The expressed sincerity is very wonderful, thank you, and in response I’d like to address this “look like a duck”, comment, because I have seen ducks chase off and harm a variety of animals, insects, and humans alike, and in that moment, it passes quickly, I aim to defend the majesty of nature in all its glory. Enter the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt.
At some point in the US Army, for some soldiers, the nuance between military contexts of “field expediency”, “mission”, “field exercise”, “deployment”, “transportation”, “mission readiness”, “drill and ceremony”, “training”, “advanced individual training”, “basic training”, “processing”, “delayed entry”, “recruitment”, and “public relations” are studied. Of course I leave out research and development, for that is the very premise of this writing to you today, more on the development side as a result of research.
When reflecting on the military contexts above, it is realized that there is agility in the ability to move between these states dynamic, and appropriate to context and the realities of supply and demand. Now what exactly is supplied and demanded is for a different discussion, though just as meaningful.
Soldiers are brought through these stages and move about much like water in an ocean across the firmament of esprit de corps, which is the resolve upon which an oath taken, rests. In the US Army the oath is to a charter between a people, to support and defend this charter from all enemies foreign and domestic. Nowhere did the oath mention supporting and defending any matter of people, borders, lands, businesses, economics, religions, trades, stock markets, political groups, or any matter of herd, etc. etc. etc. (a momentary voice of Telly Savalas in King and I). Now why is that? What could possess a people to draft a charter between a people and draft an oath only in the charter’s defense? Because it is the charter that assures a peace between the diversity of these very divisions, via unity brought by the very charter itself. How very Aiki.
Now all that might seem unrelated, yet it is, and very much so. For what is a failure of mission readiness for one, may be the success of field expediency for another. The quick retreat may leave the camouflage, and drive the vehicles back to a base support area; this is reality. Yes mission readiness is lovely, I realize that, but as demonstrated in the film Ben Hur, at some point if you want to create conditions to bring aikido into the world out of the dojo, you need to swallow the pride of drill and ceremony, of mission readiness, and invite reasonably safe field exercise right in the dojo. Allow flexibility by the unity aforementioned. What is unity other than Aiki? What is unity other than inclusivity? What is the contract of peace between a people without the referee of hypothetical experimentation and analysis such is this?
Now when the student’s amygdala loop is engaged, the work of masagatsu agatsu begins, the co-contractive movement that builds muscle and strength wanes and gives way to feed forward movement that favors fast twitch and follows through by slow twitch; Bending the Reeds to Drive the Anvils.
It is in the field that stresses of environmental demands are seen directly, unabashedly, and there is no time for preconceptive backseat jargonizing. I am here to tell you that the amygdala is the fastest, strongest, and most fierce opponent in town, and it has ten thousand arms; it can stop its entire momentum on a dime and high side even the most skilled riders. In the hard braking across a narrow gap, like electronic modulation, it snaps off perceptive cognitions like smoke billowing from a fire. Cognitive smoke, these percepts and concepts, lagging indicators these are called in analytical sciences, whipping about like the tails, passing quickly, on proverbial oxen.
Anger rising quickly, fiercely, flashing away in undoing behavior. Oh to save the skin from becoming so soon a tanned hide! The rear knee is ready, in halting the fits and throws of sensory perception under proliferous and distractive cognition that another sword is coming to cut at the temple and that it will strike true in a split second. Glory, cognition is shunted, the news announcer’s kit is unplugged, the ox tail grasped — feed forward movement comes to the rescue, all neurotransmitters are unified to one movement, the block and tackle snaps, the sinews pull, an entire inertial frame of space and time collapse.
The field expedient solution is perceived as retreat; one may misconceive anxiety for what is truly excitement. The retreat draws the enemy, then the knee, emboldened by contrasting states is straightened, pow, the bow is loosened, the arrow shot — surprise!!! The Icarian Sun blasts through the clouds of perceptions of “wrong form”, blinding the enemy’s five eyes — preconceptions charred by a limitless corona of formless creativity.
“Where did that come from?!?!?” echoes in perception, falling down to the earth shaken. The solar asp has struck. Anger and undoing behavior crumbles, the ox now caught by the tail, nowhere to go, the neurotransmitters depleted, the struggle completed, it is now tamed — for now, and the sun above of tolerance and forebearance offers an olive branch beside sight of another arrow.
I would wager, and emphatically so, that if aikido would like to be a benefit to the world, it is time to brave the insecurities and embrace inclusivity across hierarchy, flattening the curve, as this benefit will only ever be in proportion to its ability to move cohorts through these similar stages as soldiers of war fostering camaraderie, yet as practitioners of peace fostering friendship. The movements are necessary in increasing challenge, and come with the demands addressing boredom. These movements are necessary in increasing skill, and come with demands addressing anxiety. Such is flow where the peaks of it are exactly katsu hayabi.
So while there are various units performing to specialization, various functions in militaries; so too are various units performing to specialization, various functions in aikido, and that extends to any and all art and science, for the truth of primes extends to any and all form. Yet of all these units and schools, members and students, disciples alike, it is wisdom that is formless, that champion of agility, and champion of Aiki, for it is what loosens love inclusive of the entirety of experience and the world, and in so doing is joyous of the accomplishments of love, and compassion, and remains in tranquility knowing the work of abolishing self view, that view that is the center about which a top spinning, is bound.
So walk like a duck if you wish… my only question is, did the volleying to the duck, arms bulging and strong with the shotgun, upon vision of true peace, turn his arms, to the ground? Then and there only wisdom knows, if the wisdom of aiki, is profound. Do look out, it is not other!
Good luck, quack quack.
Roy Æ Hodges
Sent from Another Saotome Sensei Deshi