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This is the first of my actual after-practice posts. Anyway, today was an interesting day to start with. There were only 4 of us on the mat, which is usually the start of a great story about all the fun things we did. My instructor likes to experiment, and I like to experiment with him; these days are wonderful for that. Today our test was simple: in between working on a couple of techniques normally, he designated an attack (tsuki) and had us do whatever technique we wanted to out of it. Not too big of a deal, maybe. I was attacking first -in our Dojo the Kohai attacks first- and I was having massive difficulty following the technique. I would attack, try and figure out the technique (and by extension the ukemi for it) and then something weird would happen. I was completely unable to feel anything other than my own confusion. There was no... connection... and I was really surprised. We switched after 4 techniques, and I did my own 4 with no problem from Uke on taking the proper ukemi. This got me thinking about the concept of connection, and why I couldn't seem to make it. I know that it was my fault with the ukemi, because no-one else was having a problem with it. You see, when we train it's generally in a manner that we both know what technique and what ukemi to use, which can give you a false sense of blending. It's not true blending, though, in my case. It's more a matter of two people going through the same motions, and matching appropriate speed. This test reminded me that I have essentially no LINK established, as I didn't know wether to roll off to the side, get ready for a back roll or a pin or whatever. I should be able to feel what is happening, I've been in class long enough to know what all the techniques that we worked on feel like. At any rate, I feel like I need to work on that connection now. The movements of the techniques can be practiced and honed, but I don't know how to train that connection. I didn't even know that this was something I needed to work on, before. Like I said above, I had a false sense of connection because of the way that I train -that is without the proper awareness. I am going to stop and think long and hard about this, and surely do some serious meditating, but I feel like I need to go to class 6 days a week to work on it (not possible.) This is really my first "brick-wall" that I need to overcome to progress, and the frustration is pretty new to me. Hmm... I think I'm going to go sit and breathe now. Hope you all have a better practice than me (or maybe not better, but I hope you don't have a rude awakening.)