Friday, September 2, 2011

Is Aiki body or Mind?

Now, take this post the way its meant to be taken. A student pondering, not a discourse of the subject Aiki.

There have been many discussion on Aiki, its origins,what exactly is it, who has it, no he doesn't have it...etc. Throughout its history, never has such an open secret be so thoroughly explored, misinterpreted and argued more than the subject Aiki amongst its fervent worshippers... the Aikidoka's and all the Aiki Jutsu related schools of Japan.

Some have even ventured into the Chinese Martial Arts (CMA) in the hopes of finding the secret from the 'source' of Japanese martial arts, or so they say. Many books have been written, obviously, most will point that the origin of Aikido's Aiki stems from Daito Ryu, and most rightly so I suppose. Because it is an accepted fact that Osensei couldn't beat Takeda when he first encountered his teacher, even though his past opponents never presented much threat to him. It is with Takeda that Osensei's illustrious career as an undefeated warrior began.

Still, some mutterings have been heard about the origin of Daito ryu, that it found its aiki from a wondering chinese martial artist. Since Daito ryu has no shortage of amazing personage who have demonstrated Aiki before, I wonder why really do we have to dig even deeper? If the DR schools have shown remarkable consistency in churning out students with Aiki, what logic is there to go through an even more obscure path of tracing Aiki into China? Just learn from the DR guys...

Certainly, on would wonder all this. My sensei however believes that Aiki in Aikido is more refined than when it was first encountered by Osensei. On hearsay, many people who had the privileged of feeling osensei  when he was alive, described amazing encounters that border on the fantastic. Certainly nothing of the sort that they believe they can get in DR right now. However, no one can discount that DR itself left 2-3 persons of note that when you hear of encounters with them, show no less in terms of great and amazing feats that left their opponents mystified.

Putting that aside however, how do we mediocre students who are not super geniuses like Osensei and his DR peers learn Aiki? Judging by the numbers, the % of success seems very very low. Unless of course there's a whole slew of Aikido teachers hiding Aiki in their sleeves.

Having been exposed to some Aiki, I find myself wondering what is it that I'm learning. Certainly there's some body elements here in the beginning. A way of thinking as well. Maybe a way of moving too. There are so many different exercises, that provide glimpses of Aiki, but never the whole picture.

I got to thinking that if it was physical and perhaps a small part of it is, how is it different then a regular physical movement. My theory that the small % of an Aiki movement could still be physical, but even that physical aspect is different then how we would normally do things. Instead of using muscles that are common,  it could be we are using rarely used groups. It takes a high amount of concentration to move your body using muscles you generally aren't even aware of, but a lot of body arts share this knowledge. Pilates, Yoga and certain house jujitsu... so it could be that using the skeletal strength and uncommon muscles and moving in a smooth and coordinated fashion causes opponents to miscalculate and misinterprate nage's movements. Consequently, they lose composure or focus and get easily unbalanced. For example, in Aiki Age, I've been thinking that aside from getting our center underside against uke's center, movement of the hands is done by the lower back instead of shoulders and arms. Thus this subtle movement will be missed by ordinary minds.

Notwithstanding that, a higher stage of Aiki development would apparently do away with the physical aspect in its entirety. But for that we have training in spirit, intent, feelings and things like that. It was never never anything to do with Ki per se. We don't have sessions of meditation to cultivate Ki to be used in fights. Always, it is understood that Aiki energy is the natural universal energy that passes to every creature.

As it gets higher and higher, I believe even the mind is given a lesser role to play. And in that circumstances, we no longer move our bodies with our consciousness or earthly self, perhaps even we are moving with out 'true' self.

Anyway, I'm just thinking about that. The nice thing is, after playing around with some wing chun people I just think that more live practice in a none Aikido environment, would be more beneficial in training for Aiki. With the Aikido guys, they just have this innate pressure to conform to what is expected. But for Aiki to work, it should work on anyone and especially everyone. That I guess would be where we can find our answers. Certainly I think, you can't find much by asking your teacher all the time.

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