Re: Techniques are dead: Living movement vs dead technique
The way I like to think about it, I approach kihonwaza (fundamental techniques) to be somewhat arbitrary reference points on the big map of manifestations of aikido techniques. One can hope that the set of techniques is orthogonal and allows for the "filling in" of the spaces in between them through one's practice, study, and experience.
I recently talked to a dancer friend of mine about "techniques" in her field of aerial dance. For her, techniques (akin, I would say, to our kihonwaza, or scales for musicians) are ways to learn movement pathways as effortlessly and efficiently as possible. For me, this also connotes a sense of learning to organize oneself in a neutral fashion -- which, to me, doesn't connote a sense of being "subdued" but having the most "potential" to do anything at that time (e.g henkawaza). This requires an internal organization of myself that neither attaches to nor expects a certain outcome -- which often seems like a paradox when training kihonwaza, as the outcomes are often so very well choreographed. However, to me at least, they are an important stepping stone towards learning and embodying the deeper essences of the art -- kihonwaza could be considered the proverbial "finger" pointing towards the "moon" of the underlying principles of aikido.
Takemusu aiki, to me, is the manifestation of these underlying principles in accordance to the present situation. It is not a prescribed thing, but an expression of the appropriate "fitting" of myself into what "is." This need not be passive, of course, as can be seen in "(sen) sen no sen" timing. What interests me personally in this aspect of aikido today is the practice of "listening" by actually feeling and sensing the present situation then moving and organizing myself in an appropriate manner. Sometimes, this works and my partner ends up on their butt. Other times, it fails, and I end up on my butt. Either way, I've (hopefully) learned something.
As an aside, perhaps, I've felt kihonwaza from my teacher and his teacher. Even though from the outside, the techniques they're doing look quite like the clean techniques one sees in textbooks and performed and practiced by many shodan (nidan, sandan, yondan, ...) students. But, I have to say that they feel ineffably different -- a presence of cleanness, clarity, efficiency, and effectiveness that shows the substance behind, underneath, and all throughout their movement, timing, and self-organization.
All for now. Back to "lurking."