Monday, March 27, 2017

A prefabular aiki allegory

Aikido is not aiki.  In fact, it is just a primer that we might be able to use to achieve a distant goal.  But a good primer is nothing to sneeze at.
If we were to set sail for a distant land, the journey and the boat and the weather conditions and the sea serpents - all those day-to-day things are not the same as arriving in the distant land.
Aikido is similar.  There is this distant ideal that is both natural and alien at the same time.  It is winsome in its naturalness, but it is seen so distantly and dimly that it is alien, and we have a hard time figuring out how to get from here to there.  We need a vehicle.  In aikido, the techniques and the principles and the day-to-day interaction with our partners  - that's our vehicle.  You might even say that all of the aikido that we do - all the techniques and ukemi and randori - is just a primer intended to get you to the point that you can do takemusu aiki (free-flowing, spontaneously generative aiki).
Some people set sail and enjoy the boat ride so much that they lose sight of the distant land.  The journey and the boat gives them all that they need.  They enjoy working the primer and even though it's intended to get them to distant aiki-land, they get some secondary benefits from it so they just sail around in it forever. That's okay I guess. 
But what if we do manage to stay the course and actually make it past the sea serpent at the edge of the map to the distant land, do we still need the boat?  Let's set it adrift and frolic in the infinite meadows and grottoes of the distant land.  Surely we could afford to ditch the primer and just enjoy the marvels of takemusu aiki.
Or maybe, if we want anyone else to make the journey and come live with us in the distant land, we could give the boat to them.  They will have to do all the sailing and get past the sea serpents and etc., but the boat that brought us home might help them too.

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Patrick Parker
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