joi, 3 decembrie 2009

Uke – the one who is led

Uke – the one who is led

Although only the defense techniques are aikido, still the
attacker’s role is not to be neglected. The kind of attack and
the skill of it are also of importance. Because aikido itself
contains no attack techniques, it is common that the students
train them insufficiently, and do them with little concentration.
But sloppy and weak attacks lead to sloppy and weak
aikido. Both roles are important, because aikido is about
guiding the attacking force.
The attacker in aikido is called uke, like in the term for
falling technique: ukemi. The kanji for uke is a sign that
means to receive and be susceptible. The symbols that compose
the sign show a hand giving something. So, the attacker
is the one who is led, who is receiving.
The defender, the one who leads, is called tori – or nage,
as in nagewaza, throwing techniques. Tori simply means to
take. Amusingly, it is written with the symbols of somebody
grabbing the ear of another – an action that seems to be comparable
to the western use of it, and therefore implies a correcting
purpose, like that of a teacher or parent.
Observe that the word pair tori and uke does not signify
give and take, but take and receive. So, the two have similar
roles in the aikido training. The difference is that tori has
the initiative, although uke is the one who starts it off with
the attack. In aikido, then, you should take over the initiative
– not to win, but for both to learn something. Since this
means so much more than just throwing somebody, I prefer
the word tori, not nage. Still, both words are used for the
defender in aikido.
Tori’s role is that of the placid one, who calmly awaits
the attack and then neutralizes it as pleasantly as possible.
Naturally, the attacker’s role is quite different. He or she is
supposed to charge with complete concentration and maximum
skill. Inferior attacks result in bad training and disharmony
in the aikido techniques.

Read more here:

Aikido and Conflict Management - Richard Ostrofsky

Aikido and Conflict Management
Richard Ostrofsky

Ottawa Aikido Circle

The name, ai-ki-do, means roughly “the way of unified or harmonized spirit.” Unlike
many other fighting arts, it is not a sport. In fact, one of the basic ideas of aikido is that
competition has no place in combat. What the aikidoist never does is square off with
an opponent for a fair contest to see who is the better man. Aikido works on a
completely different paradigm: In a real fight, there is always one person who is
attacking, and another who is being attacked. The theory of aikido is that the attacker
(by definition) is over-reaching himself – going outside his proper sphere and putting
himself off balance. Therefore, in committing an act of aggression, he is really defeating
himself. The problem is to help him to realize this: to help him see the error of his
position–preferably without hurting him or, at any rate, not hurting him more than
Aikido is sometimes called the pacifist’s martial art, but this is not quite
correct–for two reasons. First, you cannot practice your beautiful aikido techniques
unless someone cooperates by attacking you and letting you throw him around. The
only reason anyone will do that (until you get to be an old instructor like me) is that you
are doing the same for him. Accordingly, in a real aikido class, you will spend as much
time practising attacks as defences against those same attacks. Second, it turns out that
the skills of attack and defence are very nearly the same. The movements of a really
good attacker are fluid, flexible and focussed. Neither the attacker nor the defender
knows what is going to happen next. Both must be alert, relaxed, present to the
situation, ready for anything. Actually, the whole physical fitness side of aikido training
is in the rhythmic drill of attacking, getting thrown, rolling out and up on your feet, and
then attacking again. The better the other guy is, the less he actually does!
Another important thing to understand is that for the aikido practitioner,
physical combat is only the extreme version of a situation that happens all the time. I
have been practising aikido for thirty years, have never really used it in the street, and
never expect to–not even when I go back to New York City (where I grew up) for a
visit. But I use the ideas of aikido constantly when I fight with my wife–or with anyone
else whose ideas and interests happen to differ from my own. Jesus taught that we
should love our enemies. Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, might have added that no one
can do this until he has become very skilful at handling conflicts with his friends. An old
Japanese proverb says that “Amateur tactics cause grave wounds.” A real pro handles
a conflict situation. He can deal with aggression and violence without becoming
aggressive or violent himself.

Read full article here:

Aikido and The Art of Resolving Conflict With an Abusive Individual

The Art of Resolving Conflict With an Abusive Individual

By Hugh Young

This essay has been adapted from an upcoming book for use in the “Aikido and The Art of Principled
Negotiation” workshop (session E5) at the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution
Fourth Annual Spring Conference on 4/6/02 in Seattle. (Note: This essay won an award at this
conference for the Best Original Materials)
The purpose of this essay is to give you a practical understanding of how to ethically and effectively
resolve conflicts with abusive individuals. Abuse is a common behavior, and because of this,
knowing how to resolve these conflicts is an extremely valuable life skill. Of course this is not an
easy task. Abusers have developed effective strategies for getting what they want, have often used
these strategies for a long time, and are well practiced in how to implement them.
One of the characteristics of the abuser’s unique psychological profile is his compelling drive to win.
Abusers perceive the world to be a competitive place, and because of this they see their targets as
competitors. The abuser’s strategy is to get others to play the abuse “game” by his rules. Trying to
beat an abuser at his own game is usually neither wise nor effective.
The best way to prevent or handle abuse is to change the nature of the relationship. This is where
training in the extraordinary martial art known as Aikido is useful. Aikido is based on a profound
philosophy of conflict resolution that takes an enlightened approach to abuse prevention. Unlike
most martial arts, Aikido is not competitive, and therefore does not seek to “win” by beating an
opponent. Instead, the Aikidoka (Aikido practitioner) learns to transform the relationship with the
abuser from that of abuser and his victim, to that of a relationship between equals.
To tell you how Aikido does this, I would like to start with a story from the Zen mythology of Japan.
The story will provide a valuable reference for approaching our subject. The tale is of an ethical man
who must resolve a conflict with an unprincipled bully.
The Tea Master and The Bully Samurai
There once was a master of the tea ceremony, who was challenged to a sword duel by a mean spirited
Samurai. This Bully Samurai hoped to make a name for himself as a skilled fighter by winning some
sword matches.
The Tea Master, a member of the Samurai class himself, accepted the challenge as it was his duty to
do, least he lose face and bring disgrace to his family and clan. The problem that the Tea Master
faced was that he had woefully neglected his study of the ways of the sword, and would surely be
easily killed in the match.
Although it was the duty of every Samurai to be skilled in the arts of war, the Tea Master lived at a
time of peace. Having little need and no innate interest in the martial arts, he instead had a profound
interest in Zen, and particularly Chado, the Way of Tea. While the other boys during his youth were
engaged in martial arts practice, the Tea Master could be found at the Zendo (meditation hall)
studying Zen, meditating, and pursuing his love of Chado. Through his passion and hard work, he was
fortunate to earn the honor of studying with some of the finest teachers of the time.

His single-minded attention to Zen and Tea had led to his attaining high recognition for his abilities. It
was this recognition that led to the challenge by the Bully Samurai. The Bully Samurai was hoping to
increase his status by beating an opponent of much higher rank. In this case he figured he could do so
with little risk to himself. So he made up a petty complaint, pretended to be outraged at the slight,
and stated he would settle for no less than blood. The match was set for two days later at a remote
The Tea Master, recognizing that he was no match for the Bully Samurai, decided that the only
honorable course of action was to learn to die in as dignified a manner as possible. In this way,
although he would lose his life, at least he would not bring dishonor to his name, family, or clan.
So he went to the finest sword master in the area, and asked for instruction on how to die in a sword
match with dignity. The sword master agreed to instruct the Tea Master, but first requested that
the Tea Master prepare tea for him. Recognizing that this would likely be the last time he ever
performed his beloved ceremony, the Tea Master poured everything he had into it.
The sword master was astonished with the beauty of the Tea Master’s presentation. Every detail was
performed with the greatest attention. Most men in his position would be lost in a jumble of anxiety,
fear, and anger. Yet, here was a man facing his death with an acceptance and calmness greater than
the sword master had witnessed before.
When the ceremony was complete, the sword master told the Tea Master that it was clear that he
already knew how to die with dignity. What he needed to do was face the Bully Samurai with the same
presence and composure he used to serve tea. All the sword master could possibly add was a few
details like how to hold the sword, the proper stance and an appropriate strategy to assume when
facing the Bully Samurai.
They met the next morning in the remote field. Just as the sword master had instructed him, the Tea
Master went through the ritual of preparation for what he thought would be his last act in this world.
The sword master had instructed him to take a “jodan” position with the sword held high and away
from his attacker. Here he was to wait until the Bully Samurai came to strike him. At the moment he
knew he would be touched by his opponent’s sword, he was to summon all his power to counter strike.
The Tea Master carried out these instructions to perfection. The Bully Samurai immediately sensed
that something was wrong, but covered his concern by exclaiming that it concerned him little that the
Tea Master obviously knew more than he was letting on. He went on to falsely claim that he had
beaten many others on the field of battle and this would be no different.
The Bully Samurai began to circle the Tea Master looking for a weakness or opening that he might
exploit, but try as he might he could find none. He saw that any attempt he made to strike the Tea
Master would lead to “aiuchi,” mutual kill. Beads of perspiration began to form on his troubled brow,
yet whatever he did the Tea Master held his position with unrelenting calm and presence.
This filled the Bully Samurai with anger and fear. He was the one who now recognized that he was
completely out matched. He lowered his sword and begged the Tea Master’s forgiveness, which was
given after getting a promise to behave better in the future.
This story is popular with Zen practitioners because it shows the power of Zen training. The Tea
Master was able to face the Bully Samurai with fearless calm and resolve because through his
intensive study he had made peace with death. This peak state of consciousness is a very powerful
accomplishment, one that all martial artists strive for. Without it, the Tea Master would have been
powerless against the Bully Samurai. Still, from a conflict resolution perspective, this is not the
highest level of attainment.

