Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia, Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Washington, DC
Join Date: Jul 2002
It Had to Be Read
I have often struggled with the challenge of describing what it is that I do when I do aikido
, whether I am speaking with another practitioner, or someone with no martial arts background. I believe that budo
in general, and aikido in particular, is experience. When using words to describe it, stories, rather than textbooks, seem to offer more illumination into the essence of that experience. Therefore, when I come across a story that contains a technical account that is clear, concise, and elegant, I make note of it. I offer the following passage for your appreciation. In a few short paragraphs, it illustrates irimi
, and (of course) aiki
. If any of you have found similarly worthwhile episodes in other works of fiction
, I hope that you will share them here as well.
The words sort of lingered in the stillness. He got the impression, Ed Howells said, that Shane meant just what the words said. He wanted to buy Chris a drink. He wanted Chris to take that bottle and grin at him and drink with him.
You could have heard a bug crawl, I guess, while Chris carefully laid down the cards in his right hand and stretched it to the bottle. He lifted it in a sudden jerk and flung it across the table at Shane.
So fast Shane moved, Ed Howells said, that the bottle was still in the air when he dodged, lunged forward, grabbed Chris by the shirtfront and hauled him right out of his chair and over the table. As Chris struggled to get his feet under him, Shane let go the shirt and slapped him, sharp and stinging, three times, the hand flicking back and forth so quick you could hardly see it, the slaps sounding like pistol shots.
Shane stepped back and Chris stood swaying a little and shaking his head to clear it. He was a game one and mad down to his boots. He plunged in, fists smashing, and Shane let him come, slipping inside the flailing arms and jolting a powerful blow low into his stomach. As Chris gasped and his head came down, Shane brought his right hand up, open, and with the heel of it caught Chris full on the mouth, snapping his head back and raking up over the nose and eyes.
The force of it knocked Chris off balance and he staggered badly. His lips were crushed. Blood was dripping over them from his battered nose. His eyes were red and watery and he was having trouble seeing with them. His face, Ed Howells said, and he shook a little as he said it, looked like a horse had stomped it. But he drove in again, swinging wildly.
Shane ducked under, caught one of the flying wrists, twisted the arm to lock it and keep it from bending, and swung his shoulder into the armpit. He yanked hard on the wrist and Chris went up and over him. As the body hurtled over, Shane kept hold of the arm and wrenched it sideways and let the weight bear on it and you could the bone crack as Chris crashed to the floor.
A long sobbing sigh came from Chris and that died away and there was not a sound in the room. Shane never looked at the crumpled figure. He was straight and deadly and still. Every line of him was alive and eager. But he stood motionless. Only his eyes shifted to search the faces of the others at the table. They stopped on Red Marlin and Red seemed to dwindle lower in his chair.
Shane, by Jack Schaefer, 1949