Friday, August 04, 2006

More center

Continuing on the topic of center. The concept of center is very important in the role of uke. Often times aikido is viewed as overly co-operative because we are not a competitive art. It seems to the casual observer that uke attacks and is thrown, nage receives the attack and throws. The roles are then reversed. Don't we need the active resistance of competition to polish our technique so that it is"real"?

One lesson one learns in aikido practice is that one's center is 2 inches below the navel. But the realization of training is that one's center is where one's attention is. Without an awareness of center, a beginner(and we are all beginners at one level or another) will put his /her attention on:

the attack
the attacker
the technique or form one is doing

All of these put one's center outside oneself. All of this creates some sort of push/pull or resistance. By keeping one's own center, one connects to partner's center and there is movement. This movement is mutual and interrelational. An uke can use his/her own center to block nage's center and movement, but our practice is more for uke to feel his/her center blended with in the motion. This feeling process is an active one, so , ideally, uke moves if there is a connection, and if there is not, moves to establish such a connection. this is done at a conscious feeling/experiential level and not at a purely intellectual one.

There is a martial/common sense component to all this. Tojima sensei insisted that both uke and nage work toward closing their openings(suki) or moments of inattention. Nage must resist the blind throw at all costs which would leave him/her open to another sudden attack or a dangerous loss of balance that is physical, emotional, or spiritual. Uke must be aware so as not to put oneself in an overly dangerous position by being too passive nor to actively resist the movement.

The danger of considering that competition defines what is "real" is that the emphasis shifts to something that is external, ie winning and losing. Being a Giants fan, I recently took a perverse delight when the Dodgers lost something like 9 games in a row. And I died daily when the Giants were on an 8 game losing streak. So observe how both inflation and deflation occur when the emphasis is externalized in win/lose. Osensei stressed "Masaka Agatsu" True victory is victory over the self. Wasn't he talking about the concept of center?


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