Reflections, 2019 Part II: July - December
When training to shoot, the goal is not to hit the target. The goal is to hit the target using a particular set of principles and elements. For example, a common mistake the new shooter makes is to aim lower once they see they are hitting high of the target. This is prioritizing the target over the means of hitting the target. This is a mistake because this kind of “adjustment” does not address the incorrect fundamentals that caused the round to go high of the intended point of aim - making technical improvement impossible. And, in fact, should the new shooter strike the target when aiming low so as to adjust for the last high shot, this would actually still constitute a miss - since the round struck a place different from where the sight picture was being held. All of this equally applies to Kihon Waza. The point is not to throw or pin the Uke. The point is to throw or pin the Uke using a particular set of principles and elements. For Aikido Kihon Waza, this set will always include the reconciliation of yin and yang energies, the utilization of internal force sources, and a state of self detachment. Techniques that do not have these elements cannot be considered correctly done.
The level of self-sabotage today is nearly unbelievable. Yet, even cancelling out all of the small, mundane, daily ways we do not tap into wisdom, all the ways we negatively seal our future, all the ways we subvert and destroy our relationships, all the ways we waste the precious time afforded to us by Chance and Destiny, and instead we just cut to the chase and look at suicidal rates, noting how they are constantly on the increase across demographics, how this ultimate act of self-sabotage is increasing in younger and younger age groups, how these numbers persistently keep this act as one of the top ten reasons for death in the United States - all of us knowing that it is an act that goes heavily unreported - we can see to what I am referring. This is how we come into the dojo, having lived and continuing to live a life of self-sabotage. There is this, obviously related, delusion that over stresses the selection of one’s dojo, one’s teacher, one’s federation - as if solving for these things can reverse or alter such a course and such a tendency. The truth is, regardless of where you are, and regardless of who are are with, and regardless whereupon you align yourself, you are predisposed to fuck it up, and so will you remain as such until you make the decision to forge yourself anew. You are the weak link, not your teacher, not your dojo, not your art.
The Modern episteme is incapable of realizing the simultaneity of infinite variation and universal connectedness. Whenever it attempts to do so, it lands itself firmly in a contradiction, or, more accurately, upon a violation of its own rules of thought. The Pre-Modern episteme, out of which Aikido was born, offered another way of understanding the experience of the world, one that reasonably allowed for a unifying and harmonizing of polarities: Concentricity.
The Modern mind is so radically different in its processes from the mind of Aikido that no application of will alone can come to refine it as needed or as wanted. Left to its own, as when one is without a true teacher, it will be the art that is transformed (usurped) and not the mind that is transformed (by the art). As such, a true teacher must at first “translate” the art into an appropriate life practice consisting of right activities, behaviors, and the application of techniques designed to facilitate the mind’s reorganization. Hence, the ritualistic nature of Kihon Waza.
A dojo should not accept walk-ins. A prospective student should first be tried for full dojo membership, measuring most of all for character. The aforementioned trial should also be long enough to allow for one to penetrate somewhat beyond appearance. For many promising in appearance, in the end, prove unfit for training. Any person not showing the necessary character for training, should be rejected, sent away, and room should be made for others to enter such trials. For it is not numbers but character that keeps a dojo successful and this is true regardless of the field wherein this metric is used.
The great mystery of the Founder’s Aikido stems mainly from his attempts to say the unsayable.
In real combat, which I differentiate from the ego duels of social violence, luck and the mistakes of the enemy combatant play a surprisingly and often overwhelmingly determining role in outcome. However, these things cannot be relied upon and no strategies or tactics should be dependent upon them. For luck is far from reliable, as it can equally favor the enemy or be absent from the engagement altogether, and depending upon mistakes made by the enemy combatant leaves control and ultimately initiative in his/her hands. Victory without initiative is statistically rare, and thus the forfeiting of initiative should be avoided at all costs. As this is all true for combat, this remains true, even if it is to a lesser degree, for any live training environments. As Musashi noted in the 17th Century, and as any insightful soldier or cop knows today, luck and the mistakes of the enemy allow for what is basically shit technique and/or crap strategy to succeed where it could have and would have easily failed were but circumstances even slightly different. Thus, good technique and sound strategy cannot truly be honed and mastered in live training environments, because one cannot factor out the huge outcome determining effects of luck and the mistakes of the enemy. This is why drilling has remained and must remain central to our training. Drilling, or the use of controlled training environments, allows for the perfection of technique in ways live training environments never can. Live training environments are not the end-all/be-all training technologies today’s dabblers have come to believe.
The practitioner that is looking to go “all the way,” in the Bukowskian sense of the phrase, needs to understand the immense pressure the idea of the “federation” has not only upon their thinking but also upon their body, and even upon their imagination. So engrained is this idea, so deeply and so infinitely invested is this idea at the level of our being, that even our doubt has come to be determined by it. Like this, both thought and what is beyond thought are governed and captured, and with that capturing we are also captured. There, we forfeit, sometimes knowingly but more often unknowingly, our freedom and our true potentiality for the comfortability of form and group inclusion. When we are confronted by something external, something “other” to this form and group inclusion, something subversive, our only instinct, like good institutionalists, is to shout back at it, “What is your rank?” “What lineage are you from?” “What is your title?” “What art do you practice?” Meaning, we double-down on our institutionalized behavior, never seeing through to the arbitrariness and ultimate meaninglessness of such things as rank, lineage, title, and art. Like this, the hordes of practitioners become filled by people who sense the bullshit, but stay their course because they are “about to get their black belt,” or whatever next rank or title the institution says is needed, is adequate, and that should be desired. Know, this is a human problem - age old. Like this, we sell our soul, and participate in our own demise – something we do nearly everywhere – and we do it because we long for external comfort, external surety, external stabilization. We do it because ultimately we are cowards. Dokkudo is only for the brave.
For the Ancient Chinese, and for Osensei as well, since his thought was but an extension of theirs, skill in the martial arts, even (or especially) within the as/if rituals of Kihon Waza, generated a particular experience that represented an idealized notion of totalistic sagehood, one that itself was held to be consistent with and even self-evident as a manifestation of the natural order of things (eg. Tao, T’ien, Heaven, God, Nature, Universe, etc.). This is how or why there are infinite variations of a technique while one at the same time nevertheless holds that some ways are wrong.
If Aikido is a Budo, then it is a self-technology. If it is a self-technology, there is no on or off the mat, no in or outside of the art. If there is no on or off the mat, no in or outside the art, then all aspects of ourselves should follow yin and yang reconciliation, the tenets of self-detachment, and the application of Aiki. Like this, mobility, strength, mood stabilization, food addiction, body weight, etc., all are as telling about our teacher’s understanding of the art as is his/her Ikkyo.
Go last, and you will be first. Let go, and you will be holding it. Yield, and power is yours. Surrender, and gain control. Love, and Fear has no place to rest within you.
As few as the circles are in which valid insights into Aiki are discussed, there is a growing trend to see or understand Aiki as effortless power or as a universal application of one’s Will to Power. For me, this is incorrect. For me, Aiki is a natural phenomena that happens outside of direct will and that cannot manifest for the purposes of power or via a will to power. If power is present when Aiki is present, it is a correlative phenomena and not a causal one.
Aiki is the Universe reorganizing itself (according to its own principles) in the face of self-detachment.
It is the concentration of energy in the body’s center that allows everywhere else in the body to become soft and have no loss of integrity or organization. Likewise, it is the releasing of the heart/mind, at its very center, that allows it to sharpen without losing an ever expanding awareness. These two skills are interrelated and it matters not which precedes the other or even if only one is attempted at a time.
The “how” of something can never address the “why” of something. Thus, practice is always more important than talking about practice.
When one side thinks you’re too “woo-woo,” “mystical bullshit,” “a pseudo-guru-wanna-be,” etc., and at the same time the other side thinks your uncompromising, too hard, too violent, angry and scared, you’ll know you’re on the true Path.
Many times, Aikido Kihon Waza architecturally repeats or prolongs moments not for tactical reasons but rather for the sake of cultivating internal skills. This allows the practitioner to take advantage of both micro-drilling and increased exposure durations - both vital to gaining unconscious competency. While some are completely unaware of the benefits that come from not having everything fall under the rubric of tactical viability, others go to the opposite extreme and make internal skill training directly equivalent to martial effectiveness. Truth be told, internal skills are but “force multipliers” to whatever tactic you are employing, and in that capacity their martial applicability operates temporally in a way completely different from how they are cultivated. Meaning, whereas training looks to increase duration exposure, martial applications tend to consist of fractions of an inch and hundredths of a second.
In Aikido, Uke is a mirror into our own self. Do we resist Uke, do they threaten us, are we against them, do we see an enemy? Through Uke we see the violence within us, our deep and silent lack of peace. Through the ritual of setting up an enemy dichotomy, we see the enemy within ourselves. We see the true Path.
The Way addresses the issues of human consciousness, not American consciousness, or male consciousness, or female consciousness, or adult consciousness, or even Modern or Pre-Modern consciousness, etc. Rather, it posits a universality of human consciousness, which then posits another, deeper, more underlying, universality - a God Consciousness - which goes by many names and even by no names. This deeper universality is equally resistant to the logic of specificity and/or particularism. As such, dogmatic or doctrinal mindsets are antithetical to it. Thus, holding Osensei’s poetics higher or lower than any other poetics is to mislead oneself.
Techniques that are practiced from lower states of consciousness, a consciousness that is fear-driven, pain-driven, dichotomous, and self-attached, these techniques are usurped by that lower consciousness. These techniques become as delusional as the consciousness from which they are derived. Inversely, higher executions of technique, such as techniques that utilize Aiki, can only be derived from higher states of consciousness.
To say, “Aiki is Love,” is not to speak of a mere matter of being in love. Rather, it is to say, “Be Love.” It is saying that Love is a force, a power, and that we must strive to become indistinguishable from it.
The Founder of Aikido, through his art, joined a global and timeless effort to save the world. Today, most so-called teachers of his art transmit only exercises and gymnastic routines. Do you not see the diminished aspirations and the reduction in means that accompanies them? Only the very wise will see through the con they work amongst and upon us.
It is a shift in consciousness, from fear-driven to love-driven, from one of ego-attachment to one of mystical communion, and that alone, that makes Aikido waza totally real. How can such a premise be so radical? So threatening? So hated? So irrational? Have we not all heard the Founder’s words? Have we not all seen decades of training, training wherein this premise is rejected and not held, wherein our art has been led to a place different from where the Founder said it should be? Do we not therefore have both positive and negative proofs by which we can and should orient ourselves?
The fear-driven consciousness, by its nature, organizes the universe, our experience of the world, amongst yang-yang conflicts. Because we have lived among such conflicts for so long, we come to know no other way, no other world. We come to see this kind of experienced organization as “natural,” “inevitable,” “inescapable,” “universal.” Therefore , when we think we are blending, unifying, harmonizing, we are in fact struggling, resisting, contesting, unconsciously acting out our fears. Here then are four telltale signs through which you can see yourself more clearly in your practice. They all are indicative of a yang-yang conflicts and therefore of an underlying fear-consciousness that is merely being reified through one’s training:
- Uke’s spine has a moment when it stops traversing or tilting in your waza.
- Your Base of Support makes use of adjustment steps.
- Your feet and/or toes wiggle on the mat.
- You require Uke to reduce pressures and/or forces so as to artificially make the above-listed three elements absent from your technique.
Here is my take on martial arts in Law Enforcement:
Law enforcement contacts that make use of the martial arts can be generally divided into two realms: detainment and defense. In the former, you are trying to prevent an escape, make an arrest, and/or prevent an escalation of violence. In the latter, you are trying to stay alive and/or prevent yourself from suffering injury.
In detainment, arts that can structurally gain control of a suspect regardless of size differences, regardless of numerical differences, and regardless of the suspect’s willful compliance or lack thereof, are superior. Out of these arts, the arts that utilize holds and locks from standing positions are best suited toward law enforcement applications. This is because they maintain higher degrees of mobility and thus of adaptability in light of ever changing circumstances. Out of these arts, the ones that employ holds and locks in combination with strategies that seek not to contest for space but rather look to blend with and utilize a suspect’s resisting energies are superior. This is because these arts are more mechanically geared to asymmetrical combat and/or combat wherein the mechanical advantage rests innately with the subject, not the officer. Out of these arts, the one’s that additionally look to develop within the practitioner not only with the proper architectural requirements of the given hold or lock but also the proper geometric alignment of the skeletal and muscular systems as they apply to posture and energy transfer are the best. This is because these arts train officers to move and remain the most mechanically efficient. The least effective arts for detention are those that are pugilistic-based and/or pain compliance-based – arts that rely on the willful submission of the suspect for detention and/or on the officer having greater size and strength.
