Thread: Slow Aikido
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:49 PM   #21
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Dojo: None at the moment - on hiatus
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 965
Re: Slow Aikido

Hi James,
So, I've had something of an epiphany recently. It seems to me that the better people get at aikido, the _slower_ they move. You'd think it would be the other way around, but when I look at the Shihan, the faster the attack comes, the slower they seem to go.
James, a question... when you said fast or slow, are you saying it from the perspective of being the uke or from the perspective of a third party on-looker? When I am being the uke for my sensei, it felt fast because of his sharp tenkan, but when I see him do aikido on other uke, his technique seems of only casual speed to me.

I thought this might be particular to aikido, where the emphasis is not on speed and strength, but I've recently started cross training in capoeira, a very fast martial art, in a school where speed is emphasized over just about everything, and when the high levels play, they go slower and slower, even if their opponent is zipping around. They just put themselves in a place where the opponent can't attack. The better they are, the less they have to move to get into that place. It really is amazing to see one guy spinning and twirling like a top and the other, calmly stepping in and out of the way.
Maestro at work.

This came as a shock to me. For years I've been trying to speed up my techniques. My dojo has a reputation for teaching very slow aikido so when I go to other dojos or a seminar I would try to see if I could play at their speed. By this I thought it meant doing the techniques as fast as they attack. But now I'm trying something different. I'm trying to go as slow as I can, no matter how fast they attack. It's not easy, but I'm kind of grooving on it.
A quote from Shioda Kancho from his book Total Aikido: The Master Course pg. 187: "If you say that person's technique is fast or that person is slow, you are only seeing the form of that person. You must scrap such thoughts. In blending with the person's energy (timing), at the moment when you are really together with that person, both fast and slow are gone. That is what Ueshiba Sensei called "becoming one with nature".

IMO, slow or fast is not relevant. it is only relative. Being in control throughout is what we aim for. And when you are in control, fast and slow is irrelevant.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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