For all his mastery, the Tea Master was out of touch with the reality of the world he lived in. Abuse
is common behavior. Everyone is touched by abuse either directly or indirectly. To not recognize
and take steps to address this fact is to court the kind of trouble that the Tea Master experienced. If
he better understood abuse he could have taken some easy steps to make himself a less inviting
target, and thereby have prevented the whole nasty encounter before it began.
For the Aikidoka (Aikido practitioner), mastery means living life with such power and deep
understanding that one never gets drawn into an unwanted conflict like this. This is not because the
Aikidoka avoids conflict. To the contrary, Aikido recognizes conflict as a natural, normal, and
important part of living a full and productive life. Since it is impossible to avoid conflict, it makes
more sense to master it so that it works for you rather than against you. At its most basic level this
is the purpose of Aikido.
Aikido is practiced as a role-play scenario of an abusive situation. The typical pattern involves
having one or more persons play the role of attacker(s), so the other partner, known as “nage,” can
learn and develop his Aikido. The person playing the attacker role is known as “uke,” which derives
from the Japanese word meaning “to receive.” This refers to the fact that uke receives the Aikido
technique being applied by nage.
Aikido training is a give and take situation where each individual spends half his time being uke and
half being nage. Playing the role of uke is not entirely a selfless act, for in the dojo (training studio)
it becomes apparent that the best uke are also the best Aikidoka. This is not a coincidence. To
learn Aikido it is essential to develop a complete understanding of the art that can only come
through learning both roles. Playing the role of an unprincipled abuser is a powerful way to gain an
understanding of abuse, which can then be applied in prevention. With this in mind, I will begin by
taking a look at abuse and abusers.

Full article here:

sâmbătă, 28 noiembrie 2009

Interview with Robert Nadeau by Stanley Pranin

Interview with Robert Nadeau by Stanley Pranin

Robert Nadeau
was 22 years old when he boarded a ship bound for Japan. His odyssey brought him face to face with the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, who would remain a constant source of inspiration and guidance to the young foreigner. A full-time aikido instructor in Northern California for over 30 years, Nadeau reminisces about his early days in budo and the evolution of his unique body and spiritual training methods.

Robert Nadeau, Shihan is a key figure in the growth and development of Aikido in America. He began his martial arts training in the 1950's, studying Judo, Karate and defensive tactics as a police officer in Redwood City, California and in the US Marine Corps. He also studied yoga and bodybuilding in the 1950's with Walt Baptiste in San Francisco.

Nadeau Shihan with O Sensei

In the 1960's he left police work and traveled to Japan to study as a personal student of Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. During his years in Japan he received personal instruction from the founder in the spiritual, philosophical and energy aspects of Aikido.

He returned to America to teach, in the first of his three schools, in Mountain View, California. He also founded schools in San Francisco and San Jose. Starting in the 1970's his work brought Aikido concepts into the fields of psychology, bodywork, business, sports, art and many other areas. This included numerous seminars at the Esalen Institute and other personal growth centers across the country and abroad. His work is featured in more than a dozen books by well-known authors including: Michael Murphy (founder of Esalen), George Leonard and Dan Millman. Nadeau ShihanOn a trip to Japan in 1998, he was recognized by the founder's son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, for his contribution to the spiritual focus of Aikido.

He has trained or influenced several generations of Aikido teachers in America, Europe, Russia, Israel and New Zealand. His approach to martial arts training transcends technique to give students something applicable to daily life and to aid in self-transformation. He is particularly interested in the spiritual aspects of the art, using Aikido as a process of expanding consciousness.

Nadeau Shihan co-founded the Aikido Association of Northern California (AANC) and the California Aikido Association (CAA), which is affiliated with the Hombu Dojo, World Aikido Headquarters, Tokyo. He is currently ranked seventh dan and was awarded the title of Shihan (master teacher) by Moriteru Ueshiba, Grandson of the Founder. He teaches at City Aikido of San Francisco, Aikido of Mountain View and Aikido of San Jose. He also teaches seminars around the world. Check Nadeau Shihan's Events/Seminars page for a list of current seminars.

Nowadays when a student walks into an aikido dojo there are likely to be many black belts on the mat. However, when you began there were probably less than five dojos in all of California.

I’m not sure what was going on down south in Southern California, but as far as I know there was only one school in Northern California which was run by Robert Tann. I wasn’t very connected with the Los Angeles area to know what was going on, although I do remember meeting Francis Takahashi around early 1962.

I guess you didn’t train with Robert Tann very long before going to Japan…

No, not very long. I was grateful for the opportunity that he provided me to start training. He reminded me at his retirement dinner that it was at my insistence that he continued to operate a dojo and teach.

So you received your first dan rank in Japan?


You mentioned a very interesting episode where you had a dream in which a little old man with a white beard appeared and went to see a psychic about it…

It’s an oft told story. A family member said that she had met a fantastic psychic who could even name names. So I went to see this lady in San Jose and we got along really well. She said without any prompting, “You’re going to the Orient.” I said I was. “You’re going to meet a little old man with a white beard who is very powerful. He’s going to teach you many things. She said his name was MOR…. and at that time I interrupted her because I knew who she meant.

Did you fly to Japan?

No, I went by ship and it took about two weeks. There was time to become acclimatized. Fortunately, there were some Japanese workmen on the ship who taught me bad Japanese!

You mentioned that when you arrived in Japan you started studying several arts at once. Would you talk about that?

Yes, because back in the California I had been doing karate, judo, aikido plus teaching self-defense to the police. I figured I would just continue my studies in Japan and practice as much as I could. My intention was to go there and study everything. I loved being a student. I had no headaches, no body pressure, it was an environment that really suited me. So, when I arrived, I went to the Japan Karate Association, the Kodokan, and the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. After a while it was just the aikido that interested me. Slowly, I dropped out of the other arts. It could have turned out differently. Once, there was a well-known 7th dan judo teacher who saw me in the dressing room at the Kodokan—I had a lot of muscles then—and he said that with my body I should be a judo 3rd dan and invited me to train with him. Fortunately, I mentioned this to my Japanese family and they said, “Oh, no! We’ll find you a teacher,” and they tried to arrange lessons for me with a judo teacher at a university they were connected with. So if the 7th dan had taken me under his wing, I might have continued judo.

Full article here:
Some video with Shihan Robert Nadeau:

joi, 26 noiembrie 2009

Takeda Sokaku – Tigru pana la moarte

Takeda Sokaku – Tigru pana la moarte

Uneori auzim povesti despre personaje care au sfidat istoria, mersul lumii, societatea, moda sau mentalitatea stramba a semenilor. Perceputi drept rebeli originali sau nebuni anacronici, ei sunt oamenii care au ramas fideli pentru toata viata principiilor in care au crezut si de care nu s-au dezis indiferent de greutatile intalnite. Un astfel de om a fost japonezul Takeda Sokaku, ultimul razboinic din Japonia care a trait sub semnul Codului Bushido.

Epoca feudala japoneza s-a sfarsit brusc, in anul 1868, atunci cand in Europa si in Statele Unite capitalismul era in plina dezvoltare. In Japonia, imparatul cu vederi liberale, inconjurat de o clica de afaceristi verosi, incepuse sa vada in vechile traditii autohtone dusmanul progresului economico-social al Imperiului de la Soare Rasare. Varful de lance al opozitiei niponilor fata de impunerea unei culturi straine, alaturi de niste valori materialiste dispretuite de japonezi, a fost clasa Bushi a razboinicilor samurai.

In anul 1867, printul mostenitor Matsushino, un admirator al culturii occidentale, a decis sa puna capat Shogunatului detinut in acea vreme de ultimii membri ai familiei Tokigawa. Matsushino si-a dat seama ca nu-i putea invinge pe Shogunii sprijiniti de marile familii feudale, protejate de mii se samurai, experti in lupta cu armele albe, decat cu ajutorul unei armate inarmate cu tunuri si pusti. Prin urmare, a cheltuit o buna parte din resursele financiare ale tarii pentru a cumpara arme de foc si a-si trimite oameni in Europa pentru a invata manuirea acestora.

Noua sa armata a fost alcatuita la repezeala din infractori marunti, vagabonzi fara ocupatie si tarani saraci. Acestia au fost deprinsi sa traga cu pusca intr-o perioada relativ scurta de timp. Pe de alta parte, samuraii dispretuiau adunatura de coate goale a printului, considerand ca nu trebuie se lupte impotriva unei osti ai carei soldati ”Nici minte, nici curaj nu aveau”. Cei mai multi samurai nici nu auzisera de armele de foc, iar arta luptei o deprinsesera de la maestrii lor, nu din carti sau tratate militare. Cu toate acestea, in batalia de la Matsuri, samuraii au suferit o infrangere grava, toti fiind impuscati fara crutare. Taranii inarmati cu pusti au eliminat chiar si armata “Byakko Tai” a Tigrilor Albi, formata din copii de samurai cu varste de 12-15 ani.

