From agasan’s blog, “Not a matter of course” (05.22.07)

On another note, Kuroiwa sensei never uses the word, “ki” when instructing. I asked him, once, why. He gave the following answer:

“The reason a person pursuing Buddhist training does zazen is because they aren’t enlightened at the moment, right? They aren’t enlightened now but they would like to be. If you tell them, when they’re just starting out in zazen, to be enlightened, that’s unreasonable. No teacher would demand that of their students. In aikido, you hear new people being told, ‘extend/put out your ki’. If all they needed was to be told to do it, they would never need to come to practice.”

Of course. But if one continues to go to practice, will they become able to extend/put out ki? Sensei answered,

“Ki is not something you take out and put back in. Ki is something that manifests spontaneously depending on the degree of one’s training. If you practice for one year, then you will have one year’s ki. Ten years, ten year’s ki.”

The above post caught my attention not only because it was so common-sense, it reminded me of something I read in a comic book when I was in high school that was surprisingly piercing at the time. A character said something about courage not being true courage if it was something you could exhibit or withdraw depending on your convenience. I’m sure such a truth resonated to my teen ears. And so one of the things that stands out to me these days is how so many people still have trouble with the nage/uke role play arrangement in aikido keiko, and how responding and interacting is regarded as resistance and “being difficult/providing resistance” is perceived as “providing something to work with”.

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