Re: Shu Ha Ri
From a personal point of view gained by teaching students themselves, I believe that the concept of Shu, Ha and Ri are almost concurrent in their learning. We are all shown techniques by a teacher and more often than not this individual is different from us not only in size and shape, but also in attitude, personality and life experience.
We attempt to mimic what we see, to copy the form that is laid out before us but we may be too short to stretch that far, to long in the legs to get under the Shihonage and too ill balanced to stay standing during tenkan.
Surely then during our initial learning of the form, we are already breaking it to suit ourselves and in effect creating our own mastery of our own form every time we train.
I have mentioned to my students the concept of Shuhari, but try not to break it into its component parts, instead keeping it as a whole of "Seek to understand the form to free yourself of it, only then can you truly appreciate and learn what part of the technique is truly yourself and no-one else. In doing so you find that you have not actually broken the form at all, but have come closer to understanding it".
I cannot mimic my own Sensei and instead seek to translate what I see (form) to suit myself (freedom from form) and work within my own physical limitations which in turn frees up my ability to seek understanding of what I have been trying to accomplish.
Does freedom from form ever take place if we cannot break our minds from our physical limitation and striving to be technically proficient. I remember a beautiful analogy of Shuhari as written by Kensho Furuya, demonstrated by the tale of a chick struggling to free itself from the egg. It does not know what to do until the mother taps the shell with its beak and in that instant a billion years of evolution and instinct leads its actions in order to free itself.
We have all freed ourselves and performed Shuhari during training, its that moment when it all just clicks into place and for that one brief moment in time Aiki occurs, the harmonious interaction breaks free from our physical shell and our teachnique flies out of the nest.
Like any good parent, it is only natural to pine for it's return, so we begin the process of creating our techniques again, nuturing our technique until, instinctively, when it is ready to leave, we let it go once again.