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He'll always tell you he was a basketball player in a football player's body. He was my toughest competition. Taught me how to shoot, the whole form thing about keeping your elbow in, all the basics. He helped, and I pretty much give all the credit to him.
Alison Bales, WNBA Atlanta Dream
In many, many sports - like tennis, golf, weightlifting, kayaking, baseball and basketball, say, just to take a few at random - from the beginning players are often told to keep their elbows close to their bodies. It's a simple concept. Your body is strong like a tree trunk - but your arms are weak like the branches. So the tighter you keep your elbows in to your central core the stronger your posture.
But it's a little more subtle - and interesting - than that in the martial arts. Of course a block in karate is solid when your arm is close to your body. But in kendo or kenjutsu if your elbows are in too tight when you raise the sword you can block your own vision. And in judo if your elbows are in too tight some techniques can be weak and ineffective.
Your elbow has to be close to your body. But not too close. In tight. But free.
So in aikido keep your elbow in tight and move your arm by first moving your waist. And try extending your hand by extending your elbow, not the hand itself.