Friday, April 30, 2010

Paradoxes in aiki; to attack or not?

Over the years I've heard from multiple instructors that in aikido you must always attack.  Every step must be some form of attack.  You might attack uke's positioning (shikaku), his balance (kuzushi), his mind (zanshin), his body (atemi), etc... but you must attack uke in some way on every step or else the tide of the encounter will tend to turn in his favor.
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On the other hand, I've heard from multiple instructors that in aikido you absolutely must avoid attacking because you don't want to aggravate the violence and chaos in the relationship and you don't want to give the opponent support or give him something that he can counter.  The aiki thing is to stay safe and go with the flow, and because of a strange thermodynamic interaction between you and them, they tend to degrade into chaos pretty quickly.
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I've seen utterly amazing master instructors work their magic and then cite one of these principles or the other ("always attack" or "avoid attack").  I have tried both methods and I can get some pretty acceptable aikido going either way, but whenever I concentrate on one of these principles for a while I get to wondering if I'm missing something on the other side of the coin.
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What gives?  What do y'all think of this paradox?

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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: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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