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Old 07-21-2004, 02:56 PM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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Eek! How to reconcile?

~~Hi All! I'm still having a hard time reconciling the martial/spiritual aspects of Aikido. Just when I think I'm focusing on movement/blending and flowing with my partner, they take a shot at me and tell me I'm open. I, of course, want to fly into them because I was being all open and trusting and then kick myself for ever having let my guard down. So then I go back to training in a very martial head and someone else says, 'chill, just relax and move; you're acting like you on a battlefield and it's just the dojo'.
Hmmmmm...What do you do?

~~Paula~~
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Old 07-21-2004, 05:39 PM   #2
Bronson
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

I guess I would have to ask why focusing on movement/blending would put you in a vulnerable position? It would seem that you are free to work with movement and blending once you can somewhat reliably put yourself in a postion that doesn't leave you open.

So I guess I'd say do both. Be the way you need to be for the moment. Smarmy answer I know but the best I can come up with

Best,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 07-21-2004, 05:47 PM   #3
Don_Modesto
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
I think I'm focusing on movement/blending and flowing with my partner, they take a shot at me and tell me I'm open....So then I go back to training in a very martial head and someone else says, 'chill, just relax and move; you're acting like you on a battlefield and it's just the dojo'....Hmmmmm...What do you do?
Smack 'em until I get so good that even when I don't, they still can't get me. I think the bottom line in aikido spirituality is first it's gotta work.

Was watching an old video of Saotome doing a demonstration randori about 30 years ago, very martial, much ATEMI. The guy I was watching it with recalled a spontaneous demo Saotome did a couple of years ago in Orlando following DAN testing. His UKE--three big guys, trying to get him--went at him, and he just walked among them unruffled. They looked panicked, and he looked like he was walking in the park. With evidence like that, who needs faith?

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 07-21-2004, 07:39 PM   #4
shihonage
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
~~Hi All! I'm still having a hard time reconciling the martial/spiritual aspects of Aikido. Just when I think I'm focusing on movement/blending and flowing with my partner, they take a shot at me and tell me I'm open. I, of course, want to fly into them because I was being all open and trusting and then kick myself for ever having let my guard down. So then I go back to training in a very martial head and someone else says, 'chill, just relax and move; you're acting like you on a battlefield and it's just the dojo'.
Hmmmmm...What do you do?
1) People have different ways of patronizing other people. It's possible that you experienced 2 of them.

2) There are people who have both "flowing/blending" and "power" going on at the same time.
Find such a person and try to imitate them. This is how Aikido should be done. For example, look no further than the recently released DVD of Moriteru Ueshiba Sensei.

3) What you think to be "martial" may not necessarily be "martial".
The advice you were given about not being tense is sound.
The way in which it was given may be patronizing, but the advice is sound.
Uke should give attacks which are fast, strong, but also not-tense. If the attack goes through, the nage should be bonked on the head because of the inertia and sincerity of intent, but not enough to be injured.
True "martial" attacks are not tense, but they are centered. Thats what gives them speed and power.

I notice that I get the "battlefield" comments when I am clashing with other people's power. When I am not in the present, when my technique is not suited for the NOW, but instead I am trying to force the same exact movement that I did yesterday.
That is not Aikido, and such "Aikido" has no chance of working outside of the dojo.
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Old 07-23-2004, 07:52 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Greetings,

Sounds like you may be facing the either/on monster. The way to reconcile is to accept and blend both. Being spiritually open and blending is not mutually exclusive from the martial protecting youself from a possible atemi. Thank your Uke for helping you remember both sides of the same coin we call Aikido.

IMHO, the exclusivsity of either/or is much easier (and more limting) than inclusivity of higher logic of both.

Train on.

PS: Still writing? You certainly have a lot of god questions. The answers you find would make a great read. I think they are very typical of this journey. Write on.

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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Old 07-23-2004, 01:17 PM   #6
Paula Lydon
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Re: How to reconcile?

~~Thanks All!~~

~~Yep, Lynn, still writing. Thanks as always for the encouragement!~~

~~Paula~~
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Old 07-23-2004, 02:11 PM   #7
Robert Rumpf
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Active learning

I personally find it useful to pick one aspect of training and ignore the others (within reason) for a time. I don't recommend this approach for beginners or people with bad ukemi, though. Until you can do a rough version of a technique, detailed training on a particular aspect is not that useful.

If I get called out by an uke on ignoring an aspect that I am not interested in at the moment, I either ignore them or tell them straight out (for example) "I don't care about X right now, I'm working on Y instead, so tell me if my Y is any good." Of course if its the instructor who calls me out, or the point is particularly valid, I have to try to comply.

Since the uke is being chatty and giving you advice, you can always use that too. For example, if I'm trying to be soft with a chatty uke, I'll sometimes ask them how it felt or if it hurt, and compare their answer to what my body felt through them so that I can build sensitivity that way.

