Recently, I noticed a change in my Sensei’s technique. It has become more natural, perhaps this is due to his age. There is a lot of things in the syllabus that will be beyond his age. He seldom teaches hip throws (although he still does it to me, when he feels like it), not much dramatic throws. There is a lot of safety build into the class. right now he talks a lot about protection of ourselves in training and in our daily lives.
Nowadays he explains Aikido in a natural manner, meaning that he tap on the Uke’s response and reaction to execute the technique. Be it an irimi nage, or kokyu nage, he place himself in a position where he can catch the uke’s response. He does not prepares the uke, or trap the uke, everything appears to be natural, so he will be there, and the uke will walk into it, and falls naturally.
This means one thing, the challenges of being his uke increases. In the past when I was his uke, I could, to a certain degree ‘predict’ with familiarity a fall or his technique, and in doing so, I am also able to learn from him, about him and also the weakness in his style of Aikido. Right now if i continue to predict his technique, the technique will fail. The challenge for me as his uke now is to empty my mind and be the uke, unconditionally. I tried my ‘old’ style of uke and the technique didn’t move as smoothly. When i discard my ‘old’ style of uke, and just allow my body to react to his movement, the relationship becomes more dynamic. falls become spontaneous and unpredictable. It is certainly more enjoyable!It has become a little bit more difficult for me to anticipate a fall, because, he does not makes me fall, if i regain my balance, he simply move into another technique to displace me. so the whole move becomes very dynamic.
However, I wouldn’t encourage a more junior belt to go this way, as one has to have a high confidence of taking a ukemi before one can attempt to handle Harry sensei this way. He has pretty much thrown me in all manners possible and i am very familiar with his movement, before we can execute something more fluid and spontaneous. Despite of all these, I still do make mistakes and falls quite badly now and then, thankfully without injury.
This style of Aikido makes it very economical for the nage, as there is very little the nage needs to do, but the nage is no means passive. because the nage is very open and confident in the technique. If the uke response in another way, the nage moves actively and naturally, transitioning into another technique, the permutation is virtually limitless. There is not preempting nor piecemeal mentality. The nage is simply humming with vibes and remains neutral to receive the uke. This natural movement is a real and displays a genuine friendship and connection, and this by itself is already a massive disarming effect on any attacker. Sensei does not discourages the attacker through superior display of technique, instead, he simply looks at you in a non judgmental and equanimous manner.