It is a given that women are at a disadvantage because they lack the upper body strength of men. There are two important aspects of Aikido Techniques in Women, which can help to overcome this apparent disparity in physical power. The first is the use of to entire body to create the power needed to execute the throw. The second is the technique of blending to avoid direct force-on-force conflict.
Shadow boxing is an ideal technique used by a boxer in training to help with agility, movement, and requires our partners. In this technique, the boxer executes the same movements as with a live partner allowing technique to improve even in the absence of a live partner. In the same way, Shadow Aikido can be used to help a practitioner continuously refine defensive as well as technique-focused movements.
So how does one go about adding Shadow Aikido to their training? A wise man once said “begin at the beginning”, and in Aikido this beginning is the Aiki Taiso or basic exercise techniques. This is because these techniques are designed to optimize the power generated through the use of the whole body rather than just the arm muscles. They also rely on power generation through maintaining balance by “keeping one-point” and transmitting this power through the use of the unbendable arm.
To avoid a force-on-force conflict with a stronger male opponent, a great Shadow Aikido technique to practice is called ude furi choyaku undo, which involves a circular body movement. This Aikido move is particularly effective against a yokomenuchi (side blow to the head) or munetsuki (straight punch) attack because it permits the blending/harmonization with the energy of the attack and then a redirection of the energy to execute a defensive technique.
Shadow Aikido involves more than just the Aiki Taiso movement. In the case of ude furi choyaku undo, it involves visualizing the harmonization with a front punch, the redirection of energy, and the series of movements designed to execute the defensive technique such as kote gaeshi or reverse wrist take down. A boxer becomes good at bobbing and weaving by imagining that his shadow is an actual opponent. In the same way, Aikido Techniques in Women can be enhanced by the visualization of an attack and using the defensive movement (blending) and technique to neutralize it. In the same way that practice on the driving range develops muscle memory for a golfer, the visualization and execution of the proper movement enhances Aikido Techniques.
In future articles, I will provide in greater detail the concept of Shadow Aikido and how it can be applied in men and women, old and young to create maximum power with a minimum of effort. This technique can maximize training of Aikido techniques in women and is definitely something that can be done any time of the day, inside or outside the dojo, with or without a partner.