AikiWeb Aikido Forums

AikiWeb Aikido Forums (
-   Training (
-   -   Direction for Projecting Energy (

PuppyDoggie 12-13-2019 09:07 AM

Direction for Projecting Energy
I'm still training in aikido (with the aikikai) regularly, and I notice I sometimes stumble on a weirdly simple problem: as nage and uke, which direction should the energy go?

For example, nikkyo ura: I've been told it's supposed to go towards the centre (like a lot of other techniques), but is the energy supposed to go into the ground eventually? I can feel that some practitioners redirect a lot of that energy into my wrist or another joint, and I end up tapping out because of the pain. I'm pretty sure I'm doing the same thing to them. For years, I found maybe 2 people who can do nikkyo ura without any pain, but "swoops" me into the ground with it. Ideally, I want my nikkyo ura to work like that without any pain. Are they redirecting the energy to the ground? Is the energy technically spiraling downwards or straight to the ground? Unfortunately that was years ago when I experienced that and I'm not sensitive enough to know the energy directions so specifically.

Then there's the idea of "resistance". When there is resistance, I think I feel like the energy gets absorbed by uke, but sometimes once in a while it feels like it goes somewhere else. Is it gone to the ground? Is letting the excess energy go to the ground the safest way to take ukemi in general?

Any thoughts for training safer and where the energy goes, let me know! I'd like to learn more about this. Hopefully I am on to something.

dps 12-14-2019 05:35 AM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
It's about balance. You keep your balance as nage and uke loses his balance, then you have control of uke's body. Nage keeps balance by staying grounded and uke loses balance by being ungrounded. If you project energy to the the ground through uke's body you are rebalancing uke. Nage projects energy to ground outside of uke's body.

Two good overhead views that may be helpful.

jonreading 12-16-2019 08:51 AM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
Alright, I am gonna ask a few questions because [I think] I can relate this thread to another I posted on a little while back...

I think the OP was in regards to energy; I do not believe the vids David posted are energy work, but rather balance shifting.

Balance shifting is fine, but it's not directing energy. We have basic angles that can shift weight, but if I am putting force into my partner, its force work (i.e. physical). This presents a problem for aikido people because, supposedly, we are using our partner's "energy" against them. Eventually, you get to the question, "If I am just pushing my partner over, how is this different than judo?" In the beginning, you gotta learn some basics so we can use vids like what Guy sensei published to help give us some idea of what we are doing. As soon as we advance our education to an uke that is allowed to use gyroscopic stability (i.e. "resist"), we run into a problem because we now need to use more force to shift weight, AND we also have to move faster than our partner because the unbalancing needs to happen before uke regains her balance. We are now officially playing judo with a "push/pull" off-balancing strategy.

Anyone who has practiced for more than a few years should have the joint conditioning and know-how to defend a joint lock. It's a tough reality, but I think important to realize that after 5 or 10 years, most people should only be able to do standard waza on you because you let them. The OP is asking an important question here and detailed a unique feeling.

I am bringing up this point because [I think] it is a good example of aikido people providing instruction that is unclear in producing those traits that O Sensei (and other aiki giants) possessed. We know that our partner should be unbalanced the moment she touches nage - There are any number of quotes in this regard and something that is observable with someone who has aiki. So, adding to our problems from earlier, we also have this issue with an ultimate sensation that my partner should be off-balanced when she touches me.


Nage keeps balance by staying grounded and uke loses balance by being ungrounded.
So how does this happen? At the instant of contact, both things have to happen. We're talking about a vertical pattern here; one part ascending (separating from the ground/ungrounding), one part descending (connecting to the ground). Throw in a horizontal reference (ascending on the right and descending on the left)... It's almost like someone said something like that...

Energy should go everywhere. When you receive energy, it can't stay trapped inside you; your body, or your limbs, or your joints. So you tease the linear force apart into many directions; some down, some up, some left, some right, etc. so the incoming forces get split and pulled in too many directions to remain a force that can affect you.

