Monday, 5 September 2011

The space between...

One of the greatest ever Martial Artists was Morihei Ueshiba
(1883 – 1969).  He was an expert at a number of Martial Arts, which as common perception goes, after an experience of ‘personal enlightenment’ (Satori) he amalgamated into the martial art of Aikido.
Today millions of Aikido enthusiasts practice the techniques he adapted and developed, thinking it the way of the Art.
When in fact his message can be misinterpreted.  They only copy some refined techniques from other arts, which he used to enable students to practice Aikido on a technical level.  Giving them a ‘key’ and a path to follow, leading them to the door of the truth.  His real revelation was in fact the discovery of taking control of ‘the space between’.  Initially in a physical sense but then as the revelation unfolded he saw the parallels with all areas and aspects of life.
His control of ‘the space between’, his timing and his innate humanity allowed him to master the space and not be at any time in a vulnerable position.  He could blend with energies and bring them into harmony and balance.  He only used his experience and techniques to bring closure to his movements when necessary.
I am sure he would have said something like – ‘There is no me or you, only us, together, as one energy in harmonious flow along the energy stream of life’. 
A few other Martial Artists have also discovered this.  Bruce Lee for example, understood and had the same insight, albeit from a different perspective.  But all paths lead to the same truth eventually.
So it is not techniques that are important, at best they are only the ‘full stops’ at the end of the ‘energy’ sentence as it were.  See the attack before it develops (even in the mind of your opponent). Be somewhere else before it arrives (be where your opponent does not want you to be).  Blend with and balance their negative energy and lead them to realisation.
See the ‘form’ - Control the space.
So, maybe the secret to most things in life in general, is to control the space between, not the person, object or situation?  This applies to all areas of life – Physical, mental, emotional, behavioural, psychological, moral, ethical etc.
An example of the physical could be in combat, where you first ‘see the form’- the intent and manner of attack before it is developed (ideally before it forms properly in your opponents mind) -  (Sen No Sen – Before the Before).  Ensure you control the space by being in a ‘between’ position, a position your opponent does not want you to be.  They will instinctively know and have judged their correct timing, position and distance from you to deliver an effective powerful attack.  You, the defender must ‘see’, first the ‘intent’, then the ‘form’ before it is delivered and move into a position to break you opponent’s rhythm and spatial control so they are ‘in between’ good distance and timing.
Usually a pre-emptive half step in the appropriate direction (area of space) is enough to disrupt and unbalance an attack. You catch them ‘out of phase’ as it were.  You now control the ‘space’ and can lead (or even combine with) and neutralise the energy within it.
An attacker’s energy can be neutralised to varying degrees by blending with their energy.  As mentioned, their timing, balance and also direction can be affected to such an extent they have no viable base which with to continue.  They will be (depending on your blending), ‘without energy’ – they will be ‘in the void’.
An analogy:  A ball/object thrown in the air has mass, energy, timing and direction on the way up and also on the way down (slightly more – gravity).  A balloon may be a simpler example of the state you are trying to get your opponent in – light and easily moved.
But – there will be a split second at the top of the trajectory when relative to its surroundings it has no kinetic energy, just potential energy.  Relatively speaking it has no mass, direction, neutral time/distance therefore no energy to directly affect its surroundings. 
You can with practice be able to get your opponent extended beyond his balance, outside of his timing, going in more than one direction at the same time with his energy dissipating ‘every which way’.  In this way he will be unable to carry out his perceived attack, you will have harmonised and neutralised his efforts.
Its then up to you how you proceed?
These principles can be used in either a positive or negative manner in all areas of life.
 Positive - Imagine using the same principle in an argument, debate, business negotiation or the many other fields of life where a fair and equitable outcome is desired.
 Negative - Or as is so often done, to control or gain unfair advantage over others.
There have been many treatises written over the ages and all illustrate in so many words the fact that it is the ‘space between’ in its many forms which affects and connects all things.  By controlling this you can affect and control this connection and thereby, what is connected to it.
See for example:         The Art of War - Tsun Tsu. 
The Book of Five Rings –  Minamoto Musashi.
 NB:  Please read ‘become’ instead of ‘control’ the space between. 
If you ‘become the space’ everything in that space is yours, any other energy coming into that space does not belong and relies on you for its integrity.
(I’m not happy with the word ‘control’, it implies direct attachment to others and competition rather than harmony).
 The Analogy of Music:
 Imagine music without the ‘spaces’ of silence between the sounds, the gaps between the notes. Without the spaces there would be constant noise, which may vary in pitch and intensity but would be chaotic and unbearable.  These spaces set the time/timing, rhythm and beat of the music, which in turn affects/controls the whole composition.  So influence in this area of the ‘space/s between’, effectively allows the leading of all these energies.  You become the ‘conductor of this orchestra of energy’.  

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