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Off the line – avoidance or tactic

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Off the line – avoidance or tactic

Postby Francis Takahashi » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:04 am

Many instructors in Aikido extol “getting off the line” when being confronted by an attack. This apparently has become a primary movement advised to deal with threats in an “Aiki” fashion, or being consistent with “Aikido Principles”. Is this truly a pass through legacy of the Founder, or is this another one of countless misinterpretations and misunderstandings of Kihon Aiki theory? Not that not being there in the first place is not a good idea. Of course it is, and should be a habit of each beginner, not to mention more experienced practitioners of Aikido training. What should be established is whether this fundamental principle is one of “avoidance” of danger, or a genuine “tactic” to deal proactively with the threat confronting us.

There are numerous Aiki Principles that we can refer to in preparing for a possible assault or committed attack on ourselves. Ma ai is the principle of maintaining proper distancing from the opponent. Shi sei is the principle of maintaining proper proper posture and body alignment when positioning for either a defensive or offensive manuever. Hanmi is the proper choice of foot and body alignment, using a triangular stance from which to move in any direction. Metsuke is the use of a non focused gaze at the situation to assess any and all alternatives possible to use. The list is rather extensive, and each student has to add or subtract the ones applicable to him or her.

Nonetheless, by properly and correctly applying the best mix of these principles, you can assure an efficient and favorable outcome to dealing with hostility and an actual attack. The actual attack may never take place, when the opponent realizes that you are more than ready to meet his aggression.

So, the answer to the question of whether getting off the line is an avoidance or a tactic, it depends. It depends on whether you are forestalling the initiation of combat by giving both parties time to reconsider the advisability of continuing the conflict. It can also depend on whether you want to increase your chances of success by proactively moving to his blind spot, take control of his balance, and execute an end to the confrontation. The finality of this decision is yours. This would be the tactic of choice, after all other attempts at avoiding conflict have been tried.

Remember, the Founder himself engaged in innumerable situations where he had to correctly choose between avoidance and tactical responses. He did not always choose well, but he survived. That is the most important lesson for us to absorb, that of martial integrity. We must be resolved to be the last person standing, or we have failed as martial artists, as Aikido devotees, and as sovereign human beings.
Francis Takahashi
Posts: 411
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:51 pm

Re: Off the line – avoidance or tactic

Postby Carina Rei » Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:32 pm

Thank you Takahashi Shihan for this thoughtful description of how to deal with an attack, I fully agree with you that showing the attacker, that we are more than prepared can help that the attack will never take place.
Your final phrase about the lesson is wise, I would just add that we must resolve to be the last person standing and hopefully giving our opponent our hand to help him up.
Carina Rei
Posts: 461
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:50 am
Location: Gran Canaria - Spain

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