In momentul caderii orasului Aizu, tanarul samurai Takeda Sokaku era plecat la Kyoto, scapand astfel cu viata. Desi avea doar 17 ani, Sokaku era deja maestru in Jiu-Jitsu, stapanind secretele scolii Genji - Daito - Ryu. In timpul asediului fortaretei, toti maestrii si elevii scolii au murit impuscati. Astfel, printr-un noroc pe care nu si-l dorea, Takeda ramanea ultimul descendent al samurailor din provincia Aizu. La aflarea teribilelor vesti, tanarul este cuprins de remuscare si deznadejde. Initial, decide sa-si faca Seppuku, din cauza ca nu a fost aproape de familie. Ceva il opreste totusi. Dupa un moment de adanca reflectie interioara, Sokaku realizeaza ca este singurul samurai, singurul practicant, singurul maestru al unei stiinte de lupta unice, care constituia mandria a generatii de stramosi. Clanul razboinicilor Daito-Ryu nu trebuia sa piara! In plus, tanarul tigru avea de dus la indeplinire propria razbunare. Avea sa devina cel mai de temut Ronin al vremurilor sale.


Spre apusul vietii sale, Takeda Sokaku intalneste in hanul Hisada din Engaru, un tanar al carui talent in arta luptei il depasea chiar pe al sau. Se hotaraste pe loc sa-l initieze in tehnicile Aiki-Jitsu, convins ca se afla in fata unei reincarnari divine. Este vorba de Morihei Ueshiba, fondatorul Aikido-ului, cel pe care multi experti l-au considerat cel mai mare maestru de arte martiale din ultimii 200 de ani!

Articol complet:

luni, 23 noiembrie 2009

Tools For Harmony: An Approach To Aikido Practice

Tools For Harmony: An Approach To Aikido Practice

Article Summary:
Article examining how body awareness techniques can add to Aikido practice, with a focus on the somatic dimension of spiritual training. 6500 words.
Publishing Information:
Originally published in Aikido Journal, Vol 25 #3, 1998 and Vol 26, #1, 1999.


I suspect that for some Aikidoists there is a disconnection between the practice of self-defense techniques and the practice of interpersonal or spiritual harmony. The specific, concrete focus of Aikido practice is the physical details of complex, powerful defense techniques. We practice yielding to and harmonizing with physical force, but how does that teach us to deal in a harmonious way with emotional and spiritual discord? How does that teach us to cultivate an harmonious way of life? Does the process of cultivating physical balance automatically result in the cultivation of emotional/spiritual balance?

I suspect that for some Aikidoists there is little or no connection between physical and spiritual cultivation simply because we are not given an explicit, practical formula which relates the physical attributes of a good defense technique to the spiritual attributes of a compassionate and harmonious way of being. What might help make Aikido a more explicit practice of harmony is a specific physical map of the process of spiritual cultivation. What I have in mind is a musculoskeletal description of spiritual harmony.

As a body worker, I work with a method of somatic education (which I call Being In Movement® training) that focuses on how body mechanics relates to emotions, thoughts, beliefs and self-concepts. It is possible to use posture, breathing and movement to deliberately cultivate compassionate power and empathetic caring. I include some of these techniques of mind/body training in my Aikido classes, and perhaps they may be of use to the Aikido community.


Let’s take one Aikido technique and inject into it a series of mind/body awareness exercises. Except when I am teaching an Aikido workshop, I don’t teach a whole series of awareness exercises in one Aikido class, but for the sake of simplicity that will be the best way to present the process here.

Let’s look at kokyu dosa. To create a baseline, do a few repetitions of kokyu dosa. As you do the technique, notice how you breathe. What parts of your body move in what ways as you inhale and exhale?

Notice your posture. How do you achieve stability? Notice which parts of your body act to generate the force you use to push your partner over. What sequence of movements do you use to get the force from your body to your partner?

Notice your attitude. How do you feel about yourself and your ability to do the technique? How do you feel about your partner as you throw him or her down? What is the link between your physical performance and your spiritual state?


Knowing what violence is will point us in the direction of understanding harmony, so before we get to exercises focusing on harmony, let’s stop to cultivate the bodymind state of violence. As you do kokyu dosa, your partner grabs your wrists. Think of your partner as slimy and vile, full of anger and viciousness. You’re afraid of him and don’t want him touching you. You’re angry and just want to get rid of him. Think of all the violations and insults you have ever experienced, and let your partner be the symbol of them all. Try doing kokyu dosa while feeling fear of and anger toward your enemy. What happens in your body? How does that affect your movements and your technique?

Most people experience that they tense and restrict their breathing, muscles, and movements. They experience that they lean toward their attacker to invade his space, or they lean away from the attacker to escape the attack, and they realize that leaning in either direction reduces balance and increases effort and tension. People experience that as they harden their bodies, they lose awareness and coordination. One goal of Aikido is to achieve fluid, balanced, strong movements, but hardening the body and losing awareness make that impossible.

Even more important, hardening the body is a spiritual process. When people tense their muscles and restrict their breathing, they physically pull away from contact with the attacker. They become less sensitive to the attacker and feel separate and alienated from the attacker. And once people have made themselves separate from the attacker, they do not even really experience the attacker as a conscious being, just as an object to be shoved around and destroyed. Most fundamentally, when the defender is tense and insensitive, he or she is unaware of and alienated from her/his own body and self as well. There is no sensitive feeling of and contact with either the Self or the Other. This lack of empathy and caring -- toward the self and the other person -- is the root of violence.

I would define violence as behavior undertaken in a mindbody state of hardness, unawareness, and alienation. When the defender moves in this state, there is no real contact between the defender and the attacker, just two hard-edged people rejecting each other.

This is the opposite of Aiki. Aiki is being present with one’s own Self and with the opponent. Aiki is alert awareness, soft power, and compassionate yet assertive joining with the attack. And rather than being just philosophy, this description of Aiki is really an implicit description of effective body use and movement, which is achievable through paying attention to the physical details of posture, breathing, attitude and intentionality.


The crucial point is that the mind and body are literally the same thing, and therefore physical practice can be used to create mental results. The odd thing is that this is true if and only if the mind is properly focused in the experience of physical practice.

"Mind" and "body" are simply different words which describe the same object in different ways. To illustrate this, let’s try an exercise. Put a pencil on the floor, and then stand about ten feet away. Stand up comfortably, and look at the pencil. By the way, this is a magic pencil. With it, anything that you write will come true! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful pencil to have? Look at the pencil and want it. Build up in yourself a feeling that it really is a wonderful pencil and you would really like to have it. Actually intend to go over and get the pencil. It must be an authentic wanting. You must feel it in your body.

It is important to be clear about what "wanting the pencil" means. "Wanting" is not the same as "going." Don't actually walk over and get the pencil. Focus instead on the feeling of wanting to go over.

It is also important not to become stiff and rigid. When I say not to actually move to go get the pencil, I don’t mean that you have to make your body absolutely motionless. Don’t freeze up and physically prevent your body from moving in order to focus on wanting to move. Just let your body experience the wanting and react to it naturally and spontaneously.

Another difficulty in this experiment is that "wanting" does not mean merely thinking about getting the pencil. There is, for example, a difference between "thinking about" loving someone and actually feeling love for them. Thinking about is more of a disconnected intellectual picture, but feeling is something you do with your "heart" and your body. Relax, be natural and create an authentic feeling in your mind/body of desire and intention to walk over and get the pencil. Most people can create this feeling when they focus on it, though many need some personal guidance to home in on it.

What happens when you stand and focus on wanting the pencil? Take some time to let the feeling build. Once you establish this feeling, you will probably feel yourself "involuntarily" tipping toward the pencil. For most people, this movement will be a small drift toward the pencil, perhaps an eighth of an inch (about a third of a centimeter) or so, though some people will actually move quite a bit. Most people will feel as though the pencil were a magnet gently drawing them towards it. (Some people will move in other directions, which has to do with how they relate to their own desires).

When you have an image of a movement and intend to execute the movement, your brain sends nerve impulses to the muscles which will do the movement. The muscles can act with a range of force, from a barely perceptible tensing to an all-out clenching. However, even below the range of what is barely perceptible to most people, there is still physical activity, the faintest stirrings of the muscles. You could call these faint, normally imperceptible tensings "micromovements."

The pencil-wanting exercise is a way to help you begin to notice the micromovements which are the small beginnings of the action of going to get the pencil. All you have to do is wish to begin moving in some direction and your body will begin to do that movement. There is no separation between the mind and the body. Intending something is the beginning of doing it. Having feelings of one sort or another establishes the physical habit of having those feelings.

However, the arrow points in both directions. If mind and body are the same, then making changes in the body would make changes in the mind/spirit. Each affects the "other." Of course, there is no "other." The body is the mind. If wanting the pencil creates a leaning toward it, then undoing the leaning will be a way of undoing the wanting. By identifying and changing the physical aspects of our attitudes, we can change the mental/emotional aspects of the attitudes.

