aikido and free form staff
One of the elements I have used for training with the free form staff is music. During one period I was very deeply into Carlos Castaneda’s “The Power of Silence”. Some times I felt that movements were intended into being through me without the process of the mind translating things into conscious form. Don Juan tells Carlos that he uses poetry to contact this power he calls intent, and that one thing a shaman/warrior can do is to transform emotion into intention. For what I was doing I felt that music was aiding me in allowing this process of things intended into being through movement.
The piece with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was one of my first. For awhile I was driving to Boulder Creek to teach an alternative PE class to my god-daughter Alison Byers. I began to intstruct her in my approach to aikido staff. She struggled for about 2 weeks, then all of a sudden put it together and could really get into the flow. We started to practice to music she liked, and one of the CDs she played was Metallica’s black album. My favorite was “Enter Sandman”, and later I shot this. This was after class earlier this year. The t shirt I am wearing is a DC comic Starman t shirt, which was a gift from Seth Spitzer and the rest of Aikido of San Jose’s students.
A couple of words about the free form staff; There is definitely structure present in the movement, as there are pattens But these are not the products of a planned mind.. My basics for the staff are from the Shingu style of aiki Bojutsu taught by Hikitsuchi sensei and strongly influence by Tojima sensei and Anno sensei. There is also a very strong sense of some of Robert Nadeau’s energy work. And the sense is that this is a process and not a finished product. I feel that once you have a finished product, you’re finished. As the energies mix and blend, new things and nuances are always created.
I do a lot of this with a very short(by aikido standards) 3 foot staff. I found that some of the torques generated when done with the bo put enormous stress on my shoulders. I spent about 2 years with one shoulder bad and another 2 years with the other out. The 3 foot staff allows for the torques without stressing the shoulders. I also do light weight training and push ups every day to keep the shoulders strong. I have begun using the jo length staff, but have been using very light ones. This, I find, also reduces the stress on the shoulders. I also want to caution others that when the staff starts to really move, it can fly out of your hands and be a danger to yourself and others. So build the intensity level up slowly.
A lot of this work was done during the time I was still living in the Santa Cruz mountains. I had a small cabin with a nice deck overlooking Zayante Creek. Coming home late after teaching in San Jose, energies would call and I would practice to the primal silence of the mountains. My cats would be my only companions, Tiger first, then Angel……I started adding music occasionally to my practice, and…..