Aikido is supposedly all about avoiding conflicts. If that is the case, then why do people spend so much time and physical effort in trying to make their techniques work on somebody else? I believe that my previous understanding of what it meant to use Aikido to “avoid conflicts” was an immature and inadequate understanding. My continued training under the guidance of Imaizumi Sensei, along with invaluable assistance from Dan Harden, the writings of Christopher Li, and countless other kind folks (who have taken pity on this ignorant fool) have helped me to deepen my understanding of this vital core of our art. This deepened understanding in simply contained within the paradigm of “In-Yo-Ho.”
We are working hard at this dojo in deepening our understanding of, and utilization of this core principle. When we can balance receiving and extending energies inside of ourselves, we can remain in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Our postures feel different and our movements feel different; both to ourselves and to the people making contact with us. This is simply a starting place. When someone is making forceful contact with us, we have a reactive tendency to respond on the same vector with force. At this point in time, we are in a conflict and there simply is no way of avoiding the situation that should not have gotten ourselves into. It is vitally important to maintain our state of dynamic equilibrium so that we can be in a place in which there is movement in stillness. When a person makes a forceful contact point on your body, that person will experience a deflection of the incoming force in a manner that prevents your center from being disturbed. The person will have an experience as if you were in movement, yet you are still. The contact point is a place where we receive the incoming energy, while simultaneously enter with our energy at another point. In this manner, we create a “single entity” that is maintained in a state of dynamic equilibrium through “In-Yo-Ho.” We are learning how to move in a manner that maintains that state, which creates the experience of stillness in movement. The person who is joined into your dynamic equilibrium does not receive the forceful reactions that cause a change in an action-reaction paradigm. Our techniques seem to work so well in this state!
For many years, I had never really grasped what it meant when my teacher would tell me stop trying to throw the person with throwing techniques, or lock the person up with locking techniques. I could not grasp what it meant to stop being in a conflict with the other person when executing techniques. I did not really grasp the depths of being centered as a means of not engaging in a conflict. I think that I am finally gaining some deeper awareness which helps me in chasing my teacher. Then again, this seems to be the joy of the endless process in learning this art so at to reach the ever growing heights that my teacher is achieving. I always look forward toward discovering all that I do not know in this learning process!
I am fortunate to have a great group of students who are taking the time with me to really explore what it means to learn this art. Let us continue forward on this journey. Me, chasing my teacher. My students chasing me…..
Marc Abrams Sensei
(Original blog post may be found here