Kein Risiko, kein Spass

30 10 2017
Kein Risiko, kein Spass

Kein Risiko, kein Spass

By chance I saw the tagging long time ago in Germany and that triggered memories and thoughts.. not all happy ones..

I know I have myself followed this motto more than once, both in relationships and in other parts of my life. But, is it really fun or necessary to take risks in  working life, “love” life, sex life and what about the most important part of my life: Aikido life?

I am actually a relatively boring person. I do not like taking unnecessary risks. When I travel I like to plan the trip in advance: find the hotel or accommodation, usually the dojo for Aikido practice, the road between the 2 and mark on my local maps place of interests (and of course dojo and where I sleep). A boring person, right? I have been told. Maybe it is because I am an engineer..

I started writing this post the weekend before I miss the trip to Norway because of several problems with a Norwegian flight, including the forced disembark of a person, escorted by 4 well armed officials. I travel so often that it is actually surprising I assisted only so recently to something like that. Has it affected me? Not really, except the annoyance in the delays and then the cancellation of my trip (at least Norwegian refunded me of the full fare). But every time I book a fly ticket or every time I board an airplane I have no special feelings that I am doing something risky. Same when I bike to work during a rainy and windy day, on slippery Dutch streets, with several other bikes, tourists lost in their thoughts and stoned car drivers… 😉

Untitled

let it go..

So many risks in the day to day life that if one starts thinking about that maybe one would get too afraid and overwhelmed for even going out in the morning. Is that reasonable adding personal risks, risks of physical or psychological injures, social risks practicing a martial art?

Is fun taking risks during practice?

My aiki-brother wrote about the feeling of being safe during Aikido practice.What he points out comes from many years of practice and especially lots of “study, research” on the mats with Jorma Lyly sensei:

Let’s close in on danger in a nice and comfortable way..

Jorma Lyly, 6.dan Aikikai

taking ukemi for Jorma Lyly sensei

taking ukemi for Jorma Lyly sensei – picture by Sigurd Rage (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sigurdr)

In many ways I agree with aikifreak, of course (considering as well Jorma one of my biggest inspiration and motivation). Very often when practicing with a beginner partner, I suggest to try to keep a longer contact, grab, in particular when a technique ends with a throw or projection. I call that one’s own safety belt, the same kind of feeling I like when taking a break-fall with partners I am still not completely in tune with. Equally I prefer to perform slow techniques and working on the basics most of the time instead of hurry up to the conclusion (throw or pin) with the risk to surprise and provoke unnecessary pain to my partner.

In the old times, Aikido and martial art in general were considered effective only if the execution was painful for the attacker, even better if the pin or torsion was causing some breakage. Times were different: maybe many remember or have read at least once a long interview with Chiba sensei, where he talks about challenges. At the beginning of Aikido history, in older Japan but not only, everything new had to be tested according to the time standards.

I am actually convinced that “testing” Aikido respect to effectiveness is not a bad thing, but there is a place and time for doing that (unless you are with the shoulder against a wall facing people interested in taking away your freedom or life or attacking your loved ones: then there is no discussion about place and time, and if no room for discussion, there must be confidence for action). I love testing and working on techniques during seminars as well, but most of the times depends on the partners and the environment.

In some places it is the natural way on the mats: one example I was talking about recently is the seminar with Ariga sensei the past 2 years in Bratislava. Sensei is presenting an extremely interesting work that requires a good deal of thinking especially about the foot movement, and I love to work with someone on the mats that is also interested in exploring, not only in the outcome of the throw. Bratislava, as many friends I often meet also in Prague and Norway/Sweden in particular, is the kind of place I feel at home in this research. The final result of the throw becomes almost irrelevant, or better, don’t misunderstand me, it becomes like the natural result of the research, even if in my own thoughts it does not have the main importance in the process. So the fact that a technique is working or not is not only shown by the throw itself, but by all the steps that lead to the throw, making the throw just the natural end step. Details after detail building up the whole..

The colors of autumn

Autumn Details

This research is the main purpose and motivation of my traveling, my going to meet several teachers I appreciate or make me curious. Many friends know I was not fully convinced about Ariga sensei fearing another attempted imitation of Endo sensei, probably the best one giving the background, but still.. and I was proven wrong. And I loved his seminar! Next year he will not visit Bratislava anymore: different people that I do not know as well as over there and I think it will be a different seminar. I will join it, hoping to meet someone on the mats also curious about how to naturally get to the throw not putting the throw as the only relevant aspect of the technique.

Removing the throw from the “main titles” of the technique is part of my thinking that also without risk there is a lot of fun. Another motto one hears often in training environments is: no pain no gain. Really? I could paraphrase it here, for several Aikido people, as no throw no gain, but again my research now goes in the opposite direction, both about pain and throw seen in the most demanding way.

Having said this, I love of course throws, and being thrown around!

But I feel sometimes that people does not feel safe when practicing with me. It might be because of my size or because I do like to change the tempo in the techniques sometimes (when I know/feel my partner can enjoy and keep up), slow and dynamic or maybe they think that since I love to be thrown and I take tobi ukemi (jumping ukemi) I am going to throw my partners in the same way and they think it is rough or dangerous. Or maybe they just do not like my face (not properly angelic). A few days ago, after giving a suggestion to a fellow aikidoka, from my same club, he reacted saying that I should not get angry.. and this hit me deeply..

Maybe the reason was that I was not smiling as I usually do, because these days I am being extremely tired. It is probably one of my biggest personal disappointment. My goal is making all my partners feeling safe and comfortable (yeah, still talking about Aikido here!).

Maybe it’s also that I tend to show disappointment on my face: the thing that is difficult to explain is that the disappointment is about myself, for not being able to properly guide my partner, to be able to transmit the feelings I have, or also for maybe expecting too much by my abilities, thinking I am actually able to make my partner feeling something else than fear, or pain, or discomfort.

I have to work on taking every step slower. Let the technique enter completely in my own self, from the eyes, flow properly to every cell, so that it is assimilated and not only superficially touched: when I manage to feel that flow without thinking at that I know the kata has become art. But the only way to get there, at least for me, is through repetition and through researching.

Interiorize the kata makes it effective and allows me to be able to focus on my not “ideally every day partner” comfort: for “ideally every day partner” I mean some of the people I know I could almost practice with closed eyes and we would both have a great time.. not many here in Amsterdam. My growth can only be shown by people enjoying practicing with me, searching me on the mats and not ending up at a new rotation with me and thinking “damn, next time I have to be faster to find someone else!”… as it happens too often..

My path is still so long.. I just have to find more partners to walk along it..

My precious tail....

Safe and comfortable


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