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Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 03:26 AM
First of all: honest to God, I do not want to start another "DOES AIKIDO REALLY WORK!?!!" thread. Please, please do not start that bickering here. Go add another post to the 1000+ on the "does aikido really work in a fight" thread.

However, the topic I'm after is somewhat related to that one: specifically, it sparked it. The whole MMA debate is what really got me thinking about what aikido techniques are. I'd always taken them at face value, and I think done them a disservice in the process: tsuki kotegaeshi is what you do when someone tries to punch you, obviously, and katadori ikkyo is what you do when someone (like a judo person) grabs your keikogi to throw you. It's occurred to me that, as far as anyone's been able to show, these statements are simply not accurate.

This begs the question: where did these techniques come from? Well, historically, it seems they came from Daito-ryu, which came from who-knows-where (but probably some koryu jujutsu).

Put another way: what were these techniques developed for? What sort of budo situation were they intended to address? Were they movement and timing drills without direct application? Some sort of weapon-related art? A (strangely kata-based) attempt to create a new system of gripfighting? Arrest and restraint techniques? Nonsense developed for bored peacetime samurai? What?

dps
04-26-2008, 05:57 AM
Put another way: what were these techniques developed for? What sort of budo situation were they intended to address? Were they movement and timing drills without direct application? Some sort of weapon-related art? A (strangely kata-based) attempt to create a new system of gripfighting? Arrest and restraint techniques? Nonsense developed for bored peacetime samurai? What?

From.

http://www.aiki-buken.com/history.html

"In its earliest form, it is believed that the origin of aikido technique was first used by Yoshimitsu Shinra Saburo Minamoto, a famous samurai of the Seiwa Genji-han (descendent of Emperor Seiwa), approximately 900 years ago. It is said that Yoshimitsu and his brother Yoshiie dissected and analyzed the bodies of criminals and war dead at their home, Daito Mansion (Daitokan), and with this understanding of body and skeletal mechanics based the Daito ryu style of jujutsu. Yoshimitsu passed the art to his son Yoshikiyu Gyobu Saburo, who later moved to the Takeda region of Japan. The family resided in Takeda (Kai province) from the 1500's to the late 1800's and assumed the family name of "Takeda" and the "Kai-Genji" Takeda lineage.

Originally, aikijutsu had been developed as a combat art based primarily on "Toso" techniques (sword and spear) to be used on battlefields against other bushi (soldiers) wearing armor. At the time, jujutsu was practiced as a secondary study to the weapons arts. Within this type of jujutsu were additional levels of training, called aiki no jutsu and aikijujutsu, that were reserved for the higher ranking samurai. The jujutsu techniques could be used offensively, while the aikijutsu was strictly a designed to be a defensive art. The techniques evolved with the needs of the times and were handed down eventually to the aforementioned Kai-Genji Takeda family in the 16th century as "gotenjutsu", or martial arts for use inside a palace. Takeda Kunitsugu, founder of the Kai-Genji line and "Aizu Shinan-ban" (sword teacher to the Aizu clan), passed on the teachings to qualified members within the Aizu-han. Top retainers, lords and Generals from Aizu learned aikijutsu as a defensive art to be used while working within Edo castle (also called "hanza handachi" and "oshikiuchi"). Masayuki Hoshina, an instructor to the fourth Shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna at Edo castle, is said to have completed development of this art of oshikiuchi, which was later reunited with the Takeda families traditions in the Meiji period to become known eventually by the name Daito ryu.

Takeda Sokaku (pictured left) was raised in the Meiji era (1868-1912). During this time, major changes were occurring (the Meiji Restoration) throughout Japan that involved the assimilation of western ways and the expansion of international trade agreements, as well as the elimination of the "samurai" class structure, to insure that all people would be treated equally thereafter. Among changes made during the Meiji Restoration was, in 1876, a ban on the wearing of swords publicly. Seeing the effects of these new changes, Saigo Tanomo, believed to have instructed Sokaku in the art of oshikiuchi, advised Sokaku to modify the emphasis of Daito ryu (known by the name Daito ryu jujutsu until about 1922. Research indicates that "aiki" was added later to jujutsu at the suggestion of Omoto-Kyo leader, Deguchi Onisaburo) from that of being primarily a kenjutsu (sword) based art, to that of aikibujutsu; which focused more on taijutsu (unarmed techniques). As a result of these changes, and Sokaku's willingness to spread this previously guarded art form to the general public, the revised art of Daito ryu became very popular and Sokaku was crowned with the success of his idea as the "Chuko no So" (Revivor) of the art."

David

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 08:43 AM
That's an interesting historical narrative, but I guess I'm talking on a more basic and specific level. The description above talks about its origins in "battlefield" arts, for armed and armored warriors. Is the idea then that aikido is based on grappling optimized for people wearing armor? I've never worn samurai armor, but my hunch is that it'd compel some changes from standard aikido movement.

Furthermore, I don't remember ever seeing Ueshiba-sensei or his students demonstrate in armor, or even move in a manner that seemed particularly reminiscent of someone in armor.

It's an interesting theory, though. Unfortunately, it seems rather hard to test. (You'd need to host some grappling matches with sets of armor.) Does anyone have knowledge of armored fighting methods from koryu studies? What are they like, technically?

raul rodrigo
04-26-2008, 09:01 AM
These seem to be questions that should be posed to people like Ellis Amdur.

Chris Parkerson
04-26-2008, 09:01 AM
Hi Paul,

I might approach your question with a pragmatic answer. Just like the old sage when introduced to an herb he did not recognize, he simply asks , what is it good for".

I have found and continue to learn that virtually every principle in Yanagi as a Koryu art can be discovered in the first technique: Ikkyo. The first layer of learning is the kata. Not always the best application against a trained grappler. But the many variations of how to control an outstretched arm is a larger study. You can begin with jujitsu application, move to aikijutsu and ultimately Aiki no jutsu.

But neither can you make the one technique a stand-alone project or combat strategy. If uke's arm bends in a judo form of "pong energy" (often seen in rondori as elbows slightly raised) the ikkyo principle of "anvilling" may suffice but then again, other techniques in your quiver may be calling out to you.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 09:18 AM
These seem to be questions that should be posed to people like Ellis Amdur.

I'd love to hear something from Ellis Amdur; I'm a big fan of his writing. Not to speak for him, but my -impression- (which may well be incorrect) is that he views aikido as a study of body principles or something similar, blended with O-sensei's peculiar mystic beliefs.

However, I've heard it pointedly argued that top-level martial artists do not bother with "principle-based" training -- or rather, they learn their principles through the same techniques they employ in their competitions. E.g., top wrestlers don't do tai-chi to improve their takedowns, and champion kendoka don't devote a significant amount of their training time to kyudo. I know Jason DeLucia was talking about aikido as helpful to him, but I think he qualifies as merely an exception.

That said, intellectually it seems entirely reasonable that "principle-based" training could be helpful. Is it possible that martial artists from a hundred years ago -did- find principle-based training effective, and that's where aikido came from? If so, what kind of martial artists were they?

But neither can you make the one technique a stand-alone project or combat strategy. If uke's arm bends in a judo form of "pong energy" (often seen in rondori as elbows slightly raised) the ikkyo principle of "anvilling" may suffice but then again, other techniques in your quiver may be calling out to you.

Would it be fair to construe this as a vote for "aikido's about principles"? This leads me back to the quandry I mentioned above: while that makes perfect sense to me, I can't think of many people who claim to get demonstrably better at their type of budo through principle training in techniques unrelated to those they employ. I'm not sure that martial artists of old felt any differently.

If on the other hand you mean that aikido techniques were intended for fairly direct application in a judo-like grappling situation (with jackets), I'm curious to know more. It sounds like Shodokan aikido and Kodokan judo outlaw each others' techniques in their respective randori, and I haven't heard of any cross-style matchups.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 09:30 AM
I have found and continue to learn that virtually every principle in Yanagi as a Koryu art can be discovered in the first technique: Ikkyo. The first layer of learning is the kata. Not always the best application against a trained grappler. But the many variations of how to control an outstretched arm is a larger study. You can begin with jujitsu application, move to aikijutsu and ultimately Aiki no jutsu.

The name "Yanagi-ryu" sounds familiar to me, but I can't quite place it. I checked on YouTube, and found this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvWiYcxTm2A

What's Yanagi-ryu's historical provenance, if I might ask? (e.g. armored, unarmored, self-defense, military) Does it contain many aikido-like techniques?

The video linked to above does seem to have a section of aikido-like grappling techniques, which seem to be presented as weapon disarms. Is that an accurate characterization?

Josh Reyer
04-26-2008, 09:58 AM
Um, you could ask Ellis Amdur, but he might not be interested in repeating what he's (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2610) already (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2702) written (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2755).

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 10:09 AM
Um, you could ask Ellis Amdur, but he might not be interested in repeating what he's (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2610) already (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2702) written (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2755).

I have indeed read and enjoyed those articles, but they seemed to be more about the history of aikido and Daito-ryu; they don't seem to directly address, "What the heck is a kotegaeshi for?" As I said earlier, I seem to recall Ellis Amdur saying on other occasions that he felt the techniques of aikido themselves are mostly movement exercises and such, of the tai chi variety, mixed up with O-sensei's spiritual and metaphysical beliefs.

There is the one mention of functional origin:

It is true that this, too, is congruent with the history of the general development of jujutsu - battlefield grappling, particularly kata trained on one’s knees or with a standing opponent against one kneeling, with the wearing of light armor imagined whenever practicing the kata, was morphed into jujutsu - self-defense tactics for unarmored individuals in peacetime or police actions. The desperate moves for survival when one prepared for trying to counter a stab with a dagger with empty hands - contingency moves for a worst case scenario - were flipped, so to speak, into the central methods of jujutsu systems. Hand-to-hand combat drill became self-defense.
If so, this is very unfortunate, in my book. These do not sound like great techniques to begin with ("desperate moves"), and they don't sound much like what few techniques have been devised in modern times for such desperate situations and found to be effective. It would be somewhat disappointing if aikido dojo everywhere were engaged in the dressed-up study of absurd old combatives-manual techniques.

Chris Parkerson
04-26-2008, 10:53 AM
i can only speak of Yanagi Hara Ryu which is the specific Kortu I belong to. John Clodig, student of Don Angier, student od Kenji Yoshida, son and student of Kotaro Yoshida.

We are definitely principle based. Essentially we have about 160 techniques. But if you train only a handfull (40) with a focus on principles, you find yourself not really thinking of technique anymore. You just move and act using principles. Ikkyo in this respect, has a multitude of expressions. So does Kota Gaeshi. Kota is primarily a study of throwing through the forearm. Ikkyo- through an outstretched arm.

I am a pretty practical guy with 20 years of Jujitsu as well. A bodyguard by trade, if I did not trust the value of my training, I would move on in a heartbeat.

Ellis Amdur
04-26-2008, 11:04 AM
1. Re a discussion of the origins of DR, more than a little at variance to the orthodox story - my book, Hidden in Plain Sight. I'm guessing publishing date will be in the fall.
2. Paul - the techniques were/are the best one could ever come up with regarding empty-hand vs. weapon. Nothing absurd about them. It's just that anyone of experience (those who made the kata) were not sanguine about their survival chances against an expert with a blade - but one still did what one could. They would still be applicable today in similar situations.
3. Jujutsu was an amalgam of those techniques, retrofitted, so to speak, + sumo + sophisticated body alignment/organization/ki-kokyu type training - each ryu emphasizing one or the other of these, and further researching them. (remember that most jujutsu ryu had a LOT of weapons training as well - sometimes far more than empty-handed training).
4. As I (and a few other notables ) have written, the ukemi side of training includes the absorbing of force, running it thru your body and then doing various things to take or regain advantage over tori (not going to repeat all those threads again! - please God, not again!). So I do think that Ueshiba adopted some of the particular techniques (kotegaeshi, for example) as training methods in "running forces," so to speak.

