Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the last two hours of a seminar given by Dan Messisco Sensei. Dan Messisco has a very unique, flowing and relaxed style of Aikido and was wonderful to watch and be instructed by. There were a lot of things that he said at the seminar but the thing that is sticking with me, the thought that’s growing with me is something very profound he said about uke’s role. Here is a 5 minute clip of Sensei Messisco from the seminar:
He mentioned that good Aikido should happen to where as uke attacks, he is caught up in nages response and attached to nage for as long as he chooses to be caught up in the attack. From a practical perspective, he is saying that as we train and we take on the role of uke, we still need to practice good Aikido. We need to be mindful of moving from center in a balanced way. This way, we help our partners by offering them a good attack, but we always have a choice of moving. On the mat this opens us up to interesting ukemi but it also opens us up to the notion of kaeshi waza (counter techniques. It also gives us the choice to disengage from our entanglement if we choose to.
The thing I appreciate most is the notion that we always have a choice to disengage. I can think of many times where I’ve not made that choice but instead chose to attach myself to ill begotten things: an argument, jockeying for position at work, digging my heels in and pressing an issue. But we have a choice. I really appreciate that Sensei Messisco can express this so well on the mat and through our practice of Aikido this notion helps me realize the choices we have are exactly that: choices to be happy or not to be happy.