When we begin as white belts, we make a lot of mistakes, hell, even after almost twenty years in Aikido, I am still making a tonne of mistakes. Same goes for my teacher Harry sensei, he is not perfect, which he has admitted before, but there is a distinction in the mistakes we make at different level.
When we are a beginners, we make BIG mistakes, such as taking a left turn which is a right. doing a tenkan instead of an irimi (so common!). We often get the kamae (stance) wrong, hands too low, knees locked, feet too narrow or too wide. And we are often blind and unable to spot theses mistakes ourselves and we have to have externally assisted corrections by our peers or seniors. At this stage, we do not know the rights from wrongs in the particular discipline we have chosen. We have to be led.
When we are a little more senior, we tend to become a little defensive about the mistakes we make, and it seems that it is often our partner who is making more mistakes than us, and when we are corrected, we react out of instinct that there wasn’t any mistakes at all. Sometimes, we would be told, that our turning is not enough, and we go, ‘sure it is!’ only to realize later that it actually isn’t. This stage we begin to understand and becoming aware of our mistakes.
Then again, when we become a little more senior, we begin to accept that we are more imperfect than perfect. At the same time, takes a little pride (sometimes too much, a little!) that we have come a long way. So we know we make mistakes, and when our peers, typically is our senior, or sensei, tell us our mistakes. And at this point. We can see that our sensei has ‘right’ and we are ‘wrong’ from there we make the appropriate adjustments and try not to make the same mistakes again. We have grown to accept that we make mistake, but has yet to achieve self-awareness.
The next stage, it becomes more and more frustrating, as you become aware of your own mistakes, the perfectionist in you sets in, even though you know there is no such thing as a perfect Aikido. So like plying chess, upon the wrong first step, you flip the whole chess board and start all over again, only to do it wrong. The determination and frustration to get is perfectly right makes you a feisty nage to handle. I can tell that right now I am at this stage. I constantly correct myself, by resetting the technique; and it is bloody hair ripping frustrating!
Making Perfect Mistakes
This stage, is when you are able to constantly adjust yourself, and your technique no longer contains mistakes, nor is it perfect. When you get the timing wrong, you simply move and adjust your technique in accordance to the ebb and flow of the situation. Your partner might catch you making a mistake, and before he can capitalize on it, you have already moved on to correct it. The fluidity is one that mistakes is accept without judgment and prejudice, this is the epitome of our pursuit. At here we will finally be at peace.