Last week’s theme for the classes was practicing at a speed that placed you on the edge of success and failure. What emerged from that theme was an awareness of the importance of maintaining a balance in the in-yo relationship that exists in ourselves, and in the entity that is created when a person has attacked you (uke-nage). I really do not find a very good translation for in-yo (yin-yang) that can accurately convey this inseparable duality. Some people use feminine-masculine, soft-hard, passive-active…. yet these words do not seem to convey the depths of this relationship. That was why I had us begin with paired exercises that allowed us to be acutely aware of this relationship. I think that the walking exercise with our arms out and facing the partner conveyed this relationship in terms of it’s circularity, polarity and connected nature.
Some people have described Aikido as pushing when you are pulled and pulling when you are pushed. I find this description to be a simplistic description of the in-yo relationship that enables Aikido techniques to work with surprising effectiveness. When a person is attacking, in essence, this person’s attack represents a form of “yo”. If we are truly connected to the attacker, then our simultaneous (NOT REACTIVE) movement should represent” in”. Within ourselves, any movement that represents “in” must have a simultaneous movement that represents “yo” (regardless of whether we are uke or nage). If we cannot move in this manner, we typically find ourselves off-balanced. As a nage, it is important for us to use the in-yo relationship in order to “freeze up” or off-balance the uke. It is too simple to think that a simultaneous in-yo relationship in movement is sufficient to execute a technique. The larger reality is contained within the dynamic and circular nature of the in-yo relationship. We need to be attuned to this circular nature so that a movement that might begin as representative of “in” transforms at the right time to “yo” and continues to move in this circular nature between the polarities until the technique has been successfully executed.
We will spend this week continuing to explore this intricate and profoundly deep relationship. Even instantaneous responses (eg.- atemi) that essentially “finish the job” without having to execute an Aikido technique (atemi is a whole class of techniques in my opinion) represent the in-yo relationship. When we begin to experience “failures” in our techniques, we should stop and observe how we are managing the in-yo relationship within us and within our connection with our ukes. If you get “stuck in a technique, do not hit the “reset button.” Instead, see if you can re-establish a correct in-yo relationship so that the technique can be completed in a connected manner. I think that it is very important to develop awareness as to the nature of our mistakes. This can allow us to find ways to correct ourselves. In this manner, we strive to further refine our ability to manage the in-yo relationship in a dynamic, high speed environment.
Marc Abrams Sensei
(Original blog post may be found here