Thread: Taking Up Slack
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Old 10-01-2004, 11:05 PM   #1
tedehara's Avatar
Dojo: Evanston Ki-Aikido
Location: Evanston IL
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 826
Taking Up Slack

This is a continuation of the technique thread Kotegashi Weakness. I'm starting a separate thread because I don't want to hijack the original thread. I don't see taking up slack as a "simple" concept that everyone understands.

Personally I know I'm not consistently taking up slack while doing techniques. Even though I can intellectualize about slack, to actualize it during the execution of a technique is a challenge. And taking up slack is important. It is probably the most common reason aikido techniques "don't work".

If you hold someone and you can feel their bones, you're holding too hard. When you take up slack, you just feel their skin. If you hold someone's wrist, the weight of your relaxed arm should automatically take up slack. So you can not only take up slack on a person, but you can also take up slack holding a sword. Also you can take up slack when someone is testing you to see if you're doing rowing exercise correctly. Taking up slack applies not only to empty-handed techniques, but to weapons and exercise testing.

The concept of taking up slack permeates aikido, yet I've never read a discussion about it. I have heard people occasionally mention it, but no one I've heard has really focused on it.

One interesting implication is this:
  • When you hold tightly there is a tendency for your weight to come upper side.
  • When you hold tightly you can't take up slack, therefore your strongest grip is to hold softly.
  • In the Ki Society ukes are trained to hold softly since it is the strongest attack.
  • In most Aikikai dojos ukes are trained to hold hard (tightly) since this was the advice the founder gave all his ukes at Hombu dojo.
Two different organizations. Two fundamentally different ways of practice.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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