So if we go back to nikyo... IF I have aiki... we know that when my nage touches me to start nikyo, I should have her unbalanced. Second, what force she puts into my wrist should be converted into energy work and I should disperse that energy in many directions (depending on who you talk to, there are differences of where). Third, at some point, her force into me gets pulled into a direction of advantage for me and now I have used her energy against her. Start slow - tai chi slow. Let your partner apply nikyo slowly, feeling the binding pressure and then using your muscles to pull the binding out of your wrist and into your forearm, then shoulder, then torso. You are literally learning how to move differently than you normally move, so it will take time. Eventually, your partner will feel a qualitative difference in her success in applying nikyo. You can actually do these exercises with all of the kansetsu waza.

I know, what about doing the waza... same rules... start slow. The instant you touch uke, she should be unbalanced. Not pushed over, not twisted; kuzushi. Take the force she is putting into her wrist to defend you from twisting it and bring it into you - take out the slack of her wrist by pulling it into many directions. In you.

If you don't have aiki, this won't work (because you won't have any actual "energy" to move). It's my belief that the kansetsu waza were intended to be energy puzzles for learning how to use aiki. If you are not there, you need to spend some time cultivating energy and the aiki body.

PuppyDoggie 12-22-2019 07:33 AM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
Both responses are excellent!

It is good to see that you are still around and still replying to my posts David! Your videos are a very useful reminder of remembering to take uke's balance. Martially, of course, I understand its importance since everything I do as nage is useless if I don't have uke's balance. That is the way my sensei teaches the aikido techniques, but it wasn't what I was looking for because at times I know some things didn't feel quite right; for example, "something" feels stuck at the wrist, elbow or shoulder during nikkyo, resulting in some pain (then tap out), even though the technique works quite well, which means I need to refine things further without the (in my opinion) unnecessary pain.

Jon, that is a very interesting interpretation. I will find ways to let the energy go "everywhere". I had different answers from different people over the years: - let the energy go to the ground, - let the energy spiral, - let the energy be rounded, and the weirdest answer - it doesn't matter where the energy goes. I sometimes seem to let the energy get into me like I absorbed just some of it and it feels uncomfortable. I will do my best to make sure the energy does not get trapped in me and redirect it more properly and more fully. Maybe I should try extending the energy away from myself at the end of a throw/technique and into uke or into the ground (or both?)?

Thanks for both of your detailed and different answers!
Also, merry Christmas if you are still reading this!

dps 12-22-2019 11:44 AM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
Why do feel that pain is unnecessary?


PuppyDoggie 12-22-2019 01:07 PM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 354556)
Why do feel that pain is unnecessary?


Inflicting pain onto others is not necessary; I believe there are other ways to settle things. This is my own value and is what I will always stand by. People already bear enough burden from other things, whether or not we realize it, so why add pain as another burden to them?

Pain is already a signal that something within the body is wrong and we should respect our own bodies as well as those of our training partners.

dps 12-22-2019 09:44 PM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
Pain is part of Aikido for uke's conditioning. If uke does not want the pain uke should tap out before the pain.

Here is a link to a discussion about pain in Aikido.

I have used sankyo to stop someone from punching me in the face. The pain was what stopped the attacker from continuing the fight.


jonreading 12-23-2019 03:07 PM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
I am gonna split some hairs here, mostly because the OP is talking about energy work and not joint lock technique...

First, I do not believe pain is a requirement of expressing aiki. That is, I believe for the purpose of energy work, aiki can be expressed without intending pain; there is some responsibility for both partners to manage their bodies to minimize discomfort. Kansetsu waza as a jujutsu is designed to physically manipulate body parts for the purpose of creating discomfort as a tactic of control. But now things get murky because at some point we end up getting closer to poor jujutsu and farther from aikido. And if you think you kansetsu waza is up to par, just go roll with your neighborhood judo or BJJ club. Maybe you're in good shape, maybe not.

But we don't do jujutsu, so what makes our stuff different? Aiki, right? So how to you 'aiki" kansetsu waza? What if the manipulation that locks the body is not localized in a joint? What if you could manipulate your muscles and tissue around your joints to insulate and protect them? You could use your muscles and tissues to pull the stress out of a joint? Or, manipulate your partner's muscle and tissue to bind or immobilize a joint... Not pain compliance, but restriction of movement.

