Today I was telling Marc, who knows nothing about Aikido, what it was like a few months ago in one tough lesson in bokken from one of my teachers in France. Sensei asked me to hit him with the bokken using a kesa movement. I could not. I tried several times and each time that I got close to his head which was protected from the strike, I contracted and there was absolutely no energy in the movement.
For some odd reason this image has been ghosting around my head today. It is odd how I approached this one. All I wanted to share with him was this feeling when being totally aware and mindful when practicing with someone that has the whole feel so intensely intimate. This in itself may not be difficult to imagine if the partner is an attractive member of the opposite sex. I have however appreciated this the most when the partner is either a woman who is neither good looking nor whom I particularly like, and to boot is not even very skilled in aikido, or some fellow whom I just do not like for some reason or other, or one of those machos that bring out the nasty in me. This is something that is totally amazing to me as what I feel is the love for the enemy and that enemy can be either my best friend or some jerk that I never care to drink a bier with. To move this same energetic connection to working with a bokken is however a bit of a challenge and somehow that is the image that I had today.
What process do I have to engage in order to project that kind of intentionality and connectedness onto the bokken? I wonder if this is even the right question.
But what almost killed me has been the interaction with this second novel of mine. Now I can barely wait to have it finished, and this has me more stunned than any event of the past few weeks. On the way back home from a long walk with Marc, an old phrase from the times that I was in the gymnastics team kept on wanting to pop back in my mind. It is something about an old gymnast. How does it go, a gymnast never dies, just fails to remount in five seconds. Anyhow this old expression reminded me of what is one vary valuable lesson that I have learned in Aikido. It has to do with maintaining attention, or what I understand to be the martial attitude.Last Friday’s training I got special attention on this very matter of maintaining attention when taking ukemi. If I even remember correctly that was also the tenor of Wednesday’s training as I do remember at one time Sensei calling out to me “watch your ukemi” and me snapping back into attention. My attention has been drifting lately and it was not just on the tatami. The tatami is just a very immediate mirror as to what is otherwise going on in my life. So when while taking ukemi and falling down absorbing and opposing the defence, I must maintain the attention and intentionality of the initial attack, and snap right back to my feet ready to attack again.
Somehow this inability to hit Sensei with the bokken when asked to do so is very interesting. I have wondered if that was because there may have been at the time some personal issue that was unresolved between him and I. I have been in similar learning situations and I usually get the curve and release whatever needs to be released, but that time it just was not happening. Since then we have resolved our personal issues and I am curious as to how our next teacher-student interaction will be, but then April is around the corner and that is in all likelihood when it is going to happen.
Right now this inability to release whatever was holding me back and strike with full attention rings in resonance with some of the words that Remo told me over the phone, I have been holding back. Strangely enough, I think it is time to both return to the Karate dojo and to finish that novel that just about has killed me.
What I find rather interesting right now is how very quickly I am bouncing back to attention after what to me was a rather rough tumble of both my ego and psyche. Today when I called Marc all that I said is that I need a friend now, and that I need him now not as a retribution of the few times that he has needed me, but because I simply need a friend. We had a coffee in his kitchen, and then went for a walk in town.