Ukemi and Kokyu Ryoku, simply explained- Part 5: A few more principles
Joining force structure
There are still a few other key techniques that can help us receive force, that we have still not covered. These methods can help us achieve even more miraculous ability to take force. One of the most amazing is “joining force structure”. This method is so powerful and deceptive that it has been used by champion martial arts competitors and stage magicians alike. Until you understand the principle, it’s hard to believe it works. The idea is really very simple. We touched on this principle briefly when we talked about ways to use base and center of gravity to keep someone from lifting you. The whole idea of “joining force structure” is when someone tries to physically move you, they will have to join their structure to yours. In essence the two(or more) people become one unified structure while you are in contact. If you understand this, you can work with the unified structure to make it almost impossible for someone to move you. To use this principle you will join your structure to the structure that is trying to apply force to you. Then you’ll use this “joining” to redirect the force back into them. This means every time they push you it will naturally disturb their structure and they won’t be able to move you. This is because moving you would actually unbalance or otherwise compromise their structure as well.
As powerful as this method is, it often takes little strength to achieve, usually a light touch will do the trick. A simple demonstration of this can be done by having someone push on your shoulders, in an attempt to push you back and off balance. If you lightly touch their arms you will easily be able to counter act their incoming force, so much so that often you can stand on one foot and do this. This happens because your touch reconnects the force they are putting into you and sends back into them in a place that destabilizes their base. This makes it impossible for them to put any force into you without disrupting their own structure. This same thing can be done with a lift test. You can let someone get right under you base, and grab you by your armpits to lift. This should be a very strong position for them to lift you and eliminate any of the previous Ukemi techniques we’ve learned. However if you grab their elbows, again they won’t be able to lift you. This is the joining principle at work, you are joining your structure to theirs and when they try to lift you, they are essentially trying to lift themselves as well. Without a base of support no one can lift themselves off the ground (except Baron Munchausen), so again this will be impossible.
As simple as this principle is, it is very powerful and has appeared in throw defense in many sport martial arts including Judo and Western Wrestling styles. With an expert understanding of this principle you can make lifting or moving you an impossible task for even the strongest of aggressors. It is important to understand that this principle is not magic and using it in a dynamic situation (like physical conflict) is a skill that must be practiced in dynamic situations.
Deflection of force.
Force deflection is constantly at work in the principles above, and is one of the key reasons many of these principles work so well. But there is a push test demonstration that is very interesting and shows us a great example of force deflection at work. In this test you will put a stick between you and the person trying to push you over. As they push horizontally, to knock you over, you push upwards. This will deflect their force in a direction that they don’t want to go. So they will lose some of their force trying to push down. Also as they push towards you and you push them upwards, this will destabilize their connection to the ground (their support) and increase your connection to the ground (your support). This makes for a test that looks like you should be seriously out matched, but force deflection makes for a strong ally. This exact demonstration was used by Lulu Hurst, and was said by her in her autobiography to be her best demonstration of “the force”. If you are interested in these kinds of demonstrations and you don’t know who Lulu Hurst is, you should look her up!!
Path of least resistance
The path of least resistance is best demonstrated in the nature of water. When water flows, it takes the simplest path. Sometimes that path is over rocks, some times it’s under trees, sometimes around mountains, and sometimes through them. Water is heavy and can flow with great force, but it always takes the path that is most simple for it to take. The same is true with the principle of “path of least resistance”. In this principle the idea is never to directly fight against a force, but instead to move at any angle where the force is not as great. This principle can be seen in the “unbend-able arm” and also in the “keep weight underside” idea. This force is most important when we are talking about Kokyu Ryoku (making power), but it’s also important in Ukemi. It is often helpful in lift tests, when the practitioner has been lifted already and they want to find the way down. By shifting their weight to places where the lifter is not strongly supported (out of alignment) this principle can cause the lifter to struggle and attempt to move his base in order to support the shifting weight. This in turn will create a new opportunity for the person being lifted to find another place where he is unsupported and then move to that location. By constantly relaxing into these openings the practitioner can cause great stresses in the lifter making them fatigue quickly. We will revisit this principle more in the Kokyu Ryoku section.
In truth a good demonstration of “haragi” or “Ki Power” uses many of these principles at once. A good practitioner of Ukemi can transition to keep his aggressor off balance causing them to use their force in inappropriate ways. This is a simple outline of several of those methods. The way in which you look at these principles will determan how useful they are to your practice. You can simply look at them as “tricks” done to impress others, or you can look at them as fundamental building blocks that you can use to improve your Aikido training.
In part six we will start getting into Kokyu Ryoku and how we make force. Look for that article next week!!!