One of the most difficult concepts to learn in any martial art is transferring energy through your body efficiently. In general, the body has to maintain a state of relaxed responsiveness. Usually, when muscles get tight, you’re trying to control unnatural movement. As we were training today I realized a skill, which is more easily developed through studying aikido, is fundamentally necessary to perfecting weapons practice.
When I was younger, I had the privilege of training with Koichi Barrish Sensei, and among the many things I learned, he helped me understand how to touch the person’s center and maintain that connection through light pressure. The hard part is to keep that connection as the person begins to move, and you have to constantly adapt to their movement. The next level is applying this concept to weapons training, because there is even less input from touching another weapon, which makes it more difficult to maintain this connection.
With correct training methods, this concept can be applied to weapons. When you touch the person’s weapon, you should be able to not only feel the other person’s center, but you should be able to transfer your energy through your body into their weapon. This is one of the fundamental skills necessary to disarm another person’s weapon.
Today, we studied arm and elbow position in relationship to effectively controlling movement from the center. But if the student loses his sensitivity of the energy flowing through their body, the weapon cannot be controlled from the center. Aggression and fear are usually the two most common thoughts which block this process.
I realized my early weapons training completely blocked learning this concept. Why? Because the focus was on competing with the other person for either a tactical advantage or to become faster than the other person. I see this type of training as counterproductive for learning the concepts necessary to develop higher skills. The senior student should only go so fast such that the junior student can keep up with the mental ki, as well as maintain this relaxed posture and movement necessary to control the weapon from the center. Any attempt to press the student beyond his natural ability to maintain mental connection and a relaxed posture will completely inhibit the skill from being developed.