Dojo: ACE Aikido
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Jun 2000
Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido
To me, the "answer" depends on what you want out of your Aikido: what you want to be experiencing and what you want your partners, or even actual opponents, to experience, which then, in many ways, dictates what physical and emotional reaction they will have to you and what you do. In addition, pain doesn't work on every one, and if elements like Kuzushi occur properly, it's not necessary, and undesirable.
In my practice and teaching, there is -No- pain taught in any Aikido technique, ever. From day one. Successfully. When properly understood, it isn't that difficult to teach this, even from a purely practical standpoint, but it is more rare, and it is far more sophisticated than simply teaching mechanics and Aiki-style jujitsu waza.
In my world, pain application and/or compliance is haphazard, dangerous, and creates a situation and feeling that I do not want to foster, nor do I need to. Along with that, I have seen much Aikido practice where the "success" of a technique depends on Uke compliantly following Nage, either because that's what they are simply taught to do, or in many dojo and styles, because if they don't they will get hurt. To me, this is one of the major problems with Aikido instruction and practice today. In what and how I teach, there is absolutely no room for it. To me it means that Nage does not know how to perform the technique properly, and that proper principles/processes like Musubi, Kuzushi, and Aiki, are absent.
To some, this may seem like a fairly extreme position, but for me, it is an every day, every class thing; no pain, not necessary, and if there is pain then something is wrong, and what is going is examined and used as important feedback for Nage.
This kind of practice is based on, among other things, what we call Kinesthetic Invisibility, termed by my main teacher, Don O'Bell. Pain creates physical and emotional reference points that can then be responded to, resisted, countered, and used against Nage. In fact, to me, when there is pain, Nage becomes Uke, or, the attacker, and can be taken advantage of and dealt with as such.
In K. Tohei Sensei's writings about his first encounter with O Sensei, he describes how he felt nothing at all from him, but was effectively and efficiently thrown again and again. He points out that, if he had felt anything, he had the skills to counter it, and would have (in fact did so to the instructor he encounterd before O Sensei got there.) But with O Sensei, he didn't, couldn't. This important, valuable, and defining reference seems to have been completely lost on many Aikido instructors and practitioners.
Pain in-and-of-itself, in life etc., doesn't seem to be the pertinent issue here, but the use of pain in Aikido waza. Taking away reference points like pain in Aikido actually make it a far more powerful and effective art.