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There is nothing special to tell, you just have to feel it

Jorma Lyly

I have always been fascinated by the kata or techniques, not only from aikido, but also from other martial arts. However, my real passion in aikido is not the forms, which I believe are derived from the leverage based origins of the art, but the little something that makes it feel good and make it work without giving any sensation of force between the partners.

After two weeks without a training partner (except the “untainted” ones) it was an almost unreal pleasure for me to grab people and feel them lead me around (at the Moelv seminar in Oslo). I can move my own parts, but being guided through the grab into the positions is something quite different.

Seminar with Endo sensei in Prague October 2011. Photo by Aikido Karlín.

If we can feel the force from the partner it is an indication of something to be improved, I think. Any tricks or leverage based techniques would give either pain or a sensation of strength against a weak part of the partner. This could be good enough if the leverage is adequate for the current situation and if we don’t want anything else from the training other than just to perform the movements with the training partner. However, I believe that in aikido there should be no sensation at all of pushing, pulling or twisting of any kind. This is what separates aikido from many other martial arts and make it much more interesting, for me at least.

So how do we move the partner then? I think that we are supposed to learn how to do the movements together with the partner. We feel the legs moving forward, the knees bend and we end up falling over seemingly by ourselves. It is a feeling we can’t get anywhere else, and we just start giggling because it is so much fun, bouncing right back up to do it again.

In the beginning we don’t feel the details. We just have the sensation of falling down. However, as we progress we receive more and more information from the partner. The more we are thrown by a more experienced aikidoka the more we will know the way when we are throwing. We do the same things as uke and as tori (and the feeling is there as well, from the other side) so by following we will learn how to lead. This is one of the reasons I believe it is so important not to get lost in competitive training forms. If we lock ourselves we will not receive the information we could learn from.

Seminar with Jorma in Aylesbury May 2011. Photo by David Ellard.

Flying is fun. Smacking each other strongly around on the tatami is fun. However, nothing, absolutely nothing is more fun than giving and receiving the unnamed feeling!

Enjoy your practice! Aikido make people happy!