Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Is this post leading anywhere?!"

Some philosophize that martial art training is supposed to chip away at the junk surrounding our core selves, or remodeling us into someone who is "better". The mental training aspect of aikido has been attributed to emphasize relaxation of mind and body even under stressful situations, as i understand it to better handle being attacked but to also make daily life simpler and more enjoyable .

Ueshiba is quoted as saying that one "must be willing to receive 99% of an opponent's attack and stare death in the face". Staring death in the face is one thing, all bravery and calmness focused on one extreme idea, but i think it's a lot harder for those ideas to challenge the everyday things we face. Everyone can tell a story about how something has made them lose their cool, it's just human nature. Sooner or later something will come along that will bother the hell out of even the most stoic person.

I am by no means one of those stoic people. Insecurity is one of the things that reoccurs in my mind as i train. I am my own worst critic and i often berate myself over a misplaced step, a technique done wrong or "poorly", or as in the case of seeing video with me in it: the way i look while moving around and especially falling. There are several things i could list off as to why i beat myself up but the fact remains that it's really not a good thing to do whether necessary or not. As i sit around and sorta meditate on aikido i often try to tackle what i can do to improve my ability. Practice and patience seem to be the top two keys and not necessarily in that order. Something that has seemed to be more important lately is how i perceive myself in aikido, what am i bringing with me into the dojo and what am i trying to sorta leave behind me on the way out. More important than both of those is what i'm carrying around day to day?

Something i think helps, and i think a lot of people have trouble with this, is what kind of goal you've place in front of yourself. Is it realistic? Are you expecting it to occur much faster than it should? Are you trying to be good for your level or someone else's? There's nothing wrong with wanting to improve, but sometimes things just "are as they are". Looking at where i am in relation to others that i see as better could make anyone in the same shoes feel discouraged. I have to remind myself that sure, someone else at my rank may be way ahead of the curve but what's important is am i refining "me"? "Am i moving from my center instead of trying to reach out to something that will throw me off balance," so to speak.

Just some thoughts. Next lesson, practicing what i preach. Haha

Anyone have any thoughts?


Patrick Parker said...

Ha! Youre exactly right in this post. Good insights.

But regarding that video(i suppose youre talking about the aiki brushoff), you were falling awkwardly because that's what the move does. It does not lead uke into a beautiful extension and roll. It gets tori out o the way in a manner that makes it hard for uke to move and fall properly.

That's why it's called kokyunage - you can't really identify the exact force that tori puts on uke to make him fall down. It's as if the wind sorta blows uke down while tori just happens to be standing there taking credit for it.

I'm the same as you about seeing myself on video. I hate it. All I ever see is 'fat guy slouching clumsily' whenever i demonstrate something on video. On the other hand, I can watch my students and I don't see that. I see good expression of principle in techniques that fit their bodies and minds. so i know that i'm looking at myself through a faulty lens.

But it is still awkward feeling watching yourself.

Andy said...

Haven't seen the aiki brush off one yet. I don't see it on your blog.

Patrick Parker said...