Aristotle wrote in his Poetics that "A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end." This applies to aikido as well as to poetics because an encounter also has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
- Hanasu is the main exercise that we use to study beginnings.
- Randori is the main exercise that we use to study the middle.
- Kata is the main exercise that we use to study the endings.
A student told me today, "under previous aikido instructors I used to spend a whole lot more time kneeling on the ground trying to finish a pin on uke." I pointed out that different classes like to emphasize different parts of the whole of aiki but my preference is to spend most of our practice time on beginnings and middles because if uke is finished then he's finished but if he's not finished then it's not time to play the end-game. You're still in the middle.