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Old 05-31-2014, 04:57 PM   #1
Janet Rosen
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Adapted Training

I just wrote a long email to an old friend and thought it was worth posting here.

You write "I am older, out of shape and my fibromyalgia is kicking my butt. I have not attended an Aikido class in months, even the easy ones, because of this. It breaks my heart, because Aikido is so close to my heart, mainly because of my Aikido friends. Your videos have given me hope that I might be able to get back on the mat."

What I want to say is, you CAN get on the mat ANYtime if you redefine how you train and accept unconditionally that what you can do any given class is what you will do.

You do not have to fall or roll. Nope. Not even the safe soft ones in my videos for falling for non-martial artists. Not. At. All. In fact, you don't have to throw your partner either, if that's hard. Whichever role, just go to balance-taking. That's the important part anyhow, and learning to have control of uke to that point and stop is great.
You do not have to have a firm grip on your partner's wrist. You can use tegatana and similar cutting movements if thumbs hurt or grip is weak.
You do not have to do suwariwaza. Whatever they are doing, either take it as your resting time, or do a standing version.
You do not have to do a seated pin. If your hands permit it, do a standing pin instead (standing sankyo pin almost always "fits. If grip is too difficult, just go to taking balance or do a soft projection.
You do not have to do every technique that a given class is covering. It's ok to sit out.

If people can train in wheelchairs, or without arms, or without sight, there is no reason for anybody to stop training except that the voice in his or her head says so.

In my experience these internal voices fall into three categories:

1. People who cling to a romantic ideal of the aikido they did twenty years ago. I see this all the time, They come back to the dojo as dinged up middle aged folks. They don't heed our advice to pace themselves, to maybe sit out part of the class as needed, to maybe skip a technique or some ukemi. They train full tilt for one class, the next day are in terrible pain, and they disappear again for a couple of years....then try it again. They cannot get their head around another model of being on the mat.

2. People who have a limited vision of aikido, who view it mostly as a collection of techniques to be done athletically even if they give lip service to the "spiritual side." The don't understand that the real "meat" of the art is the slow and subtle stuff, working on structure and breath and aiki, not the making people fall down stuff.

3. People who do not fully accept themselves as they are, which allows one to integrate whatever disability exists and then focus solely on what abilities exist. This is the one that hung me up for many years. I didn't want to be treated as a second class citizen on the mat, but I treated myself as one. I was apologetic, hung out on the fringes, wouldn't go to seminars, etc. If this is the issue, it does help and maybe it is necessary to have a really inclusive and supportive dojo culture to train in until one gets confidence in ability.

This is the best way I can say it, with an open heart from one friend to another, from one damaged body to another.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-01-2014, 03:02 AM   #2
Riai Maori
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
You do not have to fall or roll. Nope. Not even the safe soft ones in my videos for falling for non-martial artists. Not. At. All. In fact, you don't have to throw your partner either, if that's hard. Whichever role, just go to balance-taking. That's the important part anyhow, and learning to have control of uke to that point and stop is great.You do not have to do every technique that a given class is covering. It's ok to sit out.
I injured my AC joint when a sempai accidentally disconnected from me during high fall practice. Sensei told me these exact words of wisdom! I was back training after 1 month. A bit gun shy I must admit.

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Old 06-01-2014, 03:21 AM   #3
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Richard Campbell wrote: View Post
I injured my AC joint when a sempai accidentally disconnected from me during high fall practice. Sensei told me these exact words of wisdom! I was back training after 1 month. A bit gun shy I must admit.
Dear Richard,
Hi again.Hope you are well.The best advice I can give to you is this use your common sense and listen to your body.If by chance you get discomfort from whatever, do not force things.After you get past mid twenties you go downhill.If you wish to train for years you have to adapt.I am 75 I do not traiin like I did when I was in my twenties..High ukemi is a no no.for example.
Injuries take longer to heal [if ever].Your body has got to last you a liifetime,why be silly and ruin your knees /back /joints?Its just a game.Train seriously but with caution.Look after your own body and look after your partners body.as well.Joe.
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Old 06-01-2014, 01:03 PM   #4
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Re: Adapted Training

In my class right now I have one extremely gifted athletic tang soo do black belt young woman, who is so frustrated learning aikido because her body wants to automatically revert to the previous style's way of moving that we have to treat her as if she's in remedial training, keeping everything very-very slow, and I mean really slow, so she can watch and wait for the difference of feeling. So, we adapted what we usually do for her, even though her body is probably the best in the dojo, no sexist stuff intended.

