The Forgotten Lesson of Adulthood
Updated: Jan 23
When we become fathers or mothers, we have the chance to realise how much we could learn from the experience of being a parent. We could learn a lot from our kids if we listen and watch how they see the world. It is possible to find it right that our most excellent teachers are our youth. We do not pay enough attention to the lessons they are teaching us. The first thing I noticed is how they learn to walk. They do that by themselves, just by watching what everybody else does around them. We, the parents, do not try to keep stopping them: "Stop! Do not make that step". We do not try to make their learning more complicated: "I am going to push you over every time you try to step so you have to find your balance; otherwise you will fall". No, we do not do that. However, when we come to work with adults or young adults, suddenly we forget all that. We are becoming those hard people. We want to push our fellow over to teach him/her a lesson. We want to stop them "Do not do that". We grab them as hard as we can, using all our strength. We will not move except when we must. We forget that learning comes from experience. If we keep stopping the technique, then we keep stopping the experience. Mistakes are essential to our practice, so we should let our partner make mistakes.
Just like a toddler trying to make his/her first step. They need to fall to be able to get better. It is up to every individual to be mindful of their level. Do not get too cocky just because our partner let us do a technique. Feel the centre of our partner (相手の中心を感じる). We need to be completely relaxed to be able to feel their centre. Drop the power of our shoulder, use the control of the elbow instead, connect our centre to our partner's centre.
Keep the movements natural. Natural changes will help us to understand the experience we are having. Aikido - and might as well any other skill - should be practised in this way, by gaining experience. When we feel hungry, we do not just read a cookery book or talk about food to ease our hunger, but we need to eat the food. The same thing is right to learn a set of skills. We can read hundreds of books about aikido, but if we never step on the tatami mats, we will never be able to learn whichever techniques. Better to guide our partner to let their body experience the technique. We can guide our partner to show him/her where they should keep their hand, where they should move, which way to turn. If we let our partner do the technique and we guide them where they should be, then their body will learn the technique and our body will absorb it too.
Being uke and being tori are the same thing - two sides of the same coin, the yin and yang, the front and back. There is no difference. They are inseparable, walking hand in hand. If one gains, then the other will increase. If one loses, then the other will lose. Just like we give a helping hand to our children and let them experience the trials of learning to walk we should provide a helping hand to our partner and make him/her experience the practice of aikido - softness instead of hardness.
Please feel free to comment below. I am still learning like everybody else, so; I would appreciate other people's opinion. Nevertheless, please bear in mind that this approach to aikido is not about cage fighting or street fighting. I do not claim that this is the truth about aikido. This view of aikido is just a point of view that I enjoy. Enjoy practice aikido together.