Sunday, January 14, 2007

more sword and transformation

I found the She-ra "Secret of the Sword" video intro on youtube. I am including that at the end of this entry and it has inspired me to write a bit more on this topic. I remember when I first saw Osensei's sword work on home movies when I started aikido. These, of course, have been now transferred to video. I was amazed at the speed of his movement, that a man in his eighties could move like that. In addition, he seemed to possess great focus and power. As I watched them a bit more over the years, it seemed to me that he was not moving to a set series of movements, but that there was great spontaneity in what he did.

I think that it is very important to realize that he is not doing sword but rather aikido through the sword. And that this is coming through a level of being rather than doing.Did someone show him how to hold and swing the sword? Probably. Did he spend a certain time investigating different systems? Probably. But he did not get stuck in any one system. And as he transformed and became enlightened, that was what came through the sword. He said that he studied the sword with mythological(Tengu)creatures. So his process for the sword went from personal/physical at some point to the archetypal. This is where he was learning directly from the energies themselves. And the sword at this point became an element of his own training(both internal and external) and also a tool for his mission, to spread the deeper message of aikido.

So what can we glean from this more universal and archetypal level and its approach to the sword? Hikitsuchi sensei referred to practice with the sword and staff as practice for "katsu hayabi", literally that speed which transcends time and space. Can that level be reached purely through technical understanding and practice? Can it be reached without these factors?

So how much can we glean from this larger, more universal and archetypal level and its approach to the sword? Is the sword in fact a necessary practice for learning aikido? How does practice with the sword relate to modern life? Sometimes the questions, which are open, are more useful than answers, which largely depend on where one is currently coming from.

Getting back to the video, we see either cartoon characters and a show for children, or we can shift our gaze and possibly see the archetypes. There is much magic and mythology in the piece. And, it is about someone taking up this sword of transformation to fulfill her true destiny. In any terms, I think that is awesome.


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