８：０３ 投げられて受身を取ると言うんじゃないですね。体を痛めるから受身を練習するのじゃないんですね。柔術の場合は相手に投げさせて、自分が回って行っちゃうんですね、先に。で、相手に返し技をしたり、崩したり、その隙に腹を切って行ったり… 投げられたから、負け、そういうルールはないですね… かと言って自分勝手の速さではだめですね… 相手がいるわけですから相手に合わせて。
8:03 Ukemi is not about being thrown. Avoiding injury is not the point of practicing ukemi. In Jujutsu, one let’s one partner throw, and rolls away of one’s own accord. In doing so, reversing the technique on one’s partner, disturbing his posture, or cutting his abdomen in the opening that results. It is not that one loses because one is thrown – there is no such rule. Yet, it is not that one takes uke at just any speed. There is a practice partner. One must move with him.
Shimokawa Sensei of Lihue Aikikai once taught me something similar when I had the honor and fortune of training with him for an hour one-on-one. It was back when I was in the habit of resisting technique. Throughout the practice, he would perform techniques with greater vigor when I resisted, since the more the recipient resists, the easier it is to apply joint lock techniques like Shihonage. Most of the time, the lesson was non-verbal, since the more I resisted, the harder I fell. Sometimes, it was verbal, like “if you resist here, this becomes an opening for an elbow break.”
六月我因日本朋友來而請假, 陪他們在迪化街散步. 路過在執行藝術展的一棟樓. 走入看到有兩個學生坐在一間茶屋裏在飲茶. 她們看到我就出來解釋作品.
作品名叫「圄」. 圄字意「吾於框中」. 感到压迫時, 常因自己作了個圍牆而把自己置於內. 命品為「圄」是希望碰到該樣心況時能借此茶屋學個不同的看法. 是把自己置於不同的框子而找所処難況的出口.
作品制造者是銘傳學建築部的四名女子大生. 她們為了作茶屋和倒茶的研究, 去了農場, 由摘葉至烘焙學了制茶的流程. 又學了茶屋建築的歷史同應用. 甚至門框的高低. 日本的茶屋門框矮, 以使人低頭入屋. 銘傳大學生的茶屋亦該樣.
我及四個日本朋友, 加銘大的學生, 坐入茶屋, 賞飲茶. 話提講到茶, 天氣, 來自的地方, 要去的地方, 有時不談而賞微風股, 讓我覺得我回到人類的基本. 沙漠裏遊牧民在遠行中入當地包裏亦會聊般的. 學生招待我們飲茶, 我們共同取靜, 除之外暫無地位, 對屋主的儘力招待感謝.
四泡茶, 約二十分鐘後, 我和我的日本朋友出去, 継續逛街. 後來逛到無時間食午餐. 朋友說還好有幾會於茶屋取靜, 否則最後感情會漂浮.
送好朋友上車去機場後, 我回到藝術展再和學生欱茶. 那時, 有一位中年女氏也一起欱. 她一直不停地講哪裡買了房屋, 哪裡旅遊過, 親戚在國外的那裡住, 房子有幾坪. 她很好意地想要分享她的経驗, 但是我覺得還是大學生人格較大, 不必借財物地位講話. 不只是那樣, 自己周圍置的財物及地位會擋住她是視野, 阻止她和其他人溝通. 今世的社會勸我們更專業化, 鋪設條漂亮的路而寫履歷書, 賺更多錢. 但我常覺得那樣不過是給自己做個圍牆, 把自己放在裏面.
大學生的熱心的招待不是為著爭地位或爭錢, 而純是為著要斟一杯好茶. 那樣全面地研究, 純心地執行,讓我感動. 但願那些大學生可以継續那樣純真的.
When traveling, I have been in the habit of simply showing up to a dojo, introducing myself, and asking the teacher if I may practice. This has always worked well for me. I started doing this when, in Japan, I got turned down by a dojo in Matsuyama, Japan, when I called ahead and asked if I could practice.
I figure, if I get turned down, I at least get to see who is turning me down.
I have actually never had a problem come up by just showing up. I show up before class starts with my uniform in my bag, say a friendly hello to the teacher, smile, ask to train, talk about how much I love Aikido and how I’d love to practice with him and his students, and I’m in!
This week, I’m in Vancouver for meetings. For yesterday’s practice, against my usual policy, I gave advance notice, emailing the teacher beforehand to say that I was coming. He remembered me, and gave me permission.
Practice started with one of the senior students because Sensei was late. Sensei entered as we were doing breakfall drills. We nodded at each other from across the room, I bowed toward him, and continued with the drills. After sensei finished changing and stretching, he took over from the senior student.
Practice was great. There were some elements that I experience, but had not yet incorporated into my training. However, I could sense a certain edge to Sensei that I hadn’t sensed before, like he had his guard up a little more. My instinct tells me that this guardedness was due to my relying on my email and his memory of me, and not introducing myself at the beginning of class.
So much for the importance of advance notice. This tells me that a face-to-face introduction is the main thing, and email is an extra. Speaking with him after class, it was clear that while he did remember me, he didn’t really – he was asking me questions he’s asked before. This also makes it clear that the point of going to practice is not to talk… because the body remembers movements, but the mind doesn’t remember conversations!
