Jean de Rochefort wrote:
I view the main problem in that altercation to be a total lack of balance of both participants which result in both having a lack of mobility and a lack of power behind the attacks.
I would agree, only I think one has to keep penetrating these issues in his/her training, such that one asks, "What makes me lose my balance?" "What makes me have a lack of mobility?" "What makes me have a lack of power?" Etc. When you ask these kinds of questions, and when you bring these types of reflections into your practice, you very quickly realize that the mind plays as big a role as the body in what you can and cannot do under duress.
The following video in particular demonstrates what I am talking about in regards to things like metsuke and Angle of Deflection, as they are related to the mind (and the connection the mind has to the body).
The two deshi in the video seem to be affected in a very similar way. Yet, the woman has never trained in any art before Aikido, and she has only trained for about six months. The man in the video has rank in Karate and came from a type of Karate that practices full-contact kumite. Still, you can see them both over-reacting in their Angle of Deflection, being fettered by fakes and feints, falling victim to timing changes, closing their eyes, turning their heads, etc. This all pertains to the level of training their mind has received up to this point. In a real fight, with either weapons or with someone capable of generating real ballistic power (unlike the "victor" in the amateur video) these failings of the mind are the "events" at which one would lose his/her balance, mobility, and the capacity for powerful counter-attacks.
It is like this. You have these beautiful Aikido tactics, but in order to get in a place where they would be applicable, in the way they were designed to be applicable, you need a whole other set of skills that are very hard to attain through Kihon Waza training alone. However, it is not that I am suggesting that we should seek to train against "types" of attackers. Rather, we should be interested in the cultivation of a mind that in its maturity is capable of addressing more situations than just that which is mimicked in Kihon Waza (when it is being understood as a combative dynamic). Here, in these beginner drills, composure, balance, grace, awareness, etc., - these are the things that are being pressured. To pressure these things, we have taken on the ballistic architecture of certain arts. It is the pressure that is important, not the architectures of whatever arts we are using. I think this point is made in the first video where the "defender" is limited in both Angle of Deflection and Angle of Deviation -- where he/she must simply learn to look at the strikes that are hitting them.
Once we understand the value of pressure, on what it tells us about our mind, and thus what it reveals in regards to what is mechanically available to us and what is not, we start to see that we have options other than the usual "just irimi." This is important, because it will allow us to actually perform irimi in a way that is consistent with the art's strategic considerations. That means we can irimi without muscle and along the path of least resistance, etc. That means we will not just move forward and jam our opponent up, hoping we are stronger than them or that they do not know how to utilize our yang energies against us, etc. After all, the goal is to bring as much as possible, nay, to bring all of what we see in Kihon Waza into spontaneous conditions of any kind. The goal is not to just take bits and pieces of Aikido (e.g. irimi, arm bar, etc.) and "work" them as best we can. Though that is what we often do, it is not what we should strive for. In looking toward what we should be striving for, I feel, we have to learn to depart from Kihon Waza training. Of course, we must do this in a way and at a time that is appropriate.
Thanks for the replies,