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HL1978
02-16-2008, 09:00 AM
I am excited to announce that Akuzawa Sensei, founder of the Aunkai, will be visiting the Washington DC area on May 31-June 1 to teach a two-day intensive seminar. Spots are limited, so reserve your space soon!

Akuzawa Sensei has developed a unique approach to training from his extensive background in Chinese and Japanese martial arts. Rather than focusing on specific techniques, he and his students work to develop the martial body itself, thus forming a core set of body skills that the practitioner can apply to whatever form of martial art they choose. This seminar is open to all interested students regardless of what art they currently study. Below is a detailed summary of the material that will be covered over the two days of the seminar.

For more information about Akuzawa Sensei and the Aunkai, please see their website at http://www.aunkai.net/eng. Additional information on the Aunkai is available on this thread on AikiWeb: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12119.

The seminar will take place at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, located 20 minutes from both Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan National Airports.

Dates:
Saturday May 31, from 10-5pm, and Sunday June 1, 11-6pm

Costs:
$180 dollars includes both days, with substantial discounts available for full-time students. Registrations recieved after April 15 will be charged $200.

Contact:
Hunter Lonsberry at hlonsberry (at) gmail.com to reserve your spot.

*** Main Topics of the Seminar:
- Understanding body principles at a physical level.
- Understanding the importance of working out to "correct the body".
- Explaining the Aun method of "framework of power" .

*** First Day:

- Explain how to train, balance, and correct the body.

- Introduce exercises designed to increase and strengthen awareness of the body's correct frame.

- Through basic/foundational training, explain in depth the nature of "connecting the body as a whole".

- Exercises to increase the potential of your body's movement.

- Partner training will be explained and shown that is designed to allow both parties to understand how the skeletal structure is supposed to correctly settle and react.

- "Agete" otherwise knows as "Kokyu Age" exercises will be introduced as a means to "input power"

- Contact exercises designed to bring awareness to how the body reacts under duress and correct itself through a continuous process.

*** Second Day:

- Review of the first day. Akuzawa will then personally give a hands on check to each and every participant and correct their frames individually.

- Understanding the basics and principles of movement through the exercises of Juji-kou and Shintaijiku. These exercises emphasize the creation of an internal "cross" in the body in order to understand what the body's physical centerline is, and increase the range of motion of the body with the "internal cross" in place.

- Explanation of the principles of "Hard/Soft" within the body. Understanding the use of proper power with an opponent.

- Demonstrations and results of constant training in the principles taught over the two days will be given by Akuzawa with any willing participants.

ChrisMoses
02-19-2008, 12:07 PM
If you can make this seminar, I highly recommend you do so. I got nothing but extremely positive feedback from the seminar we hosted here in Seattle. Many participants commented along the lines that it was some of the best money/time they had ever spent on their training. Don't miss it! :D

Ron Tisdale
02-19-2008, 12:29 PM
Ditto. In Spades.

If you have questions, doubts, what ever, I highly suggest you go and form your own impression.

Best,
Ron

HL1978
03-27-2008, 10:34 PM
There are still a few spots available. If you are interested please send an email/PM.

A check is required to reserve your space for the seminar.

Jeremy Hulley
05-01-2008, 10:52 AM
I'm coming to the seminar and staying with some family in Clifton. I would prefer not to rent a car and don't really want to be a burden on the family. If some one is coming from or through the Clifton area I would happily contribute gas money, a meal and a tasty beverage for a ride.
please contact me directly at jchulley at msn dot com.
I will be out of the country until May 12 so it may take a while to respond to emails.

Thanks ahead of time.

Jeremy

HL1978
05-28-2008, 11:32 PM
If anyone has an airshield please bring it with you to the seminar for some demonstrations.

Jeremy Hulley
06-01-2008, 09:09 PM
I just wanted to thank Ark, Rob and company for a great seminar. Hunter, thanks for organizing it. Thanks for the great training to all the people I met, may your quads rest in peace.

Here's my one pitch if you have a chance to see Ark and you have not get out there and see him. He is a great teacher who has succefully surrounded himself with skilled and generous students.

Jeremy

Kevin Leavitt
06-01-2008, 09:58 PM
I second that Jeremy! It was good meeting you and working with you this weekend!

One of the best things about this weekend was the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Oh...and learn a few things too! :)

I was impressed at how far people traveled to come here for the seminar. I only had a ride across town!

Dan Austin
06-02-2008, 01:19 PM
I second that Jeremy! It was good meeting you and working with you this weekend!

One of the best things about this weekend was the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Oh...and learn a few things too! :)

I was impressed at how far people traveled to come here for the seminar. I only had a ride across town!

Geez, does anybody know how to give a good seminar review? ;) How about discussing what you guys learned of the Aunkai system, impressions, specifics (did you roll with Rob and how did it feel?), stuff like that - you know, details? ;)

Kevin Leavitt
06-02-2008, 10:03 PM
We spent alot of time and money going to this seminar, why would we want to give out all the secrets! :)

Did I kick Rob's butt? or did he kick mine?

I'll have to answer your questions later...it is hard typing with one hand right now..my other one is hurt and it is hard to move it to type with it. Won't go into the details.

Mainly did some boring body work stuff...website here shows pretty darn much what we did.

http://aunkai.net/bujyutu/index.html

HL1978
06-02-2008, 10:17 PM
Geez, does anybody know how to give a good seminar review? ;) How about discussing what you guys learned of the Aunkai system, impressions, specifics (did you roll with Rob and how did it feel?), stuff like that - you know, details? ;)

Actually any feedback along these lines would be very useful for any future Aunkai seminars. What did people like best? Where there any concepts that could have been explained more clearly or demonstrated more effectively? Are there any particular skill demonstrations you would like to see?

I would also like to encourage everyone who attends any of seminars to take every opportunity to touch Akuzawa Sensei along with Rob or any other students present. In my own experience, feeling these skills firsthand making learning how to move your body in this manner far more accessible. Likewise Akuzawa Sensei encourages it so that one can easily understand the material he is teaching.

Kevin Leavitt
06-02-2008, 10:45 PM
Hunter,

Sorry I didn't get to say thank you yesterday before I left. Thanks for everything.

I think it was good the way it was done.

The challenge is retention. I know you guys meet on a regular basis in the area. I think the key is taking what we learned, doing the time by ourselves, and then getting together every so often to do some of the partner exercises and test.

It would be nice to get Ark or Rob back here about every 6 months for "adjustment" and "azimuth" check.

Dan Austin
06-03-2008, 12:23 AM
We spent alot of time and money going to this seminar, why would we want to give out all the secrets! :)

Did I kick Rob's butt? or did he kick mine?

I'll have to answer your questions later...it is hard typing with one hand right now..my other one is hurt and it is hard to move it to type with it. Won't go into the details.

Mainly did some boring body work stuff...website here shows pretty darn much what we did.

http://aunkai.net/bujyutu/index.html

It's not obvious what portion of this if any is serious, but I've seen the website, and obviously without hands-on the exercises aren't likely to be very beneficial. So "secrets" is meaningless, they can be open secrets. The point is that if I go to a seminar that I liked, I think it's a courtesy to the instructor to let people know about my personal experience of the seminar and why I would recommend the instructor. You seem to have found it at least valuable enough to say it would be good if Akuzawa and/or Rob could come around every 6 months, but that isn't likely to happen if everybody who goes to one of these seminars comes back and writes insightful commentaries along the lines of "nice to meet you Joe, I'll get the beer next time!". ;)

Getting people interested in the material ultimately benefits even those who would keep secrets if they could, because Akuzawa's ability to travel around the US is entirely dependent on seminar attendance and interest. Based on the nature of the material, it sounds like plain hard work will see who gets where with it, not secrets, so if you found the material worthwhile it would be worth talking about the seminar in greater detail to help ensure those future visits even if your interests were entirely selfish (which I tend to doubt). Maybe it's a bit early post-seminar to see discussions from those who attended, but I find it amazing that people have time and energy to engage in the most inane topics on this board, and yet where there's a chance to talk about really interesting things you have to get out the cattleprod. ;)

Kevin Leavitt
06-03-2008, 12:56 AM
I was just kidding Dan!

