Thoughtful Sensei is one of those blogs. I have heard he is a high level aikidoka from the Houston Aikibudokan. His physical art is sublime. His dojo is a work of art. He simply views the budo experience very different than I do. His blog is one of my favorites, but he walks the path in different shoes.
The best way I have thought to describe the difference in attitudes is through another form of art. He is a classical painter adhering to the guide lines the classic masters have established on aesthetics.
On the other hand, I am new breed of artist. I have studiously earned my degrees in the classic arts in Japan. On the other hand, I am as comfortable making art with a brush as I am with a chain saw. I have no classic rules...I have only the passion of exploration and creation.
With that pretext, I would like to offer a sample of a recent post from Thoughtful Sensei.
"...you don't need the potential confusion and cognitive dissonance by studying two differing base philosophies at the same time. You have to fully ingrain, embed, internalize and make intuitive ONE set principles BEFORE looking at another. Once you have one set fully in your head only then can you look at other ideas and break them down, understand them and see whether or not they will improve your Aikido."
He also goes on to state that you should have a 7th dan before you consider changing an art. He also talks about studying the pasted down form so tightly that he understands the need for a blood oath, like some groups historically did in Japan.
While I am sure he is fine artist and teacher, he simply approaches the art from a different frame of mind than I do.
-Yes practice with different styles and different teachers!!!! They will shake you out of habitual patterns. Keep searching for freedom in movement rather than prescribed answers.
-Tradition is useful.... until it is not.
-You change an art the second you touch it. Copying is not art anyhow. Creation and exploration is art.
-It is impossible to have differing base philosophies in the study of Aikido. There is effective, efficient motion - or there is not.
-Kata is useful way to store ideas, but we need not over analyze them. They are palates for us to play. They should change with the seasons and our moods. Kata is not written in stone. The ideas are not passed from God. Kata was someone else's way of bucking the system and trying to play and teach in a way that spoke to them.
-"Learn the old, but know the new" is a famous phrase in Japan about studying art. The second art falls into our hands it is our role to shape it in our own vision. We need only copy the master until our training wheels can be taken off. Art is the divine act of creation. If we are not creating Aiki through creation...we are merely trying to photocopy some past masters version. We MUST internalize it and make it our own.
Thank you Thoughtful Sensei for your blog. I enjoy it immensely. I just look at the same art from a different set of eyes. I learn as much from my disagreement as I do from the artists that I agree. Hopefully soon we will share a mat, and we can harmoniously play in the art we both spend our lives chasing.