Question: What is the purpose of doing Aikido always in the same way for years and years like a robot?
Answer: If we do the exercises (solo & partner) by doing it frequently and many repetitions we will progress in our Aikido.
It is a delusion to believe we can progress by just doing without an evolution of understanding, mentally and physically.
Tradition and evolution
Both can walk hand in hand together for the unreachable goal of the purpose of Aikido training. This training is focused by most of the practitioners on the physical and mental aspect of the training. Of course, for some practitioners, there is also a spiritual dimension. This can be subject for another discussion, but let’s talk about physical and mental aspects of the training.
Aikido training is constantly subject to evolution, which will change the final result depending on our understanding. Tradition or the legacy of our founders is not discarded in our training, but is subject to changes according to the degree of the practitioner. A more experienced instructor shall provide a more differentiated form of training than an instructor without teaching experience. Of course, creativity will also play an important function.
The smallest detail can change a complete movement
Once, Shishida Sensei said: “A perfect movement is a matter of one thousand details”.
Can you imagine if you have a better understanding of a detail what will happen to the movement? And if you understand several details, what is going to happen?
An example: the back heel
- The picture on the left, the back foot (the heel) is pushed down
- The middle, the heel has lifted 2cm, weight is on the ball
- The right, heel is lifted completely
The impact on the knee angle
There is an impact on the knee angle of the back leg. There is also an impact on the knee angle of the front leg.
Many instructors will advise not to pass the knee line before the toes of the front leg. By lifting the back heel by 2cm, the front knee moves slightly back. When lifting the back heel completely, both legs are almost stretched, the body becomes unstable.
The small detail of lifting the heel has an impact on the stability and also on the power generation of the body.
By keeping tradition alive, but taking care of a small detail, there will be an evolution in the management of body motion. If there is a full understanding of the use of the detail, movements will improve in many circumstances. If the detail is not easily understood, efficient body movements will be destroyed, although the tradition is kept but not well understood.
Another example: counting movements
ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi
When we teach the choreography of Tandoku undo – Unsoku or Tegatana dosa to beginners, we use a method of counting important postures within the sequence. Generally, this creates a robot-like movements. This is maybe convenient to teach to beginners, but if you do still this counting after a few years of practice, I think you miss the point of practicing Tandoku undo.
A more advanced practitioner has to focus on smooth and flexible movements without the interruption caused by counting the major postures within the sequences.
The difference between “stop” and “pause”
We can consider a posture as a paused movement at one point. We can also take the movement as a series of infinite amount of paused movements, which are following each other.
A paused movement is in some cases when the breathing change from inhaling to exhaling or vice versa. In the example of soto mawashi hiki mawari, there is a pause at the end of the sequence just before lowering the hand to the side. This is the transition between inhaling and exhaling.
A pause is a part of a movement sequence, a stop is the end of a physical movement sequence.
Physical and mental movement
Life is about movements, if movements stop, life is also stopping. If we don’t see an external movement, there is of course an internal movement. Physically, the body is in a situation of “paused movement”, mentally there is no pause.
Entering the Arena of Competition
In this “Corona” time, we are waiting for a vaccine to cure the sickness. The vaccine, in most of the cases, is injecting the illness in a very reduced portion. The body is reacting and creates enough antibodies to fight the sickness.
Getting into the Arena of Competition is injecting a vaccine to prepare the practitioner for a fight against the illness of martial arts: Delusion.
Only if the vaccine is not well prepared, the fight in the Arena becomes so important and becomes itself a delusion of invincibility.
Thinking about this “Next Step”, the entering of the Arena, cannot be adopted lightly. I believe, it was not the intention of Kenji Tomiki to create a system with competition the final goal. How to become a “social being” with respect to others must always precede the vaccine of competition.