John Matsushima wrote:
Sure, there are people who say that intense training is when uke attacks really hard. I can even appreciate a good hard attack, but how beneficial is this training, after all? Does it make you feel better because you were able to pull off a kote gaeshi on someone when you knew exactly when and where the punch was coming from, even though it was "hard"??? To tell you the truth, I have found that a hard, fast attack is actually easier to deal with sometimes. So much for intensity.
Putting the issue of hard throws aside, if hard and fast attacks are not to be called "intense" training, then they should at least be acknowledged as valid training. I agree that they are often easier to deal with than soft attacks - think of the strike that stops all motion before reaching your head, so that you have to put your own energy into the technique because uke is offerring none. But they are certainly more realistic than soft attacks. The man with the nasty glint in his eye who attacks in real life is going to ATTACK and it won't be slow or soft. Slow and soft training is essential when we are learning techniques, but I think hard and fast training is essential too.
And, besides, it's fun. Many of the people posting here seem to think so
I think that as we develop our skills in aikido we should get to a place when we can throw softly no matter how hard the attack is - or at least extend our throws so that uke has time to ukemi. Let's call this a "generous throw" - effective, but not intended to cause injury. Several people replying to this thread have mentioned the trust between uke and nage. If uke attacks hard and fast, then most people would read that to be a message: "I trust myself well enough to take ukemi" from this technique. But there should also be a corresponding message from nage: "I trust myself to be able to throw you generously even if you attack hard and fast".
I can imagine two situations where nage might mistake intensity for violence: (1) they are a beginner and (2) they train in a dojo that trains softly all the time. If (1) was the case, as uke I might not trust that nage could throw me generously. Therefore, I would slow my attacks. If (2) were the case, then I'd actually feel the same. Lots of soft styles seem to have very short downward throws that are hard to roll from if they're executed quickly. And this can also be a cause for these nages confusing intensity and violence. They haven't been taught how to execute generous throws, so they think if someone attacks them hard, then they have to throw hard which is violent. Dilemma.
Ergo, both soft and hard training are useful. Both short and generous throws are useful. We're always better off learning more than less.