Don’t look at the opponent’s eyes, or your mind will be drawn into his eyes. Don’t look at his sword, or you will be slain with his sword. Don’t look at him, or your spirit will be distracted. True budo is the cultivation of attraction with which to draw the whole opponent to you. All I have to do is keep standing this way. Morihei Ueshiba
I don’t think this can be in any way made any clearer.
A lot of good things are lost because of words. Words can reveal but they can equally conceal the intended meaning and communication.
Experience is vital but unconscious experience can also blind because of the element of fear.
Without experience, however, and real need, real emergency, the full measure of a skill cannot emerge. That’s why some try to eke it out by testing in the ring. Still, this is not really the real deal, not fully, so here too, it may or it may not evoke any measure of depth in understanding.
And the rest of transmission, if any is left after that, is destroyed by the mutual admiration society, who, in playing to an audience hoping to tell them what they think they want to hear, because they “once heard it” it “read it in a book,” or trained “under” someone for a brief period, instead of exploring, researching and testing, merely quote like parrots or galahs hoping for approbation of those they deem lesser.
Enough of games.
Read Gavin De Becker on PINS or Pre Incident Indicators, the simple English language zanshin/Metsuke equivalents. These can often begin to signal at the time of the attack being planned even if it is a week before the encounter. Are you noticing?
Zanshin is NOTICING. No more no less. Noticing things exactly as they are at any given moment, leaving nothing out.
Some kids are accused of having ADHD so that the drug trade can make money out of misfortune instead of the real work required to alleviate suffering. Such as a parentectomy. No such thing as ADD or ADHD in fact exists. Misunderstanding of natural functions do. Combined with profiteering, it drags the world down.
Immediately noticing and moving on to notice the new means your mind is not dragging in the mud of stale thoughts. The ADD kids, only a few hundred years ago sustained the tribe. They were the hunters. Now the bead threaders, sadly, rule the world. And those children with high speed Metsuke who respond badly to being overdosed with artificial sugar, are then being “treated” with toxic chemicals to make them into complaint zombies.
Metsuke is the epitome of the highly functional detachment Zen proponents seek, not realizing they already have it, as does everyone else.
It is immediately available by simply altering the axis of perspective, one’s attitude, and start noticing instead of analyzing everything to death which is a waste of time.
In Budo as with anything requiring immediacy of action, Metsuke is an imperative.
Try this exercise – (Enzan no Metsuke.) Relax your vision and look as if gazing at a far away mountain. Even better. Go to where there is a real far away mountain and sit and practice.
You will start to see everything in proper perspective, not focusing on a particular detail to the point of not seeing something else.
Both visual focus and unfocus form the spectrum of Metsuke. Not all of Metsuke is visual focus or unfocus. Metsuke is paying attention. It is best to gaze beyond the opponent noticing the whole person.
Metsuke can be expressed as piercing or penetrating gaze. As well the term may refer to perception, pre-perception, intuition, the powers of observation and feeling developed through training. Never look into the opponent’s eyes because this distracts clarity of mind. Rather take in the whole opponent thus reading any intention or movement immediately.
Metsuke enables you to control the opponent because it enables you to control maai and therefore deai to intercept.
There are many ways to use the eyes. Lack of use means the atrophy of these faculties. In the “civilised” world we are taught to only focus, and thereby we become blind. Thinking we see we cease to notice.
There are ways to look through water. There are ways to see into fire. There is more in the air than city people would want to know exists. And everything on the planet contains dimensions not readily available to most. This is no ”ninja trick” or “mystical ability” to be gotten only after years in a monastery. Not at all. You already have and contain these abilities, but you killed them through lack of use!
They can be revived but it takes humility and a genuine desire to awaken the ability to see and notice. And – paying attention! Everything, not merely selectively.
Some natives can run full speed through a forest, reading it, and out of hundreds and thousands of species, stop at the herb they seek. That’s natural Metsuke. Aboriginals can track equally in the blackest night, as by day. That’s Metsuke.
A weak city dweller, far removed from the complete spectrum raw nature provides, has to start small and build from there.
Real necessity will awaken a broad spectrum Metsuke, but the shock may distort your clarity because of the element of placing your life at risk. A profession in jobs requiring the addressing of emergencies may help. It may also get you a good dose of PTSD.
A simple exercise is to relax you eyes and start noticing with peripheral vision. Gaze instead of look. Practice.
The worst thing you can do in a violent situation is to make eye contact. If you don’t believe me test it. Go visit an MMA stable or boxing gym and tell them you want to test your skill. Don’t tell them you “do aikido” unless you want to drop them with laughter. Maybe that’s a strategy too. But most will refuse to fight you out of compassion, as they would not want to hurt you. Most are decent guys who quietly feel sorry for the “aikido” set and get on with real and hard training, to the best of their ability.
Try this method – Make eyes. YOU WILL BE DROPPED OR PUNCHED UP.
Then try this method. Observe maai and intercept their entry. YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A MEASURE OF SUCCESS. And then if you “do aikido” they will drop you, punch you up, etc. Please, don’t “do aikido.” Wake up to yourself instead and get real.
This is a good starting point. A spiritual one. Then take your experience back to the dojo. Take your thinking processes too. Question. Practice critically with someone else who can also think. Don’t be afraid of innovation. Also don’t get lost in the byways of bashfest and wrestling. In other words, don’t depart researching Aikido.
Simply find the way that makes it work. You are on the way to discovering AIKIDO.
One of the sad thing about the pompous prats of “the aikido world” is that they try to shrink Aikido into something limited. Something that never existed. And something which it’s not, thereby departing the Aikido of Morihei, to the aikido of their own strictured opinions.
I don’t know whether it’s laziness, stupidity, complacency, some kind of self-righteousness, ulterior motives or what it is. Maybe they are attempting to revamp religious history and reinvent a myth to make money out of it. Who knows?
Morihei’s Aikido was not limited. It was alive, natural and all embracing.
Metsuke is not my invention, or something from “another style.” Rather, it’s simply a fact of life for those who are alive.
If you want your Aikido to be functional Aikido, you need to discover and multiply your Metsuke.
There’s no mystery about Metsuke.
Metsuke is the attraction MU speaks of in his doka.
Paying attention, noticing, meditating the action in training and waking up, is up the road, as everything else, not focusing, but taking everything in as a passing screen. In the moment.
Metsuke and vipassana or zazen are the same thing, NOTICING. Mindfulness in action. Sitting is merely “practice.” Put that meditation practice into action as soon as possible for it to be of any use.
In civil and silly society, people have the tendency to “make eyes.” In criminal society people take offence if you “eyeball them.”
Either way you’ll find nothing in people’s eyes other than deceit. And your own myopia. Closely followed by a kick in the groin you failed to notice.
The indicators are not in the opponent’s eyes, their words or the faces they pull, but in their actions. Even the smallest.
Learn to notice early. Preemptive noticing is Metsuke.
The great Morihiro Saito Sensei was forever giving away secrets, but for our ability to listen and to notice, they were mostly hidden in plain sight. He would say, “If you want to learn, don’t read my lips, WATCH MY FEET!”
In other words the indicators reside in the action. NOTICE IT. That’s Metsuke, pure and simple.
Metsuke is the eye of the hunter. The hungry one. The competent one. He misses nothing.
It takes more than practice to attain clear Metsuke, but also exposure to real situations.