Aikido and Conflict Resolution
by Dennis Hooker
Aggressive resistance, passive resistance, positive resistance or negative resistance, to which of these are you referring, if any? I assume we are talking about resistance in Aikido interaction, resistance to or from an attack. First let me say that in resistance one also finds stability. Without the resistance of the ground and gravity we could not walk. Without the resistance of our body a punch or kick has no effect. When we offer resistance from a grab, a push or a pull we also offer stability to the one grabbing, pushing or pulling. The aggressor has all their internal gyroscopes set to adjust to the resistance they expect to meet at the point of contact. They expect and need the resistance for their attack to work. Sometimes our biggest problem is getting our ego out of the way. Too often we are not satisfied with simple resolution and restoration of “Harmony” we seek to be part of the conflict so we can feel physically powerful. The idea in Aikido, as I understand it, is to offer no resistance, or as little as possible. By offering no resistance you do not become part of the conflict but part of the resolution. After all Aikido is Conflict Resolution on a very real scale. My partner brings conflict into my world and I should seek only to bring resolution to the conflict. Sometimes the resolution is not harmful to the aggressor and sometimes the resolution may be deadly to the aggressor. That is his problem I only seek to find resolution and restore harmony to my universe.
As I stand facing another human being I am in harmony with my environment. As that other person stands facing me he/she is in harmony with his/her environment. “We” are in harmony. When that other person decides to break that harmony of our universe by attacking I should seek not to offer resistance of any kind wherein he can find stability for his attack. I do this by moving to a place where I am in harmony with my environment once again (an environment which includes my partner) all that is left is to the aggressor is his conflict. If I am skillful I have moved to a place of safety using correct Aikido principles with regard to distance and placement relevant to the attacker and I then can help my partner find resolution to his conflict. That is, I join with him and help him disperse that negative power that was once directed at me back into the ground from which it sprang. That is right the ground from which it sprang. The attacker used his resistance to the ground to build and launch an attack with the end result being that his attack finds sufficient resistance in my body to cause me to go to the ground. Now using Aikido I take away that resistance leaving only him and his out of harmony relationship to the universe. Now left alone without any resistance from me to give him stability nature will restore harmony on its own. Because no resistance was found where expected the aggressor loses balance. Given the fierceness of the attack I may assist nature by supplementing to its resolution with additional complimentary power and velocity to cause the attacker greater impact with the earth. I may also cause him great pain by cooperating with him to send his powerful attack back to him. That is a judgment call which also should be tempered by my Aikido training.
The biggest part of the problem I see in some people is they never move past nage waza. They live in with the belief that they need to “do” Aikido to the other person. They never move past Nage Waza. I believe Uke Waza is the next big step in personal Aikido development. When Nage attacks and suddenly finds himself as Uke the new Nage has choices to make. Not just about which technique to apply but about letting the failed attacker resolve the conflict unharmed or not. In the purest Aikido since Uke should have the choice to resolve the interaction by offering non resistance to Nage’s superior position and balance? If Nage allows Uke to resolve the conflict then Uke will know Nage’s intend and submit to it without resistance. For instance Ikkyo, Uke knows where Nage wants him to go he can feel Nage’s lead. So by cooperation they together find an Aikido resolution to the interaction and restore balance to their worlds. This is Uke Waza not just the ability to take a fall and survive.