Posted by: Eddie deGuzman | October 24, 2008

Aikido-Going with the Flow

by Eddie deGuzman

I asked a friend of mine some time back if he knew what aikido was. He said he did and that it is a martial art that uses the attacker’s energy against him. True enough, but in some regard this can be said about all martial arts. Although this may describe one aspect of aikido, I don’t believe it is representative of aikido in its entirety.

Aikido is said to be an art of peace, theoretically based on responses to attacks. One of the fundamental concepts of aikido is to blend with the attacker’s energy/movement/technique. Going with the flow, so to speak. Therefore many technique are practiced in two ways, in response to a push or a pull. If pushed we may respond in many ways/directions as long as we blend with the oncoming energy. What we do with it after that depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which is our own choice. In this response, an attacker is moving in a particular direction and is expecting to go in that direction, and all we do is help them along their way. This is one of the most attractive concepts of aikido and is very easy to understand.

However, one could make another choice. Very often in Kuroishi Sensei’s dojo where I now train, we move in the complete opposite direction of an incoming attack. And this is without tenkan/turning beforehand. For example, if the attacker moves towards us to grab our forward hand, we simply move forward, through them and past them. It is quite unexpected on the receiving end and ends in a quick, sometimes harsh, breakfall by the attacker.

You can also choose to hold your ground. By repelling incoming energy, you can almost ‘bounce’ attackers back the way they came.

We also practice from being grabbed already, starting from a stationary position. There is no incoming movement to blend with. It could be from lapel grabs, sleeve grabs, chokes, bear hugs or two-handed grabs by two people. How we decide to move, again, depends on different factors and we can make choices.

So, yes, flowing with the energy of the attack is a part of aikido, but so is blocking it. And you can have your own flow just as you can create a new one. These are other dimensions of aikido that require as much exploration, if not more, from aikido practitioners.


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