Exam Preparation – Part 3 – Focus on Basics
It is a given that women lack the upper body strength of men when it comes to physical activities including the martial art of Aikido. So what is the importance of focusing on the basics? Quite simply, it is the basics that keep us focused on the four basic principles of Aikido. Keep one point focuses us on the center, the source of all power for it is not in the arms or the upper body that true strength is derived. Power from the body movement comes from the fact that we are balanced and, if we are then ki is extended. This invisible force permits us to connect our center to uke through the unbendable arm permitting the movement of the body to overcome the physicality of the opponent.
The Four Basic Principles of Aikido
These things can only occur when we have the other two principles in play which go hand in hand: relax completely and weight underside. If we are relaxed then, like water in a glass, weight will naturally settle on the underside of the arm. If that is true then there is a relaxed but solid connection between you and uke, that is, your centers are connected. You might ask “How does this differ from what I usually do?” With newer students the attack is more often than not a hard grab, which telegraphs your intent to uke. It is no wonder why many newer students find themselves in a struggle with their opponent trying harder and harder to force a square peg into a round hole.
Observe in the above video that fluid movement can only be achieved when nage (the defender) is in balance. Only then can one’s movement be relaxed and fluid. It is this focus on the basics that creates powerful Aikdo techniques.
Shadow Aikido Solidifies Proper Body Movement
It may seem odd but the basics are the aiki taiso techniques and shadow aikido rather than practicing, for example, munetsuki kotegaeshi over and over again. Why? Because practicing the kotegaeshi focuses on the technique alone rather than the underlying principles of how power is truly generated. Exercises like fune kogi undo are keys to balance and, amazingly, how to connect your center with that of uke.
In the next article I will discuss how to develop a game plan or strategy on how to take an exam that you can be truly proud of.