In Aikido, awase means “to match up”, “to blend”. Explicitly, in awase: I paradoxically harmonize with my opponent’s force. I become one with the attack. Throughout my years in Aikido, I’ve trained to enter the attack. Wait for the strong, committed strike. Then enter into the attack: be it a punch or grab.
Sensei Dan said, “You can’t do Aikido all by yourself.” Awase: Match up with my opponent. When the opponent is bigger and stronger than me, I won’t move him; if I don’t wait for him to fully commit in his attack. I can only move my opponent when we move together, mind and body. Sensei would say, “Lead the mind – lead the body.”
Take the opponent’s “center” – his one point, and make it my one point – “ki”. Now I can move my opponent because we’re one. We’re together.
Sensei said, “Not everything is the same speed.” The Art in Matching Up. Attackers come in various sizes with varying strengths: Stronger, faster. Yet, the one constant: I’m the nage – the one throwing. I’m the one in the ‘center’.
In the inception of the attack or aggression, my technique must be quicker, because I wait it out until the last moment until the attacker is fully committed – mind and body. He has no other recourse. Yet, I do. I bring the attack to me. I enter into the attack. I take the attacker’s center as my center, then I can redirect the force. Flow. Sensei said, “It’s one time.” Finish the throw. My opponent is on the mat.
Again, I can’t do Aikido all by myself. Matched up with the opponent, I apply the technique to myself. After all, we’re one. In the grander sense: My opponent doesn’t matter. It’s me overcoming myself.
Sensei said, “Make Aikido your own.” I create my relevance in my Aikido. In training with Sensei over the years, he’d show me a technique. Then he’d say, “You don’t have to do it like I do. Make it work for you.”
Sensei didn’t want me to imitate or mimic him. Rather, I recreate the technique as relevant for me. I make the technique work for me. I didn’t have to do iriminage (clothesline throw) looking like what Sensei did. Instead, I regenerated his feeling for the authenticity and intention of the throw. “Throw with your mind.” I invented my Art. Whatever that looked like. I still had to make it work.
Werner Erhard said, “There is nothing I want you to learn from me. It’s what you discover that makes you powerful.” Through Sensei’s guidance, I created relevance for myself in Aikido and in life. Relevance lands only when I discover it for me. In the pursuit of mastery, I believe relevance reveals, as in life. Discover your own relevance.
Perhaps, life is unfair by design. I say this in the context that we all have our various strengths and weaknesses. Is it fair that I’m short and small? Maybe. I accept that I have nothing to do with that. It’s what is. Relevance is discovering a way to make it all work.
In Aikido I discover that relevance, that sense of balance in the seemingly ‘unfair’. When someone attacks and is bigger and stronger than me, I wait out the attack. I take the attacker’s center and bring him to my level.
So some techniques for me don’t work on a bigger guy? Instead of iriminage, I use a wrist or arm lock. Relevance is in flow: Taking what comes to me.
Being short and small certainly doesn’t help me in the online dating realm, either. On Match dot com, a lot of women read my profile and don’t respond to my messages. I’ve got a good career, various passions and interests. Yep, and I’m 5’ 3”. That’s relevant for those women. Amen.
I get that. I move on. I do my best. Perhaps, there’s a woman out there who finds relevance in the other things that I am.
On Sunday, I trained with Sensei Bobby and Sensei Pili. We practiced entering the attack, the strike to the head. As the attacker, Bobby taught me to surrender my position: To let go. Be humble. That’s the training. That’s the bigger picture.
That’s an awful lot like life. I practice surrendering to what happens, and humility in life. There’s always more to learn. I can always become greater than I am now.
So what’s relevant to you? Your relevance can be relevant to others. Really, we’re more alike than divided. Have compassion for our human Brothers and Sisters. In the generational sense, relevance creates our own possible legacy.
My legacy lies in the kind of relevance I can bestow upon the next generation who follows me. Hopefully, they recreate their own relevance in that and pass that on as their own. The generational cycle continues. Amen. Amen.