View Full Version : Speed in waza?

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03-01-2012, 04:16 PM
So for the past several months I have been working very hard on overcoming my instinct to move quickly, and to go slowly and make sure I get the technique correct. Last night we had a fast class because we are sharing our space, and the final two techniques we ran through quickly so we could clear the space.

I've been having issues with kote gaeshi, but when I ran through it quickly and got more of the motion, I found it was a lot easier to get my hip movement down and get the technique off.

Is this an instance of speed hiding flaws in technique, or are some of the techniques easier to use when you move fast?

Any opinions on this would be great!


03-01-2012, 05:51 PM
Yes. Static before nagare. Smooth not fast.

But having done nagare kotegaeshi in a seminar after my first 3 classes in aikido, I'm inclined to think that it allowed me to understand some of the mechanical motions of the technique that helped with my kihon application for a number of years.

However only after revisiting it again under kihon with full resistance do i understand kotegaeshi even more.

So in essence. Slow, fast then slow again. Increasing resistance and danger to progress. Over the course of your lifetime I would think.

03-01-2012, 06:03 PM
Speed hides flaws, but that's partly because uke is less likely to be able to set themselves. Faster is probably more realistic.

Fast and slow practice are both valuable.


03-01-2012, 06:16 PM
Never been fast enough to hide flaws.

I always heard, slow and smooth, smooth and fast.

graham christian
03-01-2012, 08:58 PM
It sounds like an instance either to do with fast or slow but more to do with not having enough time to think.

Peace G.

Janet Rosen
03-01-2012, 09:17 PM
I think when we are first learning, as you are, sometimes we get to caught up in "the front of our brains," thinking through step by step and in essence paralyzing ourselves. Then when called upon to simply "let the body act" at speed, you find the movements are getting in there.
There is no substitute for going slowly enough to maintain good structure and accuracy - also let's you learn to pace movement to relaxed breathing patterns - but yes in each class I find it is also is worthwhile to simply "go with the flow" at speed at least a couple of times on each technique and sometimes partnered w/ a relative newbie I will stay in the uke role for a while and just have them do repetition after repetition to help "get it in there."

03-02-2012, 07:35 AM
Never been fast enough to hide flaws.

I always heard, slow and smooth, smooth and fast.

Dear Seiser Sensei,
Hope you are well. Perhaps you could have added this to the above; with the intent to do the waza as near a technically proficient as possible.?
My belief is this you only improve when you do a correct movement be it fast or slow .Fast movements can hide flaws , as you have indicated.Slow movements allow one to know/focus on where there are' gaps 'in the waza that one is executing.Cheers,Joe.

03-02-2012, 08:36 AM
IMO, speed in practice is like distortion for a guitar player. It sounds great, but it also covers up a lot of mistakes. For me, the only reason to practice at speed is for the timing/evasion aspects of avoiding/slipping strikes, once I make contact/kuzushi I try to slow them down and test my ability to maintain connection and kuzushi via what i'm doing in me.

03-02-2012, 10:54 AM
"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is something that my EMT instructor used to say to the class (and if you think it's important to be both smooth and fast in aikido, think how important it is when dealing with a seriously injured person). What I took away from that practice is that by slowing down, we gave ourselves the opportunity to do things correctly, without missteps and false starts -- and because we were doing it correctly, in one go without fumbles and false starts, we could get it done faster.

You don't get to slow it down just to suit yourself. A fist traveling at your face doesn't respect your need to slow down, and neither does a spurting artery. But doing the wrong thing fast doesn't get you anywhere.

Mario Tobias
03-02-2012, 02:13 PM
Adding from above replies. A technique can sometimes work when it's done fast but the issue is it won't work all the time when faced with some partners. You can only learn the deeper aspects of a technique if done slow and it still works. Speed only gives you false sense of security.

The best example I can think of is Saito senseis teaching methods. It is not dependent on speed at all rather maai, timing, relative position, precise footwork, body/hara movement. He can stop during a technique and make it still work because everything else is precise.

So rather than working on speed, work on correctness/precision of the above. If you can do techniques fast, but done "incorrectly" then it may form part of your bad habits. Bad habits are often difficult to eliminate. Of course how to know what is correct is another topic for discussion.

Amir Krause
03-04-2012, 08:42 AM
The basic question that rises is: who is slow and who is fast?

When training very slowly, often, inexperianced Uke re-stabilize themselvs from Kuzushi without noticing, or conversly, change the angular direction without the effects created by the momentum.

If you have such an Uke, you may find a fast technieue works much better then a slow one, regardless of your own mistakes.

This issue is part of the role of Uke in Aikido, he should give an honest attack, and respond realisticly, even if everything is scaled down (note, responding realisticly does not equate fall / impose technique on self, rather flowing with Tori actions as if the speed was much higher).


graham christian
03-04-2012, 11:58 AM
Slow is fast is my motto. This rules out rushing and panicking for a start. Replace thinking with tuning in and being in the present moment then you have stage two.

For those interested, when you are willing to and can comfortably meet, both mentally and spiritually then you will find time slows down for you.


Walter Martindale
03-04-2012, 12:01 PM
One sensei in my past said that more than speed, timing is important. If your timing (which includes ma-ai and the speed of execution) is right, you can move more slowly.

graham christian
03-04-2012, 12:08 PM
One sensei in my past said that more than speed, timing is important. If your timing (which includes ma-ai and the speed of execution) is right, you can move more slowly.

Yeah, agree with that also. Space and time.


03-04-2012, 12:43 PM
"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is something that my EMT instructor used to say to the class

You beat me to it, Mary. Its also an important lesson taught in shooting. Nothing rushed, relaxed breathing, etc. Sounds like aikido! But yes. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Basia Halliop
03-04-2012, 01:51 PM
I remember Sugano Sensei saying once in a seminar that we should sometimes practice slowly and other times quickly. Then he did a couple of techniques where he told us specifically, to do this one as precisely and correctly as we can, and then the next technique he had us do it FAST, and then just get up and attack again quickly.

I still remember that class and in my own practice I've found that idea useful. I think practicing slowly (or at least, as slowly as you need to do your best) is how you learn to get it right, but occasionally practicing quickly has merits too, even if you do get sloppy. For me I feel like it kind of shows you 'where you're at', and pushes your reflexes in a different way than slow practice does.

03-07-2012, 07:12 PM
I had never before heard. "Slow and smooth, smooth and fast." Thank you. I had however often been reminded by Taleb Sensei that it is "timing not speed." This is clearly reinforced when I use a katana. Moving fast is an easy way both to lose the encounter and to cut oneself. Moving at the right time and in the right way seems to be what everyone is saying.

03-07-2012, 08:33 PM
For me it has always been a matter of rhythm and feel. At speed it is always (for me at least) to maintain that. Slowing the practice down runs the danger of degenerating the technique into a series of discrete moves. I guess that is the same thing as the "Slow and smooth, smooth and fast." but I just want to stress that you need to look and perform the technique (no matter what the speed) as a whole.

It is also very important to have a partner who understands what you are trying to work on. The dynamic of uke often changes with the speed of practice to the point where it can be worthwhile to do the slow exercises solo.