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dalen7
08-07-2009, 01:43 PM
Well my take on it is that we do a pretty poor job in aikido over all at teaching basic foundational skills. Sure most schools have a syllabus of techniques and testing criteria....that is not what I am talking about.

bottomline is that in doing a particular technique in aikido, there are some fundamental body skills and a certain level of conditioning that must exsist in order to actually do it successfully. There are ways to do this I think.

If you want to discuss we can move to another thread!

This thread is a spin-off of the above statements by Kevin.

Ill have to say, either directly or indirectly, our dojo has been a victim of the above scenario... in short beginners are not adequately trained in the basic foundational skills... and this does cause issues.

Initially I had attributed the difficulties I had in learning Aikido down to the fact that I wasn't fluent in Hungarian.
While this for sure doesn't help things, the fact is that our dojo lacks a certain teaching structure necessary in helping to adequately facilitate growth.

Case in point -
After about half a year, the new guys still don't know the required footwork for their exam - as we practically never go over it. Same goes with Ukemi. [The daughter dojo in the neighboring city could blow a lot of our guys away with their skills, as they go over the basics footwork/body movement and ukemi before starting each class.]

Another example are the guys who started around the same time I did. It appears they have not felt comfortable enough with their skill set to test in quite awhile... which can be attributed to our lack of study in the skills needed for advancement. :)

[I]note: And I will say that my moves could use some honing, to be sure - but that will come.

Of course things like this cant stay the way they are, they have to evolve. People leave, or they show up periodically until they just stop coming, etc.

Things have began to shift somewhat for us, and it remains to be seen if the trend remains...
However, it seems the top senior students have taken a more proactive role in teaching when the instructor is not there, trying to cover some of the gaps that have been quite apparent over the years... such as going over Sumi Otoshi this past Thursday, and for the lower kyu going over the footwork the week before, etc. [and this I appreciate]

It can be sensitive talking about such issues, especially in an open forum when talking from personal experience, as I realize there have been people from my dojo who have been on Aikiweb in the past... however the issues are open and apparent to those who look... though even this is relative and perhaps a non-issue for some.

Either way, this may help get the ball bouncing for this particular thread. :)

Peace

dAlen

RED
08-07-2009, 01:49 PM
That sounds outrageous man!

I mean why do you think your dojo got that way?

Ron Tisdale
08-07-2009, 01:56 PM
I think you may have a different idea of "foundational skills" than Kevin does. Just guessing though...I'm sure Kevin will pop in and say something.

FYI...*if* I am correct in what Kevin was thinking, even if you were in a style that gave step by step instructions from day one as to where the feet and hands go...I don't think that in itself get's the foundational skills (that I am thinking about) in your body. Something more is needed. And if you get the something more, the rest of the issues kind of fade away anyhow. Just my opinion.

Best,
Ron

Bob Blackburn
08-07-2009, 02:27 PM
I think it also depends out how it is taught. The old school way of showing the technique with limited 'teaching' can be much harder to get the basics down.

Also, a lot of students want to do the fun/flashy stuff and brush over the basics. This is obviously a bad long term decision. Hind sight is 20/20. :) You need strong basics or everything falls apart.

dalen7
08-07-2009, 02:28 PM
That sounds outrageous man!

I mean why do you think your dojo got that way?

In truth Im not sure. It could just be a part of this small city dojos natural evolution... I dont really know.

I do wish I could sit down and chat with my instructor about a lot of this. However due to the language its a tricky situation... even when speaking in ones native tongue its often difficult not to get someones ego to go on the defense. ;)

The instructor does appear to try and be open when I have talked with him in the past. However it may be more beneficial if those who spoke the language natively would just tell him what they thought. Sometimes the obvious alludes us.

There have been some frustrating moments to be sure... which is an understatement... but it has given me the opportunity to do some serious ego observation, as well as trying to learn from the situation Im currently in and letting things flow naturally.

The hard part is in realizing this, that each thing has its time and place, and that what is happening is here to teach me something, more so than it is me trying to change the situation - though change can happen, there is a lot that can still happen in me.

On the other hand, yes it would be nice to get some of this basic stuff straightened out, and I am amazed, as others obviously are, that the beginners never are really sat down and taught the fundamentals. [i.e., footwork, etc.]

And more so, that some techniques [actually most] are not covered which are required for higher level kyu exams. Our training tends to focus around a 6th/5th kyu level, minus the basics.

Im going out on a limb as I think back on what I understood the instructor to say. It seems his opinion is that of, "if you learn ikkyo, nikkyo, etc." its the same for every attack, etc. [I suppose in principle this may be true, but the fact remains the body dynamics are different and as the quote from Kevin points out, one must first understand these various dynamics]

Also, in regards to footwork, it appears that his thinking is similar to the above... forget footwork its natural. While this may be true there is a lack of confidence in the beginners as to the required footwork and what it means.

