About the Freeforming Seminar October 2009 by Caroline Redl

Dear Peri,

I’m very grateful to have had this wonderful experience of Freeforming again.

The training is a great opportunity to become more physically and mentally present. It dissolves  habitual ways of doing things and gives me new perspectives and flexibility in my work as an actress and aikido practitioner.

It’s good to break  the rules again!

Listening to my own body, trusting it and following its movements was an enriching experience. Getting my head “out of the way” opened new fields of experience and lightness. This experience of letting go was so refreshing.

Freeforming makes you really aware of your partner and the space you move in. I felt the benefit of this when I returned to my work and my aikido training.

I also found it very helpful to work with Freeforming in my teaching. Aikido is complex. It can take a long time to become aware of the inner processes that aiki movements have on your body and spirit. I experienced Freeforming as a clever short cut that makes issues like contact, flexibility instantly physically accessable.

I started using elements of Freeforming with great response in my aikido classes as well as in my movement training classes for actors.

Freeforming is like a wordless international language of the body and emotions.

People are suddenly moving gracefully in awareness together.It’s hard to believe it is emerging in the moment without any rehearsals!

Thank you Peri for this great experience and thank you to all the wonderful people I’ve worked and leaned with in October 09 at the Konjiki Dojo.

Hope we all meet soon again and expand our freeform experiences!

Take care and all the best from Berlin



mood contagion as kimusubi

In practice to day with Carl – we weren’t getting it….

Despite our best efforts we were unable to connect. To find kimusubi. To meet each other.

I tried slowing to allow connection in stillness – no joy.

I tried moving as fast as I could to catch up with what I perceived as Carls flickering attention. No dice.

We paused to review. “we are not communicating” Carl succinctly put it.

We tried again. I then remembered how Carl had a number of times referred to mood. This term had never entirely clicked with me. However, I decided to focus on this. What was the mood in the room? I  felt as though  my zone of awareness  lowered. My sense of smell perked…

Boom – we were connecting! The Practice instantly moved from an arid desert to a rich, vocal and emotional dynamic engagement.

I realised I had been looking for communication on the first or second floor – but Carl was looking for me in the basement. Our kimusubi or connection happened in the  ambiance of our meeting rather than the detailed alignment of our focus or attention. The connection felt like that of a pack of animals with coordination of roaming  rather the pointed precision of duelists. In psychological terms we are talking mood contagion.

This was no new area for me to practice in, but one I hadn’t consciously made explicit to myself in my conceptualisation of freeforming practice. It could have been described as the id of our situation.

So, Carl, thanks for your patience in helping me realise this crucial aspect of practice.

Holding attention

Hiro and Peri with Paper

Hiro and Peri and Paper

I may use my eyes to see the direction of your attention but  I can feel your attention upon me.

I can feel where your attention is.

I can sense when I hold your attention.

I can also break your attention. I can neglect your attention and move too fast.

In kimusubi our attentions  are like lights shining back at each other. And like a bright light I feel the “heat” of your attention.

In the past few weeks I have been focusing on our ability to be moved, to be motionally responsive to our partners attention. We experimented with one person restricted in their travel by having to remain on a large sheet of paper. This challenges the free participant to release thier mobility.

I was also interested how in a particularly fast engagement my own volition could override my responsiveness. I discovered that at speed I needed to allow my awareness to “fall” or “rest” in my partners movement. This receptivity allows for a direct connection with less of  the interuptive mediation of my will.

These past few weeks in order to hone our attention skills we have refrained from much actual physical contact.

Car and Peri

Carl and Peri

This has been intense and rewarding in the distinction and clarity it brings to the practice. Kimusubi is about attentional linking. This can sometimes be muddied by the mechanics of a physical contact when pressure and weight bearing can be confused with attentional focus. It is the attentional focus that might distinguish Kimusubi free-form practice from, say, contact improvisation.

where your energy is….

I noticed with a number of trainings  there is demand that a practitioners “energy” inclination, arousal arrangement be a certain way. At times this can be at odds with where theirenergy is. This I realise creates a problem in aikido practice. If the goal is unification though  joining energy –kimusubi– we are at once creating a split between the practitioners actual energy state and that demanded of the practitioner.

With this in mind I am attempting to encourage practitioners to stay where there energy currently is. Using the a deepened breath to heighten this awareness. Practice then evolves from from following the direction of any energy and opening to the influence of the energies of those around, without loosing touch with our own energies.

This will be familiar to Gestaltists as both the paradoxical theroy of change and the practice of inclusion.

“lose your mind and come to your senses” – warming up

I realise that Fritz Perl’s catch phrase “lose your mind and come to your senses” neatly sums up my approach to “warming up”.

For me to prepare for freeform practice I need to shift mode from “thinking about” and doing, to feeling. That is, grounding my self in my “felt sense” allowing my awareness to play in sensation. In practice I do this by using my inhalation to feel whatever there is to be felt and exhaling into that. Dissolving. Any movements I make are then to heighten sensation in as many areas of me as possible. This of course rapidly bring me to my awareness of my environment, ground and air temperature and others I am working with.

When facilitating a warm up in a group I am now wary that I will become too much the focus of the groups attention. That they will watch, and do and still leave themselves in the realm of “thinking about and doing”.