Sunday, December 13, 2015

Follow the Leader

Last Friday in class we tried a few minutes of "leading energy" practice.
This is a fundamental concept in aikido, as you can see from the video.

The principal of leading energy is to first blend with the attacker's motion, rather than fight against it.  This avoids strength on strength confrontation, which will inevitably favor the physically stronger opponent.  Leading energy allows us, after blending, to redirect the force to another direction.  In aikido this is most often done by leading into a circle/spiral or a straight line.  In either case, we can lead the partner's energy into a harmless direction, which in aikido culminates with a pin or a projection, followed by zanshin (attentive, focused mind).  The sequence of three elements described in the video are: blending, extending and leading.  All three exist in Kali as well.

For Kali practitioners, the concept of leading energy is contained in the Passa or "passing" principle.  Rather than direct contact "contrada", passa techniques involve moving the attack offline, usually away from the centerline.  Passa techniques are often used to move the attacker using their momentum, or to gain their side or back by putting them out of position.

When performing these techniques the initial movement, blending, is extremely important.  Any attempt to strongly push or pull the attacker usually results in them changing their motion and the technique failing.  The goal is to allow the attacker to continue on their intended line while we blend, and only then do we redirect the energy elsewhere.  Very importantly, we do not sit idly and wait for the attack to develop.  We must enter early and blend in order to safely redirect the motion as it develops. Waiting too long makes it impossible to blend, so timing is critical.

Once we blend, we can extend, and allow the attacking energy to commit.  In this portion, it is important to maintain our structure, posture and balance, thus allowing the partner to extend their energy (blended with ours) with a minimum of distraction, preserving their line.

Lastly, having matching the motion and extended it fully, we can then lead it elsewhere with minimal effort.  Trying to lead too early, without blending, results in disconnection from our partner.  Trying to lead before extending confuses our partner and causes them to want to pull away.  The three steps of blending, extending and leading must be done in order to be effective.

In daily life, as in the dojo, blending/extending/leading energy is an important concept.  Rather than direct confrontation, blending/extending/leading can be used to help others arrive at an optimal result without feeling bullied or attacked.  This method is especially helpful when dealing with peers or superiors, since it implies teamwork and a willingness to cooperate.  Just as in the dojo, blending/extending/leading takes less of our own energy to achieve, and so makes us less tired, which is also helpful in corporate and family life.

Rather than openly disagreeing with co-workers' opinions, "blending" requires that we consider their point of view thoroughly.  "Extending" requires that we let their full argument be made and their logic allowed to reach its conclusion before any further action is taken.  If needed, we can then lead to an optimal outcome, but not before blending and extending have been done.  Many times, people just want us to listen and accept their point of view (blending) without necessarily agreeing.  Blending validates them.  Extending allows their ideas to be fully explored before any further decisions are made.  Leading as a last action insures the best outcome because it minimizes confrontation and maximizes participation in the outcome.  This is especially useful when you are managing others.

Aikido's principles are universal, and have an important role to play in our Kali study.  It also has very broad applicability in other areas of our lives.
I encourage you to consider this.

See you at class.

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