View Full Version : Poll: How important is physical resistance in your aikido training?

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04-16-2006, 01:31 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of April 16, 2006:

How important is physical resistance in your aikido training?

I don't do aikido
Critically important
Very important
Somewhat important
Not very important
Not at all important

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=320).

04-16-2006, 05:25 AM
Aikido is best practiced in the mind. I find, if I visualise techniques and think about the science behind them, I far better understand why they are and from where they might have been derived. Watching with intent is also a good means of practicing in your mind and you techniques.

Mark Uttech
04-16-2006, 06:35 AM
Physical resistance is a strong part of intermediate or advanced practice; with physical resistance comes awareness of others and ourselves.

04-16-2006, 08:30 AM
At my level of understanding, some resistance is required or one cannont deflect, or lever the opponent off balance. I know we train to draw them off mentally, but until I regain relaxed power in my body, meaning let ki flow through my many injuries, I see no reason to advance to the higher levels. Skipping the intermediate step would make me a flower in the wind; I would rather screw up technique for ten more years and have my center, than fake it, and not have any real strength.

Please resist!


04-16-2006, 02:36 PM
This looks to be another poll where the answers shock me. So far the poll says most Aikidoka lean towards physical resistance being important to their training, yet I don't' see much evidence of that in actual application.

What is it that we are calling "physical resistance"? If it just means that uke, holds your arm really tight, or muscles you about, then maybe, yeah, there are several Aikido schools that implement this kind of physical resistance (Iwama admittedly being one of them). But if you are talking about true resistance to the techniques, I see little to none being practiced in today's Aikido schools.

If I tell you to stand in one position (like a horse stance), and to stand there really strong, and to use all your effort to hold that position, then I walk around to the weak point in the stance, and push you over, you didn't really offer me any resistance. Yeah, you tried to stand in that position, you really "tried" to stand strong, but I just moved to the weak point and pushed you over. This might be a neat demonstration for newcomers to the martial art, and many "highly regarded" "sensei" have made their careers on such stunts, but that still doesn't make it resistance.

Resistance means something is difficult for you to over come. If you hold me in morote dori, and you hold real strong, but I know the trick to escape it, and you go along with the trick, because "that's the technique" then you offered me no resistance, even though you held on really hard. In order for you to offer me resistance, you must know the trick I want use, and counter it, and then we will have some play, back and forth till one person achieves their ideal (to hold you there all day, or to escape the hold). This is resistance, and the better you get, the better your uke must be at stopping you. In Aikido however, nage gets better only at doing the same ol' tricks, and uke only gets better at falling down. Most describe someone with good ukemi as someone who falls nicely, someone who is "light as a feather". While I agree that this is a nice level of ability to achieve, it's not developing physical resistance, and it's not helping to develop my technique.

I think resistance is awesome! I find it's what we need to help us continue to make our technique develop, and keep our skills from decaying. Physical resistance is what makes Aikido a living practice, as opposed to a static one, preserved for the history books. Partner forms are great, they will allow you to learn how to be sensitive, and how to feel correct body alignment and physical relation to your partner. Partner practice shouldn't be loaded with "physical resistance" that's not really the place for it, and in fact (I believe) will diminish the practice. However there needs to be other practices outside, of formalized, "you do A then I'll do B" practice”. Other drills that allow you to spontaneously respond and to resist openly and develop your skills.

-Chris Hein

04-16-2006, 04:25 PM
IMHO, if by "resistance" you mean to don't give me the technique if I do not execute it properly, than physical resistance is critical in intermediate and advanced training. If that's not how your practice, i would suggest talking to your training partners and Sensei. Without it, Aikido is just folk dancing.

04-16-2006, 05:42 PM
Hmmmm...interesting why should one assume that most people do not practice with resistance? The poll asked if it was important in one's practice and it did not define the amount of resistance or type. I think resistance is very important although not critically important. I just didn't take it to that extreme taking into consideration taking ukemi for a beginner who is just learn the form of the technique, when your are training other elements such as flow and movement, or for those days your having a really bad day and you don't have the patience for a resistant partner. But on the majoirty of days I work from a resistant uke with resitance of various levels and types. For example a beginner who latches on or stiffens up out of fear is different from my seniors who resist with ki/ aikido principles.

