Where the pieces are your body, your mind, your intention, your partner’s body, their mind, their intention, the environment, the goal, your level of ability, ad infinitum.
Aikido is a puzzle whose final product is the smooth flow of ki.
I rarely experience the smooth feel of pieces meeting together, and rather more often feel like I’m smashing two awkward pieces together that aren’t right for each other.
Right now, this ill-fitted attempt at the puzzle of harmonious movement is felt in nikkyo. Specifically, during the irimi (movement to the outside) while I grab the partner’s wrist with one hand, and their elbow with the other, swinging them around moving behind them in an ura (behind) technique.
Actually, it’s not just nikkyo, but any technique that uses this ura motion like ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, and yonkyo. I just notice it most when I do nikkyo.
The only way I can make the pieces fit in this puzzle when I do this movement is by smashing the pieces together with my physical strength, and any good puzzle person knows that’s cheating.
When I was doing this last night, sensei verbally notified me of what I already felt to be horrible technique. He said I have to get my hand in the elbow crease, but for some reason … I couldn’t do it! I kept putting my hand so that it went on to the forearm instead. In the position I was in, putting my hand in the elbow crease was just impossible. But there’s the key I think. I think everything else is wrong, not just that small focus of the elbow. So I think I need to pay more attention on the hand on their wrist in bringing it down and more toward myself making the arm bent closer to a 90 degree angle, forcing me to move behind them more, forcing them to follow a downward spiral, and thusly get my hand correctly in the elbow.
I can’t wait to test my hypothesis next practice.
As martial artists we are athletes, artists, philosophers, and today I feel like a mathematician. Whatever it takes to solve the puzzle is what the martial artist employs.