In defense, the situation has been reduced to a contest of irreversible consequences. Meaning, the law enforcement contact is now no longer purely one of institutional concerns. It is now one consisting in part or in whole of a concern for individual survival. This issue of survival in this setting is a matter of contest, and in this contest survival has become equal to victory, and victory has become equal to the suspect’s defeat. The defeat of the suspect is equal to his/her own physical incapacitation, and this incapacitation is equal to the suspect’s death and/or serious bodily injury. This is combat.
In this type of combat, arts that adopt the assumptions and/or structures of the “combat sports” are the least effective. These arts include those that adopt the related target restrictions, weapon formations, corresponding rules of engagement, and gaming understandings. Out of these arts, the ones that do not address differences in size and in strength, and the statistical fact that the officer is likely at a numerical disadvantage, other than through physical conditioning, should be avoided, as they will function as designed only under the most idealized situations. Out of these arts, those that look to address the issue of combat through empty-handed means only, either by design or by assumption, should be rejected as the most inferior. Alternately, arts that break with sporting traditions assumptions but not with the issue of fitness are superior. Out of these arts, arts that do not contest for space, while they simultaneously seek to weaken the suspect’s power-base as they seek to strengthen the officer’s power-base, are superior. Out of these arts, arts that seek to seamlessly transition from empty-hand to weapon utilization, and vice versa, as needed, are the most superior.
I have said nothing on ego-duals, since they consist only of social violence and are therefore best addressed by the cultivation of a mature spirit and good character.
Atemi cannot be pre-excluded from the art for moral reasons. Their use is no more unnatural, no less a manifestation of the Universe, than any other tactical aspect of the art. When they are employed then, Atemi must follow the same yin-yang considerations, utilize the same internal organizations, and follow the same strategic principles of the art that all the art’s other tactical components must follow.
In Budo, a technology of the self, our consciousness must be the same as it is for Ukemi, for Nage Waza, for our deshihood, in our relationship to our self and to others, to our career, to the world, and to God: It must be one of ego-reconciliation, fear-reconciliation, selflessness.
So thin is the veil between this world and Heaven, so thin is the twine that binds me here still. Quick, listen, there is little energy left to keep my words making sense. Quick, before they become as good as silence. Soon, I will have nothing to say to you.
When you strike the target, you must destroy the target. When the target is destroyed, it must be done so in such a way that all attacking or countering organizations are also thoroughly deconstructed. This is Atemi. Never strike for the sake of distraction or for mental preoccupation. Care not for what the enemy is thinking or not thinking. Care only for what he can do and cannot do.
Life may become easier as the spirit matures, as one reconciles more of his or her fear-consciousness. However, this is where the Warrior and the Contemplative again part ways. The Contemplative will look to abide amidst the newfound ease, and the Warrior will look to take on more burden, suffering greater pains, and serving more people at greater levels, levels that now feel as heavy as old and previous efforts once felt.
Our art must include practices thoroughly based in devotion, service, ritual, and contemplation/meditation. These are the ancient technologies Man has used and refined for centuries to mature our spirits and to bring us to higher levels of consciousness. These are the technologies the Founder used. We cannot simply intellectualize or exercise our art and call it “Aikido.”
The current problem with “rock bottom” is that it has moved further down or been done away entirely by our Modern ability and capacity to distract ourselves from who and what we are and how that affects our lives. Where it was once a practical final point of self-reflection, a saving grace, it now may not be so. Today, it may very well be the case that our lives will have been thoroughly ruined by the time we see what needed to be seen.
In most Modern societies, the need for self-defense has all but disappeared. Additionally, the spiritual immaturity and the incapacity to reconcile pride that underlies the marketing potential of the ego-duel (social violence) is being politically deconstructed under the truth-game of “toxic masculinity.” Moreover, Modernity’s long historical effort to specialize violence and to make it alien to the masses has found an unexpected benefit in the economic dominance of “nerd culture” and its prioritization of the intellect over the body and of language over movement. For these reasons, and more, the overall viable market population available for martial arts businesses has been steadily dwindling proportionately to these trends over the last two decades. Martial arts schools who choose to base their consumer appeal on “self-defense,” or that do so based upon an absence of any other viable market option, are essentially competing for smaller and smaller pieces from a smaller and smaller pie. What to do? The answer, from a marketing point of view, is certainly NOT to make Aikido more martial. While Aikido is and should be kept martial a priori, the answer is this: Fulfill the Founder’s vision for the art, have the art be consistent within its own Budo paradigm. Keep the art a technology of the self that utilizes violence and the ritual of violence as a path to higher forms of consciousness.
The issue with everyone knowing the Founder’s discourse in a language-dominated era, while inside of a Modernity that is incrementally rejecting the possibility of truth with a capital “T,” is that everyone, anyone, can say AND feel as if they are doing things correctly. Nevertheless, there are ways of telling the worthy from the worthless. As the art is based in a premodern paradigm that first divides the world dualistically but then posits and more appreciates the reconciliation of these divisions, Modern eyes, when observing accurate manifestations of the art, should see paradoxes. That is to say, correct forms will simultaneously demonstrate softness and explosiveness; peacefulness and violence; power and effortlessness, patience and quickness, life and death. When you see only one side of these dichotomies at a time, you are looking at incorrect form, a worthless example of the art.
The finite rests upon the Infinite. One’s Aikido should reflect this insight.
Man’s being is not captured by scientific reason. In fact, most of the former escapes the latter, as Man still lives mostly by correlation and statistical likelihood and seldom by strict scientific reason. Underneath the false belief that he/she has evolved beyond a life of faith, he/she believes what he/she believes and this belief’s only foundation in truth is that it is he/she that is doing the believing. How else can Man see and know that all around him people are dying but somehow this does not apply to him/her? How else does Man come to hold, “Because there is an iPhone X, God does not exist.”
To my deshi: He or she that loves one another is he or she that is closest to me. You have understood the most. I am with you in Love always. Never shall we be apart. Though far or gone, there I am with you. Yet, he or she that raises themselves by lowering the other is far from me. He or she that believed we were just exercising knew me not at all and had understood nothing. This is how simple the teachings have been. However, do not mistake that I am not asking the near-impossible of you: To fold Space, to bend Time, to make the invisible visible, to bring Light into the Dark, and to not push back on what is pushing on you: This is what you have been taught - the miraculous.
There has always been an event in our human history, one wherein we must choose between following what society says is true or to follow what we ourselves know to be true. Every seeker knows this, and even the non-seeker cannot bypass this fork in the Path. For the non-seeker has already made their choice. It rested in the unconsciousness to not choose: To follow the herd.
Drilling or micro-drilling, the isolating of a particular sequence or element of movement for the sake of increasing refinement via the increasing of repetitions, must be done in such a way that all other non-drilled aspects remain as present as if one were performing the larger movement, sequence, or technique. Without this, far from being a benefit to training, drilling and micro-drilling becomes a hindrance to overall performance. This seems like an obvious thing, something that should go without saying, however, deshi operating within lower states of consciousness will forever try to “win” at the drill. Thereby, they will forever look to leave out of training that they find to be an impediment to that pseudo-victory. This, ironically, includes good form.
There is no time before Man was faced with two paths: The Path of Ignorance and the Path of Wisdom. Both are contained in the narrow confines of the cave of the heart. Yet, as near as they are within said heart, an infinite distance remains between them.
There is historical precedent and a direct lineage-based philosophical foundation for the art as it is practiced at Senshin Center. We are not doing anything new. Hence the position: Aikido cannot truly be practiced from an unenlightened state of consciousness, from a mind that does not transcend the delusion of dichotomy.
“As you see, so you shall live” is the ancient and universal mystical insight. For this reason, premodern Man took on the problem of consciousness as THE central problem, focusing on the experience and the experiencer of “reality” and not upon some reality that is supposed to exist separate from consciousness . To ask then of premodern technologies of the self what is real, or to challenge them with a competing material reality, is to miss the point entirely. To say one can do Aikido from outside a Consciousness of Love because the art is a mere matter of fulcrums and levers is to equally misunderstand the matter at hand.
It seems most Asian internal skills specialists have lost all martial context. As such, they have become a kind of metapractice, in the same way that analytical philosophy became a metadiscourse. Like analytical philosophy, which tasked itself with finding meaning but through their own overly specialized language games, thereby ultimately concluding no such meaning exists, most of these internal skills specialists play only within the specialized drills or games of such skills, and as such have ended up with a skill that has no martial attributes whatsoever - skills that cannot exist in the real world. The most telltale sign of this occurring is not the no-touch components that often accompany such specialized games but rather the way uke are allowed, perhaps encouraged, to show strain and pain on their faces during such play. For I know of no martially viable pedagogy or training paradigm, whether existing now or historically, wherein warriors in training were not admonished for showing such weakness and instead instructed to embrace the suck and take the pain.
Aikido is a way of fulfilling all religions because, first, it is open to all peoples, not just those willing or able to abandon the material world. Aikido’s awakening takes place right here, right now, right where you are here and now. Second, like this, Aikido brings to all religions their often now-missing practical component, those actual practices designed to reconcile the small-self and the underlying fear that brings the genesis of our own suffering and sickness.
As I teach, the Universe can be understood as consisting of two forces: one that brings things together and one that takes things apart. One is gravitational. One is projecting or repelling. One is Love. One is Fear. One is Aiki. One is Kokyu. These forces are not antithetical to each other. Nor are they morally ranked in and of themselves. They are both manifestations or aspects of God, Divine Will, Consciousness, etc.
Kokyu then in Aikido is the force that projects or that moves the attacker away from Nage or that keeps the attacker from penetrating into Nage’s tactical structure. Aiki, on the other hand, is the force that adheres or that gravitates the attacker into Nage’s tactical organization. On Kokyu: Kokyu is based initially upon a psycho-physiological structure or organization that is designed to maintain integrity. The energy that is used to gain this organizational integrity can be used passively and actively. Passively, this energy is used to maintain the psycho-physiological organization in the face of disorganizing forces. Actively, this energy is used to project the attacker from this psycho-physiological organization and/or to generate a disorganizing energy in the attacker’s structure. In later applications, things slightly change and become more amplified as Kokyu is reconciled with Aiki.
Authenticity is all you need. Everything follows from there. Authenticity, the concern for authenticity, is the center of the spiritual path.
War is the precursor to nearly every sport. Therefore, create your dojo so that it is filled only with athletes - people that would be competitive in nearly any athletic endeavor. Make them athletes! Help them to be athletes! Create your training model so that everyone has an operational strength-to-weight ratio, all are highly mobile and flexible (regardless of age), all possess grit and have “no quit;” have them be able to push through pain and fear. For there is almost no point to working on technique before this is achieved.
I cannot help to think that all the effort to transform oneself externally does not stem from some deep self-rejection. Whereas, the effort to transform oneself internally stems from a deep love of self.
As I teach you how to be in Love, my love for you will not for a long time feel like love to you.
I neither push nor pull Uke because I have no preference for Uke to be in any other place at any other time.
Impulsive living is no more free than living with any addiction. For a long time now, we have confused impulsivity with freedom. Impulsivity is the habitual self, the small self, ensuring its bondage over us.
Any true freedom is always preceded by a freedom from the small self.
Here is a better idea: Let me decide if I want you for a student before you decide if you want me for a teacher.
All of training is tanren. All of life is tanren for the person on The Path.
The Warrior's value is in being a protector, a protector for those that cannot protect themselves against the Darkness and all its forms. The Warrior is a being of Light. He or she is the anti-Darkness. True, the Warrior may kill in the protection of others, yet he/she remains different from the Darkness in two major ways: First, death, even that of his/her enemy's, remains only a cause for sorrow and felt loss, and, two, while beings of the Darkness may kill for others, the Warrior will also die for others. Only those that have never gone into harm's way will think this is a small difference.
Throws wherein Uke is brought into a topsy-turvy movement toward the rear are actually designed to nevertheless have Uke’s center moving forward - not brought rearward nor permitted or forced to become stationary. They are not designed to bend Uke backwards at the lower back, as such a requirement would be martially delusional.
Aikido is seen in all things because the art is designed around and through The Way. The relationship between The Way, Aikido, and all things is not metaphorical or analogous in nature. It is concentric.
The kids are all different ages, some teens, some not. Some have been practicing for many years, and some for only a couple. Some seriously from the beginning and some not seriously until recently. Some "started" as young as 2 years old, and some started in their teens. Like with adults, I do not expect deshi to have the qualities necessary for training. In fact, I expect them, like I do with adults, to NOT have the qualities necessary for training. Meaning, I expect them to be fear-driven, having a dichotomous consciousness, to be habitually oriented around pride and ignorance, prone to quitting, emotionally fragile, to have a victim-mentality that denies their role in their own suffering and that has them expecting the world and others to cater to their unreconciled will to power. This is not my own way of teaching. There is precedent for this historically, which is this: Budo is a Way precisely because it is considered to be a way to Enlightenment, on par with Buddhism and/or with any other spiritual-religious practice engineered to cultivate spiritual maturity in the individual. As such, or inversely, those not in a Way, which includes those not yet starting on The Path, do not possess the qualities necessary for The Way - they are un—Enlightened. Meaning, we train in Budo not because we have the qualities to train in Budo but rather to gain the qualities necessary to train in Budo. This means we do things differently from other dojo, since I do not expect deshi to come in with a ready-made Enlightenment. At the same time, I expect to cultivate these virtues through the practice in all my deshi. For example, we do not just practice techniques. The idea of showing up, dressing out, bowing in, being shown some techniques, practice those techniques, talk about some techniques, and then repeat ad nauseum, as is the most common thing done all over the world in Aikido dojo, is ridiculous to me. For the only way that this can produce anything other than rote demonstration of technique, the only way this can reap anything other than what is being sown, is to grant technique some sort of talismanic power that allows it to be something it is not while remaining solely what it is – TALK ABOUT MAGICAL THINKING! I do not believe in magic: I believe in training.
