“The Millionth Part of a Moment,” by Nev Sagiba

Existence, the flow which appears to be existence, is made up of many small parts conjoined and flowing akin to sand in a timer, thereby giving appearance which deceive our minds.

Knowing The Parts Which Make the Whole

Sixteen frames a second is all it takes to deceive the mind and for our minds to join the dots into a flow and miss the real actuality behind the appearances. The Buddha named the sub-atomic particle-waves, the parts which make the whole and their attributes, Skandhas, often translated as aggregates.

Sight deceives. Vision reveals. Noticing sees through the cracks of appearances.

The double slit experiment (Thomas Young – 1803) confirms the tenuous nature of existence as indeed a flow, impermanence. This is good. It means existence is alive. Movement and change is life, stagnation is death.

When surviving any intensely emergent situation, to capture the moment is everything. It makes the difference between surviving and death, winning and losing.

When the mind drags, entangled in concepts, the perceptions drags behind as well and become blinded by the confused mental clutter, thereby missing the moment. This internal conflict of consciousness then seeks to contend with existence. A losing battle.

Kime, explosive kime is at the core of survival aiki. For kime to be effective, perception must be lucid.

That we practice slowly is a key. Just as in walking meditation, slow enables noticing of the fast later and sitting enables noticing of active action later, so also will slow-flow enable totally incisive explosiveness when it is required for imminent survival.

You can not fake this. You can prepare for it, however.

The parts that make the whole is the nature of all existence. An unclear mind fights the form, whereas a lucid consciousness simply finds the key that stops and starts the engine. Mastery is the doing less to achieve more, not the other way around, which is merely an appearance.

A good teaching method is to break up a technique into parts, and the parts into parts and even more. Such dissection will enable even the experienced to discover more techniques within the techniques, which in any event are combinations of techniques.

The eyes cannot be relied upon in full. Multiple theories abound such as, “persistence of vision” a belief which an afterimage is thought to persist for approximately one twenty-fifth of a second on the retina. Some other theories to explain motion perception, considered as perceptual illusions are “phi phenomenon,” “beta movement” and “iconic memory.” But all the “experts” disagree vehemently with each other’s pet theories. On this basis the worth of these opinions can not be evaluated.

As usual, warfare has been responsible for cutting edge research and discovery, and for all the wrong reasons, has obtained, in part, the right result, developing a million frame per second CCD Camera which can effect ultra fast imaging needed for the development, control, and evaluation of modern air-deliverable weapons systems, enabled by recent advances in optical imaging such as Speckle Interferometry; which can potentially improve DoD capability to deliver munitions and armaments to targets at long ranges, and under adverse seeing conditions. Ultrafast imaging is also required for flow field optical image analysis for hypersonic propulsion systems. High quality images can now be obtained at remarkably high speeds and hopefully one day will be used for constructive purposes.

In budo training, learning to notice in-between the frames, provides the decisive advantage.

Moving onwards and upwards from the lower, darker expressions, clarifying the mind to notice clearly, can enable the entire prevention and mitigation of inter human violence. This is the direction we will need to point ourselves, if we as a species want to continue to exist.

The abovementioned Charge Coupled Device is one of the two main types of image sensors used in digital cameras. When a picture is taken, the CCD is struck by light coming through the camera’s lens. Each of the thousands or millions of tiny pixels that make up the CCD then convert this light into electrons. The number of electrons, usually described as the pixel’s accumulated charge, is measured, then converted to a digital value. This last step occurs outside the CCD, in a camera component called an analog-to-digital converter.

This can also be achieved naturally. It is about NOTICING. It is achieved through practice. When moving through heavy jungle with natives that have lived there for countless generations, the mind captures, identifies, records, evaluates and decides on each plant and animal species, literally thousands, that present themselves as well as tracking signs such as small breaks, footprints etc.. For city bred individuals this also happens, but is not consciously noticed by them unless followed up with a hypnotically assisted session in the aftermath of the excursion, to tap their memory of the details event, rather more slowly. Likewise with native ocean dwellers and desert dwellers who notice a surplus of food where non-natives and even trained survivalists will die of dehydration and starvation.

All existence is a navigation which can only be enhanced through practice and the human body-mind is perfectly adaptable to infinite nuances of observation.

Direct noticing is no mystery. It happens best when we are tired and stop getting in our own way with confused conceptual clutter, ideas, notions, preconceptions and the held hallucinations born of belief.

Realness is real. Ideas are only that, ideas.

