Technical training (Taijutsu)
It forms the core of each class. The technique training format is a pre-established ritual (kata). This is a traditional Japanese format whereby the roles of attacker (uke) and defender (tori) are fixed, and in basic training levels, technique is also decided beforehand.
Training partners take turns being both the attacker and the defender. As an attacker, uke makes an attack to nage so that nage responds and absorbs. The energy of the attack is harmonized and turned against the attacker according to the specific technique being practiced. It is now the moment when the attackers practice non-resistance (ukemi) while flowing with the resolution of the technique that can be either a throw (nage waza) or a ground immobilization (osae waza).
Therefore, the training based on attack and defense is a practice to learn how to “surf the waves” through the opening to non-resistance, understanding the rhythms of emptiness and fullness present in all movements and changes.
The attack (yang) is absorbed (yin) by the defender and returned (yang) to the attacker, in the form of a technique, who is absorbed through “reception” (yin). The important thing in defense or attack is fusion and non-resistance, flowing back and forth between yin (receptive) and yang (attacking).
The techniques in Aikido are not just simply “techniques”, in the commonly understood sense of the term, but they represent and make tangible the spirit that defines Aikido. Every time we practice a technique with presence and intention while maintaining the basic principles, we embody the spirit of Aikido.
The paradox of training is that we learn Aikido by practicing techniques, but Aikido is neither restricted nor defined by techniques.
However, considering training as “lesser” and focusing on principles and philosophy as “higher”, without being able to base it on action, is a mistake. Concentrating only on the technique without understanding the principles is also a mistake and leads to a superficial understanding of Aikido.
The techniques are the tangible forms of the principles of art and as such techniques and principles are inseparable.
The Principle of Balance must be a principle that leads to the search for balance between techniques and principles, not only in Aikido, but also in daily life.