Then, we've got a 62 y/o guy with an artificial knee, and another which needs to be artificial-ed, a bad hip and lower back problems. He can NOT get his knee to flex to get to seiza, so he just doesn't go there at all. Sawari-waza are totally out, so he does all of that stuff standing, or from a regular chair. Adapted for the bum wheel.

Then we've got a 30 y/o guy who was one of the best uike in the dojo until he got a spiral fracture of the R-side tibia/fibula IN class. Scary damn thing, bumb mistake on the part of th person he was training with and an instant's forgetfulness on his part. Now, he's god rods, pins and screws in his leg and is struggling to get back to forward rolls. So, he's placed himself in the position of being the demonstration uke (i.e. throwing dummy for easy knock-down backfalls) for the beginners. Adapted himself into the role.

I can't hardly see, so everything I do is based off of the premise that I'm not going to be able to "see it coming" so everything is designed on coming out of the bad position, eating one for the team and flowing with a blow or throw and countering/reacting while taking as little damage as possible, maintaining a sticky-hand contact witht he opponent to know where he/she is and what he/she is doing with whatever he/she is wielding. Scary, bbut invigorating, I must say.

And, we have a 31 y/o female who is 6 months pregnant, and I ask her each class what level she's comfortable with doing. I can tell she's starting to feel the body changes (geometry etc.) and it's frustrating to her, but no chances being taken. No front rools already, those wen taway at 3.5 months, back fals are on their way out now I think. Mat time at all I think is going to have to ccease and coaching from the side of the mat starts in about a month I think.

It's all adaptive. My examples above are real-world expressions of Janet's kind words to her friend, and she put it way, way better than I could have. But, when you look around your own dojo, I bet you find adaptions all around you.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 06-01-2014, 01:46 PM   #5
Janet Rosen
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Re: Adapted Training

Thanks to all for chiming in with examples!!!

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-01-2014, 02:14 PM   #6
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
John Powell wrote: View Post
Then we've got a 30 y/o guy who was one of the best uike in the dojo until he got a spiral fracture of the R-side tibia/fibula IN class. Scary damn thing, dumb mistake on the part of the person he was training with and an instant's forgetfulness on his part. Now, he's god rods, pins and screws in his leg and is struggling to get back to forward rolls. So, he's placed himself in the position of being the demonstration uke (i.e. throwing dummy for easy knock-down backfalls) for the beginners. Adapted himself into the role.
Hello John,

I too had a bad spiral break of the fib/tib. My right foot was 90degrees turned from my leg. On crutches for nearly 2 years, I was not allowed to put any weight on the injury until told. I had the pins plates and screws removed. Forward rolling was hard for me too, but have adapted by lifting the leg completely off the ground when coming up out of the roll instead of having the front of sole of my foot planted on the ground. I also have to make sure this leg(right) is completely tucked up against my bottom so none of the leg touches the mat. This injury happened 2006. Pass on my best regards for a speedy recovery and my thoughts are with him. P.S. I am also being retrained after 30 plus years doing Karate. "Stop leaning backwards Sensei growls me" But I am ready for the kick Sensei and he knows this. Cheers Richard

Last edited by Riai Maori : 06-01-2014 at 02:28 PM.

