience that constantly forces us to recognize that we are fundamentally not separate from those around them. When one forgets this fact and attempts to do act ON the partner as if there were an actor and one acted upon, only the grossest physical technique is possible. Practice at this level requires vastly superior physical strength and dominant intention to be successful. But when one starts to accept connection as the default setting in ones mind and body, one can begin to operate on an entirely different paradigm. When one accepts connection, one stops fighting, there is no more dispute. One starts to understand that all conscious beings resonate. As one starts to connect rather than fight, one begins to realize that we all resonate together. If I change my own resonance, my partner's resonance changes.

This first realized on the physical level as one relaxes completely during practice. One realizes that to accomplish a technique one changes oneself rather than trying to change the partner. As one progresses to higher level technique the practice moves increasingly from the physical to the energetic. One begins to change the relationship with the partner / attacker before physical contact is even made.

Eventually, one comes to an understanding that "aiki" is what happens when we stop believing we are separate and start relaxing our mind and body to the point at which we exist mostly in a state of potential, that the effort to accomplish technique is a tiny fraction of what we once thought it required. Technique eventually reaches a point at which it feels effortless to the practitioner and almost incomprehensible to the partner. One moves and isn't sure why it happened.

Whereas the principles operating in Aikido are the same as those operating in other "aiki" arts, Aikido practice has purposely been changed to remove the practice from practical application for fighting. The Founder rightly believed that a practice that focused on fighting, winning as an outcome, would necessarily reinforce dualistic notions of separateness. Aikido technique is about meeting conflict expansively rather than defensively. The martial paradigm is there to keep ones investigations grounded in reality but the practice should not be mistaken asz some kind of preparation for combat or practical self defense. That is simply not the point of the training. If ones trains correctly, however, some degree of ability to apply the principles practically is a natural byproduct of proper training. But it isn't the point or the prime focus. When individuals attempt to shape the practice around their own unresolved issues and fears the result is a distorted practice. Either a very poor fighting system or an ethereal dance results. Neither one og these is transformative but rather the practice becomes a way of maintaining ones illusion of separateness rather than breaking it down.

If people can let go of what they think they want Aikido to be and let the practice reveal what it is, it will naturally start to change them. Aikido practice is this process. it requires courage and determination. Accepting that we are not who we have told ourselves we are is not easy.

  Reply With Quote