Little House In Ise

Too Much Muscle?
December 4, 2007, 13:20
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , ,

Last night I trained with one of my favorite partners at Sarutahiko Jinja. Ota-san is a young, 2nd kyu student whose ukemi and technique are strong and energetic. My main challenge when working with her is to contain my own physical strength and instead focus on timing, balance and flow. Since her energy and intent are good training my timing is also good. However, since she is light, I sometimes have trouble knowing whether I executed a technique by relying on muscle.

When bigger, physically stronger uke resist, recognizing whether my reaction is based on brute force or proper aiki is much easier. If I find myself straining to pull or otherwise force an uke to move then it is clear that I have failed in using aiki. If a resisting uke keeps toppling that indicates that, at the very least, their balance had been broken early enough for the technique to succeed. This is a good start and a great goal but I am currently trying to integrate a different feeling into my Aikido.

When working with some nage, uke will often have what has been described by others as a feeling of “falling into a hole”. It is not just being off balance but rather disastrously off balance. Imagine reaching out to lean your whole weight on a fence then having the fence disappear. That is the “falling into a hole” sensation that I strive to impart.

The first time I was aware of this feeling was during a very slow application of katatetori ikyo ura. A hole opened right in the middle of the mat. I couldn’t see it but the ground obviously wasn’t where I had left it. I have been trying to add that to all of my Aikido. It is still easiest for me, as nage, to feel success or failure when working with larger and stronger uke. So, last night’s practice with Ota-san pushed me in ways the big guys don’t. It forced me to be more sensitive and relaxed even at her very fast tempo.

Good uke are worth MORE than their weight in gold. I am going to miss her and the other members of the Mieken Aikidokai.


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