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Old 06-01-2014, 02:22 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Re: Adapted Training from Shihan Curran

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Richard,
Hi again.Hope you are well.The best advice I can give to you is this use your common sense and listen to your body.If by chance you get discomfort from whatever, do not force things.After you get past mid twenties you go downhill.If you wish to train for years you have to adapt.I am 75 I do not traiin like I did when I was in my twenties..High ukemi is a no no.for example.
Injuries take longer to heal [if ever].Your body has got to last you a liifetime,why be silly and ruin your knees /back /joints?Its just a game.Train seriously but with caution.Look after your own body and look after your partners body.as well.Joe.
Thank you Shihan Curran. I do hope you are in good health and spirit. Your message has been received with the up most gratitude. All the best. Richard
.

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Old 06-05-2014, 09:42 PM   #8
hughrbeyer
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Re: Adapted Training

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
You do not have to have a firm grip on your partner's wrist. You can use tegatana and similar cutting movements if thumbs hurt or grip is weak.
All this and... the only reason to grab in the first place is because you're planning to push or pull. And in Aikido, both are wrong.

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Old 06-06-2014, 12:07 AM   #9
Janet Rosen
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
All this and... the only reason to grab in the first place is because you're planning to push or pull. And in Aikido, both are wrong.
I disagree, unless we are discussing two different concepts of "grabbing."
The baseline way to apply nikkyo or sankyo or kotegaishe is to grasp uke's hand to secure it.
And people with bad arthritis need to find an alternate way to compensate for weak or painful grasp.
There are times to do standard nikkyo as nage hurts me way more than receiving it as uke

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:37 PM   #10
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Re: Adapted Training

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
All this and... the only reason to grab in the first place is because you're planning to push or pull. And in Aikido, both are wrong.
What, then, is the motivation behind the standard kosa dori or katate tori wrist grab attack? Assuming uke is not an idiot, what is he planning to do next?

Katherine
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:43 PM   #11
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Re: Adapted Training

Talk about a false dichotomy. Hugh's instincts about grabbing clearly do not cover the range of reasons others might do so.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:58 PM   #12
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Re: Adapted Training

Pushing and pulling are not "wrong". they are actions that can be taken in an attempt to affect something.

Our established paradigms lie to us constantly and we tend to form opinions and value judgement from our experiences and paradigms. What we really need to do is simply "be" and observe first, what we are given and second what we have, and thrid, the choice we make that illicits an action or response.

When we abandon our established assumptions and paradigms we can look more objectively at what we have been presented. Being in the moment at that point allows us to learn in a much more authentic way.

I like Janet's post because it reminds us simply to explore our own potential and to master ourselves and our understanding of how we interact with others and our world.

I think this a big part of budo.

The angst, frustration, and craving that we experience is due to our being unbalanced with what we can do with what we "think" we ought to be able to do, or what we used to be able to do.

I can't do what I did 20 years ago. I can either dwell on that and grow old, bitter, and become more detached and isolated from both myself and those I train with, or I can accept the changes, embrace them and continue to enjoy the journey and establish new connections on the path.

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Old 06-06-2014, 03:01 PM   #13
hughrbeyer
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Re: Adapted Training

Mind you, I said "in Aikido." If you want to crank on joints and move uke around with pain compliance, that's jujitsu. Which is a good and righteous thing in itself, but not Aikido.

Wrist grabs in Aikido are generally just for training--a simple, direct challenge that gives nage the opportunity to work on his stuff. You push to give nage something to work with. Wrist grabs in reality are usually about controlling a weapon. They can also be used to control your opponent if you know your stuff--and if your stuff is Aikido, you won't be pushing or pulling to do it.

The point Janet raises is a good one. The problem most of us have is that since we can get away with doing things the stupid way (pushing, pulling, evading) we can fail to get past that. Loss of that function can be a gift to your training, if you're training the right things.

Edit: Forgot... just to be cantankerous and direct, nikko requires no particularly hard grip on nage's side. Nor does kotegaishi. Nor does yonkyo, unless you're committed to dancing on the nerve point, which is fun, but not required for the takedown. Sankyo... I'll get back to you on sankyo.

Edit again (It's Magic Hat's fault today): Consider how much of a grab you really need, even in katate-tori. Squeezing the wrist isn't the point. Connection to center is the point.

