Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Get outta the way!

Photo courtesy of Oncle Tom
The first, and most important pre-requisite to doing good aikido is to get out of the way of the attacker.  Sometimes we refer to this as tai sabaki (body shifting), sometimes we call it the aiki brushoff, and sometimes we just say, "Get outta the way," but however you say it, you have to do it or your aiki is going to suck.
  • The line of attack - If you wait until the moment the attacker commits to his attack, then draw a line between your center and his,  this is called the line of attack.  Getting off of the line of attack is the most important part of every technique.  We can teach you all the intricate aikido moves in the world, but until you start getting out of the attacker's way, nothing will ever work right for you.
  • The shoulder/hip test - Here's a test to see if tori is really getting off the line of attack.  Uke, after the first step of your attack, when you have lunged through ma-ai, see if you can touch tori with your shoulder or your hip.  If so, he's not out of your way.  Keep practicing until there is no way uke can touch you with his hip or shoulder after your evasion.
  • Evasion is vital for smaller aikidoka - This is important for everyone but it is vital for the smaller, weaker tori.  You absolutely do not want to grapple with a larger person, and the first part of learning not to fight the big-guy's fight is to learn to get out of his way.
  • Evasion is vital for larger aikidoka - It is also important for the larger, stronger tori if you are ever going to learn to do good aiki without having to fall back on your superior strength and mass.
So, get outta the way!  Do it every time before you do anything else!

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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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