Efficiency through Non-Resistance

Aikibojitsu - Efficiency through Non-Resistance When hearing the term “Martial”, one’s thoughts may revert back to much more brutal settings. To times where striving to understand all things martial was not only a way of thinking or even a way of living, but a way of ensuring survival. It is difficult to think of a phrase such as “Non-Resistance” in the same concept as one so regularly aligned with confrontation and even aggression.

By delving into the concept of non-resistance, one can strive towards supreme efficiency in many things. How one moves, how one thinks, even a concept as simple as how one swings a stick, all can be made more efficient through a better understanding of non-resistance.

Non-Resistance As pointed out by Read-Sensei in his book Aikido, Aikibojitsu and the Structure of Natural Law (2010) “Non-resistance is poorly understood by most martial artists. Many who have looked into the matter have come away believing that the strategy of non-resistance is flawed, inherently weak.” (p. 65) Non-resistance is most often equated with “giving in”, or simply not putting up a fight. This perception of non-resistance is flawed and incorrect. Non-resistance is accepting the intent and energy that is being presented to oneself rather than fighting against it or running away from it, and providing the optimal response to that intent and energy.

A professional baseball player waits in the outfield, watching as his pitcher delivers the next pitch to the opposing batter. As the batter makes contact with the ball, the intent and action of the ball are made clear. At that moment, a path between the ball and its final destination are decided upon. Yes, one can argue that there are aspects that will affect the final destination along the course of the journey, be it weather, atmosphere, etc, but there is a general line that now exists. For the outfielder, the key is to discover this line, and through it come to the same destination as the ball, preferably before the ball even arrives there.

Non-resistance is allowing this path to be determined before committing to movement in one direction or the other. Just as it makes no sense for the outfielder to start sprinting towards a final location before the ball is even hit, it makes no sense for the martial artist to commit to a specific action without first understanding the intent and action of his or her opponent.

Efficiency With a stronger understanding of why one is taking a non-resistive approach to any setting, one begins to see how in turn this leads to an ever more efficient path. O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art form Aikido, was extremely strong in his youth, but lost much of that size and strength with age. Even so, he would regularly best men much larger than himself, simply by responding to the attacks from his opponents with a more efficient response than the attacker’s original intent. By receiving the intent of one’s attacker and allowing it to continue its desired path, albeit while removing oneself from the destination of that path, the energy provided by the attacker can be utilized and continued in one’s favor.

Within Aikibojitsu, the most efficient path exists as soon as movement begins, be it a movement along the path as part of a sequence or even culminating in a strike. It is fully possible and very common for a person to attempt to force or “muscle” the path that they desire, not that which is already predetermined as the most efficient by the original action. This leads to wasted energy and instability, as competing forces struggle against what one desires and what is the actual desired path of the movement itself.

Efficiency in the path of movement does not mean that there is not a physical finite manifestation of the movement. In regards to a straight downward strike with a staff from overhead, known as a shomen strike, efficiency lies in not only the path that the staff takes, but also how the energy from the strike is resolved at its moment of completion. One can always attempt to use brute strength to lock a strike into its final destination, but the requirements and effects on one’s body makes this a very inefficient handling of energy, especially over long periods of time. If one would try to stop full energy strikes with arm, shoulder, and back strength alone, one strike after the other, the strain on the body would become very apparent, very quickly.

Taking the same full energy strike, but separating oneself in such a way from the strike as to allow the energy a path to continue through one’s body and into the ground rather than solely into the arms, shoulders, and back, and one has the potential of explosive, efficient and controlled strikes with minimal stress on the body. With this approach, rather than combating the strike’s energy with one’s own energy and attempting to absorb the energy into oneself, the body is actually accepting the energy of the strike, and giving it the most efficient path to run back into the earth.

The Perfect Line Read Sensei often notes the concept of the “Implicit Line” (2010). In the simplest of terms, the implicit line is the Perfect line or path of movement based on the first motion and the impending conclusion of said movement. The perfect line is a goal in Aikibojitsu, and can also become a goal in every aspect of one’s life; to strive towards the perfect path.

One can spend a lifetime of martial study striving for the perfect line, even though one may find it to be a very elusive concept. Do not despair though, as every so often one can actually see and even more so feel closeness to this perfect line. Be it through the power of the strike, the relaxed state of the body, the smoothness of the movement, or all of the above, the perfect line is a worthy goal to aspire towards . Non-Resistance through Aikibojitsu When practicing Aikibojitsu, whether through short form, kata, or even free flowing movement, the “implicit line” is the goal, the “explicit line” is the actuality. The explicit line according to Read Sensei is the actual path taken, with oneself being the main opposing force that often fights the staff’s natural desire to follow the perfect line. Allowing oneself to feel where the staff wants to go, and facilitating that movement, is integral towards following the most efficient and optimum path possible for the instantiated movement.

At first the movement may be slower, providing just enough energy to allow the staff to move in its desired shape and trajectory. When moving at this speed, the perfect line is enveloped in what might be called a “buffer” field, which Read-Sensei calls the “channel of relative correctness” (Read, 2010,p.186); a range of space on either side of the perfect line that is itself not perfect, but allows for near resistance-free movement due to the energy provided. As things speed up, and more energy is applied to the movement or strike, the buffer field narrows. With less forgiveness to error, the practitioner will become much more aware as they stray from the line, colliding against resistance caused by their bodies, muscles, and balance. This phenomenon provides the practitioner with the necessary feedback to receive a clearer view of the perfect line.

“The step into the Kata will either bring the most amazing release of raw power, of pure and spectacular energy, of extreme precision and barely managed curvature and intensity until the end of the Kata is reached, or it will bring an increasingly desperate and deteriorating technical situation, forcing the practitioner to hang on for dear life as the kata devolves into absolute chaos and technical disaster” (Read, 2010, p.259).

Aikibojitsu in itself is a search for the perfect line, to be able to provide exponential power with very little effort. Once the basics of a move have been mastered, one cannot be afraid of unleashing high energy into the movement. This narrowing of the “buffer” field into near non-existence is the strongest teacher and indicator of where one stands in one’s understanding of the movement’s perfect line as well as one’s ability to allow that path to be followed. By accepting what the perfect line is and correcting for one’s own resistance created as more energy is applied, truly explosive power and speed can be achieved with minimal strength and maximum efficiency.

References

Read, J.T. (2010). Aikido, Aikibojitsu and the Structure of Natural Law. Minneapolis,

Scott Estes