The traditional, or rather the historical skills, trapping, uniting, yielding, projecting, etc., are not martial ends in themselves. At most, they make up centimeters of a given force vector or path of action, or they consist of fractions of a second of those vectors and paths. But, they take and make any such vector or path exponentially more viable. Thus, they are both important and unnecessary, martially speaking.
Yin movements may look to be outside or inside a given force apex, say moving out of range or inside of yokomenuchi. However, yin energies, which may accompany a yin movement, need not avoid force apexes. This is why they may accompany yang movements and make those movements more penetrating, as yin energies working in this capacity absorb and neutralize all obstacles or opposing forces that may slow or stop such yang movements. This is actually what is going on in Aikido’s basic yokomenuchi responses. It is not a yin movement accompanied by a yin energy or a yang movement accompanied by a yang energy, but rather an external yang movement accompanied by an internal yin energy. Many think they are doing this, but most are retreating or blocking instead. Retreating and blocking are martially inferior tactics because they are size or speed dependent.
In my mind, the real value of social media is this: Addressing complicated long-term studies when person-to-person contact is not available. The short little quips, the lack of video, the absence of follow-up statements and/or the elaboration of discussion, etc., things so common to social media, are a total waste of time.
Waza that require a back breakfall for ukemi, such as Tachiwaza Kokyu-Ho, require Uke’s center and/or feet to be traveling forward past the head at the time contact has been made with the head and then through the time the throw is being executed to Uke’s rear. However, it is extremely common to see even “high-ranking” Aikidoka stopping Uke’s forward progress, pinning Uke’s feet in place, and merely bending an overly compliant Uke backwards at the waist for the “throw.” One’s Aikido should be more sophisticated than this.
Pass Two of Kihon should start addressing ballistic energy cues. In my opinion, folks train way too early with ballistic energy cues. Wrongly, there’s an assumed equivalency between grabs and strikes, and one just picks one on one day and then chooses the other on another day. Instead, many skill sets should be in place before taking on striking cues and those things are best developed in fixated movement energy cues, such as grabs.
Communion, Aiki, is the very creative act of God. Thus, you do not generate Aiki. Rather, you remove yourself, stop yourself from being an obstacle to Aiki, and God’s creative intention manifests itself. We do not do Aiki: Aiki does us.
Internal releasing is something entirely different from external compromisation. Confusing the two will only greatly limit your progress in the art.
Every aspect of correct form and every aspect of incorrect form has a larger mechanical impact as one moves from grabs (fixated movement) to strikes (ballistic movement). For this reason, one should not progress to ballistic movements until such training can function mainly as a refinement of correct form. Working with strikes when grab applications are showing a majority of incorrect form is a total waste of training time. It is something akin to shooting a handgun at 25 yards with the goal of improving one’s overall skill with the weapon when the fundamentals of marksmanship cannot be demonstrated consistently at 3 yards - a total waste of ammunition.
A dojocho should limit how much ukemi technique is taught. Instead, ukemi waza should primarily consist of conceptual learning and body organization. However, these are also kept very simple. Conceptually: 1. Commit to the prescribed energy cue. 2. Don’t die. That’s it. Body Organization: Perform the same internal body organization as you do as Nage. That’s it. Technically, teach and practice only the forward roll and the back breakfall - noting that these have multiple levels of execution. Forget teaching and practicing the backwards roll. It is only an administrative maneuver and has no place in a martial setting. Never teach a forward breakfall: For Uke never takes a front breakfall. Rather, Nage takes from Uke the forward roll - with this resulting in the front breakfall manifesting. The worst thing you can do for your dojo is have your deshi practice the high/soft breakfall by themselves. It only breeds choreographed ukemi, and the whole point of reducing ukemi instruction to these above-stated aspects is to reduce the choreography that is killing the art. It is only by reducing the choreography to these levels that you can finally learn to truly throw or pin.
The Man that seeks to comfort him/herself with God will never know God.
Kote-Gaeshi Series (Second Video):
Here, we look at Kote-Gaeshi as a Nage Waza.
Key points here are:
- Make sure the throw is executed from Uke’s blind spot. DO NOT TENKAN SO THAT YOU EXECUTE THE THROW FROM IN FRONT OF UKE OR EVEN ON THE SIDE OF UKE.
- Make sure Uke’s is continuously moving forward in a spiral pattern (ie. traversing through space). DO NOT SPIN UKE IN PLACE ON A SINGLE PIVOT POINT (ie. the front foot).
“Uh, duh, no one ever attacks with Shomenuchi or Yokomenuchi with a knife.” --Internet Keyboard Warrior
I’ve been attacked with a knife twice in real life. One was Tsuki and the other was Shomenuchi. Weird.
The mystery of Love is the Great mystery, the only True Mystery. Like with any Truth, to solve this Truth, you are going to have to align yourself with the Masters, and then you’re going to have to completely disappear. If you do not want to do either this alignment nor this disappearance, then you have at least solved a lesser mystery: That you do not truly want to solve this Mystery of Love.
Spontaneity cannot just be anything. “Anything” can never be a manifestation of Takemusu Aiki because “anything” is nothing more than the habitual self manifesting itself through its usual inertial processes of embodied fear, pride, and ignorance. “Anything” is merely the unconscious continuation of our self-attachment. Takemusu Aiki, on the other hand, is pure conscious, and what is being manifested is pure Aikido - the art with all of its martial and spiritual soundness intact. Too many times we see “spontaneous” Aikido being demonstrated, yet having martially unsound angles, vectors, and timings, etc. This is not Aikido. This is not Takemusu Aiki. This is just crap.
When you can see yourself as clearly as I see you, then you will no longer need me. Watch me disappear! When you can see yourself as clearly as I see you, The Way will become visible to you! Then, you cannot not see me!
A Shared Reply: Hello Kind Sir,
I hope this reply finds you and yours well and at peace. Thank you very much for writing me, and for sharing with me your thoughts and questions. Truly, I am honored and humbled. Your expressed thanks are above me and my station. I am only happy to hear that you too are on this Path of ours. I am very heartfelt-touched to know you are here walking beside me.
I think yours is a common question, or at least a common situation. I think everyone, every true walker of The Way, has to pass through this marker that you are currently near. In Budo, this is often one of the most difficult aspects of training. Meaning, as a teacher for many decades now, having trained many many deshi, what has proven most trying is to have students understand that the Way is not a way if it is restricted to the mat or to Aikido techniques, or to fighting, or self-defense, or the martial arts. For even if I train under my suggested requirements, that is only six hours per day. That is only 25% of my day, only 2190 hours of every year’s available 8760 hours! That is nothing! I remember, once I asked my teacher, wanting to model my training program after his own, how many hours he trained every day. His answer: "24 hours per day." At first, his reply confounded me - I was but a boy at the time. But, as I lived with him during my apprenticeship, I saw that he practiced The Way in his relationship to his wife, in his fatherhood to his children, in his cooking, in his blacksmithing, in how he designed and built his home, in how he did his food shopping, in his relationship with this friends, in how he walked through the woods at night - everywhere and at all times he was on The Path! In time, very soon after I became his personal student, we stopped training in martial technique altogether. We simply lived - him living and myself following him, watching him, talking together, sharing, crying together, sitting in silence by each other, working and eating together. That way, through The Way, my technique actually become better, better than it had ever reached up to that point via countless hours on the mat or through drilling.
What I am getting at? Budo is a Way precisely because it is a path to the reconciliation of fear, a path to the energy of Love - the very creative principle of God. It cannot be restricted or separated from any other similar path or from any activity in our lives. The whole point of Budo training is to see and move beyond the mat, to make all of one’s life, how we live, how we love, breathe, work, move, how we sense time and space, how we relate to others, to God, to emptiness, to fullness, to meaning, to the wind, to water, to fire, to the Earth, to death, and to birth, to history, how we experience memory, movement, to have every aspect of our being not only manifest The Way but to have all of these aspects be devices by which we can refine our practice in The Way. When we are not doing this, we are off The Path. Therefore, there is no need at all to have the mat. I may use it, but I do not need to have it. I may use Aikido technique, but I do not need to have it. So, yes, there is a Way of Trucking, just as there is a Way of Fatherhood, a Way of Law Enforcement, a Way of the Shepherd, a Way of the Carpenter, a Way of the Farmer, etc. There must be! Our asceticism, The Way, cannot be reserved to the mountain temples and to acts of reclusion - not today! Today, The Way, and the walkers of The Way, must be all around us, with us, by us, for there is too much Darkness, and we need Light everywhere! We need it when we are in line at the movies, or walking on the sidewalk, in the supermarket, on the street corner, at work, in school, and in the vehicle next to us. There can be no escapism today, there can be only engagement!
I know the fear of which you speak. It rests upon the demon shoulders of irreversibility and dire consequences. As a law enforcement officer, I know this fear my brother. I am holding you and you I. Know then: Every fear is like this, every fear knows what concerns us most, and by these things the Darkness takes shape before us and within us. Like this, we are at our most vulnerable, but like this we can apply the same solution, the same means of bringing Light, pushing the Darkness back, moving Fear out of us. How? First, we must value and occupy ourselves with the virtues of integrity and with authenticity. There is a comfort that is immediately ours when we do this, because, with such preoccupation, we have given ourselves something to do. Once, I asked that same aforementioned teacher what fear was, and he answered, “Fear is not knowing what to do.” For people not on The Path, for people still trapped fully in habitual and unconscious fear, this is a silly answer, but for a true walker, they will try it and so you must try it: Always look for work, for what needs to be done, all and everything, and then do that to the fullest and to the best of your ability (practicing integrity and authenticity). You will see, right there, in these very actions, fear will leave us, as fear is not the cause of not knowing what to do but rather the coincidental condition of not looking for work, of doing nothing or of doing less than we can. Like this, you will have to bring mindfulness into whatever you are doing, and mindfulness is the first step toward gaining skill in meta-cognition - skill in the cessation of unconsciousness. And, skill in the cessation of unconsciousness is what is needed for conscious to erupt within us, through us, by us, with us. This is The Way. There is none other, but, equally, everything has become The Way. For where there is consciousness, there can be no fear, no Darkness, only Light all around us.
If you were near brother, I would place my hands upon you and erase this fear from your person, but you must stop me from this disservice. For you need this fear, because it is by our fears that we come to The Way. No Man comes to the Way but by the Way of Sorrows. This is why all walkers on The Path are warriors, fighters, people that have no quit in them. Let it be known then, to the depth of your very core, that your fear is not a deviation from The Path, not an obstacle, but is The Way itself. Keep walking my friend. Though far, I am very near. I am by your side.
May my peace and light become inseparable from yours and yours from mine, Dave
The greatest evidence that much of Aikido is dead, that it has no true impact in the lives of its practitioners, and thus in the world, is held in the belief that the art is the art wherever you go: That there is one Aikido; that there has only ever been and can only be one Aikido. Contrarily, when things count, when life and death are clearly distinguishable from each other, when these things matter, when real and fake are understood to be worlds apart, one looks for the dens of lions and not for the tombs of kings where the masses are huddled.
Budo is a Way. A Way is a Path to liberation, awakening from delusion, mystical communion, ultimate wisdom. However, this aspect of Budo, that one has mastered him or herself, that one is a living Buddha, has become ridiculous for most Modern Aikidoka. Few things are as telling or as revealing on how impotent the art is for most practitioners. Impotent arts are dead arts. Dead arts are done by dead people, and Death always pulls against Life and the living. Death abhors the Living Buddha and therefore uses its greatest weapon against such beings: Denial of such a being’s existence.
What has the Way done for me? Through it, I have rid myself of envy and jealousy. No longer can I ever feel sorry for myself. I have learned patience, how to wait, and how to work for the sake of work. I have learned to be Love in the face of hatred and within ridicule. Freedom came to me through The Way. Guess, how petty has martial victory over you become for me?
All else but Love is Fear, Pride, and Ignorance. To those that barely train, this makes a kind of sense. To those that train hard, this seems irrelevant. To those that train to the extreme, there is only this truth.
