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Ernesto Lemke
10-18-2009, 02:04 PM
In IT some drills appear to function both as a means towards building up IP as well as function as a means for evaluating that progress at the same time. I perceive measuring progress by the way Iím, for instance, able to resist increasing amounts of resistance (like in receiving pushes) as some drills give immediate feedback on whether it works or doesnít. I donít find the equivalent of such a means for evaluating progress of IP within the aikido kata (the exception maybe being suwari waza kokyu-ho/kokyu-dosa) other then making the technique work. However, I perceive too many variables within kata training due to itís prescribed form and requirements.
Iím curious as to how others evaluate their IP progress within aikido kata training. What do you look for or focus on? What have you run into? Did your kata improve? And if not, what makes you continue to still work on kata?
Best,

Ernesto Lemke

Ron Tisdale
10-19-2009, 09:28 AM
Hi Ernesto, good to see you posting here.

I don't think I have a good answer for you, but some brief thoughts...

One thing I look for is someone who is clearly stronger physically than I am. Someone who can push me around a bit, block my thows and movement using strength, and sometimes who is significantly larger than I am. Kokyu-ho dosa is definately one of the best places to try this. But even in other dosa I find the opportunity to test myself. One hand grasp, 180 or 95 degree pivot is one place that is also used in many waza. Can I control when and how I pivot? Can I re-direct enough of my partner's power so that *I* chose the timing, rather than having it forced on me? If someone is vastly stronger and is holding rather than pushing, can I still capture their center, break their balance, and have them move with me on the pivot, rather than leaving them behind?

This movement is used in many waza, and by working on these things in the dosa, it is then simply (Ha!) a matter of doing in increasingly "live" situations while applying kata/waza.

I'll think some about something like say ikkajo, and reply more later.

Best,
Ron (excellent question)

Kevin Leavitt
10-19-2009, 09:51 AM
I think it is a challenging measuring progress. Bob Graffagnino and I worked together a little this weekend and we talking some about the challenge of providing honest and correct feedback for a person so they can figure out if it is working or not.

A couple of times we thought it was working and it wasn't...then other times it was and we thought it wasn't.

And we laughed about it and simply trained and kept trying.

I think you simply have to get with people you think that are better than you and have an understanding and let them guide you and provide you feedback.

I think it is not so much doing it or not doing it that matters...but being able to do it over and over again with varying conditions and input on different people.

I also think that there are so many variables that get introduced in the process of feedback and trainnig that sometime it can be frustrating to communicate and provide a correct and consistent set of conditions.

Pauliina Lievonen
10-19-2009, 11:46 AM
Something we worked on just this weekend:

same side wrist grab, partner grabbing and pushing to see if your shoulder collapses up/in/back/whatever, so you can be pushed back. Or whether you can keep your structure while being pushed.

Once that was established (to some reasonable degree :D ), starting a tenkan movement (still being grabbed). Partner would say if they felt anything change in the arm being grabbed. That meant tensing up which gave partner something to hold on to which made it easy to counter or just stop the movement.

Managed a couple tenkans where I could maintain my own structure and my partner didn't feel anything change during the movement. (Woohoo!)

Obviously you do need a training partner who knows what to feel for.

You can do the same obviously with any kata, that is you can check 1. if your structure holds at the moment of contact or if your uke can disrupt it at that moment 2. whether or not you can keep that same structure going continuously from that moment on without your uke feeling a change.

What I find difficult personally is if the point of contact isn't on an arm (like with most aikido attacks) but on my torso or shoulder (katadori or eridori attacks, that kind of thing). :eek:

kvaak
Pauliina

Ernesto Lemke
10-19-2009, 11:58 AM
Great points gentlemen.

What prompted me to ask this question is that I like my aikido practice and lineage but I can see both the benefit and risk of abandoning this path (momentarily?) in favour of focusing solely on IT. I asked Mark Murray something similar on another thread and he currently only does IT. Dan Harden ventured out of the TMA restrictions to focus solely on IT (or Aiki as I guess he calls it but I donít want this to turn into a ď=IT=Aiki?Ē debate. Plus heís trying out aiki applications in martial contexts).

These are indeed exciting times with IT now being publicly and explicitly taught, but IT has such an allure for itís incredible outcome, the path of IT could become a path in itself. At least I can see that potentially happening. Having only secondary exposure to the Aunkai teachings, for instance, from what I gather, Aunkai doesnít teach one what to do with the accumulated IS/IP from IT. IOW itís not a martial art but an IP foundation building practice for training a martial body. (Please Rob or anyone, correct me if Iím wrong here.) What Iím trying to say is that IT as a sole focus of practice is fine as it is, but to me, and I guess to most, IT is a way towards a different end. Not a goal in itself.

