Opening up, Breaking it down

Today (or rather yesterday) I went to a seminar at my dojo hosted by my sensei and it featured Mary Heiny Sensei, 6th Dan

Mary Heiny Sensei is one of the few women Aikidoists still teaching who studied directly with the founder of the martial art Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei. She is one of kind specifically because she studied under the founder – there are many female Aikido teachers out there – she is the only one that I know of who is among the first generation of Aikido teachers that followed the founder immediately after his passing.

Let me tell you from experience, she is the epitome of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Case in point: She stands at  around 5’1″ (155cm for the metric folks), you’d think that if you saw her walking down the street she’d can’t hurt a fly (which is true by the way). But I’ve uke-ed for her (attacked her) and she simply directs the kinetic energy of my body back onto myself. It’s a wonderful experience!

*   *   *

I’d like to share my training here because of what was indicated by the title. As with most Aikidoists, I have a problem with trying to “do the movement” – for me it’s all about control. Control, control, control. I have to do this, I have to learn this, I have to learn that, I have to learn THAT. 

Just that bully-like, nagging voice of control. Today was a day where I had felt that voice boil up from the depths of my memories and attempt to control every movement. It’s that muscling, strong-arming, habit and impulse that tries to do the movement. It was totally throwing me off of my game. Well, rather the game.

During the training, telling oneself to do this or do that just strengths this controlling aspect of oneself (this includes telling oneself to stopping thinking!). This aspect of myself was fully engaged during the training. At the beginning it was fine, but then it kicked in the middle – slowing down and even impeding my movement. The effect on my training was like night and day: Whenever this controlling aspect came in, the Aikido movements are degraded down to muscling matches – which against bigger and physically stronger partners would simply falter. When the controlling aspect gave way to the my body, the movements became more fluid, organic, and much more powerful. Through several partners it seemed to die down through multiple changes in inertia from different partners.This controlling aspect was still there at the end, but through opening up to my own sense of balance was I not only able to feel this controlling aspect, but also allow the body to be in control of the movement – as oppose to my controlling aspect of myself.

It was this great sense of feeling – a different way of being on the mat. Just the last paragraph is the best way I can describe it. It’s really hard to do so. I can only hope that I’ve shared with you something great in training.

As for myself, I can only hope that I will be able to release myself from the bondage of my own controlling, bullish “I” and allow the innate intelligence and balance that is in my body to succeed in its daily trails and tribulations – on and off the mat.

Thank you for visiting ladies and gentlemen, I will talk to you soon.


2 thoughts on “Opening up, Breaking it down

  1. Learning to yield as uke gives you a tangible result as an example of control: you do the breakfall without any broken bones and are able to get up again. This is a lesson that can readily be applied to the role of shite/tori/nage.

    Yield, stick, follow …

    1. Very true! As both of my Sensei state this “yielding of control” creates an interdependent link between uke and nage – a metaphysical movement between the two.

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