Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Musashi and Canadian Brass on speed

Last night, as we practiced aigamaeate, Kel and Rick commented on the difference between what I was doing and what they were doing. They were pulling uke around in a circle and it was making tori have to go faster to compensate for lack of offbalance and for the centrifugal effect. I was floating uke into offbalance, slipping aside at the proper time, doing less, moving slower, and getting greater effect.

This brings me back to Musashi’s Wind book, which I was quoting the other day:

Speed in Other Schools
Speed is not part of the true Way of strategy. Speed implies that things seem fast or slow, according to whether or not they are in rhythm. Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast.

Some people can walk as fast as a hundred or a hundred and twenty miles in a day, but this does not mean that they run continuously from morning till night. Unpracticed runners may seem to have been running all day, but their performance is poor.

In the Way of dance, accomplished performers can sing while dancing, but when beginners try this they slow down and their spirit becomes busy. The "old pine tree" melody beaten on a leather drum is tranquil, but when beginners try this they slow down and their spirit becomes busy. Very skilful people can manage a fast rhythm, but it is bad to beat hurriedly. If you try to beat too quickly you will get out of time. Of course, slowness is bad. Really skilful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy. From this example, the principle can be seen.

What is known as speed is especially bad in the Way of strategy.

The reason for this is that depending on the place, marsh or swamp and so on, it may not be possible to move the body and legs together quickly. Still less will you be able to cut quickly if you have a long sword in this situation. If you try to cut quickly, as if using a fan or short sword, you will not actually cut even a little. You must appreciate this.

In large-scale strategy also, a fast busy spirit is undesirable. The spirit must be that of holding down a pillow, then you will not be even a little late. When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily and keep calm. You must not be influenced by the opponent. Train diligently to attain this spirit.

I particularly enjoyed Musashi's analogy of holding down a pillow. The image that comes to mind is smothering someone with a pillow in their sleep. In a lot of ways aikido is like that.

Order your copy of Musashi's Book of Five Rings:


  1. I notice that when I'm training regularly, I'm not necessarily faster, but I seem to have more time.

  2. Ha,ha...

    We are still having a Vulcan mind-meld! I had a post that included Music yesterday also!


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