In a nutshell, the seminar was good, relevant and worthwile. I'd highly recommend anyone of any martial background a level of experience spend time with these guys.

As to what you get out of the seminar? personal embarrassment of how out of shape you really are within a martial body. You get to see a couple of guys who have developed a martial body and can do simple things you can't do. They show you a few basic things that you can work on to get on the path to developing a martial body.

You then go home with a better understanding of how much work you need to put in to yourself in order to get to the next level of your training. That there are no easy ways to do it other than doing it.

In all seriousness, the website shows pictures of exactly what we did. Think standing in horse stance with your arms extended for long periods of time.

Secrets? Expectations?

no secrets. Expectations about how it will improve you martially?

I think that is an individual question that must be answered by each individual.

getting to the next level? Well it is hard for me to answer that one since I am not at the next level. I think it is best to leave it alone, and take the "shut up and train" approach to doing this, and simply do it.

DH
06-03-2008, 09:11 AM
Dan
There isn't a point in discussing details. They will not be relevant if you don't know how to make it work or what to shoot for.

I am not speaking for Rob or Ark!!
Maybe a good overall idea is to consider what would happen if you were able to sustain a central equilibrium within yourself that was highly sustainable as it relies on a union of opposites (in/yo ho). Next were you to strengthen to retain it in all movement? When force comes into you it is managed in a way that is foreign to most martial artists. Instead of needing to do things to people-you manage yourself and THAT greatly affect others. This isn't even addressing what happens when you decide to hit or kick or throw. In a sense you walk through peoples structure and punch or kick through their spine. It can be very damaging.
I gave an example on edudo a while back-post #401
http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38747&page=27

Of imagining what your budo could do on an anemic, weak person attacking you. You would blow through them right? This training makes capable men feel weak and anemic. Now imagine adding the budo of your choice to attack them or man handle them in their weakened state.

In a practical sense it will work, applied in any fighting venue of your choosing. It won't teach you how to fight (which I have been saying on these boards for ten years) but were you decided to take up MMA or or any more intense work it will be the single greatest advantage you could ever have. Standard disclaimers applied-anyone can be hit, if you can't fight... you can't fight blah blah blah.
Just go learn and form your own opinions bud.

Dan Austin
06-03-2008, 09:33 AM
Kevin,

No worries, as I said I think it's good for the instructor to have people share their positive experiences. I am curious how different it was in person from what you expected after talking about it on the board, and if you did roll with Rob if you could feel a difference from "normal" people.

Dan,

I understand these things can't be learned without hands-on, so as I said gleaning secrets is not an issue, I understand it's about hard work. Since there aren't many people who can show these skills, the operative question is the practicality of learning it from occasional visits. It sounds like you don't go out doing seminars, so in terms of travel Mike and Akuzawa are more available to people in different geographic areas. The question becomes whether you can take away enough kinesthetic sense of the foundational exercises that you can work them on your own, perhaps tweaking them with online discussion with people who have also had hands-on, and then how often would it be necessary to get together with someone significantly more skilled to keep you on the right track. Kevin mentioned every 6 months. It doesn't look like Akuzawa travels that frequently, but that may depend on seminar interest, which is correlated with local practice groups who could be depended upon to attend for those tune-ups. It sounds like there are enough people in DC to keep the ball rolling there, but to get things jumpstarted in other areas the seminar reviews and discussions are important despite the fact that newbies won't learn anything just from that.

DH
06-03-2008, 09:47 AM
Hi Dan
Again, not speaking for Rob or Ark-ask them.
Yes you can learn it in the manner you just described.
You learn it, take it home and that is where the real work begins. It helps to have a group for feedback and to kick your ass in gear when you get lazy. Were I starting out I would travel to get to those who know and do the work as much as possible. But anything you get will not be a waste. You guys should start forming your own self help groups to train with A-W-A-Y from your regular budo training to work on your internals.
Paired partner work is essential for later growth in my view of things. But not everyone agrees. No matter the majority of the work is in solo training.
Simply answer
Go train at a seminar
train at home
go train at a seminar to get fixed and deeper understanding. Call Rob, Write in at the Aunkia web site and ask
Go train at a seminar
Train at home
Seek out fellow students
and....
Train at home.
It's just an opinion, but I think its the best thing you could ever do for martial art training and power. All the rest; waza, tactics, weapons, styles, is just icing on the cake.

Jim Simons
06-03-2008, 11:31 AM
First I'll chime in with Jeremy and Kevin on thanking Ark, Rob, Hunter & co for putting on the seminar. Like Kevin said, the materials available online (Aunkai website, Rob's posts here, articles on AJ, and videos on youtube) do pretty much cover what we did, so I could theoretically have gotten started from there. I'm sure I'll be revisiting those in light of the weekend's experience, but being able to get such immediate feedback on my form and my experience within the frames was a valuable way to get started working with these training methods.

Here are some more specific things I got out of attending, my attempt at more of a "good seminar review" but really just a somewhat disorganized collection of observations:

Seeing and feeling Ark was a real treat! I've felt a small handful of aikido folks who seem to have "gotten" this internal stuff to some degree, but none as palpably so as Ark. He manifests power and grace outside of forms, with every movement (whereas the aforementioned aikido folks seem only to manifest it within aikido-related forms, in my limited experience). Ark moves remarkably efficiently, and he looks like he could easily do what he does with a beer in the other hand (yes, Jeremy, you're still welcome to steal that one, but figured I'd stake my own claim to it too ;-D)
Also unlike those aikido folks, Ark has a clear system of pedagogy for what he's "got," and his students are evidence that the system does bring results, even with only sporadic direct contact with the man himself.

I thought it was interesting that he remarked and demonstrated several times, on the application side, that "it's not about timing, it's not about vectors, it's not about technique", much like O Sensei said, much like Dan is saying.

I got a clearer idea that these exercises are about conditioning the body by inducing (or emphasizing) opposing forces (up/down, forward/backward, left/right), bringing about a tendency toward balance, stability, and conservation of energy in the body. Being a bit overly inclined toward the philosophical and abstract, these unifying ideas appeal to me, and I now have clear and specific examples of how they apply to the hard work of daily training.

All around, Ark is a really engaging, entertaining guy, on and off the mat. For me, Ikeda sensei has been the gold standard for setting a positive tone at a seminar, and now I can say that Ark is right up there with him on that standard.

The generosity of the folks who have been doing this for a while was remarkable: Rob, Hunter, Tim, Takeo, Jeremy, Carmen, and probably others I'm sorry to be forgetting at the moment. These guys shared their experience and gave suggestions and feedback freely, earnestly and without a single note of arrogance or condescension that one sometimes encounters on the mat (especially when one is "just not getting it").

I do think there were tips on how to train, specific tips on the exercises that aren't as obvious (to me) from material online, but I'll be interested to go back over that material and see what more I pick up from it now; it's likely I just missed them on the first read-through.

The personal feedback is also obviously not available online: I didn't notice my arms weren't straight there, or that my hands weren't rotated enough here, or that I was leaning forward at this or that point. Realtime reminders that "at this point you should be feeling tension in this direction" are much easier for me to process than written reminders referred to in between repetitions.

I had at least one "aha" moment linking the classic aikido rowing exercise to the aunkai exercise we were doing (punching while maintaining the lower-body arch and connection between lower and upper body), where I think I learned something specific and valuable about aikido training.

Never before have I come away from a seminar with such a clear impression of what I'm taking away from it to work on "at home". Coming away from aikido seminars, I usually have an idea or three that I want to try to remember to apply to my on-mat training, maybe, if I can, if it fits what my own teacher is doing, if my training partners are willing to work on it with me, etc. Coming away from this seminar, I feel like I have a very clear set of building blocks for a solo program of body conditioning and personal research, and the confidence that hard work on those building blocks yields results.

I was lucky to have a relatively short (2hr) drive to this seminar, but if this sort of thing were to happen every six months, I would be there, even assuming there were an alternation between east coast and west coast (which would make sense, given the number of folks who flew in from points west for this one).

