Christian Moses wrote:
The question becomes, do you believe that the root of 'aiki' is simply efficient body mechanics or do you believe it is a system of strategies and intents that can be manifest into a recognizable system? If you believe the root of aikido is simply efficient movement, then what separates it from any other martial art? I believe you can only trace the 'root' of aikido back to a point where it still somehow contains *distinguishing features that separate the art from other forms of combat or martial movement*. The movements of your toddler do not qualify for that in my book. You as 'uke' (and quite frankly, I think that referring to what you're doing there as uke is absurd) offer the clarity that lets us identify the root movements as aikido. The act of ukemi does not in any way indicate the art in question. I don't know how anyone can watch these videos and take them seriously.
I am definitely with Chris on this one. I actually do not think that most folks doing Aikido really understand much of what constitutes "aiki". Yes, relaxation (lack of tension caused by fear) is crucial to actualizing the principles of "aiki" in ones technhique but it's a pre-requisite and not "aiki" by itself.
It is true that kids move in a manner that is natural because they haven't yet had the experiences that build up layers of tension in thier minds and bodies. It's not surprising that they will manifest the movements we see in Aikido since these movements are considered fundamental movement patterns in the universe.
I actually do not think that the body mechanics of Aikido or Aikijutsu are "natural" in the sense that if we can just relax they will come naturally to us. Training in "aiki" is the process of re-programming the body and the mind to believe that tension will not make one safe. Then there are very specific elements that combine in terms of how one joins ones mind and physical movement with that of an opponent. You do not have "aiki" automatically just because you have some kids moving in a relaxed and free fashion.