still more meditations and reveries
The question often comes up whether or not you should study another art besides aikido. My first art was shotokan karate and I did tai chi chuan for some years under Master Choy and was awarded a teaching certificate. So not a lot of other stuff but some.
I think it totally depends on the person asking the question. If you are investigating martial arts and are trying aikido then by all means explore everything until you find what suits you. You are investigating a system with joint locks and throws with what might be an interesting philoshophy around the concept of blending. I remember before I went to Japan in 1973 I thought I would eventually end up in the internal Chinese systems moving on to study PaKua and Hsing-i. I wound up staying with aikido. It was what I chose and also in a funny way what chose me. Teaching positions opened up and I filled them. I was at that time already very dedicated to the philosophy of Ueshiba Osensei.
What if you are an aikidoist and think about studying another art? The following is my view and therefore very subjective. If I found some stuff from another art I might research it on my own, but, I would not get any instruction on how to do it. Both Anno sensei and Tojima sensei were of the opinion that aikido itself was deep enough that if you were really studying aikido you could pick up anything else. I know Tojima sensei knew some karate. I don’t believe he ever formally studied it. But he would show me movements he had picked up and he was quite good. I think I’ve mentioned how once at the rear entrance to the dojo he suddenly jumped up in the air, kicked the wall of the dojo with a flying side kick, did a back roll, and deftly stood up inches from the other wall on the other side of the dojo. Did he learn that from an instructor in a class? My feeling is that he observed the kick, got the feeling for the movement in his body, and could just do it. And I’ve mentioned that he had an inch punch. Who taught him that?
When do you know if another art is interfering with aikido? If you find yourself wrestling on the mat, trying to choke someone out, trying to arm bar somebody, or trying to kick someone then you have to examine where you stand with both aikido and with yourself. Also, what is aikido? Is it the body of techniques for your next kyu or dan exam or is it an unlimited alchemical process? My sense at this point of what Ueshiba Osensei meant by aikido was to stand at the very beginning of creation and and allow the harmonious unfolding of creation. At the same time one alchemically creates oneself to be anything one wants to be, but that process unfolds not only harmoniously but universally. Ueshiba Osensei created himself to be an invincible warrior of harmony, someone who contended with nothing. Someone who realized that what the root source of everything is is love. And it is not what one wants the word to mean, but what it actually is. A sobering thought.
The following video is more along the theme of aikido and martial arts(it branches out) as a moving meditation. Again my thanks to Dennis Kyne for his work on electric guitar, ukes Lou Bermingham and Steve Tsao for their sincere attacks, and Timothy Cofresi for helping me shoot some of the footage.