Writing About Aikido Is Hard

Progress comes
To those who
Train and train;
Reliance on secret techniques
Will get you nowhere.
~ Morihei Ueshiba Quotes from The Art of Peace

I wanted to write something after Monday's class and again after tonight's class....but sometimes writing about Aikido is HARD.

It is easy when there is some clear point you learned or some technique you never saw before or something weird happened. BUT what I took away form the last few class is hard to define and therefor hard to write about. Maybe it would work if I was a poet and expressed it in a non prosaic fashion. But I'm not and I can't. Sometimes what grabs your attention or tickles your understanding is more like a familiar scent or a shadowing memory is triggered that you can't identify. You know it but you just can't say it. You sense it but you can't say it.

There is a saying about Zen which I will probably mangle but as I remember it you say “How do you transmit something that can't be expressed in words and letters?” and the answer is “With words and letters.”

So here I go on the Aikido thing.

One night Sidney was teaching and we worked on some basics with the emphasis on Katate tori (wrist grab attack) and the then tenkan (turn, leave the grab as is but you end up parallel to the attacker) and then something else. Once we would then turn again and uke (the attacker) would have to follow around nage (the victim). It was more of an exercise rather than a directly useful technique but he kept urging the uke to move around nage as he turned and alternately extend your arm and move your center to keep up.

The analogy I suggested and he liked was that of a bull rider in that he must not lock his muscles as the bull bucks but move his center and extend and retract his arm as needed.

We worked on this for quite a while.

Tonight Charlie taught so I was able to train with Sidney Sensei once and he took the time to try to get my ukemi for shihonage to respond spontaneously. And to do that I had to not anticipate, move my hips appropriately and the change my feet as the throw was applied. He said I knew what the technique was so I was anticipating my fall, but in a real situation nage might change the technique and I could find myself in a very bad situation. And when I couldn't seem to react correctly he said I just needed to do it differently and that when I did it right I would know it. It wasn't something that is a movement that could be memorized.

I see that all those words of the last few paragraphs don't describe what I was feeling.

Just to say it is quite special that Sidney wants everybody to REALLY understand and feel that the roles of Uke and Nage both require the same responsiveness and REAL Aikido is not knowing all the holds, throws and such....rather it is responding in an appropriate Aikdio fashion (which of course also implies knowing all the holds, throws and such).

I was looking at videos to show something about the Aikdio I am striving to explain but all of YouTube is flashy fast throws and high flying breakfalls.

That's how I see it and it may not be worth the virtual paper it is printed on but there it is.


Anonymous said...

Having been there both nights, and worked with Sidney, I know exactly what you are talking about. He's trying to improve our Ukemi. and Ukemi isn't just taking a roll or breakfall -- it is the whole art of being Uke -- giving a realistic attack, trying to retain control, your own balance, and not reacting to the technique before it even happens. As uke, I've been trying to take more time to set up for each attack, to make sure that I'm giving a good attack and that I have my own center in the first place. I'm glad that Sidney is working with us on some of these finer points.

ZeppoManx said...

I mentioned this before but it is an interesting balance you have to adapted to depending on your partner's ability.

You have to subtly challenge your partner (if he is at or above your level) so he knows his technique is not effective but if you are with somebody newer you should be extra sure to help them flow toward the correct movement.

So much going on and so much that must be unsaid since it may or may not apply which varies from second to second.