I tend to view Aikido partner practice as the training of specific "muscles" (are knees muscles?) and building skills (awareness or relaxation) and leave my general, practical applications of techniques to jizu waza outside of class or randori. Because of this, I generally don't care if my techniques work or not against a given uke.. that frees me up to train myself instead of forcing technique to happen.

There's this great Yagyu Munenori quote that is part of my motivation this approach, but I don't have it in front of me at the moment.

There is a drawback with this style of learning. Sempai may not like you telling them that, at the moment, you don't care about a particular aspect of the technique they are interested in. This can cause trouble.

For me though, I find that I have to make an effort to choose things to focus on if I'm going to see noticeable progress. On good days that aligns with what the instructor is working on.

Or... you could just pick your partners and teachers so that you get what you're looking to find. Great in the short run, but bad in the long run.

Hopefully that helps,
Rob
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Old 07-23-2004, 07:01 PM   #8
Qatana
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

The only insult i have received on the mat in the year and a half of my training was being told by a first kyu thar he 'wasn't paying any attention to me". Isn't it sempai's job to pay attention to their juniors?
Then again, this guy has injured yudansha.

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-24-2004, 10:51 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

IMHO, train the body in the martial aspects leaving no openings and appreciating those who remind us. Train the heart, mind, and spirt in peace. Then, even in battle, your movement is love-based, not fear based.

Warriors don't fight because they hate the enemy. They fight because they love the people they protect and serve.

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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Old 07-25-2004, 09:19 PM   #10
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Sometimes when learning something new it is easier to focus on the movement and when doing so you let your guard down. Nothing wrong with this so long as you come back to where you are protecting yourself while performing the movement. "Always Protect" is one of the four "rules" I emphasize when I teach or grade a test. In the learning process though it is sometimes necessary to focus soley on one thing over another. Just don't forget to protect.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 07-26-2004, 05:36 AM   #11
ian
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Some people are just a pain in the arse to train with and would rather feel important by telling you something you are doing wrong than get it right themselves. Deal with your problems one step at a time. A good teacher is one that tells you only what you are ready to hear.

As for martial/spiritual aspect. My view is that only by understanding aikido and attacks as potenitally lethal can you understand the spiritual aspect. Aikido is not about being 'nice' it is understanding life and death. I think, ironically, that the more you accept death the less egotistical you are about your training and the more you can let go. You are not looking to 'win' you are looking to perfect your aikido. Don't try and impress people (inc. sensei), just work out what is most effective for you and practise it. It is your aikido and you are the only one responsible for making it good.

Relaxation and thinking are difficult to do simultaneously. People may be asking too much from you. Focus on learning the techniques first, and then you can start doing aikido. Above all, don't worry!

Ian
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Old 07-26-2004, 03:58 PM   #12
Dario Rosati
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
. A good teacher is one that tells you only what you are ready to hear.
As a newbie, I strongly disagree
A good teacher has to raise the bar just a notch above your possibility, else you wouldn't improve, and you don't feel compelled to improve yourself.
Improving isn't an internal process; is an external one, driven by continuous confrontation with things you see, hear, try.
Sensei can't wait that you develop spontaneously; he HAS to force your way to improvement.
This is how I see things, and worked perfectly with me.

Quote:
Don't try and impress people (inc. sensei), just work out what is most effective for you and practise it. It is your aikido and you are the only one responsible for making it good.
Relaxation and thinking are difficult to do simultaneously. People may be asking too much from you. Focus on learning the techniques first, and then you can start doing aikido. Above all, don't worry!
As a newbie, I strongly agree
Actually, I'm doing just this: first, focus on every single step of kihon techniques; second, try to "feel" the flow and trust my body (this, for sure, is an extremely difficult task for us newbies).
I can't do that simultaneously; I think this is the difference between masters and practitioners, talented and untalented, (almost) no matter the rank.

Bye!

--
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Old 08-11-2004, 01:06 AM   #13
Anders Bjonback
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Re: How to reconcile?

I think the problem is that you're labeling "spiritual" as having certain qualities which don't include violence or protection--openness as opposed to protectiveness, etc. Shouldn't a martial art as a spiritual (I'd prefer the word "contemplative") practice encompass those feelings of protectiveness, wanting to kick yourself for being letting your guard down?
But as I get more of a feeling for what you are saying, I think I see more of what you mean. Maybe being open and trusting seems opposed to the sharp awareness of a martial mind? Maybe those two can be brought together.
As for me, I rarely think about such things. I'm still pretty inexperienced so maybe that's why I'm not troubled by my pratice in that way yet. What I could see as a future struggle is cultivating an open heart and reconciling that with doing a martial art. I think for a open heart to be genuine there needs to be a sense of vulerability and openness, as well as caring, and that could be seen as opposite of what one is trying to do in a martial art. I think Saotome Sensei said something like "compasson/love is not weakness" in one of his books. Having an open heart doesn't mean being weak. Still, there is a slight difference in ideals. For one thing, I'd never kill another person, and I hope I would have the strength to keep that conviction in a situation where my life is threatened by someone.