The capacity to embody Yin is both martially and spiritually vital. Martially, we are only pressed by Yang energies, requiring Yin neutralizations to generate Aiki. Spiritually, Yin is the practice of self-detachment and acceptance, releasing, the emptying of Self that precedes all communion with the Divine. The Aiki that martially unites energies is the Aiki that unites Man and God. They are derived from the same means and they lead toward the same end. They are the same.
The practitioner that always talks about what Aikido tends to understand the art either through or solely within its Kihon Waza. This is a very low level understanding, in the same way that counting to ten is to theoretical physics and that field’s mathematical calculations. As a result of this low level understanding, or perhaps as a prerequisite for it, such a practitioner always understands the art as something external to themselves. As such, particularly in cases where Aikido Kihon Waza is determined to be lacking according to this irrelevant metric or that irrelevant metric, it is always Aikido that sucks and that is thereby in need of improvement. It is never that practitioner or that practitioner’s Aikido that sucks and that is need of improvement: All this to pretend that counting to ten is advanced.
In Budo, we are trying to move beyond the psycho-physiological limiting and reifying multiplex of self/technique/art (Shu) through a practice of release and acceptance to a deconstruction of this multiplex (Ha), so that we are embodied by Ri. We are not trying to do whatever technique we choose to do. While Jiyu Waza requires spontaneity, spontaneity is not Jiyu Waza.
True violence does indeed have an ugly side. But, it has become popular today, especially with people that only theorize about violence, that the truth of a violence can only be known by an inescapable ugliness. This is an error in reasoning, one brought about by a lack of experience in violence. The fact is there is often great beauty in violence, even, often times, there is a gracefulness that can be found within violence and in no other place. For the theorists, they picture through their fearful mind’s eye that violence brings with it only chaos and struggle. By such theorizing, they assume the loss of all form, that form cannot ever exist in violence. They thereby go on to ignorantly dismiss the study of form. Again, and in truth, the whole point of form is to give shape to chaos. This is the very point of all strategies and tactics: Form is not inevitably lost in chaos; Form requires chaos. The only times I have seen the fog of war lend itself to the overwhelming of form by chaos is when no form existed in the first place. In contrast, when form was present, when everyone knew what to do, and when everyone did what they were supposed to do, yes, blood was spilled, yes, injuries occurred, yes, contingencies had to be addressed, but there was no struggle and no ambiguity about what was happening or about what the result was going to be. That blood and those injuries was always going to belong to the enemy, and, as surely, so was defeat. And, from that point of view, all of this was always going to be beautiful.
Self-Attachment is not a purely psychological thing, nor is it either a purely intellectual thing. “Self” is weaved thoroughly into our cells and into our nerve endings. This is why premodern practices always involved the body, and it is also why Modern practices, because they are so influenced by the Enlightenment’s prioritization of the mind, prove impotent when it comes to true or meaningful self-transformation. Here, in our dojo, we practice the spiritual skills of release and acceptance and we cultivate these skills as adaptations induced by the stressors of bringing fear and danger to both the mind and the body.
I have made Wood more pliable, Water more calm, Wind more still, and I have brought Fire to warm without burning. Yin meets Yang.
Surrounded by the Four Elements, I become what I am. Void. As the Void, the elements become themselves.
Aiki is Love. Love’s power is based on small and invisible impacts. This is Love’s Way: Small barely noticeable influences that operate at the heart of something. This is where Aiki functions. At the time the Nazarene died, barely a soul had heard his last breath. Love is always like that: Easy to miss at first but yet nevertheless reaches unimaginable ends. It is no different combatively, no different in the lives we touch. The immediate effects of Love are small, but the ends are beyond measure.
Love’s ascetics base their whole practice around two central practices: sacrifice and service. One can then measure the depth and the scope of one’s Aikido by how much these two central practices are displaced by something as peripheral as the practice of Ikkyo.
To orient Aikido Waza around an “If/Then” understanding of self-defense, or to seek some sort of required value for the art via an alchemy of “reality” and “martial viability,” and then to have nothing to say on or to have no capacity at utilizing handguns is a fool’s act. Your Aikido cannot be martial without handgun training.
A humorous look at a serious flaw in most Aikido: Most Aikido have taken the traditional importance of having a specified biomechanical organization as meaning utilizing cultural standards for what has been deemed “good posture” in Western societies. Meaning, they tend to stand straight up, more akin to a child that has been scolded to “pay attention” or to “be polite,” or like a ballet dancer who has been instructed to lengthen the spine for cosmetic reasns or to add to the illusion of lightness. The use of the “good posture” of course lends itself to the rear posterior chain not being accessed, the pelvic girdle being disengaged, the practitioner being heel-weighted, and the chin and throat being over-exposed. The “good posture,” due to its low performance envelope, the point at which its mechanical integrity fails, has come not to be rejected because this fail-point has been witnessed over and over again: One can hardly see at Modern Aikidoka not stumbling, or bouncing off Uke, or having to take multiple steps to keep his/her Base of Support under his/her Line of Gravity. The only times this revelation is not observed is when training environments have been reduced in their challenging energies so that this low fail-point is never exposed. Think of the story of the Emperor that has no clothes: One could, and should, look past all rank and title and opt to stay or leave a dojo based upon whether or not the teacher’s chin is up or slightly tilted down.
Faith, like all form, must pass through its own destruction, our own deconstruction of it and us, that act of dismantling ourselves from our faith, of purifying our faith from ourselves through this act of destruction. This is because our first faith can only ever be an act of pride, a manifestation of ego attachment, a reification of self. To aid us, God will use silence and distance, and like this we will be flanked and ambushed, taken out from the blind spots whrein we hid ourself from ourselves. We will never see this coming and we can never know what shape this assault will take. In the end, at best, we come to float somewhere between ultimate mystery and glimmers of semi-comprehensible moments that fade immediately in and out of our consciousness. We become grateful that we are dust: This is how the Dark Night works and works upon us.
It may be counter-intuitive, but only in the same sense that emptiness appears nihilistic to the un-Awakened: You’re going to need a teacher that’s always ready and willing to burn it all down - the dojo, your sensei-deshi relationship, a teacher that’s ready and willing to rid his/her life of you. Every other kind of teacher will always compromise amidst your own homeostatic tendencies to remain unchanged, un-transformed, un-enlightened. Every other kind of teacher will only be subsumed by your own fear, pride, and ignorance.
Beauty is a virtue of Yin and Yang harmonization.Beauty is thus a metric of the art. An ugly Aikido can never be Aikido.
It is a step in the learning process: How to incorporate one’s whole body. Here, we are looking for that incorporation in Jo Tsuki. Too often, Jo Tsuki, like many striking (mis)applications, is performed separate from the body. Most use the body only to bring the tsuki into range, thereby stopping the body and looking to lob the weapon from the outside of the combative engagement. This is akin to a knight stopping his horse prior to contact in a joust. Rather, like in a proper joust, the body should be used to penetrate the target, whereby the jo is driven through the target. When that is being done, the lead shoulder can be checked for organizational integrity through drills like this one.
You keep waiting for me to reach to you so to pull you out of the darkness but you must reach out to me so to pull the light into you.
Truth be told: I hate to watch Sansho being practiced. No doubt, I hate watching most of our art being practiced. For it has suffered both the ill effects of revisionist history and a gross reductionism that was made solely for political and imagined commercial gains, and it has suffered the institutional pitfalls of wide-spread dissemination as well as the subversion of key technological components that are not and cannot be congruent with Modernity, making the art in most cases, at best, a former shadow of itself, and, at worst, a farce. All this, however, seems to be made worse in Sansho.
In Sansho, the form is all too often reduced to just hitting sticks. Tactical and strategic truths are often overlooked and more commonly violated than not. Additionally, the form is commonly not held to the same conceptual frameworks as is Body Art, not even within the same dojo! Concepts of maai are ignored and violated, the Nage-Uke dynamic is ignored and violated, the assumed psychological tendencies of asocial violence are ignored and violated, etc., and the form ends up becoming its own worst enemy. Practitioners lose the value of the form in their effort to perform the form (touch sticks).
As this goes on, just as happened in Body Art overall, the need for and sense of Aiki, as well as its spiritual aspects, are gone, unknown, and eventually considered superfluous. For as weapons training can, when done correctly, work as an amplifier for cultivating good form, weapons training, when done incorrectly, works as an accelerator in the farcifying of the art. Therefore, any good teacher is going to address this directly, and stop this decaying inertia dead in its tracks.
Here, as we continue to work our way through Sansho 1, Part One, we are working to move away from utilizing training vectors in the form. The two we are taking away is the first jo tsuki and the harai tsuki. Many people do not even recognize these as training vectors! However, taking them away brings back the martial validity of taking openings as they occur, moving with one’s partner and not waiting for one’s partner - itself making center-to-center connection possible and needed. Additionally, doing so cultivates the martial and spiritual capacity for Irimi - itself a simultaneous practice in faith, presence, and violence of action. Like this, and only like this, does the partner’s yin tactics make sense - giving sense to the whole form.
Stop just touching sticks!
Many places, the technology of the self that is the sensei has been done away with - likely a product of the art's over-dissemination and the Modern's subject's debilitating incapacity at the practices of humility and self-displacement. Often, the traditional teacher model is being replaced by modern coaching models. The strange part is that almost no coaching is taking place where this shift has happened. Whereas in other areas where coaches exist, say in athletics, coaches use training times to impart their experience to their athletes and to mentor them through drills and to advise athletes to higher and higher levels of expertise. Instead, in dojo where there is no sensei, where there is supposed to be a coach, we see no coaching going on! What most dojo like this resemble is not the use of coach but rather the use of a substitute teacher - from elementary school, someone that has very little experience in getting folks to advance, doesn't really know the material, didn't prepare the material themselves, and is simply "teaching" what someone else told them to teach.
Here, we provide the tried and true method of drilling and mentoring, which while belonging to good coaching models used today has also long been used by sensei and the abbots before them and the senior anchorites before them.
Weapon Retention 101: Keep it simple and immediate.
What is the point to our training? This question has to be asked. When it comes to weapons, traditional weapons, especially the Jo, it has to be asked even more. And, when we do ask this question, we cannot be satisfied with answers of martial practicality. Meaning, our point cannot be “Well, I often carry a walking stick for self-defense,” or “I tend to feel most vulnerable while I’m sweeping.” For me, weapons work should instead be one more venue, following the premodern principle of concentric truth, wherein the art’s values and virtues are cultivated, manifested, and upheld. Thus, if there is Aiki in our Body Art, there should be Aiki in our weapons work. As Uke and Nage adhere and commune, so too should our Jo. Here, we finish our sequence introduction on Sansho One, Part 1. However, it is these last two strikes that are the most challenging in the set in my opinion. They are the most challenging because they require the purest expression of Aiki. This is so because here Aiki is what is being used to take the displacing force out of the downward strike while manifesting the necessary adhesion for the final move. Here then, Aiki is being extended to and through what are commonly experienced as inanimate objects. And, it’s one thing to make another human feel as if you’re taking the power out of them; It’s altogether something else when you take the power out of a swinging stick. And, yet, the set here at this sequence makes no martial sense if this is not what is being practiced. When this is not what is being practiced, one is forced to reduce the set to something it should not be: Stick hitting.
When you release, that is Yin, that is Izanami’s yielding, the initial creation of space and allowance for potential, the inviting that must precede all communion.
The stressing of being grounded is only a beginner level necessity. This is because Yin and Yang are and can only ever be relative terms. In the beginning, because the mass of the Earth will almost always hold a greater mass value than any oncoming force we are wishing to receive, the ground can be used as an energetic accumulation point, one that we can then go on to issue stored energy from. This is why grounding is used as a part of beginner progressions. The Earth by default solves for all possible mathematical force equations. However, as our receiving skills increase, as our Yin skills increase, as our skill to release and allow energy to be stored into the Earth increases, we can at the point of contact begin to reduce the amount of energy needing to be accumulated and therefore we can reduce the amount of storage and/or issuing capacity mass required, making grounding less relevant to force reconciliation and/or output. When this level of skill is achieved, force accumulation, storage, and issuance can be done while moving and while remaining light on one’s feet.
Here we show more progressions for understanding and practicing the art through Yin and Yang, Aiki and Kokyu. When one does so, truly does so, the art does not feel the same, does not look the same, and cannot do the same things.
Aikido’s mystical extensions do not put it at odds with the concepts and principles of jiu-jitsu. It, therefore, must be consistent with said concepts and principles. Thus, all waza must contain two interrelated and simultaneously existing aspects. One, you must organize the body-mind for delivering one’s maximum force output potential. Two, you must organize the opponent’s body-mind so that its force output potential is minimized to the greatest degree. This is the practical formula for power. Physical conditioning, strength in particular, is only one component, perhaps a fleeting one, of the first aspect, and it has pretty much zero relation to the second aspect. Like this, executions that are strength-dependent, executions based in muscular exertion, examples of technical success based in huge men throwing small men or small women, are by default not powerful. Like this, executions where the Nage bounces back off of the Uke, or wherein Nage loses balance and is forced to move multiple steps to prevent falling themselves, and of course any demonstrations where Uke through choreography solves all power equations via facade, all these too are signs that power is absent and that basic Jiu-jitsu concepts and principles are being violated. No Aikido exists here.