In a way, it seems that there is a gap in what the instructor knows, as he is talented, and how he presents the knowledge.
I suppose at a certain point you just catch on... but until then, there are a lot of frustrated beginners who can turn into mediocre mid/high level students.

I would say that potentially the one area of fault in higher kyu ranks is that of the lack of flexibility in how a technique is done. Personally I believe the technique is dynamic and fits to a given situation. But some appear to think there is one particular body dynamic that works for each technique.

The issue with this is that it has caused confusion in the lower kyus who want to feel like they have a basic grasp of a technique. When in reality they would probably benefit from knowing that it is just one of many possibilities of what they are learning.

Now this concept is not new in theory, as I have heard it talked about, but Im not convinced this is shown consistently enough in practice.

I have tried to be subtle in my suggestions, and it may have paid off... even if it was on a subconscious level. As I have mentioned the senior students have been a bit more proactive recently in trying to cover the basics for the beginners, when the instructor is not there, [which he is out a bit, so I suppose he is delegating teaching for the most part to the 1st kyus], and now doing some of the more advanced moves with the higher kyu ranks... which is cool.

So step by step, as it were - :)

Peace

dAlen

dalen7
08-07-2009, 02:30 PM
FYI...*if* I am correct in what Kevin was thinking, even if you were in a style that gave step by step instructions from day one as to where the feet and hands go...I don't think that in itself get's the foundational skills (that I am thinking about) in your body. Something more is needed. And if you get the something more, the rest of the issues kind of fade away anyhow. Just my opinion.

Best,
Ron

Totally interested and ready to learn... :)

Peace,

dAlen

dalen7
08-07-2009, 02:47 PM
I think it also depends out how it is taught. The old school way of showing the technique with limited 'teaching' can be much harder to get the basics down.

Also, a lot of students want to do the fun/flashy stuff and brush over the basics. This is obviously a bad long term decision. Hind sight is 20/20. :) You need strong basics or everything falls apart.

heheh...you can keep the flashy stuff! :D
[read my sumi otoshi post, etc.] lol

Give me the basic foundations for sure. I am interested in this whole body structure thing I keep hearing about in regards to Dan.

Peace

dAlen

dps
08-07-2009, 02:55 PM
I hope this is helpful in this thread. In another thread someone brought up the term Shugyo. I did a Google search and came up with this that I think illustrates the problem. If not then I am sorry to drift off topic.

http://www.lion-gv.com/v08/shugyo/html/what_is_shugyo.html

01 The Shugyo Model of Education

Shugyo Education Model
http://www.lion-gv.com/v08/shugyo/images/shugyoedu.gifThe shugyo educational paradigm is characterized by an emphasis on the depth of knowledge, wisdom, experience, technical ability.

In the shugyo model, the student takes only a handful of skills or forms and repeats them time and time again. Each repetition refining the skill or deepening the knowledge.

The aim here is total mastery over one's object of study and oneself to the point where both subject and object disappear into the void of experience... enlightenment.

Western Education Model
http://www.lion-gv.com/v08/shugyo/images/westernedu.gif
The western educational paradigm is characterized by an emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge, experiences, and skills.

In the western model, the student usually only touches the tip of many icebergs... almost never achieving mastery and rarely achieving proficiency.

The aim here is... well, it does help one to become well rounded, but I find that I have forgotten most of what I had learned in high school.

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 04:13 PM
Interesting David. This will be an interesting topic.

What has prompting my looking into this is a few things.

1. My years spent trying to learn Martial Arts and looking back and all the time that was wasted doing a bunch of inefficient training.

2. Getting to where I am now, only to find out that I have alot to learn, and really no foundation or structure in place that is "holisitic" to get there.

3. Watching 40 year old men that are in a 60 year old body, with a mind that still believes that they are 18 get hurt and frustrated in Martial Arts.

Looking at this, I think what we need are several things.

1. Definable measures of success. It could be as simple as standing on one foot for 10 seconds, or being able to move an heavy object without using your bicep muscle (come up with a way to measure that).

Not so much about martial techniques, but foundational structure in this category. basic kinesiological drills and exercises that are quantifiable and measureable. They would allow us to provide feedback to ourselves and our students where we are, where we are weak, how far we have to go.

There are many other practices out there that do this form Physical Therapy, Alexander Technique, Ki society probably has some test right?

We can then give a "prescriptive" approach to our students instead of the scatter fire "just move your hips" or "do it for 20 years".

2. Then we need to have a basic set of kata, waza or drills that is standardized. One in which allows us to practice correctly and progressively. The waza/kata should also have various points of emphasis and teaching that will allow us to show our students and selves where we are in practice.

So you do shihonage, and nage is not bending their knees and keeping the back straight. What do we do commonly today?

We say "bend your knees and keep your back straight." It is not helpful in the least!!!!

