Does output always have to equal input?

At that moment I was enlightened: the source of budo is God’s love – the spirit of loving protection for all beings… Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. – Morihei Ueshiba

I’ve been thinking a bit about the common training notion that “output = input” with regards to the uke/nage training relationship in Aikido. The thought is essentially, uke sets the pace for how hard he’s thrown by the force of the attack. If uke wants to go be thrown harder then they come in with a stronger attack. If they want to be thrown softer then they come in with a softer attack.

lately, I’ve been trying to slow down the speed of my techniques. Even as an attack comes in faster, i try and slow down the rhythm of my partner and I, so that output (the throw) does not equal input (the attack), but slows down. This is a purposeful decision on my part. It does not have anything to do with furthering my technique. Rather it is to align myself with O’Sensei’s thoughts on the “spirit of loving protection.”

There is such wonderful metaphor in Aikido. The Aikido mat provides a microcosm of the world where we can find a safe place to practice conflict resolution, speaking our truth and meeting opposition with love. So lately, my Aikido practice involves slowing down the pace of the attack. Meeting the attack with gentleness. Although I’m tempted sometimes to throw strong I choose to throw softly.

This practice prepares me for the things that happen everyday: Meeting an antagonistic coworker with a soft voice and a smile; Not being affected by an agitated driver that cuts me off on the road; dealing with the daily pressures of life with ease and kindness. My Aikido practice changes as it always should. There are many lessons that are available to us on the mat. I’m enjoying exploring this aspect of my training right now.

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