Cheers,
Jim

Ron Tisdale
06-03-2008, 11:50 AM
Thanks for the review Jim!
Best,
Ron

JangChoe
06-03-2008, 12:32 PM
I didn't think I'll go to this one, but I actually made it. I was glad I went.

I went to two of Ark's seminars. The D.C. one was my second one. I got a lot more out of the second seminar. I think it was because Ark didn't punish us that much during the seminar with his conditioning exercises but explained a lot more stuff.

Then again, it could be because I was a little bit more conditioned than last time , and I understood the concepts a little bit better. I would advise that if the D.C. seminar was the first Ark seminar you went to and didn't understand a thing Rob and Ark were explaining, try going to a second one--after practicing the exercises a lot--and see if things make more sense.

Anyway, these are the stuff he showed during the seminar. The seminar was mainly five parts:
1. Conditioning exercises--these were the famous Aunkai exercises that we all know and love. You know: shiko, tenchijin, maho, sei no training, etc.
2. Lots of great explanations on what we should look for on each exercises.
3. Partner training stuff: Walking maho, pushout, agete, spear punching, etc.
4. Striking drills.
5. Q&A.

The conditioning exercises were there to condition us. It is used to condition our suit, our connections, our frame, etc. Ark reminded us to keep the 6 direction tensions going at all times. By keeping our 6 directions, it allows our body to settle into place. So the weight of our body should settle into the joints down to the ground.

So as we stand in our static positions, we have to constantly adjust our bodies and relax so we get the correct requirements. Ark and Rob told us that we shouldn't feel much strain on our quads, shoulders, lower back, etc when we have the correct frame. But there's a catch-22 for this. If you're not conditioned, you'll feel strain on your quads, shoulders, etc anyway.

So I guess for beginners is to condition our bodies first--especially the legs and our arms--then we can start to change our bodies to settle into place. Not many of us had a conditioned body to fully understand it I think. And to condition our bodies, we have to do these exercises frequently.

For example, Ark made us stand in maho for about 15-20 minutes. My quads were okay, but my arms were killing me. Rob told us to slightly push our arms back so it'll "sit" on our body. But even if I did that, and no matter how much I was trying to relax my shoulders, my shoulders were killing me. I guess my arms weren't conditioned since I couldn't even hold it up using jin no matter how hard I tried.

Then there were the partner exercises. These were jin exercises for the most part. Ark mentioned that the instant we touch someone, the point of touch should automatically be felt on your foot.

When we're doing these exercises such as agete, pushout, and spearing; we have to do it slowly so we can find where the "blockage" is. IOW, where our qi is being stopped, where we tense up, where the connection gets broken, etc. So when we find that our connection breaks, we have to adjust our body and relax accordingly so it will go straight down to the ground.

So for example, during agete, as you raise your arms, you'll probably feel stress on the shoulders. So you have to stop, relax, and adjust until you feel it back go to the ground, then continue raising the arms. The first few reps was with small amount of force so you can get the jin path. Then on the last rep, the uke piles on the force as hard as he can. The focus was if we can maintain or find our jin-path under hard conditions.

One of the requirements Ark stressed for the partner exercises was to have a relaxed, straight spine. This should help the force transmit to the ground easier. Also to practice the solo stuff a lot.

We also did kicking exercises. This was fun because of my Korean background. The main points I remember were to have keep the cross stable, the planted foot be heavy, and the kicking leg relaxed. We only did front kick, and the kicking leg should swing out like a pendulum. The rebound from the contact should be absorbed into the frame (into the ground). This way we're solid, stable, and balanced.

Most of the striking drills had the similar concept. Making sure at the point of contact, the rebound should be absorbed into you so you won't get pushed back from your own force. Also, you shouldn't lean into the strike because if you miss, you won't unbalance yourself.

The striking drills were primary to feel what happens to you when you strike. And how you should absorb the force when you strike. So we didn't strike hard, it was with light contact mostly.

Overall, this was a great seminar. It was a great workout. I met a lot of cool people there. My back muscles are sore for some reason.

If my information I gave was incorrect (I was writing mostly from my memory), please correct me.

Ron Tisdale
06-03-2008, 01:16 PM
Jang, truly excellent review! really appreciated it!

Best,
Ron (this one is going in my notebook...it's a great refresher for the Seattle course)

Kevin Leavitt
06-03-2008, 04:15 PM
Dan Austin wrote:

The question becomes whether you can take away enough kinesthetic sense of the foundational exercises that you can work them on your own, perhaps tweaking them with online discussion with people who have also had hands-on, and then how often would it be necessary to get together with someone significantly more skilled to keep you on the right track

Lots of good comments today, I concur with them.

The challenge of course is having access to some one to tweak you and adjust you. It is necessary.

However, my take on this is that it won't do you much good if you haven't put in the time and developed a martial body.

My own strategy will involve a fair amount of yoga this summer. I have access to some decent instruction in my area and I think that a good yoga instructor can help me with my conditioning and overall alignment, posture etc.

That said, I don't think doing yoga will help much with developing the transmission of skill, BUT at least the next time when I get with these guys I may not be so smoked in my quads or able to use my core better.

So, if I had access to nothing else, I'd download the youtube videos, begin to do some basic yoga, and start developing a "conditioned body".

Frankly if you don't have this, I don't see where the instruction is very helpful.

So...say you did the exercises and some yoga and showed up to the seminar in fairly good "yoga" shape....

I would say you'd had been much better prepared to recieve the training than if you hadn't down anything.

I think the worse thing is to not start training, throw your hands up and say I can't do it cause I don't have access to instruction!

Just do the best you can and go from there...it can't hurt.

Many worry about developing "bad habits". another topic of discussion, but I'd much rather do something and take the risk of developing some bad habits vice not doing anything. You will be further down the road with a few bad habits than without a conditioned body and no habits at all!

That is my opinion though!

Dan Austin
06-03-2008, 11:30 PM
Here's a good review:

http://www.emptyflower.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=4959&view=findpost&p=80299

I take it the army combatives guy referred to is you Kevin, so you're busted. ;) I've wondered about Rob's comments about the applicability to groundwork, what's your take on that?

Upyu
06-04-2008, 01:13 AM
Thought I'd chime in here,

First off, thanks for everyone who made it to the seminar, I saw more than a few faces that were familiar, and Ark was pleasantly surprised at more than a few people's progress. :D

I definitely took back more than a few things to mull on/work on myself, thanks to everyone's direct questions. It's very much a learning experience for myself and keeps me on my toes.

Here's a good review:

http://www.emptyflower.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=4959&view=findpost&p=80299

I take it the army combatives guy referred to is you Kevin, so you're busted. ;) I've wondered about Rob's comments about the applicability to groundwork, what's your take on that?

Er, about that,
a) Kevin and I didn't have time to really roll, and I have no illusions that the guy could turn me in a pretzel if we were going at it for real.
Hopefully I'll get a chance in the near future when we head back to DC for another round.

b) I was showing an example of how the "connection" could be used to reverse a submission attempt, in this case a Kimura. It was a demo, nothing more, neither of us were going all out.

c) He asked me how I could use the same stuff to get out from under side mount using these skills.
Other than shrimping/controlling the hips, or other "techs" I know for getting out of a side control, I don't have a direct answer as of yet (still working on that one). :-p (Dan H, you wanna spill some tips? :) )

d) I did roll with one other person, but again, it was a demo, not a sparring match.

Not that he needs me to back him up, but Kevin sucked it up and sweat just as hard, both physically and mentally.

Knowing how hard his training ethos probably is definitely gave me a kick in the rear to keep up my own training...I'm only sorry we didn't get the time to pick each other's brain on the mat for ground work.

FWIW

Tom H.
06-04-2008, 07:43 AM
It was great to see you guys again, Rob, as well as meet so many people from these forums. After a year and a half of practice, more and more of the material makes sense, and I have some new ideas to work on.

Tom

MM
06-04-2008, 08:09 AM
It was great to see you guys again, Rob, as well as meet so many people from these forums. After a year and a half of practice, more and more of the material makes sense, and I have some new ideas to work on.

Tom

Hi Tom,

I didn't know you were going. Do you have any thoughts/comments to share on the seminar? It would have been nice to see/meet people, but I didn't make this one.

