038) Hara, Koshi & the “Mind’s Eye” Unified in Aikido: Week of June 7, 2009
I am reflecting on where the focus of my own personal training has been for the last two years. In trying to advance my own level ofAikido and trying to become a better instructor, I find that making progress is truly a function of developing even better “basics.” I am not talking about Kihon Waza, because that is not basic enough. I am always going back to how I stand and how I move as a means of developing the “Aiki” in my Aikido.
I am in the process of beginning to understand the importance of a “triangle”/trinity that is necessary in developing the awareness of and use of “Aiki.” This trinity is the unification of the hara, koshi and “mind’s eye.” The hara and koshi refer to the belly and hip. When properly aligned, good posture (shisei) is established. At a most basic level, the relevance of good posture does not really need that much explanation. Adding the “mind’s eye” or the focus of one’s attention completes this trinity.
When we focus our attention to the center of an attacker and we can feel our hara is properly settled (energy has not risen to our shoulders, neck, head…..) it simply feels like we have a flood light of awareness and connection between us and our attacker. When we properly align ourkoshi by tucking our tailbone in, something very interesting happens. This “light” of awareness and connection becomes highly focused in a manner that can actually feel like an increase in pressure in the space between us and the attacker.
Try and focus your attention on the uke while letting your center rise (eg. tension in shoulders). Try and focus your attention on an opponent with a settled center. Is there a difference in the subjective experience of thenage and uke? Keep a settled center and tuck your tailbone in without focusing your intention into the center of the uke and then focus your intention into the center of the uke. Is there any subjective changes in the nage’s and uke’s experience? Play with these combinations and see what, if any impact and/or changes occur in the subjective experiences of both parties.
My own experience is that when I have all three of these components unified, the uke can subjectively feel my presence in the center in a manner that makes a powerful connection -> “Aiki”. This condition seems to create the “effortless” technique. When that happens, you seem to question whether or not the uke took a “dive” for you, while the uke is trying to figure what actually happened.
I am off to Japan on Wednesday for a weekend of training and will be back teaching the following Tuesday. Yes, I know that I am crazy (heck, I am a psychologist after all, diagnosing myself is the easy part). That should give you some time to play with this “trinity” while enjoying your learning experiences from Bruce MaySensei and Mayda Abrams Sensei.
Marc Abrams Sensei