More Striking and Kicking
Often times aikido is looked at as a purely defensive art of throws, pins, and locks/holds. Yet once I asked Hikitsuchi sensei about Aikido pre-World War II and which was stressed more then, the throws and wrist locks or the atemi/striking movements. His answer was brief and came very quickly.”Mazu, atemi da,” he said. Of course, the atemi. My feeling is that the atemi worked in combination with the throws and take downs as a complete system through the body. All of aikido, especially the atemi, if viewed from a mental or conceptual point of view, creates problems. But I feel that is true of everything in the art.
It seems that what aikido represents is anti-thetical to what kicking and striking represent. But what if kicking and striking represent part of a creative process aimed at the goal of self-discovery? Instead of viewing the kick as something directed towards another person, what if the purpose of the kick was to remove the I and the verb sense of kick and to “just kick”, creating a field of harmony where the person and the action are one? Miles Davis used to work out as a boxer. Artt Frank was a boxer. Chet Baker would have Artt show him how to box. At the level of rhythm, timing, body when kicker and kick, striker and strike are one, there is unity. Or harmony. Expressed in the moment through the body. I once noted to Artt that I felt that like Bruce Lee’s movement, Chet Baker played in a “broken rhythm”. Artt told me that I was correct, and that Chet had a very percussive approach to phrasing. These all tell me that the creative process, whether music or movement, are one. And martial arts, being around movement, are no different. Ultimately, one is a creator, ie of the creative process. And as a creator, one is also an artist. Joseph Campbell once wrote that he felt that the most important channel by which new energies entered society was through the artist. And in that way the artist was a shaman. And he felt that society was in trouble because of the commercialization of art. Whether writers or musicians or what ever, the successful artist where those with numbers, ie popular and financial and social. He wrote this decades ago, and we are facing some of those consequences now.
I had my first session kicking and striking with my daughter Jenny on Thursday. She did very well. Again, as in aikido class, we tried to get back to the body and to function with less and less mind in the movement. So the approach in the class was very aiki. I hope she enjoyed the class as much as I did. I’m sure I’ll find out. In exchange, she taught me some exercises for shoulders with a resistance band. By the way, she is now an excellent Pilates trainer.
The following video was shot in December during one of my jam sessions with Dennis. It is available on dvd as a part of a fundraiser for the dojo at holidaze dvd .