One reason why IT has such an allure, I think, is that it promises to make ones aikido work for Ďrealí (differentiation of IT from fighting abilities aside). But if IT requires a methodology in itself, how does one connect ones accumulated IS/IP with ones martial methodology? Provided that is ones goal of course.
To take Aunkai as an example again, there are a couple of youtube vids where I see both Ark and Rob applying IP in a martial training setting. Still, Iím stuck with how to functionally apply and then measure IP within aikido practice and especially aikido kata. I can see that my students donít seem able to bridge the gap from IT to aikido.

Long story short, maybe Iím merely impatient. Iím sure I am. Iíll stick with it though.
Best,

Ernesto Lemke

Ernesto Lemke
10-19-2009, 12:01 PM
Hi Pauliina,

Sorry for not noting you in my previous reply. I missed your's by one hit on the keyboard.
I'll respond later since I'm late for badminton practice (yes I do that too).
Nice to see a fellow Dutch(wo)man posting!
Vriendelijke groet,

Ernesto

MM
10-19-2009, 12:51 PM
Great points gentlemen.

What prompted me to ask this question is that I like my aikido practice and lineage but I can see both the benefit and risk of abandoning this path (momentarily?) in favour of focusing solely on IT. I asked Mark Murray something similar on another thread and he currently only does IT. Dan Harden ventured out of the TMA restrictions to focus solely on IT (or Aiki as I guess he calls it but I don't want this to turn into a "=IT=Aiki?" debate. Plus he's trying out aiki applications in martial contexts).

These are indeed exciting times with IT now being publicly and explicitly taught, but IT has such an allure for it's incredible outcome, the path of IT could become a path in itself. At least I can see that potentially happening. Having only secondary exposure to the Aunkai teachings, for instance, from what I gather, Aunkai doesn't teach one what to do with the accumulated IS/IP from IT. IOW it's not a martial art but an IP foundation building practice for training a martial body. (Please Rob or anyone, correct me if I'm wrong here.) What I'm trying to say is that IT as a sole focus of practice is fine as it is, but to me, and I guess to most, IT is a way towards a different end. Not a goal in itself.


Don't think of it, necessarily, as a path. Can it become one, yeah. Does it have to, no. Let's say that at a certain point, oh, maybe 5 years of training Internal Skills, you build your body to a certain skill level. So, what do you want to do with it? It's *you*, not some application, some tool in a toolbox, some technique. What do *you* want to do? There's Ueshiba's way of using aiki, there's Shioda's way of using aiki, Tomiki's, Shirata's, Tohei's, Ueshiba Kisshomaru's, etc, etc, etc. How will you apply your IS?

Back to regular aikido training ... if IT isn't there, what do you do? If you find IT to build aiki and it isn't meshing with your aikido training, what do you do? It would be a great world if the aikido training did mesh with IT. I think some are changing that exact training paradigm, like the latest round of videos of Bill Gleason. Excellent videos, IMO. But, back to my point. I left to concentrate 100% on building IS, but never to leave aikido permanently. At some point, when I'm more comfortable with being able to move in a dynamic manner, I'll revisit aikido training. Not as I'd done before ... but similar to the manner of Ueshiba or some of his students.

Ernesto Lemke
10-19-2009, 04:09 PM
I left to concentrate 100% on building IS, but never to leave aikido permanently. At some point, when I'm more comfortable with being able to move in a dynamic manner, I'll revisit aikido training. Not as I'd done before ... but similar to the manner of Ueshiba or some of his students.

It would be interesting to see if, in your post-IT training phase (and I don't mean one ever reaches a point when one is 'done', merely thinking of having a solid enough IP foundation to start picking up aikido again) you will discover ways in which to integrate IT with aikido from day one. I find this especially interesting and important when starting teaching new students.

Taking the notion from HIPS as an example where it is noted that some koryu found and applied ways in which to combine IT into martial training as a whole entity, it can be done.
The question is, who does so nowadays and does so with succes?

jss
10-20-2009, 01:39 AM
Taking the notion from HIPS as an example where it is noted that some koryu found and applied ways in which to combine IT into martial training as a whole entity, it can be done.
The question is, who does so nowadays and does so with succes?
But how did the koryu do it? Did they first teach techniques and later filled them in with IP? Much like Takeda taught some/most/all people jujutsu first and the internal stuff later? Do we want to do the same in aikido? Or do we want to have new students practice some basic exercises first for a few years (so no actual 'aikido') and only when they have a sufficiently developed body, start doing the aikido techniques?

