A prospective student came in one night and was observing class. I asked him if he had any questions. He asked “what kind of mind-body-spirit improvement will I get if I train here? What specifically do you do that improves mind-body-spirit?” What a wonderful and complicated question. I believe the student was right to ask such an important question, but I also believe he was looking for a one-sentence answer. Silly Student.
Most martial arts schools pay lip service to the mind-body-spirit idea, but many do not deliver. For many the concept is too esoteric, and it is left up to the student to “find” it within his/her training. Actually I believe it boils down to a relatively simple concept – if you want to strive for mind/body/spirit improvement in your life, you must strive to become perfect at your chosen endeavor.
I had the privilege of watching the “Yamato” taiko drummers give a performance in Lincoln last weekend. It was phenomenal. They received multiple standing ovations. The audience could tell at once that is was more than just a good drum performance. It was athletic. It was graceful. It was transcendent. It was beautiful. I read that the drummers all live together on the road, so they can pick up the nuances of each other. Their daily routine consists of a 10K run, followed by weight lifting ( which was definitely required judging from their performance) until noon. They practice drumming together in the afternoon, and individual practice continues until they go to bed at night. They are on the road 10 months a year in foreign countries, and either prepare, perform, clear, or travel from their performances.
The Yamato drummers are a clear example of striving for perfection, and the mind-body-spirit is manifest in their performance. “Wait,” you say, “my mom used to say nobody’s perfect”. That may be true. But that does not mean you cannot strive to become perfect. The struggle is what is important.
Do you want to find the mind-body-spirit connection in your Aikido training? Excellent. Strive with every fiber of your being to execute your techniques perfectly. Strive to develop perfect awareness. Become perfectly calm in your mind. Will you ever become perfect? Maybe not, but your training and your life will be taken to a whole new level. The level of mind-body-spirit.