I begin with the following definition of power: "Power is the capacity, ability and willingness to act." which I have taken from, What is Power, and How Can It Be Used for the Common Good?; an essay by Robert Linithicum, IESC.
If I am to wield power I need the capacity to wield it, the ability to wield it and the willingness to wield it. I shall look at each requirement (capacity, ability and willingness) individually as it relates to my Aikido practice.
In order to wield power I must first have the capacity to do so. This means I must develop or otherwise amass the resources required for me to exercise power. In the case of my Aikido training the resources I need to develop are exemplified by the following:
"To practice properly the Art of Peace you must:
Calm the spirit and return to the source.
Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness and desire.
Be ever-grateful for the gifts received from the universe, your family, Mother Nature and your fellow human beings."
- Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace, translated by John Stevens.
When I remain calm in the face of adversity (calm the spirit), keep one point (return to the source); when I rid myself of emotional negativity (Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness and desire.); when I celebrate the gifts that are mine by virtue of simply living in the world (Be ever-grateful for the gifts received from the universe, your family, Mother Nature and your fellow human beings.) I possess the capacity to wield power as an expression of my Aikido.
The practice of Aikido gives me the opportunity to experience the peacefulness associated with a calm spirit while all around me chaos ensues in the form of my partner(s) seeking to breech my defenses. In the course of my study I experience the loss of my center over and over yet am able to return to it with increasing ease the longer I train. Aikido training has helped me immensely in ridding myself of the negativity that has plagued me for much of my adult life. Aikido is a learning experience that contains within itself the resources I need in order to develop the capacity to wield power. Capacity to wield power is built up slowly as a consequence of dedicated study and practice.
The techniques of Aikido are the tools I need to develop the ability to wield power. Practice and mastery of the technique syllabus enhances my ability while simultaneously providing feedback that I use to further hone my capacity. Training is the key. Again, from The Art of Peace, Morihei Ueshiba implores us to:
"Day after day
Train your heart out,
Refining your technique:
Use the One to strike the many!
That is the discipline of a Warrior."
Aikido practice transforms by nature. Body, mind and spirit are all impacted, individually as well as indivisibly. I get on the mat, I teach, I learn, I train and each session sees a slightly different me leave the dojo. The ability I develop to execute technique becomes the physical manifestation of the power I have the capacity to wield.
As I continue to study and practice Aikido, my capacity and ability grow. I become increasingly more adept at dealing with situations calmly and centered. I have a set of tools at my disposal to draw on as the situation dictates. All that is left for me is to have the willingness to exercise the power I have developed. I don't decide to exercise power. The situation gives rise to the decision and to succeed I must act in accordance with what I have learned and not second guess myself. Willingness is the purging of voluntary action in favor of giving rein to my training.
Morihei Ueshiba in The Art of Peace puts it this way:
"Free of weakness,
The sharp attacks
of your enemies:
Step in and act!"
I train to unify mind and body. The more mind/body coordination I possess the closer I am to being able to operate in the moment. To wield power in the moment capacity, ability and willingness are concurrently brought to bear on a situation. The power is sharply focused on a contracted frame reference and I experience high state of awareness.
The power I seek to develop in my Aikido study is not the power to do something to someone; it's not the power of dominance. Rather my power lies in my ability to to do with me as I will, in accord with whatever situation I find myself in. Having internalized the fact that power is an expression of my actions, I realize that all the power lies within me and is mine to wield in varying degrees determined by circumstances, in the moment.