Understanding Aikido

It seems people have a hard time seeing aikido. And i think to really get it, you have to feel it. Still, if i may suggest in terms of understanding the art, it might help not to think like aikido was one thing – and everybody who practices is the same. More like musicians many instruments, styles etc. Not everybody plays the same music, even on the same instrument, or the same piece the same way.

Clearly many people are attracted to aikido and tai chi as well for the centering calmness and developmental aspects. Some never explore the martial. Others only the martial. There was a dojo i heard about when i was teaching in new zealand that went out to fight in the bars after training to see how well it worked. Not the way i think of the art, but to each his own. I’m guessing they focused primarily on the physical techniques and not on the inner aspects, but maybe they did i don’t know.

Anyway it’s quite a broad continuum. i think most aikidoka are not on either end but have varying degrees of interest in both aspects, though it seems aikido does attract the more harmonious types. As i’m guessing MMA and the arts focused on fighting are less likely to attract meditators. If all you want are martial skills there are shorter paths. However if you practice aikido with that bent it can be developed. And, in my understanding, no one ever defeated O Sensei.

Similarly, i think most folks have no understanding of what Aikido teaches. They just see the forms. They see the ‘waza’ (the techniques). They don’t see the ‘DO’ (the finer dimensions) of the art. Sadly this includes many who profess to teach the art. I don’t care what your interests are and hope you follow them. At the same time, i do feel a sadness for the students who don’t know about what could be learned and leave the art or only get a small (imho) part of what it offers.

I know a lot of people interested in fighting arts like to argue about who’s best and fighters are all about that, -‘who’s better’. And understandably, who wants to lose a fight. But i think aiki, though its techniques can be used that way exclusively, in the totality of the art is about making everyone better, and creating a world of harmony, while developing the strength, spirit, and skill to make that a possibility. I tend to assume, people are exploring the aspects that interest them. At least i hope they are.

O sensei said, ” Peaceful reconciliation means allowing everyone the completion of their bestowed mission.” (OK, who knows what he said but that’s how i’ve heard it translated.)

May your study bring you what you seek. My wish, we all support each other in that.

“Create a beautiful world!”

Out-telligence: Who’s right? What’s best? Who is going to hell?

Carl Jung explicates ‘Standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven’

In the union/ harmony/relationship/completion of yin and yang, both forces create a field of being, whether they are ‘in love’ or they are ‘at odds’ with each other. Jung speaks to it from a psychological point of view. O Sensei saw it through a different lens and spoke of it in a different language. The beauty of music and poetry is it transcends the limits of mind and culture. It touches us across the universe. i invite you to listen in that spirit.

You know you breathe; do you know you’re breathing?

Some days are more stressful than others. Without conscious attention, stress creates its own vicious cycle, chemicals flood the system.  Reactions include shortening or holding the breath. Visual perception narrows as does cortical activity. Neural conditioning kicks in, inhibiting creative thought. The muscles of the body tense, as if to get ready. The greater the stress, the more the muscles tighten. As the body constricts, it is harder to breathe deeply. The constriction extends to blood flow and oxygenation at the cellular level. Less oxygen adds to the stress on the system and so on and so forth, world without end.

So what?

With conscious attention it is both simple and easy to reverse the cycle, creating a breathing space, as it were, for your ‘self’. The effect may seem minimal or even nothing, because the effect is gradual. Deceptive, because breathing a little bit slower, and especially little bit deeper, over a very short period can dramatically change the experience you have of life, in the moment, and living itself. It can change who you are, if you want.

Simply pay attention to your breath. If you do, in a moment or two, you will notice an inclination to breathe somewhat differently. IF you don’t ‘hear’ the indications or notice it happening naturally, simply, gradually slow and deepen the cycle of in-breath / out-breath. Gently continue as appropriate, never forcing, listening to the impulse to breathe. Simply, loosely, very easily, following the breath. Notice any changes in feeling: of mind as well as body, in muscle tone, tension or relaxation, your attitude of the instant, and the ease of breathing itself.

You can combine the practice of breath with relaxing the muscles. Tighten, ever so slightly on the inhale, and relax fully, as you exhale.

Just listening to the impulse to breathe may seem superfluous, in that it won’t solve what you think are the problems that are causing your stress. Though that may be true, it might make a bumpy ride a little less upsetting.

