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In, Up, Turn, and Down
In, Up, Turn, and Down
by Lynn Seiser
In, Up, Turn, and Down

Breathe in, in and up
Breathe out, turn and down

I love cross training in all kinds of martial arts, but most of it these days is in Aikido. While different styles, schools, and instructors have different ways of doing the same technique, the principles they apply seem to be about the same. Being systematic in the way I look at patterns, I began to notice that there appeared to be a similar sequential arrangement: in, up, turn, and down.
In: (1) indicating place, (2) indicating state, (3) after, (4) during, (5) indicating how something is expressed, (6) indicates subject area, (7) as a consequence of, (8) covered by, (9) indicates how somebody is dressed, (10) pregnant with, (11) fashionable, stylish, or hip, (12) holding power or office, (13) in for -- indicates that somebody will experience something such as a surprise or a shock, (14) in on -- indicating having knowledge about or involvement in something, (15) indicating a direction
In the dojo, we often talk about irimi (entering) and musubi (connection). I often laugh because the way I am wired, if I do not cognitively understand what I am being asked to do, I can seldom get my body to do it and even less often to repeat it. Therefore, I am asking others and myself what something means in principle and application. What I begin to understand is that both irimi (entering) and musubi (connection) has to do with moving my mental focus/intent and my body in the direction of the person I am training with. I need to pay attention to the other person. Make eye contact until you feel connected. Make physical contact until you feel connected. This is not about pushing, it is about touching. Once you have made physical contact, see if you can link through their body and connect to their center. We all tend to anticipate just where and when that point of physical contact will be. We usually make sure it is aligned with our structure to keep us strong. However, if rather than wait for contact to response, we can move into the contact point and take the initiative even by a fraction of an inch, we win.

In life, we tend to value the separate individualism of being self-reliant and self-sufficient. We tend to value the separate learned ego identity and fear any connection or dependency on others. Yet, this cultivates, facilitates, and perpetuates the aloneness of the existential angst that we all fear, that we really are all alone. It takes courage to fight a social norm that creates depression and anxiety and embrace the inter-connectedness and inter-dependency with others. As a couples/family counselor, I often know the problem of "I" and the solution of "we". Are "we" in this together or not? We can be in or we can be out, we cannot be both. Often the one with the most clarity and courage will be the one to reach out and initiate first. If we wait for what we want in life to find us first, we often end up with other people making our choices for us. By taking the initiative and entering into the relationship first, we have a better chance of getting what we really want in life and in love.
Up: (1) a higher level, (2) along, (3) indicating completion, (4) out, (5) rising above, (6) into consideration, (7) in northerly position, (8) to higher value, (9) to greater intensity, (10) near, (11) each, (12) increased, upward, or higher
In the dojo, I see many students struggle with moving or throwing their training partner, because they have yet to take their balance. They leave the other person flat footed and stable. If we looked, we would see that the path of the technique is horizontal. It is pushing into, but not pushing up. When we push a car, we usually try to get a bit of a lift. A slight ward movement would put the other person on their toes, off their rootedness to the ground and they are easier to move and throw. Up is not about physically lifting the other person any great distance. It is about a subtle suggesting to their structure that they are raising up from underneath. This can be done by turning the wrist upward and/or slightly lowering the elbow. By lifting the structure, you are also lifting the mind. Energy goes where the mind goes. We need to direct the energy mind, not just the body.

