This is the second part of my journal for the Aikido seminar from May 18-20th. I unfortunately wanted to go to my graduation ceremony on the 18th so I only went to two days. Fortunately I went to the “meaty” day – Saturday – which was when most of the material was taught. So here we go:
*Disclaimer: ALL information that will be written here is through my own translation. ALL material is credited under the martial art of Aikido and is credited to O’Sensei and my two Sensei JWS and NSS. They are the true masters with the knowledge and wisdom. I’m just the messenger boy.
First off, techniques were not the focus here. In the two days that I was there we probably only did 6-8 techniques and one jo class. Now most of you who are Aikidoists are probably wondering “if not techniques, then what?”
We were actually being taught what O’Sensei – the founder of Aikido – wanted his students to learn. What was taught (by NSS) is known colloquially known as “O’Sensei’s Process”. As far to my knowledge goes I have yet to know any other teacher/shihan/dojo that does this.
Basically it’s not a technique or any form. Instead it’s a process…
…A process where one improves oneself through allowing the person to evolve into better human beings by allowing themselves to evolve into better levels of themselves through the creation of units where the one is in tune with one’s body with the mind and ego/I as a passenger.
How’s that for something different?
My translation: Basically O’Sensei’s message wasn’t the martial art itself – although that was a big part of his life. According to my sensei NSS, who was one of the few Caucasian (translation: White American) direct students of O’Sensei, his original intention was to transmit that it was not extreme practice or physical movement that made Aikido, Aikido. The fact that one has to actualize themselves by establishing a “unit” of themselves in order to execute something in their lives, be it a martial art movement or an activity.
Translation cont. Basically things don’t happen mentally. According to NSS, you can do a movement mentally as much as you want. In order to allow a movement to happen correct, properly, and genuinely (all three!), a practitioner must allow a new being to come into play, allow themselves to go up to a level that executes that movement.
There’s also dimensionality. Instead of learning the movement or learning about a situation mentally, one allows the body to learn the movement or situation as oppose to mental learn, which in fact makes learning for the person slower and far more cumbersome (and martial speaking; rigid, less flexible, and more hindering). In allowing the body, one obtains different levels of being and awareness.
God that was hard! Just typing that out makes my brain disintegrate from excitement (?). Didn’t think that so much brain power was taken to write that out. That and I know I am missing something and butchering O’Sensei’s message a little (only “a little” – I hope). The whole dimensionality aspect has caught on to the participants (~90 in total) and it got to the point that we were using the term as a pun for anything that we were having trouble with (enduring a colder than normal shower, finding out that something is heavy, etc.)
So in short, this process isn’t meant to improve your technique nor is it a technique – nor a trick. It’s a process; in order to improve in anything that you are doing, you have to improve yourself. As described by NSS many, many times throughout the 4 years that I’ve studied under him:
You can continually do something for many, many years and times. If you’re at the same small level of yourself, you’re not going to improve. (Paraphrased) ~ NSS
So yeah, that was the juste of what the seminar was about. There were no new techniques learned. There was one interesting class done by JWS where he took the class through a two-hand shihonage. His directions were to take the movement step by step; I believe his exact words were that he wanted to take the class back to pre-war (World War 2) Aikido. What made the lesson “pre-war Aikido” was he told us to do our movements in a step-by-step, “mechanical” way of executing the movement. For those of you who don’t know. Yoshinkan-style Aikido is known for its strong movements yet is not as “flow-ly” as the other Aikido styles out there – primarily in contrast to “Aikikai” style and Iwama-Ryu.
Lastly, a personal highlight for me was in the last full day there was a Q&A held by JWS and NSS regarding O’Sensei, his dimensionality work, and Aikido in general. Very enlightening to hear what they have to say. I know the dimensionality portion might be confusion and hard to grasp – when I mentioned that I’m trying to “walk the walk” instead of talk the talk, this portion of my training was what I was pertaining to. Hopefully I will follow this portion of my training well.
And that’s it; hope you guys enjoyed this portion of my training. In all this seminar was a blast! I got to meet old friends and make some new ones. Great times. Anyway, hope there will be great times ahead, till next time!