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Old 04-16-2006, 01:36 PM   #5
ChrisHein's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Fresno
Location: Fresno , CA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,646
Re: Poll: How important is physical resistance in your aikido training?

This looks to be another poll where the answers shock me. So far the poll says most Aikidoka lean towards physical resistance being important to their training, yet I don't' see much evidence of that in actual application.

What is it that we are calling "physical resistance"? If it just means that uke, holds your arm really tight, or muscles you about, then maybe, yeah, there are several Aikido schools that implement this kind of physical resistance (Iwama admittedly being one of them). But if you are talking about true resistance to the techniques, I see little to none being practiced in today's Aikido schools.

If I tell you to stand in one position (like a horse stance), and to stand there really strong, and to use all your effort to hold that position, then I walk around to the weak point in the stance, and push you over, you didn't really offer me any resistance. Yeah, you tried to stand in that position, you really "tried" to stand strong, but I just moved to the weak point and pushed you over. This might be a neat demonstration for newcomers to the martial art, and many "highly regarded" "sensei" have made their careers on such stunts, but that still doesn't make it resistance.

Resistance means something is difficult for you to over come. If you hold me in morote dori, and you hold real strong, but I know the trick to escape it, and you go along with the trick, because "that's the technique" then you offered me no resistance, even though you held on really hard. In order for you to offer me resistance, you must know the trick I want use, and counter it, and then we will have some play, back and forth till one person achieves their ideal (to hold you there all day, or to escape the hold). This is resistance, and the better you get, the better your uke must be at stopping you. In Aikido however, nage gets better only at doing the same ol' tricks, and uke only gets better at falling down. Most describe someone with good ukemi as someone who falls nicely, someone who is "light as a feather". While I agree that this is a nice level of ability to achieve, it's not developing physical resistance, and it's not helping to develop my technique.

I think resistance is awesome! I find it's what we need to help us continue to make our technique develop, and keep our skills from decaying. Physical resistance is what makes Aikido a living practice, as opposed to a static one, preserved for the history books. Partner forms are great, they will allow you to learn how to be sensitive, and how to feel correct body alignment and physical relation to your partner. Partner practice shouldn't be loaded with "physical resistance" that's not really the place for it, and in fact (I believe) will diminish the practice. However there needs to be other practices outside, of formalized, "you do A then I'll do B" practice". Other drills that allow you to spontaneously respond and to resist openly and develop your skills.

-Chris Hein
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