In life, we often talk about picking someone up or letting him or her down. According to communication theory, we cannot not influence each other; the question will only be in what way. Influence is contagious. While in Aikido we often stay relaxed so that our training partner does too (a reciprocal reaction), the same pattern tends to hold in personal relationships. Imitation and identification is a powerful contagious pattern. When we are in positive frames of mind, others are more likely to be too. When we are down, we tend to bring others down too. In life, we want to help others maintain their sense of balance, stability, security, and a positive state of mind. This can best be done by first establishing the same in our lives and being a support system for others.
Turn: (1) to move or face different direction, (2) move around an axis, (3) us control to operate something, (4) to change directions, (5) to go around, (6) to follow a different course, (7) move page over, (8) change, (9) alter focus, (10) do something different, (11) to consult somebody, (12) passage of time or age, (13) rotation, winding
In the dojo, if we move in a straight line (on the line of attack or centerline) we tend to encounter resistance and strength. We are moving into the other's structural alignment and strength. Yet, a slight turning or moving off the line eliminates (or at least compromises) that balance. A training partner tends to expect their intended target to be stationary and aim accordingly. They align their structure accordingly to give them maximum strength and power. If the target moves before their aim can track and recalibrate/orient, they miss. The best response to a punch or grab is not to be there when it is aimed/anticipated. This can be done by a slight turning of the spine or sidestepping. If we are both on the same line (even reaching in and lifting up), we can stay in a power struggle. We can get off the line; they can get off the line, or both. One of us will need to change. Whoever is sensitive and adaptive enough, will have the advantage. Turning aims and off balances the individual. A teacher once told me that if we open our hands (and minds) and keep turning something, will fall into it and that would be the correct technique.

In life, if we know our past and our present. We can predict our future since it is on the same path/trajectory. Yet, often the slight turn of change can produce a great deal of change. While people think that change is harder, doing the same thing repeatedly, (that never worked in the first place) is even harder. Life has momentum and inertia. We tend to keep going in the direction we are going and keep doing what we have always done, even in the absent of any evidence that we will be successful in getting what we really want in life. Our intent and our efforts to express and meet that intent are often very incongruent and ineffective. It is like seeing an obstacle in our path and deciding to plow through it rather than steer around it. It takes flexibility and adaptability to survive and to succeed. Life is not a straight line. It has many curves which we will need to negotiate and navigate if we are going to get to our desired destination, especially if we want to get there with other people. We often have to learn to turn the "I" into a "we" and turn our priorities around or over to something more important than our individual narcissistic learned ego identity.
Down: (1) to lower the level in something, (2) along, (3) away from present location, (4) to more southerly place, (5) in part payment, (6) to reduce to a lower, inferior position or condition, (7) in a less solid state, (8) on paper, (9) chosen or arranged, (10) vertical in crossword puzzle, (11) unhappy, (12) to bring somebody or something to the ground.
In the dojo, (as I mentioned earlier) I often see people push horizontally parallel to the ground. I have asked more than a few people just where they wanted me to go and they all said "down". Well then, "tell me to go there". Once we are connected, we must communicate. We have to tell each other. Usually this is nonverbal because just telling someone verbally to go down to the mat/ground seldom works. When we just tell someone to go down, they tend to resist it and lift up. Aikido and Judo often uses this reactionary pattern (an attempt to maintain balance) by pushing back before throwing forward, pulling forward before pushing back, and lifting up before letting them fall down. Our structure alone may be in a position where we are actually the supportive structure that is holding someone up. I have often told people that the sign of a good lumberjack is to get out of the way of the falling tree. I had an aiki-jujutsu practitioner tell me that he never threw anyone down, he would simple nonverbally suggest they do and then got out of the way. The more I learn about Aikido they more I wonder what I did to make people fall down and the more they wonder why they fell too.

In life, we often have to reach down inside ourselves and get honest with what we really want and find the determination to make it happen. We often think and believe that life should be easy, that we are entitled to get what we want without working for it. Many people are sitting in their living rooms thinking positive thoughts in the belief that this simple act will manifest in their lives. Everything is energy and thoughts are energy. Energy without behaviors action is just wishful thinking. Besides believing in abundance, we have to act in accordance with that belief to be congruent. We often tell people what we are going to do but because we seldom actually do it, we do not get it and they do not believe it. Because life has suffering, we have to get down to walking the talk and doing something about it. Action speaks so much louder than words.

So let us enter into this dance of life together, lift each other up, turn everyday into an opportunity and experience for growth and love, and get down to what is important.

Breathe in, in and up
Breathe out, turn and down

(Remind me some time to talk/write about timing/distance and the difference between a solid and a flexible weapon as they apply to technique and training.)

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He lives with his wife and trains on the Florida Gulf Coast (chasing grandchildren).
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