Timelessness…and fully inhabiting our training

Tonight was one of the best aikido sessions that I have had in a long time. Afterwards, though I was quite tired, I had a feeling as if I inhabited every cell in my body. Even now many hours later I am content, and feel filled with strength from the top of my head to the ends of my fingers and toes. What is it that made me feel this way?

I am almost 60. With progressive arthritis and a serious lack of knee cartilage, training gets more difficult and challenging every day. Yet, in spite of this, there was something different about tonight.

I aspire to approach aikido (and my training partner) from the most centered and focused position and stature that I can accomplish. As I face them, I try to empty my mind of what they and I are about to do. Of course, normally we know precisely what we are doing, and our form of training remains rigorously systematized and regimented, so that we all know who is attacking, who is defending, and exactly what comes next at every point. We train with the same people year after year, and have come to know each other with a certain level of intimacy and knowledge of our strengths and various aspects of our personalities. However, often I prefer to imagine my partner as a stranger, an unknown person, and as if neither of us knows the other’s intention: who is going to attack, or how we should proceed. Even though it may be my turn to attack, sometimes while I am reaching for that centered space, my partner interprets my hesitation as a sign that it’s his turn and suddenly he initiates the attack, and I find myself responding quite naturally to a more realistic situation. I like this kind of training very much.

In developing this approach, I occasionally experience a more “Zen-like” state in my mind and body. Perhaps my training tonight allowed me to achieve this…where the world stopped and there was just me and my partner, and a true melding of attack and defense. However, tonight this seemed to express itself almost continuously, through every moment of our engagement together.

I felt like I experienced a kind of timelessness, and that I was able to fully inhabit my training, but more poignantly, that I was able to achieve an expression of my full potential and power. I felt at one moment fully centered, and the next moment explosive, and then as quickly as it came, I returned to that peaceful and comfortably centered state. Yet, throughout this, I remained soft and sensitive to my partners’ ability and to his feelings as both an uke and nage. Though I felt exhausted - at the same time I felt full and balanced with vitality. This left me with a lasting sense of both satisfaction and balance on many levels.

Thinking about it and reflecting on what made tonight’s’ training so positive and fulfilling, I conclude that it was my ability to focus, to apply myself with the full extent of my power, and loose myself in the continuous here & now…responding (without thinking) to my partners movement…feeling and taking them just off their center and following that…all the way through, wherever it went – to each ending.

I feel very grateful to my training partners and instructors – that I have the freedom to train like this, and I ask for their indulgence in allowing us to continue to develop our training with more focus, sensitivity and a fierceness of spirit.

Best regards…

Bob Toabe  October 8, 2012 ©

MIT Aikido Clube

Differences

As you can see, everyone is different.  They come in different sizes, shapes, and heights.  In America, they also come in different ethnic backgrounds.  I’ve come to believe that with these physical differences there is also a personality difference, that comes in even larger varieties.  People are raised differently.  I believe that how they are raised strongly develops their personality.  You might agree or disagree with me here and that’s ok with me.

Now, how does this relate to Aikido.  Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei) in “The Art of Peace” says:

“You cannot imitate what I do.  Each and every technique is a unique, once-and—for-all experience.  My techniques emerge freely, spewing forth like a fountain.  Rather than try to copy what I do, listen to what I say.  That is where the essence of the techniques lies.  Someday, you will understand.”

Aikido is unique in that it is different with everyone but still the same.  O Sensei tells us that we should not try to copy his movements because it is based as a part of him.  Aikido should come from within each of us.  It can be as different as we are different.  Each person was a unique person.  They may have similarities in size but they move differently or react differently.  This forces me to learn to adjust to the many body types.

This is an interesting observation that provides us a different approach to training in Aikido.  You might think, why then train in Aikido?  Well, if you look at Aikido it is a cooperative training mode.  Uke and Nage need to work together.  The movements in Aikido are paired movements, a blending of Uke and Nage that when done properly are not only beautiful to watch but are also safe and flowing.

As we train, my fellow Aikidoka, think about how different the technique will be with a different partner.

By Rey N. Robles

Southern Maryland Aikido Center

Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Holistic Approach

Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Holistic Approach is a book for:

…therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and others interested in a more effective, more holistic approach to PTSD,

…Aikido senseis, practitioners and dojos wanting to offer a valuable contribution to veterans with combat-related PTSD,

…veterans support programs open to expanding their options to include the kinesthetic therapeutic learning inherent in the practice of Aikido,

…veterans looking for a martial art that will enable them to redirect the energy of their anger and fear to constructive use.

The book presents an analysis of the disorder, an indication of what the statistics imply, a description of the power of Aikido as a kinesthetic therapy, and a one-year case history.

The book is based on forty-three years practicing and attempting to live Aikido; my personal experience, including 8 years in the Army [6 years Special Forces- 24 months Viet Nam]; my work with veterans with Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [CRPTSD] and disadvantaged inner city youth; and research done during my MEd and EdD work and in writing this book. I found myself writing in three different voices. I started with the intention of enabling those who teach Aikido to bring the art to other veterans with CRPTSD by expanding on the blog of my first year’s experience teaching Aikido in a program for vets with CRPTSD. As I wrote and researched, the book rapidly morphed into an attempt to clarify why I believe Aikido has a place in treatment programs for vets with CRPTSD. Now, it has become a proposal that the best overall modality for working with CRPTSD is a holistic approach offering a smorgasbord of treatment options, including the kinesthetic therapeutic learning inherent in the practice of Aikido.

Teaching veterans with CRPTSD presents a very unique set of issues.  These can include one or a combination of fear of being touched, deep depression, avoidance of physical closeness, great inwardly-directed anger, a constant internal state of war, fear of harming others combined with violent, combat responses to perceived threats and actual physical disabilities.  I realized very soon that I had to modify and adapt how I was teaching.  But, to give these vets what they needed on a therapeutic level, I would also have to adapt what I was teaching.  To do this, without losing or diminishing the essence of Aikido, I was forced to define exactly what that essence was, what was my Aikido.

This involved some deep introspection, and, since Aikido is so much a part of my “self” and since I’m not a very deep thinker, it was often quite painful.  I had to work at defining who I really was, and what appeared was not always the kindly, honest, humanistic, Taoist, suave and debonaire person I liked to consider my self.  If you want to learn what I came to consider the essence of my Aikido, and how I learned to bring it to vets with CRPTSD, I recommend you read the book.

I will tell you that the path I found came through considering the concepts of ki and kokyu, and the differences in nage and tori, [and whether we have to throw people away] both on the mat and in my life. And, as happens if we continue along most life paths, the route shifted and changed, new vistas opened, new challenges arose.  What I saw from the top of a mountain, was more mountains. Beautiful! Scary!

 

You can see more details on the book at www.keganinnosehshi.org.

You can order it from the publisher at www.levellerspress.com/newreleases/newreleases.htm,

and from Amazon at www.amazon.com/Combat-Related-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder/dp/193714609X.

The book will also be on the raffle display at summer camp.

My email is osborn.td@gmail.com.

 

Tom Osborn

Aikido of Northampton