Thank you , Goldsbury Sensei for sharing your vast knowledge.
It seems to me that the real intention behind wanting to know if and why Osensei prohibited competition
(even if competitions exist among aikidoka) is to find an excuse not to refrain from them. If I am wrong please tell me your reason for wanting to know, if that is not it.
Since I believe that all action arises from intention, I look for the intention in entering competition.
Theoretically, in competition, I will no longer be your cooperative uke, nor will you be mine. If you believe your regular training, with partners who want to help you perform aikido optimally, is preparing you for real life conflict (different from competition), then there is no need to prove it to yourself or others that your aikido will function as practiced when real life attackers want to destroy or control you. Competition arises generally from one of two intentions; either to prove to others that you are better than others, or to prove to yourself that you are as good as you think. If there are other intentions you believe lead to competition, please add them.
But you know what? Hang on a sec. I just changed my mind. I used to support the idea of no competitions in aikido but I think I may have actually proven myself wrong about that just now...
I just remembered about 14 or 15 years ago after class, I got into an impromptu "competition" with my teacher, Don O' Bell Sensei, in aikido almost 30 years at that point, who received a dan ranking in ki from Tohei Shihan, who was also the creator of the ACE aikido system and was a student of Roderick Kobayashi Sensei originally. For approximately 20 minutes we struggled around the mat together, me trying to throw him with all the techniques he had taught me and I had been practicing, and him trying to throw me with all the techniques he had been teaching me.
Not one throw occurred in the whole twenty minutes. Every time O' Bell Sensei or I sensed an opening or opportunity for a throw or joint lock and went to execute/employ it, the other would cease whatever energy flow the other was attempting to direct into the throw. In other words, we each instantly, involuntarily, stopped our attack in order to defend.
There is no way anyone watching from outside without prior knowledge would view what we were doing as aikido. If the two of us had been on a battlefield, we both would have been dead in the first minute, the way we were struggling with each other. It was a bit like this the way it must have looked to those standing around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM_u-cCSPoA
except, as in real life - no referee!!!
Without judging whether or not this kind of thing was sanctioned by the Founder, how does it look when compared to what Osensei demonstrated and what you practice every day? If Osensei were to see the video above, dear reader, do you really think he would congratulate each participant with a job well done, convinced they were learning what he was teaching? I can only speak for myself, but in that specific circumstance with O' Bell sensei I couldn't say I was doing aikido, only trying
to do aikido.
I had actually had a few physical attacks be directed at me prior to this outside the dojo, and aikido had worked beautifully each time (though no one was hurt or thrown), but this was as close to a relentless real world physical attack as I could imagine because it looked like every fight between two people I had ever seen. Two people going at it trying to get the better of each other while a crowd watched from around a ring they made themselves... a crowd, who if we had been on a battlefield, might have chosen any moment to attack and end the life of the busy opponent of his friend with a handy rock. How can aikido be made for multiple attackers and yet I can't even handle one after 15 years of study myself?
At the end of this I had to ask myself - why couldn't I perform a single technique? More importantly, why can't my teacher throw me???
The answer revealed itself to me when I discarded the technique emulation model of my teachers (which clearly wasn't working for me) and began asking for authentic attack energy from my partners rather than cooperative ukemi, and studying what it meant to extend the same.
My discovery, which is continually proven true in our dojo, was that the intention to throw, which both my teacher and I would embody every time we saw an opportunity, was picked up as an attack by the other's limbic system triggers causing us involuntarily to change our intentions to defense and stability rather than to continue the intention to attack (throw).
Not unexpectedly, the way things would go on a micro-energetic level:
- Dynamic tension between partners - what I would call connection - this is the part where no one is trying to throw the other but both are sending a flow of energy to each other's center.
- One of us would provide an opening in an attempt to get the other to attack or would find an opening to use to throw the other.
- Intentional attempt to throw or to use the attack of the other to throw.
- Instant systemic, reflexive recognition of the attack (the aikido technique used as a way of winning), and involuntary rebalancing of the attacker and cessation of the attack energy.
- Repeat (and realize that the dynamic tension is actually mutual defense, two shields up against each other until someone used a spear.)
In retrospect, this was totally illuminating for me because it showed me that intention to throw is immediately recognized by the limbic system as a threat and a threat response comes out immediately (regain balance, keep other from negatively affecting the central core) - in other words my attack stopped immediately, making the "aikido" technique attempted an attack rather than a harmonious blending of energy with that of the attack. The only way aikido techniques will "work" (as in producing a resolution in which uke's attack is fully realized and grounded - a throw or fall) with someone not attacking but defending, is by making the technique into an attack, to make the person fall whether he is attacking or not.
Had either my teacher or I consciously transcended that limbic system response and kept up the original intention of the attack, which is what Osensei apparently demanded from his students, I have no doubt either one of us would have landed on the mat from our attack. However, the limbic system response to being attacked (through an intended throw) set us back on our centers involuntarily. If you watch the video linked to above, you will see what I mean a thousand times.
Once you get an idea about how your intention to relentlessly deliver authentic attack energy to your partner's center provides him or her with everything needed for aikido to spontaneously and effortlessly manifest (though not in collusion with nage), you start to see truthfully how much your partner is usually really trying to throw you or escape from you (reflexes of their own limbic system triggers which must be transcended in order to connect in such a way that your attack not be interrupted by your own limbic system's recognition of a counter attack).
The quickest way to that transcendent state that I have yet found is to embody an intention of beneficence. The flow of energy that is generated by beneficent intention never triggers a defense response. The attack can then proceed uninterruptedly until uke is on the ground.
I have yet to be able, with an intention of winning instead of losing, to generate authentic beneficent intention. I believe it is impossible for anyone to simultaneously have beneficent intention towards someone and to want that person to lose to you.
So, here I am reversing myself. Screw what Osensei said. Grab a partner, dare him to throw you before you throw him, and go at it. Don't give up until someone wins and someone loses! Forget all that potentially mistranslated clap-trap from the Founder how aikido is not about winning or losing or felling an opponent - pretend for a minute you never read any of that stuff. It helped me a lot!