“Points of Reference,” by Nev Sagiba

Ever changed room and forgot what it was you were thinking about? Have you ever then gone back to see if you could find your thought?

Sounds crazy but many people do.

Ever gone for an intense vacation, nature excursion or been to war then come home and found you could not find the “worries” you were so sure were your own? Where did they go? Or perhaps that they had multiplied? Where were they to start with?

What about your skills? Often someone who has practiced then gone fallow for years finds the skill as good, if not better than the day its practice was stopped.

Experienced this? Sleeping over away from home and walked into a wall when middle of the night you went to go to the loo where you expected a door to be?

The difference between habit and living awareness defines a warrior. Whereas any kind of uncreative drone, a slave to daily drudge imagines he’ll find safety by following orders, preferring not to think for himself or notice outside his peculiar box of illusions, the warrior questions everything, notices, thinks and exercises best practice initiative knowing where he stands right now! The warrior is awake, seeing into the three worlds whether awake or asleep. He is constantly getting to the bottom of things, leaving no stone unturned, pressing boundaries for uplift and improvement of life. He or she knows how to recapture bearings at each moment. It makes those still sleeping uncomfortable, as they too risk waking up.

Both require points of reference, but each uses them differently. One is merely habituated and institutionalized whereas the other, knowing with clarity where he is in the moment, exercises leverage to obtain a known result.

Dictionaries variously define “Point of Reference as: Noun, 1. point of reference – an indicator that orients you generally; “it is used as a reference for comparing the heating and the electrical energy involved,”

“A particular point in space which is used as an endpoint to measure a distance from or chart a map from,”

“Point of reference is the intentional use of one thing to indicate something else. It may refer to: Reference is a relation between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to refer to the second object. The second object – the one to which the first object refers – is called the referent of the first object.”


“A frame of reference in physics, may refer to a coordinate system or set of axes within which to measure the position, orientation, and other properties of objects in it, or it may refer to an observational reference frame tied to the state of motion of an observer. It may also refer to both an observational reference frame and an attached coordinate system as a unit.”

An individual reared with integrity or one who has reclaimed themselves will have strong internal points of reference. Others rely on externals ones.

People with established internal points of reference tend to have less fear of death and are less likely to become disoriented under adversity. Those externally reliant tend to collect material things because they have trouble finding anything within to work with.

Sometimes these intersperse. The left and right brain functions and interactional predispositions will vary from person to person. The “inner” and the “outer” are not so far apart.

Some people identify with their job, their group, their club, their ethnic group and so on. With these removed they claim to “have no identity.” Who is it then that is making that claim?

For example, a mentally fragile person will acquire an expensive car for no other reason than to identify with a status symbol. When it is stolen he feels devastated. Another will pump iron in the belief it will somehow overcome his insecurities when people steal glances at unnecessarily large muscles.

Some, because they are riddled with fear or rage, rely on aggression for “identity.”

Healthy people get a car to merely get from A to B, and if they pump iron it is to improve their functionality. Their focus is forward, from within outwards and into life. The warrior relies on his own center and preparedness but without aggression, rather based on trained skill, his multifaceted Budo training often based on one core art which informs and augments the ever renewed learning of other skills as they become necessary.

Have you ever owned a dog? A dog is a particular example of the preference to becoming institutionalized. The dog’s spot is sacrosanct. With subordinates in the pack he will fight for it and feel broken if the spot is lost to a more dominant animal in the pecking order. People who do not understand destroy their dog’s psyche by changing its spot with casual disregard. If you care for a pet, please respect the spot you designate for them.

All animals are territorial. People too must have a home and need to feel that they have a home. To be homeless can be devastating to most and yet for humans a home is a tenuous and fragile thing giving an illusion of permanence. (When you die you lose it – that’s why it is called a “mort”gage or measurement of exploiting you to the very death.) Earthquake, tornado, flood, tsunami, war, the building of a highway or being conned by unscrupulous loan sharks and in a twinkling of an eye, even the best heeled can find themselves in the street. Assuming the street is still there, that is.

What is the ingredient that enables a person to rise above?

Some people prefer hygiene. Others much like the aforementioned canine refer to primitive instincts and a more olfactory point of reference. But when you are living out of a suitcase or in any way without a support system in an artificial infrastructure, that’s not always easy.

What enables you to rise above the appearance of things?

Do you remember the very thin threads that altered the course of your life forever?

Can you adapt to change? Do different environments faze or excite you? Do they weaken or empower your resolve? Who are you?

Intense magnetic fields will alter a person’s predispositions, if even temporarily, by affecting the lobes of the brain. So will the imbibing of substances.

On 27 January 1971, two beams of protons collided in the Intersecting Storage Rings (a particle accelerator at CERN) for the first time. This machine was a pioneering endeavour which paved the way for the operation of the Super Proton Synchrotron as the first proton–antiproton collider in the 1980s, and subsequently for the development of the Large Hadron Collider.

