Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pain and jointlocks

Fitness gurus of yesteryear told us, "no pain, no gain." Nietzsche supposedly wrote (though I haven't read it), "that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." One of the Marines' mottoes says, "pain is weakness leaving the body." Even Osensei was quoted as saying that pain was impurity leaving the body through the joints (my paraphrase). What in the world were these otherwise smart guys thinking? Pain is an exceptionally poor ally to have for several reasons:
  • Different people experience pain differently. Some people can bend nearly double before they feel anything while others hurt as soon as you touch them. This means that tori cannot predict or control the amount of pain delivered to uke.
  • Different people react to pain differently. Some people give up, some get madder, some ignore it. Most people can put off the effects of moderate to severe pain and physical damage if they are motivated to achieve a goal.
  • Pain only occurs after damage has begun to take place. Therefore it is not a safe or reliable marker for the end of a technique. That is why uke must tap before it hurts.
  • Most of us are doing aikido and judo as a hobby. We have other lives and people that depend on us. Many of us make our livings with our hands, elbows, and knees.
  • It damages a person psychologically and spiritually to delight in causing pain.
For these reasons and others we do not teach pain compliance techniques. Sure, some things in aikido can hurt. We teach techniques that give us extreme mechanical advantage against anatomical weaknesses and joint locks can cause pain and destroy joints.
That is why we place the responsibility on both uke and tori to move slowly, tap before it hurts, and let go as soon as uke taps.
Although jointlocks can hurt and destroy, this is not their intended purpose. The purpose of jointlocks is to reduce range of motion of a joint so that you can take control of uke's center of balance. Control of uke's motion and balance is an extremely good ally to have.
To those that say, "no pain, no gain," I say, "no pain. No pain."

1 comment:

  1. It's great to hear someone put it so elequently. I often feel overdramatic in certain grabs because of damage I've recieved in the past. I just don't want to be damaged again. And then other people are absolutely immune to different type of locks like thumb grabs to forearm. I just get a blank stare while they wait patiently for something to happen. Urr.

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