Re: V: Violence, View, and Victory
What a beautiful treatise, Seiser Sensei! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your reflections.
What you have written is illustrated physically so very clearly on our mat even though we don't practice techniques.
Beginners in our dojo are taught how to maintain an authentic attack intention without the intensity through movements I call "Stretches." I call them this because an "attack" stimulates a lower brain response, but a stretch is something we can help our partners accomplish (his mission, per Osensei) by "spotting" them (being involved in the action without interferring, with the intention of support). This way, from the first time a new student steps on to the mat the student understands that in our practice the purpose is to effectively support our attacker, not thwart his intention or retaliate with a throw.
I endeavor to impart to my students the viewpoint that violence is the expression of a need to connect to others that is so great that it overcomes the attacker's natural tendency to protect self. I teach them that the energetic flow of ki to the central core of the target inherent in violent attack is actually the same as extending beneficent support, but that fear has caused the attacker's flow of connective energy to express as a constricted, hence destructive, flow like a fire hose.
But when we can, through beneficent intention, direct our flow of ki in a broad, non-constricted flow, the combination of energies produces a unification that reaches to the central core of the attacker transforming his intention as it transforms the linear force of the attack to a spiral that permits the energy to ground without obstruction.
Since we don't practice through technique emulation, no one in our dojo knows how their uke will attack, even whether it will come as a grab or strike. It is just understood that the attack will come with authentic attack energy. For flawless aiki to manifest in this circumstance, we have found that it takes a transcendence of the lower brain reflex to defend/withdraw in order to extend compassion/acceptance/benevolence/forgiveness, etcetera. As that state of grace produces an optimum ki flow, the aikido manifests spontaneously, sometimes in the form of one of the aikido techniques I practiced for 20 years (which they have never been shown) or more usually in a much simpler path.
Therefore we use our practice to "change the view" as you mentioned.
The way we practice means a lot fewer trips to the mat for uke because we discover that most of what prevents the aiki from spontaneously manifesting has to do with our resistance or withdrawal as nage rather than our support.
However, as difficult as it may be to find that state of being that will produce the optimal ki flow for aiki to manifest spontaneously under the duress of authentic attack intention, this kind of practice gives us honest, undeniable feedback as to whether we are really in that state of compassion/acceptance/benevolence/forgiveness, etcetera or have been conned by our intellects into believing that we are in in, when in fact we are in a "picture" of it. Our intellects love to believe that the map is the territory, because it is usually easier that way.
But when uke offers authentic attack energy instead of collusion with a technique, we are instantly made aware of the truth because uke will not "complete his mission" unless we transcend our illusion and become authentic in our selfless state of being. In this way Masakatsu Agatsu becomes the literal operating principle of our aikido. In our dojo, unless we can be victorious over our reflexive responses of defend or withdraw, and transcend our lower brain to access the higher consciousness that allows us to embody the qualities of selflessness (victory over self) each time, we will see no one on the mat.
When we practice this way we may only see a handful of "falls" in the whole session, but when aiki manifests on our mat, both participants get instant insight into all the spiritual teachings of the Founder, not as ethereal enigma, but as profound literal truth.
Thank you for the rich food for thought.