Training conducted only when it is convenient, is no training at all. Merely an idle pastime. For training to get results and crack the hard shells of ignorance and peel away the layers of confusion, it is necessary to train despite the attrition and challenges that life throws up. There is no other way.

When tired, when in pain, when mourning the death of a loved one, when suffering loss, when experiencing relationship or employment difficulties, when anything at all is striving to get in the way of training, is the best time to train and learn to capture the moment, the millionth part of a moment.

There Is No time Like Now!

Every millisecond, now changes and becomes a different now. Each millisecond is a different wave of potential. Each moment a wave passes you and you missed it.

Budo is not about speed but timing. Seconds are made of milliseconds and they of microseconds. That’s lots of increments.

* second – 1/60 of a minute; the basic unit of time adopted under the Systeme International d’Unites
* millisecond – one thousandth (10^-3) of a second
* microsecond – one millionth (10^-6) of a second; one thousandth of a millisecond

It looks like speed but it is more.

We’ve all seen those film clips of O’Sensei moving in slow motion to defeat a young buck attacking at hyper-speed.

What’s that about?

Can it be noticing in-between the chinks in the matrix of existence as we know it?

The millionth part of a moment touches the eternal. This is the beginning of navigating harmoniously, by analogy, without running aground onto rocks and reefs.

The universe and ourselves – mind -being interactive, the observer can modify the nature of existence, not by force, but simply by observing the parts which make the whole.

And in the case of aiki, by making slight self-adjustments, hence economy of motion or natural efficiency.

This is transferable into all things.

Nev Sagiba


  1. bruce baker says:

    Repetitions breeds contempt .. or rather .. it gets so boring doing over the same thing, seeing the same thing time after time after time .. you become so familiar with the repetition that you finally … see the details you missed before.

    No one’s brain can immediately grasp the million parts, the million details, so we grasp the groups, the categories and add to the details of those categories with repetitive practice or going over the details we perceive with our memory until we are able to pickup with our senses .. more details we missed before or we think about in the many levels of thoughts going on in our minds.

    I don’t know about all of you .. but my brain grasps things in groups and categories adding details as I go along .. hopefully that translates in meaningful movements that save my life or at least .. don’t harm anyone when I not trying to harm someone.

    Funny thing about muscle memory … it can betray you in a time of need if your mindset is not in the proper frame of mind for the need at the given moment of need.

    Be aware of the groups and categories for the emotional connections of thinking verses the actual body movements that translate into action.

  2. Musashi deals with this in his short discourse on timing, to the effect that an individual swordsman can move more quickly than an army. that said there are little tricks which give small but meaningful advantages. a wide stance is going to yield slower displacements of the body than a narrow stance. in any stance, your center of gravity projects to a point about between your feet. in order to move you have to bring that point over one foot. if you have to shift the center a foot or more, it will take more time than if you have to shift it a few inches. certainly it’s possible to shift backward and forward on a wide stance, but that is unlikely to move you off the line. yes, it’s important to know the power and stability of a wide stance. but it’s advantageous in aikido to be narrowly based at the opening of a situation. it would be possible to measure this sort of thing with old film, frame by frame.

  3. Question:

    Can one develop this kind of awareness without doing solo practice? Is it possible to experience it without going through shiai or war? My grandfather told about seeing fear in the eyes of a German pilot during a WW1 dogfight. “In battle, perception of time and space changes”, was his explanation. Police officer students who went through gun battles recount similar experiences.

    I did not experience war but the closest training I had was through shiai. A few minute’s shiai –what ever the outcome, was worth months of practice. It taught me to deal with my character and technical flaws and manage them. On the shiaijô (as on the battlefield?) confusion and excuses mean loss (death?). Reflection after each bout was mandatory. One can relive the whole experience as if in slow motion, see what one has to correct and what needs to be improved through kata, randori, and solo training, then “replay” the whole situation in one’s mind.

    Is it possible to develop that through meditation only?

    Thank you for this very deep thought-stimulating essay, Mr. Sakiba and may you, your loved ones and everyone else have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Patrick Augé

  4. Nev,
    No disrespect intended, but I wish you would cut down on the long drawn out stuff and keep it simple….. gobbledegook just gets boring and tedious, as deep as it sounds, and I’m sure meaningful for you…. It does not do the rest of us thicky’s any favours when most here haven’t a clue what you are on about, unless one has a doctorate in quantum physics or something.
    Please give some of us the benefit of the doubt, that we might know or understand a little of what you are on about from our own experience….. Please just keep it simple or at least try to?
    Try some Shodokan for a while if you are not too old now, it might change your perspective….

    Regards Tony

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