Anyway, bear with me. Whatever I have of worth to offer in this area will be bound in two covers, in, I think, the fall. The research and writing is done - I'm in the peer review process right now.
Best

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 06:46 PM
Whoa! Thanks for taking the time to write a reply, Ellis. I've been fascinated by your other books and articles, so I'll be sure to give the new one a look. Good luck with the finishing process.

Paul - the techniques were/are the best one could ever come up with regarding empty-hand vs. weapon. Nothing absurd about them. (...) one still did what one could. They would still be applicable today in similar situations.

So to attempt to paraphrase: aikido techniques at their jujutsu core are weapon-taking methods. Then to really get aikido, it seems like you'd want to do a ton of serious weapons-taking practice. The problem that hits me about that is that...well. As you say, it's extremely hard to take a knife out of someone's hand. I don't think I've ever seen it done in person with a truly hellbent uke. (Then again, I have to say that most of the kokyu-nage-style throws that I've seen work were in the context of tantodori. Increased intensity -- I'm going to grab you and stab you -- and increased focus on one point -- the knife arm -- might be the cause? But this is all anecdotal.)

I saw this recently: http://youtube.com/watch?v=c0fPL4f3Eqc

So perhaps aikidoka should start doing these kinds of exercises, but with a keikogi? (To simulate the attire of the techniques' developers.) Perhaps this is what ikkyo, kotegaeshi, iriminage, and other such techniques are really optimal for? (Not that it'd necessarily be textbook; but by practicing ikkyo kata, you'd get better at taking knives.)

What about atemi in this context? I remember Ellis' suggestion about tracing through techniques looking for atemi points. This seems trickier to practice without bashing each other up quite a bit; although perhaps partial-force blows could work. (Not in a competition, but in a randori-style practice.) Soft knives don't seem like a bad idea; as has been discussed before, people tend to hold back quite a lot with an object in their hands in practice, for fear of injuring their partner. ("Here, just catch my arm and pin me, it's going to be safer." -- on a subconscious level.)

Jujutsu was an amalgam of those techniques, retrofitted, so to speak, + sumo + sophisticated body alignment/organization/ki-kokyu type training - each ryu emphasizing one or the other of these, and further researching them.
As for aikido and body organization type principles, it sounds like older ryu definitely believed in the value of these things. Why is it that modern competitive martial artists don't find these give them an edge? Or perhaps they do ... maybe all that conditioning also has a body organization element to it, instead of just building strength and endurance?

We are definitely principle based. Essentially we have about 160 techniques. But if you train only a handfull (40) with a focus on principles, you find yourself not really thinking of technique anymore. (...) Ikkyo in this respect, has a multitude of expressions. So does Kota Gaeshi. Kota is primarily a study of throwing through the forearm. Ikkyo- through an outstretched arm.

I am a pretty practical guy with 20 years of Jujitsu as well. A bodyguard by trade, if I did not trust the value of my training, I would move on in a heartbeat.

So it sounds like this ryu is an example of a school that believes in principle-based training: the techniques may or may not have direct application, but by moving arms and such around in different ways, general grappling ability improves. Is that a fair characterization?

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 07:31 PM
So to bring things to specifics: what, for example, would shomenuchi ikkyo (where nage begins with a rising shomenuchi strike towards uke) have been derived from? What sort of weapon-taking situation is this meant to describe?

Ellis Amdur
04-26-2008, 08:02 PM
Paul - It's not so simple. We are talking about a 400+ year regress. Imagine a technique specifically for responding to a stab with a knife. (I never said, BTW, that the techniques were all "weapons taking"). Now, imagine it is adapted to empty handed attack (well-adapted or poorly). Now, add the fact that because there is not a weapon involved, you could combine it with a hip throw (you're not concerned about being stabbed), OR, someone realizes that one can take that technique, which may be martially inefficient and adapt it as a training method to hone everything from body displacement to internal strength. All of which leads to a flowering of a myriad of different jujutsu techniques in different ryu, with different specialties. 400+ years pass and Takeda Sokaku appears with his Daito-ryu, which, at least to Meiji jujutsuka, is remarkable (aiki, remember?). Because otherwise, it's just some wristy-twisty stuff. Then this is distilled down further AND altered in focus (centrifugal rather than centripital) and you have aikido.

As for ikkyo, it's my understanding that it's adapted from ippon-dori, the first tech in Daito-ryu.

Don
04-26-2008, 08:09 PM
....the good of shomenuchi ikkyo? Any of a plethora of things....taking a sword (one of those desparate unarmed vs armed moves)...or a knife overhand strike, or a club....Additionally it is an excellent training vehicle as Chris P talked about. You could teach ikkyyo directly against a contemporary strike such as a right cross or left hook, however, its my experience that younger students have much difficulty learning it that way because the line to them is difficult to see because its basically in a horizontal plane. The correct line is much easier to see in a vertical plane, which is shomenuchi ikkyyo. However, from what I have been able to see, many sensei rarely show the trainsition from vertical to horizontal plane (and may never have had it shown to them or figured it out for themselves). Its one of those layers that needs to be peeled back. In that sense the route of transmission by the koryu arts seems better. Select students are shoen the deeper layers of the art as opposed to the mass dissemination of lower levels of the art. In the end each person has to figure our aikido or any martial art for themselves. Thinking, experimenting, discarding, revisiting....serious students need to find a good teacher, but ultimately its up to the student to plumb the depths of the techniques and principles.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-26-2008, 09:02 PM
I spent quite a while thinking about this response, because I'd like to avoid coming across as repetitive. I hope I was successful at that!

Paul - It's not so simple. We are talking about a 400+ year regress. Imagine a technique specifically for responding to a stab with a knife. (I never said, BTW, that the techniques were all "weapons taking"). Now, imagine it is adapted to empty handed attack (well-adapted or poorly). Now, add the fact that because there is not a weapon involved, you could combine it with a hip throw (you're not concerned about being stabbed), OR, someone realizes that one can take that technique, which may be martially inefficient and adapt it as a training method to hone everything from body displacement to internal strength.

Point taken. It just kind of seems like: at the end of all that distortion away from "actual" martial arts, is there anything of value (as budo) left in aikido? Over the course of this convoluted historical legacy and repeated readaptation, has it become kind of like kyudo -- no longer bearing any relevance to firing a bow, but simply a symbolic and meditative practice? A tea ceremony where you fall down, as it were? This leads me to:

400+ years pass and Takeda Sokaku appears with his Daito-ryu, which, at least to Meiji jujutsuka, is remarkable (aiki, remember?). Because otherwise, it's just some wristy-twisty stuff.

I've heard it argued that modern aikido still teaches good things about body mechanics, timing, and so forth. I've heard similar arguments about tai chi and other Chinese internal styles. It makes perfect theoretical sense to me, but I don't see the empirical evidence. Certainly, it doesn't seem that abstracted internal training is necessary to become a top-notch martial artist. Competitive martial arts have taken off of late, and hardly anyone seems to be knocking on aikido's door for either internal or external material.

In the end each person has to figure our aikido or any martial art for themselves. Thinking, experimenting, discarding, revisiting....serious students need to find a good teacher, but ultimately its up to the student to plumb the depths of the techniques and principles.

At present, I'm thinking I need to get good at judo before I can really "get" aikido. If aikido's about principles rather than specific techniques, it seems like one would need a "literal" base. This certainly seems a common story, although it may be historical accident: many aikido teachers seem to have started out with foundations in judo. I've also heard people argue that aikido is "high-level" martial arts training, which isn't really suitable for anyone who hasn't gotten good at the basics (judo, jujutsu, etc.)

In other words, I guess it's a bit like Pascal's wager (a bit): If I'm right, and aikido still has something to it as a martial art, maybe judo will let me understand that by giving me a basic context. If I'm wrong, and aikido has degenerated into total nonsense, I'll at least be on my way to learning something else. (Small consolation, admittedly, given how much I like aikido.)

Chris Parkerson
04-26-2008, 10:10 PM
[
So it sounds like this ryu is an example of a school that believes in principle-based training: the techniques may or may not have direct application, but by moving arms and such around in different ways, general grappling ability improves. Is that a fair characterization?

Yes, Yanagi Hara Ryu is principle based. I entered the study of Yanagi as an insurance policy after becoming aware that my Kenpo (6th degree), Escrima (teaching certificate) and even my Jujitsu (4th degree) were essentially dependent upon speed strength and endurance. At the same time I was getting older, slower and less explosive. I needed to improve my efficiency rather revisiting basic fighting (with or without weapons).

It is my opinion that many Japanese arts and even Chinese arts as they are practiced today are deficient in concepts such as angling and zoning when performed in real-live environment contexts where actions are not choreographed. A second deficiency is that there is not enough focus on instinctive training in principles like (1) evade by 1/4 inch against a real knife (2) do not let flash or sound steal your eyes and mind. Most of this video you showed supports my thesis.

If you remember a few years ago, Frontsight Firearms in Pahrump, Nevada advertised that they would pay martial artists to interview with them to become part of their self defense program. I was the guy that moderated the interviews and wrote their initial curriculum. The process to almost 5 months. It is by no coincidence that I hired three Guros from the Filipino arts, and only one jujitsu instructor. Some Hakko Ryu teachers interviewed and several Jujitsu folks. I just had to go with what was going to work within the parameters of my mission. Felix Valencia of Valencia Lameco was chosen as the lead weapons instructor. He was undefeated in Dog Brothers as were every student he had brought to the games up to that point.

I did not put any Yanagi in the curriculum. Yet, I could make most of the curriculum work more efficiently because of the principles of movement I learned from Yanagi. I was Fifty years old and dealing with a lot of egos and 20-30 year olds. Yanagi was my real survival tool. I believe that any Aiki legacy-style that originated from Daito heritage would have had the same potential for me if I took the time to really study the following: Kote gaeshi, Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sanko, Gokyo, Shiho, Ippon Dori and Yanagi-specific techniques like Kiri Tori - Te Kube Skui- Tomoi Sonako Otoshi. These especially gave me an edge when we freeform grappled with a knife. But I never rushed in like a fool on the first face off. You have to look for (1) technical mistakes (2) breaks in timing and/or (3) gaps in concentration.

Still, you get cut. Just try to get cut once and then make the opponent pay the price. Change (shape shift) from the expectations that the other guy has about you.

We studied several knife threats (duelling, ambush, mass attack, etc). Each has their own issues in strategy and tactics.

As a sideline, herein is one of Joseph Arriola's specialties.... if people would just give him a chance and hear him. I have. He can take me to the next level of a 15 year study of knife fighting.

jennifer paige smith
04-26-2008, 10:41 PM
'Felix Valencia of Valencia Lameco was chosen as the lead weapons instructor. He was undefeated in Dog Brothers as were every student he had brought to the games up to that point.'
Quoted from Chris above.

Hi Chris,
I trained with Felix and his stuff was so compatible with my aiki that I was amazed at the evolution of his skill and the efficiency of my aikido.
Good is good.

Chris Parkerson
04-26-2008, 11:07 PM
'Felix Valencia of Valencia Lameco was chosen as the lead weapons instructor. He was undefeated in Dog Brothers as were every student he had brought to the games up to that point.'
Quoted from Chris above.

Hi Chris,
I trained with Felix and his stuff was so compatible with my aiki that I was amazed at the evolution of his skill and the efficiency of my aikido.
Good is good.

When Felix interviewed, Brad Hansen (Mas Oyama Champion) and I were present. Felix brought a 65 year old student. After his talk, he asked if either of us were interested in knife scrimage with the old guy. I volunteered but was not a fool about it.