Thanks,
Mark

Tom H.
06-04-2008, 09:00 AM
Do you have any thoughts/comments to share on the seminar?
A few random comments:

* After two years of semi-consistent training, the aunkai material makes loads more sense in my body. I keep thinking that I want to go back to a martial art with techniques and forms, but every time I assess my situation, I decide on pure body development "for just one more year".

* My experience to date confirms some ideas that I took on faith a long time ago: there is a different way of moving and holding the body that requires extensive reconditioning, it's powerful stuff, and the rarity of people who have it is only exceeded by the rarity of people who teach it.

* I'm more convinced that Dan and Ark are using the same basic body skills with very similar goals. However, there are some subtle and important differences. I have some guesses, but want to work out the details for myself over the next few years.

* It wasn't my quads that were killing me the day after; it was my back. And not in a "my back is killing me" way. Interestingly, Ark made the comment that I wasn't using my back-side lines in push-out. That comment would not have made sense even six months ago, but now I know what he means a little bit.

* I also found one reason why I suck at agete much more than at push-out -- my shoulders are seriously out of whack. The good news is that knowing is half the battle!

I took material home to mull over in solo training, as well as inspiration to keep with the wow-it-sucks conditioning. I hope others did, too. I also saw some enviable Eureka moments, which are fun when they happen.

Tom

MM
06-04-2008, 09:40 AM
A few random comments:

* After two years of semi-consistent training, the aunkai material makes loads more sense in my body. I keep thinking that I want to go back to a martial art with techniques and forms, but every time I assess my situation, I decide on pure body development "for just one more year".


Ah, yeah. I'm in the same frame of mind. After one year, I looked back, took note that doing internal training and aikido training at the same time wasn't working out very well and decided to concentrate strictly on internal training. But, I think, well, I'll do a year more and then I'll go back to aikido. I'm afraid, though, that realistically, in a year, I'll still think as you -- one more year on internal development. :)

Thanks for the comments on everything else. Hopefully, I'll catch you on the mat sometime soon.

Mark

Thomas Campbell
06-04-2008, 05:10 PM
This review of the recent DC Aunkai seminar was posted by a CMA guy, Wolfram, at another forum:

My review of the Aunkai seminar and material presented:

1. Akuzawa - very nice guy. Akuzawa is a small, athletic Japanese man, and doesn't speak a lot of English. Did not "present" the majority of the material himself, but was very active in explanations and individual corrections. Akuzawa walked amongst us, making adjustments and corrections and doing demos to emphasize his points. I can imagine him being a great one-on-one teacher. Presents Aunkai as a collection of tools for "self-research."

2. Akuzawa's staff/students - Rob, one of the Tokyo class, was Akuzawa's main translator and also the main presentor. Rob's presentations and explanations were very clear. Never hesitated to answer a question, and never hesitated to present a question to Akuzawa himself when unsure of the answer. Of the staff, clearly the most advanced student. I watched him roll a little with a couple of guys, including an Army Combatives instructor. He did some very interesting things on the ground.

In addition, there were a few guys from the US who had done Akuzawa's first seminar and have been closely corresponding with him and each other online. I know that Hunter Lonsberry, the host, has been out to the Aunkai HQ a few times for extended training, but am unsure of the other guys. All of them presented various degrees of proficiency in the material presented, and all of them were at least "pretty good."

Akuzawa also brought along his student and webmaster (and perhaps gf or wife, didn't ask), Nori, who also did some presenting of material.

3. "Business side" of the seminar - not much of one. Waivers were signed and given to Hunter. Akuzawa had T-shirts and "review" DVD's for sale. I picked up both, since my own video camera died before the seminar started and I liked the t-shirt design. No big "push" to buy anything. Cost was $180 to me with pre-reg, $108 for full-time students. We went a full 7 hours both days.

4. My two-day impression of the material - Akuzawa's training in CIMA is very apparent and clear. If I had to make references, I would describe Aunkai as "Systema if invented by a Chen TJQ adept." While incomplete, this description works for IMA students to think about the methods presented. Theory-wise, Aunkai is all classical CIMA that I can see (although there may be some Daito-ryu and other more "internal" JMA influence as well). Akuzawa talks a great deal about spinal alignment and its foundation to feeling the ground connection. He also talks a great deal about axial rotations and conditioning the body. Movement in the Aunkai method is designed to help improve your root, create a "frame" from which to move and act, maximize the potential of your movement, and eliminate waste from any movement. Power and movement are all generated from a properly aligned spine. The material also helps stretch and condition the internal body.

5. Impressions of execution of Aunkai from demos - I really like my description of "Systema created by a Chen TJQ adept." Akuzawa's movements are very solid and rooted but flow with the adaptive energy I associate with Systema, although there is no "snakiness" or "weaving" (which Akuzawa interprets as wasteful). It's very apparent that he can and will hit you with any part of his body (possibly multiple parts simultaneously). His body connections are apparent. When he hits, it's with the rooted power that I associate with Chen Xiaowang's form demos - his root looks as solid as a rock. No apparent effort in any movement or demo, even when he was carrying around 240-pound guys on his back.

6. Attendess/Atmosphere - most of the attendees were Aikidoka, although I met a Silat/Shuaijiao guy, and somathai and Brady are Yin Fu BGZ. They came from all over the US, a good number of them flying out from the West Coast. The atmosphere was relaxed, respectful, and encouraging - no confrontational bullshit, no challenges being issued, testing one another definitely encouraged and allowed within agreed-upon parameters.

7. Would I recommend going to an Aunkai seminar? Yes. While CIMA people may not learn anything new from a theory perspective, the foundational exercises are great for spotting weaknesses in one's own practice. After doing the seminar, I found that my alignment and root awareness during circle walking has increased significantly. Push-out is very good as a pre-cursor to push-hands; in fact, I think that my partnered sensitivity training from other systems would have been better served by first doing Aunkai's push-out. In my opinion, the fundamental Aunkai exercises Akuzawa teaches are very useful for any CIMA (or any MA period). In fact, they seem to be largely be distilled from CIMA methods to begin with; Akuzawa's TJQ and XYQ training were both very apparent to me.

Non-CIMA people will probably benefit the most from the fundamental material. Most of the seminar attendees were Aikidoka, and most had never had "structure" training or theory explained to them. It seems to me that the good Aikidoka are the ones that can eventually intuit the structural training/theory that CIMA guys get from Day 1 (at least, that's what I was being told by the Aikidoka there).

8. Would I recommend going to more than one Aunkai seminar? Depends, as usual, on what the attendee's goals are. I would certainly go to at least one more, to pick up a few more exercises and to pick Akuzawa's brain.

9. My impression of Aunkai - I certainly think that Akuzawa has been able to create a very efficient way of developing internal fighting skills that can be passed on effectively. Some of his theory reminds me of Wang Xiangzhai's writings on Yiquan. Akuzawa and Rob's skills were definitely well-developed (of course, Akuzawa being far more formidable). The pedagogical process of Aunkai is clear, with multiple layers of depth and meaning that can be mined with reasonable clarity in a reasonable timeframe. It seems to me that training in Aunkai prior to any other IMA would give any CIMA "beginner" a definite edge over his peers. It also seems to me that training in Aunkai for any period of time would accelerate any CIMA student's progress. Furthermore, I believe that one could just do Aunkai on its own, provided that a good teacher is available (Akuzawa and Rob were definitely both good instructors).

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 06:07 PM
This review of the recent DC Aunkai seminar was posted by a CMA guy, Wolfram, at another forum: [snip] Yeah, I saw that on EmptyFlower, but some of the comparisons are simply wrong. First of all, the comparison with Chen-style is completely off base because there is not a hint of "silk-reeling", the hallmark of Chen-style Taiji, in the Aunkai stuff. In fact the comment about "internal martial arts" is wrong and only conveys the common western misunderstanding about "external martial arts". "External arts" have all the ki/kokyu skills that "internal arts" have; they just use them differently. And so on. The description reads well for people that get confounded by martial-arts jargon, but even though I thought the review was thoughtful, I had to kind of write it off for the obvious errors that were included. Not that I don't appreciate the attempt.... it's just that some of the descriptions were just too glaringly wrong.