I go back to #1. It is probably due to not having foundational skills. If we identify in solo practice in #1 that the student can't bend his knees and keep his back straight doing solo exercises then why should we expect him to do it in paired Kata???

But most of us in practice in the dojo simply just do kata and Waza. It is crazy!!! Keep doing it over and over until you get it right??? Yeah it will take 20 years sure. Why?

Statistics. It took 100 people walking through the door over 20 years to get one guy that stayed 20 years and practiced it to and stuck it out to finally get it right!

But we live on this false correalation in our practice!

Anyway, I think we can take a clinical approach to the situation and distill things down to a very focused practice that is comprehensive and really follows the model that David depicted above, but the linkage needs to be there!

3. We need to develop instructor training courses that actually train people to be instructors. Not everyone has the skills to instruct...not everyone should instruct. But there are more out there that could do a better job and learn to instruct if we taught them how to do it.

There are lots of good models out there for us. How to speak. How to demonstrate techniques properly, safety, managing a dojo, how to plan a class. The military does this very, very well.

Instructor programs can actually begin before someone is Yudansha too BTW. I see no reason to wait until someone is 5 years into an art to start getting them ready to teach independently. Train the Trainer works very, very well. So many learning opportunities when we teach this way. It multiplies our ability to reach out and teach when we have others (sempai) that understand teaching methodology and the points behind what we are doing.

Anyway, a huge brain storm and dump of info!

dalen7
08-07-2009, 04:28 PM
So you do shihonage, and nage is not bending their knees and keeping the back straight. What do we do commonly today?

We say "bend your knees and keep your back straight." It is not helpful in the least!!!!

I go back to #1. It is probably due to not having foundational skills. If we identify in solo practice in #1 that the student can't bend his knees and keep his back straight doing solo exercises then why should we expect him to do it in paired Kata???

Interesting point if I understand where your coming from.
For me it would be my lack of flexibility in stretches as an example, which can then impact how my techniques are performed.

Along with the fact that I spent most of my time when I did weight training on the upper body, which left my legs a bit behind in the strength area... this of course is counter productive seeing that a persons legs are their foundation, acting as a pivotal part in Aikido movement, therefore this has a negative affect in executing Aikido techniques.

Of course you can practice a movement all you want, but if these structures are out of place then the technique has already been weakened.

Is this how your approaching it? This is something that has been in the back of my mind recently.

Peace

dAlen

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 04:57 PM
Yes, essentially that is it. and while maybe a little different perspective, this is the crux of the Internal Strength argument which is all about developing your structure.

The problem is, who really has the skill to assess and say what is and isn't wrong? I certainly don't have the complete picture, just see the problem.

There is also alot proprioceptively that we simply have to learn as well. This requires both solo work and paired practice with the proper control mechanisms in place.

This training would be much more slower and deliberate than maybe many of us would like (read boring and slow).

However, I agree with the Shugyo model above and that you can matrix your training so as you are hitting all the major areas and then spiral down to synthesis.

dps
08-07-2009, 05:10 PM
Foundational structure, isn't that what aiki taiso is for?

David

RED
08-07-2009, 09:05 PM
In truth Im not sure. It could just be a part of this small city dojos natural evolution... I dont really know.

I do wish I could sit down and chat with my instructor about a lot of this. However due to the language its a tricky situation... even when speaking in ones native tongue its often difficult not to get someones ego to go on the defense. ;)

The instructor does appear to try and be open when I have talked with him in the past. However it may be more beneficial if those who spoke the language natively would just tell him what they thought. Sometimes the obvious alludes us.

There have been some frustrating moments to be sure... which is an understatement... but it has given me the opportunity to do some serious ego observation, as well as trying to learn from the situation Im currently in and letting things flow naturally.

The hard part is in realizing this, that each thing has its time and place, and that what is happening is here to teach me something, more so than it is me trying to change the situation - though change can happen, there is a lot that can still happen in me.

On the other hand, yes it would be nice to get some of this basic stuff straightened out, and I am amazed, as others obviously are, that the beginners never are really sat down and taught the fundamentals. [i.e., footwork, etc.]

And more so, that some techniques [actually most] are not covered which are required for higher level kyu exams. Our training tends to focus around a 6th/5th kyu level, minus the basics.

Im going out on a limb as I think back on what I understood the instructor to say. It seems his opinion is that of, "if you learn ikkyo, nikkyo, etc." its the same for every attack, etc. [I suppose in principle this may be true, but the fact remains the body dynamics are different and as the quote from Kevin points out, one must first understand these various dynamics]

Also, in regards to footwork, it appears that his thinking is similar to the above... forget footwork its natural. While this may be true there is a lack of confidence in the beginners as to the required footwork and what it means.

In a way, it seems that there is a gap in what the instructor knows, as he is talented, and how he presents the knowledge.
I suppose at a certain point you just catch on... but until then, there are a lot of frustrated beginners who can turn into mediocre mid/high level students.