We naturally do think of attitudes as physical, though we usually don’t stop to notice that. Let’s try a simple thought experiment. Let’s imagine that someone gave you a drug that produced complete relaxation and didn’t permit any metabolic arousal. Your pulse couldn’t speed up, your muscles couldn’t tense, your breathing couldn’t get faster. Could you get angry? Could you get elated? Could you feel sad? When they ponder this thought experiment, most people immediately realize they ordinarily think of feelings as physical. They know they couldn’t have any feelings if their bodies could not be anything but limply relaxed.

It is important in Aikido to think about the problem of violence from the perspective of mind/body unity. The key elements in violence are constriction (or sometimes collapse) of the posture, restriction of the breath, and leaning towards or away from the object which is the focus of the violence. Therefore, in order to cultivate a state which is the spiritual opposite of violence, we can cultivate a state which is the physical opposite of the postural state of violence. This state would be physically relaxed, expansive, and balanced.


Let’s start with the cultivation of a free and gentle manner of breathing1.Stand and feel your breathing. In order to increase your awareness of how you hold the core of your body and how that affects your breathing, consciously tighten your belly, anal sphincter muscles and genitals, and then walk around. Notice how stiff and strained the tightening makes your legs, hips and lower back and your movement as a whole. Notice how restricted it makes your breathing.

Now, alternate tightening your belly and relaxing it. When you relax it, let it plop out. Next try releasing your belly -- without doing a preliminary tightening. Just let your belly plop down. Along with softening your belly, for greater relaxation, consciously allow your genital and anal muscles to relax. Was there tension to release even when you had not consciously tensed your belly first? How much unconscious tension do you usually carry around? What does it feel like to let your belly relax fully?

Most people experience a noticeable release even when they had not first tightened their bellies consciously, and they realize from this that they had been unconsciously holding themselves tight and that they probably hold themselves tight all the time.

Try walking around again with your belly soft. How does that feel? Most people experience greater ease, fluidity, and solidity in their walk. And that is how walking should be -- not tense and constricted. (Occasionally, people who are very stiff will experience discomfort when they relax their abdominal muscles. That is generally because there is undue tension in the rest of their body.)

Have you ever been told to suck in your guts? That’s anatomical nonsense. Sucking in the guts creates physical tension and restriction throughout the body. Think about it for a moment. When do we normally and naturally suck in our guts? When something startles us! Tensing and sucking in the belly is part of the fear/startle response and makes it impossible to relax and move freely, strongly and comfortably. Isn’t it strange that our culture encourages us to live in a permanent fear/startle pattern?

Stand up and notice what parts of your body move as you breathe in. Touch your belly and notice whether you suck in your belly or let it expand when you inhale. Then touch your low back, and touch your chest. Do they expand when you inhale? What are the movements of inhalation and exhalation like? Are they steady, uninterrupted, smooth and flowing? Are there stops and starts? Does one part of your breath feel more or less tense than another?

Before you learn the following breathing exercise, you need to know some facts about how breathing actually works. The important fact is that the lungs don’t actively do the movements of breathing. The lungs are passive sacks that allow contact between the blood and the air so that oxygen can be taken in and carbon dioxide given off. It is the diaphragm muscle which actually does the breathing movement.

Imagine taking a bottle, cutting the bottom off, and taping a balloon onto the bottom. Now imagine pinching the balloon and pulling down on it. That would pull some air in through the neck of the bottle. Next imagine releasing the balloon. The balloon would spring back and the air would puff out.

That is how breathing works. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle in the chest which functions much as the balloon does on the bottle. It is dome-shaped when it is relaxed. When it tenses, it pulls tight, flattens and pushes down. That is the equivalent of the balloon being pulled down, and it is that action of the diaphragm which sucks air into the lungs.

The key point is that there is a bunch of soft stuff below the diaphragm -- the stomach and intestines and such -- and that all has to go somewhere when the diaphragm pushes down. Flesh is pretty much incompressible, so the stuff below the diaphragm can’t be squeezed smaller. It can’t move up, of course, and it also can’t move down. Down below is the pelvis and the web of muscles that comprises the floor of the pelvis.

Have you ever seen a baby breathe? When babies inhale, what happens to their tummies? They expand. When the diaphragm pushes down, everything below is displaced outward, primarily to the front where the abdominal muscles can allow movement (but to some extent to the sides and back since the rib cage allows some movement there as well). This is how infants breathe, and it is the anatomically natural way to breathe, but it is not how most adults breathe.

Stand up. Now, let your belly relax, and keep it relaxed as you inhale. Let the air fall gently down into your tummy as you inhale, and let your tummy expand. Your belly should be the focal point of your breathing, but it is important to let your chest and low back also swell gently as you inhale.

Compressing your belly as you inhale rigidifies your chest and belly and back and creates a lot of tension in your body. However, if you have gotten used to sucking in your guts as you inhale, breathing in a more relaxed manner will feel strange. At first you may even have the strange sensation that it feels physically better to breathe from your belly, but it is so unfamiliar that it feels uncomfortable to breathe more comfortably.

If expanding and inhaling is difficult, at first you may have todeliberately push your belly out as you inhale just to get the rhythm. Later you can give up this extra effort. Some people find it very hard to figure out how to either expand or push out their bellies. A way to help with this is to lie down on your back, with pillows under your head and knees, put a fist sized stone (or something similar) on your belly just below your belly button, and concentrate on raising the stone by inhaling.

Once you have found out how to expand and inhale, sit seiza (kneeling, sitting on your heels, with your knees spread a couple of fist widths apart) and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. If seiza is too uncomfortable, you can do this sitting cross-legged on the floor or sitting upright on a flat, firm chair. Let your whole torso relax and open, so that the air comes in and falls gently down to your pelvis. (Of course the air stays in your lungs, but this image will help you feel the movement all the way down through your body.)

Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth is useful for two reasons. It makes the absolutely ordinary process of breathing into something new, which helps you stay focused on it. Also, it is a bridge between an inner and an outer focus. Normally you breathe out through your mouth only when you are talking or expending physical effort. Both those tasks are directed outward into the world. This breathing exercise focuses on what you are doing inside your body, but its purpose is to cultivate an inward relaxation which will allow effective functioning out in the world.

Ideally you should relax your belly and breathe from there all the time. However, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth is just for this exercise. In daily life or in Aikido practice, you should breathe normally, in and out through your nose.

The relaxation that starts with your belly and your breathing will spread throughout your body. If you move with soft muscles, your movement will be freer and more efficient. If you are tense as you move, your muscles will be fighting against each other, wasting energy inside your body. That energy would be more usefully applied externally to control and throw your attacker.


Breathing well is not just a matter of correct use of the diaphragm and chest. Maintaining balance in the whole body is necessary in breathing freely. Beyond that, finding the balanced use of the body is an important step in undoing the leaning toward or away from the attacker.

Sit seiza. Notice the position of your head, neck and back. Notice where and how your weight falls to the floor. Are you sitting up straight? What do you understand by the term "sitting straight?"

Now slump. Let your body collapse downward. Let your back get round and your chest cave in. Let your shoulders roll forward and toward each other. (This is not the same as leaning forward from the hips.) And come back up to sitting straight. What do you do to sit up straight? What body segment initiates (creates) the movement of slumping or coming up straight? How does it feel to sit up straight? Is it comfortable? How long would it remain comfortable?

Notice that when you slump, your pelvis rotates backward. The stack of vertebrae has no foundation on which to rest, and it curves and slumps down. (The pelvis can be thought of as a bowl which contains the guts, and "backward" is the direction in which the bowl would rotate to spill out the guts behind the body.)

Contrary to what most people believe, straightening up from a slump is accomplished by rolling the pelvis forward not by throwing the shoulders back or by straightening the back. If you aren’t sure about this, slump and feel how your pelvis rolls back. Now, without moving your pelvis at all, try to sit up by moving your shoulders. It can’t be done. Try rolling your pelvis forward to sit up out of the slump, and simultaneously puff out your chest and throw your shoulders back. Notice that movements of your shoulders or back are extra movements, which use muscles unnecessarily and waste energy.

When you sit up straight, you roll your pelvis forward, and that moves your body up out of the slump to an erect sitting posture. Notice also that if you continue rolling your pelvis forward past the point of erect posture, your back arches into a swayback position.

Some people find it difficult to do the movement of pelvic rotation whilesitting seiza, but practicing it in another position can be easier. Sit seiza and lean forward, putting your hands on the floor in front of your knees, as though you were preparing to bow. Now, gently arch your back, letting it sag down into a swayback position -- like a horse that has had too many heavy riders. And then roll your back backwards into a hump. Move slowly and gently back and forth from the arched to the humped position, feeling how your pelvis rolls and your spinal column follows the rolling. Once you have felt the movement clearly, try it again in the ordinary sitting position.

It is important to note that there are two ways of rolling the pelvis into position --moving the front of the pelvis down and lifting the back of the pelvis up. Each way uses a different set of muscles. Let’s try moving the wrong way, lifting from the back of your pelvis, using the extensor muscles along the vertebral column. Arch your back by pulling your back pants pockets and your shoulder blades together. Notice that the movement takes place in your back around your waist. Notice also how tense this makes your lower back and your neck.

