Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Are you a slow walker?

In one of the recent trainings I showed tenchinage (heaven-earth throw) in the kids' class. First we started with gyaku hanmi katatedori (left hand grabbing right hand or right grabbing left) and I showed only the chi (earth) part where you just slide a bit sideways and forward and point into the irimi (unstable) point of the attacker who then rolls or sits down the mat smoothly. This looked nice so in the next training I also introduced the ten part where the not-grabbed hand goes to control the attacker's chin and you step forward causing the same effect on the attacker as before (i.e. roll or sit).

However, when we started practicing, one of my young aikidoka speeded up and wanted to throw me quickly. This was the moment I suddenly remembered having read a quote from Abraham Lincoln:

I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back.

I will explain the speed of practicing much more when the speed-up next happens (which is totally expected as children have a lot of energy to release which makes the class lively and, for me, more enjoyable). I guess I will talk about speed after playing some tiring aikido-games such as the one where you need to throw your opponent off balance from a hand-shaking position :).

To switch to my own training experience, this quote is a very good one. It is said that speeding up has a certain balancing effect and you can obviously use more of the attacker's energy, but to learn the basics, especially how to do ukemi (fall, breakfall) without risking injury, high speed doesn't look ideal. If you can do a technique slowly you will certainly be able to do it fast when you learn the necessary skills to handle breakfalls.

I recently complained to one of my friends that their aikido demonstration for recruiting new students was too slow. He didn't respond to this comment which made me think about why he chose that particular speed (I was sure it was a deliberate choice). After a while, I understood why the demo was like that. I understood that he just didn't want to decieve prospective newcomers by showing what they won't be able to do at the beginning. Now I think it was fair because people who would have joined their trainings based on an over-exciting, fast (also, populist) demo would have left soon having been disappointed. I guess it's better to attract less people but keep them for longer than to attract a lot of people whose majority will leave the class very soon (which happens in most martial arts, aikido included, unless you get that addiction).

Although they say "You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps" (David Lloyd George), in the beginning of learning something new wouldn't you rather practice jumping over small ditches if it was possible, to gradually prepare for the great jump?

1 comment:

Mark Walsh said...

"go slow, learn quick" Saotome Sensei.

As a naturally quick person (I dont have ADHD the rest of the world is just too bloody slow) slowing down enough to be mindful (and therefore learn) has been a challenge. Feldenkrias and meditation have both helped.