Archive for November, 2008

Blending in Motion

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
If Iwama-style Aikido gets a bad rap, it’s for being overly static. And from the outside, I can see how that might be perceived. We focus on essential body geometry, explore techniques through deconstruction and basic practices, and often execute techniques in an explosive — rather than ultra-flowing — way. We start with stability and work our way into flow and motion. Numerous other forms of Aikido start in motion and — I hope — work their way back to stability.
But here’s the part they don’t see: once we’re in motion, we have stability, technique and flow. HAR!
Of course, that doesn’t happen by accident. Sure, Aikidoko X can do a great basic ikkyo. But what about ikkyo in motion? What about ikkyo under pressure? What about ikkyo when it doesn’t even look like ikkyo but there’s nothing else for it to be? That’s the spirit of takemusu. and the way we develop it is through practice that progresses from static, or kihon, to flowing.
The big flows we always think about are jyu-waza and randori. BTW, the difference is that jyu-waza, or free attack, generally means one faces a single attacker. Ran dori (ran = chaos; dori = to grab) is usually considered an exercise in which one faces multiple attackers.
Anyway, we glamorize it because, well, because it’s cool. It’s hard to do well, looks great at times, and makes you feel like you’ve truly exercised your martial skills.
And that’s kind of true. But the very best Aikidoka I’ve ever seen in randori aren’t really focused on technique. They’re focused on blending. I’ve been told (reminded, admonished, scolded) that if one concentrates on blending, technique will follow naturally.
NEWS FLASH! Focus your Aikido on blending.
Well, truth be told it’s more easily said than done. You’re moving fast, you’re under pressure. Of course, under those conditions, your weaknesses will show. For most of us, the biggest weakness is blending.
So that’s what we’ll work on tonight. We’ll explore basics of blending. Attach blends to techniques. Then start moving things around and speeding things up. We’re all going to get plenty of time on the mat, and hopefully we’ll all walk away excited. Humbled, most likely, but excited.
See you on the mat!