I would say that potentially the one area of fault in higher kyu ranks is that of the lack of flexibility in how a technique is done. Personally I believe the technique is dynamic and fits to a given situation. But some appear to think there is one particular body dynamic that works for each technique.

The issue with this is that it has caused confusion in the lower kyus who want to feel like they have a basic grasp of a technique. When in reality they would probably benefit from knowing that it is just one of many possibilities of what they are learning.

Now this concept is not new in theory, as I have heard it talked about, but Im not convinced this is shown consistently enough in practice.

I have tried to be subtle in my suggestions, and it may have paid off... even if it was on a subconscious level. As I have mentioned the senior students have been a bit more proactive recently in trying to cover the basics for the beginners, when the instructor is not there, [which he is out a bit, so I suppose he is delegating teaching for the most part to the 1st kyus], and now doing some of the more advanced moves with the higher kyu ranks... which is cool.

So step by step, as it were - :)

Peace

dAlen

That's a hard situation man. It seems like if you are stuck. Either quit the dojo or deal with it. I'm sorry you are having these problems man. I just don't see a resolution beyond trying to take things into your own hands and give instruction to your lower class men when you can.

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 09:19 PM
Foundational structure, isn't that what aiki taiso is for?

David

Yes, but is it done right, is it enough, and how do you test/evaluate where someone is in the process?

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 09:27 PM
dAlen wrote:

Im going out on a limb as I think back on what I understood the instructor to say. It seems his opinion is that of, "if you learn ikkyo, nikkyo, etc." its the same for every attack, etc. [I suppose in principle this may be true, but the fact remains the body dynamics are different and as the quote from Kevin points out, one must first understand these various dynamics]

lol, I agree with your instructor actually. I think it is the same, but alas timing, proprioception, structure, shifts, adjustments in your body, being proactive, responsive to the changes in the relationship differ.

That is where all the "stick time" of just being on the mat and training dynamically come into play.

It is also where building your body and structure come into play as well.

Techniques are not where it is at. In fact, I think the more you develop posture, structure, etc...that techiques are not important at all. They don't lead, they follow.

However, the way most of us come into the art and what we are thirsty for are the Techniques...cause we come at it with the Western Learning model that David provided.

We want to see the logical progression of the steps...open up the playbook, cookbook or whatever you want to call it, memorize the patterns of the technique and master it that way.

As you know, it becomes a very frustrating endeavor!

Especially when you throw non-cooperative play, aliveness, and randori in the mix.

Yes, you learned the techniques, but you don't really have the structure nor the experience to deal with that level of action.

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 09:36 PM
dAlen wrote:

I would say that potentially the one area of fault in higher kyu ranks is that of the lack of flexibility in how a technique is done. Personally I believe the technique is dynamic and fits to a given situation. But some appear to think there is one particular body dynamic that works for each technique.


Yes, I agree that technique is dynamic and you can have many options....like a Jazz muscian.

That said, all good muscians study classically. They learn the basic fundamentals first.

There are some common fundamentals of structure that really need to be burned into the body I think before you start playing with the variations on the theme.

This is the essence of what I am talking about.

Uechi Ryu Karate comes to mind as a particularly good waza that builds a decent structure with Sanchin Kata.

Sanchin is not too dynamic, very restrictive, and certainly won't teach you to fight. But is will (if trained right) I think help you form good habits and structure such as connecting breath with movement, shift wieght, and keeping your elbows in. It also conditions your body and burns in somethings.

Just using this as an example that many might be familiar with. There certainly are other ways to do this.

I think the challenge is to develop a waza practice that instills the things we want to instill, develops the core and body for future study. We then test and measure progress on this practice in someway. This is all before we even get to the first irimi nage! (which btw, I submit we can still practice concurrently, but is not the main focus early on).

That and as you state, our instructors should be able to articulate to us clearly why we are doing this and how it will help us later on as we develop.

We then mark promotions an measure success by the little milestones, not the big ones and then I think we will find our students and selves happier and not feeling so much like a failure maybe?

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 09:44 PM
BTW, I just want to say that I don't want anyone to think that I think this is something revolutionary and that no one practices in with these concepts, as I am sure alot of you out there do train this way. Just discussing concepts and Ideas.

dps
08-07-2009, 10:39 PM
I found this while researching another topic.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=558

Training and Cognition
by Yoshio Kuroiwa

"Techniques (form) serve as guideposts in order to learn the principles of nature. The aim of training is content and not the practice of form. An understanding of the content, meaning and purpose of techniques creates an enriched mind and a broad confidence (faith). Techniques are the expression of the mind through the body and are not for forcing people into a pattern, nor for limiting their minds. ......... It is important to understand correctly the meaning of the oft quoted expressions, "The mind leads and the body follows" and "The mind and body are one." If you misunderstand these concepts, it will prove a great hindrance and I am afraid that this will lead to the "cart being placed before the horse". Basics (kihon) are the guideposts (meaning) but are not the same as training in the technical fundamentals (kiso). Problems arise if you confuse basics and training in technical fundamentals. "

David

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 10:56 PM
I am probably going to get lost in semantics again with the above David.

"Techniques serve as guidepost..."

These days I tend to think that they serve as obstacles...at least the way we as westerners understand the word "technique".

I think we assume away alot of things when we use techniques as a guidepost or training mechanism.

I think this is what Systema seems to think to as what I see in there training is guys worried more about the structure and flowing than any techniques at all.

Sure techniques can give context. They give us something to discuss form, function, and structure around.

But then we get the huge gloss over in irimi tenkan for example of "Just move your hips!"

I think this is the problem when one says "Techniques are the guidepost..."

mathewjgano
08-08-2009, 01:36 AM
I am probably going to get lost in semantics again with the above David.

"Techniques serve as guidepost..."

These days I tend to think that they serve as obstacles...at least the way we as westerners understand the word "technique".


What you describe reminds me of when I taught kids and they kept telling me they "already knew that technique." I had to keep reminding them that they only knew the outter form of the techniques and that my seniors were still learning the very same techniques I was teaching them. I've generally been taught that techniques are there to give us something to play with...rather than doing something completely different every time, we repeat and refine our approach to that basic form.

Kevin Leavitt
08-08-2009, 05:25 AM
Thanks Matthew.

I ran into sort of the same problem when I was in charge of what the Army Calls "Individual Replacement Training" for Europe.

This was a "refresher" course of basic skills for soldiers that were going to Iraq or Afghanistan as "replacements" for people that had gotten injured, left, or they simply had a new need for a soldier.

Anyway, The skills that were taught we very basic skills such as, for example, how to get your rifle working again if it malfunctions when firing it.

Once a week I'd have some high ranking officer, that was sharp, walk into my office, after getting the in brief on what they would be covering during the 5 day course that wanted to be exempting from the course.

"Why do I have to do this, I've been in the military for 15 years and already know this."

Well, my reply was this:

"Sir, let me see your weapon". then I'd look it over and hand it right back to him and say you have 5 seconds to load, clear, and reduce stoppage, and describe to me as you do it step by step every action you are doing."

He'd never be able to do it.

Then I'd say, this is why you are taking the course sir.

What happened is this.

Yes, "he knew it". and "no he did not KNOW IT".

I think this is true in any kinda of martial art.

We learn three different ways for the most part right?

VAK: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthically.

In his mind, conceptually he had this down and could visualize himself doing this simple drill. Of course he could, He had done it in Basic, and sproradically throughout his career.

He'd sit in the back of the classroom while his soldiers did it and watch them "supervising" training.

He'd even quizzed others under him to make sure they could do it and could mentally process the steps and know if they did it wrong.

The problem is he did not understand it in his own body, in the context of "pressure" or "aliveness". He could not do this without mentally processing it, or taking a few seconds to "rehearse" it prior to showing me.

I think this happens alot in our training, especially when we look at the simple stuff. We cognitively have processed it, and understand it.

I go back to my 40 year old in a 60 year old body that has a self image that he is 18!

Our brains can help us and it can hurt us.

I think this is a good example of the kind of training we should provide instructors so they have an acute understanding of Kinesthetic learning and how it differs from Mental models of learning, which is what we are primarily concerned with and used to in the West for most of us.

Janet Rosen
08-08-2009, 03:18 PM
Yeah, what Matthew and Kevin said....

Mark Mueller
08-08-2009, 03:31 PM
3. Watching 40 year old men that are in a 60 year old body, with a mind that still believes that they are 18 get hurt and frustrated in Martial Arts.


Kevin....this is me only I am 52!

Kevin Leavitt
08-08-2009, 04:05 PM
Yea Mark, but you are probably a 52 year old guy that thinks he is in a 60 year old body, but is actually in a 40 year old body!

Bob Blackburn
08-08-2009, 04:19 PM
I am probably going to get lost in semantics again with the above David.

"Techniques serve as guidepost..."

These days I tend to think that they serve as obstacles...at least the way we as westerners understand the word "technique".

I think we assume away alot of things when we use techniques as a guidepost or training mechanism.

I think this is what Systema seems to think to as what I see in there training is guys worried more about the structure and flowing than any techniques at all.

Sure techniques can give context. They give us something to discuss form, function, and structure around.

But then we get the huge gloss over in irimi tenkan for example of "Just move your hips!"

I think this is the problem when one says "Techniques are the guidepost..."

Excellent point. I don't think this can be stressed enough.

jason jordan
08-08-2009, 05:53 PM
Also, a lot of students want to do the fun/flashy stuff and brush over the basics. This is obviously a bad long term decision. Hind sight is 20/20. :) You need strong basics or everything falls apart.

