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Old 07-28-2002, 04:06 AM   #7
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Leading the mind

Paula Lydon wrote:
Hi all! Got another question...

There's a point in practice when you stop waiting to be grabbed from static and begin working with timing, positioning and leading uke's attention/intention.

Is this shift in practice obviously taught in your dojo, or simply picked up on? Is it focused on at a certain rank, or whenever the practicioner feels the shift themselves?

To me, its seems it needs a certain depth of understanding of principles and ideas, and is a realization of direct expierence; but, also, a foundation needs to be laid to build from.

What say you? Just curious...
I think that this is actually a "hot" topic. It is my opinion that much of what passes for "leading" the partner's mind in most Aikido I see is the result of training the ukes to follow any movement you make.

In many Aikido dojos you could stand there with your hand out and as the uke approached you could simply turn your body and the uke would follow the hand around you in a circle. That is total "wishful thinking" Aikido.

It is impossible for someone to lead the intention of an attacker without strong, clear intention himself. Many Aikidoka think they are extending their energy merely because their arms are extended. But if one is experienced one can see that their Minds stop out at the tips of their fingers. It is easy to step in and crush them because their technique doesn't start until the moment of physical contact which is too late.

If you look at the manner in which traditional kobudo work you often see that the forms they do start with the partners far apart and then they move towards each other until the space is such that the physical technique begins. At the end of the form the partners move back away from each other to the original distance. This accomplishes a couple of things one of which is to develop a strong mental connection over distance with the opponent. Ellis Amdur Sensei, with whom I trained for a few years, said that in many ways the part of the form before and after the actual technique is the most important. You can see that they still train this way in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu. In modern Aikido the folks that put the most emphasis on this are the Yoshinkai folks with thier "stiff" looking beginning and end to the techniques.

It is my experience that very few people understand this aspect of Aikido before the mid yudansha levels if that. I have trained with people who were trying to do it but didn't have the power or clarity of their intention to acomplish it. On the other hand you could feel Saotome Sensei make a small shift in his intention in the pit of your stomach from ten feet away. Ikeda Sensei defeats you before you even attack with what I call "the look". Mary Heiny, who is literally half my physical size feels large to me when we are on the mat because her spirit is so large. And Tom Read is an absolute master of using his movement and projection to place you right were you need to be in order for him to effortlessly throw you. Gleason Sensei's "attention" grabs you long before you physically grab him.

There are ways to train this kind of thing but most important is simply strong training. In my opinion I can't remember training with anyone who could do this well who couldn't strike well. I think that one of the ways in which to develop the kind of spirit needed to effect people at a distance is developed by working on attacking as fiercly as possible when acting as uke. I have never seen a dojo in which there was little hard physical contact where people could do this kind of thing. The strong physical practice leads to a strong spirit. Once you have a strong spirit you can start to subtract out the physical and use the Mind.

There are variations of techniques which can help one develop this skill but they simply can't be done succesfully until the Spirit of the Nage is strong enough to reach out to the partner and "take" his attention.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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