– – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei
One of the things that I’m always belaboring is the idea of “move slow”.
One of the reasons I want you to move slow is to make sure that you’re co-ordinating your body correctly. The other is that you have control of your speed – I know at first that doesn’t seem as obvious… But I’m trying to make sure that you have the ability to control your speed in time and space.
So. Often, people move quickly thinking that, well, the real thing will happen really fast. Which may have some truth to it. But I would say that if you’re pretty perceptive, you won’t put yourself in that particular situation often. But then, if you think about driving, perhaps, and it’s snowy and icy and then just right in front of you it all of a sudden starts to develop into that thing we all know…
Now, being able to move into shikaku quickly could be called fast. A person thinks to strike, and in their activation they activate their ki and their body’s committed to moving – and ‘phwwt’, like the speed of light, you’re in the correct position.
So that seems good. Which it is.
However, if you do that when you’re trying to practise, and they’re supposed to grab your hand: they can’t grab it. Or: they’ve already taken hold of it, and if you move like that, they’ll fly loose… there’s no musubi there. So your speed can be a detriment to musubi.
So you’re going to have to work up to it.
So I really get big on when you’re learning – just as when you’re doing the jo kata – follow exactly the person leading. I don’t care if they’re doing the form with every little nuance… I don’t care, because you’re getting the benefit of learning how to stay exactly with it.
Staying with it.
This is how you work in a river. When you’re moving the way the river’s moving, at the speed of the river, you can then begin to change the rules. By tapping into what’s true and real, you can find all the other levels, which apparently, from the outside, look like they are violating physics, but they are not: they are different points of movement and reference and study.
So, moving really quick, and wrastling around, which people end up doing when they speed up their training… they forget everything and go faster and faster and faster… they’re not really getting better, martially. In fact, they’re getting where they’ll probably get clocked, because they’re depending on making the first blow. But then their psychology is: “you’re letting someone else start the fight, create the timing, blah blah blah blah blah… and now you’re going to move really fast to get out of the mess you made!”
If we’re studying and we make some kind of tori where they’re grabbing, they need to be able to get hold of you. But you need to pick how that happens. So, as their hand’s closing, you’re rolling into their grip, you’re touching them more than they’re touching you… And so it needs to be affirming. Even if you move very quickly, it needs to be with an affirming quality.
Now, having said all that, evasion requires two kinds of movement: complete control of your speed – so maybe “very, very fast and out the door” is good idea – sometimes it is… However, in aiki, you’re utilizing their intentions and movement. So you have to let those ripen, often… To where the engagement is fully there. And then when you move, they have to change. And so you change their ki and you change their posture, by being perfectly in time with that aspect.
So going too fast would break that.
This is rather like holding a spider-web: did you ever catch one and hold one and play with it?
You can do it.
But there’s a certain kind of perception required. Your relationship to it needs to be a certain way.
So all these things about fast and slow come into getting a sense of knowing exactly where you are, attuning your movement to the phenomena, and learning how to play within those possibilities.
Because there’s lots of possibilities.
We think about hibiki – making echoes – and the Mountain-Echo kind of technique…and all that…
That one: I like the idea that you’re depending on them getting true committedness, a lot.
And as they do, and as they start to surge forward, you go right past them. You do the unexpected, and they have to shift their hips, if they’re capable of that. And when they shift their hips, you’re entering behind them. And they’re in the air. Because they’re crossing their ki.
“Don’t cross the streams!”
But they do.
And as you begin to play with this stuff, and study it, you begin to understand that the ability to truly move your body at the speed that you’re choosing is essential to studying all these kind of energies.
And fast can be good, but is not an answer.
Sometimes fast is perfect, like I say: when you study, it’s like: “as fierce as a winter storm, as gentle as the spring rain…” the appropriate response.
It’s a real-time response.
It’s not like it’s ever “okay!!! This is the time for Hail-storm!!!! Ratta-ratta… Hailstorm!”
It’s really feeling the wind of their movement, feeling the nature of their speed….
In order for them to get a good purchase that you can really enter into, you have to move your arm in a way that’s easy to get hold of.
So if you put it in the vision-crossing place, their head will come back as they try to get hold of it. Perhaps that’s what you want them to do. And we’ve been working a lot on that. On the other hand, isn’t it just as likely that I might want their head to come forward. To draw their ki, to lead their ki in this way. The other is more of a mountain-echo. You place your hand there, their head comes back, they get their vision back and then they surge forward, and then you go behind them. So it’s like “wao-o-o-o-o-oh”…
We’ve all had that experience. It’s like playing with Shoki. It’s just a complete education. He is genetically built to do that. He is a cow-dog, and a wild animal, and he is so good at that stuff. His dodge and weave and slipperiness: that dog will run right at you, lay on his side, and slide past you and then stand up… Where did he learn that trick? His DNA has that trick.
And so you can’t catch him. He’s slippery. He’s slick-haired and slippery.
But you can catch him by doing hibiki…
And then he looks at you “O-o-o-o-o-h-h-h-h-h-h… game over…”
So… we’re going to play with some fast-slow…