MM
10-20-2009, 08:23 AM
It would be interesting to see if, in your post-IT training phase (and I don't mean one ever reaches a point when one is 'done', merely thinking of having a solid enough IP foundation to start picking up aikido again) you will discover ways in which to integrate IT with aikido from day one. I find this especially interesting and important when starting teaching new students.


When you have no aiki and you're looking at things from the outside, trying to develop a way of training that includes something you have no experience in and your body doesn't have the structure ... yeah, tough to integrate IT and regular aikido practice.

I've covered parts of this before, but when you're training to "blend" in regular aikido practice, you're working on timing, body positioning, applications of the body's physical weaknesses (ex. dropping someone in a "hole"), etc. These are all jujutsu based training. "Relaxing" and "being soft" aren't internal principles, as pertains to aiki, at all.

So, when training Internal Skills (IS) and trying to work on timing, body placement, etc, that sort of detracts from building those skills. It isn't that those skills aren't important, just different than aiki.

The warm ups done in Aikido are another example. Most work them as limbering up exercises, precursors to jujutsu movement in techniques, semi-centering exercises based upon physical body movements, etc. How many actually do these warm ups with a full focus on Intent driven movement? Not imagination, not thinking, but Intent driven that makes you overheat and start sweating in about a minute, all the while you've only completed about one or two repetitions of one exercise -- not five minutes of aerobic type body movement.

Looking at things now, with a minimal amount of training, but a better structured body, I can begin to see how one *might* start training both. Until I get a few more years in, though, I'm not sure how well those ideas might hold up.

One thing that I'd most definitely change is the warm up exercises. Do them Internally without all the physical jujutsu level aspects. Add shiko.

Once those are done in class, start with two partner pushing exercises. Ueshiba did them his whole life, it should be an integral part of aikido. I don't mean all those "push tests" I've seen on Youtube where the pusher barely puts any effort into the push. I mean working up to full force pushes where the pushing person is really trying to break your structure. Some of my Youtube vids show this.

And then you get to the tricky part. Applicational usage of aiki. Just how do you build a curriculum that trains this while still keeping within the realm of Ueshiba's aikido. I really want to sit down with people like Allen Beebe, Chris Moses, Bill Gleason, Rob Liberti, etc to talk to them about how they're doing things. Distance and time don't seem to line up right. One day. :)

Upyu
10-20-2009, 08:25 AM
G
IOW it's not a martial art but an IP foundation building practice for training a martial body. (Please Rob or anyone, correct me if I'm wrong here.)

To take Aunkai as an example again, there are a couple of youtube vids where I see both Ark and Rob applying IP in a martial training setting. Still, I'm stuck with how to functionally apply and then measure IP within aikido practice and especially aikido kata. I can see that my students don't seem able to bridge the gap from IT to aikido.



Hi Ernesto,

You bring up something that's been nagging Ark for a bit now, lol.
The Aunkai system is a Martial Art, but what's been introduced to people have only been the conditioning aspects. Unless people have the skills the so called "techniques" (not really techniques, but more IP/IS applied, what he calls "Jutsu") can't even really be entertained.
Once you have a certain amount of IP&IS in your body, it's easy to reverse engineer and figure out how to apply them to "techniques" as well.

Thomas Campbell
10-20-2009, 11:57 AM
When you have no aiki and you're looking at things from the outside, trying to develop a way of training that includes something you have no experience in and your body doesn't have the structure ... yeah, tough to integrate IT and regular aikido practice.

[snip]

And then you get to the tricky part. Applicational usage of aiki. Just how do you build a curriculum that trains this while still keeping within the realm of Ueshiba's aikido. I really want to sit down with people like Allen Beebe, Chris Moses, Bill Gleason, Rob Liberti, etc to talk to them about how they're doing things. Distance and time don't seem to line up right. One day. :)

In addition to aikido kata . . . how about the issue of moving from stand-up to groundwork? There are a similar set of challenges, I think.

