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Old 07-02-2009, 07:55 AM   #42
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,568
Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
Hard to be sure, because he was a pretty weird bloke :-)

But I don't think he meant that techniques should not be tested. A lot of aikidoka obsess over this "non-competition" stuff (aka "not fighting", which was another thread a while back), with the result that uke always cooperates, and they end up doing "happy dance" aikido.
FWIW, this problem (quite real) and the problem of competing are from one and the same cause -- mistaking effects for causes. In the case of happy dance, because good aiki seems nearly effortless, there is an innate desire to ape the effects -- in olden days this was called "sympathetic magic." In competition, because the effect of good aiki is devastating to a committed, powerful attack, similarly, the one trying to compete is trying to muster the same devastating effect in displayed power -- and so is also committing the same mistake.

I liken aiki to a scene in a play. The characters are set and the scene is staged and all the props are in their places and as the the two combatants begin to engage, one of them turns and breaks the plane of the action and begins a conversation with the audience -- "breaking the fourth wall." Action becomes "out of plane." It is not so much that the other character's role has changed, or that the scenery is other than what it was, but all that is now background to a completely different interaction, in which what was seemingly primary and real becomes background and almost irrelevant.

Jim Cooper wrote: View Post
I don't think it's the same thing as "not competing", though. All the old guys say the same stuff about not meeting force with force[1], hitting something hard with something soft[2], mushin/not focussing on winning, etc as well as character development. I think it's more likely Ueshiba meant (at least mostly) the same things.

[1] Karate people tend to forget this one :-)
[2] Aikido people tend to forget this works both ways. And also about the hitting part :-)
In physical terms, it is taking two counter-leverages that are pinning one another in a plane and releasing the developed shear between them -- out of plane. It is not making the combined, competing structures "do work" against one another -- it is allowing the conjoined structure to fail from that shear at critical junctures where it is not supported (on his side of the connection) and then riding the shape of the failure of all the successive supports. Like the controlled demolition of a building -- good aiki is not competing to throw the building down, but to progressively shear off its facility of standing up -- it is assuming the command of some of the opponent's support -- statically or dynamically, and then collapsing it -- but cleverly.

I agree about strikes. Good strikes in Aikido have that sort of progressive collapsing-building character about them. Like getting hit by a sheet of lead chain mail, it is hard to isolate and shrug off, because it progressively envelops everything.


Erick Mead
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