Within your development in the art of Aikido, there will inevitably be moments when you feel pressured or put on the spot to undertake movements and techniques. Sometimes this comes from peer pressure when a partner is able to do what you are not, other times it is when your instructor is blatantly watching what you are doing. You will also no doubt have noticed that these are the moments when nothing seems to work properly at all and you often feel awkward, off-balance, and physically clumsy.
This feeling is magnified ten times or more during the grading process, where every aspect of not just your ability, but also your attitude and understanding of what you are doing is being called into question and thrown out there for your assessor to see in full.
You will have no doubt often heard it said that the faster, flowing techniques are easier than the static, basic movements. This is true not only because the attacker is in motion, but also under momentum to which you and they must adapt to each and every moment. In doing so the completion of the movement is key and invariably the method of doing so becomes less important as you do not have the time to look for an application, but instead must take what you can from each incoming attack. It is your Instinctual response system that takes over during training, one which is more reactive to your opponent as the technique is you goal. But in a grading, that goal changes significantly.
In a grading situation, the movements start from that basic position where momentum and motion does not exist. Therefore the ability to manipulate your partner becomes the most important aspect. This requires not just knowledge, but understanding of not only what you see, but also what you feel occurring within the technique. In basic movements and especially during gradings it is your Conscious processing system that needs to be at the forefront of your mind. You need to show not only that you can do it, but you know WHY it works, and be able to demonstrate that understanding through only your ability to undertake clean, proper movement of your body and limbs.
This is why the key to working effectively and showing good understanding of the technique lies within the entry movements to each attack and defence, and we will deal with that in the next blog post next week. Until then, work on your knowledge and understanding of the movement, and the integral parts of the techniques. Be aware that it is not enough to just complete the movement on an instinctual level, but to be able to show that you understand the technique in full and are able to consciously show that and display that skill for assessment.
Yours in Aiki