What’s dancing got to do with Aikido I hear you say? well, it all started way back in late 1996 when my journey into aikido started. I remember getting bitten by the Aiki bug and the rush of infection rampaged through every sinew of my being, which was all except my feet. They somehow became detached from my body and seem to start to be uncontrollable. This happening was evident, so much so that the simplest of movements by the right or left foot became very hard to achieve in the order or sequence to do the technique.
– Now we all go through phases of learning and we all learn in many different ways. I would assess myself to be an experiential learner, that is someone who learns better by experience or doing. In many respects, all martial arts are studied this way, having the different techniques demonstrated by a Sensei (Teacher) and then practiced in a class or group environment (training session or practice).
I vividly remember the confusion I encountered learning some of the basic techniques. In actual fact, my Sensei actually marked on my feet R and L to get me to use the correct stance and posture as well as the correct order of shifting my feet during teaching techniques. This was treated with great humor within the class but it was not long before I soon got to find my feet again, pardon the pun!
Another fact started to dawn on me recently having returned to Aiki after some considerable time on the sidelines, again you can relate to dance. That is there are very few movements in Aikido that actually take a backward step. What I’m trying to say, you may move your body in a different plain or direction by not actually talking a pace back. You seem to be moving forward, avoiding, deflecting, or spinning otherwise leaving the conflicting force in your wake or blending and redirecting that force in a continuous flowing relaxed movement.
Once more how many dancers do you see who are using brute strength to dance or how many dancers do you see not seem to be relaxed and enjoying what they do? So yes, we who practice the art of aikido should all be good dancers or rather persevere with the footwork to master good posture and technique.
To conclude we all part of a large play, opera, act call it what you will. Life is that play and we will fall and pick ourselves up and continue, we will get our feet mixed upon certain steps and continue to learn. One thing that is certain we will all have the opportunity to dance whatever steps we please only good teaching and resolute practice will make the correct steps easy in our lives. I hope my dance with the art of Aikido will allow me to continue down the path of self-discovery and good practice.
Written by Trev Swanson 1st Dan CUA Aikido Union