Just a FWIW after a seminar...
Just wanted to first off thank the guys at Aikido of Diablo Valley or opening up their (cold darnit!) dojo for a seminar with Dan Harden last weekend. For once timing, finances, opportunity lined up for me so I caught a flight up, rented a car, found a hotel room and enjoyed a lovely weekend. Due to my own poor planning I missed the Friday evening session (what, traffic in San Francisco during rush hour on a Friday? Who would have guessed?) but at least that meant I got some rest before starting in on Saturday.
Second part is a big thanks to Dan for all the teaching, help and hands on. It is rare to find a teacher who is that accessible, that willing to test and train back and forth, and that open with what he is doing. Agree or disagree with the larger picture, Dan has a method, model, and coherence to his training and it produces results.
Finally, more on topic, I get home and have my daughter (12 years old) help me with a few of the exercises. I had already had the experience of moving stuff around in my middle just a bit. But after the seminar and even working on it as I sat in my seat on the plane on the flight home I managed to find myself able to do a whole lot more than before. It was like something finally loosened up, freed up, and I "found" the controls to start some basic movements. One of those revelation things. Using it, taking advantage of it, actually doing it in motion is going to be a challenge, of course, but it was really great to feel progress given the hard work I've put in over time between sessions. And I guess that's what this post is really about -- the work. In a way there is a simplicity to it all. And like most good things it seems so vexingly difficult right up until it becomes easy. Then you take the next tiny step and find the 1000 new things you have to do to suck at it less. And another incredibly thin layer of that gigantic onion falls away, exposing the next one.
For me it reminds me of many years ago first discovering the joys of budo. I remember someone telling me years ago that they remembered an answer I gave on one of my dan exams about why I studied Aikido. My answer was that because done right it is so easy to do, but so incredibly diffcult to learn. And that means I have something to work on for a very long time. These seminars I go to (Dan, Toby, a few years ago Mike, heck, the Aikiweb seminar with Aaron, George and Toby again) all reawaken that wonder. It gives me things to chew on. Things to work on. It challenges my preconceptions of what is right. It "rattles" my web of belief. And I've found that letting that web get rattled now and then is a very good thing. Some here put up a facade of questioning and sincere investigation. Yet underlying most of that there appears a very solid foundation of absolute certainty in what they already believe. Yeah, that's a comfortable place to be. To know you're in the comfortable place of being absolutely correct. A full cup of tea you can stare at and admire from a distance knowing it will always be there, full and warm.
To me the problem isn't asking questions of others. It's the willingness to ask even harder questions of yourself.
Sorry for the ramble, but sometimes the Dude channels through me... And I have found I need to abide.