Nude #1 2012 by Shinichi Maruyama
The above image is a time-lapse capture of a dancer's gesture. The photographer is Shinichi Maruyama, and I invite you peruse his web site
before continuing with the rest of this article.
The "Nude" series (entirely safe-for-work, I promise) is of particular interest. Rather than depicting a moment frozen in time, these images capture time frozen in a moment. Duration is persistent, all moments coexist simultaneously, movement is compressed into sculptural form. The motion of the dance is temporal, transitory. But you can look at it as long as you want.
This is how I see human beings when I do aikido.
There is a difference, though. Maruyama's images are acquired by accumulating elapsed time, making a segment of the past into a durable record for the present. When I look at someone, I see a slice of accumulated future.
We all are accustomed to seeing potentialities. Although it's a rather miraculous feature of neurobiology, and quite essential for survival, it's nothing special. Any higher organism can do it. If you successfully catch something I've thrown you, it's because you reached for where the object was going, not by reaching for where it was when I threw it. The same is true of predators intercepting prey on the wing or on the run. Our minds draw trajectories on the canvas of the future. It's automatic, and necessary. As Gretzky famously said, go where it will be, not where it is.
It's innate, but it's also learned. We have the basic apparatus in place, but we must exercise it in the various domains of our activities in order to become good at it. I'm good at aikido, but that doesn't mean I'm automatically good at video games. I have to spend time in a given arena to be able to better perceive the morphologic potentials. The aikido helps, and the more we do in different endeavors, the more each augments the other.
Accordingly, the acquisition and refinement of this kind of seeing becomes generalized. When you get good at it in one arena, it comes more quickly in others. It's as if in looking at a magnet, you see also the magnetic field that surrounds it, and how it interacts with it's environment. The field's shape changes as the orientation and polarity changes, but the field is nonetheless a constant presence.
When someone stands in front of you, a field surrounds them. This field is the area of space that can be reached by any part of their body in the near future. The density of the field is uneven. Some areas can be reached more easily, more quickly. Other areas show possibility but with lower probabilities. Together, these reveal the shape of the future.
Look again at the photo sculptures of Maruyama. There is a silky sensuality to them. At the same time, there are sharp edges that are perhaps prohibitive to touch. If you, with your own morphologic field were to enter in and interact with these forms, you could see clearly where you'd like to go, where you could go, and where you should not. Parts of the shapes are solid, and you're free to move along their surfaces, but not press too hard against. Other areas are openings or full of concavities. Here you can go at will, but notice how your own shape may need to change in order to do so.
The images that Maruyama has shared with us are just a small sampling of what could be an infinitely variable series. The same is true of your partner, and of you. Shift the stance only a little bit, and the overall shape may be completely transformed. Nevertheless, all these shapes are extruded by a single familiar form -- the basic shape of human anatomy. Through long study of dancers, athletes, circus performers, and martial artists, I believe we would observe that the infinite variety would condense around a limited set of repeating shapes.
Becoming familiar with these is the root of true kata
training. Kata is form, but we cannot truly perceive form, let alone understand it deeply, if we cannot see form as mutable. We need the perception of matter and energy as one, and space and time as one.
Shinichi Maruyama's nudes could just as well have been clothed. The real significance of the work is in the unveiling of the static to reveal the naked dynamism in every moment.
Still Point Aikido Systems
Austin TX, USA