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Thread: Strength in Aikido?

  1. #1
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    Since my first day on the mat people have always told me "don't use strength/muscle when executing the technique". On certain levels I agree with this but on others I find it difficult to accept. On several occasions I have practiced with people who couldn't do the technique through proper form so they just used a little muscle and were able to throw me. Last weekend at a seminar I attended the sensei said "It is ridiculous to think that you don't have to use strength to do a technique when just starting out. You have to use strength until you know how to perform the technique effectively, then you can do it without strength".

    I would really like to hear what people think about this. What role does strength play in Aikido?

    Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Dojorat Guest

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    Greetins,

    As the saying goes....

    "...Old Age and Treachery beat Youth and Strength...
    Everytime..."

    The older I get in age (~45 years) and the more experienced I get in martial arts (~28 years) the more I realize how treacherous good technique is and how fleeting youth and strength can be. Use your youth and strength and learn to be a treacherous old man (woman).

    Cheers,


  3. #3
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    Thumbs up

    My experience lately is that very small corrections in my posture make my technique much much better (ie closer to effortless) and that having a little muscle helps me experiment and 'feel' my way into these correct positions.

    So for me it helps. I don't know that it's necessary, but having strength helps me get to where I don't need my strength.

    BTW, Hi Chad.

    Robert Deppe
    Robert Deppe

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    "You have to use strength until you know how to perform the technique effectively, then you can do it without strength". "

    Interesting view point but I believe somewhat flawed. If a person learns to do some technique affectively using strenth what will be the catalyst be to learn it without strength? I believe a large part of learning the technique is learning to relax, feel uke and not use strength. To use strength to do an affective technique is a contradiction of affective technique. Secondly, many techiques (aiki no jutsu) simply do not work if one uses strength. While one might be able to muscle through many of the jujutsu based techniques that make up basic aikido it is not possible to do so on aiki techniques. A new student must learn the basic body motions but that does not mean they must use strength to learn those body mechanics. Personally, I feel a student should be encouraged to slow way down, move very deliberately and feel how uke's body shifts and moves. This requires a solid and patient uke but is worthwhile for both participants. By doing this a new student can learn the body mechanics without learning the habit of applying strength to every technique.

    mark

  5. #5
    MarkF Guest

    Default Strength in degrees

    I think the use of strength is similar to taking ukemi. At first, it will hurt, then it will hurt only the arms. After a while, you hit the mat even harder, but you have learned to spread out the absorption of hitting, and you suddenly find it does not hurt, you can take ukemi from what seems to be impossible waza, but you have learned how to spread it out.

    I think it is the same with strength. Patience is key here, as Mark J. says, but some strength is always necessary, but experience tells you when, where, and how, and suddenly you are doing waza with what feels like no strength: you have found your center.

    I am not an aiki no jutsu practitioner, but it is amazing how similar it can be to judo, or jujutsu. You need to learn exactly where strength is needed, how much, and otherwise relaxing. If you can master the waza, maintaining strength to a minimum, using it in short, compact bursts, and then immdiately becoming soft again, you will eventually be able to do this without tiring. There are people who have mastered this long ago, who can still do it even though they are in their seventies, eighties, and one I know who is still as agile, in his nineties. Eventually, minimum effort wins out. You just need to be patient. It will come, given a chance. Remember to be soft. This is true of most arts, in my opinion, anyway.

    Mark F.


  6. #6
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    Default The use of strength in Aikido

    Perhaps the question of the use of strength in Aikido
    relates more to the difference between the use of strength and the use of force.
    Certainly strength is used in Aikido. In order to blend with an uke or to "get off of the line of attack" one must move one's body. Bodily movement requires strength of body.
    The issue seems to be whether or not is acceptable to "force" a technique. This is a subtle issue and provides an opportunity for self examination. It seems to me that the question that I must ask myself is "am I trying to force the technique?". If so, this seems to be contrary to the spirit of good Aikido.

    Jonathan Mayhall

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    Mark F. and Jonathan,
    Thanks for the input/correction. You are both correct that when I said no strength I didn't mean NO STRENGTH, just minimal. I like Jonathan's wording about no force with minimal strength much better than my wording. This paints a much clearer picture. Thanks.

    mark

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    Excellent thread. Very valuable when considered from all these facets. I'm one of those sempais who discourages use of strength. At root here is the old MA distinction between strength and power; between speed and quickness. The difference is qualitative and crucial, the latter being preferable in almost all instances. Why? Because strength and speed must be martialed, must be gathered. There's a miniscule time lapse. Quickness and power are NOW. The 100m champion is the "world's fastest human." But the barometer of quickness is the 40!

    Over the years I have been thrown with strength and I have been thrown with power. Both have ground my nose into the mat. Lumpy ukemi, y'see. . . Yet invariably when I am thrown with strength I feel "yanked;" I feel Aikido being done TO me. When my partner uses power, it comes from hara, it is enabled by misubi, the technique happens WITH me. As uke I can FEEL the difference.

