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Old 05-10-2013, 07:49 AM   #1
Ecosamurai's Avatar
Dojo: Takagashira Dojo
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 570
United Kingdom
Investing in loss (yielding)

I happened to be speaking with a Taichi friend of mine a little while ago and he mentioned to me that Cheng Man Ch'ing was said to have coined a phrase that you should 'invest in loss', this was with respect to learning how to yield properly or become softer in your approach, the idea being that by investing in small losses in push hands practice now you would be setting yourself up to cash in that investment in the future. In other words when someone pushes you then yield to this push (note yielding means something specific in CMA, it does not mean being so yielding you're floppy to the point of being unable to stand), in the end this sort of practice allows you to push back even harder with respect to the cycling of yin and yang. He was of course referring to push hands in this example but it put me in mind of a phrase my aikido teacher used in an interview when asked:

As one member of the generation that knew and practiced with O-Sensei, what do you think is the most valuable gift that a teacher can give to a student?
his reply was

Donft fight. Use ki. Donft resist. Take ukemi.
I think he might be talking about your job as uke is to 'invest in loss', that uke should be soft and yielding and thereby in practicing like this you create in yourself something for the future. When you consider that attacking and taking ukemi is 50% of aikido practice this makes sense, nage cannot apply a hard physical force to an uke who is very good at yielding, this might be a way of teaching nage that practicing in a physical matter doesn't develop them properly, just as weight training won't give you internal skills.

I'm speculating here of course, but given that traditional practice in aikido involves switching roles between uke and nage this seems like an interesting idea to explore, where would this lead you in the end if you trained in this paradigm? I suppose the risk is of course that you become overly cooperative with your partner and begin practising dishonesty, if you do that you'll hollow out the technique of all it's aiki content and end up with an empty shell of a waza that looks like aikido but isn't. Pretty sure I've seen that happen. But where would this type of training take you if you did it right, what aspects of internal skills would it develop?
I think sensitivity would be one thing it could develop, I know from my experiences in CMA that you need sensitivity for something like push hands, for example. How would you work with this in aikido? Curious to see what people think.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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