In all forms of Aikido – but perhaps especially in the Yoshinkai style – there are “forms” or Kata. We study these forms over and over, trying to perfect our movement and technique.
We usually follow these forms through an entire range of motion from initiation to completion. There is very much of a rhythm to these forms; there’s an attack, a response and an end. Our partners are supposed to give all of their energy to these movements.
In any actual defensive situation, however, there is not a rhythm – and definitely no sense of cooperation.
When we practice Aikido as an art form it’s very beautiful when we execute our movements in time with our partners.
When we are trying to practice Aikido as a self-defense form, however, that sense of rhythm can actually be counter-productive. Attackers aren’t trying to make beautiful movements – they’re trying to do us harm.
We need to practice self defense Aikido “between the beats”. That is to say we have to be prepared to move outside of the rhythm that we use in regular forms practice.
In Aikido timing and distance (maai) is everything. We have to learn to use a counterpoint or off the beat rhythm if we are to take an attackers balance and redirect them to the ground.
If we just practice traditional form timing we likely extend the technique over too long a timeframe and allow the attacker a chance to regain their balance.
Watching and performing Kata is a study in grace and cooperative movement.
Defending one’s self using Aikido is a consequence of using the correct distance and timing.
The two types of practice are not the same.