I survived Jiyu Waza Wednesday

A friend has been nicknaming Wednesdays nights at our Aikido dojo, “Jiyu Waza Wednesday.” That’s because the instructor likes ending the class with Jiyu Waza.

What’s Jiyu Waza? It’s one of the few times in Aikido when you defend yourself freestyle against a series of attacks–say, for example, as in this Wednesday, front strikes–using a variety of techniques. Which defense techniques you use is up to you.  It’s okay even just to use evasions. There is no need, as part of the exercise, to do anything particularly complicated. The hard part is not getting flustered or panicked at repeated attacks that begin when the Sensei says “Hajame” (Start) and ends when the Sensei says “Yame” (Stop).

Even though Jiyu Waza isn’t on any of the beginning or intermediate belt tests, Sensei Jon likes giving all levels a shot at it to get everyone used to it. Being comfortable and relaxed is half the battle. Part of the trick for me is also not feeling self conscious. The rest of the club kneels and watches while you get attacked!

Here’s a video clip of of Jiyu Waza that I love. Classical music and slow motion. Aikido is a very beautiful martial art,

I’ve also been working on a longer post–I’m worried it’s turning into an academic paper actually–on things Aikido has taught me. Thinking about that I was reminded of a great post on the Aiki-Doh!-ka website called Life is Jiyu Waza.

It’s about what Jiya Waza can teach us.

Often we feel like we’re under attack in day to day life – the myriad demands of work, family and fun can sometimes feel like a swarm of angry bees. Let’s take what we learn on the mat in jiyu waza and apply it in our world:

Hold a good kamae.  

Facing our problems head on, with all our focus and commitment, is powerful, and many issues dissolve readily under such intense scrutiny. It also puts into practice the old adage “Divide and Conquer”, making the ‘portions’ on our ‘plate’ seem smaller and more manageable.

Attack the attack.

Take the initiative, and you’ll maintain control of yourself, and by extension, the situation.

Enter in.

Get in there! As Sensei Jamie says, get a good, big mouthful of your problem (metaphorically speaking – don’t bite uke!) ; chances are it won’t taste as bad as you thought it might.

Let Go.

Once you’ve taken action, let go and face the next problem. If you get stuck wondering if you did the right thing, you’re wasting energy; it’s already done. You’ll find out soon enough if further attention is required.

Keep moving forward.

Anyone who’s done jiyu waza knows that if you stand still, you get clobbered. Moving forward brings the future, and its solutions, closer, whether or not you can see them now.

Back to kamae

Repeat as necessary…

From  Aiki-Doh!-ka: “Welcome to, the home Aiki-Doh!-ka. He’s the embodiment of the earnest and somewhat whimsical aspiration that imbues all Aikidoka. You might say he is the Don Quixote of Aikido – he has the best intentions, but is somewhat lacking in his execution.” Lots of fun. Go have a look!


2 thoughts on “I survived Jiyu Waza Wednesday

  1. Dear Sam B, thank you for this post and for your blog. Some time ago, I wrote something about the experiences related to aikido (I do not practice aikido, but some friends do). I tried to mix it with my experiences as cyclist. I wrote a post called “Baikido in every day life”, about how to use the bike and aikido to cope with conflict in your everyday life. I wrote in Spanish, but I thought you would like to read it, if you understand this language. Here you are the link:
    Please keep writing, best wishes, Daniel

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