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Old 07-31-2009, 01:06 PM   #1
Casey Johnston
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Grr! The Experience of Aikido

I have been curious lately about something Sugano Sensei said a while back in Australia. He said that while doing Aikido we should not just plainly be doing the physical movement but experiencing it as well (something akin to how when reading a book one does not just read the words but also experiences the overall narative).

I am curious to know how other people would interpret this and personally "experience" Aikido.
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:12 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

As a kinesthetic interaction between two bodies, as an energetic interaction between two humans and the universe.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:24 PM   #3
phitruong
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

feel it with your body. try doing aikido techniques (with katate-dori or katadori) blindfolded and let us know of the experience.
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:37 PM   #4
Casey Johnston
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
phitruong wrote: View Post
feel it with your body. try doing aikido techniques (with katate-dori or katadori) blindfolded and let us know of the experience.
If blind folded, I would probably experience tripping over and, hence, pain, dizziness and death. I was thinking more metaphysically. However, this is interesting. Not too sure how practising techniques blinded would go
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:05 PM   #5
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

I think this is related to what O' Sensei referred to as "empty mind."
It is the concept of being so focused that you are so aware of your movements that they become as natural as breathing, according to O' Sensei.

Example:
"As I gazed into the abyss it stared back at me in a moment. A perfect moment where time stood still developed with what was, is, and will be. I watched my body move-- I thought of nothing, yet could hear my own thoughts-- For the first time I lived, alive within one moment and motion--free of imperfection, I was. Then as the next moment came to reap the last, I too was reaped with it. " -- Author Unknown.

Last edited by RED : 07-31-2009 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:11 PM   #6
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
If blind folded, I would probably experience tripping overr and, hence, pain, dizziness and death. I was thinking more metaphysically. However, this is interesting. Not too sure how practising techniques blinded would go
Technically I think it is best not to really focus on the uke anyways, especially not their hands, limbs or sword. It distracts me of where and how the person is actually moving I think.

"Do not stare into the eyes of your opponent: he may mesmerize you. Do not fix your gaze on his sword: he may intimidate you. Do not focus on your opponent at all: he may absorb your energy. The essence of training is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand where you like. "-- O' Sensei
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Old 07-31-2009, 02:23 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
If blind folded, I would probably experience tripping over and, hence, pain, dizziness and death. I was thinking more metaphysically. However, this is interesting. Not too sure how practising techniques blinded would go
I have been in more than one dojo where practising very slowly with eyes closed, including being surrounded by others and needing to blend and move out of the circle, was practised from time to time. And I often do kokyudosa with eyes closed. All very valuable.

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:37 AM   #8
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Interesting topic. For me, I just "feel" it. I suppose if one wants to examine it in a more scientific way, we tune our senses. We don't practice the foo foo, "Don't throw me too hard" or "During Randori, everyone just punch o.k.?"..It's not realistic. It doesn't help sharpen the senses. It seems that over the years "Aikido" has become so watered down, that it becomes useless and students do not gain anything from it. We practice a harder style than most, and newbies from a different school look at us like we're crazy. Point is, you can't sharpen senses if your not allowed to actually experience what its like to HAVE to blend with an attack, or with anothers body. One has to MAKE their technique work. That's how you learn. Anyway, was getting off point, sorry. Ever notice the "feeling" before someone strikes? It's like a waiting game. You see every thing, and yet nothing. You hear every thing, and yet nothing. Your mind is focused, and yet you're not thinking at all. To be able to "feel" it is amazing, and something words really can not describe.

Last edited by akiy : 08-01-2009 at 11:48 AM. Reason: Removed unneccessary bolding in text
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Old 08-01-2009, 11:16 AM   #9
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

My sense of the blindfold thing is that we rely so heavily on our sight, we forget to focus on the other sensations too. It's interesting how much stronger my other senses get when I channel more of my attention to them and how, as a result of that, I seem to learn how to use them a little better.
I think my overall experience of Aikido has been one of seeking internal organization and seeing how that affects "external" interactions; of seeking holistic understanding by the creation of purposeful connections.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 08-01-2009, 04:18 PM   #10
Don_Modesto
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
I have been curious lately about something Sugano Sensei said a while back in Australia. He said that while doing Aikido we should not just plainly be doing the physical movement but experiencing it as well (something akin to how when reading a book one does not just read the words but also experiences the overall narative).
Did you ask Sugano?

Was the example of the book his?

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-01-2009, 04:46 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Hello Casey,

Perhaps you need to look more closely at the book example. In the book example, what is the difference between 'just reading the words' and 'experiencing the overall narrative'? Does your 'just' mean 'only' or 'merely'? Does it make a difference if what you are reading is not a narrative? I am trying to clarify what you mean by 'just reading the words'.

(The background to my questions is Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, Paragraph 156 onwards.)

Say Hello to Tony Smibert, when you next see him.

