It never ceases to amaze me how people can take a snapshot in time and project that moment as representative of the totality. Too many people look at Aikido as this nice, choreographed exercise in “peaceful, conflict resolution”, thinking that this rose-covered lens enables a person create a peaceful end to a violent experience. For those naive, idealistic people, one can only hope that they never have to confront the manifestation of the expression “you get what you pay for.” Our techniques contain within them, “options” and “alternatives” that can emerge as strikes, breaks, and chokes (to name a few possibilities) when the occasion calls for those endings to appropriately emerge. These options/alternatives reveal the depth of the waza/kata that we practice. If the student is not exposed to those possibilities, then they can easily and mistakenly assume that taught form is all that there is. That to me, is dangerous, shallow teaching. I have seen it expressed in countless videos of “real expressions of Aikido” where the Aikidoka is trying to get the attacker to grab them…..
One of the classic areas of “misunderstanding” is with the Kokyu-Nage. Seriously folks, do you really think that it is a bright idea to throw an attacker far away from you in a manner that allows the person to be unharmed? Do you really think that this attacker will be overcome by a sense of harmonious awe and not want to continue attacking you? IF, I want to throw the person to the ground, you can rest assured that the person will end up on the ground right in front me so I can continue to maintain control over the situation. IF, I need to “eliminate” the first aggressor, the nature of the movements lend itself very nicely into breaking the person’s neck and/or spine. Maybe that movement can end up as a strike or a really nice choke. It certainly provides me with a nice platform in which a variety of alternative ending can be created to match the necessity of the situation. It is very important to be able to teach the nicest outcome possible, ergo, the throw. It is a very important lesson to not reveal the intent of the ending and remain within the secure, controlled nature of the movements.
Shiho-nage provides the person with an opportunity to break several joints, throw the person on his/her head, or simply place the person on the ground in front of you. Once again, a seemingly innocuous technique has within it, a variety of outcomes that may be necessary based upon the situation that you are confronted with. The list of techniques and possible outcomes is quite extensive and should be taught in a safe, controlled manner. I believe that it is very important that a platform (waza) be initially taught with the safest, least violent ending as possible. This platform helps to develop a calm, peaceful and secure person who can allow the platform to find it’s necessary outcome without becoming overwhelmed with anger, fear and anxiety.
This month will be a month in which we will be practicing a variety of techniques with the end of the class finishing with an “alternative” ending that allows the person to safely experience the breadth of possible endings to a technique. The choices come increased responsibility and a greater sense of appreciation for the depth of Aikido.
Marc Abrams Sensei
(Original blog post may be found here