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Tips from aikido

Intro

All martial arts have some good points, some bad points, and many points that are common among them. Learn to recognize and reject the bad points and recognize and use the good points. Don’t let loyalty to one art prevent you from learning and using something useful from another art.

Tips from aikido

Stretch

By taking the time to stretch, not only will you become suppler and less prone to injury but you will also gain a better understanding of your body. You will have a better understanding of your posture, where you hold tension, how to relax, and how the parts of your body are connected.

Study hanmi

Hanmi is the basic aikido triangular stance; it is the foundation on which everything else is based. Time spent studying it will be of great benefit. You can grab opportunities to study your hanmi throughout the day, such as waiting for the food to cook; riding in an elevator; waiting for a bus, or when waiting for the spouse to shop.

Start on your weak side

When it is your turn to train, always start on your weak side. It needs more work so work it while you are fresh.

Keep shoulders over hips/feet

When standing in hanmi the left shoulder is over the left hip/foot and the right shoulder is over the right hip/foot. This feels natural and gives us stability because our mass is over our base. When performing techniques, try to maintain this stable structure, keeping your hips and shoulders in harmony.

Move to the left with the left foot, move to the right with the right foot

Generally, when we move to the left side, we moved the left foot first and, when we move to the right, we move the right foot first. There are occasions where we cross the feet but they are rare.

Step and turn on the balls of your feet

When stepping try to allow the ball of the foot to make contact first, followed by the heel. By stepping onto the balls of your feet, you are more balanced and able to change direction more easily. When you turn, you should also turn on the balls of your feet. An acupuncture point called yong quan or 'bubbling spring' is situated between and behind the big toe and second toe. Imagine that this point is connecting you to the floor and rotate around that point before placing the heel down.

Push

Most of the time in aikido you push. There is very little pulling. You generally get your body in a position where you can drive with your hips transmitting this power through your arms. Extend the arms with an expression of kokyu; a kokyu arm is not locked rigid, it is firm, yet yielding and there is an arc to it, like a bow. Maintaining a 'kokyu' arm helps to transfer the power of your hips into your techniques. The arm spirals forward, combining a rotation (a lot like opening the lid of a large jar with the fingers wide apart) with an extension that drives the heel of the palm forward. This shape helps to transmit breath power). It is as if the arms and hands are inflated with high-pressure air.

Keep your hands in front of you

The power of the hips is transmitted most effectively when the arms are aligned in front of the torso, no wider than it. The power of the hips drives the trunk, which moves the shoulders, which transmit the power through the kokyu arm. An arm held out to the side is weak.

Controlling yourself

  • Maintain your balance. With few exceptions, keep your head up, your shoulders above and aligned with your hips, and your feet in a natural stance.
  • Use your body as a unit. Tense arms or shoulders result when other parts don’t do their share of the work. Spread the work and let your strong parts, such as your hips, do most of the work. You must maintain your balance to distribute the load properly.
  • Use your body the way nature intended. Keep your shoulders and elbows down. Keep your head up. Let your arms move in natural arcs. Your body's design respects gravity, so use movements that harmonize with your body and with gravity.
  • Extend your mind. Your mind controls the power of your body. If your mind stops at an obstacle, your body will stop as well. If you extend your mind past an obstacle, your body might find a way to follow.
  • Remain calm. Good aikido requires calmness in both mind and body. The mind and body both work and expend energy but do so quietly and efficiently.
  • Have confidence. You must have confidence in both the art of aikido and in your ability to do aikido. Confidence grows with experience and practitioners at all levels to improve their confidence.

Controlling your opponent

  • Minimize conflict. Find the easiest path to your goal. Never go against strength when you can go around it. You will find ways around the opponent’s strength when you try.
  • Work within your range of effectiveness. Your strength remains close to your center of gravity. Do techniques as close to your center of gravity as possible. Conversely, try to keep the opponent outside his or her range of effectiveness. This is one way of minimizing conflict.
  • Take the slack out. By taking the slack out of your own body, you effectively deliver the power of your center of gravity to your arms (helping you to use your body as a unit). By taking the slack out of the opponent’s body, you efficiently deliver your power affects to opponent’s body.
  • Think down. Make gravity your ally. Most aikido techniques involve putting the opponent down. In some techniques, you appear to throw your opponent away. Actually, you are throwing the opponent down, but momentum carries the opponent away.
  • Keep your mind free. Don’t let your opponent’s presence capture your mind. Look forward to where you want to go, not backward at the opponent. Don’t stare at the place where your opponent has grabbed you. Most importantly, don’t let the opponent’s presence make you forget about controlling yourself. Remember, controlling yourself transcends throwing the opponent in importance.

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