Now, let’s find the better way, which will be very low in your body, deep in your pelvis, around your hip sockets. Do you know where your hips are? Touch your hips. Most people will touch the bone right below the waist, near where they wear their belts. That, however, is not the hip. It is the top lip of the pelvic bowl. The hip socket is a joint -- the leg’s equivalent of the shoulder joint. Stand on one leg, then raise the other and move it around. Put your hand on the fold where the movement comes from. The hip socket is deep in the leg, by that fold.

Slump. Notice that when you sit slumped your pubic symphysis (the bone in front of your pelvis, just above your genitals) points upwards. Roll your pelvis forward by moving your pubic symphysis forward and down so that it points toward the floor. This uses the iliacus and psoas muscles (which are muscles deep in the front of the body) to do the movement.

You will know you are doing the whole movement right when you move from the slump easily into an upright and solid sitting posture. Your back and shoulders will not be actively engaged in effort but will move in a soft and relaxed way, simply as a result of the pelvic rotation.

Sitting upright in this manner, if you ask a partner to push on your chest, you will experience an effortless, solidity which will not be resistance against the push but simply a solid commitment to staying where you are. It will feel grounded and anchored. (Of course, your partner should be reasonable about how hard s/he pushes, especially if s/he is big and strong and you are not.) You will feel the pressure of the push somehow get deflected from a line going straight back through your chest into a line moving diagonally down and back. The pressure will actually press you into the floor and stabilize your posture, and you will feel that you are not working very hard to achieve the stability.

Just for comparison, sit properly and change just one thing. Bring your knees together. What happens? Most people get tipped back immediately. When the knees are touching, the lower back gets rounded. Moving your knees apart arches the lower back a bit and makes it easier to position the pelvis properly for strength. For another comparison, sit properly, and then squeeze your anus or your throat. Again, most people become weak and get tipped back easily. Try tipping your head to one side, and notice that that will unbalance you. Tensing or unbalancing any part of your body creates weakness, and releasing and balancing your whole body produces strength.


There is a movementthat will help you learn to generate power from the hip sockets. Sit in the balanced seiza position, and lean forward a bit. How do you do this? Do you bend in the middle of your back? Do you bend your neck?

Try doing the movement again, and this time use your hip sockets as the hinge for the movement. Start by sitting up with your back vertical. Put your fingers in the creases where your legs join your trunk, just above and to the outside of your pubic symphysis. That is where your hip sockets are. As you tip forward, do not change the alignment of your head, neck and back. Move like a hinge, bending from the hips not the back. If you move from your hips, you will feel that your bottom will project backward as you do the movement. What happens to the muscles of your anal and genital sphincters? If you keep them squeezed closed, it will restrict the movement. If you widen and open them, it will increase the balance and power in the movement.


Trykokyu dosa again, but this time pay careful attention to adding the elements of proper breathing, pelvic rotation and movement from the hips. I would suggest that, for simplicity, only the takedown portion of the kokyu dosa be practiced and not the pin portion. That is, sit on your heels in one spot throughout the technique, and don’t spin to follow your partner down and pin her or him.

There are, of course, many ways of doing kokyu dosa. I suggest that for this practice here you use a particular arm movement. I often describe it for my children’s Aikido class in two ways. You are holding a bowl of soup by the edges of the bowl, and you wish to pick up the bowl and spill the soup on your head. Or, you wish to pick up your hands and put your little fingers into your partner’s nostrils. Either way leads to a movement in which your hands reach out forward while curving upward from the little finger sword-edge of the hand. This movement raises, rotates and spreads your partner’s arms, which unbalances him or her.

Instead of feeling that you are taking your partner down by pushing with your arms or back, generate the push by a swiveling twist of the pelvis at the hip sockets. As you swivel to the right, cut with the right hand sword-edge to imbalance your partner. As s/he tips, cut with your left hand sword-edge to press her/him down.

When the movement comes from the hip sockets, there is a clean and efficient power that is elegant and graceful. This erect, powerful, fluid, balanced movement is the opposite of the constricted, imbalanced movement which is the heart of violent action. Paying attention to not moving in restricted ways is the beginning of stepping out of violence into harmony.


In addition to working on the large elements of postural mechanics, it is important to add subtler physical elements of feeling and attitude. In this next exercise, we will move to a new level of looking at the physical process of performing kokyu dosa.

Let’s try an experiment with creating a loving attitude. Everyone has something or someone — perhaps a friend, a lover, a child, a flower, a work of art — something that when they think of it makes their heart smile. Sit in seiza with your eyes closed, and spend a few moments thinking about whatever it is that makes your heart smile. What happens in your body? How is your chest affected? What happens to your breathing? What sensations do you feel flowing through you?

Most people experience a softening and warmth in their chests, and a freeing up over their whole bodies. These sensations of being "warm hearted" or "tender hearted" are the bodily manifestations of love or compassion. If you stop to think about it, you will notice that very often we use physical language to describe emotional qualities. We talk about someone being "stiff-necked" or "warm-hearted" or "having guts." There is a wisdom to this. Our emotional feelings are rooted in our physical being. By cultivating the physical state this imaging practice produces, you are actually developing the habit of living in a state of love instead of alienation, anger or all the other painful possibilities we so often embrace.

Love is an important step in the development of power, and this is rather surprising to most people. Love has to do with such qualities as softness, fluidity, mobility and lightness, all of which allow the body to move with more ease and balance. That ease and balance is an important element in the ability to focus and use power. When the body becomes angry and afraid, contracted and stiff, then fluid and efficient movement is not possible. When the body becomes freer and more unified, this improves the coordinated delivery of power in any action.

Try kokyu dosa again. Remember to start with the physical elements of breathing and body mechanics, and then add the heart exercise. What is it like to do the take down while paying attention to constructing and maintaining the bodymind state of lovingness? How does that affect the way you receive the attack and the way you touch the attacker? How does it affect your movements and the takedown? Most people experience that their movements are softer, more coordinated, smoother and more effective.

Loving your enemies isn’t just philosophy. It results in practical improvements in your ability to control their attacks. If you love your attacker, you will be able to throw him harder. However, this state of love leads to more than just effective power. It also leads to a feeling of empathy with and caring for the attacker, which is an important element in developing harmony.


The fist stage in doing any movement involves an inward planning or picturing of the movement. Intention is the next stage in creating a movement, and intention is a commitment to doing the pictured movement. The pencil-wanting exercise was an example of this process of intention. Underlying your breathing, posture and movement is the process of intending your body into action. The constriction and hardening that is a part of violence is a pattern of body intention, and replacing that pattern with a pattern of softness, power, openness and fullness is important in undoing the physical state of violence and achieving the state of harmony.

Stand up with your feet about shoulder width apart and your hands down by your side. Notice that you are standing on the soles of your feet. Where is the center of the earth? Way down below you. With the soles of your feet, reach down into the earth. Remember not to just visualize or think about reaching down, but actually sense in your body a reaching toward the middle of the earth. You could feel it as a light beam shining downwards. Stay with that sensation/action for a minute or two.

Let go of reaching down. Now, with the top of your head and shoulders reach upward to feel the sky. Don’t do it as a muscular effort but just as an awareness with a direction.

Try reaching forward to touch the horizon with the whole front surface of your body. And then reach backward to touch the horizon behind you with the whole back surface of your body.

Reach out to the right with the right edgeof your body to touch the horizon there. And then reach out to the left with the left edge of your body.

If the horizon seems too far away to sense, find something closer, as close as you need for it to be a clear sensing process for you. You are probably doing this exercise indoors, so you could reach below the floor and above the ceiling, and out to the walls. Or you could reach out six or eight inches, if that is easier for you to sense.

Now, do all thedirections together. Reach down and up, left and right, and forward and back. How does that feel? Most people experience this as spacious and energized, like radiant sunshine. They feel that it brings their whole body and the space around them into clearer focus.

This reaching outward is the physical opposite of the shrinking/constricting caused by fear, anger, doubt, confusion and so on. This reaching outward is a process of intending outward and is a physical way of practicing putting your body into a state of calm awareness and confidence.

Try kokyu dosa again. Start with the breathing, body mechanics and heart elements. Now add the radiant, symmetrical outward flow of intention. What is it like to do the take-down while paying attention to constructing and maintaining the expansive, powerful and compassionate bodymind state? How does that affect your movements and the take-down? Most people experience that their movements become integrated, balanced, and much more effective. Can you maintain an even, out-flowing awareness while doing the movements?

Could you generate this integrated state when you felt threatened by an attack? Keeping a calm, alert and loving attitude will improve the physical effectiveness of the Aikido defense techniques. And beyond that, it will allow us to deal with violence without becoming violent.


What do we learn when we practice an Aikido technique? That really depends on what we focus on in our practice. If we aim our practice at throwing the attacker down on the ground, then that is what we will learn. If we aim the practice of defense techniques at discovering and changing our inner attitudes, then that is what we will learn. Aiming at effective technique and expecting harmony to just come along is inefficient at best.

