Monday, December 03, 2012

Except when you don't

You want to keep your arms unbendable... except when you don't
You want to keep uke at arm's length... except when you don't.
You want to move using tsugiashi... except when you don't
You want to get out of the way... except when you don't
You want to use center power instead of muscle power... except when you don't
I could go on forever...

Eric posted a nice article a while back about how all the aikido teachers that we like to hang out with regularly break each other's rules with impunity.  I think Eric's conclusion was pretty much that there are no real principles - just preferences.
I remember being so damned aggravated and frustrated as a shodan and nidan trying to do toshu randori with some of the masters in our organization.  I would try my darnedest to follow all the rules/principles correctly and they would just have their way with me.  And all the while, they were obviously breaking all the rules!  Stepping wrong, pushing with the wrong hand the wrong way, getting too close, moving too late...  Then, when I would ask them how come they're always throwing me down in randori and I never get to throw them down, it always came back to something like, "Learn to follow the rules better."  Aaaarrrrgh!
It turns out, these masters just had so many years more experience following and breaking all the rules that they knew when the rules had to be kept and when they had to be broken.  They had so much experience that they had earned the right and learned the ability to take artistic license with our martial art.
Artistic license!
I finally learned to think of these principle/preference thingies as guidelines or expert opinions or best practices.  There is no rule against breaking the rules.  In fact, one of our great sensei is fond of telling us, "If you're not cheatin' then you're not tryin'!"

You want to follow all the rules... Except when you don't
You want to say, "Screw the rules"... Except when you don't

Patrick Parker
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