127) Aiki in Aikido- What Does That Mean?: March 2015
The founder of Aikido talked about his art as being a vehicle to make our world a better place. He talked about this goal late in his life. Looking back at one’s life when there is not a lot of time left, people tend to want to look at how to leave a positive legacy when they pass on. O’Sensei’s later-in-life musing should not be confused with his clear understanding and explanation of aiki. The harmony that he was referring to with Aiki was with the dynamic equilibrium between In & Yo (yin-yang). Aiki should not be confused with Ai and Ki. Aiki was defined as the mystery that was created between the meeting place of two dual-opposing spirals in the body. This unique process maintains a unique type of dynamic equilibrium in the person’s body. It can be experienced by people making contact with you as either “stillness in movement” or “movement in stillness”.
When you are maintaining dynamic connections in your body and somebody pushes on some part of your body, the push should begin to result in some displacement of the incoming force. This experience is frequently referred to as movement in stillness. Even though you are still, the dynamic relationship between your muscles, tendons, bones and fascia create pathways of displacement for incoming force. The person pushing on your literally feels the displacement that results from the “mysteries of aiki.”
When you are moving with a person connected to you with contact, that person somehow moves with your movement without a sense of wanting to break the contact or change the nature of that contact. That experiences is frequently referred to as stillness in movement. The point of contact is experiencing “aiki” where the balanced, dynamic interplay between In & Yo creates an almost sticky feeling to the contact. The person feels a sense of stillness amidst the movement. That experience results from the “mysteries of aiki”.
The Aiki body is very difficult to create. It takes a lot of personal training under the guidance of teachers who can not only demonstrate this experience, but teach it in a manner that can be understood by those people who are willing to put a lot of time into trying to rework your body into moving differently than we normally do. I do not pretend to be that teacher. I am working hard to learn this path and share it openly with my students. Hopefully, we will continue to make great strides forward in creating this highly evolved, unique martial capacity. This process should also hopefully dovetail with O’Sensei’s message for us to use Aikido as a vehicle to make our world a saner and more peaceful place to live. I will be the first to admit that I did not genuinely understand the difference between these two different ideas and experiences for much of my time in Aikido. Now that I do understand the difference, I genuinely believe that both processes should be important, yet separate parts of our Aikido experience.
Marc Abrams Sensei