Concerning efferent and afferent activity


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Listen to nothing,
shut the senses off.
The nothingness
is something

An Osteopathic Odyssey – James Jealous D.O.

In osteopathy there are two very interesting concepts which I have been very intrigued by lately. They are very closely related to the activity of our ego, making one much more difficult to achieve than the other.

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In our body we have two kinds of nerve fibres: efferent and afferent. The afferent ones are carrying information from our sensory organs to our brain, while the efferent ones are carrying information from our brain to our organs, muscles and so on. It is a bit more complex than described here of course, but the general idea is that afferent are carrying information which are arriving to us, and efferent are carrying information which are exiting us.

Similarly we can divide our activity and mental state into those same kinds of activity. Efferent being projecting something from us on to something else (in osteopathy that would be the patient), and afferent being taking in information from something (the patient).

In aikido we have a multitude of forms which we practice; kata which have been handed down through the generations of teachers; these define our keiko and teaches us principles and natural laws about ourselves and our partners. From the beginning we need to learn these forms. We have to repeat them thousands of times until they are so familiar to us that we float through them without thinking of the movement we have to make. At this level we can shift our focus to listening to the shifting of our balance, sensing the interaction with our partner, and observe our mental state during the movement.


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So if we decide that we will do a shiho nage our mind is set for shiho nage. We might do it without thinking and we might pay attention to what is going on at the same time, but we are still doing efferent activity below our range of awareness, because we decided that we will do shiho nage at the beginning. The shiho nage came from our mind and we wish to express our shiho nage to the world outside. However, what is shiho nage?

Imagine that we are a child who never saw a bear before. We see the bear for the very first time in our life. It is BIG and BROWN and it has big claws and big teeth. The child will observe so much more than what a grown up will observe when they see the bear, because they already know what a bear is, and they spend much more of their capacity to put it into the right category. And in some cases we might put it in the wrong category and be sure that we know what it is, and be totally lost. Maybe we never did see a bear before, and think it is a very big dog. It could be, if we saw dogs before, but are not yet aware of the existence of bears?

I believe a big part of our sensory experience is dulled by our natural laziness of relating to history and prior experience trying to fit everything into a format we have seen before. However, maybe this time is different? How can we know, if we are too busy having an opinion about all of it?


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Our ego wants us to know, already. It fabricates sensory experience to fit into what we already know, because it greatly fears humiliation, and wants us to be the clever. It wants US to be right, and it uses the senses to prove others wrong. This disturbance is quite soothing for us, because nothing is ever surprising or wrong and we are always doing the right thing. Thus our ego is always pushing us, both the conscious part of us, and the subconscious part to do more efferent activity, and less afferent. It fears the unknown.

However, the unknown is where we have to go to explore the road ahead. This is where we will find new landscapes and gain new information about the areas beyond what we already know.

Still, we have to do our kata, right? Well that is the koan right there. How can we make the kata in an afferent way? We would like to listen to the interaction with our partner in such a way that the kata appears, not from us, and maybe not even from our partner, but from something else?

Pacific Calm Reflection Ocean Island Moon Trea Pictures

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There are movements happening within our bodies, going on all the time, as long as we live. Most of the time we are too busy with what we are doing to listen to these movements. We are too busy “talking” to “hear” what is there. Sometimes, only sometimes, if both uke and tori are trying to do nothing. Just nothing. A movement might appear? Is it only our imagination playing a trick with us? Can we do it again? Will it happen with a different partner? Can we do it when we want, or do we have to wait forever?

I find these things incredibly interesting. I would like to have more afferent activity in my aikido.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!


Concerning the Kamiza and the Keiko


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No force is necessary,
not even intention.

An Osteopathic Odyssey – James Jealous D.O.

I remember my reluctance to wear my hakama during my first couple of years. I connected it with the grades, for some reason. It was something which said: “I’m better than you” to everybody without it. It felt way too dressed up for my personal style (which is very minimalistic). Also, it significantly increases the risk for causing serious injuries to our partners, if we are not fully aware of exactly where we place our feet during throws.

It felt like there was no point to wearing a hakama, at all, and it had all these downsides to it. Thus, I made any excuse for not wearing it, and went without whenever I could. However, then I heard about the connection between the seven folds of the hakama and the seven virtues of the samurai. From that moment on I understood the value of the hakama. It represents something greater than me. Something which will hold true even if I should fail. It connects me with an ideal, for how to behave on the tatami, and also in the world outside the dojo.

The kamiza was easier for me to accept from the beginning. At first I was only doing what I was told, of course, because I had no relation to the keiko yet. However, after three months, when I went on my first Christmas holiday away from the club where I started, I needed to practice a bit on my own of course. I realised immediately that I can’t really do it, without the kamiza. I had no picture of Osensei, of course. And I didn’t need it (I was so near sighted that I would only see a shadow and a white beard anyway, from the other side of the room where I performed the rei). I just decided the location of the kamiza, and right there it was, and still is to this day, in that room, even if it is just a concept of my own mind.


Sōkaku Takeda. The photo is taken from Wikipedia.

The question is why is it so important for me? What does the kamiza represent? What do I receive from the kamiza?

For me the kamiza connects us, in our little club, in a remote place wherever, to the rest of the aikido community in the world. It connects us to the history and development of aikido, through Morihei Ueshiba, Sōkaku Takeda and beyond. It also connects us to our own teachers and their history. Furthermore it connects our dojo, to all of this, so that it becomes a special place for our study, and not just a place to work out. So both in time and in space the kamiza connects us to something greater than ourselves. But what is it we are connecting to?

For me the kamiza represents the keiko. I believe that I have the best teachers in the world. I have chosen them, and removed all obstacles standing in my way, so that I can practice with them as much as possible. Still, I have a greater teacher. The Ultimate Sensei: The Keiko itself.

Aikido of Cincinnati

Morihei Ueshiba. The photo is taken from the website of Aikido of Cincinnati.

The keiko comes from the idea of the kamiza. It symbolises ideals, tradition and knowledge handed down through the generations of teachers.

I remember when I was stumbling into the position of leading classes for the first time. Six days a week. And I was only a beginner myself. I felt that I knew nothing, and that I had nothing to give the people who showed up for the practice. However, I quickly realised that I was not really there to tell people what to do (what is right and what is wrong). We all had the same teacher. The keiko was teaching us all.

You know, if you are told to do something, by a person, you will follow the instructions, but you still don’t understand, even if they explained it perfectly. The keiko however, teaches us in a much deeper way. Once we experience something, first hand, we have the sensations, as tori and as uke. We are striving towards some ideal again and again and again, gathering experience and knowledge. And this experience is is very, very enjoyable.

