Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rules are made to be broken - sorta

Let's engage in some more aikido heresy - take something as foundational as the centered, unbendable arm and the same-hand-same-foot relationship.
Any good sensei can offer many demonstrations of how this is an optimal postural structure for aikido techniques.
But there comes a time that you throw all that nonsense out the window and just move! and sometimes good aikido results. Heck, sometimes great, amazing aikido happens this way.  Obviously, under certain conditions, you may disregard the rules.  For instance, if...
  • you are moving in synch with uke, and...
  • uke is not in position to apply force to you through your arm, and...
  • you are not trying to put force on uke through the arm...
...then the arm doesn't have to be unbendable and centered. In this situation, the arm can do any old thing and it just doesn't matter.  Stated more generally, if the arm is inconsequential to the relationship, then forget about the centered and unbendable ideas - they just clutter up your ooda loop.
But watch out! These conditions can change in the space of about half a step. The arm can all of a sudden become vitally important and if you are out of structure when this happens, you're likely screwed!
It's a good practice to work within the rules for a long, long time until you get enough experience to (probably) know if you're going to be screwed in the next step or so.  But it's also good practice every so often to say, "Forget all that principle nonsense," and just move and see what happens.
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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