Felix and I became great friends, I thought his trying to suck us into making assumptions about an old guy was great strategy.

The Sayok guys came as well, Verrrry impressive and well thought out flow/cutting patterns. Ed Lake came with a team of kajukenbo guys from East Los Angeles. After doing his Dim Mak stuff, the team showed us some wonderful knife style.

Chris Parkerson
04-26-2008, 11:12 PM
Jennifer,

Did you get to train with Felixe's knife on a hallyard. Kind of like the Hwarangdo 6" stick on a 6" looped hallyard. The hallyard is always looped around the thumb or middle fingers. When the knife is pitched at you, it returns and ends back up in the grip of your hand. Takes practice, but you can dupe most anyone even if they have trained to judge range against a knife.

raul rodrigo
04-27-2008, 12:23 AM
I'm a little mystified with the purpose of the questioning, Paul. If i understand correctly, you want to uncover the historical validity (or its practical effectiveness at its point of origin) of aikido techniques in order to help you decide if you should continue with aikido or stick to judo. It seems to me that those are separate questions: where it comes from, as opposed to why i should or should not do it. You can uncover the historical origins for the iaido kata, but it wouldn't help one decide if one should practice it or not. (Is iaido "practical"? If not, does it matter?) Only practice itself can uncover the reasons why or why not. At least, that would be my thinking.

To find empirical evidence of aikido's ability to teach or not teach internal skills, you'd have to have hands on experience of a teacher who does teach that. And lets face it, few do. But those that do manifest it would be worth checking out. Or perhaps, to leave aikido and enter the realm of principle-based, internal strength training, a session with Mike Sigman, the Aunkai folk, or the like would be good.

Rupert Atkinson
04-27-2008, 03:15 PM
A while back I asked a similar question and got not much of a reply. I wanted to know where the idea to train irimi and tenkan (2+2=4 techniques etc) came from. If you look at old vids of Ueshiba he does not seem to do this (maybe there are some I have not seen??). Does no one know who introduced this or why we do this? I think there was a reference to Kishomaru Ueshiba but even if so, why? If we cannot answer such simple questions ... Personally, I now think this (repeated irimi and tenkan) to be useful, but also limiting. (Tomiki do not train this way, Yoshinkan do in part, ... some do ... some don't etc.).

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-27-2008, 03:39 PM
I'm a little mystified with the purpose of the questioning, Paul. If i understand correctly, you want to uncover the historical validity (or its practical effectiveness at its point of origin) of aikido techniques in order to help you decide if you should continue with aikido or stick to judo. It seems to me that those are separate questions: where it comes from, as opposed to why i should or should not do it. You can uncover the historical origins for the iaido kata, but it wouldn't help one decide if one should practice it or not.

In short, I feel like I shouldn't be practicing something (or perhaps more accurately, can't meaningfully practice something) unless I have some clue what I'm doing.

Imagine if judo throws were practiced as slow-motion tai chi type solo movements, and there was no concept of randori or paired practice. It might not even be clear that you were practicing throws: people might assume they were peculiar strikes. It'd be very hard to really understand judo, because you'd have no idea where the movements came from. "Is this really a good kick?" you might skeptically ask about o-soto-gari, seeing only a forward leg swing followed by a return. You might practice a forward reaping motion into a bag repeatedly, and be frustrated with why these kicking movements didn't seem to resemble anything like good kicking technique. "I guess it looks kind of like a knee strike, if I bend my leg" you think, but then you notice that from the beginning of time people have been told to practice with a straight leg, and none of the other elements of striking are taught. Needless to say, there'd almost certainly be no good judoka around.

Once you say, "These are ways for two people in jackets to throw each other", the light bulb goes on, and it becomes clear how to evaluate your technique. You stop throwing your leg forward at the bag. You no longer feel like you have a stupidly stylized kicking method; you have a perfectly functional and effective reaping method.

As has been observed repeatedly in the "aikido doesn't work oh noes" threads, nobody's ever been able to show that aikido techniques are functional in an empty-handed contest. So clearly, practicing aikido with the idea that you're learning how to throw an unarmed, keikogi-wearing person ("gi grappling") or an unarmed, lightly-clothed person ("no-gi grappling") with these techniques is as flawed as practicing osotogari against a bag thinking you're learning how to kick.

My thinking is that maybe aikido techniques are, as people have argued, an advanced grappling principles study, that gives you some new insights and some extra techniques for special situations. If it's an advanced grappling study, then you should probably understand basic grappling first.

An alternate theory is that aikido has something to do with koryu weapons methods; perhaps rather than a principles study, aikido techniques are just as "literal" as osotogari, as in, "if someone grabs your shoulder to stab you, katamochi ikkyo is a good counter; practice this by having someone grab your shoulder to stab you." If that's true, then it's possible that judo is totally irrelevant; what's really needed is some greater clarity of training methods, creating a freestyle format without excessive rules that pressure-tests aikido skills.

Does that make some sense? In short, I view the questions as interconnected because studying aikido without any idea what the function of the techniques is (throw, knife take away, knife retention, sword take away, sword retention, etc.) seems hopelessly inefficient.

jennifer paige smith
04-27-2008, 08:03 PM
Jennifer,

Did you get to train with Felixe's knife on a hallyard. Kind of like the Hwarangdo 6" stick on a 6" looped hallyard. The hallyard is always looped around the thumb or middle fingers. When the knife is pitched at you, it returns and ends back up in the grip of your hand. Takes practice, but you can dupe most anyone even if they have trained to judge range against a knife.

Hey....:confused: .....I didn't even know he was holding out on me until now!!! I guess it's a real compliment when a teacher DOESN"T show you their secrets. LOL.

No, we didn't do actually that. But now I know what to ask of him next time I see him.

I got to be his fall-girl for awhile, you know, and that's my bag.

Oh yeah, those kujukenbo guys sound like a hoot. Are you still in contact?

jennifer paige smith
04-27-2008, 08:12 PM
A while back I asked a similar question and got not much of a reply. I wanted to know where the idea to train irimi and tenkan (2+2=4 techniques etc) came from. If you look at old vids of Ueshiba he does not seem to do this (maybe there are some I have not seen??). Does no one know who introduced this or why we do this? I think there was a reference to Kishomaru Ueshiba but even if so, why? If we cannot answer such simple questions ... Personally, I now think this (repeated irimi and tenkan) to be useful, but also limiting. (Tomiki do not train this way, Yoshinkan do in part, ... some do ... some don't etc.).

Slightly veering to the right of the conversation, and I can't answer the origin element of your question, I'd like to comment on an advantage of the 2+2 training formula.

It evens out our brain and retrains it in a way that doesn't happen anywhere else. Same activity, same number.....different hands and sides. That's the catcher. The different hand same activity part. This, in other contexts, has been shown to release trauma from the brain and to re-route neural pathways. This may suggest that the use of our bodies in this way could re-train 'natural/neural' reponses. Perhaps even facilitate flow on both sides of the mind. In which case our system enters into a certain 'agreement' with itself. Now that's a technique.

I would also be curious to know who improvised/introduced this formula.

Chris Parkerson
04-27-2008, 08:15 PM
Oh yeah, those kujukenbo guys sound like a hoot. Are you still in contact?

No, too rough for me.

Nighclubs bouncing isn't my bag.

Chris

jennifer paige smith
04-27-2008, 08:17 PM
No, too rough for me.

Nighclubs bouncing isn't my bag.

Chris

Wooorrrd.

Demetrio Cereijo
04-28-2008, 05:05 AM
Maybe you guys find this clip interesting:

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=yyO-jptgjx8

btw,

Ellis Amdur wrote:
As for ikkyo, it's my understanding that it's adapted from ippon-dori, the first tech in Daito-ryu.

Watch it here:

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=6PmhwHst4po

Note to self: Send memo to Santa. Subject: Amdur's book coming soon.

Timothy WK
04-28-2008, 05:42 AM
If we're talking about the functional origins of Daito-ryu/Aikido, I find these videos very intriguing, though I'm not sure the significance of the similarities:

Komagawa Kaishin-ryu juttejutsu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx5uAAY6_UA&feature=PlayList&p=5D25064EDA62409D&index=2) (particularly at 0:14)
Ikkaku-ryu juttejutsu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F67xKzIOtNg)

(More discussion (http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39441) over at E-budo.)

Rupert Atkinson
04-28-2008, 05:43 AM
In short, I feel like I shouldn't be practicing something (or perhaps more accurately, can't meaningfully practice something) unless I have some clue what I'm doing.

Imagine if judo throws were practiced as slow-motion tai chi type solo movements, and there was no concept of randori or paired practice. It might not even be clear that you were practicing throws: people might assume they were peculiar strikes. It'd be very hard to really understand judo, because you'd have no idea where the movements came from. "Is this really a good kick?" you might skeptically ask about o-soto-gari, seeing only a forward leg swing followed by a return. You might

I think like you think ... but I just did it without having a clue and started trying to figure it all out. Dunno how far I am down the road but few try to figure things out and instead wait for instruction that ... never comes. And that was my 500th post ...

Erick Mead
04-28-2008, 09:14 AM
In short, I feel like I shouldn't be practicing something (or perhaps more accurately, can't meaningfully practice something) unless I have some clue what I'm doing. ... Imagine if judo throws were practiced as slow-motion tai chi type solo movements, and there was no concept of randori or paired practice. It might not even be clear that you were practicing throws: people might assume they were peculiar strikes. It'd be very hard to really understand judo, because you'd have no idea where the movements came from.I think like you think ... but I just did it without having a clue and started trying to figure it all out. Dunno how far I am down the road but few try to figure things out and instead wait for instruction that ... never comes. Intellectual understanding is overrated (my interest therein notwithstanding). It is a DO. The point of the art is to do it. Even in DTR, there are no shortcuts, and practice techniques are merely set-piece studies. That is not to say that critical thinking is not necessary -- it is. But the thinking required need only be as much or as little intellectual as the mind of the person doing the thinking -- ruthless self-criticism of performance by whatever rubric seems best to you is the requirement. The secret is in always thinking about it. The reason no one progresses or gets any better, stronger is because no one thinks. They forget about what they do in between practices. ...You must train the body, think and have the techniques "seep out" from the body itself. Even if you train everyday all the while innovating yourself, it will take at least 20 years. Ten years or so isn't nearly enough time. ... . You don't do something simply because so and so said so. If you simply go through life by simply thinking you can copy people you'll never get anywhere. The only person that can do this is you. You must create your own understanding for yourself. Take Aiki for example. There is no way to really teach this. Even if I could point at something that is Aiki I can't put it into words. Amdur has a valuable take on the secrets hidden in the basics of aikido training (as O Sensei said in his Doka) . From hints in earlier articles it will be interesting to see this elaborated in his book. But what many people are already missing -- is the binary feedback structure in the training itself.

Do kokyu undo and do waza.

Do empty hand and do weapons.

Do partnered and do solo.

Think very carefully and critically about what is different between each of these paired forms of training.

If waza is not like kokyu undo or kokyu undo is not like waza
-- do them again.

If empty hand is not like weapons or weapons is not like empty hand
-- do them again.

If partnered is not like solo, or solo is not like partnered
-- do them again.

Wash:Rinse:Repeat. It is a pendulum swing of counter-correcting error. Every time is different. You will over-correct or under-correct in every case. With continued iteration the magnitude of opposed errors reduces and the pendulum falls more toward the minimal energy regime, i.e.-- approaching aiki (in the limit, for the calculus-minded among us.).

Some lineages place relative emphasis on different pairs of these opposing elements, or on one or the other of the elements in the pairs. I have had the benefit of seeing all of these elements in relative emphasis in living and training in various places. From my experience, if your progress in training seems lacking to you, and is missing or seems to you weak in any of the elements above, do not fault your lineage, do not fault your teachers, do not fault your fellow students, nor anyone else. Do yourself a favor -- go find them and do them.