I'll get flak for calling them the "second generation," but like you I think it is valuable--and important--to talk and to work with guys like these, who will be the test of whether the teaching of the "pioneers" (and I'll get flak for that too :) ) like Dan, Ark and Mike is getting through and taking root. Allen, Chris, Bill and Rob, all in their own ways, stepped out of their previous training paradigms and took a chance. Courage, and the desire to improve.

Heartwarming stuff. Now it's back to the Hallmark Channel. ;)

ChrisMoses
10-20-2009, 01:08 PM
In addition to aikido kata . . . how about the issue of moving from stand-up to groundwork? There are a similar set of challenges, I think.


I need to loan you Kevin Secours "Primal Power" DVD when I get it back. He's a Systema guy, so while he doesn't play up the IMA aspect of what he's doing, his video does a great job talking about how structure and breath can work into newaza/grappling. I spent most of the video nodding and thinking, "I should have thought of that..."

Going back to Ernesto's question, I think the "how" is slowing down and working with folks who are also studying these skills. It's so easy to hide behind timing and pure speed (both important skills!) that you might think you're doing better than you are.

I'm at an interesting place with my teaching because I'm not in a position to dictate wholesale curriculum change. I teach Aikido about two times a week, but I'm doing my best to teach Aikido, not AikiBudo. That means that I need to help students who will be going to other teachers Aikido classes who will certainly want to focus on a more tradition approach to Aikido. In my sword school I can point out where I think we can use some of the Aunkai dynamics, but the curriculum is not mine to change there either. With the TNBBC I get to put in my carrots but Neil is The Fluffy Bunnyô and has the final say over what is and isn't in class.

What Neil did with TNBBC was basically put waza on hold for about three years to work the structure stuff. Then he started bringing in teaching versions of jujutsu and aiki waza to work what we were doing with the body structure stuff. These are considered "teaching" waza because they are often more difficult than they need to be in order to force a certain mechanic/movement. If you do that mechanic right, the waza works with resistance. If you don't, basically nothing happens at all. Now that kind of thing doesn't make for very good practical waza, but that's OK. It's a training tool. We can do that because we're a small group of weirdos and we're not trying to make a profit. It would be very hard to pull new students in if you made them do three years of miserable postures and silly walks, particularly if you're calling what you do Aikido (which we don't).

At some point I'll need to spend more time working on a plan for developing new students. One of my training partners has been working on that for a while and I think he's on the right path. Basically new people work on some structure work with jujutsu/judo as the kihon. Leave the aiki until people have some structure developed and the ukemi skills. This is similar to what Neil did with us to re-wire our brains from the Aikido (or Hapkido!!!) backgrounds that most of us came in with, but training rank beginners is a different challenge.

MM
10-20-2009, 01:14 PM
In addition to aikido kata . . . how about the issue of moving from stand-up to groundwork? There are a similar set of challenges, I think.

I'll get flak for calling them the "second generation," but like you I think it is valuable--and important--to talk and to work with guys like these, who will be the test of whether the teaching of the "pioneers" (and I'll get flak for that too :) ) like Dan, Ark and Mike is getting through and taking root. Allen, Chris, Bill and Rob, all in their own ways, stepped out of their previous training paradigms and took a chance. Courage, and the desire to improve.

Heartwarming stuff. Now it's back to the Hallmark Channel. ;)

To be fair, aikido has its own world. For the most part, groundwork isn't a big chunk of that world. But, given IT and aiki, I think anyone who wants to apply their "aiki...do" to groundwork would have an easier time of it. As you said, a similar set of challenges.

I like "Second Generation". I'll use that, if you don't mind. Or maybe "First Generation Students". ;) Wonder if "Grandmaster Soke Dai Oh-Sensei" is taken for the "pioneers". LOL!

Back to serious. Yeah, I think highly of all of them, even some that choose to remain unmentioned.

MM
10-20-2009, 01:17 PM
Great post, Chris. Thanks.

Allen Beebe
10-20-2009, 01:31 PM
I've covered parts of this before, but when you're training to "blend" in regular aikido practice, you're working on timing, body positioning, applications of the body's physical weaknesses (ex. dropping someone in a "hole"), etc. These are all jujutsu based training. "Relaxing" and "being soft" aren't internal principles, as pertains to aiki, at all.

This is what I identify as the Jujutsu of the tripartite: Jujutsu, Aiki-Jujutsu, Aiki no Jutsu.

So, when training Internal Skills (IS) and trying to work on timing, body placement, etc, that sort of detracts from building those skills. It isn't that those skills aren't important, just different than aiki.

