Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Columns

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Comment
 
Column Tools
Go Slowly
Go Slowly
by The Mirror
10-13-2010
Go Slowly

My experience of learning in Aikido - particularly learning with the body - has brought up some surprisingly clear memories of learning motor skills in early childhood. Things I hadn't thought about... probably ever.

I remember learning to tie my shoes. The rabbit runs around the tree, and then pops down into its hole. I remember being shown many times. I understood what I was being told. I could do it myself right then, too. But the next day it would be gone. Something about a tree and a rabbit, but I'd have the setup for that scenario wrong. I'd have to ask someone to show me again. Then at some point, and I don't think I ever noticed when that happened, exactly, my hands just knew how to do it. I don't remember ever being concerned with how quickly I could tie my shoes, but I can tie them in a flash, without looking, as I'm sure most people can.

Learning to print letters was next. Remember that cheap lined newsprint paper with the huge spaces - a solid line, a dashed line, and a solid line? The stuff designed to help awkward little hands learn to form each letter with exactly the correct proportions. I kept confusing the lower-case b and d, and p and q. And this time, unlike with tying shoes, ego entered the picture, and with it, tension. I was not only interested in forming legible characters, for some reason that is now a mystery it was terribly important to me that they be perfect. Perfectly round, perfectly straight. Eventually I figured out all the shapes, but the striving for perfection turned into tension. I gripped the pencil so tightly my hand hurt. I'm sure the tension didn't help my writing speed, either.

Music is a great place to explore learning motor skills. My primary musical instrument happens to be guitar, but students of any instrument have surely had the same experience. You want to play faster. You want to be cool. You want to ROCK. But when you pick up the speed before you're ready, you crash and burn. And the more you practice playing fast, badly, the better you get... at playing badly.

I had been told a hundred times by music teachers to practice slowly and steadily. Work on getting it right, with smooth transitions, and clean tone, and speed will happen on its own. Yeah, yeah, I know... I'd practice slowly a few times, start to get it, and then speed up and fall apart. I didn't finally really get it until I participated in Blues Guitar Week at the Augusta Heritage Festival. I traveled all the way across the country for a week of Fingerstyle Blues, with Woody Mann, one of my guitar gods. And what did we do? We played s l o w l y. The whole class, about a dozen of us, together. With a metronome, for heaven's sake. One... and... two... and... three... and... four... and... It was painful. It was dull. It was unglamorous and disappointing. And the next day? One.. and.. two.. and.. three.. and.. four.. and.. We sounded a little better. Huh.

By the end of the week we were playing several tunes at a reasonably impressive speed - correctly. Beautifully, even. Clean notes, good timing, and expression. In just a week! And I can still play those tunes well, with a few minutes of review. But the important thing I learned that week was that practicing correctly, as slowly as you need to go to keep it correct, is what will lead you to doing it correctly at speed, eventually. The more you try to take shortcuts or rush the process, the longer it will take, and the less solid the end result will be.

Now there is Aikido. At first irimi and tenkan were those darned letters, b and d. Ai hanmi and gyaku hanmi were p and q. I seriously could not tell backward from forward when I first started. Backward relative to the direction I was facing before I started turning, or forward in the direction I was moving now, orů? Oh, heck. I didn't even have a framework for the information coming in, because it was so unlike anything else I'd done. I knew the rabbit should run around the tree, but where did the tree go? It was just here yesterday... And the hole? I'd forgotten all about the hole! My partner would show me again, and for the moment it would make sense.

As I've started to get the motions of Aikido in my body I find myself coming up against the tendency to rush again. Most of the time I can go slowly, stay relaxed, and work on getting the movements correct and fluid. But that pesky ego creeps in. I want to try it faster. I want to look cool, like my yudansha friends and teachers. I want Uke to wonder how they ended up down on the mat. So I rush, I use force, and I get tense. And I practice doing bad Aikido. Sometimes I catch myself at it, when it's obvious. Other times I'm reminded by my partner, saying it feels like I am trying to drag them through the technique. Often it's Sensei, pointing out that my shoulders are creeping up toward my ears as I attempt to muscle my partner into submission. Again.

