I have spent years practising and now photographing all styles of martial arts. I visited a friend’s aikido club and attempted to get some action shots. Aikido has the potential to look dynamic, like a sort of dance, but with attitude. We used a sprung floor gym area because the light was better, and here are some of the shots.
Aikido is all about posture. From good posture comes the effortless application of technique. The tori, the chap doing the technique, usually looks calm and almost frozen, with a calm stillness, the uke, the chap being tossed about, usually looks blurred, from the energy hurling him around. Its difficult to convey the flow and movement in still shots. It’s not my intention to ‘freeze’ the action with a high shutter speed, which would be pretty difficult given the lighting conditions. I want to convey the feeling of movement. I think more work needs to be done to get the result I am after.
I am also a fan of Oscar Ratti’s illustrations, from books like Secrets of the Samurai and Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere. I’d like to make my photos illustrate the same feeling of movement and dynamism. I’d share an illustration here, but I think Mr Ratti’s illustrations have been hijacked enough over the years and I’d prefer not to infringe another’s copyright.
With the uke upside down in mid air, the black and white juxtaposition reminds me of the Yin-Yang symbol. The men (as well as ladies) wear wide split skirts called hakama which are traditional garments and aid the look of fluidity when practising aikido. They are also great for tripping up the unwary novice.
I’ll take a tripod next time and slow the shutter speed even more to see if the movement can be more obvious. One of my favourite books is ‘It’s a lot like dancing’ by Terry Dobson. It has the most amazing shots capturing the sense of movement. With only the available venue and lighting, we will have to improvise, but I’ll be trying to emulate some of the shots from the book.
A shot from an earlier session, which I thought worked quite well considering the limitations of the venue.
A color version of a slow speed rolling breakfall, in the style of Jan E. Watson.