Waza (from Kuroiwa sensei’s writings)

I translated this essay on a whim, and I had been holding back on putting anything here from this website (黒岩先生の合気観) but I finally realized that the author had not put any contact info, so I figured, no misuse, and it’s public domain so…
(I thought it was interesting the conceptual distinction between “form” and “shape”).

Waza (16)
Please tell us your thoughts on “technique”.

We often hear, with respect to learning something, that we should learn the technique well or make the technique our own. However, technique is not something that stands by itself independently. It is important to first grasp “form”, “manifestation”, or “shape”, and “technique”. Form indicates the courses and rules of movement that are functional and make sense. Manifestation indicates the form as it is expressed by a person. Then, it is necessary to understand technique as a product of manifestation and person (and the corresponding degree of training) i.e., shape x person. For example, if we use pocket calculators as an analogy, the calculator is the form and the person pushing the buttons and using the calculator is the technique. if the person’s skill in handling the calculator (the person’s degree of training) is low, then it is inefficacious. If the person’s skill is high, then the efficacy goes up. Regardless of the functionality (of the form), whether the efficacy is high or low depends on the person’s degree of training. This is a matter of course – anybody can understand this. It is about the technique of the individual.

Say a person comes to the dojo to observe. If there are only beginners there doing shihonage or ikkyo or whatever for the visitor to see, then we can imagine that that he would say, “Shihonage? Ikkyo? What silliness!” Conversely, if he were able to see only experienced people he would be impressed. No matter how functional a calculator or form, the point lies in the person who is using it. It by itself does not stand alone (as good or bad, etc.) However, if we were to buy a very expensive calculator, we would think that we could do any calculation. Likewise, just by learning shihonage or ikkyo, we tend to adopt the delusion that we can throw any person immediately. Whether it’s a calculator or shihonage, it has no value if we just have it or know it. Accordingly, if we selfishly or mischievously say to beginners that they must practice these basics, shihonage and ikkyo, because they are important and crucial, and only have them practice the forms, without teaching them the meaning of their function, it is pointless. In fact, it is harmful. Practice of basics is not the practice of techniques, but the creation of technique through form by each individual.

Earlier I stated that technique = form x person. When the situation involves competitions, people’s names always enter the picture. For example, anyone who does just knows and practices the technique, uchimata. However, we say “Yamashita’s (the Olympic gold medalist’s) uchimata” or “Chiyonofuji’s (yokozuna’s) uwatenage”. We never say someone is strong just because they know the technique uchimata or uwatenage. This is because technique is something that the individual acquires or masters. The shape, or manifestation, is not something that can be taught but something that one oneself makes. Furthermore, no one probably thinks that if they can do the same form or look the same as Yamashita or Chiyonofuji then they too will be able to throw anybody. However, in a world without competitions, there are such people who think that way. In a world without competitions, there is a tendency to give absolute value to form and such thinking results.

For those in the position of teaching, it is unavoidable to do so through “shape”. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for those on the learning side to copy everything such as the mannerisms and habits of the teachers, and overlook the crucial basics and “shape”. Therefore, it is vital that those who are teaching convey specifically the meaning of the “shape” and basics. If I use the analogy of business suits, the fundamental form of a suit is that which allows a person to move efficiently and work in their daily life. Depending on the individual who actually wears the suit, the shape of the suit will be small, medium, large, etc. and fit the individual’s build as well. “Technique” would denote how well that person wears the suit. All the suits, not matter what size, come from that fundamental form. Subsequently the suit may vary according to how the person feels comfortable (efficacy, functionality), values brand name (recognition), is taken by fancy accessories (subtleties), etc.

The same thing can be said with respect to aikido and what the individual seeks. However, regardless of how fine the material or construction, it’s no good if the suit doesn’t fit the person. If an adult wore a children’s size suit, their freedom of movement would be gone. The same would be true if a child wore adult size clothes. The former would be a victim of their narrowness of vision, or rigidness, the latter would have too much of something to handle. As the person having the clothes put on them, it would be a nuisance for the child to receive adult clothes and vice versa. It is common sense for those two people to wear that which fits them and move according to themselves. Aikido is exactly the same.

We don’t need esoteric religion, philosophy, or logic in order to explain something and be understood or reach resolution. Aiki, likewise, must be explained with whatever is right before our eyes. There is plenty of material.


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