“Uke Resistance” by Gregor Erdmann

“Aikido is a defensive martial art. That is pretty much accepted by all. In fact, if we suggest to an aikidoka that they should attack someone using their aikido skills the concept simply doesn’t make sense. Aikido has no attacking moves as such, and we use our opponent’s force in the execution of our techniques.

During training, as long as the uke (person who take the fall) takes on the role as an attacker and continues to provide attacking force the techniques come readily. However, what also can happen is that the uke will transition into a ‘defensive’ mode and will no longer attack, but try to stop the technique from being performed.

This is perfectly natural, as we all wish to protect ourselves and sometimes resisting the technique seems like the best way to keep our self safe. What usually happens in training is that the nage (person throwing) continues to perform the technique to completion and hence a struggle ensues. This is something we want to avoid during training as this is where most injuries occur.”

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  1. Hmmm… maybe one of the reasons I’m not mainstream is that I DON’T characterize aikido as defensive. The obvious reason is that defense is not in fact Ai, harmonious. This is not to say that aikido is offensive (only that my opinions may be). The offense-defense dichotomy is a false analogy.

    Training forms are responsive, or defensive if you will. That doesn’t actually work. It is, however, ok for training as long as you consider that all it is about is learning forms. One of the cool things about the daito-ryu forms Kondo sensei demonstrates in his film is the zanshin, or continuity between uke and nage throughout the form.

    Aikido is more than training forms. The “more” includes, among other things, zanshin and “situational awareness”, also intuition, creativity and spontaneity. In a BBC costume drama set in the Napoleonic period, Major Sharpe is defending a treasure. Being attacked by a clearly superior force, he uses the one tiny cannon at his disposal to shoot coins at the advancing infantry. Brilliant aiki. (It wasn’t his treasure.)

  2. Slightly more to the author’s point resistance is an important training tool to help nage find the path of least resistance. Even absent movement the body has axes of weakness as well as areas of strength. Aikido techniques are notable because they capitalize on a multiplicity of such axes.

    Resistance, though, has little practical validity because it doesn’t lead to dominating the situation. It also normally leaves nage myriad opportunities to simply hit or kick uke. For more advanced training each attack, if successfully executed, should lead to command of the situation.

    Contest of strength, per se, is a common tactical situation, though. Think of wrestling or judo ground work. If you will, think of military campaigns between approximately equal forces. MacArthur’s strategy was summed in the aphorism “Hit ’em where they ain’t.” Pretty good judo if not aikido. Nimitz, however, slogged from one fortified island to another. Okinawa was a pretty pure contest of strength. Musashi counseled against that type of fight, but it is often hard to avoid.

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