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TimB99
03-12-2010, 10:04 AM
Hellooo everyone! :D

Have been training in aikido for almost four years now, and in stead of things getting better, it only seems to get harder and harder (the "progress" that I feel like I should be making doesn't feel very much like actual progress ). Now, I know I'm not only a newb in here, but still a beginner in this wonderful art as well, but even now I'm glad to say that it has only made my desire to get better and to take things to the "next level" stronger. And that's why I'm here. ^^

So my question is, just as the title says: what are the very best exercises or drills that you've ever done to get better at aikido (whether they be on or off the mat, or solo or partner ones), and what are the very best tips or pieces of advice that you've ever gotten?

Looking forward to hearing from you folks.

-TB

Michael Hackett
03-12-2010, 10:22 AM
The aiki taiso exercises.....funakogi undo, shomenuchi ikkyo undo, zengo undo, happo undo, tekubi kosa undo & joho, saya undo & saya chayako undo, ude furi undo & chayako, ushiro tori undo, ushiro tekubi tori undo & kotai, tenkan undo, and kokyuho undo. Those all have their roots in Ki Society and although many schools use them in one form or another, the names may differ. AFIK, all Aikido movements and waza have components of these exercises in them.

We are a AAA dojo and also do tai sabaki for each attack - those may be unique to AAA and Toyoda Sensei as I haven't seen them anywhere else.

Adam Huss
03-12-2010, 10:49 AM
Similarly to Michael Hackett's preference...I think Kihon Dosa (Sotai Dosa) is probably the most beneficial to me, as well as Kihon Dosa to Kanren Waza.

Janet Rosen
03-12-2010, 11:06 AM
The aiki taiso exercises.

I agree; I think kata contains within its movements essentially a "study at your own pace" curriculum on centering, extending, weighting, breathing, posture, etc - I also think that many students never quite "get" the potential value of this and see it as a series of stuff to go through on autopilot.

Abasan
03-12-2010, 10:54 PM
Just to be vague... :D

Lessons are learned, Wisdom is earned.

Each and everything we do is like an onion. At first, it may appear to be one thing only. Later as you understand a bit more, another layer appears that develops something else, and later more and more layers are revealed. This relates to taiso, waza and everything else.

Amassus
03-13-2010, 12:30 AM
I agree; I think kata contains within its movements essentially a "study at your own pace" curriculum on centering, extending, weighting, breathing, posture, etc - I also think that many students never quite "get" the potential value of this and see it as a series of stuff to go through on autopilot.

Too true. I'm still getting something out of those exercises.

Nafis Zahir
03-13-2010, 12:53 AM
We are a AAA dojo and also do tai sabaki for each attack - those may be unique to AAA and Toyoda Sensei as I haven't seen them anywhere else.

Toyoda Sensei use to be under Tohei Sensei.

Nafis Zahir
03-13-2010, 01:08 AM
A variety of taiso excercises, continuous bokken cuts, 5 man rondori, tonto dori, jo dori, paired weapons and kokyo dosa.


Best tip - Chiba Sensei said, "Don't get stuck doing things the same way. Always look for a better way.

jducusin
03-13-2010, 02:05 AM
One of the best and most unique tips I've ever received is to start focusing on improving your ukemi to the point where you become really responsive and can take hard and fast breakfalls whenever necessary.

Not only will it teach you to become more sensitive to the energy of your opponent (which teaches you a crucial aspect of proper technique that mere sight cannot and also trains you to be in a good position to counter) but if you're really upping the ante, you may be called upon more by your Sensei and other higher ranked practitioners to take ukemi for them. This in turn will give you additional (and dare I say, even better) opportunities to learn more about technique from feel.

All the best,
J

Mark Uttech
03-13-2010, 02:15 AM
Onegaishimasu. The first thing that always comes to mind when I think about what made the greatest difference in my aikido practice is Kokyu ho, breathing practice. I first learned the practice around the time of 5th kyu, and I noticed a difference from the get go. Even now, nearly 26 years later, it still makes the best difference!

In gassho,

Mark

Dieter Haffner
03-13-2010, 04:51 AM
At the end of a seminar weekend with Shimamoto shihan, he told us he would go home and practise a lot. So he could be better for us the next year.

