Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Osensei in slow motion

One way to appreciate O sensei is to watch his stuff in slow motion. It is easy to say that his stuff is exaggerated or even fake. I’ve heard that his attackers are hypnotized or that they are conditioned to fall for him. My sense is that it is very difficult to comprehend exactly what Osensei could do because he was doing something that is past the mind’s ability to simply comprehend.

I’ve chosen 3 throws from the video “Budo” taken in 1935. This is a much younger Morihei Ueshiba than in the other videos available. There is a physicality to this presentation that is not so evident in his later videos. On the other hand he is much more fluid in his later videos. Some of the throws are very convincing. Then suddenly something off the charts happens. It is as if some energy or invisible force is suddenly acting on the body of the attacker.

I show the interaction between Osensei and his attackers in regular speed, then I show the major throw in slow motion. What the slow motion shows is that the ukes(attackers) bodies move in ways that challenge one’s ability to analyze what is going on. The first throw is the most spectacular. The attacker’ body actually accelerates the further it gets from contact with Osensei. Notice how the uke’s head is suddenly swept back and up. Then the body actually accelerates in mid-air before gravity finally takes it over. The effect on the body of the energy is exponential as opposed to linear. If the attacker were purely co-operating or hypnotized this could not be effected. This is easy to miss at regular speed. Also notice how high the attacker’s legs go after landing, almost as if the energy there was potent enough to want to send him skyward again.

The second throw also shows that the attacker’s body accelerates the further it gets from osensei, although it is not as spectacular as the first.

The third throw is shown twice, once in an extended cut then once by itself at regular speed. Then I put in the slow-motion cut. Notice even though the attacker is thrown down there is a lift or an up that spectacularly precedes the down. It is as if an energy geyser erupts, lifting the attacker’s body upwards. And there is an acceleration upward.

So what does this say about Osensei? It appears that his body is the channel for an energy or force that comes through and enhances his physical movement. It can be argued that indeed Osensei’s movement actually comes from this force or energy. This energy moves in curves, circles, waves, and spirals. This energy or force is not purely of the mind but has a manifesting effect upon the bodies of the attackers. There is definitely technique or form in much of the video, but it is his command of this energy that is the most eye-popping part of his demonstrations. Apparently aikido for him was not just the techniques but his connection to these energies.


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