Aikido as a RESPONSIVE art!

Today we worked on Ukemi, offcially called “The Art of Falling” but this time as we worked on it, it was more the art of responding. We focused on the Uke part of Aikido, practiced some falling parts but much of our work was about maintaining the balance between knowing what is coming as Uke and reacting spontaneously.

At the close of class Sensei said something like “Aikido is not a Martial Art but a Responsive Art” or something like that (As with so much of Aikido I can't remember what Sensei says or does, no matter how much I want to). To be fair, he later also said that obviously Aikido is a martial art.

For a moment today I felt like I was getting close to appropriate responsiveness as Uke to Iriminage. I actually felt my center following nage's technique, which of course I've often been told to do, but today I felt it.

Ukemi for Iriminage has been one of my greater weak points. Iriminage is a foundation technique and my response to it has always been awkward, so each time we practice it I am simultaneously eager and fearful.

After class I talked with Sensei and he emphasized (in effect) that we need to recognize, and work more on, the Ukemi side of Aikido. And that as our Ukemi improves so does our Techniques. In fact he mentioned that in rank testing the Shihan of France, Christian Tissier, examined not only techniques applied by Black Belt students but their Ukemi.

The IrimiNage Christian Tissier video shows a little of what we practiced today. Particularly notice the “sliding” effect as uke is first drawn around nage. We did not follow through with the flashy roll over nage's leg.


Anonymous said...

That was a good class last night.

uchi deshi said...

Very nice. I like the idea of ukemi as a responsive art. That's perfect!

ZeppoManx said...

I think I and other beginners think of Ukemi mainly as rolling smoothly, not stumbling as an Uke, and hoping to someday do those kick-ass high break falls.

That class was about none of that. In fact I think we can say those things are all just side effects and possibly just "affectations". In that you can still not respond appropriately and yet look graceful.

Looking cool is wonderful, but if it misses the point of practicing Aikido you have to pause and reconsider for a moment.

BUT, at this point I am neither responsive nor graceful with Ukemi.