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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.
It was a regular Tuesday night practice -- again. We worked through a series of two-man exercises emphasizing relaxation, soft contact, energy connection, and taking uke's center by moving through it. We didn't have our mats available to us, so we didn't do any vigorous classical Aikido throwing.
Here's a few of the exercises that we did:
1. Facing each other squarely, uke, with only one hand, pushes nage 3 times. Nage, without moving backward, slips the pushes with body movement and placement and moves through uke's center. No hands allowed on nage's part. Gotta' stay really relaxed in the upper body and work the angles on this one!
2. Same as before only this time as nage slips the pushes he/she must strike uke. Nage is still moving through uke's center. Lots of timing work, multi-tasking, and striking at angles with this one. Often, attempting to strike uke causes tension in nage, which makes slipping the pushes more difficult. A big part of the challenge of this exercise is to stay relaxed even when delivering a strike.
3. This time uke is actually striking nage from any angle (slowly, at first). Nage may use hands to strike, or to trap uke's striking arm, and legs to trip or sweep uke's legs. Nage must not retreat.
I often give the following instructions to my students:
We are not fighting. We are learning how to fight. There is a significant difference. When you are working with your partner, you are not trying to make your partner fail; you are trying to help your partner succeed. If your partner makes a mistake, throw the same punch again until your partner correctly counters it. Go at a speed that challenges him/her, but allows for success. This is how training differs from fighting: you are working together to improve, not trying to defeat one another.
I have to say something like this at least once during every Tuesday class we do. Striking sure gets the guys riled up.