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Old 01-14-2010, 10:14 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Dojo Versus Reality?

Thomas Osborn wrote: View Post
1/13/10 w [2s, 8v] A
NOTE: With some techniques, even when I use fairly good form that works in the dojo, it doesn't work well when applying it "real world', i.e., with someone who doesn't know how to take ukemi. I've noticed the same phenomenon when working with a new student in the dojo. Is this a problem inherent with the technique? Or due to the fact that I am not doing it properly? How can dojo practice be more realistic? It is important to learn and practice good ukemi, but does this lead to enabling weak or improper technique.

(Original blog post may be found here.)
Hi Thomas,
Aikido practice is about the study of connection. The so-called "real world" application is about fighting. These are two different things. A technique works in the dojo because your partner is trained to stay connected throughout the interaction. In a aggressive encounter the opponent (notice I didn't say partner) will attempt to break the connection and regroup. He will actively counter the technique. Often the manner in which the opponent counters you will leave him totally open for a strike or strikes. We teach people not to leave themselves open in that way. But if you want to be able to apply your stuff in a real violent encounter, you need to have people actively countering your technique and then practice the use of the legs for hooking and sweeping, knees for striking, hands and elbows for striking.

Real encounters are largely about striking. What might be a throw in the dojo is more likely to be a way to unbalance an attacker and make it hard or impossible for him to defend against your strikes. You wouldn't want to throw him the way we do in class because that would allow him to escape. The martial stuff goes just about straight down and places the attacker where you can finish him with a set of strikes. If, for some reason, you decide not to finish him, you need him where you can apply a pin. So all the big projection throws that Aikido is known for have nothing whatever to do with applied self defense.

That said, the main problem with your technique is almost certainly that you don't have the partner's center at the instant of contact. That's the key to Aikido. The connection to the partner starts long before the physical meeting happens and when contact is actually made, the energy of the technique is already running so the attacker is caught by it at the instant of contact. This is the essence of Aikido waza. Don't feel bad if you can't do it yet, it's what makes an advanced practitioner advanced. Most folks don't do this but it's what you are shooting for. If you understand how to enter (irimi) and how to take their center at the instant of contact (katsu hayabi) then their desire to resist or coumter is irrelevant for the most part.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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