YMMV

Mike

gdandscompserv
06-04-2008, 07:09 PM
I thought this was cool:cool:
6. Attendess/Atmosphere - most of the attendees were Aikidoka
http://www.emptyflower.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=4959&st=0&p=80299&#entry80299

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 07:39 PM
Well, I have to defer, then. "Cool" overrides facts in some peoples' view of their martial arts.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Thomas Campbell
06-04-2008, 08:07 PM
I'd have to agree with Mike S. that the silk-reeling of Chen is not really there in Aunkai. I also didn't quite get the comparison with Systema, other than that in a very broad sense that both Aunkai and Systema train basic body conditioning and then weaving that into movement. I think the author has trained in baguazhang, but I don't know what else.

Aside from that, the observation that his "partnered sensitivity training from other systems" (maybe referring to tuishou or roushou) would have benefited from first learning Akuzawa's push-out drill is interesting. There's probably some truth to that, in my experience.

Overall, I thought the perspective of a CIMA guy experiencing Akuzawa and his teaching was interesting. Three other CIMA practitioners were at that same seminar. The resonance (for the author) with CMA concepts points to the frequent observation--I think by Mike S.--that these training principles or insights are something of a common heritage across Asian martial arts.

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 08:22 PM
Thought I'd chime in here,

Er, about that,
a) Kevin and I didn't have time to really roll, and I have no illusions that the guy could turn me in a pretzel if we were going at it for real.
Hopefully I'll get a chance in the near future when we head back to DC for another round.

b) I was showing an example of how the "connection" could be used to reverse a submission attempt, in this case a Kimura. It was a demo, nothing more, neither of us were going all out.

c) He asked me how I could use the same stuff to get out from under side mount using these skills.
Other than shrimping/controlling the hips, or other "techs" I know for getting out of a side control, I don't have a direct answer as of yet (still working on that one). :-p (Dan H, you wanna spill some tips? :) )

d) I did roll with one other person, but again, it was a demo, not a sparring match.

Not that he needs me to back him up, but Kevin sucked it up and sweat just as hard, both physically and mentally.

Knowing how hard his training ethos probably is definitely gave me a kick in the rear to keep up my own training...I'm only sorry we didn't get the time to pick each other's brain on the mat for ground work.

FWIW

Thank Rob, I was going to say the same thing. I could see how some might interpret what we were doing as "rolling" but, as you say we were only discussing specific points concerning connection. Which I found interesting and got a better understanding of how Rob applies it in this context.

Keep in mind that "Rolling" implies a much more forceful and deliberate event in which two people or trying their best to submit the other within the constraint of a few agreed upon rules. Rob and I never even came close to doing that.

Also, as Rob discusses, I asked him about side control which I thought would be difficult to work as it is hard to establish a connection from because of the spines are perpendicular and the top person's hips are not connected in that case.

Again, a quick question and discussion right before lunch, nothing more than that. My impression is that it is still important to have and establish basic structure before you can do anything else. In this case it required Rob to create space and shrimp to either half guard or side control to create space and better structure to move from.

I don't believe Mike, Ark, or Rob would disagree with this, it is implied and common sense to me.

I do want to point out that the purpose of the seminar was the basics of developing and conditioning the body so that you could make better use of it martially...internally if you will. Along those lines, it was not the purpose to establish the martial effectiveness of Internal training, nor was it why I was there.

To me it is sort of like saying that running improves your martial ability....it is a true statement as stamina and cardio are important to being martially effective I think. However, no one would challenge a runner to a fight or even think that running in anyway would allow you to beat a MMAer. Yet we will do it with this training because it looks like it just might be martial..yea I could see how you make this association.

My impression of my short experience with both Mike Sigman's and Ark/Rob's training is that these are some very good methodologies for improving your martial body.

How effective will it be martially? Well I think that depends on the individual to apply it as they see fit.

For the two days I spent with Rob I would make this assessment. Impressive for someone that has only studied for 4 years. He has a good understanding of his body and has conditioned it to move in some very connected and effecient ways.

I would think that if Rob decided to walk into a big name MMA Gym, or even a BJJ dojo, he'd advance very rapidly and be very successful, same with aikido, or whatever sport, or kinetic activity he decided to pursue. That said, simply because he has developed this potential doesn't mean that he is immediately an expert in that game.

So take that for what it is worth. I didn't roll with him, so I can't vouch for his level of technical jiujistu skill, linked with the timing and speed etc...but I think it doesn't matter as he has developed a good base to learn those things if he ever decided that is what he wanted to do..that much I could tell.

So is this training worthwile. Yes it is. But I'd be careful to say that it will directly make you a better fighter, there is more to training than doing body work. This any more than it would make you a NBA basketball draftee contender!

I would point out that Ark and Rob do seem to be putting in the time to link it to these skills, so that needs to be considered...but body work in and of itself won't do it. Bottom line is that if you want to be a fighter with this stuff you are going to have to go out there and tap out alot, get hit, and try it over and over.

I think there are tradeoffs. You can spend 80 percent of your time doing this stuff and 20 percent of your time "rolling" and you will grow very slowly as a grappler. Or you can spend 20 percent of your time doing this stuff and 80 percent of your time "rolling' and grow very slowly internally. There is a balance.

Of course you could always just practice this for the sake that you enjoy it and for the benefits that connectedness and a strong core gives you when you consider quality of life as you age.

The thing that Ark, Rob, and Mike have made abundantly clear is this:

1. It is hard work
2. You must do it frequently.
3. Quality is more important than quality.
4. It is hard work.
5. but it can be done and there are proven ways.
6. It is up to you to apply it.
7. It is hard work, you must do it frequently.

Yes, I must say I was slightly embarrassed at how out of shape I am in this manner. I am in shape in other ways and can roll hard for several hours and wake up the next morning work out, and drive on without being sore. This training had me moving in ways that I normally don't move in, so I can only imagine if I do develop these weak areas they would only benefit me.

Thanks again, I appreciate the willingness to share this stuff fully as they do.

Yea hopefully we can roll next time Rob, I think it would be fun!

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 08:23 PM
Overall, I thought the perspective of a CIMA guy experiencing Akuzawa and his teaching was interesting. Three other CIMA practitioners were at that same seminar. The resonance (for the author) with CMA concepts points to the frequent observation--I think by Mike S.--that these training principles or insights are something of a common heritage across Asian martial arts.I tend to be ambivalent about a lot of the opinions I read. But let's suppose that "three other" Aikido practitioners who didn't really understand the ki/kokyu concepts were at the workshop and they gave the opinion that "this stuff agrees heartily with Ueshiba's concepts". Would those be valid opinions or do you see what I'm suggesting that *all opinions are relevant to what the commenter really knows*? I'd suggest that because someone "practices any particular art" often has little to do with the opinion they voice. Even O-Sensei had some clueless students, so the opinions of "a student of O-Sensei's" needs to be taken with a grain of salt. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 08:33 PM
Perceptions are tricky...just like someone would interpret that Rob and I rolled, and then another person would deduce that because I was a purple belt in BJJ that it means that Rob has BJJ skills. You simply cannot make the inference based on an observation sometimes. (besides I am a sucky Purple belt!)

Not saying that Rob doesn't have skills, you just gotta be careful about observation and inferernce and transference.

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 08:36 PM
How effective will it be martially? Well I think that depends on the individual to apply it as they see fit. I dunno, Kevin. It's sort of like the guy in NYC who wanted me to fly to NYC so he could "kick my ass" and I didn't really feel compelled to fly to NYC just to respond to his blather. What I did was suggest that he meet up with a guy I knew, John Carlo, an ex-UFC guy and a MMA guy and try it on. Now a meetup like this would tell us very little about what the guy challenging me could do and how effective his weight-training, his cardio training, standing exercises, and so forth, could really do. What it would do was show him that John Carlo could kick his butt.