This is the beauty of solo and then paired exercises aimed specifically at, first the awareness of, and then the development of, "aiki" or whatever one labels it. Of course, as you well know, one can screw these up and be self-deluded just as easily as they can anything else. Hence the profound utility of someone further along the path *skillfully* leading the way.

The warm ups done in Aikido are another example. Most work them as limbering up exercises, precursors to jujutsu movement in techniques, semi-centering exercises based upon physical body movements, etc. How many actually do these warm ups with a full focus on Intent driven movement? Not imagination, not thinking, but Intent driven that makes you overheat and start sweating in about a minute, all the while you've only completed about one or two repetitions of one exercise -- not five minutes of aerobic type body movement.

Precisely! At least in my experience and opinion.

When you have no aiki and you're looking at things from the outside, trying to develop a way of training that includes something you have no experience in and your body doesn't have the structure ... yeah, tough to integrate IT and regular aikido practice.

I agree and, and in fact would say that EVERYTHING is tough!

One thing that I'd most definitely change is the warm up exercises. Do them Internally without all the physical jujutsu level aspects. Add shiko.

Agreed, but that is the unpleasant paradox isn't it? One can't do what one doesn't know how to do until one knows how to do it! It is rough going and IMO everyone sits on a continuum. Even the presumed "experts" sit on a continuum of ability and understanding held relative to what those who judge know. This is pretty much unavoidable. I can appreciate some of their frustration though. It must be like parents talking to their children. The truth seems pretty obvious to the parents, but it isn't until the children are mature enough to see what their parent's see that they realize this. Still, I think it is healthy for parents to recognize they exist on a continuum of understanding as well . . . it develops compassion and makes their job a little less frustrating . . . a little. :hypno:

And then you get to the tricky part. Applicational usage of aiki. Just how do you build a curriculum that trains this while still keeping within the realm of Ueshiba's aikido.

Here is where, to my understanding, Aiki Jujutsu and then Aiki no Jutsu begin . . . hopefully. I am led to believe that as one progresses in Aiki Jujutsu the probability of arriving at a true Aiki no Jutsu increases rapidly. But I wonder if everyone is capable of "freeing their mind" enough for a truly substantial shift along those lines. If one just looks at the terms it is telling.

Anyway, I feel particularly fortunate because Shirata sensei left an explicit pedagogical model illustrating how the method of developing these skills directly integrates into the waza. My learning of Aikido begins and ends with that. There is no re-engineering necessary it has all been done for me. Basically one is handed "the crown jewels" right when they walk in the door . . . and it isn't waza. How cool is that! [I was floored when I learned that this, IMO, essential piece of curriculum is not taught by all students of my teacher.] Of course the unfortunate paradox still applies, one doesn't know any of this until one knows. For my part, I am happily aware of what I do know and painfully aware, based on past experience, that there must be loads that I am un-aware of. Nobody said it would be easy!

Still, as always, I'd be happy to share with you Mark, particularly since your experiences so far will most probably be enlightening to me.

Kind regards,
Allen

MM
10-20-2009, 01:41 PM
Hi Allen,
Can't disagree with most of that. :)


Still, as always, I'd be happy to share with you Mark, particularly since your experiences so far will most probably be enlightening to me.

Kind regards,
Allen

Well, except here I was looking forward to being enlightened by your experiences. Man, we'll just have to settle for each other's mediocrity. :D :eek: :freaky:

Allen Beebe
10-20-2009, 01:45 PM
Man, we'll just have to settle for each other's mediocrity. :D :eek: :freaky:

Works for me. I tend to be a "Middle Way" kind of guy anyway! ;)

Allen

Ernesto Lemke
10-21-2009, 02:16 AM
The Aunkai system is a Martial Art, but what's been introduced to people have only been the conditioning aspects.

Hi Rob,

Thanks for clearing that out. btw I send you a PM.
Best,

Ernesto

Upyu
10-21-2009, 02:52 AM
Hi Ernesto,

You bring up something that's been nagging Ark for a bit now, lol.
The Aunkai system is a Martial Art, but what's been introduced to people have only been the conditioning aspects. Unless people have the skills the so called "techniques" (not really techniques, but more IP/IS applied, what he calls "Jutsu") can't even really be entertained.
Once you have a certain amount of IP&IS in your body, it's easy to reverse engineer and figure out how to apply them to "techniques" as well.

I thought I'd add take this chance and address a couple issues, one of them partially being a repeat of what I just posted earlier.
In the past I've seen a couple of points of misunderstanding that've been propagated about the Aunkai, though the fault of that I think, is largely lain in Ark's choice of delivery when it comes to teaching these skils.

