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take on a Uke, attacking with single-minded force that comes from an original OSensei training school, in many instances they find they cannot move nor give a smooth demonstration. Normally this will be evident to the on-looking class and Nage will usually drop that Uke for one of their own very quickly. If you have ever seen this you will know what I mean; if you have not, you will if you keep training. We all have good and bad days but at all levels performing Aikido on an unfamiliar Uke will soon show if the style is worthy of the path of Budo.

Finding the power not the strength Of course we want to defend our style. This is human nature. However, evidence will sometimes present itself that makes us more deeply question our beliefs. I watched a disabled Aikidoka of 2nd Dan ranking in Iwama style Aikido gripping senior teachers in basic Tai no Henko and they couldn’t move. This leads me to believe that we need the understanding of both hard and soft Aikido. We don’t need face-saving excuses or simply avoiding training with ‘problem’ people. It is so easily thought of as the Uke having an aggressive attitude. In this case I know the student holding and he just holds; he has mastered the deeper understanding of meditation, allowing him to hold with depth of mind and body without wanting to win. Nage should escape from ‘what is’ and not from what Nage would like it to be. Nage should be able to accomplish success without struggle or loss of selfrespect/ego being challenged. Ask yourself if you think that O-Sensei took on all comers or just selected those he thought he could master? I’m sure your answer is the same as mine; O-Sensei’s Aikido was so powerful that once he became one with the universal energy of understanding, power and harmony, no one could block him. The key to the full Aikido path and power is in finding and understanding the best elements of hard and soft training. Do not seek only flow and do not seek only power as neither will be the completion.

The technique is strong so you don’t have to be I cannot remember how many times I heard Sensei say this to me and other students. Each time I heard it I listened and took it that he was talking of our using strength while doing Aikido because most attacks we encountered required a lot of effort. Many were difficult to find a way through the whole technique without being blocked in some way. Even with Sensei’s words in your head it still does not help when you are struggling and all you have is raw power, so you simply revert to using it. Many years on, while seeing my high-ranked teachers/students struggling with the immovable grip of the 2nd Dan student, I suddenly understood Sensei’s words. I stopped the class and tried to explain; as many teachers will well know, the


Takemusu Aikido: A Martial Artist's Journey of Discovery in Aikido  
Takemusu Aikido: A Martial Artist's Journey of Discovery in Aikido  

A selection of pages from "Takemusu Aikido: A Martial Artist's Journey of Discovery in Aikido" by Tony Sargeant