Monday, November 29, 2010

Settling for less than ippon

It can be tempting sometimes to settle for less than technical perfection (ippon) in judo.

Sometimes we feel like it is not possible or reasonable for certain throws to generate an ippon, so we settle for a merely-acceptable throw (yuko) or for a takedown.  But all throws in Kodokan Judo can be done skillfully for ippon.  The ippon potential exists for all the named throws in judo.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to develop masterful skill at all the throws in judo.  Your personal set of favorite, most skillful throws is likely to be very small, perhaps fewer than a handful of tokuiwaza.  But this doesn't mean that after a couple of clumsy initial tries you can settle for yuku-skill (or worse) in those throws.  You have to avoid settling.  Seek perfection.
This settling can be even more tempting in aikido, because the ideal is even more stringent than ippon.  For a judo throw to be an ippon, it has to land uke hard, fast, and mostly on his back, with you in control.  But in aikido, not only do you have to throw the equivalent of ippons, you (sorta) have to do it effortlessly and with perfect accord between your energy and uke's.  I say "sorta" because this is mostly an unspoken ethic, but it exists nonetheless.
So it can be tempting to tell yourself that you are "effortless enough" or that you are "fairly effortless" while being  "exquisitely effective."  It's easy to justify rough aikido as being sufficiently close to ideal that you can settle.
Don't do it.  I have seen and felt that elusive perfection (or something much closer to perfection than my current skill level) to know that I don't have to settle in aikido or judo.
So, you can do seoinage and shomenate and make uke fall down... Great!  Now, can you do it softer? With more harmonious blending?  More automatically?  With greater control?
[Photo courtesy of Flibber]

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