Sometime last year afraid of possibly offending me a senior student was being cautious on how to have this conversation. Sensing his
hesitation and the issue I asked him how his other training was going. He looked very surprised, The tension eased and he said good, and quickly was apologising. He added that he does not have any one else to train with and hence needs to do this. And then asked me "How did you know? Who told you Sensei?" I told him that his movements had changed, and I had adumbrated the hallmarks of another familiar system. I asked him to ease up "Its a free world, and you are allowed to go train when and where you want. I do not own you! No need to apologize. Besides, trying different things out is also the only way to know to which tune you move/dance the best. Choosing to cross train or training exclusively in another art does not negate our system of Aiki nor our teaching. In many ways its perhaps enhances what you do. And in the process if you do find something even better suited for your unique needs then good for you. Keep me informed of your discoveries."
I told him about my own cross training in both Chinese Internal Martial Arts (CIMA) and Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). " I LOVE and TEACH Aikijujutsu, and the cross training has only added to my own understanding of Aiki. I am able to see both the problems and solutions in combat with a different sets of lenses. The cross training has served to make my study of Aiki even more conscientious and informed - esp the genius of Aiki In Yo Ho. This kind of cross training does not take away from any art, it infact increased my appreciation for them all. And more importantly pointed me towards a sequence of learning/being" -
Step 1 - the pursuit of technique (Religion of Style) Step 2 - the pursuit of specific principle/s (Religion of SYstem) Step 3 - the pursuit of spontaneous response (Religion of self expression) Step 4 - the pursuit of generalized harmony (A state of religiousness, generalized principles and mirroring) Step 5 - Empty Mind
(I do draw a fundamental distinction between religion and religioussness. Religion ties you down to a set of beliefs and methods of interacting with those issues greater than yourself (including but not exclusively combat), whereas the state of religiousness is about embracing all the fragrances, commonality across all ways of knowing while interacting with that which is greater than self.In the context of martial arts religion is about adherence to a very strict interpretation of what can/cant be done, usually coming from a source outside of yourself - this IMHO usually blinds you to a LOT... Religiousness is this context is the ability to spontaneously respond to what ever emerges, and aligning oneself to whole - in a way that enhances everything everywhere. I can keep going on this but do not want to diagress...if the model/ling itself is of interest to you, ping me privately)
Fast forward a few months, An email from another senior student made me smile. IN a relaxed manner he started opening up about his effective application of Aiki Principles into his other training, and the beginnings of seeing the unity of the arts - based on generalized principles. And it makes me happy that in this sharing, and open acceptance has solidified not only our relationship, but also pushing them towards that state of generalized harmony, and ultimately emptiness ... which are also my own pursuits at this time.
So this is specifically for two of the senior students working on other arts in addition ot KAR Aiki with me- go at it with all your heart, and explore them fully. This is perhaps one of the best ways to validate what you have learnt from me, refine your understanding and restructure what/how you do things that work for you. Cheers on your journey, you have not offended me, on the contrary am very proud that you have taken your growth seriously into your own hands.
You may/may not end up choosing a very different route, and means however I look forward to seeing the same horizon together, and hear stories from your journey to the same destination!