Michael Hackett
03-13-2010, 10:21 AM
Nafis,

Yes, that was the relationship in the early days before Toyoda Shihan split from Tohei Shihan. I don't know the origin of the tai sabaki movements that we do today in the AAA - they could have come from Tohei Shihan directly, Toyoda Shihan could have developed them independently. There certainly was a strong influence though. If you look at Tohei Shihan's "This is Aikido", the techniques shown are virtually identical to what we do today. I just haven't seen the tai sabaki exercises anywhere else, but then I haven't seen a lot of anywhere else either.

lbb
03-13-2010, 03:35 PM
Just to be vague... :D

Lessons are learned, Wisdom is earned.

Each and everything we do is like an onion. At first, it may appear to be one thing only. Later as you understand a bit more, another layer appears that develops something else, and later more and more layers are revealed. This relates to taiso, waza and everything else.

I don't think this is vague...or maybe it would be more accurate to say, I don't think it's possible to describe this phenomenon in more specific terms. For me, the realization of the learning most often occurs some time after the learning has happened, at least as concerns aikido. I don't really have "aha" moments when I get something -- the "aha" moment, for me, is a cognitive/cerebral thing, and aikido is anything but cerebral for me. Instead, I'll be training and I'll suddenly realize that somewhere along the line, I figured out some aspect of such-and-such technique. And then, I'm into the next layer of the onion.

Everyone learns differently, and no doubt for many people there are specific exercises that help them learn aikido faster or make progress or whatever. For me, the only approach is to just keep on training -- and also, perhaps, to let go of expectations of what I should be accomplishing in what timeframe. I had a forcible experience with this, because of rheumatoid arthritis, which (to make a long story short) put me through about three years of flareups that would cripple a joint to the point of near total loss of function, for 24-48 hours. These were random and came without warning, and with increasing frequency. The only way that I was able to continue training during this time was by giving up all expectations, and all need for expectations. My body simply would not let me have any -- I couldn't say, "This week I'm going to work on xyz technique, and by next month I want to be able to do abc, and I want to test for such-and-such rank in three months". I couldn't even say, "In tonight's class, I'm going to work on my left-side forward rolls." No amount of resolve or being tough or working through the pain or any of that made-for-TV-movie crap could change the basic fact that my body was increasingly likely to fail me at any time, in unpredictable ways. I had to let all plans and expectations go, except for one: that I would continue to train, as best I could. No other expectations, no plans...just show up and train.

The result has been...well. How to describe it? I wouldn't wish rheumatoid arthritis on anyone, and yet the lesson that I've learned is priceless. I don't know that I'd trade it to be free of this disease. Because I couldn't plan what I was going to learn or work on, I had to learn to be accepting of whatever lessons were offered and that I was ready and able to learn. Experiencing this on the physical plane reminded me that this also happens in other ways. If you've spent any time around adolescents, you've probably dealt with someone who was simply not ready to learn a lesson that was staring them right in the face, and was eagerly seeking after things that they weren't ready to understand. Well, adults do this all the time too -- "I've got my plans and my agenda and by God, that's the order and the schedule on which I'm going to develop as a human being, dammit!" :D Does that ever work? It strikes me as like standing over a plant and screaming, "Grow, dammit!!!"

Progress is measured in many different ways, and some of the most important progress can't be measured at all at the time when it's happening. Lessons are learned when we're ready for them. If progress is what is wanted, perhaps the best "exercise" is the exercise of letting go.

dps
03-13-2010, 06:30 PM
I was told by my first sensei, " You ask too many questions, shut up and practice."

David

Adam Huss
03-13-2010, 09:14 PM
I was told by my first sensei, " You ask too many questions, shut up and practice."

David

One of our teachers ran a class pretty much in silence the other day. Relating it to the whole "your cup is already full" analogy and that students tend to talk and teach too much during class. It was good, everyone was noticeably more focused and got a lot more work in.

MarkWatson
03-14-2010, 10:33 AM
Id like to attend a 'silent' class but i cant help but think that you wouldnt get as much understanding from your sensei ?

Amir Krause
03-14-2010, 12:11 PM
The best tip - keep training, listen to your teacher, and think.

Progress is not linear, at times, one feels his abilities are declining while in fact, he is just before the next step of improvement (starting to grasp something new).

Amir

Shadowfax
03-14-2010, 03:53 PM
Id like to attend a 'silent' class but i cant help but think that you wouldnt get as much understanding from your sensei ?

I would have thought so too but one day sensei Tara had laryngitis and could not speak. So she showed us what to work on silently. Although it was not her intention all of us fell into training in total silence rather than our usual chatter. It was a rather cool experience and one thing I noticed was that I was seeing things in the demonstrations I might previously have missed. For instance on one technique she demonstrated both the omote and ura versions. While most of the class went to training and only were doing the omote I was doing both. At one point she came over to me and in a whisper asked me which she had demonstrated, the omote or the ura. I said both. It was nice to see her pleased smile acknowledging that I had indeed been paying attention. Sometimes too many words get in the way and distract us from the details.

