“Maintain Correct Posture”
I’ve been practicing Kokikai-ryu Aikido for many years now, but every time I go to Camp I feel like a beginner again, since something obvious finally cracks my fat head. This time, it was a further understanding of one of our Basic Principles: Maintain Correct Posture.
Correct posture has always been emphasized, ever since I was a white belt. This almost always has been through static Ki Tests, which demonstrated a solidity of posture at crucial points in a technique. You would test before a technique started, to see if you’re pre-qualified to address the attack, so to speak. You would test at the end of the technique to see if your foundation remained solid as you threw uke. But there is often all sorts of contortions going on during a technique that are often compensated by speed, strength or leverage. Hate to say it, but much of what I see has to do with men and their upper bodies.
This camp, looking at Sensei and other sempai on the mat, I finally understood the genius of the way the Principles are phrased. They don’t say “Have Correct Posture”, but “Maintain Correct Posture”. That verb is so very important. Finally I noticed (fat head alert) that posture didn’t change, or changed very little, from the initial contact to the finish of a technique. There is of course some hand and foot movement, but the torso remains calm and tall and balanced on the hips, the head remains upright.
In the last week since Camp, I’ve been consciously practicing this maintenance, and find that it has affected my mental state quite a bit, making my mind calmer, relaxed and more responsive. Several years ago I wrote that progress is akin to peeling away layers of an onion, and as you get more experienced the layers you peel get thinner and thinner. Well, I was slightly off base. Even after over 20 years of practice, sometimes you have to peel away a thick layer.