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Supporting One Another: 2018 EKF Intensive Seminar

posted Nov 27, 2018, 4:41 PM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Nov 27, 2018, 4:52 PM ]
Shokushu 22: Ki Testing
Having no color, no odor, and no shape, the mind is not something that can be grasped by the senses. However, based on the principle that the mind and body are actually one, we can know the state of this ungraspable mind by testing the body, which is available to our senses. 

Ki Tests are not founded on the idea of testing for strength or weakness. The most important factor in Ki Testing is to accurately inform the person of the state of his or her mind. Thus the person performing Ki Tests must truly understand and exhibit oneness of mind and body from the outset, and then perform the test correctly.

During the weekend of November 9-11, four of our yudansha traveled to Greenville, SC to participate in an intensive seminar with our Eastern Ki Federation Chief Instructor, David Shaner Sensei. During this weekend, Shaner Sensei shared how Tohei Sensei developed his clear, logical pedagogy for ki testing, from the early tests to the current ranks of shokyu, chukyu, and jokyu. The primary emphasis was how to assess a student’s stability of mind through ki testing, to help them see this, too.

Aikido is founded on the principle and study of mind-body oneness. Mind leads body. Though we cannot read another’s mind, we can see a person’s physical posture and attitude (姿勢, “shisei”). We can notice their nonverbal cues to understand what is occupying their mind. This is not mystical! It’s simply common sense. And, as instructors, it is our responsibility to be a clear mirror for our students and friends, so they can practice well and deepen their experience and understanding.

However, to see clearly, we must be practicing ourselves. We show up in a calm, relaxed way, without an agenda or intention. We relax our vision and calmly see our partner as part of the whole picture (集中”shuchu”), rather than boring into them with an intense, tunnel vision gaze (執着 “shuchaku”). We give them our full, relaxed attention, to notice little changes. And, we interact in a way that does not disturb our friends or draw their mind, that allows them to see themselves more clearly.

All of this is available if we come with an attitude of supporting, “sasaeru” (支える). We can let go of our desires to be right, to judge, to fix, and simply show up with calmness, love, and care for our friends. We can notice their reactions and feel what they are feeling. We can choose to move with them, and be present to support them. And when we see misalignment, hesitation, or tension, we can move gently and confidently to help our partner see this, too.

These insights were clearest when practicing giving and receiving the kyu-rank ki tests. However, Shaner Sensei also demonstrated that this approach is directly applicable to the other disciplines of Shinshin Toitsudo - our hitori waza exercises, arts, and taigi - as well as our lives outside the dojo. I look forward to continuing to practice these principles with friends in the dojo, and in my work and relationships.