I never planned a class in my life. All I had to do was to get to the dojo in time to dust of the tatami. The rest I trusted I could leave to the kamiza. I would never run out of ideas of what to explore. I didn’t do anything, it was the keiko itself deciding what to do next. The only thing I felt that could be a pitfall was standing in the way of the keiko.

It is also important if there is a human teacher present. The kamiza is there, and it defines the keiko, making sure that we are not getting lost with our partner. It narrows down what we are searching for, and what we should leave out. It could be slightly different for different people, but it is mostly the same. We do keiko together. Sometimes we are lost with some partners anyway, but I believe that is usually because we have forgotten about the kamiza, and are blinded by our ego.

Seminar with Franck Noël in Prague in October 2014. Photo by Jan Mareš

Seminar with Franck Noël in Prague in October 2014. Photo by Jan Mareš.

Rei itself is also a symbol which I believe helps guide us to find the keiko. It is beautifully described in the membership book of the federation I was part of as a beginner.

On the practical side rei signals a physical and mental start of the practice or a session with a technique.

In this manner rei is initiating a process of gradually increasing concentration and awareness which will be required when entering the tatami, when the practice begins, and upon encountering our partner. In the opposite order rei is marking the end of a practice session with a partner, the completion of the practice and when exiting the tatami.

Furthermore, rei is performed to express gratitude for having a place to practise and for having partners to practise with. Likewise, rei is also done to express respect and gratitude towards those who developed aikido, those who cultivate the art and those who transfer their experience to those who participate in the practice.

Lastly rei has a symbolic function: By bowing we are exercising control of ourselves. Something which is a prerequisite for being able to practise budo.

Rei should always be done in a wholehearted manner, with a calm and grateful mind. Otherwise it has no function. This feeling should to the greatest extent possible remain throughout and after the practice.

Medlemsbok Norges Aikidoforbund
(Loosely translated from Norwegian)

These are symbols which I believe are important in aikido. There is something greater than ourselves watching our backs. We don’t ever have to worry if we are practising in a wrong way. The keiko will always lead us in the right direction. As long as we are continuing we will always move forward on our road.

Photo by Joke Kleijer

Seminar with Christian Tissier in Amsterdam in June 2018. Photo by Joke Kleijer.

It is also a great relief in the fact that the kamiza is so serious. You know, because the kamiza is there representing the serious part of the keiko, at all times, we can all be as playful and experimental as we want to, enjoying ourselves. The serious part is always there, but we don’t have to be so serious about it, because that part is already taken care of. We are standing on the shoulders of GIANTS!

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!

Wizardry and Witchcraft: the space which we use, which is not really there


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Aikido is a great art, and it has many little sub fields within it. One that I am particular interested in is the search for finding how to be able to move with my partners without pushing, pulling nor twisting. The goal is that no physical force whatsoever should be felt, just like when we are moving around our own body parts. I believe that what we physically feel is disharmony, and completely clean movement should be completely natural, and thus cannot be felt by our partner.

During this Christmas we did some suwari waza from many different strong grabs including ushiro waza. The kata, the grab and the integrity of the posture of both partners works as fulcrums in the practice; Restrictions added to make problems visible, so that we can easily work on them.

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Suwari waza with Marius in Sjøholt Christmas 2017. Photo by Sigurd M.P. Hatlen

The kata dictates the physical form of the movements; A goal we are striving to achieve; A restriction in physical movements we are allowing ourselves to make from the beginning to the end. We also practice keeping a fully connected grab (all the surface of the palm glued on to the partner’s body, or keikogi). Striving ceaselessly both as uke and as tori to release any tension and make the grab as effortless and natural as possible, removing any strain from appearing in any parts of the grab. The third fulcrum is the integrity of the partners. Both as uke and tori should be in a nice and straight posture throughout the kata. In any point of time should be be in the best position possible.

The combination of these fulcrums, and the fact that our body is not a bungee cord, makes it a challenge to complete the kata, and in suwari waza ushiro ryote, hiji and kata dori (and so on) it is quite obvious that, mechanically, our katas are impossible.

It is the same in all our katas, actually, but these forms just takes it to the extreme. Instead of requiring a few magic centimetres of space to perform it, we now require a few magic decimetres. However, I believe it is just a matter of experience, deciding wether we can do it, or not. Nothing is impossible, if we believe, and continue to practise. It is only impossible if we stop practising.


Keiko with Andrea in Trondheim in January 2018. Photo by Rachel Setre.

Sometimes it does not look exactly like the kata we were aiming for, but I think it does not matter. It will look better every week of practice. We are practising, and by doing so we are travelling on our journey. If we stop practising we die, in a way, because our journey ends. However, as long as we practice we will inevitably proceed in our journey.

The practice of this magic skill; the study to make this space appear which is not there initially, is something we are cultivating in our daily keiko through tai no tenkan. This simple kata is one of the first movements we learn in aikido, and it contains the entire art right there. The space required is much smaller than in suwari waza ushiro ryo kata dori, but without the space needed we will feel stuck. If we can make space in tai no tenkan, there is no difference to make it in any kata, right?

We have no choice but to respect the laws of Nature, of course, and there is no way we can really bend space time with our actions in the dojo. Except of course the microscopic changes due to the displacement of the mass of our body and our partner’s body, which will change absolutely nothing in our situation (The General Theory of Relativity). So where should this space come from?


The Orion Nebula. Photo by NASA.

I believe that the main work lies in the use of our minds. Mechanically these movements are impossible, and leverage does not help in this case. If we violate our partner in any way, we have failed just as gravely as if we are physically stopped by the restrictions and find ourselves unable to move. Leverage gives us inhuman strength, but strength is just physical power. It will still be impossible unless we have space for our movements.

Now, when I say impossible, I mean that the kata analysed as a rigid form, there are things which are stopping the movement. The length of our arms and the angle of the grab to the partner’s arms gives a certain amount of space. If we do something which requires more space, something will break. Usually the grab. And if it breaks, we are not following the kata any more, unless of course it happens to be one of those places where we are supposed to disengage the partner’s grab (and that should anyway not be done by merely pulling away by force).

The grab study is great. It gives us a possibility to study these things in a way which gives immediate feedback from our partner. We feel the physical stops; We feel when we are stuck; We can feel where the road is open. In striking attacks the situation is mostly the same, except we have no feedback until we are in physical contact. And by that time most of the interaction should already have happened, so we are unable to correct the early parts. In a grab we can study each point of difficulty as they emerge.


Birgitta, Hallgeir, Marius and Laura doing morote dori keiko in Trondheim in January 2018. Camera by Andrea Raviglione.

The extra space we acquire by our technique, serves both. Not only one. It is not a technology which serves the strongest, the smartest, the most experienced or the most greedy nor the most skilled. It serves BOTH partners. Without it the kata would be a violent display of power, where one suppresses and dominates the other. With aiki the kata becomes something else. I believe it becomes aikido.

