The journey of the budoka is often described allegorically as that of climbing a mountain, its a great allegory! A long difficult journey, many paths joinging into one, getiing lost and finding ones way, I’ve mused on it myself and found it quite helpful.
Recently I have wondererd if the reverse a useful truism, that is we start Budo at a mountain top and journey to join the ocean eventually. Its not a new idea of course ( rarely am I accussed of anything original ).
Maruyama sense’s. Famous Doka reads “Every river has a name. However, these names disappear when they flow into the great ocean. Aikido has many styles, many names, but Aikido is Aikido. It is my vision and hope that, like the rivers, they flow together and unite as one”
When you start out on the journey of Budo its pretty straight forward and much like walking down a mountain. Initially the way is clear and easy, there are not to many hard decisions along the way , and like a flowing stream you meet a growing group of people to share the path err river with. Pretty soon you’re wizzing past the milestones grading regularly, in fact with alarming regularity and all the while caught up in a growing momentum to help keep you moving. And the more you practice the more you see similarities with other rivers in your art. And as you join them at the tributaries and perhaps even in other martial school and eventually completely different arts too start to have more in common that different.
However its not to long before the pace of the river slowsup, it becomes tidal, brackish and maybe even a bit smelly. Its here many slip off into the shallows and in time maybe come stuck there ending up in a stagnate pool or a billabong over time. But pressing on we arrive at the river esturarys and fertile marsh lands as we get closer to the great ocean. This is often around the time we exit the formal school gradings systems, where having done all the kata and learned all the techniques (at least externally) and its difficult to know where to go.
The great ocean lies not far away but here too at the estuaries are the great cities (dare i say martial organisations) of the world to delight and bedazzle, and here in the marshes along with the guides can lurk the crocodiles and predators too ( yes the skilled and near great – growing their followers but perhaps not able to guide them to the ocean)! too. The great ocean lies not far away but the way is now often occluded, perhaps directionless wandering ensues, trudging through mud ( sweat and great effort) in the hope of making progress. In time though you can hear the ocean, hear the delight of those that have found their way their to the shores and are diving in, but for now the trudge to find your way through by effort,studying , listening out and following blindly one you trust are often your only guides. In these time the company of like minded Arganouts is a treasure