I also wonder how you define awase. Like koshinage, it is just a word in Japanese that is not tied to a specific way of doing things. I can use awase with the staff in my office when we share the photocopier. People using the term arrange it with other words to show what they mean by it and in the context of Alexander Sensei's articles, I don't think he meant the overly compliant practice that plagues much of modern aikido. Another way of looking at awase is as musubi (connection).
To quote David Alexander:
David Alexander wrote:
The concept of AWASE is to merge into an opponent's attacking movement and take control. During the initial engagement the defender maintains perfect balance and perfect stance, whereas the technique is designed such that the balance and stance of the attacker are destroyed. The attacker is thereby brought under control immediately. The technique is completed by continuing the movement into a joint lock, pin, throw, etc.
A general conception of AIKIDO is that the principle is to use an attacker's own power against him. Although this is true to some extent, AWASE is more dynamic. The defender uses his own body movement to merge into the attacker's power. It is also possible to initiate a movement that will create an attack into the defender's sphere of control. After the initial engagement, the attacker's power is irrelevant because his balance is gone and he cannot bring his power to bear.
As an analogy to AWASE, consider trying to stop a train that is coming down the tracks. Standing on the tracks and trying to stop the train by physically overpowering it will not be expected to work. However, running next to the train, jumping aboard, moving to the engineer's compartment, overcoming the engineer and applying the brakes will produce the desired result of stopping the train. This is comparable to AWASE in that no attempt is made to directly oppose power, but control is gained by merging into the power and disabling it.
Please make note of the items in bold, which I added.
This defining of awase is how most of Modern Aikido attempts to work. The "defender" physically, actively merges into the attack. However, this was not how Morihei Ueshiba did things. Primarily, this can be verified by the endless and repetitive and common push tests that Morihei Ueshiba did. Ueshiba stood on the train tracks and did not move. The train stopped and did what Ueshiba wanted it to do, mostly go another route off the tracks.
And how did Ueshiba accomplish this? Let's go back to Tenryu, who stood over 6 feet and weighed a whole lot more than Ueshiba. Tenryu was most definitely the train. Did Ueshiba get off the tracks, use body movement to run alongside, then jump aboard? No, he sat there and Tenryu was the one to be stopped. Flick of the wrist and Tenryu went off his tracks elsewhere.
How? Ueshiba: "I knew the secret of aiki." Not awase. Not the view of awase prevalent in Modern Aikido such as the train example given. Not blending with an attack. Ueshiba knew the secret of aiki which allowed him to make the attacker do what he wanted. Or in more spiritual terms, Ueshiba became the Universe and the attacker (one very small planet) had no other choice than to become part of the Universe and go along with whatever the Universe wanted. It would be silly to think the Universe (you know, that extremely large cosmic body filled with trillions of planets and suns) to get out of the way of a small planet, run alongside it, join with it, and then move it somewhere.
Aiki vs Awase.