We use images to guide our minds and our bodies to achieve a state in which these “magical” things can happen. It is probably possible to make it happen directly as well, but I think that would require an extreme control and awareness of the mind. I believe that the use of images might bring us far ahead of what we can do at our own level, because certain images naturally sets our mind and body in a corresponding state.

We don’t really have to fully understand how it works. We just think about a certain thing, and something happens to our relation to our partner. Physically we just feel that the problem we had suddenly disappears and we can proceed to the next point.


Morote dori keiko in Trondheim with Hallgeir, Marius, Laura and Birgitta. Camera by Andrea Raviglione.

It does not matter if our partner believe or not. We can still practice. The less they do, the more we have to do. I believe that to study with a like minded partner is most useful, to find these things. But I think that it is possible to practice with anybody. The partner can help us, not help us, or sabotage us in our kata. In any case the kata requires 100 % to be performed, by one of us, externally and internally. The distribution can be anything. Ideally I would say that it is naturally half to each of the partners. Uke should do certain things, and tori should do certain things. These things should always be natural and in their own best interest. It gives the kata some logical sense in a martial way. Still it does not necessarily mean that all partners agree, so we have to adapt to practise with them.

If we have a partner who works against us we need to have the technology to cancel their action. An example could be that the partner pushes us. If we push back we are standing and pushing on each other, one push requiring another to push back. In one way you can say that they are cancelling each other, but that is not what I mean by cancelling. We are pushing each other already before we start, so we have already failed. We need to be able to unpush, by aiki, so that the partner are unable to push. Then we are not forced to push our partner in order to not get pushed back ourselves. This is extremely difficult of course, thus I believe that a like minded partner is better in the early stages of our study.

It does not really matter if we are tori or uke. In both cases, if our partner neglects some part, we need to fill in the missing part or we will get stuck somewhere. If we are uke, and tori pushes, instead of merely pushing back in the opposite direction, we should try to cancel the push of our partner, because it is not good for either of us. I have found that this is an important element when practising with a large collections of different partners so that I can minimise the amount of physical force between my partner and myself.


Rachel, Tor Magnus, Aivars and Andrea doing morote dori keiko. Camera by Andrea Raviglione.

When we have found the neutral state, we can start our real study in how to make this magical space emerge.

I have mentioned several images which helps us in my earlier posts. The images has been a fundamental constituent of my study for the past decade. Some images works for some people and not for others, and in some situations, but not always. So I find it very useful to have a great collections of these images to chose from, at any given moment.

The new image which emerged the past couple of days was a torrent. I imagine a rotation around a vast void central area. The void at the centre contains infinitely much space, curved into a different dimension, but it is still present with it’s energy. All around this centre, in the spinning mass, there are several other, smaller, torrents, each with their smaller void centres. The smaller torrents also have several smaller void centres and torrents, and so on.

All of this is slowly spinning ceaselessly, and nothing can stop it. All we have to do is imagine this, and do nothing, which of course is the hard part (because our ego wants us to do something), and the magical space will be available for us in the movement with our partners.

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The Red Eye of Jupiter. Photo by NASA.

This is not magic, of course, but it appears as magic in the keiko, when it happens after long hours in the dojo, where this has always been a problem standing in our way. Magic has always been the name for things which we at the time could not explain, through all the ages of our world.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!


The Light and the Dark


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Anger, Fear, Aggression
The Dark Side of the Force are They
Easily they Flow
Quick to join you in a Fight
If once you start down the Dark Path
Forever will it Dominate your Destiny
Consume you, it will

– The Empire Strikes Back

patras greace by jason blackeye

Patras in Greace. Photo by Jason Blackeye.

The question about what aikido is, and what it is not, is something which has created discord and conflicts in the aikido community many times over, both on a personal level, on the tatami, and in larger scale between federations and groups. It has split the art into several factions sometimes unwilling to practise together. When people who disagree about this question meet on the tatami we often end up with conflicts where both are certain that they are right and the other must therefore be mistaken. We have met an ENEMY!

There are countless examples of how the conflict could materialise. But in general, I believe that they all start with the disagreement regarding how the keiko should be performed, and what the purpose of the practice is.

There is a lot of ambiguity in our keiko, because it is so open. It is the strength of aikido, because there are no limitations by age, strength, sex, level of experience or size. Everybody can practise together on equal terms. The only obstacle, the single thing which stands in our way is in our own mind. We have to wish to practise with our partner. If we don’t, it will never work.

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Picture by

Our partner comes with the whole package. The body, and the mind and everything in between. We can’t change any of it. Perhaps we can change our own mind (and that is a challenge right there), but we can’t initially change the mind of the partner. After some time we might affect the partner during the keiko, of course. However, we have to be able to do the keiko in order for that to happen. And keiko is keiko. Fighting is not. And right there is a statement on which some would disagree with me, probably.

I remember some conflicts in myself actually, from the early years, of wether we should regard the bokken as sharp or not when doing throws with the blade on the arms of the partner. The same discussion was raging in me regarding wether an atemi in the form of a physical strike from tori should, by itself, be a reason for uke to move.

In one way it is a very easy answer to both questions: YES, the partner should move, to protect himself/herself from potential damage to his/her body. However, who is the attacker in this situation? And what happens if the partner just makes some counter? And there is a counter to the counter, and a counter to the counter to the counter, and so on. In most cases if I can hit, the partner can also hit, or kick, or head but, or worse.


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With the sword it is even more to the point, I think. Yes, the edge of the sword is very sharp, and a touch on naked skin would cut directly. Then some would argue that we should consider that uke is wearing armour. And we could argue back and forth, but in any case, we probably know, inside ourselves what we are searching for. We just want our way to be right, because it feels good for our ego.

Of course, in the first stages of learning the movement, I would say that, yes, the uke should move on the symbolic atemi, and consider the blade as dangerous (even if we have a blunt wooden surface on our skin). This way we can understand the basic mechanics of the kata. However, after some time, if we would like to reach the deeper meaning in the movement, I believe that it is more nurturing that the partner is just standing, observing what happens, but not actively doing anything, neither helping nor resisting what happens.

pixabaydotcom birds

Photo by

In this state tori is not attacking with the kata, and uke is not protecting herself/himself from the attack. There is no stress, and we have time to feel the structure of the situation. If we sense that we are starting to push against each other we have to ease up and search for a different solution. If we feel that we are stuck, we can search for the location of our block, inside ourselves.

This atemi/sword situation is just one example of a situation where conflicts could emerge. I believe that the real challenge in aikido is to deal with these conflicts as we meet them, in a good way, so that we can practise with EVERYBODY.