PAG

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
I have been curious lately about something Sugano Sensei said a while back in Australia. He said that while doing Aikido we should not just plainly be doing the physical movement but experiencing it as well (something akin to how when reading a book one does not just read the words but also experiences the overall narative).

I am curious to know how other people would interpret this and personally "experience" Aikido.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-01-2009, 11:16 PM   #12
Suru
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

"Hold me now,
Oh hold me now,
Till the sun
Has gone around
And I'm gone
On the rising tide
For to face
Van Diemen's Land."

This U2 song has an Aikido/Aikiwaza feel to it for me. It is sung by "The Edge" no less (as in katana hasaki). Tell me you've heard it!

Drew
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Old 08-01-2009, 11:47 PM   #13
Casey Johnston
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote: View Post
Did you ask Sugano?

Was the example of the book his?
I did not ask Sugano Sensei. As I said he said this a little while back (between January 8 and 13, 2007, to be precise). I was only about 15 and not overly courageous. Yes, the book example was his.
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I am trying to clarify what you mean by 'just reading the words'.
This is what I was trying to determine by this post.

In considering it, I suppose I would think of the analogy of the book as trying to illustrate the difference between experiencing/executing discrete parts of techniques and a technique in its entirety. Or perhaps this could apply to techniques as to Aikido, maybe there is a difference between just experiencing/executing/learning discrete techniques and experiencing/executing/learning Aikido as a whole?
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Does your 'just' mean 'only' or 'merely'?
I think it means 'only'. I am uncertain, however.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Does it make a difference if what you are reading is not a narrative?
I don't know. Does anyone have any ideas?

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote:
Tell me you've heard it [some U2 song]!
Sorry, I haven't but it is nice that Tasmania (Van Dieman's Land is an old name for Tasmania when it is predominantly a convict settlement) is in a song.
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Old 08-02-2009, 06:57 AM   #14
Stefan Hultberg
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Hi

Obviously I don't mean what he meant specifically, but I think there may be a few options that could be interesting to explore:

- a few months back when I was spending a few weeks training with Nemoto Sensei in Iwama he often made the point that techniques should be carried out with full "intent", full "commitment", meaning that one should be totally concentrated on what one was doing and, for example when practicing sword-techniques, fully commit to "cutting", not only going through the motions.

- stepping back and being the observer of one's actions can be very satisfying, not in a sense that one actually distances oneself from what one is doing, but actually becoming even more aware of one's actions. While doing a technique one can actually simultaneoulsy be at a higher level, saying to oneself - "I am actually doing this and I will experience it with my full consciousness". I did this often in Iwama, kind off saying "gosh, I'm actually here, doing this, experiencing this". It's a wonderful form of full consciousness when one remembers to apply it.

- performing techniques while having one's eyes closed or in the dark can, I think, create a new "beginner's mind" out of techniques that one (often erroneously) feels one actually masters. One could try to close off both eyes and ears or just experience the novelty of training on uneven ground or in a heavy rainfall. It could possibly preclude "blazé-ness".

- sometimes I think this experience can come about quite spontaneously, at least sometimes during training feel quite elated just feeling, sensing, enjoying the training with the full flavour of "wow, I just love this aikido-thing"!!

All the best

Stefan Hultberg
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Old 08-02-2009, 12:21 PM   #15
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
I have been curious lately about something Sugano Sensei said a while back in Australia. He said that while doing Aikido we should not just plainly be doing the physical movement but experiencing it as well (something akin to how when reading a book one does not just read the words but also experiences the overall narative).

I am curious to know how other people would interpret this and personally "experience" Aikido.
As far as I remember sensei teaching, he could refer to experience 'being between heaven and earth' every time you do a technique. I'd say it is quite difficult.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:37 PM   #16
Casey Johnston
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
As far as I remember sensei teaching, he could refer to experience 'being between heaven and earth' every time you do a technique. I'd say it is quite difficult.
This is interesting. In reference to this, I remember once being told that "being between Heaven and Earth" was a reference to something in traditional Japanese culture that as human beings we dwell in the sky/space literally (with the emphasis that we stand upon the Earth while being in the air). Yet, counterwise, I recall a reference to this that traditionally this notion considered a bridge suspended between Heaven and Earth on the horizontal (with Heaven and Earth beside us; not above or below).

Hence, I have a further question. What is standing between Heaven and Earth in a practical manner? Furthermore, what characterises Aikido lacking this? Do we do stand between Heaven and Earth consciously or are we standing between Heaven and Earth as a consequence of our liveliness and we should be aware of this?
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:06 AM   #17
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Dan H. and Mike S. might have some very interesting insight on the idea of being suspended between heaven and earth.
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Old 08-03-2009, 06:01 AM   #18
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
I have been curious lately about something Sugano Sensei said a while back in Australia. He said that while doing Aikido we should not just plainly be doing the physical movement but experiencing it as well (something akin to how when reading a book one does not just read the words but also experiences the overall narative).