Speaking of words not mattering, I was out dancing Wednesday last week. There was a free class, and people stayed after to dance. There were some women looking hopeful at the edge of the dance floor. I watched as a few men asked tentatively “Would you like to dance?” Let’s think about this. She got dressed up. She came early to participate in the dance class. She stayed after class. She is standing at the edge of the dance floor. OF COURSE SHE WANTS TO DANCE. In fact, the look on the women’s faces had an incredulous “why are you even asking?” expression that they were trying to hide.
So, I made this my approach: look around. Make eye contact. Approach directly from the front with a relaxed smile. Raise eyebrows and gesture to the dance floor. We’re in! NO WORDS NEEDED. With women I’d already danced with, I could take drinks out of their hands, set them on the counter with a smile, and they would let themselves be led to the dance floor. They didn’t feel this was rude; they liked it. They were just waiting for someone to ask them to dance.
I’ve been giving thought recently to the layered nature of social interactions. There are verbal and non-verbal layers. Humans are educated to think the verbal layer matters, but it doesn’t matter as much as the non-verbal layer. What’s more, the verbal layer often doesn’t matter in terms of content. Monkeys groom each other. Dogs play and snuggle. Talking is the human means to the same end. Thank goodness for Aikido and dance. They make for non-verbal conversations.
Once, I was dancing salsa with someone who suddenly stopped mid-song.
“Are you dancing with the rock-step on one or on two?”
“On one, generally, but I’m not too concerned about it.”
We danced for a little more, and then she stopped again, and said “One.”
Generally, I dance with the rock-step on one because that’s where the clave falls, and not stepping there feels odd. However, certain moves or certain songs or phrases have a strong syncopation, making stepping on two feel more natural. On-one and on-two are merely teaching constructs that don’t exist in real life. In real life, you follow the music and do what feels natural. The pedagogical construct is not the reality.
One of my friends introduced me to a Kizomba teacher whom I have fallen in love with (as a student) and unprompted from me she mentioned this very aspect of some schools – that some schools teach people to count in their heads, thinking about the form, but not really hearing the music.
One reason I love Aikido is that the objective reality of right or wrong can be imposed on someone when they are resisting flow. When they are not hearing the music, so to speak. Once at Honbu Dojo I was feeling contrary, and kept resisting my partner’s technique.
“You’re resisting.” he laughed.
“Do you want me not to resist?” I asked.
“No, it’s okay. It’ll just be more painful for you! Hahaha!”
What followed was one of the most satisfying practices I have ever had. His technique was either so clean that resistance was futile, or so adaptable that he utilized my resistance.
In Aikido people of all levels can practice together because we practice forms, but yet we can also achieve flow and response, much like dance.
Another time, I went to a new dojo and practiced with another black belt. The technique was nikyo from two-handed grab. My entry was imperfect, and left my partner an opening. My partner resisted, and although I could muscle through, I decided not to. Then, my partner made a smug “hah!” sound. If she had been a white belt, I would have left it at that.
But she was a black belt.
I reversed the force that I had been applying to do the nikyo lock, blended into the direction of her resistance, executing a kotaegaeshi throw. This happened in an instant. No sooner had she laughed than she was falling, and no sooner had she made a face of terror mid-fall that and she was on her back looking up. Her face turned from terror, to confusion, to anger.
We went again. I was still trying to see just how little force I can use. Because my entry was still imperfect, she was again able to resist the nikyo. I blended into kotegaeshi again, but she anticipated this. I reverted back into a nikyo lock and pinned her to the ground. All of this without force, but with speed. Faster, in fact, because I was using her own resistance.
We went again. Same nikyo, to kotegaeshi, to nikyo as before, only this time she expected the return to nikyo, and resisted. I blended with her force again and transitioned to kokyunage. Again, she was on her back.
We stood and faced each other again. She blinked in rapid succession. Her eyes are wild, looking at the ground, at my left shoulder, my right shoulder, at the ground, my hands. I took a step back and sat seiza to wait for her to calm down.
It’s not that I don’t like advice. It’s that I hate nitpicking about forms. Nitpicking that stops action and flow. The pedagogical construct is not the reality.
Once I took Japanese in college, and skipped two semesters after studying intensely over spring break. My Japanese teacher told me I should be more humble and that I was still making mistakes. She advised against skipping two semesters. I decided to skip anyway, then skipped another four semesters when I got back to school after half a year of study in Japan, then got a sales job in Japan. My range of expression and mobility would have been severely constrained if I had preoccupied with grammar mistakes.
What matters is whether you’re stepping or dancing.
我們組先在狩獵時，獵物也不會等著讓我們補水。在街上打架時，對手也不會讓我們補水。我們祖先一定是在又缺卡路里，又缺水的狀態能做出激烈運動。如Nassim Nicholas Taleb 說的，這種刺激我們不只可以忍住，而可能是不可缼的。要不然，我們的身体會衰弱。有幾會，不如做做看，找一找自己身体的限界。