A Lesson for the Reader

This was inspired by the guest post, Observations about Ukemi.

Picture this: Uke attacks yokomen. Nage enters irimi and, unexpectedly, tenkans away from uke, seemingly losing his center connection. Nage then turns to face uke and, decisively, cuts uke’s sword arm, now descending through empty air.

The technique that follows is irrelevant.

If Aikido is all about maintaining connection, why does that entrance work?

12 thoughts on “A Lesson for the Reader

  1. Not at all. If he is committing to the attack 100% and I know…Ok he’s doing yokomen and there’s nothing else he can do.

    but it’s that trust that uke IS committing to that yokomen that I think…in my opinion…is what makes that entry work. If I don’t trust uke enough to commit, it’s not something I would want to do

  2. I understand.

    But in the context of a sword cut, uke has to complete the strike. Otherwise he dies. And Aikido strikes are based on the sword.

    Now in the context of, say, boxing or a striking art, uke can jab or feint. And is expected to, as opportunities arise. In a sport context, the dynamics of these strike are fundamentally different. (And also nonexistent. Why would a boxer make a downward strike to the crown of his opponent?)

    Which leads me, in a very roundabout way, to the idea of connection. In my yokomen example, connection is not directly based on sight or physical contact. It is, I think, based on something else — the foreknowledge of uke’s action, which itself is based on the actions of a skilled swordsman.

    If uke hesitates, he dies.

  3. One more point, briefly.

    The great confusion over Aikido strikes is, I think, partly due to the confusion between sword cuts and sport punches. We live in a sports culture, not a sword culture. Just because two movements look superficially similar does not mean they are the same.

    (And honestly, they don’t even look that similar to me.)

  4. Very true. You ask someone to punch and they are going to punch, jab, or thrust pointy end of their fist into your direction. But for sake of being a training atmosphere I’ve found (in my short time in Aikido) that there are few who really TSUKI (<–hope that's spelled correctly)…generally out of fear of causing harm. Especially with beginners I find myself standing in front of them telling them to "hit me"…and it takes some building of confidence (or frustration…not sure which) for them to really commit.

    That's what I feel the technique you've mentioned is great for…getting uke to commit 100% to his attack (be it tsuki, yokomen, shomen, whatever..)

  5. I was once told something very nice regarding center connection. Nage has his center, uke has her center. But there is this lovely little place that is created when Aikido is working as Aikido should; that place is called “our center”. From what you described it sounds like nage is striking to that little place. So I do argue that it is about connection still, from what you described it still sounds like center’s meeting, just not on a linear line, but the spherical. I’ve heard people, better than me, call it the dead corner sometimes. But I’ve been feeling like it has to do with more than just position. If it is as simple as position than Aikido would be easy. Something lovely happens when uke’s intentions meets nage’s regardless.

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