Thursday, April 25, 2019

Going with the flow

Sensei Maruyama has always stressed natural movement. Until recently I innocently thought he was just talking about how Nage (the person throwing) is moving in calm, relaxed states, without stylized deep stances or awkward poses. In our last camp where Kokikai students from all over the US congregated to learn from Sensei, he exposed us to what, at least to my ears, was a new term, “jun/順”. He had one of the bilingual students help him articulate the Japanese idea into words we all could (begin to) understand.
Our bodies have rules to them. Just like we need food, air, water, and sleep, our bodies have mechanical rules. Knees bend primarily in one plane and to a limited degree. Fingers bend inward, but not so well backward. You get the idea. Joints are designed to works certain ways and cause great pain and damage when forced against those.
Many martial arts take advantage of this. Joint locks and breaks are a staple among many "real" looking martial arts. Particularly those used in military and police contexts where the snapping joints by young practitioners in their physical prime who need not worry about civil liability.
However, Aikido, and in particular Aikido Kokikai®, relies on manipulating Uke (our attacker) in ways that go with the natural, or “jun/順” movements of their body. On the surface this would seem, well not all that "martial arty". And it would if it stopped there, but using natural movements is a multi-faceted strategy. We could attack individual joints and break them, but one must generally be at least as big as the attacker and fairly fit. Aikido needs to work for every one so it relies on movements that the attackers mind won't resist and brace against. Subtle movements that lead the attacker to a position to which all but one natural movement remains - falling. We use Aikido Kokikai® to remove all potential natural movements of our attackers but the one we want. Uke is left not with a choice but an eventuality of falling.
One might be quick to point out that we still have small joint locks like Nikyo and Sankyo which certainly have the appearance (and the feel, oh the feel...) of painful counter joint movement. Again, look a little deeper. Our goal in Nikyo or Sankyo is never to confine uke in a puddle of pain, ok we *can*, but, it is really to entrap a single joint and make it such that any further advancement toward us is impossible without the assistance of massive amounts of drugs.
Off the mat:
This simple concept, “jun/順”, is really a powerful and fundamental to a way of life. Consider this concept the next time you are in a "discussion" at the office. Rather than verbally clobber your coworker into submission or at least tolerance, or worse yet, get their way. Can you craft the argument to make the only natural, reasonable conclusion to do what you need done?