Anyone has seen aerial dogfight? Or how a fighter plane twist, turn, yaw, roll to get away from a tailing missile? Or another enemy fighter plane?
That is the principle of leading.
I was glad that ‘Dr Foo’ turned up last evening for training, as I hadn’t seen him for a while, Or perhaps it is because he hadn’t seen me for a while, as it has been a while since I’ve trained in Ceylon Sports Club. Anyway, we trained in ‘morote dori shihonage omote waza’. It was a rather difficult technique which requires a fair bit of movement and considerable amount of energy.
We got comfortable with the technique and we started to move in a pace where leading become necessary.
Harry sensei has taught us a few ‘tricks’ in respect to leading and one of them was to move the hand first, so as to draw movement from the uke. Dr Foo’s leading, however, was more linear and no matter how much he ‘lead’ as a uke, i managed to catch him strongly at a specific point.
You see, Aikido is principally circular as when things are moving in a circular energy, it becomes hard to intercept. Draw 2 straight lines and bring them together, surely, they will converge and meet at one specific point, creating an ‘X’ sometimes a ‘V’ but you get the drift. There will be an inevitable converging and slowly (in fact, faster than we can imagine) it will meet.
Draw 2 circles then, and converge them, yes they will meet at one point too, but principally, the point does not stop, the converging creates a figure of ‘8’. When 2 circles meet, it will roll. Case in point, put any circular object, say a paper cup, or the centre of a toilet roll on its side, try to put another round thing on top of it, it is obvious that it will roll away, creating energy.
Aerial dogfight is just one example, you see the fighter jets performing rolls and turns, all in a broad or tight circular movement of maneuver to get an edge over their adversary. A straight line is a dead line for any fighter pilot. And decent surface to air missile will catch a plane flying straight. Twisting and turning makes the plane a much difficult target for the missile to track and destroy.
Its a funny thing with curves, it creates a degree of unpredictability. The human brain can track anything moving in a linear trajectory, but when it comes to circles, the energy becomes very dynamic. Ask any living antelope which has escaped a cheetah’s chase, will tell you that, you can never outrun a cheetah in a straight line, but the antelope’s feints, twists and turns, gives the docile animal a better chance of beating the faster cheetah. I rest my case.
So leading is always circular, knowing that the uke will track your movement, you move something to activate that tracking system and distracts the uke from carrying out the real attack. Leading also takes the initiative of the attack away from the uke. Leading also helps the nage stays a wee bit ahead of the uke. Hence in Aikido, the real skill is not in waiting for the uke to attack, putting the nage waits in reactive stage. Aikido is to use circular movement to create, occupy and dominate a space, leading the uke out and away from his/her position or space into a more neutral and controllable space.
Do it in a linear fashion, and for sure a faster, ‘cheetah’ uke will be able to catch and intercept you and a given point in line. Move in a circular motion, and you will constantly create a space for leading and neutralizing your uke.