I am curious to know how other people would interpret this and personally "experience" Aikido.
Our consciousness is in our mind. Our mind ( the bridge) is between our body (earth) and our spirit (heaven). The things we do physically with our body effects the spirit not directly but through the mind.

David
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:00 AM   #19
phitruong
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
As far as I remember sensei teaching, he could refer to experience 'being between heaven and earth' every time you do a technique. I'd say it is quite difficult.
interesting that. in vietnamese there is a phrase that has literal translation of "standing with head holding the heaven and feet stamping on the earth". it was an adaptation of the same saying in chinese. what it meant was "be proud and fearless". my guess is what he meant to stand with good posture,i.e. head up, spine align, chest out, breath deeply (like a proud person and not stooping) and move without fear as though you owned the mat. just a guess, mind you. i could be way off base on that.
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:05 AM   #20
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
Dan H. and Mike S. might have some very interesting insight on the idea of being suspended between heaven and earth.
you mean pulling down the crotch and pulling up the head and expanding on all sides? oh wait! were those the secret stuffs that i was not suppose to spill? damn it! i might end up loosing my decoder ring from the dimsum society.
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:26 AM   #21
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Do symbol Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Casey Johnston wrote: View Post
I don't know. Does anyone have any ideas?
Try this:

Suppose a well-known politician, notorious to her critics for speaking in an ambiguous or garbled manner, starts using Tweeter to communicate with her adherents.

As a joke, an actor -- at least equally well-known--reads these political tweets as a guest on a late-night TV program as though they were beat poetry. He acts as though he is reading a poem and performs these "poems" in front of a jazz ensemble . (This happened.)

What does it mean here to read the common, underlying text "with meaning?"

: The original tweets were intended to communicate a political message in truncated prose (made necessary by the medium of communication). These truncated messages are ambiguous and at time the meaning appears garbled when read as a political text, thus resonating with their author's reputation.

: The actor, reading these texts out loud, pretends to take them as having meaning as "serious poetry" and reads them in an "expressive" manner accompanied by jazz music.

: The TV audience understands (and is expected by the performer to understand) the context of his performance as satire, and understands (and is expected to understand) his "seriousness" to be irony.

: The joke, to paraphrase one observer, lies in juxtaposing one kind of communication, in which the words used are alleged to mean less than they appear to mean (to a reader of political prose) with another kind of communication, in which words are supposed to mean more than they first appear, to a listener of beat poetry.

The underlying text doesn't change, but changing the context (and the medium) of the performance transforms meaning from a political message to one that the audience understands to be satire of a political figure -- funny or not.

So, if the metaphor is one comparing Aikido practice to reading "with meaning," what does it entail to perform a technique in the manner of reading something "with meaning?" I suspect it is no single or simple thing.

regards,

cdh

Last edited by C. David Henderson : 08-03-2009 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 01-13-2010, 05:39 PM   #22
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

My understanding of what Casey is saying goes hand-in-hand with the Buddhist principle of mindfulness.

The following comes from Thich Nhat Hanh:
Quote:
In Buddhism, our effort is to practice mindfulness in each moment- to know what is going on within and all around us. When the Buddha was asked, "Sir, what do you and your monks practice?" he replied, "We sit, we walk, and we eat." The questioner continued, "But sir, everyone sits, talks, and eats," and the Buddha told him, "When we sit, we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking. When we eat, we know we are eating." Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by future projects or concerns. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply, and the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.
I think we can apply this to aikido. When we are giving aikido our full attention, we can notice not just that we are doing techniques correctly or incorrectly, but also that we are forming friendships, overcoming our fears, and learning new things about ourselves.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:26 AM   #23
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I think this is related to what O' Sensei referred to as "empty mind."
It is the concept of being so focused that you are so aware of your movements that they become as natural as breathing, according to O' Sensei.
I believe that mushin (often translated as "no mind") actually means something rather different than a state of hyper-focus...in fact, you might say it's almost the direct opposite. Ref. Takuan Soho, "The Unfettered Mind".
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Old 01-14-2010, 04:40 PM   #24
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

Good thread I'm definitely going to try making breakfast with my eyes covered ....and see what my cat thinks of that!
The Buddhist quote nails it IMHO.

Self-discipline is the chief element of self-esteem; and self-esteem the chief element of courage. Thucydides
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:55 PM   #25
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Re: The Experience of Aikido

At the wedding of one of our senior students, another sempai saw me dancing the hustle. He noted how I was moving with the music, how my movements were graceful and effortless, and how I was able to compensate when other people stumbled so I wouldn't bump into them.

With the dancing, I'm doing fairly technical movements, and sure, I'm aware of doing them, but I'm not "thinking" about them. I'm more experiencing them as I'm moving around on the dance floor, listening to the music, observing other people. If I stumble, I correct myself and keep going. there's a fluidity, and a presentness in dancing (at least me dancing the hustle) that could be translated to aikido practice.

Rarely are my movements that fluid and co-ordinated on the mat, but it's something i try to keep in mind and strive for when i can.
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