As for exercises and tips. Someone once told me to keep an open mind. For me that is the beginning of every technique or excercise.

SeiserL
03-14-2010, 04:38 PM
"Again"

(meaning to just keep training)

Adam Huss
03-14-2010, 08:24 PM
Id like to attend a 'silent' class but i cant help but think that you wouldnt get as much understanding from your sensei ?

To clarify,

He talked and gave instruction...he just forbade us to speak/give advice to prevent ppl. from getting into non-related conversation (or even related conversation, that would distract from training) and to prevent people from commenting/coaching on other's techniques. Basically less talky, more throwy.

Osu!

asiawide
03-14-2010, 08:42 PM
I have done Aunkai solo drills for 6 months. Only two or three exercises for an hour daily(not everyday though... -.-) It works. At least I corrected my 'dive bunny'(Rob's usual quote..btw) habit.

Nafis Zahir
03-15-2010, 01:08 AM
Nafis,

Yes, that was the relationship in the early days before Toyoda Shihan split from Tohei Shihan. I don't know the origin of the tai sabaki movements that we do today in the AAA - they could have come from Tohei Shihan directly, Toyoda Shihan could have developed them independently. There certainly was a strong influence though. If you look at Tohei Shihan's "This is Aikido", the techniques shown are virtually identical to what we do today. I just haven't seen the tai sabaki exercises anywhere else, but then I haven't seen a lot of anywhere else either.

I won't write a long post of how I came to know this, but I came across some videos of Tohei doing many of the taiso excercises. You can have a look at them on my youtube page:

www.youtube.com/ejaazi

Let me know what you think.

phitruong
03-15-2010, 07:03 AM
best tip: go to one or two or more of the workshop(s) with those internal experts who are willing to share and teach the stuffs (vs those who know but not telling you anything or not able to teach). all those aiki-taiso exercises changed afterward. outward appearance might look the same, but inside, very different. in the words of Hiroshi Ikeda sensei "move your inside". have anyone seen my spleen? i can't pull my finger anymore! :D

Michael Hackett
03-15-2010, 01:32 PM
Nafis,

I didn't find the aiki taiso on that site. Tohei Shihan was clearly (in my mind anyway) the originator of the aiki taiso exercises. I don't know the source of the tai sabaki exercises we do though as I mentioned. For clarity's sake, the tai sabaki are particular movements in response to a specific attack. For example, for a shomenuchi strike, there is an outside movement to the head of Uke, an outside movement to the wrist, an inside movement to the head and and inside movement to the wrist. The only folks I've seen do those particular exercises are those who studied under Toyoda Shihan. Where they originated, I don't know.

chillzATL
03-15-2010, 03:57 PM
best tip: go to one or two or more of the workshop(s) with those internal experts who are willing to share and teach the stuffs (vs those who know but not telling you anything or not able to teach). all those aiki-taiso exercises changed afterward. outward appearance might look the same, but inside, very different. in the words of Hiroshi Ikeda sensei "move your inside". have anyone seen my spleen? i can't pull my finger anymore! :D

truth!

TimB99
03-15-2010, 11:51 PM
Ohh, thank you all very much already, that was awsome! :D

Been going at it with a sword every now and then.. Guess I'm still not really able to let go and relax even in those exercises. Besides that, if they do work, I'm still having difficulty in translating them to emptyhand and live training techniques. I've got some major work to do :p

Yeah, I figured those tai sabaki and aikitaiso exercises would come up. Have been thinking about those for a while now. They look and feel extremely valuable. The thing is that I never know whether I'm doing them the right way.. Even in "live" lessons, sure, I go through the motions and I try to see the bigger picture, try to feel what I'm supposed to feel, but I really don't know whether I'm doing things the right way.

That said, Phi Truong, your post sounded like it might point me further in the right direction at this point of my practices (that's not to say the rest of you weren't valuable as well :p ). I'm wondering as to exactly what constitutes those "internal experts". Are we talking tai chi here, or yoga?

One final thing (for now, anyways ;) ): "Aunkai solo drills". Never heard of them (even though they sound mighty cool:D ). Care to point me in the right direction, Jaemin? :)

So, hope to hearing some more enlightening things from you guys :D

See ya!

