Relaxation in Aikido

by Tom Buis (Shodan) In aikido, we practice attacking one another and defending ourselves, and either of these roles may feel unfamiliar or even a little unsettling at times, particularly when it all happens quickly and unexpectedly. Imagine sitting down at the breakfast table when your little brother yanks your chair from under you, and you feel yourself falling backwards toward the floor, eyes bulging. Or imagine you are looking at your phone as you step off a bottom step, except that there is one more step and you feel yourself falling forward. This is what aikido can feel like. As Uke (attacker), you see your target and deliver some strike or grab, but just at the very last second, what was just there now no longer is, and as you are realizing this, you are upside down in the air. As Nage (defender), you may be looking at a hand or the edge of a hard wooden weapon coming down toward...
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Peripheral Awareness

by Nick Stam (2nd kyu) This month's theme for practice at the dojo was “peripheral awareness”, a skill useful in Aikido in scenarios like multi-uke randori or jiyuwaza, as well as general safe practice on a busy mat with bodies flying everywhere. Indeed I think there is a lot of opportunity to develop this skill within the dojo, from sitting in seiza with a soft gaze to finding a safe place to stand when you are the odd one out in partner practice, and of course any time you are actively practicing by being aware of the other practitioners and the space. A beginner like me might get very focused on the technique, or even part of a technique, and because of this everything falls apart. Maybe I get too focused on the grip I am trying to find, but I forget to move my feet, or keep my posture, or breathe, or any number of important points. I think this is normal...
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