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Old 01-08-2011, 10:32 AM   #11
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: bad technique vs. resistance

Zach Trent wrote: View Post
Hi- I'm sorry if this has been discussed to death...but I have a question and situation I am curious to hear your ideas about.

Um...In Aikido...what is the difference between someone resisting energy and you doing a poor technique?

I worked with a guy doing Shihonage the other day and I could only move him slightly before I felt a lot of resistance----"I was like man my technique is not good"----but my instincts were like "I ain't gonna fight this guy" so I moved him as far as I could and then changed sides.

I wasn't frustrated, just curious- the guy says "You want me to stop resisting? I find it helps me learn when people resist, but I can stop." I said, no, you just do what you want to. Its cool.

When I felt the resistance I noticed other techniques that were opening up...but it wasn't what the teacher showed so I just kept failing at Shihonage.

What do you guys think? Should your techniques work even when someone gets super rigid and muscled up?
There are basically three ways to do technique. First, is simply bad application. It involves overpowering the resistance with your own physical power. It can only be done on partners with whom you have the advantage of size and strength. It's pretty much a no-brainer that any martial art that only allows you to prevail against smaller, weaker attackers isn't terribly useful. So, do not train this way.

Second is external power which would be efficient application of force on the partner's weak lines combined with movement to get yourself off his strong lines (that's over simplified but basically covers what most folks do in their Aikido). It can work but a stronger, faster attacker still has an advantage so the only folks you see who can really do this are generally very strong men and a few really strong women. Smaller folks or folks who don't have a ridiculous structure really cannot do this kind of technique. Since most people train this way, the issue of collusion on the part of the uke becomes important because his or her collusion is required for most folks to succeed doing technique this way.

The third way is "aiki" / internal power. As previously stated here many times, just about everyone thinks their style or their teacher is doing this. But the fact of the matter is that the kind of truly effortless technique, done with complete relaxation, that one would see in a Yamaguchi, Saotome, Ikeda, Endo, Mary Heiny etc is fairly rare. This kind of technique does not rely on that kind of great physical power and therefore one can get better and better as one gets older, unlike external power which one loses as ones body ages and one loses muscle mass.

If really high level "aiki" skills are what you wish the end point to be... then you have to start with exercises that develop those skills. You will not develop these skills magically one day training externally. I know since I wasted about 25 years training in a way that one day I realized would never result in the skills my own teacher had.

So, at the beginning, if your partner is resistant, you will respond with tension. It is the only way at that stage you will be able to get an outcome that looks like what your teacher just demonstrated. Every repetition will imprint incorrect habits that are difficult to break later on. This is one of the reasons that Aikido is screwed up. Either my uke tanks or I use superior force to produce something like what my teacher just showed. Since those two alternatives pretty much apply to many teachers as well, finding the right teacher who isn't doing either of these is crucial to doing high level Aikido.

This totally ties in with the discussion of what a good uke is doing.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 01-08-2011 at 10:34 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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