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Old 01-10-2010, 07:01 PM   #64
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,052
Re: My Own thoughts on Aikido

Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
I can see your point about how for some people, reading could be confusing or misleading, especially (my thoughts only, not intending to tag this onto your words) if one has little life experience, or poor critical thinking skills.
Well...I had a jodo sensei once who said, to a student who was intellectualizing his experience, "Don't think -- do!" I think that was good advice -- yeah, it was a "shut up and train", and it was absolutely appropriate. Furthermore, I think that that's advice that applies very widely -- almost universally. I don't think it's just "some people", but the large majority of people -- as close to "everyone" as makes no difference -- who need a lot of doing to anchor a very little thinking, and that if you don't keep the proportion of doing to thinking waaaaay high, that's where the confusion comes in.

That's why I don't read aikido theory, and I avoid esoteric-sounding metaphors like "extend your ki" in favor of very concrete descriptions of mechanics. Of course the mechanics aren't all there is to it, but aikido is performed by physical bodies, and if we can't understand the mechanics -- if we aren't firmly grounded in the mechanics, by virtue of a great deal of practice -- what hope do we have of using the metaphors in a meaningful way, instead of just parroting them because they sound like the right thing to say? I'm not against books; I love to read. But aikido is a physical practice, not an esoteric practice, and I've only got a few years at it. I might be able to suck up some theory now and not be confused by it, but OTOH I don't need it, at least not at this point -- my practice is continuing to progress without it just fine. That being the case, I guess I'm just disinclined to mess with something that's working.

p.s. Now, of course, would be the time for you (or anyone reading) to point to the example of martial artists of the past who went off and meditated and thought and searched for answers until they had some brilliant revelation that made them All That. One good example that I know about is the legend of Muso Gonnosuke, who founded the Shindo Muso-ryu after meditating on his defeat by Musashi and receiving a vision that led to the creation of the jo and jojutsu. If you just read that part of the story, it sounds like meditating is a shortcut to martial arts prowess...except that leaves out all the years that Muso trained prior to his period of seclusion. In addition, if you believe the legend, Muso's seclusion wasn't all chanting and meditation and other esoteric practices -- he spent plenty of time training as well. So, yes, maybe it's the case that if you meditate real hard, a kami will come and, like Muso, tell you to "know your opponent's solar plexus with the round stick" -- but I have a feeling that throughout history, revelations like these have come to those who had a framework of past experience that allowed them to put the revelation to some useful purpose.

Pardon the ramble...
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