What is the importance of flexibility in Aikido? Certainly, flexibility helps to prevent injury. For example, most Aikido warm-ups include exercises to promote wrist flexibility to decrease the risk of injury when receiving techniques such as kotegaeshi.
More importantly, flexibility is crucial to good ukemi. Only by being physically flexible can we smoothly respond to nage’s movements. This enhances uke’s ability to protect themself. Further, if we are able to relax and follow nage, then we can more accurately feel the technique, and our own nage waza will improve.
These concepts apply in our daily lives, as well. By being mentally flexible we can better adapt to the vicissitudes of life. An open-mind is better able to learn new things. So, in Aikido and in life, flexibility can both protect us from harm and help us to learn and grow. I encourage you to cultivate both physical and mental flexibility on and off of the mat.