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Old 12-27-2010, 10:29 AM   #44
Dojo: Aikido of Madison
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 188
Ai symbol Re: Non-aggressive way to test ability and level of understanding.

Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
Hi Carl,

I dont think your definition and mine are the same. I didn't mention grabbing 'lightly', not sure where that comes from, a forum is a bit like chinese whispers, things get distorted along the way. I mentioned 'relaxed', with full intent, free to move etc.

I have no problem with people practicing with whatever level of grip that they like, if aikido is valid it has to work with all levels of strength and types of attack.

What I am certainly not advocating is some limp/relaxed hold that has no intention, that would be a complete waste of everyones time.

The hold itself is only one aspect of the whole person. If uke holds with a relaxed grip (and I realise it is the word relaxed that is causing the problem for some), but with their mind on the target, basic standing or dynamic movement, makes no difference. Then they are in a position to follow nage's movement with ease. If uke's structure/co-ordination is correct throughout, then any use of 'muscling' a technique, runs into a big problem, as it is very difficult to throw a whole person with something as ineffective as tense arms.
When I am teaching, I constantly use this method to find the point at which the student is 'going wrong'. This method relies on co-ordination and a non-fighting mind. Uke's job is to follow the truth in the movement, to decide nothing and provide the intent for nage to work with.

I have been working with trying to understand and practice this as taught to me for quite a while. In the begining I was really into the training and what my teacher was doing, but I must admit, I was sceptical that it had any martial merit, it all seemed a bit 'soft'. It took me about 5 years before I began to see the logic behind it all. Now, I wouldn't want to go any other way, unless it could be proven to be more effective.

If I want to test myself against 'strength', my assistant teacher is a 'Dry Stone Waller' by trade, he lifts and places rocks, hammering and chiselling when required. He has a grip that can cut your circulation off If I ask him for the sake of demonstration to 'apply a serious grip'' he knows what is coming next. For me the throw is easy, for him the fall is much harder than if he stayed relaxed and co-ordinated.

As for the 'centre in the hands' point. If your hands are not an extension of your one point/hara/centre/dantien, then you do not have the mind/body structure that is required to manifest the elusive aiki/IS that is much talked about. The hands must be connected to the ground, through the centre (not the centre of gravity/although it's in approximately the same place) This I realise, is the most problematic part of reaching higher levels of competence in aikido. If I am uke and am following someone's technique, if their hands are not an extension of their centre then they have 'lost'. Not that it's about winning and losing of course, just trying to constantly improve.

Not a full explanation, by any means, but maybe enough to gauge where you are on this continuum. I could just cop out and say 'it has to be felt', it does. Hopefully, this might clear up some of the tangents that this thread has gone off on.


I think that maybe one has to differentiate between "relaxed" and "whimpy" for starters. One certainly can be "grounded" without being a sack of sand. I would think that an attacker is not going to just grab and hold on for dear life any more than their grab will reflect, "Hey, you do you have the time?" From the Uke's perspective,what is the purpose of the "attack" or in this case, the set-up? It really isn't anything by itself.

This is a place where it seems Aikido training falls down in that what is really possible in a very very short amount of time, within that maai is often not conveyed to students. Sometimes it is because AIkido is all the instructor (and many of the students probably) has ever really known and thus, can't really punch or kick anyone. Is the purpose of the grab to intimidate-probably, is it to control or manipulate--ala don't move or move over here? Or is the Uke threatening to punch Nage in the body or face, headbut, knee, or kick--if so, I would think that it would happen pretty quickly, within 2 seconds of being grabbed

In other words, besides the obvious connection practice--why is Uke even grabbing and what are their options, not just what are Nage's options. We in AIkido often tend to develop a very narrow "tunnel vision" as far a looking at all these options for Nage because we often--too often in my belief-- train in the "one and done" attack, not realizing that Uke has a lot of options as well both before and during the "connection".

So "martial intent" I believe, does play a profound role in conveying these "possibilities" and these can be conveyed through the grab in particular and the overall interaction-posture, eyes, where is the other of Ukes hands-I would hope up near ones face just for prudent training anyway (keeping both hands involved as they say) let alone playing the role of an attacker.
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