Updated: Mar 2, 2020
“Grab my wrist”
What do you even mean “grab my wrist”?
When demonstrating a technique to a new student/guest “grab my wrist” are usually the first words that come out of my mouth, followed by an explanation, but never have I ever really put any thought to how strange that might sound or look to someone that is completely new to Aikido or any martial art for that matter. So the purpose of this article is to clear up some of the confusion that is found in that statement “grab my wrist”. Let me explain a little about how “un-martial” that must seem, to let some one grab you, with a small chance that you’ll be able to do some kind of wrist twist or kotegaeshi as we would call it in Aikido, seems crazy, I know, I feel more explanation should be given to people that have never done any martial art before. As more experienced martial artists all know, a demonstration can be done with a static energy (standing firm and still ) or a dynamic energy (attacking with movement ). A static attacks are slow, precise, and exaggerated movements of what we call an attack, usually reserved for the inexperienced student that need to learn the basics, we call this type of training Kihon waza (its quite possibly the first thing a lot of people see). The more dynamic approach also known as Ki no nagare waza is when both uke (receiver) and nage (thrower) flow in motion with speed and strength appropriate to the situation, and a technique is born from the blend of energies, some times a technique that was done statically will look nothing like it being done at a dynamic level; in a way you don’t choose the technique, you create an opportunity to perform a technique that best fits the circumstance.
For example If the job of my uke was to “grab my wrist” he is doing so with a suitable amount of strength and when I sense this intention then I may initiate an opportunity for a technique to birth; this could happen by me extending my center toward the uke with my wrist in such a position to encourage a wrist grab, after all, If the hands of my uke are on my wrist then I know they can’t punch me in my face.
In this dynamic way of training which I hope every person strives to reach, uke and nage create a special relationship, a harmony if you will, where both have an equal responsibility for the learning experience, there is no competition in aikido, there is no winning or losing.
Nage has a job in keeping uke safe; uke has given his body and energy for budo(the Martial way) to happen. Uke has a job to give nage "problems" that need to be solved , creating a controlled conflict, in constantly switching from uke to nage, both learn trust, to go with the flow, and not to resist, to find the many different roads that lead to conflict resolution.
So if you hear “grab my wrist” know there are many ways, reasons, and paths to reach the goal of “grabbing the wrist” watch closely you might see the subtleties in a technique, and walk away with new understandings.
“The purpose of today’s training is to defeat yesterday’s understanding.” ~ Miyamoto Musashi 16th-17th century swordsman and author of “The Book of Five Rings”