Demetrio Cereijo
04-28-2008, 09:52 AM
In "Clear Clear Instructions to the Excellent Art of Wrestling" (http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Petter.php)by Nicolaes Petter, Amsterdam 1674, you can find, in its chapter about knife defense (http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Petter11.php), the old punch to the face and wrestling underhook (when knife is still sheathed) but also a shihonage and a yonkyo like technique for when the knife has been drawn.

Similar problems, similar answers all across the world.

ChrisHein
04-28-2008, 12:29 PM
If the techniques chosen for Aikido were centerd on weapon taking, it seems that the techniques should start with nage grabbing and uke, and not nage being grabbed.

Looking at the forms, it seems that the majority of them come from uke grabbing, and nage responding to the grab.

If you look at a technique like the Katate dori tai no henka Kokyu nage, where you tai no henka to the katate dori grab, then extend forward and throw uke in a forward roll. If uke simply lets go of your hand, he can avoid the throw, and take a superior position behind you.

This throw seems foolish unless uke has a reason that he MUST hold your hand. It's not only logical for him to let go, it's natural. So why would he HAVE to hold your hand, even if it means taking the fall .

Looking at Nikyo through rokyo, you can see an emphasis on wrist technique. The MMA crowd will quickly tell you that getting a wrist lock on someone is hard to do, and not too effective. They are correct. Not that wrist locks cannot be done, and not that wrist technique can't work, but they are, to use a cliche', low percentage.

However when clearing your weapon hand those wrist techniques are 100% indispensable. We train this sort of thing at my school, and those techniques come up constantly, they seldom have the finish as is seen in the forms, but they always work beautifully.

While I agree that the techniques work wonderfully for weapon taking, the forms, would suggest that they are more likely weapon retention.

Ron Tisdale
04-28-2008, 12:34 PM
Hi Chris,

I have often heard you say this over the years, and it still rings true.

Best,
Ron (context is everything)

gdandscompserv
04-28-2008, 12:41 PM
If you look at a technique like the Katate dori tai no henka Kokyu nage, where you tai no henka to the katate dori grab, then extend forward and throw uke in a forward roll. If uke simply lets go of your hand, he can avoid the throw, and take a superior position behind you.
The trick is to lock uke up so he is unable to let go.

Erick Mead
04-28-2008, 02:17 PM
If the techniques chosen for Aikido were centerd on weapon taking, ... If.

If you look at a technique like the Katate dori tai no henka Kokyu nage, where you tai no henka to the katate dori grab, then extend forward and throw uke in a forward roll. If uke simply lets go of your hand, he can avoid the throw, and take a superior position behind you. Well, he's warding with the arm in waki against an otherwise free shot to the short ribs or underarm nerve plexus with the elbow or hand. If he lets go the hand its a different kokyunage ... :p Plus, he gets the elbow in the face with the reverse kokyu nage (if he drops or allows to overcarry his arm) or, (if he raises the arm) you get the rib shot and carry his arm up and over into modified ikkyo omote (if he doesnt turn toward you), or further up and back into sumi otoshi ura, (if he does). If he keeps the arm just where it is then you close it up and koshi nage omote (turning toward you) or aiki otoshi ura (turning away) . If he lets go to try to recover late, after the throw has begun. you just irimi, wrapping around under the arm into a modified kaiten-nage or disregard it altogether for men-nage.

This throw seems foolish unless uke has a reason that he MUST hold your hand. It's not only logical for him to let go, it's natural. So why would he HAVE to hold your hand, even if it means taking the fall . But he does, so it isn't, and yes, showing the weapon in nage's hand makes it ever so much more clear.
While I agree that the techniques work wonderfully for weapon taking, the forms, would suggest that they are more likely weapon retention. Yes, win by keeping yours or win by taking his. In-yo. Same - same, just opposite. So?

Erick Mead
04-28-2008, 02:22 PM
The trick is to lock uke up so he is unable to let go.The trick is not minding whether he lets go or not before you can lock him up.

Michael Douglas
04-28-2008, 02:52 PM
In "Clear Clear Instructions to the Excellent Art of Wrestling" (http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Petter.php)by Nicolaes Petter, Amsterdam 1674, you can find, in its chapter about knife defense (http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Petter11.php), the old punch to the face and wrestling underhook (when knife is still sheathed) but also a shihonage and a yonkyo like technique for when the knife has been drawn.
Thanks for that post Demetrio, exactly what I was thinking.
Talhoffer, Ringeck, all the late medieval manuals.

Weapons (more importantly the possibility of weapons) make arm-twisty stuff most applicable even where it might be less applicable in strictly unarmed combat.

Rupert Atkinson
04-28-2008, 10:34 PM
In "Clear Clear Instructions to the Excellent Art of Wrestling" (http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Petter.php)by Nicolaes Petter, Amsterdam 1674, ....

That link is a gem - got any more?

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-29-2008, 04:39 AM
http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=yyO-jptgjx8
That's an interesting video. However, while it suggests perhaps the kinesthetic origins of that technique, I'm not sure if it shows its -functional- origins. Perhaps that's a good sword technique, but is it a good throwing technique? To use a somewhat facetious example, you could take a very good tennis swing, and then convert it into a punch. It might not be a very good punch.

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=6PmhwHst4po
I ran into this video a while ago, and also found it potentially relevant. Ikkyo as a means of exposing the side to a weapon strike. I remember something like this came up when (after reading Chris Hein's arguments about weapons in aikido) I tried some tanto-using randori with a friend.

I think like you think ... but I just did it without having a clue and started trying to figure it all out. Dunno how far I am down the road but few try to figure things out and instead wait for instruction that ... never comes. And that was my 500th post ...
I agree that it's important to give these things some thought.

Intellectual understanding is overrated (my interest therein notwithstanding). It is a DO. The point of the art is to do it.
I could imagine a performance art "do" of aikido, sure. Really, you could do that with any set of movements at all: practice them for their own sake. There is nothing wrong with this. (Kyudo comes to mind.) However, with budo, I tend to follow the late Furuya-sensei's formula of do/jutsu/gaku. Aikido is a Way: a Way centered around fighting techniques. Now, these fighting techniques are not just practiced for their own sake, any more than someone learns about old black-powder rifles for the sake of making an army. But if I were a gun enthusiast whose passion was old black-powder rifles, I'd want to learn how to use them just like a historic user would have.

While I think we might have different perspectives on aikido, maybe this kind of inquiry could still be interesting to you at least as an idle curiosity. I don't see any reason for fighting over it.

Similar problems, similar answers all across the world.
More and more, I think that goals, rather than techniques, define arts. E.g., sumo wrestlers are not bad American wrestlers, they're just aiming for a different goal: knocking someone down or pushing them out of a ring as a "fall" rather than a pin or what-have-you. I think that if you gave a set of judo rules to a bunch of untrained people and locked them in a room for fifty years, you'd probably end up recreating at least most of the curriculum. They're just good methods for throwing someone in a jacket.

If the techniques chosen for Aikido were centerd on weapon taking, it seems that the techniques should start with nage grabbing and uke, and not nage being grabbed.

Looking at the forms, it seems that the majority of them come from uke grabbing, and nage responding to the grab.
(...)
Looking at Nikyo through rokyo, you can see an emphasis on wrist technique. The MMA crowd will quickly tell you that getting a wrist lock on someone is hard to do, and not too effective. They are correct. Not that wrist locks cannot be done, and not that wrist technique can't work, but they are, to use a cliche', low percentage.

However when clearing your weapon hand those wrist techniques are 100% indispensable. We train this sort of thing at my school, and those techniques come up constantly, they seldom have the finish as is seen in the forms, but they always work beautifully.

While I agree that the techniques work wonderfully for weapon taking, the forms, would suggest that they are more likely weapon retention.

I'll say it again: I think this theory has real promise.

Weapons (more importantly the possibility of weapons) make arm-twisty stuff most applicable even where it might be less applicable in strictly unarmed combat.
As noted above, I think this is a pretty likely theory for the functional origins of the techniques that were used to create aikido.

ChrisHein
04-29-2008, 10:43 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt2GHTm0OgQ&feature=related

Here is a clip of Kondo Sensei. The weapon relation seems much more evident to me when you look at Daito ryu.

Can anyone, who speaks Japanese, translate roughly what he's saying at about 1:27. He's saying something about exposing the side during the ikkyo.

Walker
04-29-2008, 11:08 AM
My Japanese sucks, but he his talking about drawing and thrusting with a short blade into the weak point indicated and that is represented by using a one knuckle punch.
Standard presentation for the technique.

DH
04-29-2008, 04:41 PM
The technique is ippon-dori. The first standing waza of Ikkajo. Ueshiba picked it for his ikkyo.
The idea is to stop the opponents sword strike and cause kuzushi. Yeah, good luck with that! The punch is supposed to be a knife strike to the upper ribs/armpit area. Then you switch to a wrist grab and end with a knee and a motion like a spear thrust (with his arm as the spear) to plant him. Overly complicated and marginal at best against a weapon- never mind bare-handed. There are other Koryu with similar moves done far more simply and directly with a blade controlling the blade-Takenouchi is one, Sho-sho ryu another. Overall the percentage of probability done bare-handed is ridiculous.
That particular line of DR shares nothing in common with its jujutsu waza to the other schools. As it is, many of the forms are done stiffly, and are many times inconsistant with other forms of Koryu jujutsu. Common discussions among the more learned crowd are that they appear either fabricated by someone unfamiliar with armed fighting, and or armored fighting, or an attempt at using aiki by someone lacking those particular skills. It's as if they are stuck in the middle of trying to be something they are not. DR is frequently criticized for many of the same reasons as Aikido in the Koryu community. And for some very good reasons.

DR and the sword
Like aikido were one to assume DR people know anything about the sword is hilariously awry. Unless they trained in a koryu-they don't have a clue. Case in point: during the 50 yr. celebration with all schools gathered, Kondo was chastised by Mochizuki for daring to even appear with a sword in his hand (to demonstrsate shiho-nage). Mochizuki boomed that "You Daito ryu people don't know anything about the sword!" He told his men to go get their swords out of their cars, and then did a short demonstration.
Kondo was humble enough to share that story on his first trip to the U.S.

Recently a long time student left DR for the above reasons. As a Koryu of cohesive school, the art is a mess, and no one had the real koryu weapons skills they so often talk about to even fashion any sort of meaningful defense against them. Grabbing the wrists of someone cutting you with a sword and reversing their shoulder while opening them for a thrust is just plain ridiculous. Unless the swordsman was a...well...inexperienced hobbyist-you'd get killed.
I could enter a list of prominent Koryu teachers and their private reviews of DR, but if they wanted to make it public, they either already have or have no interest in doing so.

Consistency in Mokuroku and transmission
Were one to try and define Daito ryu as a Koryu, or a cohesive, school with a supposed linear transmission, with a cogent consistant catalogue, they would fail. It is not as if the schools are doing similar but somewhat different syllabary. They are completely different. In essence they are different schools. IME all based on the few who attained real internal skills recording and teaching the various ways the Uke jump or react from the power. Even today teachers are creating/discovering/changing as they grow in power and sensitivity..
With the the remaining schools a technically cohesive mess one to another- the only choice is to find the better teachers who have aiki (internal power) instead of just jujutsu. And of those, find ones who can and will teach. This may be allot more difficult than you think.

Functional origins of techniques
The power of DR is in its body method, not in the pretzel logic. The functional "origins" are unknown, and explanations for "them" (since "they" are all over the place) are as varied as the five DR schools waza are. It is probably wiser to consider the explanations for these incredibly inconsistent techniques as unsupported legend, rather than unchanged and cohesive, waza transmitted down through time.

tuturuhan
04-29-2008, 05:57 PM
"Quote: Overly complicated and marginal at best against a weapon- never mind bare-handed. There are other Koryu with similar moves done far more simply and directly with a blade controlling the blade-Takenouchi is one, Sho-sho ryu another. Overall the percentage of probability done bare-handed is ridiculous.

IMO as such, an adept should practice with weapons and then transmit the knowledge of the weapons to the bare-hand. Today, present day practitioners do it backward. They don't practice with weapons and assume incorrectly that their bare-hand is equal or superior rather then de-evolved to the practitioner who uses the weapons. (And when they finally pick up the weapons..."they" model their poorly skilled bare-hand technique)

Thank you for explaining how the technique was "originally" practiced against a knife, sword and spear.

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

shidoin
04-29-2008, 07:18 PM
Paul there isn't an answer! Each Technique can be used in many different situations. Ikkyo is used by police against weapons and empty handed attacks. How long have you been training? If you have to think about what you will do when a person punches, or grabs, kicks- ect. it is too late. you have to train to make your waza a reaction, your mind must be blank and you need to control the first move. I'd say the kata drills are just to program your mind to get it into your head. train in randori doing it freestyle, do it almost full speed and see how to hold up in that situation

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
05-01-2008, 05:30 AM
DR is frequently criticized for many of the same reasons as Aikido in the Koryu community. And for some very good reasons.

( ... )

Functional origins of techniques
The power of DR is in its body method, not in the pretzel logic. The functional "origins" are unknown, and explanations for "them" (since "they" are all over the place) are as varied as the five DR schools waza are. It is probably wiser to consider the explanations for these incredibly inconsistent techniques as unsupported legend, rather than unchanged and cohesive, waza transmitted down through time.

Of the many theories I'm entertaining about aikido, this is perhaps my "null hypothesis" or default assumption. It's also kind of my worst nightmare. (My worst -aikido- nightmare, that is; nightmares broadly considered, that one with the weasels and the pokers wins out. All those little eyes...) To wit: aikido has no rhyme or reason to it. It's -complete- nonsense; a martial art that, due to a lack of "live" practice, has degenerated into stylized absurdity. (Or perhaps: due to a lack of "live" practice, was born in absurdity as a random creation and never was meaningful.) In short, it can no longer really be called a martial art (in the literal sense of "military/fighting skill".) There are no functional origins; even if they have some vague resemblance to, say, sword movements, they might as well have been made up out of thin air as, "Okay, uh, rotate this way, and then make an upwards motion like that. Okay, sure, anything's fine."

It's an unpalatable theory, but objectively, not an unbelievable one. Even if one accepts the attitude that Takeda and Ueshiba were top-notch martial artists, there's nothing preventing a great martial artist from teaching absurdity for their own reasons. E.g., a Gracie could get up there and teach Bujinkan wristlock jumpkick defenses to a gym full of people. Furthermore, it's not like we all learned from Ueshiba; most of us studied several generations down the line from the source. Maybe even if there were some meaningful skills implicit in the absurd techniques (if one buys the contested theory of "principle-based" martial arts), they've mostly been lost over time.

However, I say this is my null hypothesis because I'd really like to entertain all alternatives before reluctantly accepting it.

How long have you been training?

About four years. Well. Four years, followed by a fifth year of semi-training due to relocation, busy-ness, and being occupied with the quandry detailed in this thread. (You mentioned randori; one of my defining martial arts experiences during that year was going to a free-form grappling club and finding that aikido seemed totally irrelevant. Like, it's not that everyone was speaking Spanish and I was speaking bad Spanish; everyone was speaking Spanish and I was vocalizing a series of totally different sounds. The question is whether those sounds amount to a different but equally legit language, or if they're babble.)

Rupert Atkinson
05-01-2008, 06:51 AM
Hey Dan, interesting. When I first went to Japan in 1989 my first aim waas to find DR - and no one was looking for it back then. I was greatly disappointed - it did not meet my expectations at all. My first thought was, "No way Ueshiba learned this!" Perhaps it was the art or perhaps it was the teachers and students. Whatever. In the end I stuck with Aikido and also found Takeda-ryu, which was kinda interesting as they had mixed competition in with their training so their 'people' looked better - they were better! Anyway, these days no one listens if you criticise DR ... (But I believe there is some good DR out there ... there just has to be).


As it is, many of the forms are done stiffly, and are many times inconsistant with other forms of Koryu jujutsu. Common discussions among the more learned crowd are that they appear either fabricated by someone unfamiliar with armed fighting, and or armored fighting, or an attempt at using aiki by someone lacking those particular skills. It's as if they are stuck in the middle of trying to be something they are not. DR is frequently criticized for many of the same reasons as Aikido in the Koryu community. And for some very good reasons.
DR and the sword - Kondo was chastised by Mochizuki ...
Grabbing the wrists of someone cutting you with a sword and reversing their shoulder while opening them for a thrust is just plain ridiculous...

philippe willaume
05-01-2008, 08:19 AM
That's an interesting historical narrative, but I guess I'm talking on a more basic and specific level. The description above talks about its origins in "battlefield" arts, for armed and armored warriors. Is the idea then that aikido is based on grappling optimized for people wearing armor? I've never worn samurai armor, but my hunch is that it'd compel some changes from standard aikido movement.

Furthermore, I don't remember ever seeing Ueshiba-sensei or his students demonstrate in armor, or even move in a manner that seemed particularly reminiscent of someone in armor.

It's an interesting theory, though. Unfortunately, it seems rather hard to test. (You'd need to host some grappling matches with sets of armor.) Does anyone have knowledge of armored fighting methods from koryu studies? What are they like, technically?

Well coming from the medieval German side where you do have wrestling in armour and on horse.(all from one manual but there is at lest 4or 5 other manual from different author on the same tradition in the 15th century)
an itallian fiel harness is about 35 kg (the weight of a o-yoroi) and a german field harness is about 25 kg

The secret technique are nikkio an a sort ok kotegeishi-shiro. (European 15th century armour is king of ikkio proof but you find ikkio in “naked wrestling” (wrestling without armour)
On horse you have irimi nague, tenchi nague, sankkio, and kote geishi
In fact lot of aikido technique are found in the “or wrestling with weapon (the best being a kind of jije garame koshinague.). and it is clearly stated the normnal wrestling cajn be used when fighting with weapon via the use of a technique (verkerer, reversal) that make your entry safe.

Basically what I am alluding at is that may be , like medieval time in Europe, wrestling in medieval japan was as much integrated as it was a stand alone

Ps
May be that will help your nightmare paul.

Kevin Leavitt
05-01-2008, 08:30 AM
Interesting questions concerning Armor effecting things.

We debate this from time to time in the military. We do where armor still, and it is a factor.

My experiences are that you can practice without armor and it does carry over to the fight with armor. Same things apply. Speed, mobility, and a few tactics will change, but not much else.

Not enough to affect how you train without armor on though.

Interesting to note that the Army of the 21st Century...we train jiujitsu much like not much different than koryu styles. We may emphasize different things, but it really is all the same when you get down to it.

I think the koryu guys do us a service by preserving the historical context of things. It may not make for a rapid or effficient style of fighting, but the historical context allows us to revisit the past and see how things might be applied to "modern" jiujitsu.

I am not patient enough to spend time on koryu stuff, but the little I have done was enlightening and I did carrry something away from it that was useful every time.

ChrisHein
05-01-2008, 10:59 AM
You mentioned randori; one of my defining martial arts experiences during that year was going to a free-form grappling club and finding that aikido seemed totally irrelevant. Like, it's not that everyone was speaking Spanish and I was speaking bad Spanish; everyone was speaking Spanish and I was vocalizing a series of totally different sounds. The question is whether those sounds amount to a different but equally legit language, or if they're babble.

This is a brilliant analogy.

When people ask if Aikido works in a fight, usually what they are asking (and they don't even know it) is, "is Aikido English".

By that I mean, they want to know if Aikido fits into their idea of what "fighting" is. If they think fighting is unarmed one on one combat, then trying to "speak" Aikido to them is like trying to ask for a cup of hot coffie, in Spanish; while in a room full of non Spanish speaking people!

It would seem that your language doesn't work. If no one in the room had ever heard Spanish they could easily say, "That's not even a language", and leave you wondering if your parents had played a cruel joke on you.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-01-2008, 01:42 PM
That link is a gem - got any more?
http://www.thearma.org/manuals.htm

To use a somewhat facetious example, you could take a very good tennis swing, and then convert it into a punch. It might not be a very good punch.
I'm sure being slapped by John McEnroe could be an enjoyable experience. :)

dps
05-01-2008, 02:36 PM
This is a brilliant analogy.

When people ask if Aikido works in a fight, usually what they are asking (and they don't even know it) is, "is Aikido English".

By that I mean, they want to know if Aikido fits into their idea of what "fighting" is. If they think fighting is unarmed one on one combat, then trying to "speak" Aikido to them is like trying to ask for a cup of hot coffie, in Spanish; while in a room full of non Spanish speaking people!

It would seem that your language doesn't work. If no one in the room had ever heard Spanish they could easily say, "That's not even a language", and leave you wondering if your parents had played a cruel joke on you.

Do people fight differently if they are non-English?

Coffie, coffee, cafe, close enough to get a cup in most restaurants.

David

ChrisHein
05-01-2008, 06:54 PM
Do people fight differently if they are non-English?

Coffie, coffee, cafe, close enough to get a cup in most restaurants.

David

Some people don't understand analogy, that's ok...

DH
05-01-2008, 09:29 PM
Of the many theories I'm entertaining about aikido, this is perhaps my "null hypothesis" or default assumption. It's also kind of my worst nightmare. To wit: aikido has no rhyme or reason to it. It's -complete- nonsense; a martial art that, due to a lack of "live" practice, has degenerated into stylized absurdity.


Paul
I'd hold on to that theory.
If you remove the power behind them- well you don't need to remove it, it’s largely absent already-you don't have much.
Looking at it as most learn it, (from the outside-in) the waza is so improbable that many experienced and more rational men frequently make observations like you have made. In other words your use of the term "absurd" as a description isn't a big stretch from the other critiques offered.
I might offer you a different view in person. In other words, you might want to consider there are men who trained in it, and got *it* to one degree or another. I mean go ti in the sense of what the real power is in DR. My body skills came directly from Daito ryu and no where else. Yet I refuse to be involved in any manner of stylized absurdity in what we do here in our training. Daito ryu's power is substantial. I believe it stands among the greats in martial arts today. But just like Taiji, Xing-I and Bagua...trying to find the power through all the smoke and mirrors and teachers who really have no business teaching is getting harder every year. I've met and seen some horribly inept *teachers" in the internal CMA as well.
The other take on DR’s weaknesses is one it shares with Aikido’s as well. There is no live resistive training. One party attacks, then whether he believe it or not instantly “sets up his body to get ready to take the Ukemi of his partner.
This get confusing to teachers and students alike who start to believe they are really “doing” a substantive waza they could follow through on had the attack been flowing and resistive. It is perfectly ridiculous, even blatantly obvious, yet the truth of it remains obscure to most in the aiki derived arts.
What takes many words to describe and outline can typically be rendered obvious in person in quick order. A body in a retained balanced state of continued attack has no relationship to the body offering an attack and taking Ukemi. Though it has become a topic raised by Me and Ellis here in these pages, the depth of what it conveys can’t be addressed in a simple post.

It is commonly said of Daito ryu that your center is taken and you don’t voluntarily get thrown like you do in aikido. While most who have experienced high level DR aiki might agree with that, it certainly has been written about ad nauseum, it still is deficient.
Why?
If you are getting thrown by a theoretical aiki master every time you attack him, then let’s reverse that. Let’s have the aiki teacher attack you. Does he attack you in the same manner as he defended himself using aiki? If he did, then I’d assume all things being equal- you could NOT throw him. Make sense?