Of course, we should consider safety, and our own health first, but I believe that there are valuable and unique pieces of our puzzle in all the people on the tatami. To enjoy these parts we have to find a way to practise with exactly this person, or we will miss a invaluable part. Very often the most important pieces are hidden in those partners which are most difficult for us to practise with.

jim harper heaven and hell

Photo by Jim Harper.

Sometimes we feel violated by our partner, because the partner is practising in a different way from us. However, I believe that it is important to remember that this brother or sister in aikido is merely doing the keiko, in their way. Our way is only one out of many, and it is not the only way. What is better or worse is not even relevant in this situation, I think. As long as we are not hurt, we can accept almost whatever, just to have a meeting with this new friend. Then later, maybe we can exchange ideas more deeply about how to make keiko more productive.

Still, if we get emotionally affected, we do. And it usually happens when we are unaware. It is difficult to go back to the state of our initial meeting after we already have some mental scars with somebody. So I believe that it is important to try to have an open mind for a different view, every time I meet a new partner on the tatami. I believe that the only enemy in our world is conflict itself.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!


Concerning alignment and stillness


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My old man used to tell me,
before he left this shitty world:
Never chase busses or women.
You’ll always get left behind.

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

When I was a beginner I was taught that we use alignment of the body to build a structure which can withstand the greatest possible force, or produce the greatest possible force. Previously this idea has not been fitting in very well into my chosen path in aikido. It seemed to me as a totally different road, because (the last decade at least) I have been searching for ways to move with the partner without any force, at all, neither in pushing, pulling or twisting actions.

zhou lulu photo by charniga

Zhou Lulu with 192 kg on her chest. The word record in Clean and Jerk. Photo from, picture by Charniga.

This summer two of my dear friends in aikido got me into thinking of this concept of alignment of the anatomical structure of the body in a new way. And since then it has been on my mind almost every class I have participated in. This time I am considering the alignment as a restriction, and not as a construction for getting strong.

The body is slightly asymmetrical. This happens due to the embryological development of the fetus (we are all a little bit naturally twisted). So the alignment might not be 100 % in the reference system of the room outside. The inside reference system, of the body itself, is the one that counts. Still, we have no real way of measuring this, so most of the time we will use the outer system to check if we are straight or not.

Alignment of the body naturally has other functions than to generate and absorb force. If everything moves, the signals to the partner becomes unclear, and the path we are presenting for our partner appears misty. In this situation the partner will either take his/her own path, or most likely, no path at all, because there is really no real need to go anywhere. We are really just pushing ourselves out of position, because we are trying to do something on our partner.


The beauty comes from the combination of the immovable rock wall and the flowing water streaming down. Salto del Angel in Venezuela. Photo by Wikipedia.

Also, even if I am not striving to achieve great force in my interaction with my partner, it is beneficial to make the movements in a economical way of using the body, to prevent strain injury over time. We are, after all, doing this every day, and hope to continue to do it every day for the rest of our lives. Any unnecessary strain on the body during the keiko should of course be avoided, and alignment of the posture is a great way to take care of this.

The thing is, we often think that we are straight, even if we are not, due to a combination of lack of awareness and traumas in the body (and in the mind). So we end up in disadvantageous positions because we are trying to do something, and our mind is on what we are trying to do. As I said, straight outside is not always straight inside, but if our road takes us close to an area where we feel fear, we will naturally try to avoid the area where we are uncomfortable, and we might end up in strange postures.


Our posture is not always as straight as we think it is. Photo by New Line Cinema.

Cameras and mirrors are an invaluable resource when investigating these concepts. They do not lie, and the truth is sometimes painful to see if it has been long since we checked ourselves in this manner. Also, we will have to conquer our own fear when we reach the areas where we feel discomfort.

As an example, I have a tendency to bend my head to the right, when I am uke in tai no tenkan holding my partner with my left hand. Some muscles are slightly tensing, twisting my posture during the movement. So I try to check myself if I am straight, or not, during this movement. Straightening out my spine is scary in a way which is difficult to describe. I feel that I am way to close to the partner, and I might even be at this time, because of all this internal mess in my shoulders I might not fit into the “safe zone” yet. I am “too square” to stay within the martial area outside the partner’s reach. However, with some polishing, I believe these traumas will be healed and I will be able to melt into the shape I need to make a better tai no tenkan both as tori, as well as uke.

When our partner is holding us and we try to do something, our alignment will be broken, because we are pushing against something immovable. Something have to give, and if our partner is strong our own posture will collapse.

Sometimes I feel that when I manage to keep my alignment, and succeed in doing absolutely nothing, except perceiving what is going on inside my own, and my partner’s body, we will start to move together, in a flow. Like if there was some waterfalls inside our bodies feeding the movements. All interference is just standing in our way. Once I have gotten a taste of this it becomes the only way I accept to move with the partner. This is how I would like to make all the kata, always, and with every single partner in the world. Anything else seems like mere, (and uninteresting) mechanical pushing, pulling and twisting.

It seems to me as a big paradox. We are moving, yet we are doing nothing.


Kjelfossen in Norway. Photo by

In karate dori tai no tenkan I believe that there are three main restrictions which seals the two partners into a specific area of study:

  1. The kata: tai no tenkan. It defines the movement which we should do individually as tori, and as uke. It gives a measure of distance and areas of reach for each partner. It makes the practice martial.
  2. The grab: Katate dori. We should hold on completely, without losing contact with any part of our palm. The force distribution in the grab should be balanced so that no points are burdened with more weight than others during any part of the movement. The grab should be constant from beginning to end.
  3. The alignment: By focusing on the center line and the posture of the body we economise the movement and clean away all unneccesary movements. The alignment is protecting our integrity and ensures that we are always in the best position we could possibly be in given the current situation.

We are squeezed between these restrictions, challenging ourselves to find ways to move within this chosen prison cell. I believe that by studying what is contained within, we are gaining freedom which we can use in the world outside the dojo. I believe that this freedom which we find here, will enrich both us and everybody we meet in our daily lives.


Ramnefjellet and Lovatnet in Norway. Photo by

Of course, by keeping our physical alignment, we are keeping ourselves neutral, and in our own field of perception. However, for me, the greatest challenge lies in keeping our mental alignment. We want to do things. We have an intention of doing something. We wish to express something from within ourselves. This is what is causing us to lose our mental alignment of neutral perception of the situation. This is not only true for aikido. It happens all the time, everywhere, in the world outside.

Our expectations and ambitions is setting an image in our mind of how it will be. Sometimes unexpected things happen and we are in a completely different situation than what we expected. How do we deal with it? How does it affect us? Which consequences does this concept have for the world around us, both in a smaller scale, between people; and a in larger scale, between nations?

