One of the important ways we train at Aikido of Salt Lake is called jiyuwaza (lit. “free technique’). Essentially, it consists of uke (the person receiving the technique) attacking nage (the person performing the technique) over and over again using the same attack. In the video below, Gerry is attacking Philippe repeatedly with katatetori (wrist grab).
Training jiyuwaza teaches us a couple of things:
- As uke, we learn how to take ukemi (fall) safely from a variety of techniques. In jiyuwaza, you can’t anticipate what technique nage is going to perform, so you have to be able to fall safely without thinking about it.
- As nage, we are put under pressure to perform many different techniques in response to uke’s attacks. This practice helps us internalize the techniques better and bring them out in a more stressful training situation. If you take time to think, the techniques don’t flow; it’s easy to get stuck.
In the video below, Gerry is performing techniques in response to Philippe’s yokomenuchi (angled strike to the head) attacks.
Another important aspect to jiyuwaza is the concept of aiki or harmony. In Aikido, we train to harmonize with our partner. One goal of jiyuwaza is to move with your partner in a harmonious way. In other words, if uke is attacking quickly, nage should respond at the same speed. If uke enters slowly, nage should pace his technique accordingly. It is not aiki to throw someone hard and fast who is attacking slowly and gently. Nor is it aiki to perform your technique slowly if the attacker is aggressive.
In the video below, Gerry has adjusted his speed to match Stephanie’s level of attack more closely.
So why do we train jiyuwaza? Ultimately, it’s a way to learn to harmonize with our partner. Unlike most other martial arts, the purpose of Aikido is not to hurt your opponent or win a fight. The purpose of Aikido is to find harmony in every situation. In a 1978 interview, the 2nd Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba described it this way, “Aikido is not training to fight with your opponent. By harmonizing with him, you can unify the mind and body transforming them into one entity.”
It’s all about unity. In Aikido, we train first for unity of mind, body, and spirit. Then, we train with partners so that we can achieve unity with others. Jiyuwaza is a method of training to achieve unity.
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