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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
Here are some things I've been urging my students to observe as they work with each other in our close-quarter, free-style adapted Aikido class:
1. Do not simply evade strikes. Match the whole body movement of your attacker with your own whole body movement before a strike is launched. The feeling should be of breathing your partner in and then breathing him out as he launches an attack and then withdraws it. There is an ebb and flow to an attacker's actions that can be matched and manipulated. When one matches the attacker's rhythm well, it becomes easy to evade his attacks while at the same time opening him to countering actions. Getting the hang of this requires some very slow practice at first.
2. Stay flexible. Rigid, pole-like posture is a detriment to easy, rapid, and adaptive defensive movement. One's body should be like a spring that bends and moves against pressure but without becoming noodly. Often simply bending, twisting, or tilting out of the way of an attack is faster, easier and leaves you in a better position to counter than trying to step or pivot completely out of the way of an attack.
3. Use evasive motions to load energy for strikes and techniques. If you bend or twist your torso to evade a strike, use that bending or twisting to wind up energy for a counter. Also, often twisting away from an attack brings one arm back but the other arm forward -- to strike.
Some food for thought, eh? Play around with these things and see what you can do!