“What makes Aikido different from other mashal-arts?” some in the group once asked Sensei when the seniors were trying to get him drunk enough to reveal secrets. Presumable they were not OBSERVING in class because Sensei, whilst tacit gave away secrets freely.
BY EXAMPLE. But these guys wanted words.
Sensei grunted in his inimitable way. I could feel the discomfort.
“Move whole body,” he finally said.
Lots of talk followed as Sensei quietly sipped his Bourbon and Coke. The talkfest permutated multiple possibilities and finally the accountant turned to Sensei and asked, “What do you mean by ‘move whole body’?”
In the old world they had insulted him enough already, but these were modern city westerners and knew no better.
Sensei sat quietly and whilst appearing bemused was probably thinking, “How thick can these gaijin be?” Or maybe he was overwhelmed with compassion, who knows. But he never voiced it.
Grunting or clearing his throat, I’m not sure which, he appeared to be pondering.
Finally he said, “Move whole body,” with a sincere and respectful tone that suggested, even across the then linguistic barrier; that this could not be improved upon.
Now Sensei is one of nature’s gentlemen. O’Sensei would have simply waked away and Takeda Sokaku would have mostly likely demonstrated most firmly on the questioner for daring to ask stupid questions. But this was a different world.
In the dojo, “Like this,” followed by a fully powered waza was Sensei’s favourite method of explanation.
I loved it and took the message but these boys wanted words. Lots of words. Whatever for I’ll never know or understand.
MOVE WHOLE BODY! That is words enough. More than enough.
You witness crude fighters and beginners suffering from glue feet. They are not even aware of it but are betrayed by their ancestors, genes and hard-wired habits which cling to the ground they are standing on, if even, and most usually, at their own peril.
They just stand there like a block of wood. And get bashed. Or try to bash better.
I get cold shivers of dread when people don’t know what their feet are doing or which is their left or their right and ask myself, “WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN ALL THEIR LIFE?”
These are obsolete knuckle dragging habits, which in human verbal and social interaction reveal some very bad habits.
Among others, that of the inability to let go of the issue, flex the mind and look for alternative approaches.
I think the word “obdurate” or “intractable” best describes such attitudes.
Some alternative approaches are self evident and obvious. Such as getting out of the way of a force trajectory. If gossip is true, one instructor was “excommunicated” from a major cultish “aikido” organization for giving away this “secret of aikido” during a public demonstration, thereby revealing that the organization’s deadwood suffer exactly from this disease.
Getting out of the way is obvious to all but the thickest or most arrogant. It forms the basis of taisabaki or tainohenka.
Aikido requires the practitioner to behave as pointed out by another “heretic” Mr. Koichi Tohei, this being the body and mind united as one. And the body functioning as a coordinated unit instead of disparate parts.
Also it would be rather helpful to be focusing on the goings on of the present moment during a real and physical attack instead of planning your next political move, jostling for meaningless positions in meaningless organizations. And get a job.
The mat is where the action is in training. And real life in real life.
The hara determines the feet, the feet determine your placement. As a result Aikido conducts evasion and engagement simultaneously, not separately.
The attacker determines the technique to be deployed.
The defender allows and assists the attacker without compromising integrity, that is MOVING, into a better position of balance as required.
What is so hard about that?
If you don’t get it, you are talking too much and focusing or irrelevant matters.
More time on the mat, moving and sweating, dealing with firm and intentioned attacks will reveal all.
When you control your feet, and know which is which and what to do with them, you control the opponent’s feet and you thereby have defeated him before he has attacked.
The rest is mere process.
Get the glue off your feet and mind, and as Sensei used to admonish repeatedly: KEEP MOVING.