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Using the Unconscious

The pedagogical requirement of daily training in Budo was precisely that: a pedagogical requirement. It was not a coincidental byproduct of an imagined less industrious age. Borrowed from other applications, such as Buddhism, daily training in Budo looks to make use of the non-intellectual aspects of our humanity, our unconscious and non-logocentric aspects, to address those parts of the self-cultivation process that use form and a deconstruction of form to psycho-physiologically produce a reconciliation of form and non-form (Shu-Ha-Ri) within the practitioner.

It is through daily training that we engage our unconscious aspects and thereby move beyond the restrictions of language and the dichotomies of reasoning, moving past the reductions of these things and to the level of being. Meaning, for pre-modern martial artist, daily training was an intentional utilization of time and investment to capture or transmit those aspects of an art that cannot be captured through intellectual processing and understanding.

The person today who trains only sporadically, for example, every other day, or two to three times per week, that person is doomed to ever employ their intellect alone in their training. That person is doomed to know the art only through the rationalizing aspects of their calculating conscious mind. With such little dedication to training, the unconscious mind cannot be utilized as the larger fishing net needed to capture the unsaid and unsayable of the art being practiced. This is what is in part responsible for contemporary Aikido’s fetishization of form and for the widespread inability at Takemusu Aiki. The fetishization of form is the result of the conscious mind being given priority in contemporary Aikido, and that prioritization robs the practitioner of any skillsets beyond architecture, geometry, biomechanics, kinesiology, etc.: It robs the practitioner of any skillset that can only be cultivated by the unconscious mind, such as artistic spontaneity and artistic transcendence.

The solution then is not, as some moderns would think, better explanations, more progressive drills, clearer-cut curriculums, or more literate and better translated lexicons. All of these “solutions” are just more of the rational/conscious mind continuing to be prioritized. These “solutions” are just the biases of our own age. They are only us making the art into our own image. The solution is the historical one, the old one, the only one that has proven effective: Daily Training. Therefore, fix your dojo so as to accommodate daily training. Hold classes seven days per week, multiple hours per day. Give every dojo member a key to the dojo and encourage them to train together and alone outside of class times. Create a training culture wherein the expectation of daily training is the assumed behavior and support that behavior institutionally as much as possible.


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