Physically efficient movement can be described in terms of the physical details of posture, breath, heart and intention. Deviations from efficient movement patterns will lessen the effectiveness of our defense techniques, so paying attention to the body patterns of our movements will improve our defense actions. However, that alone won’t change our lives. If all we pay attention to is the large elements of physical effectiveness, we will tend to miss the very subtle physical elements of attitude and spirit. Consciously examining posture, breath, heart and intention as ways of detecting and changing negative feelings and attitudes is crucial in using physical practice for spiritual growth. It is important to get used to watching for violent feelings and replacing them with harmonious feelings.

Aikido offers a wonderful opportunity to forget our commitment to harmony. The attack/defense practice in Aikido gives us a wonderful opportunity to forget what we are trying to become in the stress of what we are trying to do. Aikido offers difficult confrontations as an arena for practicing the skills of handling aggression in a spirit of peace. Every time you are attacked, you have the opportunity to regress to normal responses of hardening and alienation. You may succeed in throwing the attacker to the ground, but you will have reinforced the physical habit of alienation. However, the opportunity to regress is an opportunity to remember to remember what your purpose is and consciously create the inner state of harmony.

When do you get a chance to actually use what you practice? If your practice consists of ways of throwing people to the ground, then you’ll rarely if ever (I hope) get to use what you practice. If your practice consists of ways of balancing and integrating the body, you can use that when you rake leaves, shovel snow, play piano or work at a computer. But if your practice includes paying attention to your attitude toward yourself and your opponent, then you will be able to use what you practice in every interaction you have. Any time a driver cuts you off, any time a sales person is rude, any time a coworker discounts an idea of yours, you will have the chance to scan your body, detect deviations from center, and re-create the mindbody state of balance and harmony. And, feeling harmonious, you will be able to figure what practical actions to take to remedy the problem harmoniously.


  1. For detailed instructions on how to do the basic breathing, body awareness, and centering exercises I teach, see the file A Downloadable Script for the Eight Core BIM Exercises on my website,
Author Bio:
PAUL LINDEN holds a fifth degree black belt in Aikido and has been practicing and teaching the art since 1969. In addition, he is an instructor of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education, holds a black belt in Isshin Ryu Karate, has his PhD in Physical Education, and is the developer of Being In Movement® mindbody training. His work involves the application of body and movement awareness education to such topics as stress management, conflict resolution, performance enhancement, and trauma recovery. He is the author of Comfort at Your Computer: Body Awareness Training for Pain-Free Computer Use and Winning is Healing: Body Awareness and Empowerment for Abuse Survivors. He can be contacted at Aikido of Columbus, 221 Piedmont Road, Columbus, OH 43214, USA. (614) 262-3355.
Copyright info:
Copyright © 1999 by Paul Linden. This article is copyrighted by Paul Linden; however, it may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-commercial uses as long as the complete article, including contact information and this copyright notice, are included.



Article Summary:
An extensive description of Aikido practice, philosophy, etiquette, safety, vocabulary, and more. 15000 words.

PDF file download only.


Aikido: Martial Art of Peace 2
A Typical Class 4
Practice Information 5
Etiquette 6
Common Questions 9
Common Challenges 10
Checklist of Basic Aikido Practices 12
Instructors 14
Aikido: A Brief Etymology 15
Columbus Center for Movement Studies 16
Policy on Blood-Borne Pathogens 18
Aikido as Physical Exercise 20
Centered Movement 21
What Can I Practice at Home? 22
Aikido Practice 26
Dojo Participation & Meetings 28
Aikido Vocabulary 29
Aikido History 35
Memoir of the Master 41
Rank & Testing 44

Copyright info:
Copyright © Paul Linden 1996

Many useful Articles here :

sâmbătă, 21 noiembrie 2009

An interesting Aikido blog

Eric R. C. Holcomb — The Stranger in the Strange Land


Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. If you are interested in Aikido, I recommend hitting the “Aikido” category link on the left. If you are interested in traveling to Japan to train in Aikido and would like a tour-guide, translator and training partner, have a look at the “Aikido Shugyo Tours” link. The “Japan” link will take you to descriptions of cultural dissonance experienced and, sometimes, caused by an American expat living “out in the sticks” in Japan. If you’re interested in family news, “Hi Mama!” :-)

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu!

About the author:

joi, 12 noiembrie 2009

DO - Calea

DO - Calea

de Dave Lowry
traducere din editia italiana a cartii “Sword and Brush”, de Adrian Bunea

Calea, la inceput, este obscura. Pana si pasii initiali sunt invaluiti de negura. Piscurile catre care ea duce, sunt in aparenta ascunse de o ingramadire de nori care, observati de jos, par a fi imposibil de penetrat. Dar acesta este un lucru bun, pentru ca a vedea mult prea clar ce se gaseste in fata noastra, ar putea sa ne intimideze mai mult decat este necesar. Clarificarile apar numai in retrospectiva : calatorul a mers mult timp pe aceasta Cale a lasat in spate un taram linistit si pasnic, a infruntat un voiaj care prezinta provocari continue, dar care ofera si recompense mai mari decat ar fi fost de asteptat la inceputul calatoriei. Avansand de-a lungul Caii, el isi da seama ca este directionat catre o destinatie care, chiar ramanand misterioasa, apare atragatoare in mod absolut.
Pe aceasta Cale nu se pune problema de a calatori in sens fizic, chiar daca sunt rare cazurile in care bugeisha (practicantii Budo) descopera ca o pot face fara a-si parasi propria casa. Calea este o calatorie a mintii, a spiritului si, in fine, si a sufletului. Mecanica Caii este o contributie a taoistilor, vechii intelepti ai Chinei, a caror filosofie a Tao (Do in japoneza) ii stimula sa traiasca o existenta sincronizata cu curentele naturii. Din penelul caligrafului, Do este un caracter compus. Liniile care indica “principal” sau “fundamental” sunt unite cu cele ale radicalului care inseamna “miscare”. Insa, Do vrea sa insemne “strada importanta”, o Cale de urmat in armonie si sintonie cu vicisitudinile pe care universul le sugereaza, o carare lunga pe care se descopera unicitatea elementelor vietii din univers.
In acest sens, urmele Caii sunt foarte vechi. Ea a luat forma pentru prima oara cand un individ a inceput o activitate cu constiinta de a o impinge dincolo de hotarele utilitarismului si de a depasi restrictiile ego-ului. Este adevarat, Calea poate duce si la arta, poate chiar sa aiba si o valoare practica, dar scopul ultim al caii este “procesul”. Aceasta inseamna sa faci un lucru nu pentru rezultatul sau, ci sa te implici pentru ca implinirea acestui act ne elibereaza de constrangerile eu-lui nostru limitat : narcisismul, egocentrismul, preocuparile induse de temeri, de probleme si de grijile care ne fac mai mizera viata cotidiana. Calea ne atrage in locul in care domina eu-ul nostru potential : autorealizarea, autocultivarea si autoperfectionarea.

Articol complet:

Aikido dinăuntru în afară - Ghidul începătorului

Aikido dinăuntru în afară - Ghidul începătorului

Aikido este o artă neobişnuită, cu principii izvorând din artele marţiale şi din
filozofie. Spre deosebire de alte arte marţiale, esenţa aikido e independentă de
forma fizică a mişcărilor. E independentă de procedeele individuale. Totuşi,
formele şi procedeele izvorăsc din esenţă. Această esenţă inefabilă e cea care
face aikido atât de fascinant si, în acelaşi timp, atît de greu de înţeles de către
un începător.

Am descoperit că a încerca să înveţi aikido din cărţi e aproape imposibil, nu
pentru că autorii cărţilor de aikido n-ar şti să scrie, nici pentru că fotografiile
n-ar fi clare, ci pentru că în aikido, ceea ce vezi nu e întotdeauna adevărat.
Dinamicile din aikido nu sunt de obicei evidente sau vizibile decât
dacă ştii într-adevăr după ce să te uiţi. Principiile aikido sunt un set de
sentimente, senzaţii şi înţelegeri despre elementele naturii, fizică, energie şi
comportament. Pentru a învăţa aceste principii, trebuie să le experimentezi cu
corpul, simţirea şi mintea – în general în această ordine. Trebuie să le înveţi
prin transmisiune directă. Descrierile sunt inadecvate.

Dacă aşa stau lucrurile, de ce se scrie despre aikido? Scopul acestei cărţi
nu este să descrie procedeele de aikido, ci să încerce să-ţi îndrepte atenţia,
ca începător, către elementele interioare ale senzaţiilor care sunt esenţa
experienţei aikido.

Copyright © 1993-1998 Howard Bornstein
DEQ Press
PO Box 1144
Woodstock, NY 12498
Published in the United States of America
First Edition
Traducerea: Victor Ioncu
cu permisiunea autorului.

