Little House In Ise

The Easy Way
March 4, 2008, 21:07
Filed under: Aikido, Japan | Tags: , , , ,

I have heard well respected aikidoka say things along the lines of, “If you’re using muscle then it’s wrong” or more simply, “If it’s hard, it’s wrong”. This is a concept that I understand intellectually but integrating it into my daily training has taken much longer than I care to admit. The feeling of effortlessness in my waza on any kind of regular basis is quite a new phenomena for me. When I focus on how to do a technique I lose the feeling of Aikido. The movement is no longer easy and I find myself pulling or pushing my partner. Today however, I had a mini “Aha” moment.

I was stuck in the corner of the mat again, I seem to gravitate there, and, boxed in, my space was very limited. My partner was a strong young man whose technique and form were arguably much smoother than my own (I was impressed anyway). In my desire to “learn from everyone” I was doing my best to copy his form and generally making a hash of it. In doing this I would regularly find myself about to throw him into a wall or on top of another student and would have to adjust our position. Moving to make the throw safer for my uke was something I did on auto-pilot. It soon dawned on me that whenever I stopped thinking about how to do a technique and just put uke where I felt he needed to be, my Aikido flowed. There were times when uke was helping out in order to protect himself but those aside, whenever I “forgot” the technique of the moment and concentrated on where I wanted to be, I was able to guide my uke without effort. The poor guy probably had no clue as to what to make of me. My techniques were sloppy and occasionally the distinction between tenken and irimi were blurry but when I had his center he went where I wanted and it didn’t take huffing and puffing.

So, what to do with this little insight? I don’t know yet. I really do want to polish my basics and get that smooth just-so movement that I saw in my partner today. However, I also want the effortless control of uke’s balance that I see from the old guys. I need to think to make things smooth but not think to not make it right. I have to think about this… or… errr… not?


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One of my teachers sometimes catches students thinking and commands “NO MIND”. He also says that when you think too much “head gets hot,” [pats head to illustrate] “but you gotta stay cool.” That’s one of my favorites.

Comment by userhacker

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