And, it might allow a state of creativity that offers you solutions never perceived in the vicious cycle of stress. So, it might be the key to the solution. What is likely true is, as Albert Einstein said,

“We will never solve the problems we face, with the thinking that created them.”

on our best day

what we imagine as reality
on our best day
doesn’t touch
the edges of the in-field
our reality is an assemblage
of the points that sparkle
in the moment of attention
it’s obvious that
what’s obvious is obvious
but what’s not obvious is
the next dimension
until it is
until it is
 it whispers and
 disturbs your sleep
 echoes echoing in your dreams
see either
who you are is finding out who you are
or
it’s imitating
who you think you are
or who you think
you thought
someone told you
you should be
How does one make
ugly truth beautiful
by keeping true to one’s self
when
power truth and beauty
merge
in
love

Aikido Is: Aikido is Sharing Power with the Universe.

Aikido is Sharing Power with the Universe.

Speaking with my friend Patrick Cassidy he said people understand power over but not power with. And i thought that made a great description of the practice of aikido.

And then i got a little carried away having fun with it. So please feel free.

Aikido is Sharing Power with the universe to allow the completion of the universe

Aikido is Sharing Power with the universe, to the point where the definition of both have somehow changed.

Aikido is Sharing Power with the universe until the distinction dissolves.

Aikido is Sharing Power with the universe because it’s the funnest.

Aikido Is

As much as i understand – the technique appears or forms out of the the harmony with the universal. O sensei left us technique as a path to trace our way back to the universal energy. i fear most people only see the techniques in the physical dimension and miss the the ‘essence’ of blending with the ‘neural energy’ into a universal harmony. So they repeat technique hoping the finer dimension will appear. yet, when it does, we have to be listening in a finer dimension. Perhaps the term ‘martial art’ is misleading when speaking about aikido though it can be either self development or self -defense or both depending on the interests of the practitioner.

I see it as a way to reconcile people to harmonious relationship so we can focus more on what we want and less on fighting, with ourselves and each other.

Of course the ‘tao’ that can be spoken is not the true ‘tao’.

At the same time:

“All these things are difficult to form into words. If a person gives a name to something and then holds fast to that name, he will miss the real meaning. Yet if no name is given, then he floats about in empty space and does not attain awareness.” Chozan Shissai – Master Swordsman, Japan 1728

Finding Your Temper

I was looking for my temper the other day. The shock of watching a friend in conversation severely locked into their belief system startled me, causing me to release my grasp on my temper. Anyway the experience left me wondering. Are we looking to shout what we believe louder, or explore, independently or together, expanding the limits of perception?

Slipping into a mode of ‘defending’ instead of ‘listening’ happens in a flash. Of course the real gap is from the time you’ve lost your temper, till the time that you know that you have, if you even get that far. Because we’re not talking about raging storms, just a ‘hardening of the categories’* enough to where, the conversation’s chance of enhancing understanding, fades like the winter sun. What’s the gap in time, once and if, you’ve recovered from that conversation enough to just start looking for your temper?

When I thought why is the message so poignant to me? Is it because we all do that, because it’s easier to see the speck in your neighbor’s eye than the moat in your own? Seeing how extreme, a self-created blindness, it was, I accepted how much I was doing it, how inevitable that we all do it. It is how the understandings we build our lives on, are built.

Mathew 6:14, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

It is a poem that couples so nicely with words of the founder of Aikido.

“Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting the discord in your own mind. The enemies to defeat are the devils in our own hearts.”

Seeing the potential for correcting my own mind, I began, to use the phrase my teacher uses, ‘easy the I’. I started to let go of how rigidly I was holding my beliefs and opening into an increasingly more creative space. I did so, struggling with the frustration that I might’ve been the only one doing it. Everyone else was, more than likely, busy re-telling themselves and anyone who would listen, how what they thought, was right. That is a much easier path to follow, than ever wondering whether or not our beliefs were true and whether or not they were, how one would know it. The realm of wonder scares some people. It attracts others.

As my spirit started to relax a bit  more, my vistas opened on an empowered dialogue, at least in my own thinking, if not with those who failed to exercise their right to do the same. My sense of being opened on an ever-refining perception.  My compassionate understanding of how limited  each of our abstractions of reality is, took on another realm of possibility. It is through re-linking our experience with the totality, and through that eternal study alone, that will take us beyond trying to ‘solve the problems we face with the thinking that created them’.

Create a Beautiful World!

  • ‘hardening of the categories’ is a phrase i gleeped from Tom Crumb, “The Magic of Conflict”, a brilliant translation of aikido into practical life application.