002) Week of 9/2/08: Natural Movement

Last weeks focus for the lessons was on Shugyo.  Hopefully, we have all be able to focus in on developing an increased sensitivity to our body experiences in the practice of Aikido.  One of the realizations that I have been focusing in on in my own personal training has been in recognizing the power of moving in a manner that our bodies are naturally designed to do.

Certain body positions allow our bodies a degree of strength and stability so as to bear a tremendous amount of pressure-loading without having to strain our muscles to support that load.  This is amply demonstrated when test each other in proper tenkan positions.  We all have experienced how the slightest mistakes in posture, arm positions and tensions cause us to be unable to support the weight-load without becoming destabilized.  As students, you should pick any position from any exercise and/or technique and test out whether or not a particular movement, frozen in time, has “passed” that stability test.  If it did, then ask yourselves “why?”  If it did not, ask yourselves “Why” and play around with what would help to create a “passing condition.

Natural movement can be defined as a movement that our body can easily engage in without undue tension.  Test yourself and see what feels right when you limply swing your arm in any direction.  The “natural movement” is one that will allow Ki to flow powerfully through your body.  An example of this can be seen with a Shiho-nage movement.  We turn our palms down on the hand that is grabbed.  Swinging your arm across your body with your palm turned down feels natural.  When a shiho-nage is done in this manner, the uke is easily drawn off center, making the execution of the technique more effective.  Swinging your arm across your body with your thumb facing up with a vertical orientation does not feel natural.  Try executing a shiho-nage in this manner and you will notice that you cannot lead your uke off from center, but engage is a pulling contest, based on strength.

The focus for this week should be on testing our stances, positions and movement from the perspective of the “natural” or “forced” nature and test to see if that makes a difference in the execution of techniques.  The founder of Aikido talked about harmonizing with the universe.  Maybe this harmonizing is also about connecting with one aspect of the nature of our being- “Natural Movement.”

Marc Abrams, Sensei

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