When I was 2nd Kyu I went to a school in P.R. and had private session with a yondan. I knew how to do the techniques. But one day training with him my eyes were open and my Ego vey badly bruised and almost destroyed (Im still working on keeping it dead)

He just stood there with his arm out and told me to do Ikkyo on him. I couldn't even move him. I fought and fought and could not move the guy. Then he said use your hip and arms at the same time. And it became easy. Just because you know the steps doesn't mean you know how to do the technique.

Kihons are the most important things to learn.

jason jordan
08-08-2009, 06:47 PM
I am probably going to get lost in semantics again with the above David.

"Techniques serve as guidepost..."

These days I tend to think that they serve as obstacles...at least the way we as westerners understand the word "technique".

I think we assume away alot of things when we use techniques as a guidepost or training mechanism.

I think this is what Systema seems to think to as what I see in there training is guys worried more about the structure and flowing than any techniques at all.

Sure techniques can give context. They give us something to discuss form, function, and structure around.

But then we get the huge gloss over in irimi tenkan for example of "Just move your hips!"

I think this is the problem when one says "Techniques are the guidepost..."

I am not so certain that techniques being the guide post is the issue. I think (and this may be waaaayyyyy to deep) that the issue is that we as "So Called" martial artist are not truly being Martial Artist. You stated earlier that all good musicians first study classically.....That's not entirely correct. Being a musician is how I live and was never classically trained but trained properly none-the-less, but your point was spot on.

Westerners like flash, and magic, and things that make us look better than what we are. But if we really are artist then we tend to take the simplest step and try to understand it until there is nothing more to be understood...if possible.

Artistry is about getting the most out of what I am taking up so that I can express it, and myself without limits. But to keep playing a CMaj scale note for note and thinking that I have mastered it means nothing other than being able to play the CMaj scale.

An artist says okay, this is the scale, but what others ways can I play it? And how wil it sound if I start it from the E instead of the root (C)? So then what happens is that when I am on stage and have to improvise, I'm doing more than the basic step with out expression, I can now do what I want how I want and when I wnat.

I know this is wayyy too deep, I'm sorry just expressing myself...
Good Topic

Kevin Leavitt
08-08-2009, 07:11 PM
No it is not too deep at all but right on topic I think!

A couple of us have mentioned or lamented that students simply don't want to put in the necessary level of comittment or time to realy learn.

I am sure this is true to a certain degree, but is this really all that is going on there?

Could it be that we really are not doing the best job possible to help them really understand WHY we do what we do and show them that it is worth their time to do these things that are so mundane.

I used to feel that way about yoga. Avoided it for the last 10 years cause it just seemed like so much work for such a long time to get any pay off and I'd NEVER look like some of those big time Yogi's so why bother.

Well I finally found a program/teacher that made sense to me and was shown that I can do it, and I can make gains in ways that are really significant and matter, even though they are small ones.

It is enough to keep me on track and coming back for more.

My fear is that instructors sometimes use the excuse that students really aren't committed to learning and putting in the time.

Well have we really given them a reason to spend the time doing those little things?

Or does it seem like a 20 year dream that they can only obtain through the suck factor and chasing the secrets that will reveal themselve when they are ready? (or something like that :))

jason jordan
08-08-2009, 07:25 PM
No it is not too deep at all but right on topic I think!

A couple of us have mentioned or lamented that students simply don't want to put in the necessary level of comittment or time to realy learn.

I am sure this is true to a certain degree, but is this really all that is going on there?

Could it be that we really are not doing the best job possible to help them really understand WHY we do what we do and show them that it is worth their time to do these things that are so mundane.

I used to feel that way about yoga. Avoided it for the last 10 years cause it just seemed like so much work for such a long time to get any pay off and I'd NEVER look like some of those big time Yogi's so why bother.

Well I finally found a program/teacher that made sense to me and was shown that I can do it, and I can make gains in ways that are really significant and matter, even though they are small ones.

It is enough to keep me on track and coming back for more.

My fear is that instructors sometimes use the excuse that students really aren't committed to learning and putting in the time.

Well have we really given them a reason to spend the time doing those little things?

Or does it seem like a 20 year dream that they can only obtain through the suck factor and chasing the secrets that will reveal themselve when they are ready? (or something like that :))

OOOOOHHHH You mean REAL SENSEI"S?? LOL just kidding.
But it does sound like you're talking about true pedagogy.
That's a tough point to answer for me. For 2 reasons.

1. I'm a Philomath, I love learning and understanding and the feeling you get when "The Light Comes On"

2. I have a great instructor who makes every effort to pay attention to detail and to explain why. Or at least "Challenge me" to understand why.

I think I understand where you are coming from and I completely agree with what you are saying.

That is really a hard task to do. It reminds me of the Karate Kid paint the fence scenario. He did but then got very frustrated until Miyagi showed him why.

Lyle Laizure
08-08-2009, 08:18 PM
Why can't you just speak to your instructor?