Why not train adepts to move and use skill on both sides? Aiki and anti-aiki vying to cancel and absorb, trap and redirect. Anti-aiki!
Anti-aiki training is more profound then the standard pattern of attack with normal strength as uke and receive as shite with aiki. Reverse the roles.
So, where do we find aiki masters attacking aiki masters with aiki? Then receiving and changing with aiki and countering the absorption with aiki?
In Taiji

rob_liberti
05-03-2008, 10:55 PM
As I understand it, aikido is about giving up ego-based movement and re-learning internal martial arts and in so doing getting to know your ego and manifesting your true self. The problem is of course that the transmition of internal skills to only the most intuitive tremendously gifted students through kinethetic perspection from teacher to student is a tall order because there simply are not enough of either the such teachers or such students.

What is the issue people seem to have against "principle based training"? All I can guess is that they are against it in favor of "alive training". Is that so? I don't get it. Principle is supposed to be as opposed to training "tactics" that are not then generalized (and turned into principles). The idea being that you cannot prepare for every tactic.

It seems to me that training aikido in terms of internal skills becomes principle based training. Training aikido in terms of weapons retention seems like it becomes a tactics based system. I just can't get on board with that idea as the gestault.

Rob

DH
05-03-2008, 11:23 PM
Hi Rob
For me principle based training was a term that got allot of play in the late 80's to 90's. As the years went by and I got to feel some guys and talked privately with them, it was not at all what I was considering as principle based training- so I stopped using it. IME people approach arts through waza, then they may approach them through some common movements (principles) they each developed that drive the waza. The better ones had some semblance of sense to them. Many were corse or *rote* external movement drills that more or less worked on other muscular derived techniques every time, so the became principles. Think of connecting to someones arms and trying to down weight them in front. Then carrying their weight out from their base by pulling away. Their sense of weight increases exponentially so various arts called this a "principle." Nothing wrong with that right? What many of those guys were calling aiki-I was looking at and calling it jujutsu. They were just not approaching the martial arts from where I was.

Our model is to change the body and create internal power, and learning to use it in actual skills *in movement and in play* against force. First in slow motion in paired work to develop structure, intent, and ability to listen and change, later in rapid quick change-ups. None of that is done with any principles as I have heard or seen commonly discussed in the JMA. The result is learning to create kuzushi on contact, then to be able to freely move while maintaining it and building upon it.

ChrisHein
05-04-2008, 12:35 PM
As I understand it, aikido is about giving up ego-based movement and re-learning internal martial arts and in so doing getting to know your ego and manifesting your true self. The problem is of course that the transmition of internal skills to only the most intuitive tremendously gifted students through kinethetic perspection from teacher to student is a tall order because there simply are not enough of either the such teachers or such students.

What is the issue people seem to have against "principle based training"? All I can guess is that they are against it in favor of "alive training". Is that so? I don't get it. Principle is supposed to be as opposed to training "tactics" that are not then generalized (and turned into principles). The idea being that you cannot prepare for every tactic.

It seems to me that training aikido in terms of internal skills becomes principle based training. Training aikido in terms of weapons retention seems like it becomes a tactics based system. I just can't get on board with that idea as the gestault.

Rob

I need to clarify some terms, to be sure I'm understanding this.

"tactics" based training to me, would mean things like boxing combinations, or judo throwing combinations. Is that what it means to you?

"Principle" based training to me, means training around a major principle, or theory. Like the idea of Aiki, Jiu, or leverage. It sounds like you might be calling this what I would call "forms" based training (see next). Is this correct?

"Forms" based training, also called Kata. Training based on the idea of studying a prearranged set of actions, to practice one of several idealized situations.

"Alive" training. The idea of training spontaneously, with a non cooperative partner(s).

These would be my rough definitions of some of the terms you used. None of these are exclusive to the others, I use them all in the way we train. Can you tell me if these roughly meet your definition?

We've gone off topic again...

Demetrio Cereijo
05-04-2008, 05:04 PM
We've gone off topic again...

Let's go slighty back on topic then.

Hayanawa Kappō Kenpō Kyōhan Zukai Zen (http://museum.hikari.us/books/kenpo/index.html)

Translator notes (http://www.ryukyu-kobudo.eu/Hayanawa.pdf) are worth reading too.

rob_liberti
05-04-2008, 09:44 PM
I'll try to wrap things up and bring things back on topic as well.

All "major" principles are really meta-principles of the "principle of correspondence" (which is: as above so below, as below so above). Meaning something is true on all levels.

To train tactics or forms to then discover meta-principles and re-apply them is a fine approach (outside in) when you do not have access to a teacher who can start you off with the principles (and let you train more efficiently from inside out).

I think what I should have said (to get back on topic here) is that if you base your martial arts on the aiki principles that are the gokuii of DR (and aikido for that matter) AND you practice manifesting them in the forms, and then take that experience to the next level and practice them "alive" you are approaching things from the most efficient path. The problem is gaining direct access to _those_ principles. We have some who are willing to share. I personally recommend we all try to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

I can see where practicing aikido as a weapons retention system will give people some very good experience in alive type of training - but to me it misses the point of the internal aiki skills principles and I would dare say that such practice before developing internal aiki skills will most likely works against development of internal aiki skills. The need to survive and keep the knife probably encourages good movement and strategic skills - but also unfortunately that need tends to encourage people to use muscles as opposed to proper structure and intention to develop the ability to raise your arms without "lifting" for shihonage, do ikkyo without "pushing" or "chopping", do iriminage without "pulling" and without "sneaky pulling".

I do not mean to put anyone's approach down. I mean to speak in terms of the principles being discussed on this thread and their implications. What might look like principles to some, will be considered "tactics" to people training deeper levels of aiki movement. (Which is what I believe Dan's point was and why I believe he dislikes the term principle-based training.)

I want to use the term "principle-based training" but maybe I'll start qualifying it and use "aiki-principle-based training" which ARE the Functional Origins of Aikido/Daito-Ryu Techniques. As opposed to what people have been calling principle based training in the past.

Rob

ChrisHein
05-04-2008, 10:38 PM
Man, I was trying to get away from fancy words, so we can all understand each other, not make more confusion...

DCS,
That's a good find. How do you find all this good stuff. That's going to take me at least a week to go through. Thanks!

Rupert Atkinson
05-05-2008, 01:14 AM
Dan: create kuzushi on contact

Nothing wrong with pursuing new ideas - we all have to do that to get beyond being taught - we have to move into exploring. The trouble is which way to go. Well, just start. No one will lead you so just start. In the meantime, the ideas Dan has set out above are certainly something to aim for. How? Just start. That's it. I suggest you read his posts again - they make a lot of sense to me. Likewise, I pursue principles, yet, when I hear about other people talking about principles, they are nothing to do with my kind of principles. What one person calls a principle another calls a technique (not for me). Some call aiki a principle. Really? Well, how are you going to learn it? For me, principles are things that lead to aiki. Then, and only then, aiki might become a principle unto itself. The mistake, of course, would be to then teach aiki as a principle because it would be impossible for the average guy to learn. Finally, even if you can do good aiki, don't pratice the aiki too much, practice the stuff that got you there (if you want to develop it further). The icing on the cake may be good, but there really needs to be a good cake underneath it, and even the best cake goes off pretty quickly.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's how I see it.

rob_liberti
05-05-2008, 08:11 AM
I agree mainly with you Rupert.
In terms of understanding the Functional Origins of Aikido/Daito-Ryu Techniques, you have to consider that studying simplicity is difficult and complex by it's very nature. The problem with complexity is that the various tools people tend to employ to deal with complexity are often misused. Reductionist thinking (wanting terms to be simple) is great if that approach actually will solve a multifaceted problem - where lateral thinking tends to be the better choice. Occum's Razor is a tool to cut through complexity and try to make sense of some patterns in the chaos - but it is ofen used to DISMISS the rest of the complexity and chaos which leads nowhere of much value.

The term "aiki" itself too often falls victim to reductionism. People say "ai" is blending, and "ki" is energy. I find it much more helpful to consider that the term "aiki" was borrowed from the name of the "okugi" level of some sword school that Osensei knew about. Okugi and therefor aiki were meant to represent the level of "depth". "aiki" meaning depth, far better represents internal skills set as the Functional Origins of Aikido/Daito-Ryu Techniques - if you ask me.

Rob

Rupert Atkinson
05-06-2008, 12:23 AM
Okugi and therefor aiki were meant to represent the level of "depth". "aiki" meaning depth, far better represents internal skills set as the Functional Origins of Aikido/Daito-Ryu Techniques - if you ask me.
Rob

Sorry, for me, aiki is a skill, a learnable skill. First you need to find out what it is (experience), then you need to figure out how to learn it. And the most important point I have realised is that those who 'can do it' can't teach it. So, search, find, experience, then, ... a lot of experimentation ... with no guarantee. Just ... start. That's it.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
05-06-2008, 06:30 AM
Let's go slighty back on topic then.

Hayanawa Kappō Kenpō Kyōhan Zukai Zen (http://museum.hikari.us/books/kenpo/index.html)

Translator notes (http://www.ryukyu-kobudo.eu/Hayanawa.pdf) are worth reading too.

Demetrio wins.

In these illustrations, I think there's the suggestion of one key argument for the weapons theory -- they explain the "leading". That is, when the idea is uke struggling for tori's weapon, it makes sense that tori can turn and uke will naturally follow, even keeping the same grip.

Now, I don't know whether or not these techniques are any good...and in fact, they look kind of sketchy to me in some cases...but this is the sort of thing that could at least be testable and potentially lead to a functional explanation for why aikido techniques are the way they are. I think that could do a lot for aikido.

Of course, there are also what look like bizarre, vestigial techniques, such as the ones Ellis Amdur has described in his examinations of Daito-ryu: e.g., the ones that start with uke raising a hand above his head for some sort of weird yokomenuchi or something. I can't believe that people -ever- fought like that. Perhaps those techniques could be partially or wholly redeemed by talking about a blow with an object.

As a somewhat irrelevant aside, it was interesting to see the footwork on page 60. I'd only seen that before as a preparation for a sword thrust, or as a base for sokumen iriminage in Yoshokai/Yoshinkan.

rob_liberti
05-06-2008, 08:32 AM
HA! Okay, well I wasn't aware that there were in fact winners of online discussions, but congradulatins Demetrio! Please contact Paul to claim your prize.

Rupert, I have to go with the definition of aiki in terms of Japanese and the orgin of the word's usage in terms of Osensei to describe what he was doing. But I think we can actaully meet in the middle. I would certainly go so far as to agree that aiki represents a skill set - one that has so much "depth" that it is difficult to find anyone who can teach it at all, let alone directly. -Rob

Demetrio Cereijo
05-06-2008, 10:33 AM
Now, I don't know whether or not these techniques are any good...and in fact, they look kind of sketchy to me in some cases...but this is the sort of thing that could at least be testable and potentially lead to a functional explanation for why aikido techniques are the way they are. I think that could do a lot for aikido.
They look (and probably are) sketchy and lacking functionality if (imo) the performer lacks ki/aiki/kokyu/body skills/bujutsu body/The Force(tm)/chi/jing/mojo/younameit....

HA! Okay, well I wasn't aware that there were in fact winners of online discussions, but congradulatins Demetrio! Please contact Paul to claim your prize.
Masashiku katta watashi wa katta katsukoto ikioi hageshii reiryoku aka Masakatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi.
:)

ChrisHein
05-06-2008, 10:48 AM
They don't have to be big techniques ending with the dominate position when you have a weapon. Having a free weapon IS the dominate position!

