As I continue to push at my understanding of Daito-ryu, the more I find myself working on refining the waza (techniques) I was taught as the basics, which turn out not to be so basic!
Daito-ryu techniques are about the disruption and manipulation of structure, jujutsu tends to tackle the structure head on with the proper application of force (mostly external) through the structure of the opponent.
Aiki-jujutsu does the same, while trying to avoid the opponents power head on, using the structure to carry the power through and using as little external power to do so. Some force may be applied to the technique but little is necessary.
Aiki on the other hand, completely relies on the structure of the opponent but seeks to undo the structure with no external power at all. Avoiding the opponents power all-together and exploiting the structure to carry through the technique, no power is necessary and actually ruins the technique if applied.
Jujutsu techniques teach structure and manipulation of it, aiki-jujutsu techniques are a refinement of the same technique but the lessening of force and an increased understanding of structure are required for success. Lastly, aiki is a greater understanding of structure, so much so that no force is necessary and an increased sensitivity to the opponent’s structural weak points is needed for success. None of these is greater than the other since all versions of techniques are in fact Daito-ryu and all are what’s required to see the brutal beauty of it’s techniques.
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I often hear that exact phrase or a sentiment much like it when we delve into aiki waza (techniques), often subtle and surprisingly powerful movement that isn’t routed in physical power but rather physics applied through the opponents body structure that results in a control and/or a pin.
The notion that aiki is some sort of magic is the initial reaction of many, it is a balance of the understanding of anatomy, physiology, physics and guided by intuition. What parts of the body are you attacking, how will those parts move in response to the attack, how much or little force did you need to apply and your intuition guides all of this making subtle adjustments in order to maintain all this in play.
It seems magical or impossible but it’s neither, it’s almost always simple physics that require little in the way of power but much more in the way of intuition and sensitivity. Creating & maintaining the aiki connection in the technique is the hard part but as with any skill constant practice gives consistent results.
So if I had to describe Daitoryu in a nutshell, which may damn well be impossible but here’s a try at it…
Daitoryu Aikijujutsu is the art of creating and/or exploiting misalignment in the body to either pin, throw or simply allow the opponent to fall due to that misalignment. (Then comes the devilish grin) Sometimes all of the above.