I think some of my readers are partly misunderstanding me on some of my recent posts - particularly The aiki gift that keeps on giving. The misunderstanding is probably my fault for not communicating my idea rightly. I agree that full retreat from an opponent may not always be best.
- you cannot flee if you are leaving someone in danger.
- you cannot retreat if the enemy is faster than you.
- it's almost never smart to avoid a fight that is inevitable.
- your most expedient defense may be to attack directly.
- you may not be confident in your ability to evade and stay out of trouble.
- it might not be good to flee from someone who is both careful and relentless.
But in general, on this blog, and in the posts in question in particular, I am not talking about retreat from conflict as a moral imperitive or some sort of hippie love ideal, but as a practical, pragmatic, strategic imperitive. Simply put, aiki techniques work better when you are trying to disengage than when you are trying to engage. In fact, you almost have to at least try to retreat first in order to get a good chance to do an aiki technique. Why?
- it's harder to hit a retreating target
- if uke has to put more energy into simply getting close enough to touch you, that's more energy you have for your technique and less energy he has in reserve to hurt you with.
- if a technique goes wrong or fails, it's easier to disengage and flee or flow to another technique if you never engaged in a 'stand and deliver' type fight
- it's nearly impossible to be sensitive enough to synchronize correctly when you are toe-to-toe scraping and scratching and clawing for your life, but it is much easier to get in synch when you begin retreating.
That's what I was referring to when I wrote, "Try it for a month and see what it does for your aikido." This method of practicing aikido will improve your aikido so much you won't believe it - or maybe I should say you'll have to see it to believe it!
Also, almost as an aside, these suggestions are (mostly) directed to aikido practitioners. I said, in effect, "aikido works better when disengaging than when engaging." Karate and judo guys can benefit from thinking about these things but your strategic mileage may vary.