So using that kind of reasoning, all the weight-training, cardio, standing, etc., would not be any real good because in a martial situation, John Carlo (or a number of other people) could kick his butt. I don't believe that for a moment. This is the same logic I've tried to point out to you several times before. Your ground-game skill might be OK and your points of logic about the utility of it might be OK, too, but if I used your logic and pointed out to you that John Carlo could kick your butt and therefore "how effective it was martially" was disproven, you'd see the hole in my logic. Yet you can't see the same logic and simply research it clinically when it comes from the other side. Frankly, I give up.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 09:26 PM
Mike,

It's been a long day for me. So either I didn't write something that communicated very well, or I don't understand what you are saying.

I agree with your first paragraph.

Not sure I am following you on the second paragraph. again, sorry it has been a long day for me.

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 09:50 PM
Not sure I am following you on the second paragraph. again, sorry it has been a long day for me.Hi Kevin:

Well let me say it like this: you saw, for one easy example, some women "ground" a push at the workshop you were at. The obverse of the push was also done at the workshop... i.e., without a lot of muscular effort, although it wasn't in a real martial environment, they could generate (in a very simple way) a lot of force without a lot of muscular effort. That should be obvious and extrapolatable into a martial scenario. There's no real question about it.

There's also no real question, as another simple example, that cardio training is useful in a martial example, even if a 115-pound girl demo's it yet gets her butt kicked in a few martial examples involving "how effective it was martially". In other words, there is a level of analysis that you and I simply don't see eye-to-eye on, even though I think it's obvious.

You want to know if someone can "kick some butt with it" before you seem to think through all the ramifications. I don't. It's a matter of evaluation and you and I obviously evaluate things differently. "How effective it is martially" is sort of a side-issue with me... but then again, I witheld judgement for many years until I looked into the various facets/aspects of it. True, I admit that I weighted the fact that several thousand years of Asian martial artists considered it the smart way to go, but then, no one is perfect. ;)

Best.

Mike Sigman

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 10:40 PM
Thanks for the clarification Mike.

Actually I agree with your assessment of things. I think we do assess things differently.

I agree with your first paragraph, I think you can make a martial assessment and extrapolate application. However, I think it requires you to have a certain amount of experience in that particular area to make that assessment. Without it, and the abiilty to demonstrate it, then it is simply conjecture.

Obviously, you have a broad background martially and are able to make that assessment for yourself.

From my perspective, I see value in training in this way, and have some experience martially, yet not enough in training this way to really say how it will help me, although I think it will.

To a degree I have to operate a little on faith and patience to see if it does. Two weekend seminars certainly don't give me enough experience to make a fully qualified judgement in this area, so all I can do is say I think the investment will be worth the time, even if I might look critically at how the puzzle pieces might come together.

My point with the cardio analogy was probably not a good one. I am too tired tonight to try and dig myself out of that one. :)

My point was that the only way to learn how to fight is to replicate that environment with the actual elements as close as possible. That is, you would clinch, punch and kick for example...at full speed or near full speed. You can't do this by running, breathing exercises, or working the suit...you do it by replicating the conditions.

Ark did work some kicking and punching drills that were very clever. They were designed to reprogram the way we do that. Good stuff and I think they would go along way to improving your ability and maybe doing it differently.

However, those drills would need to be taken further and not be one sided. The other guy would have to be able to punch and kick back and we would have to introduce the clinch, takedowns etc for it to train all the other elements in fighting.

I can't judge how Ark does this in his training as Ark did not include this in the seminar. So I can not judge how well he integrates this into his more advanced classes. It was clear to me that Ark has spent some time mixing it up.

At the basic level though, it seems that the focus is developing a "martial base" first which i good. Many arts skip this point, and as I have already admitted, you guys have showed me where I have some tremendous gaps.

Yea I agree that it is "kick butt" test is important to me to a degree. I want the person I am studying with to be able to show me application and help me integrate it. My job and career have me wired that way where it is important that my practice is integrated into what I do.

On the other hand, just the simple fact that I am impressed with the demonstration of posture, power, and movement for the sake of doing it. All you guys CLEARLY have abilities and control that I don't and if for no other reason than being able to stand up straight out of my chair at age 80 without assistance then I'd say it is worthwile.

Mike, I agree that we see things some what different, but then again you have years of experience, wisdom, and perspective that I don't have, so that might account for the differences.

I am alright with that and have a great deal of respect for what you do and what you bring to the community.

Dan Austin
06-04-2008, 10:42 PM
Keep in mind that "Rolling" implies a much more forceful and deliberate event in which two people or trying their best to submit the other within the constraint of a few agreed upon rules. Rob and I never even came close to doing that.


Kevin, Rob,

I understand your caution, but I wasn't asking "who won?" or anything of that nature. I just wanted to know if Kevin could feel anything out of the ordinary in terms of body connection the way I would imagine there is a different feel on the feet, as people have said. That's all. Obviously taken to a good level these skills must be useful or they wouldn't exist, nor would it be shrouded in secrecy in traditional circles if it sucked. ;) I think we have enough testimony from various visits that the rest is up to how hard people are willing to work at it, as you, Dan, and others have said.

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 10:55 PM
To a degree I have to operate a little on faith and patience to see if it does. Two weekend seminars certainly don't give me enough experience to make a fully qualified judgement in this area, so all I can do is say I think the investment will be worth the time, even if I might look critically at how the puzzle pieces might come together.

My point with the cardio analogy was probably not a good one. I am too tired tonight to try and dig myself out of that one. :)I suppose what I'd say is that cardio seems to obviously give me a stamina advantage. Using jin gives me an obvious positional advantage without moving and gives me power without needing a lot of muscle. And so on. How someone uses those things and what martial system (and remember, all Asian systems that have lasted for thousands of years use these things, even though most westerners haven't really grasped this until very recently) of techniques and strategies and all sorts of other factors mean very little to me... I know an obvious advantage in physical factors when I see it without having to do a years-long study, prove it at all weight classes, and so on.

Again, as I said, Asians, with their *average* of six IQ points higher than us western-derivatives, thought it was a clever system for thousands of years before the UFC came along. And frankly, as fashionable as MMA is, it's still a sport with rules. Take a look at why they developed Pigua, Eagle Claw, etc., sometime, and realize that MMA-type combat is just a trend whose advantages and disadvantages were considered long, long ago in the grand scheme of things.

Best.

Mike

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 11:01 PM
Sure he felt differently than most people. That is the whole point of the conditioning, he is better developed in this way which allows him to move differently and make better use of his body.

However, as Mike Sigman points out, context is very important to me. Rob and I are simply pointing out that we didn't work this in that context, so I simply cannot say.

Sure the skills are useful, absolutely. Again context and being able to use them in a particular context is important. How useful? Well I think it is relative

Rob was able to show proficiency in many situations, however as he states in the side control situation, he is working on that one. Obviously, the skills were not useful to him in that situation.

Does that mean that the skills are not useful in side control? No, just that Rob has not figured out how. Better, at that moment, he couldn't demonstrate to me. I think if we would have spent a few more minutes that he could have showed me a few areas in side control were they could.

Now, have us slap hands and tell Rob to stop me from mounting him at full combat speed and demonstrate it, maybe he couldn't, maybe he won't be able to for many years. Maybe when he does figure out it won't feel any different than say a 6th Dan in BJJ.

It is really hard to say.

Does that mean that this training won't make him good or assist him in his game? No it does not.

It just isn't as easy as that.

What I'd say is this:

If your goal is to learn how to escape side control or prevent the mount, then that is what you train for using the same methods that my BJJ instructors teach. You do it over and over again, watching body positioning, working on your timing, developing your game.

Sure, you could spend time doing the exercises and they would help you...however, you will only get better at side control by practicing it.

So, when you say "are these skills useful", it is a loaded question that requires a complex answer, IMO.

again, I think it is a puzzle that you must take and piece together for yourself.

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 11:03 PM
Thanks Mike, I agree.

