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AikiWeb System
03-27-2006, 01:19 PM
Discuss the article, "The 20 Year Technique" by Ross Robertson here.

Article URL: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/rrobertson/2006_03.html

04-21-2006, 09:21 AM
As the years go by our bodies and minds change. We refine the technique to match the changes in our bodies and minds. It takes longer than twenty years, it takes all of your life. As I am learning the answer, life changes the question.

Nick P.
04-21-2006, 09:55 AM
As I am learning the answer, life changes the question.


Michael O'Brien
04-21-2006, 01:53 PM
Interesting and insightful article ... However, the last line "20 months to be an Aikido instructor" ruined it for me, even if it was tongue in cheek.

04-23-2006, 09:33 PM
this is an interesting article to me... as a lowly 4th kyu its something i've concerned myself with a lot lately. particularly since i've struck up a friendship with a 6th kyu in our dojo who is particularly interested in the martial applicability (and the spiritual essence, etc.). what seems to me to be true is this:

in a sense there is no "20 year technique" in that: 1. every technique can be applicable in certain situations soon after getting the basics of its movements down; and 2. every technique takes a lifetime to refine and master (that is: is infinite).

however, depending on who you are, which tai sabaki come more easily for you (as far as the physical / combat applicable aspects of aikido are concerned, it seems to me that it is probably tai sabaki that is really important... that is: once you are safely out of the way, have blended, etc. and are still balanced and open, a multitude of techniques seem to be available, etc.), which techniques strike your fancy, etc. certain techniques are going to be easier for you at the onset, and thus have martial applicability for you.

i know in our dojo irimi nage is often called "the 20 year technique". however, i love it in all of its variations, and in the first jiyu wazas (and later in the first few randoris) i ever did the bulk of the techniques i used were variations on irimi nage (some of which i don't even recall "learning"). but at this moment in my training, i think that technique makes a certain kind of sense to me that others do not. so, for me, it is probably more martial applicable than kaiten nage, which i struggle with. however, of course, there are lower ranked people in our dojo for whom this technique seems to be quite easy. etc. etc. etc.

which, honestly, (on a different line of thought) might be the danger in the notion of some dojo cho only teaching certain techniques in their dojo. just because a technique does not work for them, it does not mean it might not work for others. no matter who you are, your experiences in "street" situations are going to be specific, and so your idea of what "works" and "doesn't" is going to be colored by those situations. however, i think aikido has to remain as open, and as multivarious as possible. so, it seems that aikido sensei (and shihans, etc.) have a responsibility to teach as much technique as they can so that the breadth of possibilities in the art are shown. from there, it is up to the individual deshi to figue out via jiyu waza and randori what works well for them, while at the same time not neglecting techniques that do not -- because they might need to teach them some day.

and personally, as a final note, i think this last bit is important for the "deeper" aspects of the art. in that it seems to me that part of what aikido teaches spiritually is that multiplicity / infinity / variousness of life. and so as our techniques are meant to be a reflection (actualization? realization?) of the deeper aspects that float on the surface of life, our techniques should themselves be various in every respect. unlimited in number, ranging from easy to complex to unbelievably complex, with infinite variations, etc.

that's quite enough out of me, eh?


stephen parkin
05-07-2006, 07:55 AM
I've played guitar for 20 years....I dont learn many new techniques anymore...but I am constantly learning how to play the old ones better or with slight variation to open up new possibilities...Mastery of guitar takes longer than 20 years....I imagine Aikido is similair...
I have black belts in other arts and to become proficient enough to defend yourself does not take that long....(IMHO) but to defend yourself without hurting your oponent ...wow...that would take a lifetime...even if it is possible....regardless of style..
Anyway my Sensei says Aikido is not that hard...you are only stepping forward, stepping back or turning....whats difficult about that?(?)**$%??)

R.A. Robertson
06-21-2006, 11:44 AM
Interesting and insightful article ... However, the last line "20 months to be an Aikido instructor" ruined it for me, even if it was tongue in cheek.

Hi Michael,

Actually, I meant it in all seriousness. Now let me see if I can rescue my credibility.

First, I think most traditional training methods are terribly inefficient. O-Sensei told Robert Nadeau that "if you can catch the secret, you can do what I do in three months." I take those kinds of statements seriously, and I think it's important to look for those central ideas that make everything else fall naturally into place.

Second, I come from a tradition where we were always exhorted to "share what you know." A sincere student who had trained in an efficient system should learn a lot in two years. I wouldn't expect them to go out and open their own dojo, but they should be able to "share what they know," especially if they are working under the guidance of a good chief instructor. Of course, a lot depends on the situation, but I can see instances where it would be both wise and necessary to deploy mudansha instructors and give them adequate support.