Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Selective Resistance

In my early posts I used to go on a bit about how my uke's were choosing to resist and how it was usually a bad idea. Later on as I trained I took the occasional bit of uke resistance and used it as best I could to make sure I was doing the technique correctly. Basically.... I almost welcomed some resistance at times. If I'm not delivering a proper control, I want to know it. If I don't know it then I can't fix it. I have now gotten to the point where I can usually see if I'm being effective. I may not know how to fix a particular problem, but often times I will see the problem even as the sensei is giving me a most welcomed correction. So at this point I don't mind resistance or none from my partners. I just use whatever is given.

The other night however, I had what I consider the worst kind of resistance. I had a partner who felt as though I was doing the technique wrong. Rather than allowing me to work it out they were giving me corrections very different from what sensei was teaching. This was compounded by the selective resistance they were applying. He resisted me very much until I applied his correction. When I did(experimenting) the technique in the way they asked they stopped resisting totally. Of course it was easy to complete the technique but I recognized immediately what was going on. He offerred no resistance when doing it his way. This of course proves nothing. In my mind, this is ego at work.

I read a bit online and came across this story about resistance. It's definitely worth the read.

My favorite part is actually not about resistance at all but at the nature of aikido. The fact that in an instant you react to what is going on..... you don't plan on doing a particular techinique.


At August 05, 2009 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good article. This idea of cooperation is at first fereign to us as we practice aikido because we want to learn to defend against attacks. I like the idea of cooperation And gradually increasing resistance, challenging my partner but not overwhelming or stoping the practice. It lets us see the weak spots but allows us to continue. Rob

At August 06, 2009 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is that "resistance" can ONLY occur when it is a kata practice and uke knows what's going to happen. If one starts 'adding resistance' to see if the technique will work then it is no longer technique... it is strength. What folks fail to understand is that the 'techniques' practiced in class are not really Aikido... they are 'training exercises'. Aikido is a much higher level activity than that and can only occur 'spontaneously'. To stick to the "jazz" metaphor in the article... you cannot write down jazz... by definition it is NOT sheet music... it is 'improvisation' not 'replication'. Sheet music is a constant and is a type of 'quality control' to insure uniformity so that the audience always hears the same exact piece. Jazz happens once and you have to be there to hear it. The notion that you are adding progressive resistance misses the point because when one meets the resistance one is supposed to harmonize and adapt, consequently something 'different' will happen. It will no longer be the specific waza the sensei demonstrated to be practiced. As one starts to add resistance the opportunity for injury also increases significantly because if one starts to "force" the technique against the resistance then at some point something has to give and it is usually a bone, muscle, joint or tendon. The practice you described is unfortunate and the way to practice Aikido with it is to do exactly what he said there fore you would be harmonizing and throwing him with ease and without resistance all night long! It would then be Aikido... you would know it... know how you were doing it... and leading the mind so easily because he was showing you the map. You would have been practicing Aikido he would have been practicing egodo. We can always learn even from the most contrary knucklehead... and thank them for the new opportunity! Aikido can ONLY be harmony, no force applied and non-resistance.

At August 10, 2009 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true that we are practicing aikido excersizes in class. The judicious use of resistance can help a nage understand how to feel their way around strength, and learn to adapt. As they progress and learn to adapt they will begin to understand the freeing nature of practicing with flexability, softness and the paradoxical power that is generated from the soft side of the practice. So ultimately I am in agreement with your assesment but sitll think that as a tool used judiciously can be a great focusing lens to the flaws in ones technique. Once the flaws are corrected it doesn't matter how much resistence occurs because it is powerless against good balanced flexible biomechanics and leading of mind and body. It is when resistance is used indiscriminately to stop techniques or over power a person that it has the negative effects stopping learning, changing the waza etc. So lets not forget to embrace the knuckleheads and gently help them understand the nature of practice and how to learn to help their partner develop better Aikido and let go of their egido. With time these issues seem to work themselves as we evolve in the art and within ourselves. Thank you for your thoughts. Rob

At August 13, 2009 2:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be that we are saying the same thing but just using different languages! The topic is so full of small nuances that interpretation of detail can be lost or misleading. So I have been giving this more thought. My understanding of the argument for increasing resistance seems to be that by doing so it allows one to polish one's technique. In this sense it is like calibrating the amount that nage must overcome in "doable doses" as it were. And I get that... seems to make perfect sense for "real world" application where we are not likely to be zen masters and where some strength to strength would be encountered. In this regard like randori or shiai we are testing and improving. Yet in the best of those matches the beauty occurs when there is perfect timing and no resistance. But your position is correct in that such beauty would not be possible without the 'resistance' or force there in terms of a committed attack. The difficulty I am having in resolving this dilemma is the question of the 'point' of Aikido... is it functional technique or harmony through non-resistance? Aren't both of those the same thing? If a sword is committed to the cut and given fully and sincerely isn't that movement the 'resistance'? How does one polish water?

And thank you for such a good discussion... very rare.

At August 13, 2009 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is a diference between the committed attack and resistance. In the committed attack the uke should still be open to the directional changes which occurr. Part of our training is to stay conected to the nage to protect our selves once our balance is broken and follw the technique in a way where we can find our safest means of escape and prevent damage from strikes. This is lacking in resistence. In resistence there is an effort to prevrnt movement either intentional or unintentional, in a particular direction. These are very muddy points. I find that as I get tired durring practice it becomes more difficult to stay connected and follow well and become more resistant not intentionally but because I am losing connection. But for the point relating to the article i believe there is an intentional action to prevent a particular movement. Probably another 20 years of practice will help us resolve the difficulties in reconciling these ideas into a unified idea. Rob

At August 14, 2009 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 20 more years then! Thanks.


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