Aikido Zen

From the January 2019 Greater Than Code podcast interview "114: Theory of Mind with Jean-François Cloutier", wise comments on balance and selflessness:

JF: Aikido is one of my passions. I spend way too many hours at the dojo and I'm constrained by my wife who says she will not become an Aikido widow. I would spend much more time than I do right now and I spend a lot of time. I appreciate her forbearance. But Aikido informs everything I do. It's the Zen cone of martial arts. It's a martial art that evacuates conflict. It's a martial art where you don't have antagonism or you eliminate antagonism. There's no competition.

When someone attacks, your goal is to become one with the attacker, so that you move as one for a while, at least, and in a highly empathetic connection with your assailant and then, you protect yourself and you resolve the attack in a way that also protects the attacker from harm. It's a martial art where if you want things to happen, if you're greedy about the outcome, then the outcome is not what you want. It's self-defeating. So it's a martial art that really goes against ego. Your ego gets polished to nothing if you practice long enough.

Also, to go back to predictive processing, a lot of Aikido is information warfare. You're essentially trying to hack the predictive processing mechanisms of the person attacking you. You don't want to push or pull where you grab, you don't want to manipulate the person who's grabbing, you want to create no prediction errors basically when you're doing the technique, which leads to interesting situations where you commit to a full strike, you're attacking a master, you're committing to a full strength, big strike over the head and moving at full speed and then before you know it, you're flying in the air and asking yourself, "How did I get here? I did not feel anything."

I love it to bits, and it also changes the way you deal with people, you deal with problems. You don't think of it as a conflict. You think of it as, "How can I join this person's worldview and how can we move together in a way that's beneficial to both?" It's a very different world and I think it colors everything I do now. It's also where I can do some acrobatics at my age and be where it falls and have my feet over my head and go over the mat and just get my ya-ya's out. It looks like it's too philosophical about it either.

(cf Aikido Spirit (2003-12-09), Unselfing (2009-01-14), Control Theory of Taiji (2014-07-23), Mantra - No Others (2016-06-27), Four Letter Words (2017-01-11), Thinking in Systems (2017-11-03), Superpowers - Systems Thinking, Asking, and Listening (2019-01-29), ...) - ^z - 2019-04-05