Cartea in format PDF:

Antrenament şi cunoaştere

Antrenament şi cunoaştere

Antrenamentul are aspecte fizice şi spirituale. Partea fizică implică pregătirea pentru evidenţierea forţei fizice ascunse. Structura fiziologică a corpului omenesc este astfel alcătuită încât permite producerea unei forţe (efort) egală cu aproximativ de trei ori forţa normală a unei persoane (cam de aceeaşi greutate). Manifestarea constantă a acestei super puteri, totuşi, este imposibilă din punct de vedere fiziologic şi ar duce la distrugerea ţesuturilor corpului. Puterea în împrejurări normale este limitată fiziologic, aceasta devenind măsura puterii normale a unei persoane. De aceea, în situaţii de urgenţă, spre exemplu într-un incendiu, dacă cineva cară obiecte grele, cum ar fi o comodă cu sertare, pe care nu le poate căra de obicei, nu înseamnă că este un miracol. Mai curând este o providenţă a naturii. Să consideri aceste lucruri ca pe nişte abilităţi speciale este un nonsens. În medicina modernă sportivă este aplicată metoda intervalelor. Muşchii sunt capabili să-şi menţină condiţia când se aplică un efort (cantitate de exerciţii) de 30%. O cantitate mai mică de atât conduce la o slăbire a muşchilor. Doar când se aplică un efort de la 60% la 80% muşchii se dezvoltă. Dacă se aplică constant un efort mai mare decât atât ţesuturile musculare se distrug. Perioadele de repaos sunt necesare, dezvoltarea musculară fiind astfel accelerată prin alternanţa repetată de efort şi repaos. Dezvoltarea musculară se face gradat iar depăşirea limitelor conduce la rezultate contrare, exceptând cazurile indivizilor excepţionali. Bineînţeles că există diferenţe datorate vârstei, puterii fizice, structurii scheletului şi dimensiunilor corpului. Spre exemplu, muşchii dezvoltaţi prin antrenamente regulate de culturism se vor menţine şi se vor dezvolta în continuare în prezenţa unui stimul adecvat. Neutilizaţi pentru o perioadă mare de timp muşchii se vor atrofia la condiţiile iniţiale sau chiar pot deveni un dăunător “bagaj în exces”. Auzim deseori de persoane care au practicat sport în timpul studenţiei dar după absolvire au încetat activitatea fizică deseori suferind de o sănătate precară.

Corpul îşi are limitele lui, dar mintea nu are limite. Mintea este liberă şi neîngrădită. Chiar dacă poţi lega corpul cu o frânghie (materie), nu poţi lega mintea. Lucrurile care leagă mintea sunt credinţa şi iluzia. Mintea mişcă corpul iar corpul poate îmbogăţi sau sărăci mintea.

Haideţi să reflectăm asupra semnificaţiei antrenamentului. Aparent, antrenamentul este cultivarea unor tehnici corecte prin repetarea lor, dar aceasta este doar o aparenţă exterioară. De fapt semnificaţia adevărată a antrenamentului este obţinerea încrederii. Dacă nu te antrenezi conştientizând acest lucru chiar de la început, vei fi încătuşat în forme. Mintea care reacţionează la forme “încătuşate” devine o minte îngustă. Nu ar trebui să aderi strict la forme. Formele ar trebui să fie complet libere şi nu captive uniformităţii. Fiecare bărbat sau femeie îşi are propriile caracteristici, tip de corp şi condiţie fizică. Nici o tehnică nu poate fi unificată într-o formă comună. Chiar dacă în aparenţă o formă este comună, sinele interior al fiecăruia este exprimat. Manifestarea sinelui interior este necesară, antrenamentul existând pentru acest scop. Tehnicile (formele) servesc ca puncte de reper pentru învăţarea principiilor naturii. Scopul antrenamentului este esenţa şi nu practica unor forme. Prin înţelegerea esenţei, semnificaţia şi scopul tehnicilor creează o minte îmbogăţită şi aduce încredere. Tehnicile sunt expresia minţii exprimate prin corp şi nu forţează oamenii într-un tipar şi nici nu le limitează minţile. Evoluţia unui singur obiect (mono) devine o tehnică iar tehnica (mişcarea) este doar direcţia de evoluţie. Dacă te ataşezi prea mult de importanţa unei direcţii (sau eşti încătuşat de ea) nu poţi cuprinde semnificaţia unei evoluţii mai largi. Fiecare lucru care a evoluat îşi are originea într-un centru. Prin mişcările naturale ale centrului corpului, corpul se mişcă înainte şi înapoi, la dreapta şi la stânga, sau în sus şi în jos creând un echilibru flexibil. Ceea ce mişcă centrul este o minte liberă, neîncătuşată. Nu este incorect să afirmi că tehnicile şi antrenamentul există pentru a cultiva o minte liberă, neîncătuşată şi expansivă. Este important să memorezi că, dacă eşti atras doar de aspecte unice, mintea ţi se îngustează. Dacă te antrenezi cu o minte practică, liberă şi neîncătuşată, aşa cum am menţionat mai devreme, muşchii ţi se vor dezvolta indiferent de voinţa ta, rezultând în mod natural un corp sănătos. Mai mult, un corp sănătos creează o minte deschisă. Este important să înţelegi corect expresiile dintre ghilimele, “Mintea conduce şi corpul urmează” şi “Mintea şi corpul sunt una”. Înţelegerea greşită a acestor concepte se va dovedi un mare obstacol şi mă tem că va conduce la “a pune căruţa în faţa cailor”. Bazele (kihon) sunt punctele de reper (semnificaţia) dar nu sunt acelaşi lucru cu antrenamentul în fundamentele tehnice (kiso). Problemele apar dacă confunzi bazele cu antrenamentul în fundamentele tehnice. Învăţând tehnici câştigi încredere şi calm, dar dacă nu aplici corect aceste calităţi în viaţa de zi cu zi ele nu au nici un scop. Ceea ce este necesar şi acceptabil în zilele noastre nu este o mare forţă fizică sau tehnică (care se exprimă prin corp), ci mai curând un spirit blând.

Când te antrenezi este necesar să te adaptezi nivelului partenerului. Nu trebuie să-ţi forţezi partenerul să facă lucruri pe care tu le poţi face. Spre exemplu, nu este corect să ceri unor elevi de şcoală elementară să aibă nivelul unora de liceu. Când vor ajunge la liceu vor atinge acest nivel în mod natural. Ceea ce este important este să oferi indicaţii în funcţie de nivelul partenerului şi să încerci să-i activezi abilităţile latente. Încercarea de a forţa partenerul să se dezvolte (chiar şi cu bune intenţii) nu va avea succes. Ar trebui să-ţi conduci partenerul stimulându-i interesul şi cunoaşterea despre sine însuşi. Când partenerul va avea dorinţa de a învăţa, cunoaşterea despre sine însuşi îl va conduce la dezvoltare.

Articolul complet:

miercuri, 4 noiembrie 2009

Aikido the Coordination of Mind and Body - Koichi Tohei

"Remember, always that you live under the protection of some mysterious force of nature..... Therefore true self-defence does not stop with defending yourself against others, but strives to make oneself worthy of defence by nature herself. ... Budo respects the principles of nature... True self-defence must be in consonance with the harmony of nature... When man observes the harmonious principles of nature, he helps to make them the principles of humanity because they are directed towards the good of humanity... True self defence must be in accord to the will of God.. One who whole heartedly practices this will have learned true self-defence."

Book Review :

Book Download:

Is Aikido a Martial Art?

Sensei Henry Ellis Co-Author of the new book Positive Aikido.- 2005. A direct student from 1957 of the legendary master Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 1915 – 1985.

At first sight of the above title I am sure that a lot of Aikidoist’s will be angry, they will assume that this is yet another attack on the credibility of Aikido by other martial artist’s. On this occasion they are totally wrong, I have been a student of Aikido since 1956, In those early days I first started Judo in 1955 at the Kenshiro Abbe School of Budo, I studied Karate with Harada Sensei and Kendo with Tomio O’Tani Sensei, so with my background I feel that I have something to offer to this debate.

First Impressions

The Aikido that I first saw being demonstrated by Abbe Sensei in 1956 was without doubt a positive martial art. I was immediately impressed by its positive techniques and power, and in those days my fellow martial artists and I were in no doubt that we were witnessing a devastating new form of self-defense as demonstrated by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei. Abbe Sensei had begun his martial arts career at the age of five and became a legend in his own lifetime. At eighteen he was the youngest ever all Japan Judo champion and also the youngest ever 5th Dan at the world renowned Kodokan. He later became the oldest ever all Japan Judo champion at the age of thirty three.

Kenshiro Abbe

Kenshiro Abbe

When Abbe Sensei arrived in the UK in 1955 he was 8th Dan Judo, 6th Dan Karate, 6th Dan Kendo, 6th Dan Kyudo, 6th Dan Aikido, the question must be asked; would this Budo master have studied Aikido if he did not believe it to be a martial art?

It is my opinion that Abbe Sensei would not have studied Aikido as it is today.

Please Break My Finger

As a direct student of Abbe Sensei I asked one day whilst we were traveling to a seminar “Sensei, how did you first become a student of O’Sensei and Aikido”? He smiled as he reminisced for a few moments; then told me the following story:

He said that he was a young man at the time and the Judo champion of all Japan and traveling on a crowded train across Japan to yet another Judo competition. Sitting opposite him in the same carriage was an old man who was trying to make some conversation with him, Abbe had his eyes closed as he tried to sleep. The old man said to him ” I know who you are” Abbe Sensei replied rather modestly ” everyone knows who I am, I am Kenshiro Abbe champion of all Japan” he politely asked the old man who he was, the old man replied “I am Morihei Ueshiba founder of AikidoAbbe Sensei nodded politely and suggested that they now try to get some sleep, the old man suddenly stuck his hand forward and offered the smallest digit to this powerfully built young man, Abbe was stunned as the old man said ” please break my finger” Abbe thought I will break his neck if he doesn’t go to sleep, he was now becoming irritated by this old man, he immediately grasped the old mans finger in an attempt to shut him up, he freely admitted that in his frustration it was his intention to break the offending digit. To his total amazement he was suddenly slammed onto the carriage floor. As he lay prostrate and unable to move he knew he had to study with this master. He asked O’Sensei if he could study with him, O’Sensei agreed and Abbe stayed with O’Sensei for ten years.