When I first saw the photos of particle/wave/predispositions accelerated collisions they spoke to me. They were familiar. I felt that I knew them and that they somehow resonated with Aikido training, but at the time I could not explain why!

The pace of today’s world poses an escalating panorama of possibilities, internal and external. Greater numbers are dying in war and of starvation than in any of our previous histories. A rational mind would like to believe that, as a species, with all our imagined “progress” it would be otherwise. The increase of technological capabilities are used to ensure this travesty of inequity and injustice. These same technological capabilities can and are being used for beneficial ends as well. But nowhere near enough. “Military” spending, to invade and devastate villagers without such technology are in the multiple trillions. (Those persecuted by the tyrannies we don’t want to hear about, fast learn by example then in anger retaliate thereby escalating the very problems we should be mitigating.) Education spending is but a few billion. Health care, not much. The arts and sciences require charitable donations as does the alleviation of suffering. Why?

Rather upside down and back to front, don’t you think?

The things that we as humans should be prioritizing we have chosen to place last and the things we should be placing first are somehow are being hijacked?


Before the corrosive effects reach you, (many already have), do you know what is going on in the world beyond your immediate dream? Do you care? Are you doing something to ameliorate environs and the world? What do you intend to do about making sure your supportive infrastructures remain intact and continue to improve instead of decline? Or have you never thought about it? If not, why not?

What can you do about staying abreast of the immense changes now taking place? Ignoring them, like the weather, won’t make it go away. You will be caught in the storm. Your TIME is being stolen as you rush hither and thither importantly distracted, most of the time aimlessly chased by a deeply rooted but unfounded fear of lack, craving artificial survival in a theme park that is so fragile it barely exists, held together by a mere belief, an agreement to participate in inanity. That’s why no real person looks the one in the commercial.

I believe there is more to us than such shallowness. In fact I know it! We are and can all be creative beings. But first we have to tap our inner potential.

BUT WHERE IS OUR “INNER POTENTIAL?” Well you will need at least the faith the size of a mustard seed to step out of the lie and into the Universe that is here and now all the time. And within you!

What are you doing about becoming a Navigator of existence as it is?

Where would you like your point of reference to be? In pieces of plastic, shiny baubles and toys? Or in your Universal Origins? Where “moths, rust and dust” will eventually reduce them to original substance? Or in the source of all things? Does it matter? It does to some. Are you swayed by external influences? People? Statues? Shiny paint? Coloured material? Curves? (Our mass of plastic waste in fact does not readily break down so fast and as we covertly dump whilst clinging to a state of denial, have already begun to clog our oceans, the primary source of life giving oxygen being oceanic algae. Do you care? How much is your next breath of life worth? Can money buy it? Are we as a species now trading it off? Give it some thought.)

Conversely, are you influential? If so for benefit or for detriment? Do you know which? What will be the long term results of the actions you put in place today?

It is all “us” just like the cells that hold together any biological entity. There are no “them.” This is the salient feature of Morihei Ueshiba’s insight. Each morning he would perform misogi, salute the directions and make his peace with all beings in the Universe.

Deprecating the very “system” that provides you with a supportive framework is a tad hypocritical. Would you rather be living in a cave and hunting rabbits for your next meal?

Sure, things are not perfect. What are you doing to constructively change that?

In experiments with extended sensory deprivation, individuals either become clear/enlightened or go mad. What is the determinant attitude that routes the result?

The essence that unravels complexity is simple. Are you still in a phase that you still feel the need to collect variables on the same theme imagining the result to one day be different, no matter the cost to yourself or the world?

Kuzushi is kuzushi no matter the technique. Gravity is one. The arm movements of Aikido are in the greater part irrelevant. Your centre is the determinant. In all things. Have you found your centre? Are you cultivating a Way to do so?

At a time where more people are being born daily than ever before, it has become a matter of global urgency to address more than the next bill, DVD, what’s on at the movies, pizza, and other trivialities that simply serve to keep us in denial of what’s closing in. And our position in the scheme of things in relation to all other positions and tendencies.

Here it comes? Are you ready? A-I-KI-D-O, Aikido, Aikido, Aikido, Aikido, Aikido and Aikido.

Well, we all knew he was going to find away to work Aikido in somehow. But was it so difficult? Since all things are related. And this is an Aikido journal. Aikido is the preeminent practical study of: Point of Reference.

I refer to the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba and his words: “Aikido wa misogi desu, Aikido wa Budo desu. — Aikido is the way of purification by protecting all things.” And also, “Aikido is the way of the Universe, and the movements unite human beings with great Nature.. By bringing ourselves into accord with kannagara no michi, the universal stream of life we can make the world a better place..”