Namely the two points that stick out are
a) "the Aunkai is more a conditioning system and not an actual system, therefore it's hard to understand how to use what I've learned from the Aunkai and make it work in xxxx system"

b) The Aunkai doesn't use breath (though to be honest, this largely my fault due to my posts from several years back, and that simply shows where I was developmentally).

Concerning a)
I've already addressed this point above, but after reading several other articles by people that I can only assume have done the Aunkai exercises in a cursory manner, I think it deserves a little more explanation, especially after having sat down with Ark and discussing the issue.

The Aunkai is by and large, a complete system.
That system roughly breaks down into:
1) Understanding what needs to be trained within the body in order to develop a body that can exploit internal power & skills

2) Conditioning, creating a "frame" within the body

3) Then using the body based on movement and skills made possible through 1&2

By this logic, unless you have a solid base in 1) & 2), showing 3) ahead of time (what most people might deem as strategy, usage, all the "exciting stuff") was by Ark's thinking, largely a moot point.

In essence the developmental stage in 1) & 2) is something he placed a higher priority on, and what he considered to be a shortcut into gaining higher level skills in a relatively shorter period of time.

During the overseas presentations, Ark has largely stuck to the basics, largely abstaining from showing "techniques" & "applications," mainly because, if you follow the logic behind 1-3, it "could" be detrimental to those who genuinely want internal skills.

However, like he showed in Atlanta, he's more than happy to show people how the IP/IS skills work in specific techniques snagged from Aikido/Daitoryu etc etc. But unless the practitioner themselves are conditioned to the point that they can actually manifest this.. well I think the rest can be inferred.
And for those that've started to develop a solid base, frame, connection etc...then you can start talking about "torque/winding," "issuing" "neutralization" and what not.
In essence he places more value on solid conditioning than worrying about the skills too early in the game, i.e. it's a step by step process.

Which leads me to b)

Breath:
I know I know, I propagated the whole, he doesn't use breath.
I guess I should clarify in that inasmuch as it's a step by step process, he doesn't think that breath is important in the beginning stages.
His concern is more:
1) Can you stand in a connected manner?
2) Can you sit, while connecting the upper, middle, and lower?
3) Can you walk, while maintaining these connections?

1-3 Alone have a variety of requirements that need to be met, conditioned and developed in the body before you can talk about issuing force, neutralizing, adding breath etc.

In essence: Get 1-3 down, then breath can be considered and integrated into the training. In fact, assuming 1-3 have been developed to a certain degree, then breath training slides in more naturally simply because the conditioning is there, you feel it, and you can naturally get a "read" on what is happening/being trained in the body by the breath.

For the record, as a developmental tool, normal and reverse breathing can be used to condition the middle, out to the entire body (and he has a version of Shiko which uses the breath almost exclusively to condition the body).

Now that being said, nothing is written in stone.
If people feel that the presentations up till now haven't been as clear as they liked in terms of showing future progression, mail me with your ideas etc. If anything, Ark is open, and will listen. In fact he was discussing with me how to better break down things which are "no-brainers" for him, but not for others, and to provide a better "step by step" guide to achieving these skills.

I'm sure there's other stuff, but hopefully this will clear out some long standing questions by those that've attended the seminar and reads these posts.
Apologies for the thread drift.

Ernesto Lemke
10-21-2009, 04:14 AM
But how did the koryu do it? Did they first teach techniques and later filled them in with IP? Much like Takeda taught some/most/all people jujutsu first and the internal stuff later? Do we want to do the same in aikido?

I think itís more paradoxical in the sense that I believe, it indeed was hidden in plain sight, to coin that popular phrase. But I donít want to get into that. The reason I started this thread is that what I find hard to do is measuring the level of IP as I try to notice and apply this within the kata. Which to me seems to be the sole purpose of having IP (health benefits aside). I run into more variables within the kata vs. some IT drills that obscure the means with which I can measure IP with any certainty. I guess itís a greater challenge.
Chris Moses mentioned speed and timing for instance. Like in some IT drills you ask some specific type of resistance or cooperation. But only in some kata do you specifically ask this type of cooperation (ok ok thereís always some sort of cooperation but at least I try to get to a point where thereís none). How many times do you perceive uke (and yourself too) switch gears during a kata sequence? I guess itís one pitfall of knowing in advance whatís coming. At least Iím certainly guilty of some of that though Iím trying not to be.

