Savour and flow. The heart of Freeforming. Embracing the moment in a breath cycle. Breathing in – savouring what ever my experience is in this situation. I breathe you in. Breathing out – flowing in the experience, falling into you.
This is our working unit. This is our eternity. In this way the moment expands from a fleeting knife edge bruised between buffeting continents of past and future, into a broad plateau, a wide, open arena of pliable, encompassing space. This is our play ground.
“a kinaesthetic and emotional sensing of others – knowing their rhythm, affect and experience by metaphorically being in their skin, and going beyond empathy to create a two-person experience of unbroken feeling connectedness by providing a reciprocal affect and/or resonating response” (p. 236).
Erskine, R. (1998). Attunement and involvement: Therapeutic responses to relational needs. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(3), 235-244.
the therapist must feel the other side, the patients side of the relationship, as a bodily touch to know how the patient feels.
Buber, M. 1967. In R. Anshen (Ed.), A believing humanism: Gleanings by Martin Buber New York:Simon and Schuster
“tying awareness/intention” – a process of continually unfolding connection.
and awareness of different levels of physical and energetic feedback that enables spontaneous creative experience of Aiki (meeting energy)
See Aikido As A Martial Art © by Lawrence Novick, Ph.D. http://home.earthlink.net/~aiki1/martial.html
mutual engagement between subjects who consensually attend and attune to one another’s emotive states, expressions and gestures in a prereflective and nonverbal mode of felt immediacy.
Braten, Stein http://stein-braten.net/p00044.htm
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.
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”.
Ambient Jam – Florence Peake spoke astutely of the possibility of “uniqueness, diversity AND connection”. I immediately realised that is one of the wonders of freeform aikido for me. Within our practice, rather than struggling with the very different energies, postures and attitudes of our practice partners, they are liberated and find space to play in connection – in ki-musubi.
This feels very different from practices I have experienced in form or kata based practises, where human diversity always seems to be in conflict with the crystaline geometries of a conceptualised technique imposed upon it.
Freeform aikido practice seems very capable of celebrating the rich and deep diversity of our humanity as it resonates in communion.