We enter this new year continuing our mindful waza practice. We have developed a nice pattern of practicing one technique during a class and processing our experiences at the end of the class. I cannot emphasize strongly enough, the importance of correctly executing each part of the waza. The nature of this type of practice helps everyone to see that a person can always improve the execution of techniques. It is not uncommon for students to develop the position that he/she “knows” a technique and is ready to go on to learn “more advanced” techniques. We have many ways in which we can “hide” weaknesses in the execution of our waza. Speeding up the execution of a technique is the most common way to try and “get through” those rough spots. Trying to “muscle through” rough spots is another likely maneuver to cover up our problem areas. These tactics serve to only hinder a person’s progression in Aikido.
I always emphasize that students should work at a speed with which they can be cognizant and in control of how a technique is being executed. A technique that works well slowly, will work well at faster speeds, as long as the execution remains “clean.” When we speed up our execution, we typically encounter the resumption of “bad habits.” Our Aikido practice is helping us to “hard-wire in” good habits. This is a long process so that is intended to have us execute waza cleanly, regardless of the speed of the attack and speed-of-execution of waza. The best way (to date) that I can teach this process is to help students focus on the execution of each aspect of a technique. We then put these “steps” together so that the execution of waza ends up as a seamless set of movements. We cannot expect ourselves to inform ourselves about these steps if we try and mimic fast execution of techniques.
This month we will continue to work on a single technique each class. Students will have already noticed that I am “upping the ante” by increasing the severity of the attack and complexity of technique. This focus should help us tune out the cold, and tune in to our waza. If that is not enough, there is always Kan Shugyo- Cold Training on Tuesday, January 25, 2011. Shihan Imaizumi will be conducting this class and will teach me how to correctly conduct this type of training so that it can become part of our yearly training cycle.
Marc Abrams Sensei
(Original blog post may be found here