Tue 24 Feb 2009
Some students get it and some do not. Here is an example of one who gets it. This is remarkably similar to my treatise on Aikido which is required writing for successful entry to black belt in Kokikai. How does it fit into your interpretation of Aikido?
The Dance of Aikido
By Fernando del Rosario
Rick Sensei has always encouraged his students to take the principles learned in Aikido beyond the confines of the mat and to find ways to integrate these principles in our daily activities. I recently had the opportunity to do just that, thereby, expanding my appreciation for our art and the people we learn from.
My wife and I were recently invited to the Opera Ball held this past Valentine’s Day. It was a fund-raising event for Opera Delaware and one that involved ballroom dancing. Yikes! So off we went to take a refresher course in ballroom dancing. During the course of our instruction, our dance instructor described to us the different variations of fox-trot promenade — one of them being “the grapevine”. As she demonstrated it to us, I remarked, “That’s something we often do when warming up in Aikido practice. It teaches us balance, control and coordination.” She was quite surprised that something like that was done in a martial art. Later on, she was trying to describe to me how I should move forward with intention when doing the foxtrot, emphasizing that I should focus on moving my “core” rather than moving my feet. I told her that what she described was similar to the concept of “Ki” and what we try to feel and learn when we do our “rowing” and “shomen” exercises in Aikido. Needless to say, she was quite intrigued how the principles of dance mirrored the principles of Aikido so well.
So what’s the point of this story? The point is that Aikido is like dancing and one of the major lessons to be learned in both is the concept of “leading”. The man leads the woman, as the nage leads the uke’s mind. And when done close to perfection, it is spectacular. I remember when I first came to our dojo to watch the Saturday adult class. I was mesmerized by the gracefulness of the black belts and how elegant they looked in their white gi and black/navy hakama (think black tie to the Opera Ball). Their moves were so fluid and looked effortless. Even falling and rolling looked great. I knew then I needed to join, learn Aikido and be just like the black belts one day. I strive for a
yokomen uchi kokyu nage with the grace of a finely executed waltz or perform a tsuki kotegaishi with the crispness of a tango. I want fluidity of motion in my jo and bokken katas like an effortless quick step. I want to reach that level where my practice of Aikido looks like great choreography.
If you think about it, life is one big choreography. We are always responding and reacting to what life throws at us. Hopefully, we are also leading and controlling some of our destiny. In the end, whether it be on the dance floor, on the mat or in life, success truly depends on: 1) progressive relaxation, 2) positive mind, 3) proper posture, and 4) a strong focus on our one point for calmness even in duress.
One more thing, though it is not one of our 4 Aikido principles but important nonetheless, have fun in whatever you do!