There is a level of understanding that tends to dominate the discussion. It is the one that goes from trope to trope, slogan to slogan, repeating only the obvious, and remaining unconscious of any institutional inertia that is motivating such utterances while keeping others from being uttered. While these statements dominate the shared discourse, if you want to learn, you must question all of these so deeply that they are ultimately subverted. Instead, listen to the silence or to the ranting of the mad man.
In this class, we continue our training in releasing the pain-body, manifested fear. We do this in two aspects but using the single process of releasing. In one aspect, we use internal aspects to keep a technique hidden but powerful. In the other aspect, we use the same releasing to neutralize force immediately upon contact as Uke.
Here, we continue our Sansho workshop, addressing the need for understanding and embodying the martial strategy of “Violence of Action.” As explained and demonstrated in the video, not only through the jo set but through simplified drills, the strategy of Violence of Action generates the Yang energy necessary to cultivate skill in Yin resolution - a staple of the art and thus of Sansho.
Service over self is the practice of the release of self.
In this video, we go into more detail on Irimi Nage, in particular regarding the role the back foot plays in the techinque. In my opinion, many representations of this technique look the same, but only to the untrained eye. In truth, not all Irimi Nage are built the same, and one is better off looking at basic biomechanics and kineasiology than at Uke's response when it comes to telling what is what.
Here are the simple rules for ukemi:
1. Fulfill the assigned energy print. 2. If grabbing, keep your palm in constant contact. 3. Harmonize Yin and Yang energies applied by Nage. 4. Do not die.
Shared response: On Ukemi’s Simple Rules:
- On #1: Kihon Waza is an idealization of time, space, and energy. In my youth, we called this type of training, drilling. Today, performance science is calling this deliberate practice. The point of deliberate practice is to refine and cultivate desired-for skill sets understood to be pivotal in an overall application of the art or sport being trained. This is best done by controlling against variation, making repetition and the benefits of repetition more plausible. The idea is based upon the empirical insight that the quality of a whole is dependent upon the quality of its parts. Furthest from this training model is self-defense techniques, or understanding Kihon Waza as self-defense training. Kihon Waza therefore as an idealized construct requires in each case a particular, and thus prescribed, energy or energy print. As Nage’s is given a prescribed role, so too is Uke given an initial prescribed space/time/energy - with both of these roles designed to fit together for the reasons stated above and, for historical reasons, in consistency with Yin/Yang theory. A simple example of this is found in Osensei’s “When pushed, turn (tenkan), and when pulled, enter (irimi).” Meaning, one should be able to deduce Uke’s prescribed energy print by what tactical architecture Nage has been prescribed. For example , if that tactical architecture initiates with some sort of yin variant, such as turning, one knows that Uke’s prescribed energy print should be Yang in nature, such as pushing. The Uke who does not fulfill the prescribed energy print nullifies all of the possible benefits of deliberate practice In Kihon Waza.
On #3: In Kihon Waza, following the initial prescribed energy print assigned to Uke, whereby the initial yin/yang reconciliation is provided by assignment, all ensuing yin/yang reconciliations are thereafter performed spontaneously by Uke (yin) in relation to Nage’s (Yang) execution of the prescribed tactical architecture. This is the only governing factor for Uke’s role in the completion of the technique. Like this, Uke is training in the same skill set of harmonizing yin/yang aspects like Nage, but Uke is doing so from an overall Yin perspective. Like this, this kind of Uke is never prone to choreography or the throwing of herself based upon cues performed by Nage, and like this Uke is not wasting half of her training time merely being an acrobat slotted only to satisfy Nage’s pride, fear, self-attachment, and will to power.
What is The Way? What is a practice? What is the point of training? What does “practice” mean? What is a self-attached narrative? How do I live my art? How? Why? What? You must bring the unsaid to the said in order to bring agency, stopping institutional inertia, back into your practice.
The Way is found not by going around obstacles, but rather The Way is the path marked by obstacles. These things do not tell us to stop training. These things tell us how to train and where training takes place by showing us where training is not occurring.
Direction for a Senior Deshi:
“I hope this message finds you well. I’d like for you to problematize triggerability and your own Will to Power as part of your continuing development. It is my position, my Path, that this is vital to The Way. Without these things being reconciled, we begin to lose what we value, as we get corrected by the Universe for valuing what should not be valued. As a focal point and as a tool for developing your own practice, I would like you not to take on the responsibility of making kohai more martial. Rather, I would like for you to take on their technical improvement outside of all martial concerns or requirements. Can you do this by your own accord?”
What is Atemi? How do you teach Atemi? How do you use Atemi? How do you train with Atemi? Why Atemi? Too often, Atemi study in Aikido centers on percentages, quotes, and misquotes, or it is some kind of saving “Hail Mary,” something you use when throws or pins fail, or worse Atemi grants an Aikidoka some kind of light saber hand, a weapon where all that is required is to touch the target. Or, my favorite, Atemi is reduced to some kind psychological warfare, allowing it to be a matter of strikes thrown using timing and paths of travel totally inconsistent with all other martial arts, and inconsistent with sound body mechanics and kinesiology.
When we do not have projection skills (kokyu) and when we do not have adhesion skills (aiki), yin/yang reconciliations are not really possible. We are therefore left to masquerades and artifices. Meaning, techniques are commonly reduced to either yang/yang clashes that are misrecognized as “powerful,” or Uke is choreographed into a yin retreating, one whereby Nage’s yang manifestation appears reconciliatory. Tachiwaza Katate-Dori Kokyu-Ho is one of the most common places where these types of reductions happen. When we can project and adhere, there is another way made open to us.
All throwing trajectories are more easily achieved via a rotating-spiraling pattern. Key to this pattern is the tilting of the spine, as this is what commences both the rotating-spiraling pattern and the often desired topsy-turvy effect. Though often agreed to conceptually, what one mostly sees is quite the opposite. What one mostly sees is a mere acceleration of Uke’s Line of a Gravity outside his/her Base of Support.
Only warriors make warriors.
The principles of the art are open to all that have sound reasoning skills. “Misunderstanding” the art then is not really the source of the art’s widespread degeneration, nor its widely varied and often competing interpretations. Rather, it is the unacknowledged, perhaps even unconscious, discrepancy between one’s perfectly adequate understanding of the art and what is actually being practiced and embodied. This discrepancy, or rather its ill effect, is then often later compounded by the masquerades of rank and title. “Surely,” we think, “that person must be embodying the art with sound understanding - having such rank and title.” Like this, though we easily understand things like energetic transference and yin/yang reconciliations, we come instead to do nothing more than push on what is pushing on us, seek to overpower resistance with raw strength, and/or choreograph away any need for a proper embodiment of the art’s understanding. Like this, we also come to teach these things to our students over what we understand the art to hold. Here, using Ikkyo Omote, we seek to embody what is understood. If you use but a quick glance, this looks like any other Ikkyo. However, with closer examination, as with the other Kihon Waza recently filmed and shared, one sees that this is something different. In a time of degeneration, competing interpretations, and discrepancy, it is perhaps a good thing to be different. Perhaps you may find this useful. Enjoy.
It does no good to “relax” if that means losing power or requiring Uke to choreograph his/her fall. The point is to be able to generate force without tension. One releases tension not to relax more but rather to gain more power, not less.
More and more people are starting Aikido training having very little or even no athletic background. As such, they lack a body wisdom that elite athletes gain through trial and error and through juxtaposing the healing process next to the desire to win and the desire to get back to training as soon as possible. In the absence of this body wisdom, these Aikidoka tend to over rely on general practitioners from the medical field, doctors more trained in pharmaceutical prescribing than in anything else, doctors whose customer service model is driven by the complaint of pain and not at all by performance, and doctors that, in unsaid fashion, overly rely upon the body’s own healing mechanisms to reduce the subjective experience of pain - again, often at the cost of performance.
Too often, Sansho is practiced in a way that can only be described as "touching sticks." There is an internal component to the form, as there is to all of the art, and, at the least, there should be an "aiki" element to the form, (at the least) where and at the weapons make contact, and this point in time/space should begin first and foremost in the body, how it is moved, when it is moved, and how it is organized.
Many forgo the tactical requirement to push the opponent, to force him/her to defend his/herself, while doing Sansho, instead making the mistake of prioritizing the beginning of their next move in the sequence. This mistake tends to happen at the concluding tsuki, or jo thrust, whereby their counter-attack is made half-ass, having an incorrect degree of penetration and no need for proper body organization. Like this, one shallow penetration after another shallow penetration, the maai of the form radically changes, often to the point where it no longer makes tactical sense - the form becoming only cosplay.
There tends to be a uniqueness to how Aikido is practiced at Senshin Center. There's a simple reason for this, a logistical one: If Aikido was practiced elsewhere as I think and feel it should, I would be there and not be operating my own dojo. One of the things that drives my Aikido is consistency: Internal consistency in theory and training, and external consistency with cultural history and application. For me, for example, inconsistency is what marks most versions of the Sansho set, even within my own dojo. Thus, noting my own dojo, inconsistency is understood as a beginner state, as something one is supposed to move beyond. Some of the things that I look to avoid is to understand the defensive responses only as "ukemi" and not as counters. For me, they are counters, and one is not supposed to at all be dependent upon their partner holding back or moving things off of their line of attack or reducing their degree of penetration in order for the form to continue onward. There is a lot to learn and thus a lot to gain by learning to counter our partner's attacks, which, ironically, is where true ukemi rests. To counter the attack with a fuller ukemi requires one to practice what marks Japanese martial arts as a whole: To meet an external yang with an internal yin. What we see most often, however, is a yang to yang meeting and/or a choreographed response to have our partners reduce their own yang in their attacks - providing us no need to develop this internal capacity for yin, and allowing us to not practice what marks the Japanese martial arts the most. In the last moves of the set, one faces this matter in an obvious and hard to ignore manner - when one is required to take ukemi, that is to say, counter, the shomen strike having only an internal yin engery. This strike, this particular one, requires us to have what would appear to be a contesting angle of defense, but with an internal capacity for yin something entirely different from the usual clash happens: the yang strike is neutralized, killed in a way, upon contact without using or requiring any overt angle of deflection.
The Japanese martial arts are born of a particular culturally based worldview. There is no intellectual understanding, at least not a sound one, of these martial arts without intellectually understanding this underlying cultural ground. Simply put, this cultural ground is Yin/Yang Theory. In short, generally speaking, in Aikido, a Japanese martial art, one is supposed to organize oneself externally and internally according to Yin/Yang Theory. One does this to generate both separating and unifying aspects. These aspects, at the level of manifestation, are noted as Kokyu and Aiki. As part of Yin/Yang Theory, these aspects are not antagonistic to each other but rather are co-dependent upon each other. As such, at a potential level, Kokyu is as much Aiki as Aiki is Kokyu, while, at the level of manifestation, the two can nevertheless remain mostly distinct. As such, one cannot develop skill in one without developing skill in the other. Hence, one cannot have skill in one while not having skill in the other.
Isn't it ironic that Osensei said the art was 99% Atemi, and 99% of Aikidoka do not know how to throw Atemi?
A sword can move at any angle. In this potential, it is not afforded a special status outside of Yin/Yang Theory simply because it is a sword. Therefore, a sword can be used in a clashing manner and in a biomechanically unsound manner. Therefore, our empty-handed waza are not afforded yin/yang reconciliation or sound body mechanics simply because we pretend we are holding an invisible sword. Closing your hands around an invisible tsuka, and saying, “Just like kesa-giri,” or “Just like shomen-giri,” does not mean you are automatically not pulling or automatically not pushing, that you are not clashing, or that you have stopped using your strength in a externally segmented way. “Just like a sword,” is not some sort of magical incantation that now imbues your technique with Aiki.
Shomenuchi, Kesauchi, and Mune Tsuki, are already abstractions. Do not train in such a way that these striking patterns are then further abstracted. Shomenuchi must go up AND down. Kesauchi must be tight and heavy. Mune Tsuki must be thrown from balance to balance. No strike should float through its prescribed pattern as if it is a balloon being blown by the wind. Slow training is one thing, but further abstraction will always be wrong.
Warrior traditions have always followed some instructional variant of: “You suck now. We are going to make you better.” The underlying reasoning to this was based upon the empirical evidence that experience counts heavily in battle and that the new person having no experience could by default likely not be good at battle but most definitely not as good at battle as they will be following their training. Meaning, the designation of “you suck” was empirically based, and, relative to the individual themselves, deemed a priori true through sound reasoning. Additional cultural assumptions for such training held that the trainee had a character of such an anti-fragility nature (coincidentally this character nature is also conducive to being a warrior and being able to suffer warrior things) that being labeled by “you suck” would not send them into an emotional tailspin and/or retreating to those people in their life that had always told them, and only told them, “you’re great.”
