We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.
Aikido is often framed as a solely “defensive” martial art. This is largely do to the instructional approach of having one partner project energy toward the other in the form of a grab or strike, while the other partner responds, to that energy, with a technique. In parallel, many of us take a similar approach in much of our daily lives responding to the energy we are provided. This is normal and it’s something we all do, however our practice is to continually strive to live in harmony with the energy of the universe. This means that we must learn to feel the natural rhythms and find the right timing to intentionally enter and blend. This is not a defensive approach but in many ways an offensive strategy.
In class this past month we experimented with kata-menuchi projections. For those who missed these classes, kata-menuchi techniques require the uke to grab the nage (katatori) and follow quickly with a head-level strike (shomenuchi). The “response” to this type of situation is to apply martial awareness prior to the uke’s movements and taking the initiative by extending energy, and proactively helping our uke find a lower energy state… like resting on the ground.
Kata-menuchi variations are somewhat more “advanced” aikido techniques because they require a bit more awareness and connection before the technique is initiated. They are also considered more advanced techniques because they challenge the idea that aikidoka only respond to the energy provided by others. They also offer an important lesson for our daily lives – we are not just along for the ride and preparing to respond but rather active and mindful participants in our lives. Extending our awareness, trusting our natural intuition, and taking up the slack proactively.
By Nate Weed