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Old 02-28-2005, 08:43 AM   #36
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,402
Re: Functional Ki Skills

<rant - not against the folks contributing to this thread, but it seems like this thread would be one of the better places for me to be heard on this related issue>

I keep hearing people say (and reading posts) that "aikido is simple" as if that means it is easy. People claim or seem to imply that you have to "_just_ not do" things for aikido to work, and that everyone can do aikido at any time; basically it's just in us and we simply get in the way of it.

This is only a half truth as far as I'm concerned. Certainly aikido (beyond surface level total beginner stuff) can happen at anytime but if the person being attacked is not well trained, I'd say they are probably one of those people who are naturally squarely over their center, have excellent posture, are very reflexive in their movement, and/or happened to get incredibly lucky.

I find those romantic ideas to be a bit of a trivialization of the amount of work and training needed to progress. Yes, of course reflexive movement is innate and we need to get out of the way of our reflexes - but NO and here is the bottom line - reflexes don't know anything about strategy especially with regard to subtle energetic communication used to blend with attackers!

The best reflexive people I know in aikido tend not to set things up optimally because they have that "reflexive" crutch going for them. They tend to blend very well before connection is made, but not so much as connection is made (setting up optimal kokyu ryoku experience).

My opinion is that you have to actually put time and hard work into learning, not only, how to consciously control reflexive movement, but also, to develop a feel for what you should be consciously directing for optimal results. You have to actually practice to get better at not interfering with reflexes. Also, there are times when it is very helpful to change the way you think about how energy is flowing in your body to relate to the uke in a more detached manner or to encourage keeping an uke more attached to you. (Of course, you can probably figure out how to do it without visualization, but developing using the energy imagery is slow enough, so why develop even slower?).

Just this weekend, I realized that the way I was trying to get to uke's blind spot was totally interfering with my attempt to continually lead with hara. I guess my point is that aikido is multifaceted and this idea of "just let it happen" offends my work ethic towards learning and optimizing.

I'm sure "aiki just is" and that "aiki is simple" and all of those other phrases are true, however, I would never count on just letting that kind of thing happen just because it works out by accident once and a while.

I feel that when people say "aikido just happens" they mean "accidental aikido can just happen". I'm training to be able to do "repeatable aikido with varying ukes."

The path (of aikido) towards manifesting your true self which can be continually tested for feedback by escalating drama from your partners is very difficult, and non-trivial. It takes complete rethought and retraining of movement.</rant>

Any training tips like what's been going on in this thread towards getting repeatable aikido "_just_ happening" are very appreciated.

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