It could be as simple as expecting to sit relaxed and read during a train journey, and ending up sitting on your suitcase in the hallway because the train is totally overbooked and there are no seats at all. Or the toilet line before class happens to be much longer than you expected. Or we get rejected by someone we really wanted to know better. The list is endless. We have a discrepancy between what exists in our mind, and the real situation we have to deal with.

We have the opportunity to work on this every day on the tatami. We tried something, and it did not go as we expected, or wished, it would. Do we get frustrated and angry, or do we get curious? Do we blame the partner, and say that he/she did something wrong? Do we get angry at ourselves for “failing” in doing what we tried to do? Why did it go the way it did? Why would we define what we expected as a “good result” and what really happened as a “bad result”? It was the truth happening, was it not?


Yumbilla waterfall in Peru. Photo by

I am searching for a stillness where I can sense what is happening in a deeper way, and I believe that this mental alignment is a fundamental part of it. I try to rid myself of any preference and opinions of what is good and what is bad. To be completely non judgemental. To mentally be completely straight mentally, and never be tilted towards any wish to do something.

Of course, if we are doing nothing, and try to do nothing, and try to not try to do anything, including trying to do nothing, then what are we doing? What is the keiko? We have kata. We have forms we are practising with our buddies. This is what keeps it possible for us to not get lost. Still, at least lately, for me, the idea of doing nothing is the most important idea right now both as uke and as tori.

I believe the idea of doing nothing is very powerful, and this stillness we achieve by succeeding is very nurturing. It is an idea beyond the technical world of aikido. We are doing nothing, but only perceiving, from our heart, what is happening. Somehow, streams are flowing anyway, without our meddling, and all we have to do is get out of the way so that the flow can proceed. Then we can ride the tide in there, and surf the waves.


Seminar with Franck Noël sensei in Stockholm in October 2017. Photo by José Maria Sevilleja Lopez.

Our perception can reach so many levels, and we can use infinitely many images. There are no limits. As long as we keep our own alignment, both physically and mentally, we will be able to sense everything. We can feel waves in our partner’s body, streams, movements, emotions and of course, our own fear of failure.

It is very often hard to separate between what is us, and what is the partner. This is why I believe the alignment is so important, mentally as well as physically. Once we are still, we can sense the partner. If we do not have this stillness we can only see ourselves. Our own needs and ambitions. The partner appears as an obstacle instead of our study partner. With the stillness we can see, we can hear, we can feel and sense. We are alive!

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!

Never underestimate the power of the imaginary tennis ball of aiki


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I see my reflection in the window
It looks different, so different than what you see
Projecting judgment on the world
This house is clean baby
This house is clean

Metallica – Dirty Window

Tennis balls, I have heard, are a great tool for self massage. I have actually not tried this myself, but apparently by using a tennis ball, we can massage out a lot of stiff muscles in areas otherwise hard to reach by ourselves. I never tried it (probably should though), but I have heard from many friends that it works really, really well.

However, the idea of a tennis ball has helped me massage out some pretty disgusting knots in my mind, and my body, though. Well, actually the combination of my partner and the idea of a tennis ball that is.

We see everything through our window. Is the dirt inside or outside? It is hard to tell. The image is taken from

When our partner is holding us, we are usually not restricted by our partner. We can always blame the partner for holding us in an incorrect way. Too strongly, too stiffly, resisting too much, fighting us. In reality we could just punch them in the face and kick them in the nuts, right? Where does these strange ideas come from? How can we think that our buddy, our most valued friend, who are holding on to our arm so that we can rid ourselves from our traumas, sickness and other things pushing us down in our lives, is the enemy? When we think about it it becomes really absurd.

The things which restricts us are many things. Most of all our wish to make short cuts. We have habits from the world outside the dojo, which in most cases goes unnoticed there. Like picking up a glass of water. We can do it in many ways being totally unconnected to ourselves, and we will never notice that something is wrong about the way we move our arms. We are allowed to move so in those cases so we make the shortcuts because it is convenient.

We imagine that we are standing on a balancing board. We give our partner our balance and get her/his balance in return. An exchange of balance. The picture is taken from

However, when our partner is holding on to our arm. The shortcuts are unmasked as dishonest intentions. The partner will inevitably, even if they are trying to help us make the movement, reveal the “unclean” spots in our mind and body. The ego wants us to lift our arm, and we are used to move without a partner, most of the time, so we see this unfree nature of ourselves for the first time.

This is very hard for us, because we feel trapped. We have been trapped by this all our lives, and the partner is the one to make this visible, so of course it is easy to blame the partner for the problem. Easy, but not very productive though.

So how do we help our mind get free from this disturbance of the ego? Every time, even if we are aware of our problem, when we try to correct it, we replace the old problem with a new one, because our ego and wish to do something interferes with our interaction with our partners.

If we imagine watching ourselves and our partner, from the sky, like in a strategy game, it takes the ego out of our situation. The picture is taken from Starcraft. The first meeting of Kerrigan and Raynor.

When we try to lift and the partner holds our arm, we are tensing somewhere, and the feeling of being trapped are unconsciously making us tense that area even more. Our unawareness is invisible to us, and the more we search the more invisible it will get. We wish to lift the arm so our intentions goes up, even though we probably should have just as much intention down (which is very hard for us, as it is never needed when we lift the glass of water from the table).

I have previously mentioned some other mind tricks which has helped me take the intention out of the equation, leaving behind only it’s ego free shadow. However the last few months I started with a new one, which I use a lot for the time being. It is not better than the other ones, but different, and it helps me very much in some situations, and are less useful in others, just as the other images.

When my partner grabs my wrist i imagine that she/he holds on to a tennis ball. It is more or less the same size as my wrist, and somehow it appears to me as quite similar to holding a wrist. My arm is free and I stand a short distance away from my partner, and I observe the tennis ball in my friend’s hand. Then I connect my mind to the tennis ball, and I can feel that there are a lot of restrictions in the infinitely many axises around which this ball can rotate. I can now clearly feel that tensions in both my mind and my body are connected to these restrictions.

A tennis ball is a little bit like a wrist, isn’t it? Maybe it is just me. The picture is taken from

I let my partner hold on, and I leave all the weight of my arm in the grab. I am imagining the rotations and feel them all without turning the tennis ball. Without wish or intentions I am trying to make freedom for the tennis ball so that my friend can move her/his arm in the way they naturally would, if they could, if I would let them. First the tension lets go in my mind, and then in the body.

This usually goes through several steps where there are stops part of the way through the movement. Then we should stop and investigate the rotation axises once more, and find out which one is unfree, preventing the partner from living out the natural movement of her/his body and mind.

