Women’s Exam Preparation – Part 2 – Generating Flow
If you are new to the martial art of Aikido, you will find that the techniques are less about slamming a person to the ground and more about how you achieved control over uke’s body. Newer students (particularly males) have a problem with wanting to use their upper body and relying on arm strength to achieve control. As many women in the art will attest, this works only if the opponent is either not as big or as powerful as you. I am convinced that the key to the exam is not how pretty the throws look. Rather, the key to success lies in how effectively nage harmonizes with uke’s movement, blending with the energy of the attack merging forces to create level of energy that exceeds the sum.
Weakening the attack.
Imagine that uke coming at you, arm overhead, to deliver a shomen blow to the top of your head. You step off the line in an ude furi choyaku undo movement, arms high and come down on the arm and neck with the full weight of your body transferred with weight on underside. Uke’s head and upper body move downward, but not for long as efforts have already begun to regain balance. It is at this point that the advantage of uke’s strength, size, or weight have been neutralized. This is how a woman or another individual at a similar disadvantage can control uke’s center. This is the reason I stress controlling uke’s balance over just trying to execute a throw and it is also one of the keys to endurance – i.e. you are not expending excessive energy on moving your partner, your body is relaxed and your movements are smooth rather than rigid.
Observe the fluid movements of Penny Bernath Sensei – An excellent example of the beauty and grace of Aikido made possible through the flow of ki energy. Observe her posture and how she maintains control of her center while gaining control of uke’s center.
A properly centered body ensures the optimum transfer of energy from nage to uke. It is the disturbing of uke’s balance that weakens the individual rather that the overcoming of the individual with power. Takento an extreme, in a comedy one might see and individual standing on a ledge, arms waving while trying to regain balance. Another individual comes by and simply blows at their chest and they topple over. It is this type of situation that we want to strive for. By disturbing ukes balance to a greater extent, we are able to execute a throwing movement with minimal energy wasted. If we couple this capturing of balance with a movement that focuses the energy generated by using the body rather than the arms to throw, the result is a technique that is much more effective.
In the next section we will focus on the basics as we continue our training for an exam.