It always happens, especially when a blue belt transit to become a brown belt. It’d happened to me and i see it happening now with Gabriel.
It is one aspect of Aikido that makes it so difficult to transmit. The grasping.
Unlike Judo or MMA, the kind of grasping an Uke offers is not one of dominance or overpowering control. In MMA, the grab usually is a precursor to a throw or a punch. The grabbing always leads to something.
It is somewhat similar with Aikido, except with a little twist (pun intended). The Uke, more often than not, remains passive, offers nothing more than the grab. Until we reached a more advance stage where we explore counter techniques, the act of grabbing seem rather passive.
So we established a process, Uke grabs hands, Nage does the waza. over and over again, and to the uninitiated, it all seems so premeditated. It is very difficult for a Uke to learn a ‘proper’ grabbing skills. this is what Gabriel is going through right now.
Harry sensei has to correct the posture that leads to a good grasp. The grasp itself does not have to lead to something else, the grasp functions very well as a technique by itself. A skilled aikidoka, can hod a person down effortlessly, or disrupts a person’s posture.
There is so much sensitivity in the holding hand that we really do not need to follow up with something else. The act of holding, grasping exposes how our ego grips us. If we are over zealous about going for the grip. we might not be able to see that left hook or the elbow.
Remember, as a Uke, it is nice to grip tight, you must remember that the Nage is free to strike at you since you are within striking distance. What’s the use of a good grip if you end up losing your teeth?
So go for the grab attentively. Its not about giving your Nage a death grip, sure you can do that, but when your Nage counters, that death grip will become your death grip. Always be alert for funny stuffs your nage can pull on you. and no, you don’t need to have a death grip to overwhelm your Nage, just a good firm grip will do.