“No openings” means protecting the body against an aggression in martial arts but it can also mean avoiding certain things in life that could cause an issue or trouble in our daily lives.
In Aikido, there are different levels of “No openings”:
The first one is: Not to get injured:
At the beginner level, we learn how to roll and how to fall. Rolling and falling are defensive tools to escape a technique or a strike so it is important to invest in them. Those rolls can also help someone while tripping over something. Most people would fall flat on the ground injuring: head, wrist, knees, coccyx, lower back and neck. In the medical field, most injuries are caused by falling to the ground.
According to the CDC, one out of five falls causes serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. So again, invest in your rolls!
Secondly, while performing techniques, it is important to always be aware of the body position to avoid any openings. When I teach students, I often make them aware of their openings so they can better protect themselves. In Aikido, there are two partners: one is the attacker called the uke and the other one, the defender, is called nage. The uke must protect itself while attacking even though, it is a partner practice on the tatami and then the nage, who is performing the technique, must do it without openings.
Thirdly for most advanced students, learning to relax the body and reducing any form of rigidity while performing the techniques or while taking the fall. If uke resists during the attack, it can lead to a stronger response from nage. If nage uses a lot of power, or block the uke, that could lead to a counterattack.
Morihei Ueshiba said:”Masakatsu agatsu” True victory is self-victory. This quote is very important because Aikido teaches us to find physical and emotional balance. During practice, we learn how to manage our ego and to be humble.
We learn how to control our emotions. Sometimes, new and advanced students are afraid of failure, so I always tell them this quote:
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried”-Stephen McCranie.
We also learn how to combat our fears and our anger. Calmness helps us to be present and aware of our surroundings. Calm people are usually more focused, and they can learn better.
“For warriors in particular, if you calm your mind and discern the inner minds of others, that may be called the foremost art of war.”-Shiba Yoshimasa.
Fear, anger and our ego are openings that need to be controlled because they can affect not only our training but also our daily lives.
Few examples of daily lives openings that can cause hardship:
Not showing up to school or not doing homework!
Not being truthful!
All those examples have serious consequences, and they are openings for trouble. Integrity, honesty, and hard work will make life better.
The practice of aikido is more than just a training, it is a way of life. We use the same principles in our daily lives. Everyday, we are doing our best to become better people.