To continue from yesterday ......
Many consider Aikido to be passive & responsive and not proactive & aggressive. This view reflects the belief that only by being passive or defensive in thought and action, can Ueshiba's concept of universal love, becoming one, etc. be realized. Given the difficulty in translating both word and action from Japanese to English this, in some quarters, has mutated much of Aikido.
Here's another view.
When I receive visitors to my dojo who wish to be interviewed for acceptance, they almost always to a person show up having read every web site and article they could find. This is most excellent as they come in with valid questions and concerns and know at least a minimum about the art such that they can understand the answers. Doing research about skydiving BEFORE you leap out of the back of the airplane is always a really good idea in my view.
Many times the questions I am asked revolve around the idea of hard vs. soft, circular vs. linear, internal vs. external, aggressive vs. passive. After so many years of teaching and answering these types of inquiries I finally adopted a pat answer that would respect their honest question but show the fallacy in which is based.
ALL MARTIAL ARTS INCLUDING AIKIDO ARE ALL OF THE ABOVE.
That is ........... depending upon the exact moment in time any martial art, Aikido in this case CAN AND MAY BE hard OR soft, circular OR linear, internal OR external, etc., etc. It all centers around what you, tori, are doing at any particular moment.
Having trained in Judo many years ago (and no, I don't consider myself a real Judo player but I do know enough to have some limited knowledge on the subject) it was always stressed that you played softly and followed subtle clues provided by the opponent to effect kuzushi. However, the first time Sensei and I did some "light" randori I was immediately dissuaded from that view the hard way. We got the grip we wanted, moved lightly around and suddenly Sensei took a larger step, "smashed" my off-balance and established total postural control over me and allowed the planet to rise in space and smash me from behind (a concept I refer to as "Planet Slapping" where you are slapped by the planet, instead of you falling on the floor. (And I tell you that planet can be pretty hard on the backside from time to time.)
Years later, many years later I began to comprehend that he had been not resisting my futile efforts but just moved and flowed until that one moment when he intuitively saw the opening and moved in and took it. AFTER he took that kuzushi he wanted he slowed down, got "soft" again and just flowing into a perfect Osoto-gari; ergo, his version of Judo was "hard" at the right time but yet "soft" at the right time AND his entry was "linear" when needed for tsukuri but the throw was slightly "circular" given my reaction to the kuzushi and my attempt to step out it.
Aikido is the same so lets briefly look at the issues of proactive vs. reactive or aggressive vs. passive.
Before I ever learned the term Ju Nana Hon Kata and for my entire career in Aikido, I always heard the 17 under the name of "17 Attack Movements". For many years I thought that to be Sensei' little pet-name for it but not so long ago I ran across writings on the internet signed by early students of Tomiki when he began at Waseda and they used that exact name ...... 17 Attack Movements.
So why are they called "Attack Movements"?
Remember Tomiki's description of timing; Sen, Sen no Sen, Ato no Sen. If we put those into English and try to make them more descriptive to the Western mind they become .....
- passive (only respond to and follow the attack after it has happened and redirect it),
- proactive (as their attack is launched you go and take control of it, you "attack their attack" and take control of their posture/off-balance),
- aggressive (you sense their intent and launch a pre-emptive strike before they can get theirs off such that it looks like you attacked them when in reality you only intuitively responded to small micro-gestures)
So .... matching these "timings" to the directions of off-balance we arrive at ....
- Cross the Line Off Balance = proactive (you are closing centers and pushing the attack arm into kuzushi)
- Down the Line Off Balance = passive (you are stepping backwards and pulling uke forward meaning the amount of pull you get is dependent upon the momentum of uke's attack)
- Blending Off Balance = passive (you are moving in a spiral and centers are moving apart meaning that the amount of off balance is dependent upon uke's momentum again)
And that is why the 17 was originally named the 17 Attack Movements; not because tori "attacked" uke but instead because tori "attacked" uke's kuzushi/posture in a proactive fashion. Please note that this doesn't mean that at some point tori cannot shift into "Down the Line Off Balance" or to "Blending Off Balance" when appropriate; as the encounter is totally dynamic and random. It only means that in the case of the waza embedded within the 17 and for hand randori purposes it is appropriate to proactively "take" the kuzushi and quickly establish control over the opponent (uke).
Damn ......... sounds a lot like Aiki-jutsu doesn't it? Quick and dynamic entry, take control, slow down to maintain control of uke until waza termination ....................................
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho, Aikibudokan
Houston, TX July 2010