Rhythm and Timing

I’ve spent a bit of time lately thinking about rhythm and how it relates to both Aikido and music. I’ve played guitar almost all of my life and as a musician, I’ve understood the importance of rhythmic patterns in music. If I am to play with other musicians, then this is the framework that we communicate our musical expression, through the rhythm of the music.

Rhythm happens in everything, and it naturally happens in Aikido. Form can only be achieved through several moments in time and it’s timing and rhythm of a partner that I see I need to address most if I’m to be fluid in my technique. The act of blending with a partner smoothly is done through the understanding and acknowledgment of their own rhythm; too fast and you will end up hurting them, too slow and the technique can be weak.

I remember having a music teacher talk about the same thing. He was on a piano and was talking about technique. He talked about playing in the lower registers of the piano and then having to moe up many keys to the higher register to play a high note for a piece. He demonstrated this by playing notes on the lower register, pausing and then finding that he has to hurry up to the higher notes of the piano to still keep time with the temp and rhythm of the piece. He then demonstrated his movement where as he finishes the last notes of the lower register, he doesn’t pause but rather moves fluidly to the upper registers. There was little or no aural difference but the point he was making was that it aids the musician in his piece of mind to continue confidently, to feel centered and grounded as the performance goes on.

So almost 30 years later I can take this and not only apply it to my music but allow it to cross over into my Aikido training too.

Aikido and music have much to share. The term “Harmony” is first, a musical term. In music, harmony cannot happen without the concept of time, and the frame work that allows harmony to happen is rhythm. If I am hurried in my technique, cannot harmonize and find my partners rhythm, my Aikido will be no good. Neither will my music. More importantly, there is a voice and an inner rhythm that I need to pay attention to and allow myself to heed the ever changing rhythm inside.

I’m looking forward to my class this afternoon. Onegaishimasu!

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