Also, those guys didn't have the internet back then. They couldn't look up a thousand techniques a day on youtube. So any little ideas they came across must have been like gold. A simple bump, shove, or arm hold they hand never before thought of could possibly save their life!

Demetrio Cereijo
05-06-2008, 10:54 AM
Also, those guys didn't have the internet back then. They couldn't look up a thousand techniques a day on youtube. So any little ideas they came across must have been like gold. A simple bump, shove, or arm hold they hand never before thought of could possibly save their life!
Notice the succes of karate when arrived to mainland Japan....seems the japanese never though much about punching and kicking before.

Budd
05-06-2008, 11:06 AM
Without downplaying the importance of training "the internals" or "aiki" (as defined elsewhere - perhaps most frequently on the "Non-Aikido" forum), I believe it's perfectly reasonable to have a "principles"-based approach to jujutsu - providing that at some point you're able to identify exactly what that means (gross motor movements, muscle reactions, etc.) in the overall context of training.

Which then ties back into the idea that we might not all be talking about the same thing, so the more that can be aptly described in basic terms (i.e. not using buzzwords), then probably the easier it is to have a conversation around these topics.

ChrisHein
05-06-2008, 07:23 PM
Notice the succes of karate when arrived to mainland Japan....seems the japanese never though much about punching and kicking before.

That seemed so silly to me until just a few years ago. I could never understand why the Japanese had such weak striking martial arts.

Then I realized they had very strong striking arts. It's just that they were smart enough to figure out striking you with a sword, stick, or chain is a way better idea then trying to strike you with an empty hand or foot! And wrestling was what you did when you couldn't strike.

ChrisHein
05-06-2008, 07:24 PM
Which then ties back into the idea that we might not all be talking about the same thing, so the more that can be aptly described in basic terms (i.e. not using buzzwords), then probably the easier it is to have a conversation around these topics.

Good post!

rob_liberti
05-06-2008, 11:47 PM
Masashiku katta watashi wa katta katsukoto ikioi hageshii reiryoku aka Masakatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi.
:)

Is it possible that I have also achieved true victory over myself but Paul wasn't there to tell me I won? OR does this mean that after you won, your prise was the kojiki?

In terms of the orgins, basic terms are great if they are not so reductionist that you through the baby out with the bath water.

Rob

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
05-07-2008, 03:46 AM
If people want to talk about "principles", I would argue that "the way people move/fight with and without weapons around" is sufficiently abstract and broad to count as a "principle". In fact, it sounds to me like a "key" or "organizing" principle.

And I'm sorry to tell you this, Rob, but transcendental self-victory is null and void unless its achievement is duly notarized by a licensed enlightenment certifier. I suggest making an appointment with one beforehand.

Rupert Atkinson
05-07-2008, 04:55 AM
Rupert, I have to go with the definition of aiki in terms of Japanese and the orgin of the word's usage in terms of Osensei to describe what he was doing. But I think we can actaully meet in the middle. I would certainly go so far as to agree that aiki represents a skill set - one that has so much "depth" that it is difficult to find anyone who can teach it at all, let alone directly. -Rob

Sorry - but I need to pursue my point. To do this, forget what you think. Open your mind to a new idea. Don't try to meet me halfway. Just try to understand me and if you don't like it ignore it. First, I am not interested in what O-Sensei said, or what someone said they thought he said. No one really knows as even his best students admit they could not understand him. And how do we know he was doing what he said he was doing? If what he said was important/useful, his students would all be able to do what he could do and that is clearly not the case.

To me, aiki is not a skill 'set'. It is 'a' principle we should be seeking. 'One' principle. Think - can you topple your partner in suwariwaza kokyu-ho? If you can, then think - how can I use this skill in other techs? If you can't, you have to figure it out. And then, add resistance. If you get it right, it works no matter how hard they resist. The easier it is to topple him without using your own strength, against increasing levels of his resistance, the better your own skill, or aiki. To me, aiki can be found in this one exercise (and in many others). And this 'aiki' = one thing, one method = one principle. It is not - if he does A I do X; if he does B I do Y; if he does C I do Z. Rather, no matter what he does, I do aiki (or try to). Then, once you have the incling of an idea, you can 'begin' to put it into everything else = other techniques.

Does that make any sense? Easy to show, hard to explain.

rob_liberti
05-07-2008, 05:34 AM
Easy to show, hard to explain

I tried aiki as a single skill and stunk at it for far too long. If I tried to explain aiki it would be something like this:

To achieve aiki in kokyu ho, and/or any situation for that matter, I _currently_ need to set my structure so I am not in the way of myself. I have to set my intent up and down my spine at the same time such that every part of my has to be flowing upward and downward at the same time with that intent. I have to hold myself such that my structural weaknesses are closed down with other lines of intent all happening at the same time. I have to pivot around my spine such that it and my hips do not move much at all. I have to feel how my own weight on my feet is expressed thorugh my hands (and arms, and shoulders sometimes) upward and over my partner/attacker and beyond them at the same time I convert any kind of pushing they are doing on me back into them generally underneath their pushing. I have to fix my intention to be in agreement with anything they are doing to me and completely welcome it while setting my intention in other directional lines for stabilization. When anyone touches me I have to be instantly touching their center (not moving around trying to find it) and they need to feel that their attack is generally sending them upward (or downward) and THEN I need to blend with their reaction such that I continue to follow my spine's connection to them through their spine and do it in a way thay I never lose my integrity. If they have been working such things then I have to employ some strategy to get there first and/or use soft power to blow through them anyway.
ALL of that skillset is aiki to me..

So unfortunately I guess I'm unable to meet you halfway (although I tried) and at this point I'm sorry but I'm just unwilling to forget what I think I know now that I'm working things this way (where it is not difficult for me to explain)

And by the way Paul, when I am achieving all of those lines of intent (and the various principles I described a bit), I have achieved victory over myself right then. :)

Rob

Demetrio Cereijo
05-07-2008, 06:47 AM
Is it possible that I have also achieved true victory over myself but Paul wasn't there to tell me I won? OR does this mean that after you won, your prise was the kojiki?

Is not about winning or losing... its about answering OP question.

Anyway, I hope "ki developement" doesn't affect (negatively) my sense of humor, someday I'll translate the kojiki to "modern English" so Masakatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi can be read "I kicked his rear end, by myself, with speed and awesome skills so he's still wondering which kind of truck hitted him"
:D

Relax.

rob_liberti
05-07-2008, 08:21 AM
I assume you understood I was being sarcastic with that question.

The whole idea really struck me funny. A discussion on a thread seems to be one of those things that I take for grated is supposed to grow naturally and oganically from the original post. Having the original poster ask a question and then assign a winner is more in line with the "game show" model. :)

I think these kinds of miscommunications and differing assumptions among people are very good examples of how the functional orgins of EVERYTHING gets twisted and confused until they are mostly lost.

Too funny. -Rob

Peter Goldsbury
05-07-2008, 09:50 AM
Anyway, I hope "ki developement" doesn't affect (negatively) my sense of humor, someday I'll translate the kojiki to "modern English" so Masakatsu Agatsu Katsu Hayabi can be read "I kicked his rear end, by myself, with speed and awesome skills so he's still wondering which kind of truck hitted him"
:D

Relax.

Very good. I think your translation is an excellent translation of the Kojiki phrase. At the risk of enormous thread drift, I need to explain.

The name is the first part of the name of a deity who came into being when two major deities, Amaterasu and Susanoo, had an amazing competition (considered incest by some 'wicked' Confucian scholars, because they were brother and sister and yet bore children, but argued by the Shintoists to be pure, because they were standing on opposite sides of a river).

In the competition, Amaterasu asked for Susanoo's sword (the famous sword that was ten hands long) and broke the sword into three pieces, rinsed the pieces in a well, shaking them (like furitama) then chewed the pieces and spat them out. Three deities were created from the spittle (three female deities thought to be Susanoo's children).

Susanoo them did precisely the same with the magatama beads that Amaterasu wore in the long coils of her hair (the left coil). In this case the deity born from his spittle was Masakatsu agatsu katsu hayabi. But then Susanoo took the beads adorning other parts of her hair and body, spat them out and so produced four more (male) deities. These male deities were thought to be her children, but acres of argument have since been devoted to the issue of whether the sex of the children mattered.

Masakatsu agatsu katsu hayabi is clearly associated with Susanoo, because the latter then went into a sort of victory rage. Extraordinary things happened next. He committed eight 'heavenly sins':
1. He broke down the ridges between Amaterasu's rice paddies.
2. He covered up the ditches.
3. He opened the irrigation sluices.
4. He double planted.
5. He set up stakes.
6. He skinned a horse alive
7. He skinned the horse backwards. (And dropped it through the roof of Amaterasu's weaving hall, causing the death of the weaving maiden. The cause of death was the striking of her genitals against the weaving shuttle.)
8. He defecated and spread his faeces around the harvest festival hall.

All this led to Amaterasu's famous withdrawal into the cave.

However, masakatgsu agatsu katsu hayabi is only the first part of the deity's name The second part, which O Sensei conveniently forgot about, is Ame-no-oshi-ho-mimi-no-mikoto. This is the name of a rice deity, something like, Great Heavenly Deity who Rules the Rice Ears.

Actually, masakatsu agatsu katsu hayabi was something of a wimp. He was supposed to go down from heaven and rule the Central Lands of the Reed Plains (= Japan), but as he was preparing to descend, he suddenly fathered a child by another deity and this child took his place.

So, I look forward to reading your modern translation and then Peter Jackson or perhaps Monty Python could make a movie.

Best wishes and many apologies for the blatant thread drift.

Erick Mead
05-07-2008, 10:02 AM
I tried aiki as a single skill and stunk at it for far too long. If I tried to explain aiki it would be something like this:

To achieve aiki in kokyu ho, and/or any situation for that matter, I _currently_ need to set my structure so I am not in the way of myself. I have to set my intent up and down my spine at the same time such that every part of my has to be flowing upward and downward at the same time with that intent. I have to hold myself such that my structural weaknesses are closed down with other lines of intent all happening at the same time. I have to pivot around my spine such that it and my hips do not move much at all. I have to feel how my own weight on my feet is expressed thorugh my hands (and arms, and shoulders sometimes) upward and over my partner/attacker and beyond them at the same time I convert any kind of pushing they are doing on me back into them generally underneath their pushing. I have to fix my intention to be in agreement with anything they are doing to me and completely welcome it while setting my intention in other directional lines for stabilization. When anyone touches me I have to be instantly touching their center (not moving around trying to find it) and they need to feel that their attack is generally sending them upward (or downward) and THEN I need to blend with their reaction such that I continue to follow my spine's connection to them through their spine and do it in a way thay I never lose my integrity. If they have been working such things then I have to employ some strategy to get there first and/or use soft power to blow through them anyway.
ALL of that skillset is aiki to me.. Aaahh -- just toss the guy already -- the suspense is killing me ... :p

More to the point -- your discussion is an excellent phenomenological description. There is a good discussion on a wholly different topic that encapsulates a recurrent bi-polar aspect of the debates on these topics. Phenomenology versus theory.It would probably be helpful if people recognized such structural sources of conflict in their arguments, as opposed to the mere factual disputes. They are necessarily complements rather than opponents. This article is ostensibly about physics -- but substitute "aiki" for that and you capture a fundamental aspect of many conflicts in perspective here.

http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/05/phenomenology-vs-theory.html

There is a theory of aiki -- premised on the empirical concept of "Ki." Unfortunately, it does not fit commonly understood Western categories, so we do not have the vocabulary and conceptual tools to deal with it in its own terms. Until it does, the theory side of the discussion will languish ( and be mocked as it often is) and the phenomenology alone will be a source of dispute. The reason is simple, because, phenomenological explanations are by definition ad hoc -- coming from the sum of unique individual experiences. Without a common theoretical language to organize, relate and explain those individual experiences (other than the ever-disputed one of "KI") there will be no useful movement of the discussion from where it is -- and where it has remained -- for quite a long time, now.

