I have been training in Aikido for just over twelve years, and have been teaching regularly for about six. Having the kind of mind that I do, I constantly question why I am doing what I am doing in practice, and come up with as simplistic distinctions as I can for anything that I find to be useful.
Two distinctions I use are hopelessness and hatred.
Often when I am leading a class I see fellow students being very hesitant at various points in the techniques. I do that as well. What I find myself doing during some of those hesitations, and what I see fellow students doing, is hoping the technique will work. I get to a certain point of uncertainty, on the edge of what is comfortable for me and try to execute the technique, all the time hoping it will work. When that hope gets louder than my determination, I hesitate, checking to see if I am doing it right. In that moment the technique vanishes, and I am left awkwardly holding my partners arm. Sometimes I get it together to re-start the technique, sometimes I get reversed during the hesitation, sometimes it’s just awkward.
By keeping hope out of my technique, I follow through with the application until it succeeds, not up to some point where it looks like it might be working. Without hope, I am forced to keep up the technique all the way to the end with no room for hesitation.
Practicing sincere hopelessness helps me to overcome the tendency to hope a technique will work, and instead keeps me determined to make it work.
Sometimes when performing a technique (more than some times) I find myself meeting a resistance in my partner because I have let them get back into a position of strength and balance after taking their balance initially. There is suddenly a resistance to the technique. A feeling of being locked down, or locked out, comes with this resistance. I hate that. I use my hatred of that feeling as a spur to get me to immediately change the angle, pace, or direction of the technique, and in extreme conditions the very technique itself. I don’t hang around in that hated circumstance.
The hatred of being locked out of a technique helps me to remain sensitive to how much of my partner’s balance I have, and keeps me alert to needing to change tactics during the execution of a technique.
Hopelessness and hatred. For me these are two very important principles in Aikido.