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Home > General > Analogies for the Aikido Learning Process
by George Simcox - 9. Apr, 1997

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Alan Drysdale wrote:
How about this: the simple body mechanics are the notes (the what), and the various, ill-defined and often obscurely discussed things that are meant when people talk about ki are their way of describing the music. Nothing mystical, nothing supernatural, nothing that can't, ultimately, be described at a lower level, but something that can't be executed while thinking at the lower level of description.

Well said.

I often use the old tale of the Chinese Inn whose owner possessed a golden harp. Famous musicians from all over the region came to play the beautiful harp but none of them seemed to play well on the harp, but one day an elderly gentleman came into the Inn, took down the harp from its resting place and began to play beautiful music. When asked how he could make the harp sound so beautiful when all of the famous musicians had failed, the old man replied that he did not play the harp but rather, they made beautiful music together.

The same is true of Aikido, it isn't just the techniques but rather some added intangible that brings it all together. I have used the music analogy many time when teaching.

Another that I like to use is to remark that Aikido techniques are like the alphabet, you learn them not just to use them but to seek a higher purpose. The letters of the alphabet are woven together to form words and words woven together to form phrases, and phrases to form sentences, sentences make paragraphs, paragraphs form articles or chapters and chapters form books, all resting on the basis of the few letters of the alphabet. Our job, ultimately is to write that book, not just learn the alphabet! That book may be about great self defense, conflict avoidance or just better daily living, the choice is that of the user.

We as teachers owe it to our students to open the applications of their "alphabet" to these higher purposes, but not to force their use in any particular way. That will come from within the student.

George Simcox
Virginia Ki Society

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