Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Defining My Practice

I think a good question might be, How do I define my practice? What makes the KyuRyu (now Muteshokai) system work? What is our focus?

Now this opens up a can of worms.

First I feel our technique is very ethically driven. We are constantly trying to reduce the amount of energy and violence it takes to overcome a confrontation.

I do not believe pain or physical damage to be the way a technique is delivered. Kuzushi - balance breaking or crumble the opponents posture is the purest way to gain technique.

I believe that AikiBudo is a sensitivity based art. I do not believe it is appropriate to deliver energy into an opponent. The Uke generates this energy on their own, by making unharmonious choices. I disagree with the way that much of Aiki is practiced, nage takes uke to a point of weakness - then plows energy through him.

I believe in the value of the kata. I also feel that demonstrating kata from beginning to end has little benefit, compared to other methods of training. I believe the kata is a method of storing and exploring the principles of Aiki. Like many of the training tools we have kata has a point of diminishing returns. We must work our muscles in different ways if we expect them to develop. Likewise we must work our Aiki in different ways if we want to develop it.

I believe the most valuable tool we have to learn and explore Aikibudo is Randori. Randori is free play practice. It can be done slow, or brought up to the levels of Shiai. I believe randori, and randori drills can and should be taught from the first day a student walks into the dojo. I believe the most most effective way to learning Aikido is by counter techniques and interactive play with an instructor.

I believe strongly that technique should not be, and cannot be homogenized. We should not be working the same angles, the same kata promotes. Every student has a different body and will find it in different situations. We should encourage every student to be an artist and to create, not just copy.

I believe in looking outside of the structure of Aikido to learn Aikido. I am constantly inspired by Judo, Wing Chun and Tai Chi. they understand a great deal about Aiki, and their methods and applications can be borrowed.

I feel that by training in AikiBudo we are training in something important. We are students, teachers, sages, monks, and the wise when we are on the mat. It is an expression of a illuminated mind if practiced with great diligence and ethical standards.

I believe that Aiki is a living spirit passed between it's students. It is handed down from teacher to student through the power of touch. When the torch is passed to us, we cultivate the fire through disciplined study and deep meditation. We then pass the spirit onto another when they are ready to accept it.

I believe in the power of my seniors. I believe above all they should be seen as a friend. I believe we stand on our teachers shoulders to reach higher on the path. I believe mutual respect and relationships are more important than technical skill. I will not accept abusive relationships.

I believe in the power of students. I believe they are all learning something extremely important, something they are meant to learn; even if their time on the path of Aikido is short. I believe my newest student deserves as much of my time as my most senior one. I believe without my friends who are my students, fellow walkers on the path and teachers I am not an artist. Without them I have failed to learn the lesson of harmony. With them I am richer than I ever imagined I could be.


  1. nicely said-- i am reminded by your line "not delevering energy" of the old jujitsu saying "8 and 2 are 10, 5 and 5 are 10, 0 and 10 are 10" -- in aiki i agree we like to exist in the 0 paradigm, though perhaps reserving the right to have "other numerical positions" when necessary i think

  2. Clark sensei said in a seminar "You can use power as long as you can get away with it. The more advanced person you play with - the less you will get away with."

    last week I did shiai with Matl Sensei. I tried using my 0 power method. He handed me my ass. I will admit the strategy has some fine tuning.

  3. More than just words, the focus you write of is exactly what I experience in our dojo... and the reason I practice there.