I recently had a class with a friend of mine from California who has been a student of Aikido for about 16 years now. My Sensei, Mr. Stan Pranin, was gracious enough to allow him to attend one of our classes here in Las Vegas. It was interesting to hear the two of them talk about the different variations and history of Aikido as well seeing his practice. We went over a few basic techniques and I was focused on the details of each movement. I’m new to this art and find myself going over the moves in my head away from class and then when I get back to class I get mildly frustrated by my lack of skill.
After class, Sensei asked if we had any questions and I asked him how to deal with all the details of the various movements and positions. I don’t remember his exact words but what I got out of his answer was very helpful. He gave me, what I gathered to be, an overall picture or concept to think about in the background of every move to keep me focused and ignore frustration. The concept involved balance and how, when dealing with an opponent, the main focus is to get him off balance and how this can be done with the most subtle of movements. Half the time I don’t even realize I’m off balance until it’s too late and I think that’s the point. Sensei’s movements are graceful and soft yet highly effective. It’s not about force, it’s about balance and I look forward to carrying this thought with me to my next class.