04-16-2006, 09:12 PM
If a no kyu beginner resists technique they will most probably get injured.
if my teachers didn't offer me resistance I wouldn't be able to learn the technique properly.
If I don't challenge a pin, how do I know i am pinned?
So its all about context...

04-17-2006, 06:42 AM
Surely this must be a poorly-worded poll question?

Without resistance there can be no technique. I remember seeing a Japanese TV show where some aikidoka where trying to put on various techniques to a double-jointed individual without success. There just was no point where they met something they could work with, it was like trying to apply a technique to jelly!

04-17-2006, 11:05 AM
Appropriateness of resistance is the important factor to consider. I have worked with many uke who know what technique is to be done, and they resist the technique physically with all they can muster to stop technique. They stop the technique and they glow with the "I win" attitude. It's actually quite easy for uke to stop technique when he/she knows what's coming, but that isn't necessarily martially beneficial since openings are often present in uke.

Uke's ego comes to play here. It seems some develop the "Ha-ha, you can't do the technique" attitude. There have been times I've changed technique when uke resisted, and I become the bad guy because "That's not what Sensei demonstrated!"

Intent of attack is also an important factor. It is hard to blend with energy if there is no energy. For example, I've worked with several uke who perform "Statue of Liberty Shomenuchi." This is where uke steps forward to perform shomenuchi, but their downward cut stops short of hitting me, and they leave their arm stiff and static above where my head would have been. This is an inappropriate example of physical resistance to technique.

I guess I am echoing some previous posts, but with examples. Lower-kyu aikidoists probably shouldn't resist techniques due to lack of intent, not understanding openings, and higher probability of getting injured. The problem is that lower-kyu aikidoists need to shed the "I win" attitude.

04-17-2006, 11:52 AM
The real problem I think everyone is encountering when dealing with "lower ranks" and resistance, is judgment. When practicing a preset from, if there is to be "resistance" (direct opposition to your technique) then the Uke has to judge what would "work" and what wouldn't (to decide what he needs to resist and what he doesn’t). So if you get a new guy, and the form requires that uke lean forward for the technique to work, but this new guy decides he wants to make it hard on you, so he leans backward instead, this becomes a problem (he has decided resistance means leaning back, but that won’t work with the form). To the new guy, he has just tricked the black belt, and for the senior student, he's embarrassed and trying to explain what is appropriate and what is not, and maybe feeing a little hypocritical himself because; why couldn't he do the technique. Because Aikido relies so heavily on preset partner forms, it's hard for either side to understand what they are really doing. In a partner form both sides need to play their roll, uke needs to have the preset responses, and nage needs to do the technique he is suppose to be training, it IS kinda like folk dancing, because it's a cooperative practice. This is why we like "good uke's" because they know the response they are suppose to have and we can work with that inside of the set form. This of coarse doesn't mean uke falls down when you touch him with your pinky, but it does mean that he must have the preset response to your actions, there really isn't any resistance unless nage strays from the form. However in order for this to work properly, uke and nage must both understand the form, a new guy cannot be expected to respond correctly within the context of the form, and when that happens nage can’t be expected to do the same form.

This is why there needs to be practice outside of partner forms. We must begain developing drills, and practices that allow us to train with more spontaneity, and resistance.

-Chris Hein

04-17-2006, 12:04 PM
I think it helps to change one's perspective when dealing with lower kyu ranks, especially if you are a higher kyu rank or dan rank -- from one of challenge to one of opportunity. I view most beginners who stiffen up as fear of falling or just simple uncertainty of what is happening to them. The few who give resistance for resistance sake just want to see if aikido works. I don't necessarily see it as direct challenge but rather an opportunity to improve how I respond to their resistance. In dealing with those stiffening up out of fear and uncertainty I've found the key is to find a way to be gentle enough where you won't hurt them but where they feel safe enough to go where you're taking them. Doing this can be really challenging, but usually a newbie uke who tenses up is sending your signals that my technique is too strong for them at the moment.

Jennifer Grahn
04-18-2006, 04:49 PM
there's a lot you can do as nage if uke resists, taking it into a different technique in the direction he's going. that's more realistic anyway cause you wouldn't force a reallife opponent into a specific technique if he wasn't going that way. as uke it's often safer for yourself if you go with the technique instead of resisting, if you don't want to hurt yourself.

04-18-2006, 05:34 PM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of April 16, 2006:

How important is physical resistance in your aikido training?

Critically important

Critical to NOT offer ANY physical resistence (that can be felt).

