Originally posted by akiy
So, what are you working on these days in your aikido practice?
Recently my focus has been on staying in the "neutral" space that exists before you manifest a technique or rather before a technique manifests itself. The idea here comes from my thinking about what constitutes a balanced center. Balance means that your "out" is in balance with your "in", your up with your down etc. That balance is moveable. You can in fact be moving around at will in different directions and have that balance intact.
William Gleason sensei when he was at our dojo pointed out that Yamaguchi sensei always maintained that a technique should require no more effort than simply allowing the weight of your arms to fall naturally. I had been working on that for couple of years and as an extension of that practice discovered that to accomplish that I needed to "do" less. The more I "did" less, the more I found this place that was very strong and centered that pre-existed the point at which the "doing" of the technique started.
The next thing I discovered was that the longer I waited to commence the "doing" of the technique, the harder it was for the partner to beat the technique. I had been sort of aware of the fact that if you waited longer to execute a technique the partner had less time to counter but lately I have come to realize that this isn't exactly why the concept works (it isn't the main factor).
The analogy I use now is that of a scales (like the scales of Justice). If everything on either side of the scale is equal, then you have a balanced state. Anything that effects either side of the scale changes the balance creating an imbalance. So what I am working on is maintaining that balance when I engage my partner. That place is the state of complete potential from which I am free to do anything because I haven't begun doing anything. When I connect with a partner physically, the balance of the scale is effected by exactly what and how much the partner is doing. Technique is simply a matter of restoring the balance. The key here is that if you approach technique this way, you don't create the technique but rather the partner essentially creates the technique. O-Sensei said that the Kami created his technique, this is my attempt to get at that idea.
What makes that technique un-counterable is that whatever the partner does is creating the technique so if he changes what he is doing in order to counter, it simply manifests the technique differently. This allows one to drop any "investment" in the success of a technique; it doesn't matter. There is just the flow of maintaining the balance. That in turn allows you to relax the doing of the technique to the point where you really can do quite powerful technique in a completely relaxed manner.
That said, this is not an easy thing to do. I am more aware than ever of the thousand small ways in which we try to make the technique happen ourselves. If the partner is good and you are training sincerely so that if you make a mistake he doesn't just give you the technique but rather stops or counters you, you find that it is precisely these little things that you insist on "doing" that create the openings for counters. It isn't your partner that beats your technique it is you who beat your technique. Very interesting practice.