    Years ago at a seminar Saotome Sensei came up to a huge musclehead boy, and tapping his pecs and biceps smilingly asked, "What for this?"

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    I am a big, strong guy. I have had as a continuing theme in my Aikido career, the struggle to let go strength and allow relaxed power.

    I train with a lot of people, some who insist that without muscle, technique is impossible. They'll spend years forcing technique on others and tell me I'm a brute, when I don't allow them to force bad technique on me. Then there are those (few) who insist that muscular strength is anathema to good technique, and they refuse to use any muscle at all. They spend much time training with more polite people than me, and tell me I'm a brute because I don't fly when they try to do technique with no strength at all.

    Then I get to train with some really good people who use enough muscle at first to train their Ki to flow through certain pathways to get technique to work (Or maybe they just learn how to do technique, I don't know).

    Point is, I think muscle, like timing, distancing, breath, Ki (whatever that is), understanding of technique etc... has it's rightful place in martial arts, Aikido included. It isn't, and shouldn't be a central part of good Aikido.

  10. #10
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    "The issue seems to be whether or not is acceptable to "force" a technique. "

    From my experience, we force a technique first 20-30 years of practice and there are no shortcuts.I mean here when technique is executed against not artificial attack.Of course there are teachers who drill uke to react in certain ways, and next claim they can do a technique with no strength.I call this a fake.

    I believe uke must take care about his own security but that's all.We can't impose any other limits otherwise all our practice in long term will withdraw from reality of martial way.
    I let uke to attack and react at my technique at their will and must honestly say that I still force a technique under these conditions.

    I firmly believe that uke must push tori to his physical limits.Tori must use full force and all his technique and if he still can't go through, then this situation will force him to figure out non-physical solution to resolve his problem.In the other side uke will develop some muscles and strength which is very usefull in martial arts - paticularly young generation is very weak today.

    Also O'sensei encouraged his students to use full force for ptactice and there are still witness of it (ie : K.Tochei sensei).

    regardz
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

  11. #11
    Russ Qureshi Guest

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    Hey Szczepan,

    Greetings from Vancouver! I gotta start by saying I really like your posts...., you're "out there"...,in an entertaining way. No offence, eh. I like the fact that you stick to your guns, so to speak.

    As per your post, you state that "....uke must push tori to physical limits and tori must use full force and all his technique...." So, I'm wondering if people in your dojo shy away from training with you? Do your sempai encourage you to go full blast all the time? Does your sensei endorse your ideas? And finally, have you ever injured someone by accident?

    Anyway, have a great day and enjoy your training.

    Sincerely,

    Russ

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by Russ Qureshi
    Hey Szczepan,

    Greetings from Vancouver! I gotta start by saying I really like your posts...., you're "out there"...,in an entertaining way. No offence, eh. I like the fact that you stick to your guns, so to speak.

    As per your post, you state that "....uke must push tori to physical limits and tori must use full force and all his technique...." So, I'm wondering if people in your dojo shy away from training with you? Do your sempai encourage you to go full blast all the time? Does your sensei endorse your ideas? And finally, have you ever injured someone by accident?

    Anyway, have a great day and enjoy your training.

    Sincerely,

    Russ
    Hi Russ,

    so many questions, and i have only 5 min before next aikido class...
    Yes,some of my classmates don't like train with me, those lazy&hiperintelectual philosophers...;-D
    My sempais.....I really don't know their opinions, they are not very often in the dojo anymore....hehehe
    My sensei push me to the limits every time I'm his uke.
    For injury question, not far away from a dojo there is hospital so all dead bodies after every class they take immediately - we have all year subscribtion to their promotion program...

    hope this help

    if you ever travel to Montreal mail me
    janczuk@ibm.net

    regardz
    regardz

    Szczepan Janczuk

  13. #13
    Russ Qureshi Guest

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    Hey Szczepan,

    Thanks for your reply. Almost exactly what I expected!
    The hospital should be paying you a bounty! If you're in Vancouver let me know pak@idmail.com

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Russ


  14. #14
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    hmm...this is a great thread indeed. the use of strength is always something that comes about when learning aikido. here are a few thins that ring clear to me:

    we learn to generate power by efficient use of the body to,
    not just muscular strength.

    if you learn to get a feel for doing the technique properly and without unnecessary power first, then you can add as much power to a technique as you want at any time.

    if your technique is always based on strength, it won't work against a stronger person. that would suck, wouldn't it?

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    Autrelle,

    First off, welcome to E-Budo. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    It is a policy here one E-Budo that we sign all posts with our full names. You can either put it into your profile as a signature or enter it in manually for each post. Either way please sign with your full name.

    We look forward to your company in our many spirited discussions.

    Thank you,


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