Sometimes I sit down and think how to explain to my friends to relax when practising Aikido. It’s not easy. I can repeat hundreds or thousands times that they need to relax their body, their shoulders, etc. But how to give them the feeling of relaxing. It’s still something I want to learn myself and to help other people.
“It’s important for me to remember when Aikido started, between the life and the dead” – that’s one thing Tor Anton shared me after a training.
He illustrated with the feeling of using a very very sharp knife (that’s why he likes to make knives, I guess?!?!). The difference is that he’s explaining from the Tori side, not from the Uke side. Suddenly, I got the feeling of how to relax when practising Aikido!
Tor Anton Gaarder is the technical leader in Sentrum Aikido – Oslo, where I have been practising. He is currently holding 4.dan rank after 24 years of training.
Holding a very sharp knife in your hand doesn’t mean that you are killing people. When you have that kind of knife, you don’t need to use too much strength for cutting. A minimal cut can hurt your partner already. In that case, it helps both Tori and Uke recognising the danger of the situation and not resisting each other. From the Tori side, the importance is keeping you a peaceful emotion. If you want to fight, to kill your partner, your mind cannot relax, then the body will become stiff and you start using too much strength. If you can put your partners in an awkward position and make them laugh at the sight, then you are stepping into the relaxation. Using a sword or a knife is not for killing, as I wrote about sword brings life after a training with my teacher in Seishinkai Aikido – Thorsten Schoo.
Of course, there are still many other things besides that. Still, need to connect the hands, the arms, the knees… with the whole body, not only moving your wrist with that knife. But is that a wonderful way to learn how to relax?
Don’t like knife? 🙂 OK, another way. Now imagining that you are holding a brush for calligraphy. You cannot hold very tight and use too much muscle for draw a nice writing. Be soft, be gentle. That’s the feeling. Again, don’t try to fight against your partner. Instead, being harmonised. Is that the aim of Aikido 🙂