“Absorbing Attack,” by Nev Sagiba


“Only you have the power to make an injury a wall or a steppingstone.”

sagibaBudo training is research, not performance.

Injuries, whilst to be avoided at all costs, can be some of the best learning curves had in life. Aside from the fact that an injury provides a unique opportunity to conduct Mitori Geiko, observation training, for the full duration of a class, injuries also provide EMPATHY. In other words, what it would feel like to be damaged by such a technique.

Some people like to imagine unscathed fighting capabilities, to be able to dish it out without receiving a scratch. Fiction. You must be able to take it as well. To absorb the opponent’s attacks enable safe “taking it.”

Injuries in training usually come from inflexible mental attitudes which cause resistance instead of flexible absorption and are an opportunity to discover oneself. Only you have the power to make an injury a wall or a steppingstone.

You will learn little or nothing unless you become able to absorb a technique. To do so you have to train and explore the basics often to develop the Aikido Body. What is Aikido Body? Aikido Body is a unique level of fitness and personal transformation that produces increased levels of relative immunity from attack. This in part comes from ukemi. Later henkawaza and kaeshiwaza.

Nothing sorts out the sheep from the goats like a training injury. Whereas some simply disappear, sulk, blame and simply give up, using endless excuses to justify complacency of spirit, others find a way to persist.

The quiet persisters continue to continue against all odds.

Over the years I’ve noticed that the loudly ambitious soon burn out. The naturally gifted often get smug and become remiss whereas the clumsy, the klutzy, the uncoordinated continue to persist usually achieving great heights; and then continuing to persist again.

In any endeavor, if you are serious you will find a way. If not, you were never truly sincere.

Particularly in the case of the aikijutsus, training is research and refinement, not performance showing off. We train to IMprove, not to prove.

Nothing gets in the way of genuine progress and refinement than the lust to win or to appear good. In training, winning, losing and looking good is irrelevant.

The only required real win is when life is at stake.

As for training injuries, whilst they should not be sought, sometimes they are inevitable. For the instructor and seniors, this is an opportunity to change the way they participate and adjusting to become able and safe whilst handicapped. Training thus will improve skill exponentially.

For all participants, an injury can be an opportunity to engage some serious MITORI GEIKO. Watching is free and most teachers are happy for you to watch classes, since a good sensei knows and understands the value of watching whilst recovering.

90% of the warrior is within, overcoming your own limitations without acrimony or excuses. In most cases, external battles will be relatively few in a lifetime. Internal battles will be many.

Although the external is a reflection of the internal and vice versa , it is the heart that reconciles these that enables the power of harmonious reconciliation in the world.

In any training, recovery is everything. The unique strength developed in the Aikido Body is a natural progression, an evolution that can only come about through regular training. The daily bumps and thumps, micro injuries and facing attrition, plus good sleep and diet produce secretion of natural repair chemicals such as Growth Hormone, DHEA and others which increase the speed of natural recovery also building the biological immune system. Equally visible but not as beneficial, lack of sleep, lack of appropriate training and poor dietary habits and too much sitting down will remove those latent gifts of recovery and spirit.

Going through what it takes to learn from injuries how to absorb attacks flexibly with Aikido Body-Mind, will reveal how serious you are in your attitudes about just about anything in life. It will also transform your body, mind and spirit to understand the nature of the universe and its magic potentials to overcome what to the average person are considered limitations.

Last but not least: Every advantage carries a disadvantage and ever disadvantage holds an advantage. If you are truly serious about your Budo, it is your business to discover these and to know them well.

Nev Sagiba


  1. Brett Jackson says:

    Very happy to see your latest sharing! Was anticipating it since your last sharing was already about two weeks ago. Hope you can maintain this rhythm! Most of the articles and comments here are facsimiles. Fortunately, we also see some of the other variety: sharings based on real insights spawned through years of committed and authentic aikido practice. Such a pleasure to see them and read them many times over when they appear. I actually looked for something to disagree with in this article to make my comments sharper as it were, but couldn’t find anything, alas, despite the creativity of this piece, so all my comments are positive. This article appears to be mainly about the value of working through injuries. However, to me the really fascinating insights are those of absorbing attacks/techniques leading to the development of the aikido body.

    “You will learn little or nothing unless you become able to absorb a technique.” Here the author is referring to absorbing a technique as uke. Uke absorbs the technique; nage absorbs the attack — so both are practicing absorbing (energy). It doesn’t mean you stand there like a punching bag and get struck. That’s being a victim. The invigorating blending and leading absorbing is to receive an attack or technique in the sense of receiving the energy, digesting it (or you could say bringing it to your center), and then letting it flow out the other side where it either does no permanent harm whatsoever (to the contrary) and instead creates the potential to recoil upon the attacker. In the mean time the Aikido body is being developed.

    “Aikido Body is a unique level of fitness and personal transformation that produces increased levels of relative immunity from attack.” I’m not sure I’ve even seen this concept expressed before. It’s creative and yet immediately rings true. Personally, I can think of no better definition of the aikido body than this. It’s all there, fitness, transformation, and enhanced immunity. Soft yet powerful. You can sense this body in all the developed practitioners. Personally, I’d say that it takes about seven years of practice (shodan) for this “body” to start to unfold. But even before that I believe the sincere neophyte is starting to catch glimpses of the potential for it. After that I’d say you have to keep practicing to keep nuturing it so that it can grow and grow.

  2. …in karate there’s this sort of “feeling” that being thrown is a catastrophe. it’s certainly more catastrophic than for us as they don’t practice it all the time.

    in aikido it’s getting hit, even hitting. i don’t say that standing around like a human punching bag is a good idea. but if you’re doing strikes, welcome the occasional tag. and it distresses me that people apologize on the mat for doing their partner the favor of hitting ’em…

  3. Brandon Clapp says:

    Love it thank you.

  4. Absorb the attack, you lose.

    Absorb the experience, and its lesson, you win.

    Happy Training!

  5. In the strongest winds, the oak snaps and willow bends.

  6. Such is life, the victors strong

    By embracing fate, you are never wrong

    The Way of Aiki, is to submit

    The Way of the Warrior is to never quit

    So train with Joy, what else is there

    Your goals of life, beyond despair

    in oneness

  7. IMHO, injury is part of the learning curve. Aikido is still a martial art and we are still learning.

    How we handle injury is also part of the learning curve. How you handle being injured and how you handle injurying someone is a statement of who you you and what you still have to learning.

    Learn from whatevere life/training offers.

    Until again,

  8. Prefer being the Oak which snaps and falls on the willow…which has no ground work and taps out.

  9. Taisho,
    Fantasyland can be fun. Reality has other plans. Ever seen an army lay down belly up in the mud in preparation for combat when enemy troops approach? I think I can rest my case, don’t you? Whilst bullshit can be fun, strategy is, and remains everything!

  10. Strategy is not everything…(Vietnam)

    • North Vietnamese strategy: Break the political will of the enemy to fight. Lose every battle and still win the war. Quite successful actually. It is everything in the end.

  11. Folly is a fools strategy and not truly strategy. Greed blinds. True strategy is the all win perspective of Universal Aiki also referred to Kannagara-no-michi or The Great Harmony of the Universe which is immutable. Run counter to that and defeat is not only predictable but guaranteed. For as long as we give away our power and place retards and idiots in positions of power over us, what would you expect?

  12. Francisco de los Cobos says:

    Thanks for your view on this important subject, always a pleasure to read your blog.

  13. Jose R. Matute says:

    Excellent article!

Speak Your Mind