I realized my Aikido went like my life recently: regression backward. At least I am getting lots of things to think about, unfortunately got no dojo yet (for the Aikido) and no partner (for the other issues)….
Last weekend in Strømmen I met my dear friend Karsten and had a chance to have a nice chat about how important is for us to have some weekly chances to practice Aikido (I cannot say anymore daily, as in my older days in Norway). Both mind and body needs the Aikido break, and I am not surprised we both agree on this aspect. His life has of course many more challenges, being a father of two gorgeous girls, living with his partner and the children and working as a teacher (another job that requires quite a lot of “homework” and preparation, not only for the students!).
Venting out mentally and physically gives quite a lot of pleasure, and the best way for me has been Aikido, in the years (I know what you might be thinking! There are different and maybe better ways to vent out 😉 but in many many years of single life, and not only, Aikido is certainly one of the best ways.. ).
The Aikido I try to practice, the Aikido I love, is a martial art that requires both tori and uke to work hard on the mats without having to struggle or fight with/against each other, different from other Aikido school I have seen and practiced. The contact, the kimusubi, that therefore develops and evolves in the practice gives me special good feelings. Not only a physical work-out that leaves the muscles and body happy and aware of the spent energy, but a mental satisfaction that goes beyond the effectiveness (always there though) of the technique.
With the partner, not seen as an enemy but as the necessary help thank to whom we manage to work on a principle, trying to understand it, a connection is therefore established, and step by step the external connection is transferred from the tori and uke relationship to the inner being of tori.
What I mean is that something must happen to myself, internally, in order to fully appreciate any Aikido technique or principle (or kata): the connection cannot remain external to my practice partner, but it must be internalized, digested by every cell in my body and neurons (the few left over) in my brain.
And this feeling has not been there for some time now..
In the last 2 seminars I had the great chance to work both a more internal Aikido with Aiki-wizard Jorma Lyly sensei and a very technical Aikido where every steps, positions, angles count and change the effectiveness of the technique, with the gifted Marc Bachraty sensei. And the “two” Aikido are the same at the end. Two sides of the same coin: both give me a key that I have to learn how to use properly in order to discover new “secrets”, open new doors, both for the understanding of the principles and the deeper understanding of myself. I got several inputs from practice, a lot to work on together with latent feelings of internal disconnection: in Aikido we talk about energy flowing, but not as much as other oriental disciplines (and I am grateful about it!), and often I found myself able to visualize the effect, the goal of the technique but then the application of the principle got stuck somewhere inside me. I love the feeling of things clicking in place, without having to think about that, without the need of corrections, stops and goes. Too long time since last I felt that (without some help from my partner, I must say).
Every day practice is the best way to use these keys that seminars with senseis provide. Of course, more seminars with advanced teachers are extremely useful (and my yearly Aikido calendar is filling up very fast!), but then one needs to get back to his own dojo and work on the understanding. Work on myself to explore Aikido. Right now, most of the work is in my brain: I think a lot about Aikido, writing my notes, trying to explore what I did in the weekend. But then lacking, as my dear friend Aiki-freak would say, a wrist to grab! And at that moment, actually right before that moment, so many things happen and should happen inside me just to be able to transfer some to the partner, and together building something!
I do not have this chance now. I am not so inspired by Utrecht Aikido offer and at the same time I cannot go to Amsterdam just for practice (expensive). I am planning to move to live there, but a few other things are in the same basket of decisions to be taken. All in all, a good mess in my tiny brain!
The road (道) is long! Let’s see where it will take me..