Sunday, April 17, 2016

Aikido & Tai Sabaki

Tai sabaki is just the core movement skills of any martial art.  O Sensei had some role in codifying the modern versions and Tohei Sensei as aikido chief instructor emphasized it in his classes and seminars.  Indeed, for the first four or five years I was in aikido tai sabaki exercises, that is movement, silent moving, breathing, ki testing, even misogi, first aid, and I am not kidding "invisibility" along with the aikido four principles took up at least the first 1/2 hour of a ninety minute class.  I rarely see it today.

The skills are fundamental to aikido, indeed any martial art, and it may just be that people no longer know how to teach them.  Doing aikido well, especially aikido, depends on tai sabaki.

With strong tai sabaki, one can experience the something liberating in the realization you need not match punch for punch, reaction for action, as is usually taught in other arts.  Indeed, there is literally no contest, no match, you need only, more or less, avoid the damage from your opponents first move; now chaos.

At this point you are close to your opponent and you need only direct his force where he next elects to direct it, along where h wants to go anyway, and yet you at the same time have decided where he goes thereafter: down.  No match, no contest, just co-operation.

Martial arts outside of aikido wants a respectable showing, if not a decisive victory.  The ego, indeed no doubt the Id, demands at least that, in return for all that training. With aikido, your opponent fell down.  That's about it.  Not very exciting, is it?  And to get best at that, tai sabaki exercises are key.

And since I brought it up, invisibility is achieved by simply not allowing your attention to reach your target.  As your attacker approaches, you look at something else and send your energy and concentration there.  As you thrown him you are looking around, not at him. You are already dealing with what is next.  If you decide you'll take out Person B while dispatching Person A, then you are focussing on Person C or the telephone pole, not your target, Person B.  Your target never sees you coming.  This is part of tai sabaki training in ran dori.

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