Saturday, February 28, 2009

Aikido 2/28/09

Our Aikido class this morning focused solely on suwariwaza. We went over (I think) the first 4 techniques from Ichikata. This was pretty much an introduction of suwariwaza to me, so forgive me for not being very descriptive of the techniques. However, Pat recently wrote an excellent article on his blog about just what we did today. Please take a moment to read it here. I think we did everything except the last one he describes ("juntai timing").

More meaningful to me than the individual techniques today, was the conceptual discussion we had about the value of suwariwaza practice. Let me see if I can convey what we talked about, as I understand it. I'll extrapolate on what was discussed, based on my further consideration of it throughout the day (feel free to chime in, Pat):

We train to have a "hierarchy of responses" to aggression. We have tactics and strategies that are more preferable to employ and those that are less preferable. For instance, the most preferable way to deal with an attack would be to not be present when the attack occurs. We attempt this by trying to avoid environments or situations where attack would be likely, when possible. Now, there are times when we may not be able to avoid those environments, or when violence happens outside of its "likely" territory. So we move to the next most preferable tactic (in our system) - stay out of maai. If a bad guy breaks maai, the next response on our list is to evade (get off the line of attack). If you can't evade/escape, you may need to resort to technique "X". If "X" doesn't save your bacon, you have technique "Y", and so on ("nothing ever works").

This is what we try to internalize, not something we try to decipher if and when a situation turns sour. So the wordy process above just happens automatically, and is not an OODA loop nightmare.

Anyway, suwariwaza (kneeling techniques), remove a few of the options, so we can focus on others. For one thing, you begin well inside maai, so you're not dealing with that aspect of an encounter. Kneeling also inhibits your evasion, so right there you have a couple options gone. As Nick Lowry wrote in his great book on Aikido, "By learning to work from the worst possible position, and excel, we find it easier to function in all the more superior positions." (Aikido; Principles of Kata and Randori, p. 61) Suwariwaza puts us in a less-than-ideal position. We discussed how suwariwaza teaches us to synch up with uke's up and down motions and to "occupy the center" and how these things relate to the generation of power.

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