Mike Sigman
06-04-2008, 11:11 PM
Thanks Mike, I agree.
I appreciate it, Kevin, but seriously it looks like if someone "got side control" on you it's worthwhile, but if they didn't, it's not worthwhile enough to pursue. That's a jungle of irrelevancy to me. Hell, I've seen personally and on TV some guy trying to shoot get knocked unconscious by full-body power. Do I dwell on that particular technique and think that proves it in all cases? Absolutely not. I simply evaluate the overall worth and stick to that part of the conversation. That's why I think you're evaluating things in a very limited paradigm. I have never heard of "side mount" being a great consideration on the battlefield; I *have* heard of a quick and immediate finish due to massive power being a positive factor.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 11:25 PM
Mike,

Yes I suppose I am looking at things possibly in a limited paradigm. It is what I know, and what everyone else I study with knows.

The Shoot example is a good one. It is one Rob and Ark and I discussed.

I asked Ark about it specifically. Apparently the way Ark moves if you go low for a shoot, he does not sprawl, but moves inward using his body in the manner that you describe. He showed me, albeit at a slow speed.

It is intriguing and something I plan on working on as I go along. Does it mean I will abandon my sprawl from here on out and not continue to work on it? Heck no, that would be stupid right now.

What it means is that I will keep it in mind and work on it. That is try to expand my limited paradigm for other options that may not have been considered by the status quo.

He showed me at a very slow speed. I would have been hesitant to work faster as it might have gotten me hurt the way he moves. Again, context. It is hard to say.

However, in order to do this, it will require me to continue to train, adopting maybe some new methods, while continuing to have guys shoot on me. Maybe sometimes I will sprawl, maybe sometimes I will try a new way, lose, and keep losing till I get it right.

You are correct, I am considering a limited paradigm. It is one I am hesitant to abandon outright until I have proven to myself that there is a better way.

Kevin Leavitt
06-04-2008, 11:38 PM
Mike wrote:

I have never heard of "side mount" being a great consideration on the battlefield; I *have* heard of a quick and immediate finish due to massive power being a positive factor.

Yes, I think this is a good example of our different perspectives. Your paradigm filters out side control as a factor in combat. it is infact a factor...not necessarily a desirable one, but a factor.

In CQB you run into side control.

There is a hierarchy in fighting. To soldiers it is a common sense one. If you have a gun and range you shoot it, why would you consider empty hand if you hand a rifle? Seems logical I know.

You use the most lethal and effective means you have at your disposal. Again, hierachy.

In a CQB environment, there are scenarios in which you lose your weapon and are off balanced taken down and are in a bad position on the ground.

We can break those positions down into several generic ones. Rear mount, Mount, Side control, and Guard. (listed in order of hierachy of "least favorable to favorable),

So it is important to know how to maintain integrity and improve your position. Inject weapons and things get even more interesting.

Anyway, it is a factor and one you must train.

In a perfect world the good guys use their guick and effective means to incapacitate, but in reality it is not always that easy.

So, in this area, to dismiss side control as a martial consideration is of a limited paradigm on your part.

Again, though, the difference as you and I come at a common ground from two different paradigms or strategies for implementation.

I don't think that either position is wrong, we have different focuses.

gdandscompserv
06-04-2008, 11:41 PM
Well, I have to defer, then. "Cool" overrides facts in some peoples' view of their martial arts.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
Calm down Mike. I have no idea if the review in question is accurate or not. I was referring to the "most of the attendees were Aikidoka" comment. It seems that aikidoka are getting out. I think this will be good for the art. That's what's cool.:cool:

Mike Sigman
06-05-2008, 08:12 AM
So, in this area, to dismiss side control as a martial consideration is of a limited paradigm on your part.But I didn't "dismiss" any technique, Kevin. I pointed out that basic contributive factors to power, cardio, etc., are, IMO, much more important than individual techniques. Certainly techniques must be learned, but I think the focus on power, cardio, stamina, etc., and ways to improve those basics is a more logical point to look at and discuss rather than focus on the idea that "until someone can kick my butt, what they have to say about martial arts is of little real utility". That was my original point. I evaluate basic strengths/advantages and worry about the techniques stuff completely separately. I would be quick to focus in on the utilility of something like jin/kokyu even if the I could kick the butt of the person showing it to me. Hence my comment that you seem to evaluate things from a different perspective than I do.

Regards,

Mike

Misogi-no-Gyo
06-05-2008, 08:12 AM
...and remember, all Asian systems that have lasted for thousands of years use these things, even though most westerners haven't really grasped this until very recently...

Hi Mike,

If you don't mind, please give us your opinion as to when, exactly "very recently" might be. Thanks.

.

Mike Sigman
06-05-2008, 08:15 AM
If you don't mind, please give us your opinion as to when, exactly "very recently" might be. Thanks..??????:freaky:

Misogi-no-Gyo
06-05-2008, 08:18 AM
Umm, you made a statement. I asked for a simple clarification and specific time frame. I think expounding upon it will help to evaluate the statement in and of itself. Was that not clear enough for you?

Misogi-no-Gyo
06-05-2008, 08:20 AM
Oh, by the way... while we are at it...

Just whom do you mean when you use the term "Westerners"?

Mike Sigman
06-05-2008, 08:37 AM
Shaun, why don't you try to clarify what it is you're asking and why? Fragmentary thoughts and questions don't appear to be effective.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Misogi-no-Gyo
06-05-2008, 08:39 AM
Shaun, why don't you try to clarify what it is you're asking and why? Fragmentary thoughts and questions don't appear to be effective.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

OK, Mike. Thanks anyway.

.

DH
06-05-2008, 09:13 AM
I'm not Mike but I think it's an interesting topic. He is spot on with 'Westerners" as a term. though I'd really love to find out just how prevelant this knowledge truly is in Asia. Knowing about them, and having any appreciable skills is a totally different thing.
Time and travel is showing just how poor the Asians are becoming at their own stuff as well. Less and less people care about this stuff anymore.

Westerners to me? Oh I'd say hundreds of Aikidoka I have met personally over the years who didn't have a clue, not a single clue. And some who had pieces in their bodies but couldn't describe what it was, nor how it got there. The typcial refrain being "I just trained." So forget being capable of passing on even the little they had.
Then, what may amount to thousands of various artists have spoken to over the net. All of which -either on the net or in person-would include every imaginable rank to the highest levels of the Japanese arts.
For me I can add-in recent forays into the Chinese arts. Which are far trickier, as many have the lingo down cold, and are useless in displaying anything power worth the having. And this would include lineage holders who were an embarrassment.
There are teachers in the Japanese arts and in the Chinese arts-especially the Chinese arts who have real power. You can debate just who they are and how many.
To say "Westerners missed it" does not have to mean every-single-person. But on the whole it is not only accurate, but those exact words have come out of the mouths of some serious teachers after feeling these skills.

I've no wish to debate it. Anyone who's "got it" is not going to sit here and say they are typical. In fact anyone who has got it will stand out instantaneously. They will be of note if anyone laid hands on them. Anyone who's got it usually is found reiterating "What happened to everyone else?"
Debating degrees and levels and skills sets is fine. Not the least of which is debating the idea of having these skills and training to use them in superior fighting methods such as MMA over most anything else-including Aikido.

Mike Sigman
06-05-2008, 09:52 AM
To say "Westerners missed it" does not have to mean every-single-person. But on the whole it is not only accurate, but those exact words have come out of the mouths of some serious teachers after feeling these skills. Actually, I said "most westerners" for the very reason that I did not mean "all westerners".

I agree with most of what you say, but I'm personally tired of beating that particular dead horse about people who don't get it; I'd rather just work with the ones who are interested, some of whom actually get it and will be the mainstays of the next generations.

I had a teacher in Denver years ago who had very recently come over from Beijing and occasionally he'd ask me to take over his Saturday morning public class if he was out of town. I'd help with whatever they happened to be working on, but one time I asked the teacher why he had never showed them how the body moved (with ki and kokyu power), since that was obviously the basic stage they never got past, no matter how many "forms" and "applications" they worked on. He just shrugged and said, "They either figure it out or they don't". I used to be mildly disapproving of that attitude toward his students, but the older I get the more I see how much it saves time and energy.