I have my own thoughts on such a theoretical basis. I won't belabor them here. You can search for it in many threads if you are really that interested. And most people aren't interested, let's be frank. However, without a valid theory on some sound physical basis in terms common to Western concepts and language, the discussion will not go much past:

"I felt "This." -- Did you feel "That?"
"Yeah, what was "That.""
"Was it kind of like "This"
"Yeah, but not so much "that" as "this"
"Not really, I didn't feel "that" exactly I felt more like "this"

... etc. etc. Or more colorfully -- "... which kind of truck just hitted me?!?"

Most people substitute in their discussion words like "ki" or "kokyu" or "aiki" as placeholder words for the "that." In this usage, it really only a marker for an experiential reference -- it has no conceptual content for them at all. That's why we need to work on the physical theory of aiki more carefully, to put real and repeatable content behind those words -- in our Western terms.

Even variations in training methodologies (such as the current Aunkai fad or other methodologies in some quarters) do not get a theoretical basis, just a more rigorously informed phenomenological perspective )( i.e. -- because they do the same closely defined "thing" they can more easily compare and contrast what they feel or see of "that" in doing that "thing." In fact, that is exactly what the defined waza in aikido exist for -- not for value in and of themselves (they are merely slices of a continuum) but to provide that same common rubric for this performative discussion.

There will be no reliable way to find better or more comprehensive modes of training until a theoretical basis is worked out and more generally agreed. Whether of DTR as Sagawa has famously said that it canno t be taught, or in looking at O Sensei's own experience in which he proved it and they either learned or didn't -- however many instructors of whom it may be reliably said "Yeah, he really knows "That,"" does not necessarily mean that "That" can be reliably taught in terms the students are capable of understanding without a working theory of 1) what the unknown "that" is that they are reaching toward or 2) how to correct their errors (or even perceive that they ARE errors) in moving closer to it.

rob_liberti
05-07-2008, 10:50 AM
It stirkes me that Peter Goldsbury's description of that story was the set up for the "first opening of the rock door of heaven". (The god went into a cave and blocked it with a bolder, and they managed to coax the god out - ending "eternal night"). And aikido is supposed to be the second opening of the rock door of heaven. (said Osensei) which is being taught phenomenologically (is that a word?) and may someday be described in terms of physics (as Erick is attempting). And then all of these discussions will be about the good old days when we didn't know how to talk about this stuff properly.

Rob

ChrisHein
05-07-2008, 11:03 AM
Wow, we've actually been having a real conversation for 4 pages now! Awesome.

I also really like "with speed, and awesome skills"! I'm using that one in class tonight.

Peter,
Thanks for the story. It honestly helps put things in perspective.

Great post Erick! It would be great if the Aikido community could make some real progress in this aria. Maybe we could actually learn to understand each other.

Ron Tisdale
05-07-2008, 11:50 AM
Peter has a few good posts on this in the aikido section of e-budo. More of the same, but very interesting. Some of my favorite posts.

Best,
Ron

Budd
05-07-2008, 01:50 PM
To both Erick's point and Chris's follow-up. I agree that boiling something down to common terms is the ideal. The problem as I see it is that at some point it still has to be "felt" - no matter how many common terms are shared or exchanged. I don't know that it's ever going to be something that's adequately debated merely with words (like many things regarding martial arts, most likely).

Rupert Atkinson
05-07-2008, 05:21 PM
... I _currently_ need to set my structure so I am not in the way of myself. I have to set my intent up and down my spine at the same time such that every part of my has to be flowing upward and downward at the same time with that intent. I have to hold myself such that ... Rob

Not a bad explanation at all.

ChrisHein
05-07-2008, 05:50 PM
To both Erick's point and Chris's follow-up. I agree that boiling something down to common terms is the ideal. The problem as I see it is that at some point it still has to be "felt" - no matter how many common terms are shared or exchanged. I don't know that it's ever going to be something that's adequately debated merely with words (like many things regarding martial arts, most likely).

This is a good point. It's like that old saying about coffee. You can describe it in perfect detail to someone who's never had it, but until they try it themselves they'll never know what it tastes like.

Language is imperfect, and it alway will be. However we need to agree on the terms we use when talking to each other. Those of us (most here on Aikiweb) who have "tasted" Aiki/Aikido, know what we call it for ourselves. However nailing down some terms that we can use to speak with each other about it (those already "in the know"); I feel would take us a long way.

We are drifting again...

eyrie
05-07-2008, 06:23 PM
phenomenologically (is that a word?) Yep, it's an adverb. I briefly covered phenomenology as part of an Information Analysis unit back at Uni... interesting stuff, and possibly quite relevant to the topic discussion at hand....

Erick Mead
05-07-2008, 10:17 PM
Yep, it's an adverb. I briefly covered phenomenology as part of an Information Analysis unit back at Uni... interesting stuff, and possibly quite relevant to the topic discussion at hand....Phenomenolgy -- at least in Whitehead's useage may be loosely summed up in the passage from the Tao te ching. The Way that can be named is not the unnameable Way. The unnameable begets ONE. The One begets two. The two beget three. And three beget the ten thousand things. The term has a narrow use which is described below and a broader use that encompasses the theoretical distinction I also describe as Whitehead developed it in the school of thought known as "phenomenology."

A phenomenological understanding resolves the universal/individual dichotomy by acknowledging that everything that is, is the product of its unique history, but is fundamentally related to everything else by the fact of a common history at some level. Thus, things understood phenomenologically are closely tied to their particular histories.

The theoretical understanding addresses a different basis of commonality -- alos described implicilty in the same passage from the Tao Te Ching: A common process of instantaneous development that drives even wildly differing and seemingly unrelated histories. Things that are understood theoretically are understood independent of particular histories, except as representative of the common dynamic.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
05-08-2008, 05:53 AM
The whole idea really struck me funny. A discussion on a thread seems to be one of those things that I take for grated is supposed to grow naturally and oganically from the original post. Having the original poster ask a question and then assign a winner is more in line with the "game show" model. :)

At the risk of belaboring a tangential discussion, I should take a moment to explain: this was a reference to the (generally ironic) internet custom of declaring that "so-and-so has won the thread." It's a joke, mostly, given that of course it's an inherently absurd idea. That said, it does typically express at least a jocular claim that the individual has made a strong contribution or delivered a pithy analysis. In this case, I think Demetrio homed right in on what I think the central topic is: were these techniques ever optimal (or even usable) means to any martial end, or were they conceived as stylized dance routines.

I don't mean this necessarily as a historical question -- ultimately, I'm concerned with aikido techniques as they exist now and as they can be practiced now -- but I think the inquiry naturally slants towards history. I say this because, confronted with aikido's inability to fit within modern martial arts contexts (perhaps most significantly MMA), one alternative to saying, "It's just absurd" is to suggest a different martial venue (e.g. weapons, different types of clothing, different environs, etc.) In the same manner as, "This style of kenjutsu's footwork might seem pointlessly large, but it's actually meant for very uneven ground, where these movements are more useful than sliding-foot styles -- in a match on uneven ground, the person with experience in these large stepping movements has a clear edge."

Demetrio Cereijo
05-08-2008, 06:09 AM
Very good. I think your translation is an excellent translation of the Kojiki phrase. At the risk of enormous thread drift, I need to explain.

Of course I have to recognize it's a loose transliteration of one of your posts at e-budo. I'm not smart enough to arrive at that "translation" on my own. :)

So, I look forward to reading your modern translation and then Peter Jackson or perhaps Monty Python could make a movie.

I think the aikido world really needs a Life of Brian-esque movie about Ueshiba.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
05-08-2008, 06:10 AM
I think I hit the 15-minute time limit on editing, but here's one more bit I was going to add to my post:

The alternative angle -- that aikido is a stylized dance routine that nevertheless imparts real martial skills respectfully passed down throughout the ages -- sounds a little too much like the "invisible purple monster" idea for my liking. (That is, a classic non-falsifiable hypothesis.)

And now for something completely different.

I think the aikido world really needs a Life of Brian-esque movie about Ueshiba.

That has some serious potential.

Peter Goldsbury
05-08-2008, 07:09 AM
Of course I have to recognize it's a loose transliteration of one of your posts at e-budo. I'm not smart enough to arrive at that "translation" on my own. :)

I think the aikido world really needs a Life of Brian-esque movie about Ueshiba.

Hello Demetrio,

You added the bit about the truck, so you did make an original contribution to the translation. :)

As for the Life of Brian, you should know that Brian was the Private Eye nickname for Prince Charles. The nickname for the Queen was Brenda. Both names match their characters perfectly (which is why Private Eye had to spend so much on legal fees).

With O Sensei, however, you are entering on holy ground and still need to take off your shoes.:D

rob_liberti
05-08-2008, 11:59 AM
Understood!

I think my main point was more going after the idea that after 80 some odd posts I didn't want to be held to the initial post, and I wasn't sure that everyone was really on board with the humor of declaring a winner.

It is my belief that aikido can be as powerful as it was originally considered and more so. I'll spend my life training to prove (or fail to prove) that myself. I won't do it to win anything. I'll do it because aikido is my path for dropping my ego and manifesting my true self. The approach is based on principles and if they don't work in all situations (physical as well as mental/emotional and spiritual) then they are just not principles.

Rob

Misogi-no-Gyo
05-09-2008, 10:01 AM
First, I am not interested in what O-Sensei said, or what someone said they thought he said. No one really knows as even his best students admit they could not understand him. And how do we know he was doing what he said he was doing? If what he said was important/useful, his students would all be able to do what he could do and that is clearly not the case.

I just love america... as long as no one gets hurt, anyone can do, think and say just about anything and defend it by saying, "...well I should be free to do, think or say..." Oh, never mind. In any case, if demz da rules, demz da rules. And in that case, with regards to your statement, I want to say, I couldn't disagree with you more! Why do people keep repeating such misinformation over and over and over? Oh, wait. Was that redundant? Sure, I will give you that most of O-Sensei's own students, even those whom we consider his "senior" uchi-deshi may not have understood all he said. Heck, 95% of my own teacher's students missed 95% of what he has been saying all these years, but isn't that usually the case? Yeah I guess O-Sensei could have been lying, or attempting to misdirect his own students, never mind the fact of what that would do to his legacy. However, to say that none of his best students even understood him is just mindless repetition of a wholly inaccurate postulation.

Hikitsuchi Sensei, Saito Sensei, Seiseiki Abe Sensei, might have a different opinion as to there ability to understand the varied specifics O-Sensei chose to share with them. There were others, too. My guess is that you may not have spent any considerable amount of time with any of these teachers, but I could be wrong. It might also be a case of the 95% creeping up on you, but only the other 5% could really say...

To me, aiki is not a skill 'set'. It is 'a' principle we should be seeking. 'One' principle. Think - can you topple your partner in suwariwaza kokyu-ho? If you can, then think - how can I use this skill in other techs? If you can't, you have to figure it out. And then, add resistance. If you get it right, it works no matter how hard they resist. The easier it is to topple him without using your own strength, against increasing levels of his resistance, the better your own skill, or aiki. To me, aiki can be found in this one exercise (and in many others). And this 'aiki' = one thing, one method = one principle. It is not - if he does A I do X; if he does B I do Y; if he does C I do Z. Rather, no matter what he does, I do aiki (or try to). Then, once you have the incling of an idea, you can 'begin' to put it into everything else = other techniques
Now, as far as all that goes, I couldn't agree with you more!

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