I've been getting some questions and requests to post something in more detail on resistance training. So, here is a very basic overview on the four levels of resistance training. THIS IS NOT A HOW-TO OR INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDE, and I take no responsibility for the consequences of the use or misuse of this information. I just drew this up in a few minutes and it's not by any means a final or definitive statement on anything. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
First, let me define a couple of terms that I will use later:
: allowing the other person to feel where your center is through your body.
: feeling where the other person's center is through his body. In a martial context, this includes attacking the other person's center by trying to gain control of it and move it where you want it to be.
Now, for the four levels:
- Compliant: Uke works to establish and maintain passive connection with nage's center. If nage breaks the connection, uke will reestablish it by "following" the nage's movement.
This level of training is what is typically found in aikido, but it is useless except for learning choreographed techniques that have little relevance to a real situation. Often I will train with yudansha at seminars who break out of my grab and then chide me to "hold on" because they have never progressed beyond the level of compliant training. In my dojo, I don't even start beginners out at this level since there is really no good reason to spend any time here.
- Passive resistance: Uke initially establishes passive connection with nage's center via his attack, but does not attempt to reestablish it if nage breaks it. Uke also does not attempt to break the connection himself or to attack nage's center with the intention of taking control of it.
This is useful for training nage how to maintain a connection with uke's center, which is very important but still only the first step in learning how to perform aikido effectively against realistic opponents. This is the most basic level of resistance training I do at my dojo, and it's also the level of resistance that I like to give people at aikido seminars. It is still often too much for many experienced aikido people, who not infrequently respond by getting upset and going to a much higher level of resistance themselves (usually the third one here but sometimes the fourth). However, most aikido shihan can throw someone working at this level in a freestyle context, even if not in the context of a set technique, although they too might get upset when they encounter it.
- Active resistance: Uke initially does not establish any connection with nage's center via his attack and attempts to break any connection that nage attempts to establish with his center. However, this is still a passive form of ukemi since uke does not attempt to establish an active connection with nage's center.
This is useful for training nage how to establish and reestablish connection with nage's center, which is crucial in learning how to use your aikido against realistic attacks and resistance. This is typically the highest level of resistance that I will go to when taking ukemi for anyone at aikido seminars (and even then only very rarely), as it is very difficult to overcome even for relatively skilled practitioners.
- Countering: Uke attempts to establish an active connection with nage's center via his attack with the intention of physically moving nage's body (perhaps to the floor). Uke also works to reestablish this connection if nage breaks it and to thwart or break free from any of nage”Ēs attempts to establish such a connection with uke”Ēs center.
This is a true attack. At this point, there is no distinction between the role of uke and nage, so against an opponent trying to fight back it becomes freestyle kaeshi-waza training. This is the highest level of resistance training and the one at which I like to practice at myself. This is the level of resistance that sparring and matches in all competitive arts take place at.
These levels are not set in stone, just rough descriptions of common training scenarios. It is important to realize that the level of resistance can also be changed during
a technique for various reasons (some good, some not). For example, technically speaking, the second level I presented here is actually a hybrid with the initial attack being compliant and the remainder being passive resistance. This is because a level where the uke does not establish any connection with nage's center without any intent to break any connection that the nage creates makes little sense from a martial training perspective.