Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yielding in the Martial Arts

Yielding is an interesting concept in martial arts, and a challenging skill to master.

One definition of yielding is:

"To give way; to cease opposition; to be no longer a hindrance or an obstacle;"

This definition is what many of us think about when we think of yielding. In the martial arts, however, it means a bit more. To yield is not to give up. Yielding to your opponent's attack means accepting their force and momentum, not meeting it head on. You 'give way' to their attack, you 'cease to oppose it'. By doing this, you can re-direct your opponent's energy, using their own strength and velocity against them.

This is one of the main tenants of Aikido and a big part of Jiu Jitsu as well. Accepting your opponent's attack is difficult. To do so effectively, you need to become one with them. In situations fueled by anger and emotion, it is even harder. For this reason, we need to always strive to have a clear mind during combat, unclouded by negative emotions. When we get angry, we make mistakes.

During training, really focus on accepting your training partner's energy. Think less about the technique itself and feel their energy. Yield to the incoming attack, become one with it and then re-direct it. By doing this, you will find you don't need to concentrate on your timing nearly as much. With consistent practice, it will begin to seem as if you knew what attack was coming before it even came. You will not be waiting for an attack to arrive, you'll be flowing with the energy coming at you, blending with it, then directing it elsewhere.

Watch any Aikido or Jiu Jitsu master and you'll see this in action. They seem to have some form or precognition and their defenses are seamless and effortless. They yield to their opponent's attack but turn it back on them.

By yielding, you can use your opponent's energy against them.

Winning by yielding. Food for thought.

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