WHY and the Blue belt slump

Why! My mentor once told me this was the most important word in our language. I say that the second most important word may be “how.” Why something works or how it works is worth knowing. Then again the “how” may not matter as long as you “can.” This makes for an interesting thought equation.

I call this mental Aikido. Does it have anything to do with technique? Some things appear as gifts when they are really impediments. Some students prefer to have the technical aspects explained. But if that happens frequently where is discovery? Where is adventure? Even though we share a journey together, we travel the path alone. Even though the teacher must get inside the student’s head, one’s skin cannot contain two people. That’s why advice is not to be given lightly. It may, in reality, be interference. Which may explain why Aikido is not for everyone. It cannot be given away. Aikido must be discovered! Maruyama Sensei often says, “find out for yourself.” This is not a casual statement.

I have gained an understanding of certain techniques only after getting some insight on the principle behind the technique. but usually I gained the principle after practicing the technique for several years. Which is one of the reasons I said Aikido is not for everyone. Patience is required and even that may come from certain segments of technique.

Just as one must delay attacking until the pieces are developed when playing chess, one must wait for uke to fall into position during the progression of technique in order to move on to the finish. That requires patience and some have not practiced that principle in their daily lives, so they cannot apply it here. Why does the technique work? Or not. To the uninitiated it’s magic. To the master it’s common sense.

Keep on practicing when encountering the “blue belt slump.” Most things have a habit of working themselves out. In fact, there’s an old saying:”Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” Insight will come as you work through it. Obstacles make us stronger, not weaker.

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One thought on “WHY and the Blue belt slump”

  1. I, for one, like to have the technical aspects explained. But only once the more broader theme is explained. It is like a cascading effect that starts from the top, top being the most general and bottom being the subtle and specific. I don’t, however, like when the subtle points of a technique are explained right away. As I’m discovering, subtely in most techniques is what makes them work best, but so far I have not seen many that can be explained so easily. It is something that has to be felt, and so it is a combination of technical understanding and sensitivity to the current sitation. Many times I find myself closing my eyes in order to help me concentrate more on center of gravity, though it’s probably not the safest or best way to train.

    The most difficult part is getting my body used to improving techniques with muscle memory. You were right.. practice a technique a less efficient way and it really is a pain to change it once you get used to it.

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