Notice how few people really show much of an interest, even in the case of, for instance, Ushiro Sensei's teachings even when they're recommended by Ikeda Sensei. Granted, I don't think Ushiro is clear in his exposition and how-to's, but still there's nowhere near a lot of interest even in a Japanese 'expert' who is recommended by a big name in Aikido. Either they figure it out and start looking for information or they don't. No use cudgelling anyone, particularly if they're sure they know the "secrets" already. ;)

There will always be sheep and there will always be goats and there will always be more sheep than goats. It is the natural way.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

HL1978
06-05-2008, 10:34 AM
The comparason with systema happens fairly often. I have zero first hand experience with systema so I would merely be parroting others have said.

Mark Jakabcsin
06-05-2008, 11:04 AM
The comparason with systema happens fairly often. I have zero first hand experience with systema so I would merely be parroting others have said.

Just an FYI that if you want to gain some first hand experience Vladimir has a seminar in your area, Manasas, Oct 25 & 26th of this year. I am planning on being there.

Take care

HL1978
06-05-2008, 03:53 PM
Just an FYI that if you want to gain some first hand experience Vladimir has a seminar in your area, Manasas, Oct 25 & 26th of this year. I am planning on being there.

Take care

Thats right down the road from me, I should check it out.

For those who were knew to the Aunkai/Akuzawa, how would you describe the sensations you felt when you tried the exercises/demos with people who had been there before, or with Akuzawa or Rob?

statisticool
06-05-2008, 04:50 PM
The "Westerners" clearly don't get it. Although, there do seem to be a lot of "Westerners" winning in the UFC upon observation.

It would be nice if a taijiquan or other proponent would step up and show some application with minimal parameters. Yes, UFC has rules, but I think we can all agree friendly push-hands practice has quite a bit more rules. ;)

Mike Sigman
06-05-2008, 04:57 PM
The "Westerners" clearly don't get it. Although, there do seem to be a lot of "Westerners" winning in the UFC upon observation.

It would be nice if a taijiquan or other proponent would step up and show some application with minimal parameters. Yes, UFC has rules, but I think we can all agree friendly push-hands practice has quite a bit more rules. ;)And folks.... Justin is the archetypical representative of what Cheng Man Ching tai chi practitioners are. They're all like this, trust me. Living symbols of the personality of Cheng Man Ching and Robert W. Smith. ;)

Kevin Leavitt
06-05-2008, 05:07 PM
Justin

Happy to do push hands with you anytime.

Happy to spar UFC style with you anytime.

Happy to work with you with any parameters, minimal/maximal, or anywhere in between, as long as we maintain a modicum of safety.

statisticool
06-05-2008, 05:23 PM
It is best to get data from the people promoting their theories about movement. So if someone says "Westerners" don't get this or that, and that the "Asians" really get it... responsible people look for proof of this assertion (vague as it is).

Of course, if one means "better" in terms of agreed-upon-rules (including use of levels of force), or seminar demos, then they are probably correct.

Although they like to make inference from this to real martial application, which is where the danger may lie. ;)

Kevin Leavitt
06-05-2008, 05:40 PM
Well it is a bummer you didn't go to the seminar as then you would have been able to make a qualified statement based on your experiences with them.

Tim Fong
06-06-2008, 12:32 AM
I thought the seminar turned out well. It was nice to meet a lot of folks in person, finally. I was happy to see that I have made progress since the last seminar in November, I can also see that there are many places that still need work. Specifically I think I have to work on receiving force vs. tolerating it.

Kevin,

I enjoyed talking with you during lunch and learning more about your perspective on martial arts. I did some thinking about the points you raised -- some were similar to conversations that I've had with Takeo in the past. Specifically, your comments about having to train your guys to be functional very quickly, reminded me of past conversations with Takeo. Takeo, Rob, Hunter and I kicked some of this stuff around after the seminar. Takeo wanted me to say that if you had any thoughts you wanted to communicate with him about this post, to just send him an email-- he doesn't want to participate in martial arts forums at all. I saw your recent posts in this thread too, about what the right balance is between connection training and sparring training. I think about that a lot too, because I don't get to train with Akuzawa as regularly as I'd like, so I have to test stuff out in sparring to keep from deluding myself.

The issue it seems in the military environment is how to incorporate connection/bodyskill training while still rapidly giving people usable combative skills. I seem to remember some reading about how the Army conducted tests to see which was better-- a limited introduction to grappling or a limited introduction to striking. The thrust of the article was that initial infantry training has a lot of other skills besides hand to hand... is that right?

Any connection/bodyskill training conducted in this paradigm might not be considered pure, however, that's not the point. The point would be to develop a system that was better than what would be there otherwise. Purity goes right out the window. I know, that I was happy to more or less stop sparring for a while and work on the conditioning exercises and re-patterning my movement. I understand that you and Takeo operate under a (justifiably) different paradigm.

My thought would be that the best way to look at this would be to evaluate other systems which had similar requirements -- namely, training people to fight quickly, while still including bodyskill/connection training. Rob has told me that in the beginning, Akuzawa had them train and condition for two years before they started sparring. After talking with you at lunch, I gather that would not be acceptable for your soldiers, because they need skills they can fight with right away.

For the purposes of this post I'll examine a few systems as case studies: kyokushin karate, Li Tai Liang's sanshou program, and the old time Japanese Self Defense Force toshu kakuto training.

Kyokushin
Kyokushin karate is well known for it's full contact striking (no face punches, clinching or ground game though) style of fighting as well as challenging tournaments. Mas Oyama, the founder of the style also had extensive contact with Kenichi Sawai, who founded Taikiken. Taikiken is an internal martial art that is derived from Yiquan, and it emphasizes a lot of standing postures.

Some kyokushin upper ranking guys have also done quite a bit of Taikiken, and at least two prominent ones that I know of have incorporated it publicly: Hatsuo Royama and Hajime Kazumi. You can find videos of both on Youtube. What is really interesting is that with Kazumi you can see over time how he has incorporated the Taikiken training into his movements more and more. Specifically you can see it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAn9FP7e-y8

I've heard from a friend of a friend that Royama emphasizes the Taikiken standing practices to his students.

To really evaluate this of course you'd want to take a look at the competition records of the students over time. While the success of individual competitors might not be too indicative, the question is, what is the overall trend.

However, Kyokushin lacks a clinch game and a ground game. This is a result of the ruleset under which they fight. Thus, it might not be such a good model for a military combatives program that must address all ranges of fighting.

Li Tai Liang's Sanshou
Sanda is Chinese rules kickboxing. It allows (generally) standing strikes like muay thai, as well as throwing from the clinch. There is no ground game.

Li Tai Liang is a sanda coach from China who used to teach the Chinese police. Li is also a master of Xingyi, an internal art based on spear fighting. Xingyi , interestingly, is also the parent art of Yiquan/Taikiken. My understanding is that the Chinese police have to go through a fairly compressed hand to hand training program.

I have a lot less info on this than I'd like, but I did see some videos that were posted (briefly) of Li working sanshou methods with his students. It looked a lot like he was striking and throwing at the same time, somewhat similar to what I've seen from Akuzawa.

Since sanshou allows the clinch as well as strikes to the head, it probably is closer to an mma environment than kyokushin, and thus might be a closer fit for a military combatives program.

Old time JSDF Toshu Kakuto training
Akuzawa has emphasized that a lot of his training concepts came from a former JSDF instructor. The JSDF guy did a lot of bayonet (jukendo) training and that's where he got his bodyskills. All of what follows is from conversations I've had with Rob and Akuzawa. [Rob if you're reading this, jump in and tell me if I am getting stuff wrong] that a lot of the old time JSDF Toshu Kakuto training was based on Nippon Kempo, which allows striking, clinch and a limited ground game. You can see the modern stuff here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqdfKDBkqp4

I don't know if they still do a lot of the bayonet training, or if it's just exclusively ''sports'' type movement now.

It would be interesting to see how many people who were brought up in the old time system were able to pick up the bodyskills in addition to the regular rough and tumble methods.

Anyways, that's enough from me. I hope you find my speculation somewhat useful.

Kevin Leavitt
06-06-2008, 06:53 AM
Tim

It was good training with you and Takeo. IMO, you guys are on the right track with what you are doing. Better, you mindset at how you analyze and process things will lead you to be successful for sure!

I am going to post my response over on the Military Training Methodologies thread as it will probably cause significant thread drift way from the actual seminar topic.