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Ikkyo as emptiness, emptiness as ikkyo

February 15, 2016

Cold February morning

Frost sparkling on the street

Lone bird in a bare tree

Beautiful birdsong warms my heart

 

 

So Monday at Aikido, we were once again looking at the immobilisation section of the 3rd Kyu grade syllabus, and we began to work our way through Ikkyo and Nikkyo, a few weeks ago we covered these same techniques, and Sensei has made the point of starting each immobilisation with the ‘feeling’ as if going for Ikkyo, and then seeing the technique present itself, by fitting the body movement.

One of the key points is not committing to Ikkyo (or nikkyo, sankyo…etc)  but simply performing the movement and then seeing the technique and moving into the technique from there.

 

In a similar vein at Zen , last night we started reading through Bernie Glassman ‘Tetsugan Roshi’ the infinite circle – the section on the heart sutra (which we chant every week)  which deals with the Buddhist notion of Shunyata or emptiness.

 

‘form is exactly emptiness, emptiness is exactly form’ –The Heart Sutra

 

This emptiness isn’t the nihilistic nothingness, in fact it’s quite the opposite the emptiness of shunyata is in fact an emptiness with the capacity to encompass everything and anything, the only usable value of the cup, is the fact that its empty and can be filled.

 

So in looking at Ikkyo with this sense of emptiness, we can see that it too can have the emptiness of shuyata, or maybe a better term would be ‘openness or vastness’.

 

We need to see that Ikkyo doesn’t have to be ‘the fixed ikkyo’ that the student grapples with, if the technique isn’t there (either through error on the part of tori or uke) then we need to have the openness to see what is there…

 

One of the things that I was pulled up on week after week, when I made the transition between Aikikai and ki Aikido, was being too committed to a single technique, leaving no room for ‘henka waza’ the ability to change to another technique , this is still something I’m struggling with especially when turning tenkan or irimi tekan (tenkan 1&2) I was (and still are) turning with the single intent of performing a tenkan or irimi tenkan, without having the openness (or emptiness) to move in conjunction with the movement and timing of uke.

 

This journey is a marathon not a sprint so a little week by week…

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