“Out of all the Aikido books, one thing is always consistent. What’s the first thing they say? ‘Fill your body with ki.’” This was said by one of the senior people in our dojo last night when we were working on our black belt material. We were just doing the most basic Aikido technique, tai no henko, with only that principle in mind. Another simple, yet profound, Aiki principle that has direct application off the mat. Allow me to explain.
‘Fill your body with ki.’ This does not mean ‘muscular tension’. ‘Tension’ means ‘stiff’, and stiffness is death. We don’t want that.
It also doesn’t mean ‘lax’. Lax is pretty close to dead as well.
Extending ki throughout the body should be a one-step move, but could take a lifetime to really understand and master.
‘Ki’ can also equate to ‘life’. Maybe the more direct english translation of the above principle would be, ‘Feel the life force throughout your body.’ I think we’d be close here.
Aliveness. Able to move in any direction. Not limp. Not tight. ALIVE!
Put life into every teeny tiny square micron of your body. In Aikido, when grabbed really hard (when someone who knows what they’re doing grabs your wrist, you can’t move. At all.) we extend the fingers and feel relaxed energy course through our veins exuding out from our center.
Try it. Have a friend grab your wrist.
Purposefully do it wrong at first. Tighten up. Clench your fist and feel the muscles in your arm and wrist contract. Makes it hard to move, right?
Okay, now, just let your arm go limp like a noodle. Yeah. Not effective. You can be moved anywhere now.
Now do it right. Open up the hand and extend the fingers. Put LIFE into your WHOLE BODY. Don’t just focus on the spot where you’re being grabbed. Open up the other hand and extend the fingers of it, too. Feel the ground. Relax, but extend life throughout everything.
Holy shit, you’ve done it! You’re ALIVE! Your friend’s little measly grip means nothing now! You have the freedom to move wherever you want! That’s Aikido.
As always, such as in life. Finding that middle ground is tough. Think of this principle with relationships. If you’re too firm and unwavering with people, if you’re too set in a certain direction, you may be strong in that one direction, but if pressure is applied in another, unexpected direction, you’re done for.
Same thing if you just let yourself get pushed around by people. If you just go where the wind blows, you will be at the mercy of other people’s bullshit. Put life into your… life. Be able to move in any direction at any time. Relaxed energy is the key here. You should have full control over yourself while not inflicting your will on others, but also not just being a pushover. Extend ki. Go.
Thanks to marius.zierold for the image!