Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can you make your martial art work?

    I have earned a nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Chendokan Aikido.  I have been doing martial arts for over 15 years.    I got my shodan after about 9 years of studying aikido (give or take, I don't remember exactly).  These statements may seem like bragging, but in fact its just the opposite.  I'm just now feeling that I have the basics down to the point where I can start to learn the actual applications.
    I was in class this morning, the first class I had attended in a while, and I got two pieces of wisdom that have completely changed my idea of my own martial arts.  The first one was part of a conversation, and I'm going to paraphrase here.

  Sensei: Do you know this technique?
  Me: I can make it work?

  Sensei: Why do you have to make it work?

  I stood there flabbergasted.  He was right and I didn't know what to say.  Techniques shouldn't be made to work, they should work or not work.  If I have to force it to work, then I don't know the technique, at least as well as I should.  Aikido is a martial art, and it will work in self defense situations.  After all the time I've put into this, I know the techniques on a physical, level, and maybe as a dojo technique.  Now how do I make sure the technique works when it needs to?  That's what I get to work on for the future.  What do I have to do to allow the technique to work, not make it work.

  The second remarkable line Sensei said to me (and the whole class) hit a cord, and I wanted to share it with everyone.  He said, "I know more about what NOT to do, than I'll ever know about what to do."  Once you learn the techniques of a martial arts system at a decently proficient level, say by about black belt, the rest is just polishing them so you know how to use them, and know when to use them.  By that, I mean when a certain technique is required, and when to abandon the technique as well.  I had learned this as "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilites, in the expert's mind there are few"  I had not ever fully understood that statement until Sensei's statement this morning.  So again, thank you to Sensei for adding to my world view.

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