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Let Them Fall
Let Them Fall
by Lynn Seiser
03-20-2009
Let Them Fall

Breathe in: invite them to enter
Breathe out: blend and take balance
Let them fall

We are constantly told to "make" things happen, and not to wait for things to happen. They tell us even those things that are not a "make". We cannot "make"ourselves go to sleep; we can "let" ourselves. We cannot "make" someone love or like us (or vice versa), but we can "let" them and more importantly "let" ourselves.

There is a fine line between "make" and "let". One strategy works great for one task and poorly for another. One strategy works great on one part of the learning curve, but impedes growth at another. And as the Serenity Prayer states, "Wisdom is knowing the difference".

Aiki has been like that for me. It has been a journey from "make" into "let". I first had to learn the craft of the different Aikido techniques. I focused on "making" myself move a certain way because that would "make" the other person move too. I do mean I had to "make" myself, because Aikido went against everything I intuitively trusted from the streets or had been trained into me through the military and bashing arts. That's the craft, the discipline, learning the basics.

I think it was at an Aiki-jujutsu seminar that I first heard, "I don't throw people. I simple take their balance and then let them fall." It was funny because I vividly remember having the instructor move ever so slightly, look at me, smile, wait, and my balanced dropped out from under me. It was magic. How did he do that? I asked. He told me. It was impressive to find people who have "it" and they want you to have "it" too. A good instructor may look impressive to their students, but a great instructor wants their students to be impressed with what they themselves can do. Knowledge is like that. You can give it away and still retain it. Since we are no longer in the feuding family days, its probable pretty safe to share the secrets. Besides, to be honest, so few people will actually train to the point of getting "it". At best, us hobbyists will get a glimpse at "it" and appreciate the view. No one can "make" us a better martial artist (or person), but they can offer us the way and "let" us follow if we choose to.

I have also heard that Aikido is about blending and taking balance. Another Sensei told me it was about posture and position. If you blend and take balance, people will naturally fall by their own momentum. If you take the right posture and position in relationship to your training partner, they will fall due to gravity. It probably has something to do with that extending ki and weight on the underside especially if it is connected through their center and directed toward or over a kuzushi balance point.

I jokingly say that two physical bodies cannot occupy the same physical space at the same time. (Actually that is not totally true, but the results are less than peaceful, so not well accepted in most Aikido circles). If you connect to their center and move first, you take their balance. Of course if they move first they just might take yours too. If you enter into the center of the technique first, they will tend to get off the attack line. You are the center they will rotate around. I tend to think about spiraling down towards a kuzushi balance point and the mat. It works better for me that the horizontal centripetal and centrifugal forces that feel more like an endless merry-go-round which can go on forever or at least until one become so dizzy that they "let" you fall out of mercy.

Try this the next time you practice. Remember to move slow and smooth, then smooth and fast. Take any technique, relax, breathe, and move through the technique. Before you get the urge to yank on someone's wrist, hand, elbow, shoulder, neck, head, or other body part, feel the balance over or towards a kuzushi point with your training partner still slightly maintaining their own balance. Feel that point. Now breathe out and turn your hips or bend you knees every so slightly. Just enough that your training partner loses balance and falls naturally because of gravity. "Let" them fall.

In my personal life, I find the opposite is often the best wisdom. Rather than being the center of attention, "let" someone else have the spotlight. Rather than "letting them fall", "let" them maintain their balance and you take the fall instead. "Let" them be who they are and accept and appreciate them. "Let" them love you and "let" yourself love them.

Breathe in: invite them to enter
Breathe out: blend and take balance
Let them fall

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
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