“It is very common to find students and teachers alike resort to the forcible application of strength in order to make a technique work.”
In the last several years, I have becomed focused on a number of areas that I have identified as commonly lacking in training and deserving of the attention of aikido instructors. I regard these problem areas as widespread across styles and detrimental to the development of the art. Among my observations — voiced here and elsewhere — are the following:
- In training, it is very common to find students and teachers alike resort to the forcible application of strength in order to make a technique work. This increases the risk of dojo injuries. This, in turn, will limit one’s ability to reach higher skill levels which rely on subtle movements and the ability to blend.
- Most dojo training is reactive in nature. By that I mean that the common dojo training paradigm involves uke initiating the attack and nage responding. This practice is suitable for the beginning student as a way to learn the mechanics of a technique, but breeds bad habits in more advanced practitioners who attempt to execute flowing techniques. Nage’s response time is too limited due to a lack of initiative, and sloppy execution of technique can result.
- Training unfolds with little attention given to breaking uke’s balance. As a result, as the technique is executed, uke may have opportunities to hinder, stop, or counter nage’s technique. One solution to this problem is to stress the importance of nage operating from uke’s blind spot — diagonally to the rear — in order to safely execute techniques.
- Many practitioners are not in sufficiently good physical condition to execute some of aikido’s more advanced techniques that require above-average body flexibility and agility.
- Few students understand the concept of locking uke’s entire body structure when applying techniques and pins. Uke’s body becomes locked when kept off balanced continuously. This allows aikido’s devastating techniques to be practiced safely as undue force becomes unnecessary.
- There is a general lack of awareness of the specifics of Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s art and philosophical views. O-Sensei’s lifework should serve as a point of reference and compass for practitioners during their aikido journey. Aikido Journal has facilitated this line of research through the publication of hundreds of articles, books and videos over several decades.
I would invite you to comment on the points I have raised, and offer your observations about training problems as you perceive them, and ways of improving the technical level of contemporary aikido.