I think before I started aikido, I 'thought too much'. (Maybe this is still the case. ^_-) I recall hearing someone say once, "Christianity is a state of being, not doing." That stuck with me. I was very very 'in the head', and still am, thinking in terms of abstract moral situations that lack all the specific and sometimes petty pressures that make doing the right thing in the real world hard. When I first went into a dojo that first term of freshman year, I was imagining ridiculously complex techniques; I thought for real martial artists, time just conveniently went into slow-mo so they could deliberately think out each movement. Take the pressure off.
But this idea of "being, not doing" has been very useful in both life and waza, and its application in either often helps its application in the other. Obviously, you have to think it all through at first just to learn the movement, but once that's in my head, I find I can relax and try to be present rather than 'thinking'. A few times, I've had /wonderful/ moments of clarity where I really felt moment-to-moment. Each time that's happened, someone's made a remark about it afterwards, saying that my technique seemed to have improved. (At least during that run through...and then typically I'd fail to achieve that clarity the next several times.)
It's a very general concept, and I would hardly say that my religion is the only source of "being, not doing" thought. However, studying that concept in my religious context feels oddly like studying it in my aikido context.
You mentioned the ego. This comes out especially because it's something my instructor at Carleton mentions often. For instance, he'll frequently say, "Aikido is about letting go of the ego." One of his more eloquent remarks, I think, included a pause and reversal: "Aikido is about oneness with -...no, not /with/. Just oneness." I found early on that I would put my attention into myself. This often led to unsychronized technique, or muscled technique. When I started thinking more in terms of reaction - guiding when nage, following when uke, but with a sense of the two of us as a whole as well - my technique at once softened and began to develop aiki timing. I think that my study of Christianity is also centered around countering my natural arrogance and tendency to pat myself on the back. I think I had a delusion that I was some kind of saint going for years...
Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 03-26-2004 at 10:20 AM.