At some point, the idea of me "giving" you my arm to bend becomes a farce. In MMA and other sport fighting, you don't see much success from small joint manipulation because most competent fighters will defend their joints. The bigger joints can weaken under stress and you see success with arm bars, triangles, and shoulder locks once the defender is fatigues or fails to see a threat. But, that means you are fighting until you get to slip in a move. Not very "aikido", even if it is fight science 101.

Second, go with the weirdest answer. The best aiki people I work with really could care less what I do. You decide what to do with the energy in you body; whether that comes from your cultivation or as a gift from your partner, its your energy to manipulate. At some point you care where you put the energy because that is what designs technique. When someone puts excessive energy into you, you want time and space to remove that energy from your body. I have seen people take punches where you can see the exit force bruise because there is no time to disperse the energy. It's just physics, but it's freaky.

There are tons of stories from the old students describing ukemi for O Sensei as falling without control, being struck by lightning, instantaneously being put on the ground. In judo, they called this dashing. Daito Ryu students told similar stories about Sagawa Sensei. None of them said ,"O Sensei twisted my wrsist so hard I had to tap." This is important for me because it tells me the feelings the students remembered were not pain, but instant control.
The ground is the closest point of impact. As an hypotenuse of the right triangle of the ground and me, the closer my partner is to my feet the shorter the distance traveled to impact. Throwing someway "away" makes for more time and space for you partner to manage the energy in her body. Aikido ukemi is somewhat unique because most other fight systems don't deliberately provide for the opportunity to recover from an attack. Originally, I believe this was probably done as a safety mechanism to let nage express aiki in practice; now, it's become something of a stylized falling system.

Here's some videos:
Sunadomari Sensei talking about power, taking power from your partner and then expressing power in your movement.

This is Chen Xiowang showing push hands. It's not quite our thing, but a good demonstration of power expressed horizontally into a partner

In both videos, you can see horizontal expression of power giving partners time and space to recover. Now just imagine if you angle that power into the ground and don't give your partner time to recover...

Oh wait, here's a vid of Shioda sensei. You can see the vertical alignment of uke in many of sensei's throws; these throws are brutal - just a little more over vertical and these uke would be stacking their bodies onto their neck

dps 12-26-2019 04:14 AM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
Aiki is useless without the body being in balance as all three of your videos show how one person maintains their balance and the other loses theirs.


jonreading 12-26-2019 04:19 PM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 354562)
Aiki is useless without the body being in balance as all three of your videos show how one person maintains their balance and the other loses theirs.


I am not sure where to go with this...

Yes, aiki is useless in any number of situations. Somewhere along the way, aiki=superhuman powers. I don't know who made that up. I am pretty sure there are plenty of aikido people (who don't have aiki) who are plenty well balanced, and still can't last 30 seconds against a good judoka; probably less time in MMA.

Yes, I suppose if you have someone practicing martial arts who is not balanced, she will may have a more difficult time throwing someone who is more balanced. Of course, if you have someone who can't manage the basics of her body (like balance) there is also less chance she is gonna learn the body mechanics of aiki, anyway...

No, I don't agree that someone who has aiki can't apply it while unbalanced. In fact, I know plenty of people who can apply aiki while in a period of balance transition. That's the problem, though. "Unbalancing" is a temporary state as the body transitions from stability to stability. Most people walk in a constant state of unbalance. So what? Why can't you apply aiki? If you get thrown, you have to be able to apply aiki to perform reversals. What about sutemi waza? Balance is a just relative position of your body.

Rupert Atkinson 01-24-2020 01:38 PM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy

David Skaggs wrote: (Post 354553)

Those vids are great :-)

SlowLerner 02-25-2020 03:03 AM

Re: Direction for Projecting Energy
IMO there is no energy that leaves your body.

Aiki makes you naturally non resistant to their force and this creates kuzushi upon contact.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:33 AM.

Powered by: vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.