Monday, August 17, 2009

Small steps up the mountain...

I think we've all know that nothing is constant. Our knowledge that we subscribe to in books and manuals and stories, they change with time. Our history changes in time. Our understanding of something changes everytime we experience it anew, or when we receive an explanation of it from a different perspective.

The problem with defining something as something is that you are bound to redefine it later. So it is with this mindset we must approach our learning. Firstly, we learn with a clean mind. We learn the form. We learn Kihon. Basic.

By learning basic, we receive building blocks. The more basic we have the more building blocks we can use.

In order to use the building blocks, we now have to learn the principles of using it. Needless to say, balancing the blocks unevenly and we will unlikely create very tall structures. Thus the principles come to play when we start playing with the building blocks. Principles alone however, without the building blocks is essentially writing music on the score sheet without an instrument to play it. Theoretically it may be music, it looks like music, but you don't hear anything yet.

So kihon and genri are very closely related. Between the two, you are more than likely be able to produce a rudimentary form of Aikido. With Kihon and Genri, we try to define it in a certain way. This is so, anyone practicing Aikido can recognise others doing the same thing. They would also be able to respond or play together. If different people practice Kihon in different ways, getting on the mat would be terribly difficult.

Having understood Kihon and Genri, experienced practitioners will develop the power/potence/effectiveness. We reach this Aiki-chikara usually after a keen 2-3 years training on the mat. At this point in time, we should not only understand all the formal techniques available in the Aikido curriculum, we should be able to use them to the predefine attacks in a smooth and powerful manner. We also should by now, understand the basics of Center line, kuzushi, maai, extension, relaxation, spirals, irimi and tenkan. This level, we have come to grips of the bio-mechanical aspect of Aikido.

Now, imagine 2 cars. 2 Ferraris, same make same model. Put them on the track and tell me who will win the race? Think about the variables now. We can talk about different tyres, different engine oil, spark plugs, brake, fuel and all sorts of things that make cars go tick. Presumably, that if the cars were driven by the same person, the car with the best stuff in it would probably win the race. If they were different car models, we could easily point out that this car's engine has more torque thus produces more acceleration power, the other has more gears and can reach a higher top speed, this one has better suspension, thus can take better turns. All in all, we focus on the mechanical aspects and we feel we now know which car is the best.

Unfortunately, you inherited your body and its going to last you a lifetime. There's no changing this model. There is no upgrades for your engine. Sure you can fine tune it with exercise, diet, meditation, knowledge and experience... but in the end, your body is your limitation. Because physical things have limits.

Going back to the race car. Say the 2 equally similar cars competing with each other. Who would win if for example, Schumacher was driving one, and you the other. Most of us would probably say we won't stand a chance. Yet, the physical thing has not changed at all. Its the exact same car with the exact same engine. Theoretically we are even.

Yet intuitively we know that we won't be able to use the car like Schumacher could. We won't turn the way he does, brake the way he does or push the car like he does. Schumacher is like the spirit of the car. His spirit encompasses the physical aspect of the car. He brings with him the knowledge and experience, yes... but also he brings with him the intuitiveness and feeling. We can teach you the same thing Schumacher knows, and theoretically you'll be just as good as him. Yet you lack the thousands of hours he had racing, of all the experiences he had winning and losing, of feeling the tracks, of understanding the car from the sound, vibrations and etc. Schumacher will win, because he can feel the car better than you do.

So, the question is how do we attain that level of feeling? Is it gauged by the number of years you train? Certainly, hours training will help. Experience counts for a lot. As long as the training is honest, bit by bit you will learn what works and what doesn't. Again, you can use the building blocks and principles to experiment with what works and what doesn't. If that is so however, you will see everyone racing as long as Schumacher has be as good as him. You will see countless of Michael Jordans, and Tiger Woods. Yet, these people are few and far in between. They are the notables...

The reason why I wanted to point this out is simple. Whenever we feel disheartened that we can't do something as well as another person. Remember that we have to go through a process. And even if we do go through the entire process, sometimes others will attain excellance before you do. Do not question your ability just yet. You may not be able to perform as well as the star, but you too have skills which others lack. So the question is not How do I get as good as him... but should be Am I doing everything I can?

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