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It's Just a Matter of Time
It's Just a Matter of Time
by Niall Matthews
It's Just a Matter of Time

photo: sundial at tower bridge by Andrew Bulhak
Time goes, you say? Ah, no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.
Henry Austin Dobson, The Paradox of Time

I'm bidin' my time,
'Cause that's the kinda guy I'm.
Ira Gershwin, Bidin' My Time

Go on, go on, until you reach the end of the line
But I know you'll pass my way again
It's just a matter of time.
Brook Benton, It's Just A Matter Of Time

I'm sorry to break it to you but by tomorrow you won't have time to stand around.
Cillian Murphy in In Time

Time and I against any two
Cardinal Jules Mazarin
Humans have a complicated relationship with time. We make time or take time. We spend time or save time or pass time. Or waste time. And we want to travel in time. Novels and movies like The Time Machine and In Time and TV series like The Misfits explore different aspects of time. Time is ever-present in popular culture. If it is possible to say ever-present about time. So what is time exactly? Is it a line? Is it a stream? The Mayans thought it was a turning wheel.

In the martial arts there are different measures of time. My teacher Kinjo Asoh Sensei used to say that ten years was only one step in aikido. Some techniques are called twenty-year techniques - the time it takes to learn them. Recently people like K Anders Ericsson, Malcolm Gladwell and Daniel Levitin have used a benchmark of 10,000 hours of practice as an indication of excellence or mastery in anything: music or chess for example. But there are people who have trained in the martial arts for twenty or thirty or forty years who understand very little. And very, very occasionally you meet people whose understanding after a few years of practice is already mature and deep. How to train is important. Not just how often.

One clear use of time in martial arts is the structure for progression through the different ranks. It takes so many hours or days of training before you can do a test for the next grade. And there is often a minimum time period also. And there can even be age limits. So there are different but parallel time constraints.

Time can be rigid or it can be elastic. A teacher can teach following a curriculum and lesson plans. Or can have an open-ended view of time. If students keep training they will eventually learn everything.

Some courses are limited by time. Courses covering a fixed number of weeks or even just one day. So the concept of time has to be much more structured.

When it comes to a micro approach to time things get very interesting. In Japanese swordsmanship any tiny unnecessary movement - moving a toe or moving the sword blade a few millimetres in the wrong direction - could be the difference between life and death. That leads into timing. Doing something at exactly the right time.

Perhaps in the end time is just an illusion. If the journey we are on is more important than the destination how long the journey will take becomes irrelevant. But how we make the journey - that is always important..

In English we say Time flies. They say it in Japanese too. Time flies like an arrow. There is one more measure of time in Japan since the Tohoku earthquake of 11 March 2011 and the Fukushima disaster.



I talked about time travel in time takes and about how time stopped after the Tohoku earthquake.

my blog on aikiweb | my blog on wordpress

niall matthews 2012
Niall Matthews lives with his family in Japan. He teaches aikibudo and community self-defence courses and has taught budo for twenty-five years. He was the senior deshi of Kinjo Asoh Sensei, 7 dan Aikikai. He was the exclusive uke of Sadateru Arikawa Sensei, 9 dan Aikikai, at the hombu dojo in Tokyo for thirteen years until Arikawa Sensei's death in 2003. He has trained in several other martial arts to complement his aikido training, including judo (he has 4 dan from the Kodokan in Tokyo), kenjutsu (for about ten years) and karate (for about three years). He originally went to Japan as a staff member of the EU almost thirty years ago. He received 5 dan from Arikawa Sensei in 1995. This 5 dan is the last aikido dan he will receive in his life. His dojo is called Aikibudo Kokkijuku 合気武道克輝塾. Arikawa Sensei personally gave him the character for ki in kokki. It is the same character as teru in Sadateru - not the normal spelling of kokki 克己. It means you make your life shining and clear yourself.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:55 PM   #2
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 346
Re: It's Just a Matter of Time

What is time? Time is a word we use to describe the observation of movement -- change. Time is derivative of movement, and not the other way around.

There is no such thing as time as a dimension, except as a mathematical and linguistic convenience. There is no past, present, or future, just the state of relationships of particles to one another.

Matter moves. Substance and energy are sufficient to explain time. As a concept, time is useful, but not strictly a necessary feature of a functional universe.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:28 PM   #3
Dojo: aikido academy/alhambra,california
Location: Los Angeles, California
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 371
Re: It's Just a Matter of Time

Dear Niall,

Thank you for taking on concepts and paradigms that baffle most into silence, and others into senseless babble, masklng their fear of discovery. Courage and vision are time sensitive, and must be judged within the flow of time and its relentless and uncaring march into eternity. For what else is time, other than the fabric on which, and within which events are recorded, not necessarily for review,or for understanding, but primarily for the orderly continuation of the creative phenomenon

I find it ironic to discuss the value or identity of time, since we are taking time to do so. We should be better stewards of this gift, and be more respectful and focused on our limited time to become so.
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:28 PM   #4
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
Re: It's Just a Matter of Time

Very interesting. I find in this physical world of physical dimentions there is what I would rather call the mechanical measurement labeled time.

However, I am of true time known of zen as now. Now is infinite and neutral and when observed through stillness is zen. Ross, call it a dimension of self.

Niall, I find when using the sword we need only to be in now and thus center line. 'Timing' then has not a physical meaning or perspective or can be understood by mechanical logic. No slight toe or hand or anything else movement for me, merely the movement and opening of the universe.

As you see, you have moved me once again.

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Old 05-01-2012, 10:09 AM   #5
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niall's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 394
Re: It's Just a Matter of Time

Thank you Ross and Francis and Graham for the interesting and thoughtful comments.

Stephen Hawking who wrote A Brief History of Time talked about real time and imaginary time. Imaginary time flows at right angles to real time. Imaginary time has no beginning and no end.

And meanwhile we humans are fascinated by those wall displays of clocks showing the time all over the world...

we can make our minds so like still water, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life
w b yeats

aikiweb blog|wordpress blog
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Old 05-05-2012, 05:45 AM   #6
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
Re: It's Just a Matter of Time

This is a temporary opportunity.

Our choice is what we do with it.

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!
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