Expanding upon these cultural assumptions, the mechanisms for this training, again derived from sound reasoning, utilized the catalyst humans observed readily in the Natural World. Namely, the catalyst of stress application for generating altered states. That is to say, warrior traditions utilized the catalyst of stress application to generate change or transformation in the trainee, taking them from being less likely capable of doing and suffering warrior things to being more likely capable of doing and suffering warrior things. Again, to warriors, the pedagogical validity of using stress application to effect transformation was as valid as the presence of the stress catalyst was observable in Nature. And, again, for these reasons, this all made sense and was considered to be sound reasoning. Relatedly then, and equally seen as sound reasoning, warriors knew that the trainee was not going to like the training, and that the trainee was not supposed to like the training. To this history and to this reasoning, now, add in masses of people with no anti-fragility capacity, surrounded only by people who tell them they are great, who measure the validity of their activities by how good these activities make them feel, who look more for self-acceptance than self-transformation, and who avoid being judged, failure, and pain like the plague. What do you get?
The most determining factor in maintaining quality in a dojo’s ukemi is to have the instructor stop any deshi that is throwing him/herself when said deshi is working with peers or senpai. If this protocol is not in place and made the cultural norm and expectation at one’s dojo, every other effort to keep the art legitimate and viable, whether we are speaking martially, spiritually, or in terms of both, is made moot.
All words are delays and distractions. Justifications and explanations distance us from the Way. Silence, with no expectations. Alone. Empty. Surrendering: All else is waste.
Undoubtedly, an Aikidoka should contemplate and think upon his/art. However, the assumption is that one knows how to think. Once, reason and argument was thoroughly a part of formal education. Today, this is not the case. What has replaced sound reasoning is a strange combination of egocentricity and “common sense” and criticism often consists only of the fallacy of Bulverism.
Having Kokyu and Aiki skill capacities allow one to see these techniques in new ways, which allows them to be done in new ways, in ways that feel more correct. Once here, one can never go back to clashing, leverage, or choreography.
Like with Nage Waza, when certain skill sets are in play, one can do different things with Ukemi. An uncommon but perfectly consistent aspect of Ukemi is that it should use Aiki, and as such then there should be no following in Ukemi, as there should be no leading in Nage Waza. In Aiki, there is no following or leading. This way, both resisting as Uke and choreographing oneself as Uke are both totally inconsistent with the art.
Centered: Presence in and through silence and stillness.
Where do we see things so stamped out, so repeatable in form, so absent of variance? In Nature? Where things are alive and living? No. Is not the presence of unrepeatability one of the hallmarks of Life?! Only dead things show no variation, things made of plastic, things born in factories that pollute our lives. This is the “Ukemi” I see now, where everyone falls the same way, for every rep of every technique. This is not a part of a living art. This is not art but rather artifice, artificial, an affront to the Living Way, to live things, to Life.
Sure, draw a distinction between “fighting” and “martial,” but if you get your ass kicked in a fight, it still seems quite reasonable for an observer, perhaps even oneself, to think or say aloud, “Not ‘martial’ enough.” Therefore, while I may allow for the distinction, I tend not to use it, or, better said, I tend not to use it in a way that many Aikidoka use it if I do use it. Still, I do entertain martial questions that are architectural in nature. Thinking then upon Aikido’s tactical architectures, using the metaphor of a bridge, quality is as much affected by the materials being used as it is by the overall design. Too often in our training, we try to use one to improve the other with the hopes of improving the overall quality. However, this is fallacious reasoning. Here, we look to improve both the materials (internal skills) and the design (Kuzushi generated by energetic transference).
Many draw distinctions and come to understand the art through these distinctions. Grappling and fighting vs non-contesting and creating distance is a common one. Distinctions such as this one are false and are often not based on sound reasoning but upon absent skill sets. Aiki, a staple of the art, can happen at any range, making distance is irrelevant, and Aiki is not the avoidance of contestation but rather the transformation of contest into communion.
A Kokyu-Ho: A means of developing Kokyu-Ryoku.
“Think what you want.” “Feel what you want.” “Be what you want.” - Can it ever really be anything else? What hold do I ever have over you or want over you? Can you love me through my grip? If you pull, I will release you. If you push, I will release myself. This is the Way of Love, the Way of Aiki, the Way of Light, the Way of God.
The mechanical Man has made herself lost unto herself. Being unable to solve the Mysteries of the Ancients, she dismisses them as irrelevant and as meaningless. Such are the acts of all children whose immaturity is marked more by ignorance than by experience. Now, she sees the ancient mysteries only with straw-man eyes and through Bulveric discourses.
When the Darkness has us, the Light feels like a toxin. It is the same operation, the same mechanisms: We wander lost, moving here and there, but never really going anywhere, while trapped in some sort of pitch black cave; then, somehow, we stumble across the opening, and that light that marks it and dares to penetrate that colorless prison, it does little more than burn our eyes, stinging us, causing us pain. At that threshold, which we can never really know as a threshold, that light seems to only be asking us to change one solid shade for one solid brilliance, and the cost is pain. Who amongst us and for what reason would we continue moving forward into that burning that would apparently only promise more burning? It is because of the Light’s warmth! Yes, the eyes will burn, and, yes, unpenetrating darkness is no worse than blinding brilliance, but the warmth that covers and embraces the all of you - you feel that, the Light is that too, and that is why you should move forward and exit the Darkness.
Forty years of training has shown me what the night Sky had shown me as a child: The Universe requires only relatively few samples of the Light; Darkness balances through the majority.
What student can follow the teacher whose aim is to disappear? Any part you see is not real. Confusion is all that rests ahead for you!
Confusion abounds, it is everywhere, and what sword do you have - is it capable of cutting through it all? Is it the true life-giving sword, or are you holding just one more weapon of Darkness?
Only in God, in my disappearance, do my enemies disappear. Only at this level of the soul is non-violence possible. Thus, Aikido cannot be non-violent as long as it exists. To believe it can be is trickery, the same kind the Devil uses to to convince us that He does not exist and that only the most ignorant and childish of minds would believe that He could.
All aspects of our Aikido should have a reason to it. It should contain no institutional inertia. No one should be able to find a question of our own Aikido that you have not already asked and answered. No one should be able to ask more questions of our own Aikido than you have already asked of it yourself.
This is the path of compromise: trading attendance for rank; trading rank for technical skill; trading technical skill for martial proficiency; trading martial proficiency for spiritual maturity.
In Modernity, the “sensei,” strangely, is admired for not being a sensei but rather for being more of a coach. Even more strangely, this “sensei,” due to the egocentric derision Modern Man has toward all forms of self-displacement, and thus to all tools for cultivating skill at self-displacement, such as a sensei, is not held to the standards of good coaching when being considered a good “sensei.” It is enough that he or she is not a sensei, and therefore he or she need not do any coaching at all or produce any of the good skills commonly associated with good coaching. In fact, as higher skill in athletic achievement also requires relatively high levels of self-displacement, it is actually quite important that this “sensei” also not be a very good coach at all. It is enough, and, more than that, it is ideal, that this “sensei” simply chooses which techniques are to be practiced for the duration of the class, and does little to no instruction that would actually transform any “deshi” into something different from what they were upon walking into the “dojo” for the first time. Together, for ego’s sake, “sensei” and “deshi” silently agree: “I will not challenge you, if you do not expect me to be capable of challenging you,” and, “I will not expect you to be capable of challenging me, if you will let me pretend to be challenged so that I can remain unchanged.”
Do you really just want to keep doing techniques? Just chasing the next rank? The next title? Then, I have nothing for you and you should see me as nothing. Please feel most encourage to ignore me.
Budo is a martial Way. That is to say, first, Budo is a technology of the self, one wherein its means and environment of cultivating the self are martial in nature and in structure. Second, as a technology of the self that is a Way, Budo consists of a system of thought and practice that is aimed at reconciling the subject/object dichotomy in the initiate.
Currently, it is common to understand these aspects of Budo outside of time and outside of action. This is a product of our age’s logocentricism and the related prioritization of the mind over the body and of ideas over actions. As such, as with other Ways, it has become common to understand what has just been said as a discussion on states of mind and/or on intellectual realizations in the universal sense. However, Budo is neither dealing with states nor realizations but rather with the development of skills. That is to say, Budo pertains to behavior, or, more specifically, to the art of response and experience. Budo does not consists of a system of thought and practice that is aimed at having its initiate intellectually realize the delusion of the subject/object dichotomy nor at having its initiate achieve a state of mind (or of being) that is forever free of the workings of the subject/object dichotomy. Rather, Budo is a technology of the self that consists of a system of thought and practice that is aimed at reconciling the subject/object dichotomy in the initiate through the development of skills capable of achieving this reconciliation at will.
There are some other key technological components that must be brought to the surface in order to more fully understand Budo: First, Budo holds that the subject/object dichotomy is not unnatural to Man. It and its workings function according to natural laws, the same ones at work in the skills designed to reconcile the dichotomy. The suggestions that the subject/object dichotomy functions unnaturally and that the human mind in its normal functioning is not innately bound to its workings are false. These views run counter to earlier textual evidence, experience, and any study of related practices noted throughout the historical record. In all likelihood, they are the products, developed relatively late, of hobby-level practitioners and/or of moderns who are less likely capable of understanding mythical themes and their utility, people who have come to misunderstand the pedagogical utility of super beings in myth for beings over which their realism can only be either accepted or rejected as true or false.
Second, Budo’s technology of the self works within an epistemology of concentricity. Concentricity, while still a great deal in use culturally, no longer holds key positions in Modernity’s capital producing systems. It has therefore, for the most part, become defunct, derided, and even unknown, since it lacks major institutional support. Nevertheless, Budo, its means and environments for cultivating skills at reconciling the subject/object dichotomy, as well as the viability of these skills in performing this reconciliation, simply cannot be understood outside of concentricity.
Noting Braudel’s pivotal work on the Mediterranean, and seeing something similar likely having happened along the Silk Road in Asia, and therefore seeing no need to discuss or pinpoint an origin of thought, we know that at least by 500 BCE cultural formations that gave direct rise to Japanese Budo were already in place. These peoples had already tied together the cultivation of the self, the martial arts, the social and individual problems of the unreconciled subject/object dichotomy, and an associated means of resolution – The Way. While this is today uncommon knowledge to most current Budo practitioners, who tend to look for eruptions of genius in the 20th Century, this is common knowledge to historians of East Asia and of East Asian religions. What remains uncommon to both current Budo practitioners and contemporary historians, however, is the role of concentricity in this particular technology of self. One must think: If all of these other elements were parts of a Budo engine, concentricity is its fuel. Without concentricity, nothing functions; alas, you have the state of Budo today.
It was through the principle of concentricity that Yin/Yang Theory was applied across the natural and social landscapes, as well as across the human mindscape. Concentricity is what allows the Budo initiate to move back and forth between form and non-form to the reconciliation of form and non-form, wherein Shu-Ha-Ri is not just, and perhaps not at all, an academic lesson plan or a description for the stages of learning, but rather simultaneously existing patterns of behavior that are also witnessed in cosmological descriptions noting a relationship between the Tao, Yin/Yang, and the rest of ensuing creation. Concentricity is also what allows related martial arts to utilize “As/If” rituals as both their means of transmission and of transcendence, wherein they are not stale forms that can only stifle spontaneity – as they are understood to be today. In concentricity, through concentricity, ancient people set up a very sophisticated and reasonably sound discourse for both why and how Budo is a viable technology of the self. For the ancients, through concentricity, the means of reconciling the subject/object dichotomy, was they means of reconciling the attacker/defender dichotomy, was the means for harmonizing Yin/Yang, was the means for living in accordance with Heaven or God, was the means for living life well, was the means for remaining healthy, was the means for remaining prosperous, etc., and vice versa!
Many believe that a Nage moving fast while using great exertion to execute a technique is a sign of power. I believe the opposite; these are signs of a lack of power. A sign of power is Nage moving slowly and with apparent ease but Uke nonetheless being moved quickly and greatly.
In Aikido, nothing is what it seems to be, and yet, it is what it is. Joint locks are not joint locks, yet they are; strikes are not strikes, yet they are; throws are not throws, yet they are... Everything is like this for one who knows. For one who does not know, strikes are strikes, or strikes are not strikes. Everything is like this for one who does not know.
The technical applications of Aikido are infinite. Who dares describe infinity by a small portion of it? Only the fool! If you think Aikido is its Kihon, you’re such a fool! The Kihon are meant to be broken and put back together and ultimately transcended. Like a portion of infinity, they are both the art and not the art! When you MAKE THEM THE ART, the art has slipped through your grasp. In a way, Kihon are techniques within techniques within techniques - ad infinitum. When you search for techniques outside of Aikido, you have an outside! And then you have an inside! And infinity has slipped right past you! This same thing happens when you speak of modification, and when you speak of what Aikido is not. You are missing the point and making finite what is infinite.