I use this image almost every time I practice tai no tenkan now. It is intriguing for me that such an easy trick can make a difference in how we think about the situation with our partner. Instead of focusing on the partner as our adversary we are shifting our focus to the conflict itself, without taking parts. I do the same when I am uke. I grab the tennis ball and search for the unfree rotation axises and release where I need to release to be able to follow the ball’s movements.

A chance meeting of friends in Dresden in June 2017. The picture was taken at Aikidojo Dresden by Tim Warkentin.

It is of course wonderful how we are cleaning up our body, and make it more connected and economical in it’s use. However, the most interesting part of aiki for me is the effect it has in cleansing us as a person from dishonest and impure intentions from our mind. I believe it is, over time, changing the way we think about different things, everything.

It is so easy to have an image blurred by our own situation. We see everything from our position. We want, we plan to, we will do, we think like this. And there is the others; the strangers; the idiots; the bad guys; and the enemies, standing in our way, right? Well these guys are probably thinking exactly in the same way about us, standing from their point of view we are the others; the strangers; the idiots; the bad guys; and the enemies, and we are staining in their way for achieving their goals. The brilliant idea of aiki, I think, is to take our selves out of the equation.

There are a lot of dishonest tricks in martial arts, of course, but aiki is not one of them. It is a way to create peace. The only way, maybe.

Picture by

Enjoy your keiko! Aiki makes people happy!

Peace sells, but who is buying?


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The first of May is a national holiday both in Norway and in Sweden, where everybody goes to demonstrations for what they believe in. What I have always believed in is the total annihilation of man kind. I honestly believe that our world would be better off without us. I will not kill anybody, but I will for sure not have any children, and you can consider it my contribution to end the human race. Humans are bad, and that is all there is to it. There never was any demonstration on first of May for my cause, and if there was, I probably would not agree with those marching in it, because it would for sure involve a great number of the reasons why I don’t believe in the human race in the first place.

Where I work we close at 17 on Saturdays. 1645 somebody called. My mental defences were down and I were trying to help, so he got inside. Inside of me his verbal weapons exploded, destroying any hopes for a peaceful weekend. When you are in a service profession and this thing happens, your hands are tied. You are supposed to act professionally, even if the person you are talking to are attacking you, degrading you, and using physiological tricks to manipulate you. You do the things you have to do to help the person, and keeps everything inside. However, when the call ends, you always end up continuing to argue with him/her, and when you realise what has happened you get angry, and keep doing violent acts to him/her in your mind. It is impossible to avoid if the person already got to you.


Photo by Bianca Ågren

This is where the magic of aikido comes in. In about 24 hours, and two sessions of aikido I have been going from ripping his head off with my bare hands, and shitting down his neck, to merely choking him out and stuffing him head first into a garbage dumpster. I need a few more sessions of aikido to totally fix my head, but it is a tremendous step towards peace.

The Founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, called his art “The Art of Peace”. And it is exactly how it works. You have no idea how many action movies it has ruined for me, because I am supposed to hate the bad guy at the end when the horrible death comes to him. However, I do not hate the bad guy any more. I pity him/her. Aikido makes me hate less, love more, and understand more and more people. In fact, I actually are at the limit of actually having some hope for human kind. Maybe not a big one, but a small one at least.

Certainly there are a lot of people doing martial arts for self defence. A very usual point of view is that the only reason for doing martial arts are for the purpose of self defence. In my mind aikido is something much deeper. On the contrary it is actually the opposite of self defence, in my mind. You can look at self defence as the art of war, but aikido is the art of peace.


Fun in Stavanger with Maren and Marius in August 2016. Photo by Jacqueline Von Arb.

Night vision goggles gives you the possibility to shoot and kill somebody at 20 times the distance they can shoot and kill you. It will increase the rate of survival quite a bit in a situation where you need to kill the enemy before he/she kills you. However, where the function lies, so does the problem. It gives you a tactical advantage over your enemy, yes, but why do you have an enemy? How do you know that you are the good guy and the other is the bad guy? Why is it not the other way around? Oh yes, because you are the one to decide, and the enemy does not have a say so in the matter.

Aikido is not a weapon. It is an anti weapon. The enemy is not the other, but the conflict in itself. Our goal is to unite with our partner. To find peace where there is war. It is a balancing factor in the world we live in, which is so much dominated by a search for more and more power.

It is how everything works. International politics, business meetings, even social gathering, and friends hanging out. The more powerful ones are the ones to dominate the others. Nobody really wants it this way, because it is bad for everybody in the end, but nobody dares to change it. It is not about what is right and what is wrong, but it is rather what you can get away with and what you can’t get away with. You do because you can. “The food first, morality later”, as it says in red writing outside the dojo I practice almost every day.


Tai no tenkan with Per-Edvin at Svartsjö Castle in April 2017. Photo by Per Erik Stendahl.

I don’t have any 1st of May parade to attend, but my cause in this world is aikido. But it is not something we should go in demonstrations to promote. We just have to practise it. First in the dojo, and then outside the dojo. When the aggression comes, it is not met with counter aggression, but with stillness. There is nowhere for the aggression to enter, so we are at peace.

O Sensei called tai no tenkan the biggest secret of aikido. I get part of that, I think, because it is a very deep exercise in making peace with the partner. There is no real way to get the upper hand and dominate the partner in a way that is not possible to easily reverse. What one can do, so can the other, so any attempt to use weapons or acts of war is futile. The partner is holding and that is all there is.

One of the reasons for practising is this strong belief that there is a better way, than how the world is working right now, or rather how it is not working… The other reason is the consequence of this idea, but in the emotional dimension. The intellectual idea of aikido is something I can explain in this way, but the emotional effect I can’t really say much about, except that it is a consequence of the intellectual idea. It is a bit like explaining why sunsets are beautiful.


Hanging out after practice in Tekisuikan Aikido Club in Trondheim in October 2011.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!

The Roundabout


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Imagine three huge roads meeting in an intersection. It is rush hour. Everybody is trying to hurry to not be late for work. Nobody wants to give way for anybody else. Everybody is annoyed with anybody who gets in their way.

A thought that might cross the minds of these guys is that they should get a tank and just run over everybody else to get to where they are going without getting slowed down by anything. Sure, it would get them to work in time, and nothing and nobody would be able to stop them, because all the other cars would crumble to pieces under the tanks treads. However, it would kill most of the other people trying to get to work.


Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The picture was taken around 1920, for a post card. I got it from Wikipedia.

The tank solution is maybe good enough a solution for some people. They just have to make sure to get a tank and make sure nobody else does. Still, the problem remains the same once everybody has their tanks going to work, and this time around they will be shooting at each other.

