Thread: Elegance
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:56 PM   #3
iwamaki's Avatar
Dojo: Westlake Village Aikido
Location: Pahrump, NV
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 24
Re: Elegance

I would like to thank Mr. Matthews for his reply to my posting. I was hoping to get more replies, but since most of my postings are anecdotes from my time in Iwama rather than topics for discussion, it seems reasonable that there are not more replies.
However, I respectfully submit that Mr. Matthews missed the point of this particular posting. It has nothing to do with Saito-sensei, aestheticism, or visually graceful technique. It is very simple and summed up in the last sentence of the posting; it is my personal opinion that being able to perform a technique effortlessly against a strong person who is resisting with full power is elegance in technique.
But since Mr. Matthews raised the point, I believe that Saito-sensei's technique is elegant in a different way. O-sensei spent decades perfecting his Aikido techniques so that they would be in harmony with and an expression of Ki. Saito-sensei told me about his early days in the dojo where O-sensei would work on a single technique for weeks until he finally felt that it was right. This can be summed up as "Takemusu Aiki", which means "the Aiki spirit that creates a martial art". The result is Aikido, which was born from Ki.
Saito-sensei learned these techniques directly from O-sensei over a period of 23 years. His techniques are not flashy or spectacular; instead they are extremely tight, efficient and effective with no wasted movement, and in harmony with Ki.
A person watching might see only the power and effectiveness since the movements are so abbreviated, but a closer look (slow motion would be great) will show how clean and graceful his movements actually are.
Every time he threw me it was kind of surreal. I never felt any physical force being exerted on my body. I would go from attacking him to flat on my back on the mat with no idea of what happened in between.
It's subtle and not readily apparent, but it is my humble opinion that Saito-sensei's technique is elegant.
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