Last edited by Anders Bjonback : 08-11-2004 at 01:16 AM.

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Old 08-11-2004, 08:08 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
~~Hi All! I'm still having a hard time reconciling the martial/spiritual aspects of Aikido. Just when I think I'm focusing on movement/blending and flowing with my partner, they take a shot at me and tell me I'm open. I, of course, want to fly into them because I was being all open and trusting and then kick myself for ever having let my guard down. So then I go back to training in a very martial head and someone else says, 'chill, just relax and move; you're acting like you on a battlefield and it's just the dojo'.
Hmmmmm...What do you do?
Well, that's the whole point isn't it? Life is a battlefield and the dojo is the place where you play out those battles again and again. As near as I can understand what O-Sensei was talking about, being in a state of connection with the Universe takes care of these issues of "letting ones guard down" as being something that happens when you "focus" on movement / blending with the partner. When you are in a state of connection you don't have a guard to let down. There isn't anything to guard against.

Most of us do not have any experience with this state. We have to keep up our guard because we are afraid of what will happen when we let it down. If we let the guard down we are vulnerable, open to be hurt by some unanticipated threat to our self image. So we keep up the guard, keep those threats on the outside.

But it's all a misunderstanding... We are already connected, it actually takes effort to keep ourselves from this fact. When we REALLY experience the connection, there isn't a separation between the blending / flow and the state of having no suki (opening).

This is THE central issue in training. It's all about this as far as I can see. Why does your partner choose a particular instant to show you your suki. Is it just your suki they are showing you?

If we feel like the martial aspect of the art is in conflict with the spiritual then that's a pointer for us to look at how we envision both. If they are in tension, opposite aspects of the nature of things, then we can only do one at a time... we'll either be connected or defended.

But O-Sensei is telling us that this is the illusion. These are not oppositional aspects of anything. They are the same! Budo is Love is the message he gave us. The sense of harmony which comes through training should foster that sense of oneness that alows us to experience the energy which brings things together in the universe. Love is that energy as I understand O-Sensei When one is able to exist in that state of connection, the issue of openings, etc goes away. There is no defense because there is no defender and no attacker.

None of us consistently experiences things in this mode. We bounce back and forth in our training from one state to another. Our very attempts to be "martial" thwart our efforts to exerience the true connection between ourselves and our partner (and everything else for that matter). One of the great things about this search is that our fellows, who have no more idea about this stuff than we do (often less) get to be our teachers.Every time that guy does that annoying atemi, everytime your partner spaces out and you can feel their lack of "presence", any time something scares you or pisses you off it's a lesson.

If we are really lucky, train hard , and try to be honest with oursleves, perhaps we might actualy figure things out and stand alongside O-Sensei as he watches those who came after trying to "get it".

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 08-11-2004, 08:46 PM   #15
NagaBaba
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
Hmmmmm...What do you do?
Practice TONS of weapons helps. Keep training as hard, as strong as possible. Make all technique works efficiently without asking any special conditions of attack. Kick ass all those spiritually challenged aiki fruities, yes!, kick them as hard as you can.

Don't listen anybody but your sensei. Attack him with all your power.

After the while you will have a choice, throw/pin them very, very strong way or only tight, just at their limits. In both cases you will control them anyway.
So be generous, respect their limits. That's how you resolve your paradox

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 08-11-2004, 09:26 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Don't listen anybody but your sensei.
If Morihei Ueshiba had done that we'd all be doing Daito-ryu...

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-12-2004, 12:20 AM   #17
Mark Bilson
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Re: How to reconcile?

George,
Completely agree with everything you say. I would just like to add a few comments about my own experience in this unbelievable place.

If you are able to connect with your partner before physical contact, during contact and then after without any thought of attack or defence or me and you in any shape at all Aiki can occur.

Furthermore, if your mind is in a state of Mushin you will feel a connection to a calm, serene place with an essence of love.

This essence will then create technique for you without you being aware of what you are doing. if you maintain this "state of being" then you can continue in one long sequence of attack and defence without losing your connection to the essence of who you are.

However, because you are functioning from "a different place" it will appear "fake" to people who observe because you are functioning from a completely different level of consciousness.
This is because you have transcended the whole physical nature of reality and are functioning from a spiritual plane of "oneness". In this state of harmony a "void/vacuum opens up during your spiralled movement and you partner is led into this void that has "appeared". You partner is "not thrown" but rather "falls into it". In this place there is "no attack nor defence" as the attack never reaches its intended target as it is interrupted by the connection. It is way beyond the realm of fighting. Most people, even Aikidoka, expect to see conflict, tension, struggle etc and if they do not they will label it as "fake".