The roundabout separates the problem point where the traffic jams into six intersections (in the specific case where three roads meet at one point), and brings everybody into a circular path around a common center. Each of these six intersections obviously have less load than the one, thus giving flow where there otherwise would have been a standstill.

npcc.30408        Thomas Circle       National Photo Company           1922

The Thomas Circle in Washington DC. The picture was taken in 1922. I got the picture from Wikipedia.

I really do not know much about traffic and flow, but it appeared to me that the roundabout is very similar to the idea of aiki. Of course, in a grab, which is the equivalent of the intersection of roads, there are not six roads but maybe six million roads (three million from each partner). It is always rush hour, and all the cars are the same (there are no tanks). The signals are there, but in the grab there is a conflict. Not a real conflict, but a made up conflict, for us to study the world we live in.

I live for this idea of aiki. The idea of a different way of living in this world that might appear as very violent and dark at times. It is such a natural way to just do like everybody else, and try to get a tank of our own to hide inside. Gear up, upgrade the weapons and the armour, always make sure to be the strongest one, to fight trough whenever there is a conflict.


The Letchworth Roundabout in England. The picture is taken from Wikipedia.

This is the system of our world. It affects all levels of our society. It is not always the stronger “beating up” the weaker, but the threat is there, and things happen as a consequence of this threat. Countries are at war with each other; International companies have their power games; Everybody has their struggles trying to stand out among our peers to get that “decent job”; In big family matters it is the same, the ones with most power have the most influence pushing everybody else back into place whenever they feel it is needed; At social events amongst colleagues or friends it is the same. The stronger the better, and we do because we can. This way of thinking will eventually destroy us all.

When my partner holds me when I want to move it really does feel impossible at times. There is nowhere I can move, and nowhere my partner can move. Still there really is space for both of us, for all our little cars going everywhere. It is just that we are stuck at a traffic jam. We need to construct a roundabout together. Spinning around a common center solves our problems and creates a flow which is beneficial for all. The roundabout becomes rather a mental one rather than a physical one in this case, but it resolves the conflict in the grab.

I believe very strongly in this idea of “The Art of Peace”, “The Art of Non Conflict” “The Art of Aiki“. It is the driving force in my life. It is such a beautiful fantasy world I can visit every day, in the dojo, and I can take little pieces of it with me out into the grey void outside. Outside if somebody does something good it is very often in fear of some severe consequence of their action. I believe we should do what we know is right, because it is right. Not because we want to earn something or avoid negative consequences for ourselves.


The Roundabout below Pearl Tower in Shanghai. The photo is from Wikipedia.

In addition to being a strong and inspiring idea intellectually, the experience we have with our partners as we do aiki brings such nice feelings of joy and happiness. The joy comes from our partners and they receive the same from us. This is the consequence of the same idea, I think.

The idea of creating something beneficial for everybody, something we can never earn something from, something which in its entirety is dedicated to helping others. It is the only way to save the human race from disaster, I think. It just came to me while half sleeping in a fever haze in a back room of a dojo during an aikido seminar, that it is a little bit like the idea of a roundabout. It creates flow where it otherwise would be stagnation, and it does not give advantage to anybody in particular, but it is good for everybody, when we are in a hurry to get to work in time.

Except, of course, if we have that tank standing in our garage, and we feel that egoistic rage and just want to squash everybody else into a red pulp of blood and metal, just so that we can get to where we want to be.

Enjoy your keiko! Aiki makes people happy!

The Shadow


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Think Big, Do Small;
Think All, Do Nothing

Ancient aiki proverb
(Jorma Lyly)

There is a natural balance in the Universe. Every action has a corresponding counter action. Every push or pull has a corresponding counterpart. There is no way of getting around this. Sometimes, for example due to the finite speed of light, or gravitons, the balance might be shifted for a period of time, but the balance always returns as time passes.


Ushiro waza with Marius in Sjøholt, December 2016. Photo by Sigurd Hatlen.

I believe this is also true for our intention. Our intention is an expression of our ego. We want something, and we express it in different ways. If we express our intention to our partner in the keiko, our partner might help us, and go along with whatever we are doing, because that is the way we have agreed on practising. However, by nature, if we experience sensation of force on ourselves, we naturally respond by creating a counterpart to the push, pull or rotation which we are detecting. It is the natural way we keep our posture and balance.

An example could be the way we walk. Under our soles we have different contact points with the ground. Each of our ten toes, the inner and outer front of the foot, the blade of our foot and the heel. These 18 points are constantly measuring the pressure from the ground and respond immediately if they are detecting irregularities.


Ushiro waza with Marius in Sjøholt, December 2016. Photo by Sigurd Hatlen.

In our practise we are agreeing on falling. We are exploring by experiencing the loss of our balance to the point that we are actually doing our falls in a complete balance. Not the normal one of course, but even when we are upside down in the air, there is no loss of control, perfectly balanced in our movement. However, the normal way humans move, are by walking, and we do not normally like to fall. So our system protects us by responding to any outside manipulation with an equal, but opposite force.

I actually will go as far as to say that when this interaction is person to person this rule goes also for our intention. Any intention in one, will be balanced out by a equal, but opposite directed counter intention in the other. Like I said, we usually agree on helping each other, but this is a natural reaction, so if we are caught by surprise, we will do it without thinking, to restore our balance.


Ushiro waza with Marius in Sjøholt, December 2016. Photo by Sigurd Hatlen.

So how can we ever be able to make a movement with our partner? Our intention is what we normally use to make actions. We wish to do something, we want something, and this is our ego speaking. And that is where the problem lies, I think. The moment we make a movement the partner will stop us. The partner’s ego does not like the interference of anybody else’s ego. It feels suppressing to us. Our will is dominated by somebody else’s intentions. This is why we naturally react to cancel the manipulations made by others. This is even sometimes visible when watching the practise from the outside. There is the counter intention, but the partner follows to complete the form the participants have agreed on.

Of course, we can always use technical skills to be able to force the partner anyway. This is maybe sufficient for a situation in itself, not considering the big picture, and what comes after. However, this is no solution for the problem at hand. Our partner is holding and we are expected to move. It is a simplified exercise to learn about things outside the dojo. The goal is not to force our partner to move. The grab by our friend is not the problem, it is the exercise. The world outside is the problem. Not self defence, but the bigger picture. The wars, the violence, the hostility, the hate, the separation of US and THEM. Our partner is holding on to our arm to study the problem.


Ushiro waza with Marius in Sjøholt, December 2016. Photo by Sigurd Hatlen.

I want a deeper solution. So I have been thinking about how to move our partner without pushing our ego tainted intention on to our partner. I have a theory, which seems to give results, in some cases at least. I believe that just as our body is casting a shadow, when we are standing in the Sun, so do our intention. If I move my arms my shadow will also move exactly like my real arms. However, the shadow is free from my ego. We can’t use the shadow of our body to throw our partner, of course. However, I believe that our intention’s shadow can touch the shadow of our partner’s intention. Our shadow is free from our ego, and so is our partner’s shadow.

