The idea that I presented in my practice session, to practice while standing on one foot, came from something Endo sensei said about four years ago: “Aren’t you doing aikido so that you can just be there?” “Just be there” – to be as you always are, no matter what the circumstance. This is heijoshin (usual state of mind) and shizentai (standing without any stance or preparedness). How to realize a practice where anyone can realize this? How to realize this without using any strength, without forcing anything?
I considered how to practice, under changing circumstances:
・stabilizing oneself (psychologically, physically)
・acting within the range of one’s own ‘ma’
・maintaining one’s physical axis
・and not using any more strength than one uses in everyday life.
What came to mind was Endo sensei’s ‘standing with the feet almost completely together’ and ‘moving the feet as though stepping on cotton batting’.
First, we pictured ‘standing with the feet almost completely together’ by standing on one foot. By doing so, possibly because one tries to stand in a way that is at ease, the knees relaxed and the center of gravity lowered. Also, because one’s consciousness was directed at the feet, the consciousness of the upper body was weakened.
I established for myself some rules for practicing standing on one foot: When one cannot manage within one’s own ma anymore, use the other foot to reposition oneself naturally, then return to standing on one foot. The point of the practice is to consider standing on one foot as the instant one is taking a step while walking. The ultimate goal is to achieve a state that is infinitely adaptable (senpenbanka) to any given circumstance. After confirming the feeling of standing on one foot, we try it with two feet, striving to keep the same feeling.
I’ve been continuing the practice of consciously standing on one foot for three years. Little by little, I’m becoming able to use my body effectively. As am not that big and my body is stiff, I am in the midst of studying how to increase my range of movement by using as much of all my joints as possible.
On this occasion, this time that I was able to practice with everyone these themes of mine was rich and full of discoveries. This time also made me painfully aware that I need to be always sincere in pursuing my own goals, while at the same time I need to value methods and words by which to express these things. I am grateful for the opportunity to gather my thoughts and attempt to express them in front of Endo sensei’s students.
Lastly, I want to express my thanks to Endo sensei and his students who practiced with me.