Kevin Leavitt
08-08-2009, 10:27 PM
Lyle, who are you addressing this too? In reference to what?

dalen7
08-09-2009, 11:01 AM
Lyle, who are you addressing this too? In reference to what?

I think to me... :)

Lyle, this was just an example to help start the thread flowing so to speak... and it seems to be doing pretty well.

[on a side note, my Hungarian sucks... that is one main reason. - its hard enough not to get the ego on defense when you are speaking natively in ones own tongue... but enough on this, things are working themselves out] ;)

Peace

dAlen

dalen7
08-11-2009, 04:32 PM
Something Ill add to the 101 aspect of the thread.

One thing that can easily be lacking in Aikido training in general is that aspect which helps to create strength, flexibility, dexterity, & better cardio health.

While its good that Aikido tends to be open to people of various ages, physical capabilities, etc., it seems that not enough emphasis is put on honing what is already there in each individual that comes.

You can easily go through the ranks, for the most part, and be no more flexible, etc than when you first started. You may have a better sense of being centered, as well as having Aikido act primarily as a spiritual primer... but I believe there is a more holistic aspect we are missing out on.

Ive been at Aikido for just a little over 2 years, and have to say that it doesnt really push any of the areas that say something like Thai boxing, etc would. In fact supplementing Aikido with some boxing, etc. may actually help me to better understand some of the principles I know in Aikido already, but just make them a bit more applicable in a way.

Not too long ago we started adding a litle bit of exercise to our training, which is a nice step.

But along the lines of the whole concept of finding structure, this has made me ponder a bit... there should be some relevant exercises to aikido that can help ones structure so that the techniques follow and make sense based upon flow...centeredness... ones structure. [Again, Im kind of pulling from the conversation already started, but putting it in the light that Im kind of seeing it - whether it makes a lick of sense or not is another thing... also its a bit late here which is a factor in my ability to communicate.] :)

On one level, I would expect people who have been training in Aikido awhile, not to be in the same physical condition they started in... though this can indeed be the case.

Along with that the body movements should be done with a purpose... a knowing. [Again, not just going through a motion, but feeling that your body is shifting in the way that is best suited for the situation, much like a boxer weaving, etc.]

Dont know, just a few late night thoughts. :)

Im sure others will agree in the value of cross-training... though to some extent, these concepts should be a natural part of Aikido training.

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
read through the post and realized, no more late night posting. lol
But the point is there I believe, so Ill leave it as is. :)

Kevin Leavitt
08-11-2009, 11:05 PM
I don't have the answer for sure dAlen!

I think no matter how you cut it, your in for about a 5 year process at best.

Looking back, I wish I would have discovered some of the things I am doing now sooner, I think it would have saved me a few years, but I think there are simply alot of things that have to be learned and put together.

I think developing a martial body should be done up front though. So you have a receptive framework. I am just now really getting started and I thought I was doing pretty good for a number of years, but no, I was no where near where I needed to be.

This really became apparent a year ago working with Ark and Rob John. No matter how much they tried to show me stuff, I simply could not do some very basic things that had nothing to do with aikido. Simple things like a horse stance with back straight with my heals on the ground and arms extended out in front of me with shoulders rotated down and in and chin up while breathing.

I lacked the over all condition and development in these area in order to properly develop a "ground path" if you will connecting the arms, legs, trunk as one unit and being able to move with a relaxed and receptive upper body from the lower body.

Anyway, I did some of the exercises that Mike Sigman and Ark provided and they are good, but pyschologically I had a hard time with them as I really honestly expected to do them for a while and then I would start to see improvement in my aikido practice. It did not happen that way at all.

So, having priorities I of course stopped, and then started, and stopped and started.

What finally is sticking for me right now is Bikram Yoga. It is the same 26 movements (think one 90 minute kata). It immediately felt right to me as it seems to develop the body in about the same way I felt from the other exercises. Maybe a longer path as the stuff Mike and Ark do are more directed and distilled. I suspect I will have to go back to these eventually to see any real gains to aikido, but psychologically the Bikram works for me right now.

Why? Well It is detached from my Aikido practice so I no longer try and measure my success in yoga in martial terms. I measure it in how well I can maintain stillness while in a standing bow pose while breathing for example.

Some of the stuff that Mike Sigman talks about seems to start making sense now that I am doing Pranayama with the Asanas and connecting the body as a whole.

My goal is to spend about a year really working hard on the Bikram and then maybe get back with Ark, Mike or Dan to see if I can absorb some of their training methods having a better platform in which to recieve their training.

I think it is very difficult to integrate it into your training without some mentoring and guidance from someone that is ahead of you in this process.

The good news, I think is that if you do a basic yoga practice like Bikram, which is a well desgined and thought out practice, you can start developing a decent martial platform to grow on. BTW it really is not so much about the increase in flexibility that matters either...it is developing the connection of breath to body, stillness (active relaxation and transistioning to movement.)

