Sunday, 7 April 2013

Cakes and baking dishes - Monday 8 April 2013

'There is no such thing as freedom just like that. It is an aim to become free. Freedom is often referred to as being free of something. But that kind of freedom, to be free, for example, of a duty, or a person, is not real freedom. So what is? - That is an important question. It certainly is nothing you get just like that. There is no easy-going freedom. I think, in order to become free, you have to restrict yourself at first to a very unfree form. By practicing within that form you will learn to be free. Step by step. You practice within a restriction. But in the course of the repetitions within that restriction - it may happen that the restriction rids you off itself and then the whole practice suddenly becomes egoless, light - and free. Practicing a form thoroughly will, at some point, rid you off the form. To reach that stage in practice means to have acquired freedom - but within a form.'
Although the documentary never made it to the light of day and I'm not sure how likely it is that it ever will, even just the trailer that has been made available on the internet is so good I keep watching it over and over again. Part of it is definitely a personal nostalgia that comes from recognising places and people in the video (some of you might also recognise Max Eriksson Sensei who has visited us here in NZ before) and in addition to that the anticipation of going back to Europe for my yearly visit again where I will practice with my old Shihan's, Sensei's, Sempai's and friends again very soon. The other part however is very clearly Endo Shihan's thoughtful quote.

The topic of freedom and form, or technique and 'freedom of it' is one that is often debated in the martial arts in general. Those who have trained in one of our Dojos, either at regular sessions or at a seminar, know that we very much try to explore this issue from many different angles in our classes, for example like in our last KSR Seminar in Helensville. I believe that what we explored there was not too far from the perspective that Endo Shihan takes or suggests here (although far from his expertise) and that certainly motivates me to keep practicing - that is, the idea that it is not the freedom of form that is at stake, but freedom of the ego/self that does it. I think that this quote is one of the most brilliant and succinct statements on the topic and might be a good one to read for beginners and advanced people alike who sometimes struggle with the seeming rigidity of Kata training in Aikido and maybe even more so in Kashima-no-Tachi

There is much to say, think and practice in regards to this topic, but since I have been a little sick in the last couple of days I will just leave it there for the moment and keep taking it with me to the next class tonight. In our Dojos I think I can say we quite like to fluidly move back and forth between rigid kata training and various forms of open ('free'?) sparring-type explorations. No claim to have answers, just further clarity about open questions as we progress. Being sick did bring some advantages with it and so I finally had the time to watch this great video by Mitsugi Saotome Shihan in which he explains his conceptions of 'oyo henka waza' training. Not saying that you should get sick to watch it, but if you do have a spare hour, I will leave it to you to find out how it relates to what I have been going on about here..
Enjoy the training and keep asking questions! Oh, and sorry for the title, I've just been craving cake today but couldn't have any..
Ka kite,