Realizing Aikido's Potential
Mr. Pranin's article, "Realizing Aikido's Potential" is greatly welcomed and long overdue. Although I have not been an aikido student for as long as Mr. Pranin, I have made many of the same observations. People stare at you for using kiai's, especially when you use it during weapons practice. So many people find it hard to execute a technique, not realizing it is because of a weak attack. Many uke "walk" in and float their attacks. Furthermore, they have no response to atemi and no reaction when being "let go" as in the set up for the uke to try and get up after being pinned. Also, bacause so many people engage in this type of practice, you find many aikidoka who are nidan or sandan, that can't handle a real attack and never ever take the uke's balance.
I've been to many seminars where the yudansha are shocked by my attacks. They hastily fly through the technique without ever taking my balance, bending my back, or soliciting and type of reaction from me via the use of atemi. I can't say anything, because they become offended and there is usually a lack of time. On the other hand, when I use atemi, take the balance and execute the technique, then people say I am being rough. Trust me. I go to great strides to protect my uke. Once this happens, if by chance I work with them again, they get an "attitude" and try to resist the next technique by muscling. I usually have to let them go out of fear of hurting them. Sorry to say, but Mr. Pranin was right on point. The problems he wrote about are widespread and common in many Aikido circles. Hopefully, his article will spark many Instructors to reevaluate their training methods and re-introduce those missing elements back into the dojo. I for one, will continue to focus on those apects of my training.