Time just slips away, and there you are. Actually, here we are: me, Bill, Carmen and Martine, after our first class in our new dojo space in Petaluma.
Our new space is all wood, old, with windows and mirrors. Basically, it's a perfect dojo space.
When we're not there it's a dance studio.
We've been working on the stuff for Martine's 5th Kyu test, and tonight we focused on a few techniques involving punches, munetsuki; and shoulder grabs, kata dori.
The major focus has been to pay enough attention to your attacker's body to be able to find its center and connect with it with your whole body. This isn't metaphysics; its physics. You have to find your own center, then using leverage, extension, and ki to reach into the attacker's body and locate its center. Once you connect with the attacker's center you can know their body and find the path for movement with them through the technique. This way you do not force them somewhere they do not want to go, you guide them somewhere irresistible, somewhere their body wants to go. All because you paid enough attention to them.
What is so difficult about this, it seems so simple and easy. Yet we go so fast and do not take the time to envelop the attackers body with our mind, to understand them, what they care about, where their center is, where they want to go.
It's a discipline, slowing down your mind and expanding awareness to include the other, knowing their body and moving harmoniously with them to a safe resolution. It is also in the context of applying a martial art.
It is this discipline that will be the foremost aspiration in our new dojo. The fact that we are exploring it in the practice of Aikido is only incidental. We could be applying it while driving on the freeway, or in line at the ATM, or when someone doesn't agree with us.
As I've said here before, Aikido practice doesn't necessarily make you better at managing conflict off the mat. But the practice of including the other, and taking time to feel where their energy is, is something that can help us improve both our Aikido and our effectiveness in the everyday jostle.