Every art, trade, science, and study has its jargon. Aikido is no different. Jargon can be a barrier to learning, but it develops for a reason. The jargon points to specific ideas that laypeople may not comprehend without study and devotion. One idea in aikido that tripped me up was “one point.”
The principle of “keeping one point” is a translation of Tohei Sensei. Someone had to teach me what my one point was before I could keep it. It is a spot in your lower abdomen, a couple inches below your belly button. It is roughly in the same place as your center of mass.
That describes where one point is. What it is might seem odd to the Western mind. It did to me. The tanden or hara in Japanese or dantien in Chinese is the physical center and power center. It is where ki or chi flows from. It is the hubcap that all points of the body move in relation to.
Keeping it implies you can lose it. Losing one point is quite easy–let your posture slump forward. Carry tension in your shoulders. Let your mind wander. Do just about anything and that internal connection will ebb.
Keeping one point is hard to learn, harder to integrate into everyday life. Have good posture, a present mind, and let your mind be linked to your one point. I think O-Sensei’s words in The Art of Peace are clear teaching.
A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.
The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet, and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely. The physical center is your belly; if your mind is set there as well,
you are assured of victory in any endeavor.
After four years of practice, that link is growing more consistent and it is following me into daily life. I got past the jargon, past looking in the glossary, past fiddling around trying to find my one point. There is an anecdote of a student asking O-Sensei if he was better at keeping his one point than anyone else. O Sensei said “No, I just come back faster.”
Don’t worry about losing one point, losing posture, moving with tension. Just come back to one point. That is the real practice. Come back to one point.