Ron Tisdale
04-19-2006, 08:26 AM
So if you get a new guy, and the form requires that uke lean forward for the technique to work, but this new guy decides he wants to make it hard on you, so he leans backward instead, this becomes a problem (he has decided resistance means leaning back, but that won't work with the form).

Or, you could draw his power out, using (as an example) the shape of your hands and the power of your spine to lead him into pushing and leaning forward even when he wants to pull and lean backward. It's really fun to see the look in their eyes when this happens.

But I really liked that post, Chris.


04-19-2006, 09:04 AM
When you try to throw someone over your hip who is being 'the sack of potatos or rice', they feel much heavier. If they are rigid in any way, you can lever them over, or lever them off balance in say, ikyo.

If uke isn't resisting, and not attacking, it looks a whole lot like a 'hug'em up' dance like we had in high school in the midwest. This is why I ask for some resistance. It's tough to fight a jelly fish, at my level anyway


04-19-2006, 01:35 PM
Attacking is not resistence.

Recovering balance to find another method to attack is not resistence.

Standing there doing nothing is not resistence, but it is also not offer your partner a problem to solve.

Resisting technique with pure muscular power is, for those who have actually been studying what aiki means for at least a little while, is simplifying the problem ridiculously and slowing real progress in the study of aiki.

04-19-2006, 11:15 PM
I agree with what Chris said about encountering people who are new to Aikido. Techniques are specific situations from which we learn general principles. When you change that specific situation, you change the technique. When I've encountered a person trying to prevent me from doing the technique, I try to simply go with the flow and do an appropriate technique and explain that what happened was a different situation than what we're trying to practice at the moment. This seemed to be a good way of getting a new uke to refine their attacks. I know for some people it's hard to put themselves in a position that by nature is supposed to be compromised. It's a vulnerable state and I think that is part of Aikido training. It can certainly provide a dose of humility from time to time.
I like what has been said about the difference between beginner and advanced training. I think it's helpfull to let a person new to the form have the technique with less resistance so they can learn the form itself. However, over time their fellow training partners should apply more and more resistance and enter through any "holes" which may present themselves. People have often appologized to me when they did this, but I love it because it forces me to refine my movements. Sometimes it's been exactly what I've needed to better understand some technique; if they didn't resist at all, I would probably just continue moving in the same way.
Anyhow, I'm sure I haven't really offerened anything new to the conversation, but thanks for the food for thought.
Take care,

ze do telhado
04-20-2006, 12:03 PM
I think the most important thing is honesty.....honesty in the attack, in the holds, in keyko itself.

Rachel Strickman
04-20-2006, 02:16 PM
How about resistance from tori? I *HATE* the whole no-touch throw thing. If they're not even touching you, why not just run away?

04-20-2006, 04:31 PM

what do you mean by 'no touch' throw. i understand for sure about 'hating' techniques!


Hanna B
04-21-2006, 08:39 AM
I have trained in aikido forms where resistance is a necessary tool. I also trained in lines of aikido where resistance is something that destroys training - response, yes, but not resistance. It is different ways of learning things, and they are not easily combined. Therefor:

It is critically important to resist or not resist in the way the teacher asks me to.

Rachel Strickman
04-21-2006, 02:39 PM
to David,

When tori starts doing the technique before you have even grabbed their wrist-- you are expected to sort of run around pursuing that point of contact and then fall over at the appropriate point, sometimes even then without them touching you at all. I suppose if you have a) a super-committed uke and b) someone who believes in the efficacy of "maniupulating the energy flow" it can be sincere training, but for me, it just degenerates into formulaic dance.

04-21-2006, 04:09 PM

I get it. I think some of the more far out examples of principles become people's 'darling' techniques for one reason or other. However, there is a tiny old man locally, who has made me spin up on my heel and flop over on my back without ever touching me - and left me laughing hysterically. He is unusually skilled, and capable of punching and withdrawing within the blink of my eye, so I know he's not a 'feather in the breeze'.

The first time I saw multiple opponent practice (1985) I said "Bulls__t!" Looked foolish to me. I was offered a go at it, and took the foolishness upon myself!

One or two of the guys at my school like to stop technique. That's the kind of resistance people complain about. Sometimes I change techniques. Sometimes I stand and smile. Occasionally I tussle with them, and they think it's funny. It's all training. I only tried to break one of their noses once, sorry!