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2.Move less, and do less, and you’ll have all the time you need
In Aikido we have a special practice called “randori”, where you get simultaneously attacked by several students.
Now to be clear, none of your attackers are looking to do bodily harm. Mainly they’re attempting to get ahold of you and take you down to the mat. When things don’t go well you usually wind up getting caught from behind, wrestled to the ground, and subdued. When you’re taking a nationwide test in front of a few hundred people, this can be a humiliating experience.
By the time I was practicing for my third degree black belt test I had to contend with five attackers at one time, and this required a lot of training.
I was in a special class for advanced students and one of my sensei’s assistants was filming. First time around I was up against five very enthusiastic college students. I was quickly overwhelmed by them and sensei was calling out to me, “Slow down, slow down!”
I felt like I was participating in the bull run in Pamplona and sensei was suggesting I slow down so the bulls could catch up with me!
We tried the practice a second time. Sure enough I got trapped again, and sure enough sensei was calling out again for me to “Slow down!”.
Sensei looked at me shaking his head. “You don’t believe me do you,” he said.
“The slower you go, the more in control you’ll feel. The slower you go, the sooner a path will appear.”
“You need to be calm and pause, until an opening presents itself”
Well, I couldn’t help but say, in as playful a voice as possible, “Easier said than done!”
“Of course!” sensei said. “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth your time and effort. If you are looking for ‘easy’ you should study another martial art.”
Having said this, sensei got up and performed against the same five students.
No worries. Everyone was quickly dispatched and sensei was left standing on his own.
Then, sensei asked his assistant to show us the footage he’d been shooting. Sure enough, I looked like Charlie Chaplin trying to avoid oncoming traffic. Sensei on the other hand, seemed to be directing the traffic towards, and then away from himself.
Finally, sensei asked his assistant to play the footage in slow motion.
“See” he said, “You are never calm, never still. You’re trying to catch up with what’s going on, rather than leading the proceedings.”
“Notice the difference.” he said, as we looked at the footage of him performing.
“Movement, calmness, movement, calmness, and always in harmony with my breath.”
“If I move too soon, they charge after me.”
“If I pause just a moment, they rush to the spot where I was, and not to the spot where I am.”
“They focus on the past, while I do my best to stay in the present.”
“What’s making this hard for you is your lack of confidence, and your belief that what you’re doing is difficult,”
“The more you hurry the more you worry, and the more your mind becomes scattered.”
“A scattered mind has no focus, and no clear path.”
“With no clear path, you become like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car. You become the prey.”
“I don’t want to overstate all of this.” sensei said, “But I’m guessing you might find the same to be true in your everyday life.”
“Move less and do less, and the world will come to you.”
“Move less, and do less, and you’ll have all the time you need.”