I think you can begin to have the mind lead the body and begin to take command of your faculties.

You won't be learning aikido, that is the jiujitsu of aikido, but at building a better framework to develop that.

cheers!

dalen7
08-12-2009, 04:04 AM
Looking back, I wish I would have discovered some of the things I am doing now sooner, I think it would have saved me a few years, but I think there are simply alot of things that have to be learned and put together.

I think developing a martial body should be done up front though. So you have a receptive framework.

No matter how much they tried to show me stuff, I simply could not do some very basic things that had nothing to do with aikido. Simple things like a horse stance with back straight with my heals on the ground and arms extended out in front of me with shoulders rotated down and in and chin up while breathing.

I lacked the over all condition and development in these area in order to properly develop a "ground path" if you will connecting the arms, legs, trunk as one unit and being able to move with a relaxed and receptive upper body from the lower body.

...I had a hard time with them as I really honestly expected to do them for a while and then I would start to see improvement in my aikido practice. It did not happen that way at all.

What finally is sticking for me right now is Bikram Yoga. It is the same 26 movements (think one 90 minute kata).

Why? Well It is detached from my Aikido practice so I no longer try and measure my success in yoga in martial terms. I measure it in how well I can maintain stillness while in a standing bow pose while breathing for example.

I think it is very difficult to integrate it into your training without some mentoring and guidance from someone that is ahead of you in this process.

...it is developing the connection of breath to body, stillness (active relaxation and transistioning to movement.)

I think you can begin to have the mind lead the body and begin to take command of your faculties.

That is the #1 problem I had when I first started Aikido... getting the body to move as one unit as it were. [still have this issue.]
It was something, that I suppose at some point, I thought the technique would help me understand...but something that just frustrated me all the more, and something I see frustrates most the others in the dojo.

[I would say a couple of the guys have it who have their 1st dan/kyu, some more so than others... but its something they have seemed to pick up on their own and havent readily been able to transmit it to others.]

It has dawned on me that I have to do something to remedy this, as well as to my overall lack of physical conditioning that Aikido as it currently is taught isnt really helping with.

Yoga is definitely on the top of the list as something which seems would help me to better feel what balance is and when my body is in a position that is conductive to whatever it may be, vs. much of the reaching I have done in the past which leaves me off balance, as well as the lack of understanding what to twist when to gain better leverage.

I remember clearly always being told to move my hips... I just didnt get it... it felt awkward. Then one day I made the connection it was because my feet werent moving as well. So simple, and sounds so silly as this is 'obvious' - but its amazing how much we can be unaware of 'basic movements' which should be obvious to us concerning our bodies and the way they move.

It seems most of us cant walk... and I think I have an issue which may have been partially behind why my knee pops... in basic training the company commander, some many years ago, said to walk like your kicking the heel off your boot...well, bad habit and my shoes wear out fast, as well as just being totally improper way to walk. Learning to walk again isnt that straightforward...and requires patience, as there can be doubt...

... not much unlike the doubt that comes with another basic, and automatic function such as breathing.
I breathe, yes? No... supposedly you have 3 steps in breathing - others make it more complex when where you are to suck the air into, etc. - and yes, even breathing becomes somewhat of a chore to relearn as you try to see what it is would benefit you the most as you were not naturally doing it... for whatever reason.

We dont have any yoga here...if we do I dont think I will ever throw myself into something like this as I did with Aikido, where understanding the language [hungarian in this example] fluently is primary to try to talk through and understand some basic concepts which can easily be misunderstood even in ones own language. [apparent as others in the dojo seem to have had issues with communication as well, and they speak the language. But as mentioned, language is the universal flaw to some extent, as unless one goes in with an expanded mind from experience, and humility it is often easy to not get the point as well as lighting a match to the ego... so communication in and of itself is an art.]

Either way, your post summed up nicely what I had tried to point to in my previous post where I was nicely stumbling over my words.
It is good that you have shared your insight and experience as well, as it will help others to get what it is that might be missing from their practice.

Looks like this topic is becoming more common place, or rather better articulated, by some, as well as understood as to what the issue is in order to find the solution.

As for Aikido Im into the holistic approach as has been pointed out here. If I do ever teach, I suppose I will do what I can to try to introduce from the beginning and emphasize structure, and then add the rest as form to play with. [form not limited to Tachi Waza, or standing grappling if you want to call Aikido that... but including realistic strikes, ie. Thai boxing, and some real ground fighting, etc. - with an emphasis to be certain on the spiritual or inner aspect of the whole thing.

All in all, Aikido is not unlike a spiritual path in this regards, in that ultimately only one person can walk that path... and its the individual who seeks the path. There can only be pointers to show them the direction, from there its up to them what they make of it.

Thanks for the post... most useful. :)

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
Should start up a international dojo with you guys here at Aikiweb.
Wonder how quickly the Aikido would progress then... lot of experience posting here on this board :D