Of course this is all in our mind. There is no magic. There is only practise. Lots of it. The more we practise, the easier it is to separate our intention from it’s shadow. Imagining making a big movement, but limiting ourselves, actually struggling against our own will, making a very small movement. Then taking the next step, just imagining doing it all, and not moving at all (that is in fact the hardest part). The partner will start to move and make apparently make the movement for us. This feeling is very special when it gets right. At first it feels stupid. Can it be for real? So we do it again, and again and again. Different partners, and they do not know what will happen. Big seminars with lots of jiyu waza are the best laboratory in the world for this.


Ushiro waza with Marius in Sjøholt, December 2016. Photo by Sigurd Hatlen.

Very often I have found that when I am stuck I move other parts, which should not move. My head or my hips usually compensate for what is stationary because the partner is holding me. This is the physical appearance of my intention, my ego. I want to move, but my partner is there. Every intention I express on my partner, he/she will counter. Not because he/she wants to sabotage my keiko, but because it is natural. However, if I keep my head and hips completely still, imagine that the shadow of my intention, which is just as untouchable as the shadow of my body, is touching the partner instead of my intention itself, very often my partner will move.

Sometimes during tai no tenkan I imagine a grid of curved lines shaping the form I know by experience. My intention is constructing the grid where my arm should flow down. Then I rest my arm in my partner’s grab and imagine sliding down the pathway I have constructed. The shadow is the grid. My intention never touches the partner.


Ushiro waza with Marius in Sjøholt, December 2016. Photo by Sigurd Hatlen.

I also imagine watching myself and my partner from above. We are two puppets in a play. I am not identifying myself with either. My intention is with the observer in the sky. The shadow of my intention is what is touching the partner. As there is no intention detectable for the partner, there is no creation of a counter intention. I am not using my intention on my partner, and my partner is not using his intention on me. We are just peacefully coexisting. The movement comes from the natural movements flowing in our body all the time. It feels like nothing, when it works.

I imagine doing all, but struggle with myself to do absolutely nothing.


The mind, the intention, the ego.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!

How about some scrambled eggs?

I love aikido very much, so I am very passionate in the way I think about how to do different things. One of those things I have been pondering about lately is what the best way would be to practice with somebody less experienced than ourselves. I still spend time thinking about how to improve the way we introduce completely new people to aikido. This was a big part of what I was doing, some years ago, but now I am not required to teach any more. That however, does not stop my thinking about how to take care of the beginners in the best way possible.

This is not only important for the teacher of the class. It is a major subject for the training partners of the beginners (and less experienced than ourselves). How should we act to help the new person come in to our society in the most smooth way possible. Even after some time of practice, there is a time of insecurity and infancy in aikido, where we are very open and vulnerable for negative comments and bad experiences. We still do not have the confidence to move on, if we meet a problem and we experience not being able to do what we are asked to do.


Janne, Maria and Peter at the seminar in Järfälla in January 2017. Photo by Jenny Lagerqvist.

It is a little bit like cooking, I think. If we want to cook something, we bring out the ingredients and the tools we need for that particular dish. We do not stable all content of all the lockers on the table,  and drag everything we have in the fridge out of there, if we only want to boil some eggs. We consider what we need for this dish, and leave the rest of our utilities and food where it is.

For a beginner in aikido there are a lot of new things. All of them are confusing, very detailed and subtle. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of new information. So I would think it would be strategically wise to introduce only as little new things as possible at the time. If we are planning to do a certain kata it would be useful to provide some solutions for the problems which we know that the new guys will face during that particular form.


Maria, at the seminar in Järfälla in January 2017. Photo by Jenny Lagerqvist.

We know from experience which problems will occur, and they are mostly the same ones for everyone. If we think through what ingredients we will need for this cooking, it will probably be enough room for what we need. However, the table of the beginner is not big enough for all the rest of the stuff we have in our kitchen. There is only so much space on that table, and it should be reserved for the parts we are going to use that particular day.

Well, that was the part I would consider if I was teaching. Now here comes the important part for all of us who are not teaching, but merely participating in the class. All of us also have our kitchens, with all of our tools and all of our stuff in the fridge, which we are very, very proud of having. If we, as a training partner throw all of our stuff on to the poor beginner’s kitchen table, it will become so full, that all the stuff he/she will need to do the current form starts falling off the edges and becomes difficult to find. And they have to start crawling under the table to search for the stuff they need and so on.


Peter at the seminar in Järfälla in January 2017. Photo by Jenny Lagerqvist.

The table is barely big enough for the stuff needed for that particular form. Later, maybe even a different day, the teacher brings out other tools and other ingredients, to cook something else. So as a partner I feel that it is important to make room for the tools and ingredients the teacher has put on the table, because it does not have room for all of our fancy stuff at that moment. The table of the beginner will grow, and can contain more and more stuff, but in the beginning it is very small, and gets easily very chaotic.

So, I really know nothing about cooking, so I will leave that metaphor for now. But I think it is a very important subject to be able to leave some “mistakes” for later. The teacher has hopefully planned this and focus on one particular theme for now, presenting solutions for half the problem now, and then the other half the following week. I also heard the Gracies talking about painting. You add one layer of paint, and when it dries, you add another layer, and so on. If you splash all the paint on at once, it will run down the wall anyway, because the wall can’t absorb as much in one go. This goes both for the teacher and all the partners running eagerly around with their brushes to put on some of their paint.


Janne at the seminar in Järfälla in January 2017. Photo by Jenny Lagerqvist.

I usually look at the expression of my partners. The eyes often show wether or not they have received too much information for what they can take. They admire us tremendously, of course, we get their respect. However, they feel stupid and worthless, if they can’t do correctly what we describe so precisely and detailed. People who feel stupid usually tries to avoid that experience, and very often by not coming back. “It was very cool, and the teacher and all the people there were very advanced, yes. But it was not for me.”

I strongly believe that too much information is just as bad as nothing at all. Nothing is probably impossible even if we tired. Just by being on the tatami and rolling around there  is a new world for new people in aikido. Very much like child learning how to walk. They will stumble a lot, and fall. But they get back up and take a few more steps, and it gets easier all the time. As long as nobody starts complaining everytime they do something wrong. Then the will to go on will slowly fade, and they will seek their thrills elsewhere. So take care of every partner you have, more advanced, at similar level and less advanced. They are the most precious beings in the Universe. Without our partners we are nothing.


Maria at the seminar in Järfälla in January 2017. Photo by Jenny Lagerqvist.

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido makes people happy!