Aikido and Aging
I remember when I first found out about aikido. I was practicing karate in 1968. I read an article about Osensei in Black Belt Magazine. I was struck by the fact that even though he appeared old in the photos, there was a power and energy there that seemed to transcend aging. The article then went on to describe the many things he could do that no one else of any age in aikido could do. So I took this to heart.
I realized yesteday that this fall will be my 40th year in aikido. I started fall of 1969 at UC Santa Cruz with Robert Frager. At that time he was very closely associated with Robert Nadeau, so I view them as my first teachers. So what is my perspective now that I am no longer 21 years old? There are many things I can do now that I couldn't do in '69. There are many things I could do in '69 I can't do now. Overall, I am definitely 60 years old. Outside of being diabetic, my health and body are doing well. I feel, however, that I am no closer today to understanding Osensei's aikido than I was in '69. It is a very deep path.
One thing about Youtube aikido videos is that you can see instructors at very different stages of their life cycles. Some seem to improve with age, some I reserve judgement on. I recently watched a couple of videos in my channel. Anno sensei in 1973 and Anno sensei in 2007. It is interesting that I am uke in both. When you are 25 years old there is a certain athleticism you can fall back on. At59 that is no longer there. But I see that my presence in receiving the techniques from Anno sensei I believe are better. And in the later video I actually get to be the nage. How many people get to have an uke who is an 8th dan?
I feel Anno sensei has made a quantum leap in those 35 years. In '73 he has a youthfulness to his movements. 35 years later though there is much more energy and depth to his movements.Below is the video from 1973:
And here is the more recent video from 2007:
One thing to take into account is that between the videos the uke has aged 34 years. In my early 50's I was taking ukemi for Anno sensei during his visits. From 55 on the aging process increases for ukes exponentially(my own observation). I receive techniques from my students as part of my teaching. I don't think I can take the ukemi I did in 2007 anymore. But in watching the 2 videos, what do you see? What do you think?