Last edited by hughrbeyer : 06-06-2014 at 03:08 PM.

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Old 06-06-2014, 06:50 PM   #14
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Sankyo... I'll get back to you on sankyo.
.
Control can be palm to palm if there is a direct connection to uke's center. The other hand can support by resting on the back of uke's hand, so it looks a bit like a hand sandwich. On the takedown, the back hand ends up in almost a reverse yonkyo grip while the hand that initially had control through the palm slides up to the elbow. So, yes, it's possible.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:54 PM   #15
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
1. People who cling to a romantic ideal of the aikido they did twenty years ago. I see this all the time, They come back to the dojo as dinged up middle aged folks. They don't heed our advice to pace themselves, to maybe sit out part of the class as needed, to maybe skip a technique or some ukemi. They train full tilt for one class, the next day are in terrible pain, and they disappear again for a couple of years....then try it again. They cannot get their head around another model of being on the mat.
I see this one a lot!
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:58 PM   #16
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Talk about a false dichotomy. Hugh's instincts about grabbing clearly do not cover the range of reasons others might do so.
Although I can't speak for Hugh, I believe he was just talking from the perspective of nage. I had the same initial reaction until I thought about it, then I realised he is probably right.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:41 PM   #17
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Re: Adapted Training

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Edit again (It's Magic Hat's fault today): Consider how much of a grab you really need, even in katate-tori. Squeezing the wrist isn't the point. Connection to center is the point.
Oh, I absolutely agree.

But it sure as heck *looks* like a grab to an outside observer, and it will still be difficult to accomplish for someone with dysfunctional hands. And the same for aikido's other hand manipulations.

Katherine
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:05 PM   #18
Michael Hackett
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Re: Adapted Training

Janet,

You are right on the money! I'm thinking of a man who came to our dojo (several years before I did) and walked in on strut crutches. He was a former power lifter and had served in Vietnam as a Force Recon Marine. The years of jumping out of airplanes and abusing his body sadly caught up to him and he was told that he would be permanently using the crutches. He spoke with our Dojo Cho and asked if he could train. Sensei explained that he had never taught anyone with such limitations, but was willing to try. The end result is that he no longer uses the crutches and has achieved 1stKyu. Seiza and suwariwaza are out of the question for him, but everything else is on the table. With a patient teacher and dojomates, and a little will, almost anyone can practice to one level or another.

Michael
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:59 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: Adapted Training

Hugh, you HAVE to take my word on this and I hope to hell you never have it proven in your body: for some of us sonetimes trying to effect a simple light normal grasp such as needed to carry something very light is too painful to do. OK??? I am NOT talking about cranking and do not know how to write any more plainly than I am but for some reason it isn't coming across.
And I am not asking for pity but trying to make a point about adaptive training.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:00 PM   #20
Janet Rosen
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
He was a former power lifter and had served in Vietnam as a Force Recon Marine. The years of jumping out of airplanes and abusing his body sadly caught up to him and he was told that he would be permanently using the crutches. He spoke with our Dojo Cho and asked if he could train. Sensei explained that he had never taught anyone with such limitations, but was willing to try. The end result is that he no longer uses the crutches and has achieved 1stKyu. Seiza and suwariwaza are out of the question for him, but everything else is on the table. With a patient teacher and dojomates, and a little will, almost anyone can practice to one level or another.
Wonderful!!!!

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:43 AM   #21
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Re: Adapted Training

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Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
Although I can't speak for Hugh, I believe he was just talking from the perspective of nage. I had the same initial reaction until I thought about it, then I realised he is probably right.
Isn't uke also studying aikido?

IMO, uke and nage should be trying to do more or less the same things via their connection to the other person. And while yes, it is absolutely true that one should not be pushing or pulling, there are many many situations in which wrapping one's fingers around the contact point (wrist, shoulder, neck, forearm, whatever) can facilitate aikido-compatible movement.

