Lachlan Wallach, Nidan Roban, 5th December 2009
Aikido is a form of martial art. Form is defined by the dictionary as frame, shape, mode in which thing exists or manifests itself.
All are words heard from Sensei Bob Nadeau but if like me not initially appreciated at the start of my black belt journey. Then comes comprehension as suddenly, one time, a structure/frame forms, you align with Uke and the technique becomes effortless and satisfying, with the feel of a whole body input as your inner structure manifests itself and you move from the centre as a single unit grounded and centred.
Uke recognises good form, feels controlled and part of Nage and also gains enlightenment. Good form will allow you to reach the point where physical size and strength be it in Nage or Uke make no difference to your ability to execute technique. Good form is clearly demonstrated in suwari waza kokyu ho. Correct ma-ai is form, too far leads to poor form.
Riai’s logo includes the symbolic sign of Aikido; the triangle, circle and square. Together they create form. However it is one thing to recognise it but a totally different thing to capture, hold and repeat consistently from technique to technique, class to class and within and through a technique.
At my stage of development it floats in and out of my training. I come to class with great intention, step onto the mat and all my great intentions to retain form float in and out of my aikido. I tell myself that I have at least recognised its existence and absolute necessity if I am to continue improving my aikido.
In my travels from 6th kyu through to attempting my nidan grading my aikido has gone through many mutations along the path of improvement. It would be unreal to assume that the path will always be smooth. It will have its frustrations and rough patches but provided the desire and goal is there and you recognise and understand what your teachers are demonstrating, form will arrive through vision and proper training.
Just like fresh concrete, framed by form, will eventually set into a recognisable repeatable shape the difference being – retain flexibility. Not that I pretend to have reached that stage, but I have reached the stage of recognising its essentiality and it now remains for me to polish that observation by repetition.
Good practice supplies the body with the wisdom of experience. The body becomes the reflection and physical manifestation of mind with body and mind working together. Like evolution the study of Aikido is a long slow gradual process and whilst retaining form will come it will not be the end of your journey, just another step forward.