“O-Sensei’s ‘Cultivation of Attraction’,” by Tom Collings

[These comments were posted today in response to the post titled “Memoir of the Master”. There is much food for thought and we would invite your comment on the subject.]

Recently I have been struck by how often here and in other talks O’Sensei refers to the “cultivation of attraction”….”drawing him to me”….”drawing him into me.” While his words convey spiritual and philosophical ideas, I believe the tactical teaching in his comments is less obvious and often ignored.

When a predator attacks – the time, place, and (planned) method of the attack is chosen by the attacker. All three dimensions of the encounter are under his control. This leaves the defender at a significant disadvantage, regardless of skill or training. In real world violence, things often happen suddenly and can go from bad to worse fast. By moving left, or right or forward with atemi – rather than waiting (passively) to see what is going to happen we alter the interaction unexpectedly for the attacker, even if slightly, to a time and place of OUR choosing. When the aggressor must alter his attack to react to us, his timing and balance is compromised, and aikido techniques seem to work more easily.

This feeling is one of taking control early rather than a feeling of “defending” against something. While it sounds aggressive, it does not feel violent to me when practiced or on the few occasions when performed outside the dojo. Can aikido be assertive, yet not violent? I think the Founder is saying it can. By taking control of the situation early, can greater violence be prevented? Perhaps it can.

Moving early, or first, is also the only way I have found (outside the choreography of the dojo) to avoid relying on speed, which the Founder implores us not to rely on.

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