“The secret of Aikido,” he said, “is to harmonize with the movements of the Universe and bring our selves into accord with the Universe itself. Budo is a work of love, a path to overcome discord in our selves and by making the heart of the Universe one’s own heart, bring peace to the world..”

Over time, it slowly dawned upon me that at every level, everything from the greatest to the smallest thing that exists, will find a way to harmonize colliding predispositions. And that’s why those squiggly lines looked so familiar. Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo, Gokyo, Jujigarame, Kotegaeshi, Shihonage, Kaitennage, Iriminage, Tenchinage, Gyaku-Iriminage, Sumiotoshi, Koshinage, Aikiotoshi, Obiotoshi and their derivative flows, what are behind them.

The myriad spectrum the repeated and attentive actioning Aikido unlocks are the unspoken universal essential points of reference that wherever you may find yourself, in whatever situation, will connect and align you with the core essence of the Universe.

Does it happen overnight? No!

The journey is the goal and the destination and one way or the other, you have on average about 25,000 to 33,000 days, give or take a few to connect and to pull your weight in the process of adding to constructive creation. About half of these days you will be able to train hard, the other half you will be training intelligently instead. Or you will have quit. What value will you extract from your training? If personal gratification, albeit a valid fringe benefit, is your sole motive for training, you may have missed the boat.

Cues are points of reference. Disparity of language causes disparity of understanding. Disparity of understanding the language of cues, such as between age groups, cultures, skill sets, trades, departments, individuals, nations.. any relationship; can cause potentially dangerous barriers in communication and empathy.

The inability to understand or to read cues makes you blind to the pre-incident indicators, whether of an attack or an opportunity to thrive and share thriving. No matter what techniques you “know,” these will be of little use if your mind is late.

The bulk of Aikido is mostly in the mind. It is an attitude and an intention to harmonize. To fulfill this attitude in expression and in life, we must first notice what is there; not what we imagine, think, want to interpret might be there, but what is! Before we can be of use, we need to first begin with ourselves. Otherwise training has no meaning.

Where and what is the point of reference when two energies are in the trajectory of an imminent collision?

Where and what is the point of reference when two intentions (or more) are at ideological odds?

Where and what can it be? This is an area of immense research. An area that requires the daring to be different. It requires of us the willingness to try something more true, even if it runs against the common instinct habits of the accepted cave-man-ancestor knee jerk reactivity which leads to violence and wrongful exploitation of some kind taking place.

With the emergence of a vast array of new industries and career possibilities, the development of new skills such as IT and computing (Not much today runs without computers and it’s on the increase.); or rediscovering of old and perennial ones such as respite care for the increasing mass of aged, we have a lot of new learning-curves before us.

Each moment is unique and lost opportunities are gone forever. As human beings, it requires the courage to research new and effective ways to respond that will add real value to long term harmony. Not discord.

Good things do not just drop from the sky. There are people behind them. People who noticed that a gap needed to be filled and did something about it. As human beings, our artificial infrastructures need maintenance and we are an integral part of them.

Ultimately it’s about slowing down and finding centre in what at times may feel just like a battlefield. It’s about respect and dignity. And showing it to your fellow “combatants” in life itself, now, today, as it is. How we comport in stressful or unaccustomed situations. The fantasy of the commercial is just that, illusion. Real life is today as it is. Right now. The next thing you think, say and do will determine a long trajectory of consequences and events. It always does. Each time, each moment to moment choice. Randori. Receiving chaos is receiving freedom. With increase of skill it becomes a dance, not a fight.

As with the words of the song, “Life happens while you make other plans.” This means once the opportunity is gone you will not get another chance to be, do and say what you mean. So choose carefully. Life is simple. Philo, the ancient philosopher put it succinctly, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Armed with this understanding it makes sense to not add to the debts that arise from adding to suffering through primitive minded escalation or neglect of vital common duties.

What did the founder have to say about it? On his deathbed he said, “I need at least another thousand years to begin to understand the scope of Aikido properly, please take what I’ve started and continue the research. Thank you..”

Nev Sagiba

Now an e-book:
FOUR DIAMONDS 1024 – Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido

by Nev Sagiba

4 Diamonds 1024 - The Book

Get the e-book: "FOUR DIAMONDS 1024, Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido"

The ability to adjust seamlessly between techniques defines mastery. In most cases, this essential attribute of Aikido has been either ignored or guessed at. This book not only reveals the innate simplicity behind the apparent complexity of Aikido Transitions and Counters, but it provides a full spectrum of possibilities for practicing. Here it is, simplified in drills of two techniques. When you can do these drills easily, you will be able to effect spontaneous responses to any attack. If you know your basic techniques this book is recommended and will enrich your Aikido. FOUR DIAMONDS 1024, provides complete sets of exercise drill guidelines to enable exploration of the available range of basic transitions and counters and unlock their potentials.

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