Re: The Role of Uke in Aikido Training
Thank you, Ledyard Sensei!
I was having a lapse of seeing the big picture, and you understood that better than I did (which is of course to be expected, this is why students have teachers).
What I meant to be getting at was the idea of "kiai," as in, actively creating a state that didn't exist yet. (And I completely overlooked the "why would I do that" question, which MUST be asked.) But even though that can be an option at any time, there is a big-picture aspect of budo that I was overlooking, and striking really does hit that nail on the head so to speak.
Reaching through, to capture uke (rather than striking him) can happen at any time, according to one's sense of morality in decision making, and limited by one's skill. But, no matter what, it is always artificial. So that's the issue: the basic understanding of budo should be based on honesty rather than artiface. Then at advanced levels, one can choose to exert more control in the situation, if skill level allows. But in terms of a basic understanding (the big picture), one should look at how the martial interaction unfolds naturally and honestly, not artificially.
My current understanding:
The space between uke and nage is undifferentiated potential. If uke has lethal intent, he is seeking to apply some destructive force onto nage. Nage is maintaining aiki, that is, manifesting the natural complement to whatever uke's actions (and forces) are. There is an infinite set of possible ways for uke to manifest his attack, and the simplest and most readily available ones are strikes. Complex throws, takedowns or joint manipulations are possible, but their probability is much lower than the multitude of possible simple strikes. In the course of the interaction, the realm of superposed possible states is winnowed down to actual, manifested actions. (This is the transition from wuji to taiji.) Any strike that has not been made impossible, difficult, or futile should remain as the next most probable state that can arise. This is the natural unfolding of the situation.
That is honest and natural, and it is the means by which aiki readily manifests in different forms, be it weapons, striking, grappling, etc. A dojin should be able to strike just as much as he should be able to do ikkyo. The reason ikkyo comes out (instead of striking) is that uke and nage mutually constrain the possible states such that strikes are being prevented and countered. This is done through the application of force and body positioning, and retained/regained balance, so yes, uke must be trying to affect nage's whole body. If he doesn't, we are doing a kind of striking practice (if we are being honest and simple). That is, it is uke's attempt at constraint of freedom that gives rise to something other than striking.
The corollary is that a serious study of striking must be done by all practitioners for this to make sense. Around 3 years ago I decided to start this, and have really improved my understanding of striking (and potential striking). I think that really, striking and grappling are the same thing - grappling is "sustained" or tonic striking, and striking is sudden, sparse grappling.
Last edited by JW : 05-20-2013 at 11:43 AM.