Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The True Art, is Hidden

A classmate from another dojo asked me why he couldn't move me from katadori. Its not as if I was holding him strongly. The answer was obvious but apparently he didn't see it that way. Tonight's class was like that. The entire roster went about using brute force, or jerking, or moving about here and there, all the while putting all their effort trying to bend my arm. Its as if they've never seen the unbendable arm before.

The problem when you're using force is that if the partner is relaxed and extending, that force will rebound back to you from the partner's center. However, you can circumvent that by just connecting to him, and moving with your center. Its unfortunate that in this dojo, this basic principle isn't taught as precedent to Waza. In a way, it allows for quick progression because you get the waza numbers fast. Look at us, I've been putting so much emphasis on principles, the students really don't have much practice in their waza and even that is limited in numbers. Well the past couple of weeks we've been working on that part in preparation for the 5th kyu grading, but I digress.

Ultimately, he asked me at the end of the class to show him why he couldn't do it. I answered simply because he had no connection with me. A grab to the shoulder or lapel is not a simple matter. It is an attack. I can push him, control him and use my contact with him to deflect any atemi he wants to initiate. Simply said, I'm already on top of him. So any movement ashi sabaki or tai sabaki only serves as an impetus for me to react.

The way forward is to make the katadori his own connection to my center. Using my hand as his bridge before  even considering putting his hand on mine to do whatever. By having that connection first, what comes next is just icing on the cake or emphasis. Without the connection established, hand placement or getting out of the line doesn't matter.

Afterwards, we begin to talk. I don't know why I did it but I guess its because he was relating his experience on some Jujitsu people he knew a long time ago who really practised realisticly ("unlike in Aikido... you mean to say", I added in my mind), so being the person that I am I asked him to stand up and defend against my yokomen. It wasn't delivered with any great speed or force but I cut his neck anyway. I ask him why he couldn't stop it and he couldn't answer. After all, a yokomen attack from uke is a staple of any aikido practice. Yet, there it was, he had his hands up but mine was at his neck. I told him then that we have to understand that each thing we do in Aikido has an inner and an outer aspect. Omote and Ura maybe... funnily enough. The cutting of yokomen begins with the intention to cut. The desire to cut one's opponent without the added aggression or possession. I cut his center and that is what I do. By putting that in my intent, I moved into his center and take it over. I don't project a desire to hit him, instead I just move in to cut. I guess most people practice only the outer aspect. They move forward and swing their hands. Anyone can do that I suppose and it doesn't matter.

After I explained what I did, he went down to fold his hakama and related many stories. It was funny, a second he is down on the floor and the next he was up showing stuff. After a minute or two of this my friend being widely exposed showed me some moves his old teacher showed him. It looked very similar to an art I know but his art origins is definitely chinese kung fu unlike mine. It struck me that arts around the world show their inner selves to be about the same as each other when you take away the waza and kata. We are one and all the same really. So I told him, this is a true art your teacher taught you and you're very lucky. Unfortunately, not many teachers teach their students the 'true' art. Simply because the true art cuts right through the showy bits, the kihon you may say. It goes to the essence of any art really and that is the struggle for life and death.

Truly in Aikido, the martial way is there for anyone who wants to look for it. It is only a tiny aspect of the art really. I'm more interested in the Aiki part though, because lord knows that the 'true' art has no forgiveness.

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