Last Night we were working on an exercise with a Yokoman (side strike to the head). And as the swing came in you were supposed to not step back but step to the side along the direction of the strike but somehow shift back at the right time to avoid the actual head strike, and THEN be in position to apply any number of techniques. ...Or something like that.
ANYWAY, after class I was talking with Sensei and telling him something to the effect that I could not do all those things whenever just a practice slow strike is come to my head. Immediately he said..
“It's not about you, it's about him (uke).”
He went on to elaborate that in Aikido it is about seeing and feeling what the motion is and getting in sync with that and only then apply some technique. You see the invisible line of an attack and you match the speed and direction. Otherwise it is a conflict that ends in violent confrontation.
But the phrase “It's not about you!” is what stuck in my head. There is a famous story about the founder of Aikido, who after and intense workout had an overpowering revelation that in a battle there was no opponent
I found this quote
Opponents confront us continually, but actually there is no opponent there.
And this reminded of way back when I heard a Zen talk and the teacher kept emphasizing that while we all have different lives, experiences, likes, dislikes, etc...Actually we are all connected, so connected that even though there are all these differences we are all one, and one not just with each other but with birds, dogs, chairs,rocks, all of it.Although I sometimes got a sense of that I never broke through to really experience what he was talking about.
BUT, it does seem to apply to Aikido, in that it is NOT about me learning and applying some technique and being a martial arts bad-ass. It is really about giving up yourself and being part of whatever the event that is happening and simply doing the most natural thing. You have to let go of your ego and not be locked seeing things from your perspective, and maybe not even from the attacker. Simply see the lines and direction of the moment and respond naturally.