Your body is completely natural without any tension or readiness, it is the same as if you were walking down by the river and enjoying the view. You will then be able to "walk" through conflict without the slightest concern because in this place "you are not doing it" as you have transcended your ego. This is what I believe O'Sensei declares when he says, "whoever attacks me attacks the universe itself".

From this place of Aiki it is impossible for someone to copy as each "technique" comes into existence in the moment. This is Takemusu Aiki as you are not doing it with your conscious mind.

However if you lose Mushin and engage for a split second you lose your connection and are straight back into the "physical realms". This then becomes purifying for you because you cannot think about any negative thought about your partner because to do so severs the connection.

The feeling that is generated by this when in this state of being is "joy", you will have a beaming smile on your face and your partner will say that, "that makes me feel really good". This is because for a short period of time they feel connected to you and also in a smaller sense feel this "oneness".

In this realm attack, defence, martial spirit, muscle power are all meaningless.........they are all in the "Haku" realm and not in the realm of "Kon". Real Aikido functions soley from the realm of Kon.

This however creates a problem in the Dojo because students who are training will try and "mimic" what they saw which was created in the moment from the spirit and try and duplicate it, as it was perceived from the realm of haku. Then you find that you then have "nothing to teach" as every time you demonstrate something it cannot be duplicated. This is another reason why I believe O'Sensei did not bother to give explanations of technique but rather spoke of the spiritual nature of what he was doing. No point talking about physical technique when you are only aware of what had just occurred after it was over

I am aware that a post of this nature is wide open for ridicule by people who have not experienced anything like what I am talking about.

Cheers

Mark Bilson
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Old 08-12-2004, 09:06 AM   #18
NagaBaba
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
If Morihei Ueshiba had done that we'd all be doing Daito-ryu...

Best,

Chris
I'd say, that Founder was a bit more experienced then Paula when he stopped to listen his instructor :P

Nagababa

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Old 08-12-2004, 12:44 PM   #19
Chris Li
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I'd say, that Founder was a bit more experienced then Paula when he stopped to listen his instructor :P
For Sokaku Takeda, sure, but what about all those other guys before him? I'm all for listening to your instructor, but that doesn't mean that I shut my mind to anything and everything else. Not only does that seem to go against common sense, it goes against the example set by virtually anybody you can name as a major figure in Japanese budo.

Best,

Chris

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Old 08-12-2004, 03:17 PM   #20
Goetz Taubert
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Re: How to reconcile?

"~~Hi All! I'm still having a hard time reconciling the martial/spiritual aspects of Aikido. Just when I think I'm focusing on movement/blending and flowing with my partner, they take a shot at me and tell me I'm open. I, of course, want to fly into them because I was being all open and trusting and then kick myself for ever having let my guard down. So then I go back to training in a very martial head and someone else says, 'chill, just relax and move; you're acting like you on a battlefield and it's just the dojo'.
Hmmmmm...What do you do?"


Hi Paula,

you speak of "blending and flowing with my partner". To me that's an indication that you may try to adapt to your partners behaviour. Try to figure out the technique, that makes them having to adapt to your movement (not by force but by correct movement of the body). Stay upright, stay balanced, focus on coordinated motion of body/hipps and extremities with minimum effort. Try to avoid to apply centrifugal power on uke nor pull him towards yourself.
This will reduce openness or chance for counterattack. It will give you the chance to detect a natural pattern of movement. It allows you to become more and more open without loosing yourself in "adaptation"-paradigma.

Inaba Sensei once told us, martial art is uswed to guard our personal tenderness.

Ciao Goetz
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Old 08-12-2004, 08:32 PM   #21
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Don't listen anybody but your sensei.
Not so sure about that.
Listen to him/her first & foremost, but try listening to everybody.
Even if it totally disagrees with what sensei says, some analysis of why they say it can lead you to strange and helpful insights.
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Old 08-12-2004, 08:38 PM   #22
giriasis
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Re: How to reconcile?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
If Morihei Ueshiba had done that we'd all be doing Daito-ryu...

Best,

Chris

I'm not going to speak for Szezpan. I interpreted his comment meaning sometimes when you're receiving advice from a partner and they confuse, patronize, frustrate you, listen to the sensei has to say. In other words, the sensei trumps what others have to say.

I wouldn't ignore totally what your partner has to say as most times what they have to say is very helpful even though sometimes it is wrong or they just have a hard time conveying it.

Last edited by giriasis : 08-12-2004 at 08:45 PM. Reason: grammer and brevity

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