I began training Freeform Aikido in February of this year, since joining I have been surprised by the number of unexpected benefits to be found in this discipline. Aside from the obvious benefits of training to improve physical fitness and co-ordination I have also found that the practice has given me a space to explore ideas that have been of great interest to me in my creative practice as a designer, in particular the notion of reading intent.
One of the first concepts Peri introduced me to be the concept of Kimusubi, the idea of oneness and connection. In my practice as a designer I have become interested in developing an approach to practice that does not rely on a fixed approach, technique, or style instead I have tried to develop an approach where my choices are informed by the values present in the subject, people and environment. Working in this manner is much more like stumbling, feeling for a sense of what is present and of value. In taking this approach I have found myself developing not just a more intuitive and honest approach but also more importantly a practice, which is born out of the relationship with the people, I work with.
In my first training session with Peri it was obvious that a similar idea was at play in our practice. I wasn’t being asked to learn a technique or system of responses, instead I was asked to feel the intent not just of my partner but also of environment and myself. I’ve been taught a few basic principles of how to protect my self and my partner when Freeforming such as rolling and extending. Outside of this I have found that listening for Kimusubi has been enough to inform my choices when Freeforming, a feeling of extension in the shoulder, a bending of the knees towards the body, a drawing of breath, all these things are there in the moment informing myself and my partner. I have had no formal training in traditional Aikido but listening closely for Kimusubi I’ve found myself responding in a way that has not been learned but would be recognizable to many as a form born of the ideas of Aikido.
Freeform Aikido has offered me the opportunity to understand myself in relation to the practice both on and off the mat and aside from this it continues to be a fun and uplifting experience.