Reflections, 2019 Part II
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.