Or do we want to have new students practice some basic exercises first for a few years (so no actual 'aikido') and only when they have a sufficiently developed body, start doing the aikido techniques?

Well that somewhat describes how one approaches the issue in the tradition I'm a member of. I was just unfortunate enough to first be affiliated with another organization that didnít so my shortcomings (many I'm afraid :crazy: ) are mine to bear. But I'm trying to catch up!
Best,

Ernesto Lemke

jss
10-21-2009, 05:58 AM
Chris Moses mentioned speed and timing for instance. Like in some IT drills you ask some specific type of resistance or cooperation. But only in some kata do you specifically ask this type of cooperation (ok ok there's always some sort of cooperation but at least I try to get to a point where there's none). How many times do you perceive uke (and yourself too) switch gears during a kata sequence? I guess it's one pitfall of knowing in advance what's coming. At least I'm certainly guilty of some of that though I'm trying not to be.
I think you need more differentiation between different kinds of exercises: IT drills, technique drills, kata and sparring.
IT drills train the basic IT stuff. Technique drills train the techniques. (So for aikido: uke attacks, nage/tori performs aikido technique.) In both these drills uke is being totally cooperative.
Kata training requires uke to present you with a challenge, a problem (set of problems) to solve. Basically this is kata training of the koryu as described by Ellis Amdur in his books. I don't think it's feasible to put this kind of training back in aikido. Finding more ways to drill techniques makes more sense.
Sparring is the only training that has a truly uncooperative partner, because he's actively resisting you and trying to do his own thing on you.

Some recommended reading, especially the five kinds of drills (posted earlier in a different thread; think it was Don Magee): http://aliveness101.blogspot.com/2008/05/notes-on-drilling.html.

jss
10-21-2009, 06:24 AM
Edit time ran out:
Since the above is partially a semantic answer (rename 'kata' to 'technique drills' and problem solved :)), the first answer to your actual question that entered my thoughts was "If you have trouble measuring IP within kata, you're not displaying enough IP in your kata for it to be measurable."
The purpose of kata training is to add stuff like timing, placement and technique (locks, throws) to the IT drills, so you need to be sufficiently proficient in the IT drills and then add aspects of kata training until you arrive at full-blown kata training.

ChrisMoses
10-21-2009, 11:15 AM
Chris Moses mentioned speed and timing for instance. Like in some IT drills you ask some specific type of resistance or cooperation. But only in some kata do you specifically ask this type of cooperation (ok ok there's always some sort of cooperation but at least I try to get to a point where there's none). How many times do you perceive uke (and yourself too) switch gears during a kata sequence? I guess it's one pitfall of knowing in advance what's coming. At least I'm certainly guilty of some of that though I'm trying not to be.

First, very few lines of Aikido do what I would really consider kata, that is a very specific detailed COMPLETELY choreographed scenario for uke and nage. Aikido generally trains in a grey area between kata, oyowaza (applied technique) and randori (in the Judo sense, not multiple attackers). If people were actually doing kata, this would be easier because there would be a very specific way the attack was done every single time that would facilitate the study of that technique. But, like you point out, people change things up, attack differently, respond differently and (very unfortunately) take advantage of their knowledge of where the technique is going. That's not kata.

So how we train it, is actually to move more into a kata like relationship. Training partners DO request a particular kind of attack. We DO agree to the speed that we're going to work AND call each other on it when we leave the agreed parameters. It's common to hear people ask their partners if they want more pressure, or what kind of pressure they want (neutral, pulling, pushing, muscular, structure/frame based...). It also requires nage to be very introspective and critical of themselves. A common scenario with us is for nage to pull of a very respectable throw only to have them exclaim, "that sucked, I lost my frame in that transition..." or "crap, I blew that and got my shoulders involved..." This is even when the throw worked. That means using the litmus of, "did they fall down?" is no longer a high enough bar.

Certainly this can't be the only way you train, but I think this is the aspect of our training that directly addresses what you're asking.

