Discovering Aikido: Principles for Practical Learning





The word impossible is not in my dictionary. Napoleon


What we are all seeking is the hidden method to move and disable madly resisting ukes. While not an easy objective, one thing is certain - we need to test what we learn against resistance. What I have come up with is a little contradictory: In order to find the desired path of least resistance we first need to determine the Path of Most Resistance.


Path of Most Resistance

Consider a strong uke an honest friend. It is often stated that when you meet uke's resistance you should try to find a way around it. This is common sense, but, and it is a big but, a worthwhile training method is to try to go right through uke's resistance. Simply, seeking and following the path of most resistance can be an effective tool in training your aiki strength, or kokyu-ryoku. The strange thing is, if you train to go right through uke, in time, you will find it far easier to meet, recognise, and go around uke's resistance. Indeed, the stronger your kokyu-ryoku becomes, the smaller the deflection required to go around uke's resistance. A small deflection creates a strong, forceful aiki-feeling, and it almost feels as though you stand your ground as uke goes around you; a bigger deflection leads to a softer feeling. Both are valid, indeed - essential. Researching/training the path of most resistance is a very useful tool in finding that proverbial path of least resistance.

If you practice/develop strong kokyu-ryoku the techniques become insignificant. You go through uke and partway, an aiki-shape (technique) reveals itself and, if you wish, you decide to take it. I believe this method reveals all the natural Aikido techniques - they just appear. Accordingly, I do not think that Ueshiba sat down one day and decided to include this or that in his repertoire - rather he just smashed his ukes around for half a lifetime with strong aiki and the shapes (techniques) we have just came out.

The techniques we have are entirely natural outcomes of strong aiki training. Reeling off techniques in perfect kata-like list-form is necessary for intermediates, but advanced students have to graduate beyond such and get the shapes to appear spontaneously - you have to create the means to find them to claim them as your own. Few will guide or help you, nor should they - for advanced ideas and methods you have to search for the essence your self. It is only once you start to rationalise things in your own mind/body that it will begin to make any real sense.

  1. Train to go through uke, directly forwards into and through his resistance.
  2. Train to go around uke's resistance (but in a direct kind of way - I do not mean tenkan).
  3. Train to blend with uke, use his resistance against him (again, in a direct kind of way).

Note: #3 above is the aim, but failing to progress through #1 and #2 properly means your body will not be prepared for #3.


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