Monday, June 17, 2013

Technique #528491

A box labelled "Give What You Can." A bin labelled "Take What You Need." What's inside them?

You may think they're silly questions and dismiss them out-of-hand, but there's a reason I'm asking, a lesson to be learned--and not necessarily the obvious one.

In my beginner's aikido class, we begin with a few techniques from katatekosadori, the "cross-arm grab." Everybody in the aikido world is familiar with the invitation to cross-arm grab: an extended arm, palm open, inviting the attack as a beginning to a finishing technique. To a stranger in a western culture, it's an invitation to shake hands, an invitation to friendship.

To a more experienced practitioner, extending the hand this way is an invitation to show your intention. Does the other smile and shake hands, or grab and proceed to attack? It's very clever, but it's problematic: The experienced practitioner operating this way transmits doubt and suspicion in offering the choice, perhaps inviting attack--perhaps suspecting attack. Little does she know that this is an attack in itself.

The polished practitioner realizes there's only one reason to extend the hand this way...

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