Thursday, March 07, 2013

Getting all the pieces in

There's this idea that you have to go really slow in aikido, and for practice that is generally a very good idea because it is usually safer but mostly because it allows both people to learn more and learn it faster.  It is not necessary that you go absolutely as slow as possible, but you should go slow enough that tori can get all the pieces of the technique in and slowly enough that both partners can feel the natural consequences of tori getting all those pieces in.
There is this concept in judo that fits well in aikido practice - the 4-step technique, which says there are 4 parts to any technique, and that they generally go in this order -
  • kuzushi - unbalancing uke or disrupting uke so that his structure starts to crumble - or even just catching him unaware.  The idea is that you have to either catch uke by surprise or else disrupt his balance in order to get a technique to work properly.
  • tsukuri - fitting in - the act of tori getting himself in the proper position/structure/relationship with respect to uke to do the technique.  We usually say that we do kuzushi before tsukuri, but sometimes they happen simultaneously or the tsukuri causes the kuzushi.  The point is, you have to get both of them in or the technique will not be as easy as it could be.
  • kake - The actual effort or exertion.  Sometimes we call this, "Pulling the trigger."  Again, the main point of this model is that you have to get kuzushi and tsukuri before you pull the trigger (kake).
  • zanshin - remaining aware.  We sometimes state this as, "Watch out! because uke might have something sneaky up his sleeve."  Just because you have thrown uke does not mean that the encounter is ended.  We typically say that zanshin is the 4th stage of a technique, but it is actually a state of mind that should be a constant before, during, and after the technique.

 photo courtesy of Paco PH

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Patrick Parker

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