Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hang on and be dragged to death!

I remember coming up through the ranks trying to learn the next technique and the next kata and the next thing and frequently being frustrated because the targets seemed to be constantly shifting.  Our instructor would go to a clinic and come back and inform us that they'd shown a different or better way to throw kotegaeshi or a different way we were supposed to be doing junana.  The flux made sense, because we are all working toward this vague ideal of aiki - but it was still frustrating - we often wished that the system would just hold still long enough for us to get our next batch of ranks before having to think about something else.
But it turns out that this phenomenon is not unique to our clubs or lineage.  There are accounts from Morihei Ueshiba's students that O sensei never taught the same thing the same way twice.  They say they were often frustrated because they could not ever nail him down on what they were supposed to be doing.
Recently I got to be a fly on the wall listening to a group of aikidoka from a different lineage kvetching about their main sensei never giving two students the same rank requirements - and when they did press him for standardized rank requirements he put out a list of material that none of them claimed to know - and then tested them on a different set of stuff.
Let me tell you - not only is this flux not unique to any one group of clubs - but it does not resolve itself as you get higher rank.  If anything, I am even more aware now of the shifting nature of the ideal.  The only thing that I know for sure is that I don't know anything for sure.

Sometimes  I still wish that takemusu aiki would hold still for just a moment so that I could catch up - but I don't think that is destined  to be.  Flux is the nature of the thing.  You just have to latch on and let it drag you along till you die.  But you know what?  It's a hell of a ride!  I suspect that if aiki ever held still and let me catch it I'd grow bored and go off and do something else with my life.

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Patrick Parker

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