Vision in Aikido practice
In Aikido class last Wednesday, our teacher Carlton talked about focusing on the opponent's "center line" in order to paradoxically open up one's entire field of awareness. I've been thinking about this and I think the paradox is explained by the fact that when one relationship shifts, all relationships then necessarily shift. So if we are truly focused and on the lookout for even the slightest change in one area, we will notice change, period.
Mostly he seems adamant about making sure we focus our gaze while practicing, not look off in the distance or slightly tilt our heads as we "look" inside our minds to remember what we are trying to do. He is very perceptive at noticing these signs of departure from the physical world and will always interrupt a student if their gaze is not on the actual matter at hand.
I have been realizing how very ordinary it is to have inner vision or a "third eye." It seems very habitual to "see" in our minds, especially when we are learning or trying to remember. At one point years ago I came across a Laban-based or other study that determined that people look with their physical eyeballs in certain directions when looking within for answers to various types of questions. Like looking diagonally up and to the right when speculating about the future, for example—but I don't recall the exact findings.
In the same class, Ed was teaching me, again, his excellent lesson that a person will defend against what they see coming. If they can't see you coming, they can't defend and you have the advantage. He told me this is called hitoriwaza. I looked it up just now. The meaning that seems to be given in a few places is "invisible partner practice," or practicing forms alone. But Ed seems to mean it to be "becoming invisible to your attacker so you can protect yourself and take them down."
It's a difficult lesson to embody and once in awhile I get it and feel invisible. Interestingly, when this is successful, the opponent is knocked off balance with little or even no touch. It's like invisibility transmutes into visible insubstantial-ity as, as the last second, the opponent sees my quickly approaching presence come out of nowhere at an off-balance moment when all they can do is fall down to get out of the way.
As a final note here I just want to jot down that I've been just beginning to explore the alignments and divergences of inner sight and actual seeing, and how this works in action.