It has always been a point of mine that Aiki and Kokyu skills, not referring to the words but the skills, are not Aikido trademarks. They are the signs of any skilled fighter looking to fight outside of rules or weight classes. Clearly the skilled instructor of any art is using what we’d call Aiki and Kokyu and we’d be fools to think it is such only because he/she had some Aikido or Chinese background. Practicality has its own adaptive forces such that the “fittest” is developed accordingly.
“TKD don’t work in a fight.” —Said someone who doesn’t know TKD.
Dear Modern Man,
You want there to be a secular Aikido. You need there to be. You think you’ve found it. However, all you’ve done is taken yin reconciliations out of your art and redefined “spiritual.” Modern Man, in your acts of excision and redefinition, you’ve increased the number of Aikidoka only to have increased the number of people who cannot do the art.
We need Budo more than ever before.
Accept, as I do, that everyone trains within their own level of commitment, and that that level is determined not necessarily by noble things but often by the things training is meant to address via the purifying of vice into virtue. People will always feel what they feel, and it is more likely rather than less likely that they will feel more wronged than more righted when it comes to shugyo.
Hanmi-Handachi is an amplifier of both skill and of skill’s absence.
In the era of the choreographed Uke and his/her contrived high breakfall, he/she is often allowed and/or observed walking themselves around within the technique in a perfectly upright position, in total control of themselves and in possession of their own balance. It’s through tactical errors like this that the Modern Aikidoka has become ignorant of what the non-compliant non-choreographed attacker can actually do martially. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the Modern Uke no longer has the opportunity to ritually experience the Void, itself made possible via the manifestation of an authentic martially generated suki, nor therefore the chance to cultivate the all-important martial and spiritual skills of acceptance, self-detachment, and non-resistance.
Outside of all notions of justice, and likely in spite of them, there exists a ratio between excellence and the extreme. A person may not like it, in fact it is guaranteed that he or she won’t, but to leave, to step outside of, to move beyond, to surpass, which is noted in the prefix “ex,” one must be willing to do what another person is not willing to do. If you wish to be excellent, you’re going to have to be willing to do what no one else will do. You’re going to have to be extreme. If you want to stay mediocre, you have but one thing to do: Look at the best, at those better than you, and call them and what they do “extreme.”
Aiki requires faith, faith that one will be united with the ultimate positive force by releasing the self. Without this faith, releasing the self feels only like a loss of power and a gateway to terrible things. Hence, the faithless can never do Aikido.
Aikido, as is love, peace, Aiki, and the reconciliation of self-attachment, is open to all human beings. Yet, like love, peace, Aiki, and the reconciliation of the self remains beyond most of us, not all human beings can do Aikido. What I am referring to here is akin to climbing a mountain. The mountain is open to all, but not everyone, not just anyone, can make it to the top. Only a special person, a specialized kind of person, can reach the summit. Aikido is like that, in that Aikido, true Aikido, can only truly be practiced by a specialized person - by the holy and the enlightened, by a person capable of freeing him/herself from the threat/defense cycle of thought and behavior. All else, all others, like a climbers on the face of a mountain, are only learning how to one day practice Aikido.
You will want to understand love as a gateway to peace and comfort, and I say to you that real love can only exist amidst suffering and rejection, betrayal and abandonment. You will want to say that Aikido is about non-contestation, non-contention, and avoiding conflict, but I tell you that these things can only truly exist with contest, contention, and conflict, and so true Aikido too can only exist therein.
Spiritual training can only commence after a particular first step has been taken: One must first realize and accept that his or her perceived reality is but one of countless realities.
A true master will take our desire for transformation seriously. He or she will then through skillful means get us to do what we thought could not be done, have us realize what we could not imagine, have us doubt what was once beyond question, and get us to want what we were afraid to desire. He or she will turn down to up and dark to light and in to out. For the deshi that is able to take his or her own desire for transformation as seriously as they once said when they asked the Master to do so, all of this is experienced as training. For the deshi that cannot make their words and actions one, who cannot take their own transformation as seriously as they asked their Master to do, all of this is experienced as manipulation.
To some, madman or liar am I. To others, my madness is the key, and all is revealed in its appropriate time and not before.
The Christ represents the highest ideal of Love: To suffer in the name of others, to suffer at the hands of others, to accrue their hatred, stomach their betrayals, and to have their injustices pierce your flesh and crush your bones, to have their slanders peel your flesh and bleed your eyes, but to return to them only Love, and to return that love knowing it will go unrecognized and misunderstood, and perhaps even corrupted by the Darkness. In the end, this is the apex of the Budo path.
There is a kind of “shock” that takes over your body-mind when another human has thrust their rage upon you and has set out to cause your death or to injure your body with extreme prejudice. Spiritually, what is happening is an evolutionary and ultimate egocentric reactivity. It is the apex of spiritual immaturity, and there is no martial capacity or the possibility of practicing virtue with it. Today, the Aikido ranks are filled with deshi that have no idea this is what happens to the human organism within violence, and rare is the instructor ready and willing to take them there for the sake of the spiritual maturity that rests on the other side of this Darkness. The art for the most part is satisfied becoming a “moving zazen” or a “dynamic yoga,” and people are busy rewriting its history so that it could be said it was always this soft and impotent thing. It is ironic that both zazen and yoga have been thoroughly watered-down in the Modern world and in part by the same rewriting of history, making this kind of Aikido a watering down of a watered-down practice. The truth is, cowardly and soft people make soft and cowardly things for themselves. One need not look much further than that to explain what most Modern Aikido has become. At the heart of Modern Aikido is but one thing: Self-Indulgence.
The ideological using of “states” has thoroughly corrupted Modern spiritual training, and so it has also corrupted Budo training. I call this corruption ideological because “state” has been used by both the teacher to manifest his or her will to power over a disciple’s will to power, and “state” has been used by a disciple to replace a teacher’s will to power with his or her own. Examples of this are, “I am holy (ie. Achieved a state of Holiness), and therefore you should do what I say.” And, “I heard you like looking at female buttocks, you ate a donut yesterday, plus you have an erection, and therefore you are not holy, and therefore I will not do what you say - you will do what I say.” Both parties are degenerated forms, false forms of real sensei and real deshi, and this remains true whether one party is present or both parties are present in the same dojo. These kinds of practitioners are not practitioners. They are statesmen, the antithesis of someone on The Path.
If you were honest, you’d acknowledge that nothing is more terrifying than the practice of Love. This is why Love is only for the brave and why all lovers are warriors or not lovers at all.
As the unenlightened, by definition, we abide in the Darkness. That is to say, we, ultimately by desire or by ignorance, remain firmly within and enslaved to the fear/threat cycle. Unskilled at the practice of release, and unarmed by the cultivation of valor, Love, Aiki, Aikido, these things remain beyond us, unknowable to us. We experience the world, and thus everything, as a yang assault answerable only by a greater yang assault. Either the victim or the conquerer, we live always as the potentially conquered. As the always potentially conquered, in the end, we look for safe spaces and soft places, running here and there, never centered, always fleeing, avoiding, disengaging. Like this, Heaven on Earth becomes unobtainable. Like this, we live in Hell.
You need to talk, explain, refine, and provide instruction in class as the teacher. You cannot just hold classes where you only beat the shit out of each other. However, you must never forget that ten years of beating the shit out of each other will always show greater improvement across the board than ten years of explaining and refining.
Dojo are subject to the same laws of nature that govern Kihon Waza. Momentum, inertia, gravity, all continue to play their roles. Some deshi, those with weak centers, are more subject to the gravity and momentum of others that have stronger centers. Like this, their practice is never really their own and will not be so until they learn to develop their own centers. Though the development of stronger centers is a part of the training, some are pulled by inertia that take them out of the dojo before they can cultivate this skill. This is why when one quits, another will be pulled to quit, and then another, and another. This is very common in selection schools like BUDS or the Police Academy, and thus in any dojo where excellence is the expectation. Like in Nature, however, these “deaths” are actually moments of rebirth, acts of purification, where remaining deshi can get back to more serious work on a mat made up only of serious Aikidoka.
That which offers no resistance,
overcomes the hardest substances.
That which offers no resistance
can enter where there is no space.
Even in the more martial interpretations of the art, I would not say they are very martial. Meaning, they are not very martially viable. Here is why: They often lack the spiritual components that work to develop skill at self-detachment and therefore their practitioners are likely to mentally and emotionally fold under the stress of confronting their own personal extinction or that of another. Also, with the spiritual aspects removed from the training, there is no skill at ego reconciliation in the practitioner, and thus no capacity for the martially all-important awareness and/or intuition that stems from ego reconciliation. Then, and by extension, the art is practiced in a way whereby it is plagued by form and is not at all geared toward the transcendence of form. This means there remains an academic gap between theory and practice in the practitioner, one that in the end will at the level of combat performance amount to the practitioner knowing nothing and doing nothing. Also, the tactical architectures in this Aikido are size-dependent, as they work not on internal skills, nor on the yin reconciliation of yang energies but have instead mistaken muscular exertion for power and martial effectiveness. This Aikido has also artificially separated armed fighting from unarmed fighting, such that the two are at most only duplications of each other and not one wholly and organically integrated fighting system. Relatedly, it has also artificially separated ancient weapons from contemporary weapons, such that its practitioners know nothing about knife fighting nor gun fighting. And, lastly, it has ignorantly and artificially universalized its training environments such that it has no related science of tactics and strategies - likely the two most determining factors in deciding consistent victory. Alas, the same can be said of most modernized martial arts.
Recently, I was told I feign virtue for the sake of establishing a following. I thought, how odd: Does not the majority of the population follow vice and seek the acceptance of vice? Would not a larger following be established by rejecting principle rather than holding it up? In truth, my pursuit of the virtues has caused me more loneliness than it has caused me company. I have only known the virtues to do this, and thus I have come to know them by the isolation they cause more than any other aspect they hold.
A deshi should never use themselves as a measuring stick for what is hard or what is rough or what direction and at what rate training should proceed. This is because as deshi there’s more of a chance that we are just wrong, that we are the pussy, that we are the powder puff, that we are the problem, that we are the ones abiding in ignorance, and it’s not the training at all. Using oneself as a measuring stick is only more egocentrism, more self-attachment, the very antithesis of Budo’s aims. If you need “safe spaces,” “healthy boundaries,” “preconditions,” “caveats,” or “safe guards,” stay out of the elite schools. You will only find everything they do there wrong.
No one trains in Budo to suck. This is where a lot of talk arises over what makes a good teacher and what does not. However, this is a talk born of consumerism. It’s how consumers talk, people whose religion consists of ritual buying and selling - moderns. This has little to do with whether or not you will suck at Budo. Instead: There is a saying, “If you want to be a lion, you must train with lions.” Things do not have to get more complicated than this for attaining the goal of not sucking at Budo and choosing the right dojo toward that end. So, first look at the fitness level of the Uke pool. Ask, “Are these people fit?” Then, ask, “Are these people tough?” You have to ask the second question because today it is very possible to be fit and have no grit, no capacity to face fear, and no ability to suffer pain. If the Uke pool is fit and tough, then you are in a den of lions, and if you are fit and tough, by being there, one day you may be a lion too.
Why have a seminar that is technique-based? The ultimate aim of technical training is the transcendence of technique, to develop through the practice of technique an unconscious competency beyond technique. This takes countless and continuous hours of training. It is something that cannot be achieved within the short durations and low rep count common to Aikido seminars. Attempting to do so makes seminar training only an interruption in the very process that could have been continued had you not attended the seminar and continued your own training at your own dojo. For this reason, I am not a fan of the seminar pedagogical model, and I often find the seminar format more suspect of political agendas than of true attempts to increase proficiency in the art. However, if you’re going to hold a seminar, it should be concept or principle based - not technique based. In essence, a concept or a principle should be introduced, and identified, and transmitted along with drills and micro-drills meant to cultivate the skill at implementing the concept or principle within any technique. Some seminars are believing they are doing this when they teach “techniques from ryokata dori,” or “suwariwaza techniques,” or “kaeshi Waza,” etc., but this is all still technical training and thus only an interruption in your own real training.
The continuous training in Kihon Waza produces a strength adaptation along the lines that strength expert Pavel Tsatsouline calls, “greasing the groove.” This means practitioners with decades of training, made up of multiple hours each day, can become very strong on the mat and execute techniques demonstrating great levels of force. This “greasing the groove” strength however should not be confused with internal skills or with power, as this kind of strength diminishes force output with age and increases immobility overall time. Power is different from strength in that the former is concerned with a methodology and the latter is concerned only with a cultivation.
Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up.
Lazy training, as a practitioner, must become hateful to you. If you are the dojocho, it must be seen as a slanderous act against you. It simply cannot be tolerated. Unnecessary delay between technique reps or between technique sets must be experienced as disgraceful. Slow and light training out of habit or a lack of applying oneself must be purified from the mat like the stink of a dead carcass. Always, training must seek a 1:1 ratio between 100% intensity and the 100% maintenance of perfect form. Everything else must be understood as an exception, wherein learning curves are temporarily tolerated but everything else is understood as a character flaw.