I always feel like I've taken two steps backward every time I get in a hurry. Not only did I fail to train as I'd intended, which is humbling, but I've recorded the wrong thing in my muscle memory, and have to do it correctly that many more times to offset having programmed the wrong thing into my body and senses. In a practice where "true victory is self victory" there are plenty of aspects of "self" over which one can strive for victory. For me what's coming up lately is my longstanding and ultimately self-defeating habit of trying to do things faster and more powerfully than I'm ready for. Something to work on every day, for sure.

I suspect, of course, as with so many things where it seems important to get to another level, that by the time I am able to be faster and more powerful, I will finally learn that speed and power aren't the cool stuff after all. I wonder what I'll be trying too hard at then?

For now, relax and breathe. One... and... Be loose and expansive. Two... and... Feel the energy Uke is bringing, and join with it. Three... and... Be patient. Keep the rhythm between us steady. Four... and...

One day there will be beautiful, expressive music there.
"The Mirror" is a collaborative column written by a group of women who describe themselves as:

We comprise mothers, spouses, scientists, artists, teachers, healers, and yes, of course, writers. We range in age from 30s through 50s, we are kyu ranked and yudansha and from various parts of the United States and styles of aikido. What we have in common is a love for budo that keeps it an integral part of our busy lives, both curiosity about and a commonsense approach to life and aikido, and an inveterate tendency to write about these explorations.
Attached Images
File Type: pdf themirror_2010_10.pdf (101.4 KB, 3 views)
Old 10-14-2010, 08:47 AM   #2
Lan Powers
Dojo: Aikido of Midland, Midland TX
Location: Midland Tx
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 659
Offline
Re: Go Slowly

Music and Aikido....analogies that are made on the mat, in the world, and literally EVERY class on our mat!
Glad music is framework for your comprehension of the art.(as it is for me)
Fantastic article!

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
  Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2010, 05:32 AM   #3
SeiserL
 
SeiserL's Avatar
Dojo: Roswell Budokan, Kyushinkan Dojo, Aikido World Alliance
Location: Roswell, GA USA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,704
United_States
Offline
Re: Go Slowly

Yes agreed.
Rhythm.
Everything in life has it.
Connection is finding it and a good dance partner.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
  Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2010, 04:25 PM   #4
Linda Eskin
 
Linda Eskin's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of San Diego, San Diego, California
Location: San Diego County, California
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 326
United_States
Offline
Re: Go Slowly

Quote:
Lan Powers wrote: View Post
Music and Aikido....analogies that are made on the mat, in the world, and literally EVERY class on our mat!
Glad music is framework for your comprehension of the art.(as it is for me)
Fantastic article!
Thank Lan. Music and horseback riding are pretty much the other two areas of somatic learning in my life. :-) Everything I've learned about learning in those pursuits helps me in Aikido, and the other way around. :-)

Linda Eskin - Facebook | My AikiBlog

"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
  Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2010, 04:30 PM   #5
Linda Eskin
 
Linda Eskin's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of San Diego, San Diego, California
Location: San Diego County, California
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 326
United_States
Offline
Re: Go Slowly

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Yes agreed.
Rhythm.
Everything in life has it.
Connection is finding it and a good dance partner.
Oh. Thank you, Dr. Seiser. I hadn't thought of connection that way, and really like your way of putting it. :-)

Linda Eskin - Facebook | My AikiBlog

"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Seminar with Frank Doran, Shihan - Aug. 8-10, 2014 at Sunset Cliff's Aikido, near San Diego's finest beaches



Comment


Currently Active Users Viewing This Column: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Column Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new columns
You may not post comment
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Column Column Starter Category Comments Last Post
Slowly Stefan Stenudd Columns 13 03-28-2009 12:37 PM
Hasten Slowly PeteMac General 1 02-21-2008 10:23 PM
breathing wsburm Training 11 01-31-2005 11:22 AM
Systema Seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev, Part 1 aikibaka131 Seminars 2 07-22-2003 12:45 PM
Koshi nage problems!! Liz Evans Techniques 4 04-15-2003 11:23 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:16 PM.



Column powered by GARS 2.1.5 ©2005-2006

vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate