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Recent discussions on various bulletin boards have prompted me to think a bit about the way we train in aikido. Nearly every aspect of training (weapons, testing/ranking, atemi, cooperation/resisting, realistic vs. stylized attacks, etc) is discussed at great length on the Aikiweb and Aikido Journal boards. Every time I think I've read the last word on a subject, it comes up again on a slightly different tack.
The problem is that most of these discussions eventually come down to an individual's goals and expectations. A further problem is that one's goals and expectations will probably change during the course of training. Finally, there is a persistent idea that aikido as an art can be considered apart from its practitioners. This is the root of all the "is aikido effective or not" threads.
I believe these types of conversations can be very beneficial. The can lead to more informed training and provide part of a mental framework for integrating what one learns in class. At the same time, some of the assumptions behind the discussions are very odd, or even flat wrong, from my perspective. Over the next several entries, I'm going to record my thoughts on the various aspects of aikido training. Ideally, I'll revisit them and refine them many times over the coming years.
I'm organizing my thoughts on the uke/nage relationship for my next entry. I'll need to touch on the nature of our attacks, resistance versus cooperation, the speed of our practice, and the value of large, drawn-out techniques.