No Emptiness-Furuya Sensei repost

originally posted November 24, 2002

Today, we had an interesting discussion in our Iaido Class. In practice, we work on our techniques and follow a step-by-step process of getting each movement correctly. However, as we progress, we must begin to think about the movement and the “empty spaces” between the movements as well. It is like viewing a Japanese ink painting. The empty spaces of the composition are equally important as the painted in areas. In Iaido technique, the empty spaces are equally important.

In each movement, there is a contrary or contradictory movement which is created simultaneously with each movement. This is the “yin” and “yang” of all movement or we can say the “kyo” and “jitsu” of the technique. In other words, the “reality” and the “falsehood” or “empty space” of the movement. As much as we fill in the actual movements in our normal training, we must also cover the “empty” movements as well. This is what we must begin to consider in our practice.

As we cut and raise the sword above our heads to make the second overhead cut, for example, there is an “interval” or “empty space” in the time in between the first and second cut. How do you “fill” it in? It is this space of “false” or “negative” movement where we are vulnerable and open to attack. It is this “suki” or opening which we must begin to “fill in” in our training.

In Aikido we think about the “out pouring” of our ki energy. Most of us think that this is the way to create power in our techniques against the opponent. There is another aspect of this as well in practice. The outpouring of ki is much like the strong outpouring from water from a spring. This outpouring also creates “no space” where another energy can enter. . . . . It is in this same respect, that we create a strong outpouring of energy that we also create a pose in which there is no opening as well.

In an old Japanese ink painting, we immediately look at the painted in parts and areas of ink. We should look more carefully at the treatment of the “empty” spaces as well – these spaces of “non-painting.” In Aikido and Iaido, we look at the movements but now we see the “non-movement” aspects of each of these techniques. This is not easy to understand – and harder yet to explain! Please continue to practice hard. . . . Good luck!

Furuya’s Law: All movement has its contrary or opposite movement. There is no true form without content. There is no true content without from.

It is often the case, where the teacher must make the art easier to understand. This is not an easy task. It helps greatly, if the student makes himself easy to be taught. Some students are just very difficult to teach. It is not that they have a hard time learning, they are just difficult to teach. It doesn’t make the job easier, please think about this.

When I was very young, I had a very hard time learning Aikido or anything. In concentrated and focused my attention to this and eventually was able to catch on. Whatever technique or strategy you use to learn Aikido, there is nothing more important than just wanting to learn it very, very much.

I can’t stand it when students treat Aikido like a buffet, bouncing here and there, trying a little of this and that. You know, as everyone knows, a buffet never make the best meal – you are only satisfied because you can have quantity but not necessarily quality. What kind of way is this to learn Aikido? I knew a chef who never put salt or pepper on the tables of his guests. He was so proud of his skill in cooking and prepared the best meals he could with the best ingredients he could find, he felt that they would never need it – and he was right! This is the real meal – and this is the real way to enjoy Aikido.

Miyamoto Musashi ate like a poor man and dressed in rags and really didn’t care about it. But his swords were always of the finest qualily – this is how a real warrior acts and thinks. He wrote this as a rule to himself and followed it all of his life.

Please don’t do this yourselves! But in your practice, there should be no compromise of quality. This is the point!