I recently taught a lesson and got some blank stares back. I think I confused everyone and having thought about it, I likely began to sound like the stories I've heard about O'Sensei talking so far over everyone's heads that they thought that he was either crazy or on too much sake.
When I was a kid (which century was that now?) I was a block head. Details are unimportant but for the most part I was the normal? teenager/young adult who, into themselves and their university major (lunch, beer after class and messing around ... I had a triple major you see) failed to see many things that mature adults see; such as how relationships at work impact the family, relationships with friends impact how strangers view us .... etc. I think you hopefully see what I'm alluding to here. Everything is connected to everything else whether we realize it or understand it ... or not.
Then I found ... Aikido and the martial arts and a whole bunch of new people to hang out with who were into more interesting things than I can shake an obi at. I found myself training with ex-street fighters, DEA agents and CIA spooks, police, preachers, ministers and men of the cloth, Zennists, Buddhists (and Zen Buddhists too even tho' the two do not necessarily go together most of the time). I met ranchers, cooks, truck drivers, shrinks, sports coaches, professional football players, members of ballet companies, vegetarians and rabid raw meat eaters and aficionados and collectors of both oil paintings and porn. The players around me read Sartre, Dante, Descarte and the darma along with the Karma Sutra, the writings of the Dalai Lama, texts on anti-social grooming behavior and comic books. People had backgrounds in karate, tae kwon do, judo, jujitsu, kendo, boxing, tai chi. And I discovered all of this just on Monday. I won't get into what I discovered on Tuesday or the rest of the week.
I mean to tell ya' ... this group was broad and extremely diverse in its scope of interests and activities and the one thing that they had in common (more than one actually) was Aikido/Judo/Jodo and MA in general combined with a fierce desire to find personal improvement in body, mind and spirit. As an example; until I was into Aikido and martial arts I had ... never had Chinese food, never had sushi, had never had sake.
The most valuable thing I learned in all of this burgoo of things and people so different and so interesting (when compared to where and whence I had come) was that everything was/is related to everything else. One philosophy, while very different in application, was also similar to others in its intent and end goal. Karate principles can be so different from Aikido but so similar. The education in so many differing ideas was deep and broad and what I didn't learn from the other players, I learned on my own after developing an interest in what others spoke of or did.
So my point here is that being raised to be fairly dogmatic and pedantic in my views of life, the universe and all that, and then being dipped in Aikido batter and thrown in the hot grease was both a shock and an amazing eye-opener and a view into the concept of how everything relates to everything (else).
The lesson here is;
- every fundamental principle has a clear relationship to every other fundamental principle,
- every fundamental principle has a clear relationship to every waza,
- every waza has a clear relationship to every other waza,
- ever waza has a clear relationship to every kata and thematic study,
- every kata and thematic study (of ryote-mochi for ex.) has a clear relationship to randori,
- randori has a clear relationship to the uke,
- the uke has a relationship to the tori and how each views the relationship (trust in each other to be an ethical player),
- the relationship between tori and uke on the mat has a clear relationship to how the player views his relationship to others outside the dojo
If we train with our uke then the trust developed in that tori/uke relationship will, over time, better enable us to understand the character and personality of someone we trust enough to give our elbows (and general health) to on a nightly basis. As we train with that person and understand the dynamics of the relationship we learn to translate the lesson(s) on the mat (with our uke) to the world outside the dojo. Thus, learning to work on the mat teaches us to work in the outside world.
Not to sound too very much like Mushashi; the most fundamental principle underlying Aikido is intimately related to our relationships with people outside the dojo including family, friends, co-workers and strangers. You must explore and understand this.
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho, Aikibudokan