Wherever you have life and death on the playing field, be it in the military or law enforcement, and the consequences, positive or negative, are by nature irreversible, you will see some variant of “prioritize and execute.” This is a rule-governed behavior by which you identify either the sequential origin in a set of elements or the most influential element amongst multiple elements, and then address that element first and above all other elements. Under this rule, within the context of self-defense then, due to the overwhelming likelihood that one will likely harm oneself rather than be harmed by another, self-defense should then prioritize spiritual maturity over addressing ego duels or potential battery. Equally, when it comes to learning the art, it is overwhelmingly more likely that regardless of all other factors we will quit the art, an act of self-sabotage, thus not learning the art, than we will be deterred or obstructed by anything else. Therefore, our constant attention should again be focused on our spiritual maturity, namely on the virtues of discipline and commitment, more than on anything else in regards to this latter context.
To All Sensei: New deshi, having not been long on the Path, are by default spiritually immature. That is to say that they still unconsciously experience the world through the fear/threat/reaction cycle and that they still operate their will to power to the detriment of their own person. As such, you must be ever on guard against their victimhood mentalities and their efforts to alleviate their fears by attempting to control you, the teacher. You must remain free, and thus you must be ready to burn everything down, including yourself. Otherwise, you will not be able to help them - and even then you might not be able to help them. But, like this, they cannot pull you into their own Hell, which is what the Darkness wants. Once you sense their power games, no matter how small, you must release and free yourself through yin reconciliation in order to remain free and in the Light. Look to offer them nothing, and have no thing they want. Be nothing and no one. Like this, remain the mirror they need to set themselves free of fear.
The mat is a simulated battlefield, with simulated combative engagements to survive and thrive within, having simulated dragons to slay and a ritualized Hero’s Journeys to navigate. It is simulated because it can never be reality, and it runs these types of simulations because Budo seeks the reconciliation of the self through the reconciliation of fear. A dojocho, undoubtedly, must allow for learning curves, which is perfectly doable within simulated violence, and which is perfectly acceptable in light of Budo’s ultimate goal. But, a dojocho must forever be on guard for Fear’s conquering and capturing of the deshi’s soul. Those on the mat must not be allowed to retreat from Fear, to seek comfort, to rest, or quit. Cowardice, and all its consorts, Quitting, Resting, Retreating, Disengaging, must be kept purified off the mat, and so too Cowardice’s new temptresses and tricksters: “Healthy Boundaries,” “Positive Reinforcement,” “Someone Who Believes in Me,” “Participation Award.” A dojocho must find a way to have the deshi value hard work above everything else, especially their own ego, their own comfort, and even their own notions of success and progress. “The work is everything!” - this is the mantra in any viable dojo. It must echo in the halls and in every corner of the dojo, as it must echo within every corner of the deshi’s mind, drowning out all other thoughts and every self-doubt. The work is everything: This purification is what we are doing here.
Modern Aikido practices Kihon Waza strikes starting at too great a distance. This inadvertently sets up a gap that partakes of ego duel cultural fictions and has nothing to do with asocial violence. This gap makes the training inconsistent with Kihon Waza grab training tools and gives the practitioner a delusional sense of “true” striking range. For striking, start no further than the distance for Katate Dori, and then continue to shrink that distance more and more as you become more skilled at finding the yin space within the attack.
Sensei, what do you mean by “ego duel cultural fictions”?
This is social violence: a form of violence that takes place within cultural norms and works to reinforce those norms, including the reification of the self/identity (ego). A “bar fight” is an example of this type of violence.
I was re-watching “Patton” after decades had passed since I first watched it. There I was, rehearing that opening speech, and a thought came into my mind upon pondering on the character and nature of Patton’s unseen audience and upon contemplating what trials and tasks History had waiting for them: “What wusses today claim to want to be warriors.” There’s a kind of en vogue today to warriorhood, and therefore to its trials and to its selection schools. However, during the trials and within these selection schools, it is revealed, over and over again, now in numbers greater than ever before, that these people don’t really want to be warriors. They only want to be able to say they’re a warrior. If the dojo is not experiencing this cultural phenomena, then the dojo is no selection school, and it should be.
Yang projections, no matter how powerful, are ultimately finite in force output. Yin reconciliations, on the other hand, are infinite in their capacity to reduce force requirements. Therefore, those who are truly interested in cultivating power will be truly interested in yin reconciliation skills and less so with yang projection skills.
I was reading Liese Klein’s new book on Chiba Sensei (recommended earlier on this page), wherein I came upon a part of D.T. Suzuki’s commentary on one of Chiba Sensei’s favorite stories, Issai Chozan’s (pen name), “Neko no Myojutsu.” In the story, the central moment is when a wise and experienced, but quite common looking, cat kills a rat that up until then had thwarted the hunting and combative efforts of all the other cats in the story. These other cats had been deemed expert rat-killers in their own right (or at least in their own minds). What is worthy of narrative is not only that the last cat did what the other cats could not do but that this cat made it look easy, uneventful. This cat had some sort of “mysterious virtue” that the other cats lacked, and it was this virtue that made the cat martially viable when the others were not.
The story describes the key moment: “The cat went in quietly and slowly as if he were not cognizant of any unusual scene in the room. The rat, however, was extremely terrified at the sight of the approaching object and stayed motionless, almost stupefied, in the corner. The cat almost nonchalantly went for the rat and came out carrying it by the neck.”
I’m sure that anyone in the military or in law enforcement intimately knows what Chozan is pointing out. In law enforcement, it is not uncommon for new officers, who having a lack of experience while having trained a great deal, lack some sort of “mysterious virtue” as well. As such, in their own critical incidents, they too like the other cats and often demonstrate indecisiveness, a tendency to over-complicate things, to get lost in a sea of contingencies, to create new problems, etc. – all inabilities to tap into their training. Then, either at that same critical incident, or at another one just like it, these new officers see a veteran officer, one having that “mysterious virtue,” immediately reconcile the incident with apparent ease. To those officers that wish to master their craft, moments like this stand out, just as it did for the cats in Chozan’s story.
As a new officer, you, like said cats, begin to ask, “How?” “Why?” It is this how and why that Chozan is trying to address in his story. Meaning, there is an aspect to performance that somehow is not guaranteed by training, and yet somehow fulfills all training paradigmatic goals. D.T Suzuki elaborates and explains this point further in his commentary on Chozan’s story: “You must remember that swordsmanship is the art of realizing at a critical moment the reason of life and death, it is not meant just to defeat your opponent. A samurai ought to be always mindful of this fact and discipline himself in a spiritual culture as well as the technique of swordsmanship. First of all, therefore, he is to have an insight into the reason of life and death, when his mind is free from thoughts of selfishness. This being attained, he cherishes no doubts, no distracting thoughts; he is not calculating, nor does he deliberate; his spirit is even and yielding and at peace with the surroundings; he is serene and empty minded.”
Allow me to pull out several key phrases that Suzuki is using to describe this “mysterious virtue.” He notes: “realizing at a critical moment the reason of life and death,” “discipline in a spiritual culture,” “have an insight into the reason of life and death,” and “mind is free from thoughts of selfishness.” These phrases, or traits, he explains, then go on to cultivate the martial artist so that he or she is able to perform within critical incidents. He or she is able to do this because he or she is no longer plagued by doubts, distracting thoughts, nor a calculating mind, nor deliberation. This mysterious virtue has graced this kind of martial artist with an even and yielding spirit, one that is at peace, not agitated nor reactionary, to his/her surroundings. This is a martial artist whose heart/mind is centered and is in communion with the Void. Suzuki’s conclusions are on point with Chozan’s story, as these points are brought out in the various conversations each cat has with the Master Cat on why their technique or skill did not work or come through when it counted. But, Chozan’s point and Suzuki’s elaboration of that point goes back to at least 500 BCE China, when this thought and position was already being written about in Ruist texts and sought after in their own “as/if” rituals. My reason, however, for re-raising the topic is simple, and it is to state the obvious, at least what was obvious to Ruists, Chozan, Chozan’s Cat, and Suzuki: Just doing techniques is never going to cut it. There is no mysterious virtue at the end of any exercise regime, and this remains true no matter what we call it or what we claim our goal to be. There is an aspect to performance that somehow is not guaranteed by training, and yet somehow fulfills all training paradigmatic goals. This is the mysterious virtue.
History is an excellent tool for bringing perspective and consciousness to our own culture’s unsaid and unthought assumptions. Let us look at something only going back to 1958: Imagine, a young man, approximately 18 years old, already having approximately 14 years of fighting experience, having grown up in relative poverty, residing in a place of cold temperatures and trying geography, having three years of Judo training and two years of Karate training (IN THE FIFTIES), and having shown himself enough tenacity and grit to sit outside a dojo for nearly three days straight. By today’s standards, this is obviously the material of Navy SEALs. However, what was this young man told and asked by the Founder when he sought to enter his dojo: “Martial Arts are very hard. Can you take it?”
Whatever life Chiba Sensei, the young man in the description above, had prior to his training under Osensei, it was clear that his upcoming training in Aikido was to be so intense that even a man of such make would likely not survive it. Now, Aikido is for everyone, and they even get a free gi! Weird.
If the body is weak, it will surrender before the spirit is adequately cultivated. As Merton said, “God does not wrestle with the weak.”
Kazuo Chiba Sensei, an uchideshi in the 50’s, stated the following in an interview with Aikido Journal when pondering his training at Hombu Dojo: “There wasn’t a single day during that whole period that I considered ‘fun’ - not at that time, anyway...Now I look back on the experience rather fondly, but at the time it was pure hardship! Of course, it was something that I had chosen in order to realize my goal, not something that I was not forced to endure, so in that sense it was actually something of a luxury, despite the difficulty.” Elsewhere, in an interview with Raymond Kwok, Chiba Sensei stated, “Most people who trained at the Hombu Dojo at that time were well-trained, established martial artists. They came there because of the fame of O-Sensei. They wanted to study Aikido under his instruction. They were warriors. Everybody was crazy in that passion of seeking the path. We used to practice how to hurt people...no compromise.” What historical hypothesis can be drawn from these passages?
1. Aikido training was severe enough at a minimum to be challenging for young athletic tough males. This made the training consistent with other martial selection schools both historical and present. By extension, the training, while possibly open to everyone, was NOT for everyone. By further extension, training that is both open to everyone and IS for everyone, is a departure from what training used to be. Conclusion: Dojo that are open to everyone and ARE for everyone are not on the same path as Aikido in the past and therefore will not lead to the same results as once achieved.
2. The popular dojo rule, “Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere” is either a poor translation of a different protocol attributed to Osensei, was not authored by Osensei, was misunderstood by the listener to Osensei, or was brought into training by Osensei at a later date, or for other purposes, or toward a different end. Conclusion: It is likely a poor anchor point for basing one’s training upon.
3. 1950’s Aikido, at the least, was practiced within a modality of “Non Mutare Sed Mutari,” or “not to change (one’s training/one’s dojo/one’s teacher) but to be changed.” This too is a modality of all martial selection schools, both past and present. However, this is less and less becoming the norm for contemporary Aikido, and is likely attributable to “Aikido” having become since the 1950’s an entity unto itself, existing as something over and above any dojo, training regime, country, or teacher, etc. (See point 5) Chiba Sensei’s “Aikido” was his responsibility, as he fully understood that he was the one that sought out his teacher and that it was not the other way around. As such, he operated within a mindset of “I’m voluntarily here” and therefore “could be any other place if so desired.”
4. Aikido was a kind of finishing art, so to speak, and as such was likely more marked by how techniques were applied and less so by the techniques themselves. In order to produce similar results to 1950’s Aikido, today’s Aikido does not draw in great droves from the higher ranks of martial arts, and will likely have to provide instruction, including instruction in body conditioning, regarding skillsets not directly or obviously located within the current Kihon Waza lexicon.
5. During the 1950’s, Aikido was not yet an entity unto itself but instead was understood using Pre-modern understandings and technologies, particularly the master/disciple paradigm of human mentorship and information transmission. Like “Ch’an” disciples of Ancient China that sought out not the temple down the street, or the one with the best hours, or the one that belonged to this federation or that federation, but instead looked for the person that had mastered his own practice, Chiba Sensei, and others in the 1950s, followed this suit and still looked for such a master. It would not have mattered at all what Osensei had called his art or if he had even given it a name at all. Deshi of the 1950’s were not after rank nor were they wishing to participate in the economics of the social capital that is rank. They were after skill and skill alone.
6. Practitioners in the 1950’s saw themselves as belonging to a specialized and eccentric segment of society, that deemed “warrior.” Like warriors past and present, aikidoka then also saw themselves as more akin to that specialized cultural group throughout the ages and throughout the world’s different cultures than they did to their own contemporary mainstream culture.