“Sense”

In Japanese, there is a phrase, センスがある, translating to, “That person has (or doesn’t have) sense”. Basically it is the use of the word, “sense”, to mean good sensibility/intuition. For example, if a person is always choosing awful outfits to wear – and  feels that those choices are perfectly fine – we say that that person has “no sense” or “bad sense”. If a person is standing too close to something dangerous – and they don’t think it’s very remarkable, even when it’s pointed out – we say they “have no sense”. It’s something of a judgmentally used phrase.

The question here is, is “sense” something you’re born with and doesn’t change? or can it become better or worse? Most Japanese people seem to think that it is simply a part of your character that doesn’t change. Another thing to consider is, the proportion of people doing aikido “with no sense” will always be the majority – but is it growing?

1. The major evident tendency we can see in aikido is people who do this martial art that is supposedly about connection and merging, yet have no awareness of when/how that connection is present or not, not to mention how its in-the-moment characteristic or quality is. 2. Another tendency is about the experience and interpretation of power. Many people do not distinguish between the type of effect, or power, that is due to technique and the kind that is due to force, speed, and “muscle power”. 3. Finally, yet another tendency is about safety, security, and weakness/openings. Many people simply have no accurate (i.e., congruent with reality) or functional/adaptive grasp of these things. So they feel in danger when it is safe, and feel safe when it is dangerous. When they feel in danger, they don’t take action to establish safety that is rooted in their martial arts training – their action is more rooted in a normal, layperson’s reaction.

Another way to look at the latter question of whether the number of people with “no sense” is increasing is, perhaps everyone looks like they have “no sense” in the beginning. Perhaps the process of good practice reveals those people with “good sense”. So, perhaps what’s happening is that, there is less good practice happening, leaving people with “good sense” buried, asleep.

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