O’Sensei had spent many years studying various martial arts, I believe that the art of Daito-ryu and Ju-jitsu had more influence on the development of Aikido than anything else he had studied, and we know he went to Mongolia to fight and this would be the perfect opportunity to test his many skills in a real situation, so we can be in no doubt that this incredible man was a true warrior and modern Samurai.

Read full article here :

Mastery - George Leonard

Mastery - George Leonard

a book by aikidoka george leonard. a good book not just for martial artists. recommended for everyone!

ImageIn this book George Leonard describes the concept of "mastery" and explains how to acheive it. Mastery is defined not as a goal to be achieved but as an acceptance, and even enjoyment, of the process of learning and growing in a skill. The journey is much more important than the destination. Leonard states that this focus on the process rather than the end result is counter intuitive to our western, result-oriented culture. He encourages the reader to look past the immediate gratification of results and embrance the times on the plateaus of development.

The first part of the book defines this concept of mastery in much more detail. Leonard explains three character types that often defeat mastery: the Dabbler, the Obsessive, and the Hacker. The Dabbler is one who starts many new things and makes good progress initially. However, once the Dabbler hits the first plateau he gets bored and moves onto the next greatest thing. The Obsessive lives for the growth spurt in a skill. If he's not constantly and actively growing he presses himself harder and faster. Eventually the Obsessive burns out and moves on to something else. Once the Hacker has passed over the first major growth spurt and is on the first plateau he just stays there. He doesn't actively spend time trying to learn and grow. He just tinkers with the bit of skill he's developed and remains satisfied at that level.

The second part of the book explains the main keys to mastery. The first key is instruction. Leonard recommends that to be on the road to mastery the pupil needs an instructor. The second key is practice. Any music student has heard this time and time again. Without practice the instruction is wasted. The third key is surrender. The concept of surrender refers to being willing to fail at attempts to become better. The fourth key is intentionality. This is "keeping your mind in the game" or "your eye on the prize". The idea here is to maintain a clear vision of where you are trying to go (even if you never get there). The final key to mastery is the "edge" or the constant urge to challenge and press the limits. This is what keeps the student from complacency and keeps the student moving forward on the path.

In the third part of the book Leonard offers tools for managing the keys to mastery. In this section he relies heavily on his extensive aikido training and philosophy.

Read the book here:

About the Author:

KI Development - Pietro Yuji Maida sensei

KI Development

Our goal is to see more clearly, our actions , reactions, motivations,
expectations, goals and hopes. Using these tools we can more clearly
see situations and be able to deal with them in a more balanced, re-
laxed way. This also allows us to make better choices.

We are introducing a method of “Self Inspection” which allows us to see our actions and motivations more clearly. We use the term “Ki” in this program for our intent or commitment. When our Ki is focused (or extended) and we commit our whole body to action, we can ac-
complish much more than just a thought and movement. We call this moving with mind and body coordination and it refers to our intent and action. Thought or plans are not really intent. How many times have we thought we did something or planned to do it? Without the
“intent” it is hard to put our plans into reality. Movement itself is not action. Looking busy does not really get the job done.

About the Author:

Pietro Yuji Maida sensei
is a senior student of Koichi Tohei (founder of Ki Society).
It was Tohei sensei who fi rst brought the Martial Art of Aikido to the USA and the
1953. Maida Sensei began his Aikido training as an uchi deshi (live in apprentice) of Hideki
Shiohira Sensei in 1974. He was sent to Japan in About the Author
1977 to continue his apprenticeship with Tohei Sensei. He has extensive experience in Rinzai Zen meditation (as a student of Tanouye Tenshin Rotaishi), Japanese Swordsmanship (under Takahashi Eiichi), and Zen-Bodytherapy ® (with Willliam “Dub” Leigh). Maida sensei has spent a number of years living in Japan studying Aikido, Zen and other traditional cultural arts. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1982 he became a professional Aikido instructor. Maida sensei returns to
Japan a few times each year to renew and update his knowledge. He is presently the Chief Instructor of the Northern California Ki Society, holds the rank of 7th dan and is one of the few full- time professional instructors representing Ki Society in the United States. He continues to train under the direct guidance of Tohei Sensei in Japan, Kashiwaya Sensei (Chief Instructor of
Ki Aikido USA), and other senior instructors of Ki Society.

Read the book here:

marți, 3 noiembrie 2009

Let Every Breath…

Let Every Breath…

Breathing is the key of everything

"Let Every Breath…" presents both the spiritual and cultural background story of Systema Breathing method, and most importantly, it puts the method into your own hands. From the foundational exercises taught in this book, you can hand-craft your own personal program of literally endless combinations of breathwork patterns and the unique physical framework which embodies them. You'll feel the spiritual profundity of the settings, stories, and interviews fueling your enthusiasms to begin the direct mastery of your own secret breath power.

Vladimir Vasiliev teaches us: "The Russian word for 'air' is 'vozdooh'. It literally means 'a heap of spirit'. This helps us understand that if you learn to inhale not only air, but to gather the Spirit, that's when you are really alive."

Learn to master and change your whole world by this practice - Inhaling pure spirit - as taught in our revolutionary new book "Let Every Breath…"

Read more about this book here:

Add reps with Russian breathing techniques

By Nate Morrison - Special to the Times
The failure point -- we've all been there. When you find yourself falling short of that last rep or two or three, your breathing could be to blame. Two solutions from our former Cold War rivals in Russia can make all the difference.

• High-tension power breathing. Imagine you're in the front leaning rest position and you need one or two more push-ups to max out your physical-fitness test, but your arms are trembling and your will to continue is breaking. Here's what you do:

Inhale as you descend while bracing your abs, as if for a punch, and squeezing your glutes. Grip the ground and try to turn your hands outward. Then, exhale under pressure during the upward portion of the movement so your breath makes a loud hissing sound. Imagine that your breath is like a hydraulic pump doing the work for you.

Full article here:

Systema: Principles of the Russian Martial Art

If someone had told me a few years ago that out of a western Christian tradition would come a martial art as deep, sophisticated and evolved as the best of the oriental arts I would not have believed them. Yet there is such an art coming out of the ancient Russian culture with deep roots in the Russian Orthodox monasteries. At its root in the present day is an exceptional man, Mikhail Ryabko. Trained by one of Stalin’s Falcons from the age of five and beginning his operational career in the Russian Spetsnaz (Special Forces) at the age of 15, Mikhail Ryabko was not only given the secrets of this ancient art, he was put in the position of repeatedly applying both the art and its principles in life and death combat on, what for much of his early life, was a day-to-day basis. This System, taught by Mikhail Ryabko, is not a shadow of what once was, it is a living practical art that even now is being applied by warriors in combat. When working with Mikhail and his foremost student, Vladimir Vasiliev, one is struck by the calm depth of these men. Enormous knowledge and ability taught with calm, deep conviction.

The heart of Systema is its operating system. Techniques do not define the art, in fact, techniques per se are not taught. To make the most of Systema the mind/body must be free to do whatever is necessary, and not be limited by trained techniques. Techniques create a box, limiting the individuals ability to problem solve. By operating system I mean the manner in which human physiology and psychology access physical reality according to both a classical Newtonian and quantum physics understanding of universe reality. It is this operating system that opens the door to a whole new world. When Vladimir was told at one seminar “You are very flexible, he replied, “No, I am free.” It is this very freedom, this giving up of ego, that gives back so much. This is because principle-based Systema conforms to the individual instead of requiring the individual to conform to it. Everyone’s expression of Systema is different. It is like you are taught how to paint and then you express yourself.

The Systema operating system as taught by Mikhail and Vladimir is a faith-based operating system. The process of giving up your ego-based personal power and having faith that things are the way that they should be forms the core of this art. Mikhail teaches that fear produces unnatural movement. It is only through faith—knowing that things are the way they are supposed to be—that we can be free of fear and move naturally. Faith is based on the fact that everything that we need to exist has been given to us. Most of those things that are essential to our existence we do not even think about. We tend to breath unconsciously even though oxygen transfer is the most important thing that takes place in our body. It is the seminal energy transfer from which all else becomes possible. As Mikhail says “You breath in when you are born and out when you die, in between is your life.” Gravity keeps the atmosphere which contains our oxygen and ourselves on the planet that supports our life. Electro-magnetism allows shape and form. All of these, and many other unseen forces work to our benefit, yet they are all gifts as we have nothing to do in determining them. We live by grace, whose meaning you may ponder for yourself. If you are further interested you might do some research in regards to strong anthropic principle and super-string theory. That which we view as solid and “real” does not last. Those energies that allow us life, that we cannot see, are more real than those “solid” objects that will all pass away.

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