zondag 30 november 2014

A time of crisis in the practice of Aikido

When practiced seriously and correctly, true Budo is bound to bring the practitioner to a point of confusion, despair and a time of crisis. This is part of genuine growth.  It feels like ones knowledge and experience counts for nothing anymore. One doubts everything and everyone. In reality one is at the brink of a much deeper understanding – it is at a moment of such a crisis that one needs the support of a sensei more than ever. And by sensei I do not mean an instructor in techniques or tactics, or a well-known exponent of the art whom one idolises,  but someone that has committed his life to Budo, practiced daily and went through the same agonies of confusion and despair to get to that ultimate core of deeper knowledge.

On the other hand the confusion may also come from looking at different styles of the same Budo, or different interpretations of one particular style. Which is like comparing notes with fellow students after a lecture or asking the opinion of colleagues, who do not have more knowledge on the subject then oneself. 
In modern society we value the latter and we question the former. We doubt the experienced and knowledgeable people. We do not trust the master-craftsman. We no longer seek guidance by a mentor.  We think we can, given time, figure it out all by ourselves. This is an illusion. At best one manages to form an opinion and the weight of that opinion is just as much as everyone else’s opinion.  We justify our own opinion by referring to ourselves; it is my opinion, it is how I do it, it is my practice, my style or best of all; it is my Way.  But it is of course nothing but a dogma. In the end it will lead to nothing but more opinions. And about opinions one can argue and most people do.
Although we may find it hard to accept, there is a truth in the practice of Aikido that seems hidden and maybe even obscure to some. It is through dedication, practice, study, reflection and meditation that one over time will start to see a glimpse of the truth. Teaching the theory of the truth will not help. A sensei can at most hint at the right direction.  On needs to experience and realise it by oneself.  

Aikido founder Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei  

Tom Verhoeven
Auvergne   Autumn 2014

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