Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido
Very important. Kanetsuka Sensei even imports specially-bred Russian giants to the BAF Summer School to test us!
He says that Saito Sensei taught him how important it was to be able to move an uke with a strong grip - "what do you do when your attacker backs you into a wall - what use is tai-sabaki then?" He often demonstrates with two or three partners holding morotedori.
Kanetsuka Sensei often stops Dan grading examinations to tell uke to hold properly - he intensely dislikes what he calls "Modern Aikido" where tori starts a technique without making contact with the partner. This is particularly true with ushiro-dori, where he insists that uke has a chance to get a proper grip before tori starts to move.
I can't help thinking that some of the responses to this thread cast light on other, more controversial, threads currently running. O-Sensei often demonstrated by asking his strongest students to try to stop him moving, but quite a few people seem to feel that this isn't a valid training method any more. I am convinced personally that this is an essential tool for checking that we aren't losing our own centre or trying to use force.
Of course the quality of the grip changes with experience. We also practise nigiri-ho, where tori grips uke, and the more rigid the grip the harder it is to move the partner. With the most proficient people it feels as if the grip immobilises (or moves) the whole of one's body, with little sense of physical effort on their part.