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Power and mobility in aikido and swordwork

Photo courtesy of Vincent
Aikido is, in large part, based on swordwork. This extends not only to superficial motions (for instance, shihonage looks like shihogiri), but to concepts and strategies too.
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Mobility and power is largely a trade-off, and each martial art makes this stategic decision differently, placing itself on a spectrum between power and mobility.  A good example of this is modern karate, in which mobility is largely forsaken for power. Aikido would be an example of an art that largely forsakes power for the sake of mobility. There are, of course, counterexamples in both arts but the exceptions only serve to prove the rule in that they make it even more obvious that the exception doesn't “look” like karate/aikido.
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In the case of swordsmanship, which is more necessary – power or mobility? Obviously you don't need power because you have a 3-foot long knife! You have so much leverage and mechanical advantage with the sword that any cut at all is likely to be very serious. If he can touch you, he can kill you.  You'd better get your butt moving and keep it moving. You can't ever count on having enough time to stop to develop a maximally powerful stroke.
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Aikido gets this idea from swordsmanship – if you allow uke to touch you, he may kill you, so you need to stay in motion more than you need to develop power. You need mobility – and the right mindset – to keep from getting cut
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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