Breathe In, Breathe Out
One Continuous Motion
In my last several articles, I have attempted to offer some ideas and insights into a conceptual way to view Aikido techniques. I suggested that first we need to make a connection and take balance by capturing the spine. Next, I suggested the alignment of that connection be loaded onto the hip and then move the supporting hip out of the way, letting the uke fall, emptying from below. Now, I am suggesting we allow all this to happen in one continuous motion.
Ever watch rhythmic gymnastics? In one event, they take a long ribbon and keep it moving while they simultaneously do a gymnastic routine. As long as they keep the ribbon moving, there is a flow of energy and a continuous wave of inertia and momentum. The split second that there is a delay or lapse in motion, the ribbon falls limp to the ground. It is a similar process when using a whip. The energy must flow continuously.
When we first learn techniques, we often think and move very awkwardly. There is just too much to pay attention to that we break it down into steps. It is like the Arthur Murray Dance Schools but without the footprints on the floor (which might not be a bad idea). At step one, we wait until someone grabs our wrist (a signature Aikido opening). Step two we do something. Step three we do something else. We keep telling ourselves what to do step by step until our uke rolls away or taps out in submission.
All this counting and internal dialogue gets us through the initial learning stages. It is useful and often necessary, but it has its limits. Like all internal dialogue, we can become stuck and stagnant, without a continuous flow of thoughts. Thoughts come and thoughts go, unless we get so attached to them that we think they are the realities of our lives. Creative thought (and life) is one continuous motion.
The auditory track, self-talk, is very slow. It takes so much longer to describe a movement than to demonstrate it. So, do not tell yourself to move in one continuous motion, just see it in your mind, and do it. The visual track, thinking in pictures is faster and the body does not have to translate the auditory description into a visual picture map, and allow the body to follow it. Therefore, instead of think/talk, then think/see, and then do it. It is faster to just see and do.
We all know that Aikido is based on circular and spiral motions. Where does the circle start? It starts with the first intuitive connection. If we backtrack from that trademark Aikido wrist grab, we see the person coming. Sometimes, if we have learned to quiet our internal minds while being aware of our external surroundings, we may intuitively feel someone's approach or intent. That is where the circle starts. The circle starts at our very first connection, which is seldom at the wrist.
Visualize their approach, their attack line. See where it intersects your current position. See/feel/let their energy, their inertia, move you in one continuous motion. The blending is usually a horizontal circle. Allow that line of inertia/momentum/energy to flow in one continuous motion until it leads naturally into a small vertical circle (kote-gaeshi) or a larger vertical circle (shiho-nage). Allow the energy flow from one person to the next (randori). Allow the body/spine to turn/rotate by turning the hips in one continuous motion. Let them come and let them go, on to the next, one continuous motion.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
One Continuous Motion
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now, get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.