Have you ever been uke for an instructor and you just went directly to the attack, and after he/she finished you realized he/she never told you which attack? It just felt so natural that you didn’t even think to ask?

Karlův Most in Prague July 2011. Even in a crowded place we are able to maneuver trough the maze of people without even thinking about it (as long as we are not distracted).

How does this work? This does not only happen in the dojo. We communicate with other people without words all the time, without even noticing that we are doing it. We are not mind readers, but we can send and receive signals to each other from a distance. Eye movements, direction changes, the angle of the hips. These and many more little things are signaling what we are about to do.

When we are in a crowded street we don’t usually collide with other people. Somehow we know which way to go to pass them on either our left or our right. If we are working together with someone to put up a tent, we somehow know where to hold so our buddy can put the plug in the ground (if we are paying attention). Traffic would be impossible if we didn’t communicate, and here it is actually so important that we have had to set some rules just to make sure that we can understand each other all the time.

In the dojo we follow some procedures and everything is very standardized. It is either shomen or yokomen, never something in between. In real life there are more options, and more room for confusion. However, I believe that what we do in the dojo should be transferrable to the life outside.

This kind of communication is very dependent on a quiet mind, I think. If we are anticipating or expecting a particular outcome we might be slow to catch the meaning if it happens to be a different outcome than what we already decided it would be.

From the seminar with Endo sensei in Púchov July 2012. Photo by Tomas Svec. Does he want shomen uchi, yokomen uchi or maybe the guaku yokomen uchi?

Somehow I feel that being guided with this kind of communication very much improves my own clearness in this way of communicating. I don’t even have to think very much about it. However, in my current situation (without possibility for normal keiko) I have nothing better to do with my time.

Enjoy your practice! Aikido make people happy!