Tradition, Ignorance, and (Inadvertent) Obfuscation

There has been some “pieces falling into place” in my brain recently, and I thought about why these things had to fall in place now and not earlier. There are various specific details and rationales that I am discovering underlie a lot of the things we in the aikido world do traditionally. Some of these things require a developed, or refined, sense, so that explaining or focusing on them excessively earlier would not necessarily have fit. For example, the idea that physical timing is not the ultimate element of technique/irimi would have been beyond me until I was able to embody some degree of facility with physical timing and positioning, as well as knowing and using my mind. On the other hand there are some things that could have fit.

From several unrelated sources I’ve learned about fundamental use/organization of the body e.g., which muscles to tense, posture, etc. This has illuminated the point of various exercises we do in aikido, such as ikkyo undo, funakogi undo, pausing after turning when practicing tenkan, and in fact all of the basic forms. Of course I wonder how it would have altered the course of my aikido career if certain points had been given to me earlier. And currently I think to myself, would I necessarily transmit these ideas when I teach newer people, especially considering the relative flood of information already coming at them. Perhaps this leads to my current inclination to organize concepts into some sort of curriculum.

And I note I’m not feeling bitter or condescending toward the greater aikido world which may be continuing to do ikkyo undo, etc. without certain easily illuminate-able points. I’m thankful for further development of a constructive, not destructive (de-constructive?), critical eye with which to view tradition and the conveyers of the same. Correspondingly I am more aware of the zealousness with which people (students) are attached to and advocates of tradition and their teachers, despite contradictions and non-nurturing, non-flourishing patterns of interaction.

I suppose the moral of the story is a) it comes back to the important thing being the process i.e., learning, exploring, inquiring, acquiring, realizing, etc. more than the skills, data, info themselves; and b) be(a)ware (be mindful) in relationships, whether it is in person or, through tradition, with someone you’ve never met.


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