033) Aikido and Fudoshin: Week of April 19, 2009

We have spent some time focusing in on how to efficiently and effectively utilize our bodies in the execution of our Aikido techniques.  I would like to shift the focus this week to the importance of our mind in Aikido.  I am not talking about the conscious calculation and interpretation of physical events.  When it comes to fighting, if you have to think about what to do, it is simply too late.  I am referring to an optimal state of mind in allowing ourselves to move efficiently and effectively.  This state of mind is referred to as “Fudoshin.”  I like one of the definitions provided  by Wikipedia, which describes “Fudoshin” as “a spirit of unshakable calm and determination.”

One of the realizations that people have made over the last couple of weeks in that despite observing and experiencing how our bodies move naturally, as soon as we experience the force of an attack, we do not allow our bodies to operate as they were doing without the force of the attack.  When our bodies can operate in this relaxed, yet energized and focused manner, it is quite clear that we are operating from a place of “Fudoshin.”  This is a VERY difficult place to reach and maintain, particularly when we are being attacked.  When we practice with our eyes closed and our bodies move smoothly, we can feel how we are operating in an efficient and effective manner.  We need to develop the ability to do so while maintaining our focus on the attacker in a state of “Fudoshin.”  This is most important when executing the most effective response to an attack, which is to enter into the attack without clashing with the attack.  The calm, immovable spirit that guides us through this movement keeps us safe.

We need to develop “Fudoshin” in a quiet place and learn to maintain this state of mind amidst the “noise” of an attack.  People know how I emphasize the importance of executing a technique slowly and then increase the speed of the attack and technique to the edge of failure.  This is a process of allowing our mind and bodies to operate in a unified manner from a place of “Fudoshin.”  I will seek to push your comfort zones this week in order to help you develop and strengthen your “Fudoshin.”  To me, being in this place is like being in the eye of a storm.  Things seem to happen slower and the connection feels powerful throughout.  I wish that I can hold onto this place myself all of the time.  I too am a student, and this is a path that I am pursuing to better myself through budo.  Hopefully all of us will end up a little bit further down this important path by the end of this week.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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