Moving, Flow, Rhythm and Cadence

I was training with Radek and we were practicing Shihonage-ura waza and I was encouraging a more fast pace rhythm. While I was the uke, I will always make a point to take a fall, unless my nage has made a critical mistake which allows me to get up.

After a few fall, Radek was saying, that I am falling by myself and makes it looks ‘easy’. This kind of falling is often known as a ‘Charity fall’ which means the nage don’t have to do much and you will fall. Charity fall also adds to that bad reputation Aikido and other martial arts gets, branded as ‘Bullshit-do’, and moniker of Bushido.

A very fine line

As I explained to Radek, that he is already a brown gold, and he would have gotten the basics right, he can move, gauge the distance and also execute most of the Aikido waza competently. However, he is still stuck in a static movement mindset, and puts in 100% (sometimes too much!) in everything that he does, which is fine, but as we progress, we need to better embrace rhythm, velocity and the economies of our partner’s intent and energy. After all this is what Aikido is all about!

While there is nothing wrong being static and doing the basics, it is very laborious and physical, Every time you throw or pin your uke, you will use equal or more strength, on top of a better angle of attack, geometry, positioning and all that. You don’t add value to the relationship, and when things moves fast, we get stuck. On top of getting stuck, we are unable to learn how to deal with speed and velocity.

Don’t think, move fast

Further delving into my ‘charity fall’, I explained that in the speed we are moving, there will be energy bleed, which means things will travel a bit more before it slows down to a halt. Very much like a car applying it’s brakes, it does not stop at that instant the brakes is being applied, there is a braking distance where the excessive energy is bled off and eventually comes to a halt. And you do not jam the brakes, but apply even constant pressure, watching how the car reacts to you so that the car will reach 0 km/h.

It is the same with Aikido, as we advance into our practice, we must understand economies of our partner’s energy. While Shihonage ends the moves with our partner’s hands bent backwards, there is already an inherent instability build in that will carry on as our uke falls, we don’t really have to do much and just ride that downwards wave. Hence it looks like I fall on my own without much of his involvement, fact is I am already on the way down, and if the technique starts off well at the get-go, the ending is a very natural fall, unless the start is a struggle, then it will be a struggle all the way to the end.

Follow though

I also explained to him that he has a tendency to pause, which is a normal for all of us as we sometimes put a halt and check our technique. It happens with most novices and this can disrupt the flow of the technique. As we advance in our practice, we need to be vary conscious about our stoppage as it will allow our partner to regain their balance and turn the tide against us.

Coming in as a more advanced uke, I have to show him what a thorough follow through looks like, even if he halts out of habit, it’s my role as an uke to help him follow through. Then he can have a glimpse of what the technique looks and feels like with a flow.

Unless of course the nage does a complete erroneous moves and this is where the uke has to preserve the presence of mind to stop and correct the nage. This takes trust and camaraderie to build and it helps to motivate our more junior practitioner to understand how things look like from a more senior level.

This way everyone can learn and experience Aikido in a faster, more intense pace and at the same time not getting anyone injured.

Doing Aikido Videos

Doing Aikido Videos

This is something of a gray area for Harry Sensei, while we have often serendipitously recorded his teachings every now and then, he was never consistently supportive of us doing so, his likes and dislikes ebb with his mood, sometimes he don’t mind it, often he will berates us for recording, as he would want us to focus on the training and not get distracted with recording him.

I agree with him wholeheartedly and at the same time, continues to take video recordings of my lessons. There is value in recording our trainings as we can reflect back on our moves and think deeper years later. We can compare and contrast what we did in the past and what we can do now.

I learned a lot from watching these videos, in terms of posture, in terms of my positioning and also what I am saying, those fill words and anchor words I’m constantly using which makes me sound like a broken record. I also learned a lot looking at how my fellow Aikidokas train and see that they have a different interpretations of the same technique. This also helps me think of better ways to transfer my knowledge and better share the experience.

Posting on Social Media

I do post on my social media accounts more for sharing and getting some awareness about who we are as an Aikido school, and for the same reason why I blog, I want to interact with the public at large and see what kind of response I am getting, open to feedback!

The social media landscape is a jungle and it is always a very conscientious effort to make sure I post the right things. These social media companies makes it very easy for you to post, and there is a reason for that; they want you to keep using their apps and in doing so brings traffic and popularity to their site.

One thing I always do is to get my fellow Aikido practitioner’s approval, usually just a WhatsApp:” eh, can I have your permission to post this?” This is when a specific person’s face is identifiable. If they choose not to be seen, then I will respect that decision. It’s their privacy after all.

Sharing these videos.

My fellow Aikidokas gets these videos as I want them to have it as keepsake. Very often we train, train and train, we don’t really have any kind of a video to help us remember our training days. The earliest video of me in Aikido was my brown belt grading, and I tore my right sleeve in a sleeve grab move, Back in those days it was a grainy video tape era recordings and I often wish I had something else from earlier.

Sharing these video with our loved ones.

Sometimes I wonder what our spouses and children thinks of us, we disappear once or twice a week put on white uniform, wear strange looking pleated pants that looks like a skirt, Roll around and throw people here and there on a padded mat, and it all seems like we are part of a secret squirrel club.

Having some of these videos perhaps can help us debunk some of these myths about our mysterious disappearance and also help them understand this very hard to understand martial arts.

It is visual proof that we are playing around with other people, but not in a hanky panky naughty manner.