Something I noticed while training the other night was that one huge obstacle to great Aikido is resistance. To those who’ve trained for any length of time, this statement seems obvious, but as obvious as it is, how often are we resisting things on the mat? I’ve often heard the quote,”What you resist, persists.”, and that really makes sense the more you ponder it, especially during Aikido training. What re-spurred my interest in this particular topic was, the other night, when Sensei told us that most injuries during ukemi (falling) happen when fear creeps in and we resist the technique. He’s really been working on ukemi with us, and he was demonstrating how when you stay in the technique and really connect your center with it, instead of bailing out in fear, it makes your ukemi that much better. Although he was talking about ukemi, I’ve experienced that that same thing applies to applying the technique as well. What we resist, persists.
I’ve done it many times. The couple times I’ve been injured while training, the common denominator has been resistance. Aikido provides great training for the releasing of resistance, especially when you’re taking ukemi for upper-level Aikidoists. It’s a frightening (at first) but exhilarating practice to fully relax and face the technique. No matter how fast they’re going, relax, and turn right into the technique. Observe the motion as it’s happening and take full participation in it. Those thoughts running through your head, filled with whatever fear or resistance they may be, must be released in order to get the most out of this. When you do, you’ll find that there was really nothing to fear in the first place. As humans, we usually have drastically overblown perceptions of what ‘may’ happen, and they’re usually brutal and frightening. Well, as you perform this exercise, you prove to yourself that those perceptions are b.s., and when you fully immerse yourself in the technique, you easily replace those insane thoughts with new, empowering ones, taking you to the next level.
Even on the ‘throwing’ side, when your partner’s coming in with an attack that’s fully committed and faster than you’re comfortable with, recognize the naturally occurring resistant and fearful thought(s). See it and let it go. Fully accept the attack and welcome it. Fully accept your fear and consciously let it go. It’s amazing how much you’ll relax and how better you’ll start moving.
And, as usual, we can apply this off the mat as well. When you think about it, it’s amazing how much we are in a state of resistance throughout our day. See that, feel the resistance, and replace that thought with acceptance. You can’t let something go unless you’re first holding it in your hand. Embrace it, go into it with a smile if you prefer, and you’ll come out the other side stronger than you were and will have found that you transcended what you were resisting to begin with.