If you're just trying to work the stuff into someone else's class, that gets more difficult. The responsibility for self introspection is even greater. If you're getting used to the sensations within your body, it should be pretty obvious if you're paying attention. I had a returning Aikido student in some of my Aikido classes last month. He was very difficult. He used to do aikido maybe 5-6 years ago, but had some health problems (including brain surgery). Guy was very strong, taller than me by a bit and had a good 50 lbs on me. So we're doing kokyu-ho at the end of class and he's pretty much just shoving me. On his fourth attempt, I switched from light structure/muscular resistance to almost entirely structure resistance and it took him about two minutes to finally get me off my center. His shoulders were having uncontrollable muscular contractions by the end and he was short of breath. So we switched and I worked on aiki-age using structure. He basically sat on my wrists and used all of the tricks he knew to get some "payback" as he put it... Here's the thing, he was incredibly difficult to do the technique (kokyu-ho/aiki-age) on. He was strong, being tricky, changing his grip... This went on for another couple minutes before I finally was able to pop him over. While it took both of us quite a while to accomplish the 'technique' (exercise really...) I was honestly very pleased. By the end my arms were not tired in the slightest, I had never experienced any muscular shaking, and had eventually been able to overcome his very substantial resistance. At the same time, he was so literally exhausted from the effort it had taken to resist me that he had to go to the edge of the mat and rest. He couldn't even continue doing any more kokyu ho. Certainly I would have preferred to go all Sagawa and laugh as I hurled his pathetic attempt to resist me across the mat (all the while telling Kimura he was an idiot and would never be able to train as hard as I could, ha ha ha ha!!!). ;) So, definitely room for improvement, but I was able to get very good feedback for myself.

Solo training means more than not having a partner. ;)

thisisnotreal
10-21-2009, 11:25 AM
That was a great post Chris.
The Sagawa part is hilarious.

Rob Watson
10-21-2009, 11:59 AM
Deja vu HIPS! At least from my lowly perspective. George Ledyard wrote a while ago about the types of uke (styles of being uke) and that rang a bell for me because I started getting some of that (different styles of uke) from my seniors a while back. Bells went off then and now.

Being uke for beginners I (we) take a 'dive' so the beginners can get the form. Even worse tha na dive becasue we actually move nage/tori (as uke) into the correct position (as best we are able with primarily physical but also verbal feedback) to guide them into the correct form. I like to call this role of uke the 'guide'.

As one progresses the role of uke gradually moves into the next phase in which uke keeps their balance and center and nage/tori really must execute technique with good posture and 'intent' (I steal this from the IT discussions because as the bells in my head go off this wors seems really to capture the essense of the 'something' beyond form) other wise uke just sort of stands there maintaining thier position. I like to call this uke role the 'mountain'.

Ratchet up to the next level and uke strongly maintains their position and provides what I'd call 'active immobility' as opposed to resistance (like reversal, etc). Uke can work on using intent to show openings for atemi or reversal without actually doing them. At this level the role of uke is akin to a 'monster'.

All of the above can be done in a regular class without deviating from what sensei is showing and expect us to work on. There is a progression for both uke and nage to escalate the level of 'resistance' and 'aliveness' while still 'following the program' of senseis instruction.

In free practice or during randori or jiyuwaza most or all of this can be deployed as appropriate for the relative and respective levels ofthe participants. Even reversal and atemi (the loving kind). Typically we concetrate on kata but also do randori towrds the end of each class and there is occasional jiyuwaza training. I think sensei uses randori to guage how well we have incorporated things into our 'core' as oppoed to a specific training method (I'm likely wrong about this).

At a certain point one can be as active in thier resistance as they want and still can't help but get handled.

Now, I'm not saying we are doing IT as others but I'm just saying things are starting to sound kind of familiar and maybe we are doing some IT without really knowing it (at least I'm a bit hazy on the matter for sure). Maybe sensei is really showing it but some of us are not really ready to see it (IT). I'm the first to admit there has got to be a better way but then again maybe slow and steady is the best ... crawl, toddle, walk then run - frustratingly slow, yes, but a 'better' way?

As long as our seniors are pushing us we will improve. I know some of our seniors are out 'making the rounds' with some of the folks on 'the list' and bring stuff back. We are all always looking to move things to the next level. Our eyes are open and so is the dojo.

The one thing that is most different about training in this dojo (compared to the others I've been) is the continued emphasis on moving slowly. Doing things slow really forces and allows one to focus on exactly what every part of ones body and awareness, as well as uke, is doing at every pont through the technique. This is hardest on uke because they have to maintain their 'integrity' throughout the technique (I mean integrity in the sense of the role they are playing at the time - guiding, mountain, monster).

Fun stuff. More to learn than one knows but imagination helps.

Thanks

Ernesto Lemke
10-21-2009, 03:53 PM
Wonderful post Chris. I especially loved:

Certainly I would have preferred to go all Sagawa

:D