In my experience, people who have been told that one should never, ever, grab in aikido tend to respond by making their hands overly stiff so that they won't let their fingers curl by mistake. That's not it, either. Human hands are amazingly versatile instruments: surely we can think of some alternatives that might lie in between "rigid death grip" and "rigid hand blade."

Katherine
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:49 AM   #22
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Edit: Forgot... just to be cantankerous and direct, nikko requires no particularly hard grip on nage's side. Nor does kotegaishi. Nor does yonkyo, unless you're committed to dancing on the nerve point, which is fun, but not required for the takedown. Sankyo... I'll get back to you on sankyo.
Sankyo either. I can do sankyo quite successfully when my partner's hands are twice the size of mine.

But there are many varieties of grip. Don't think about clamping your partner's wrist in a vise, think about the way you would hold a child's hand while crossing the street. Or how a child would hold *your* hand. It seems to me that *that* kind of connection is absolutely critical to successful aikido, and there's no way to learn about it if you've convinced yourself that you should *never* grip anything.

Katherine
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:42 PM   #23
hughrbeyer
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Hugh, you HAVE to take my word on this...
Hey, Janet, I totally do... in fact, I was about to start my response to Katherine with "Well, we'll have to let Janet tell us how it really is, since I don't have these problems but..."

So yeah, you're the person on the ground and have to say what works for your people. What interests me is how loss of function in one area can force you to pay attention to other aspects of Aikido you might otherwise overlook. One of my current teachers totally flips out if you grab him--he says, "Sure, give me your thumbs, I'll break 'em and then where are you?" So I'm exploring Aikido without grabbing myself, of necessity. Even before that tho, it was a principle that if I could only make the technique work by holding on, I wasn't doing it right.

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Old 06-09-2014, 10:27 AM   #24
Janet Rosen
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Re: Adapted Training

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Even before that tho, it was a principle that if I could only make the technique work by holding on, I wasn't doing it right.
That's probably accurate in principle if not always in practice
I like Chuck Clark's "hands are connectors, not effectors" as a way of refocusing attention where it counts.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:16 AM   #25
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Re: Adapted Training

I like the spirit of Janet's post. I think aikido is a great art for a variety of reasons, and it can embrace a range of participation. Ultimately, adapting your personal needs to the training environment will reflect on your personal progress, but that is another thread.

I have had the opportunity to work out with a number of people with a variety of needs. As I tell my 5-year old when we fish, "there is one place where the fish will never be... out of the water." I think encouraging people to understand that while they may never reach a level of stewardship or expertise, neither proficiency is required to enjoy training. Training is required to enjoy training.

As a larger statement, I think the only real requirement for aikido training is the ability to express and receive energy. In theory, I can do both things from any point on my body if I have aiki. The method is which you provide energy for me to manage should be irrelevant, contingent upon my skill. The manner in which I express how to use that energy is irrelevant, again contingent upon my ability.

The farther you move away from that larger relationship, the closer you move to jujutsu because the exchange of energy becomes more occlusive, requiring greater collaboration about what is happening. The nature of adaptive training is going to suggest a reduction in the athletic requirement that often accompanies jujutsu. Jujutsu is the form in which we are generally intended to express aiki; that by no means should be seen as the exclusive means of expressing aiki.

You can absolutely express aiki from any point of contact. There are high-level people doing parlor trick seminars right now, trying to get across this very point and trying to bring is into our daily training, not just something we see at big seminars. It does require managing your expectations about what is happening, though.

I think sometimes we are conflict with ourselves. The art is professed to be an exploration of aiki, yet the teaching methodology often pits a pseudo-adversarial partner against your intention to "explore." Eventually, it should not matter. Initially, its counter-productive. Unless you are working on the jujutsu end of things, in which case you are training with the intention of off-balancing your partner, not just providing a vector of energy to explore. I think either extreme is undesirable, but the flow within the bell curve has elasticity to accommodate variety.

Just to make things more complicated, (and to Janet's point), the amount of pressure is also, technically, not relevant. Asking your partner to apply more pressure than they are capable of applying is just as abusive as applying more pressure than your partner can receive. Baby bear energy, just right.

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