-TB

dps
03-16-2010, 04:00 AM
The unsoku and tegatana dosa of Shodokan Aikido are good solo exercises.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DF_Y6YbvnA

David

Abasan
03-16-2010, 05:51 AM
"I've got my plans and my agenda and by God, that's the order and the schedule on which I'm going to develop as a human being, dammit!" :D Does that ever work? It strikes me as like standing over a plant and screaming, "Grow, dammit!!!"

Progress is measured in many different ways, and some of the most important progress can't be measured at all at the time when it's happening. Lessons are learned when we're ready for them. If progress is what is wanted, perhaps the best "exercise" is the exercise of letting go.

'Letting go' has appeared ubiquitously throughout this week for me. This must be a sign.

phitruong
03-16-2010, 10:51 AM
That said, Phi Truong, your post sounded like it might point me further in the right direction at this point of my practices (that's not to say the rest of you weren't valuable as well :p ). I'm wondering as to exactly what constitutes those "internal experts". Are we talking tai chi here, or yoga?

-TB

there is a thread or two or three on aikiweb discussing about the internal folks. try search.

the three amigo (MAD or DAM):
Mike Sigman
Akuzawa Minoru
Dan Hardin

they don't associate with anyone so they are pretty open about what they teach. there are others, but you have to sign-on to their stuffs, learn the secret handshakes (mostly high-five, low-five and side-five), and promise not to reveal what you learn (actually, we don't want you to reveal yourself as you might not look that good and we might lose our lunch). :)

once you learn the stuffs, don't talk about it to aikido folks, because it's blaspheme to discuss aiki in aikido. :D

TimB99
03-17-2010, 02:27 AM
there is a thread or two or three on aikiweb discussing about the internal folks. try search.

the three amigo (MAD or DAM):
Mike Sigman
Akuzawa Minoru
Dan Hardin

they don't associate with anyone so they are pretty open about what they teach. there are others, but you have to sign-on to their stuffs, learn the secret handshakes (mostly high-five, low-five and side-five), and promise not to reveal what you learn (actually, we don't want you to reveal yourself as you might not look that good and we might lose our lunch). :)

once you learn the stuffs, don't talk about it to aikido folks, because it's blaspheme to discuss aiki in aikido. :D

I'M MORE CONFUSED THAN EVER :p

So I looked up those folks through search, and every post I saw got me more and more confused. I've got no idea what they're talking about. I feel like I've just dived into a well of stuff I've never even heard about. Sure, I've found countless of threads with them contributing, but it's all hocuspocus to me.

So where am I even supposed to start? :freaky:

gdandscompserv
03-17-2010, 07:32 AM
I'M MORE CONFUSED THAN EVER :p

So I looked up those folks through search, and every post I saw got me more and more confused. I've got no idea what they're talking about. I feel like I've just dived into a well of stuff I've never even heard about. Sure, I've found countless of threads with them contributing, but it's all hocuspocus to me.
lol, hocuspocus. YES! That's what we'll call it!
Mike, Dan, and Akuzawa are pretty advanced hocuspocus guys so following their discussions can be difficult at best. I have determined that one won't learn hocuspocus without touch time. Keep reading their post's though as I think you will find some really good information. If nothing else, at least a realization that hocuspocus is a real skill that can be learned.:cool:

lbb
03-17-2010, 10:08 AM
So where am I even supposed to start? :freaky:

Maybe with Lynn Seiser's advice. Or, perhaps, ask yourself why you're looking for "tips". Do you really feel that you've mined everything out of your practice -- out of what you can learn by simply training?

asiawide
03-17-2010, 10:17 AM
One final thing (for now, anyways ;) ): "Aunkai solo drills". Never heard of them (even though they sound mighty cool:D ). Care to point me in the right direction, Jaemin? :)

So, hope to hearing some more enlightening things from you guys :D

See ya!

-TB

You can read info about aunkai at http://www.aunkai.net. There are some aunkai guys in north america and Akuzawa sensei sometimes visit there too. Maybe you can just do aikido solo drills but I bet there are only a very very very very.... few teachers who seriously do those drills. And I bet most of the very very very very few teachers keep those secrect. If you are seriously into aikido, I recommend you to visit Aunkai in Tokyo, Japan. Probably it'll cost a lot. But it worth and will save you lots of time. You may charge me if you aren't satisfied. :)

jducusin
03-17-2010, 10:48 AM
I'M MORE CONFUSED THAN EVER :p

So I looked up those folks through search, and every post I saw got me more and more confused. I've got no idea what they're talking about. I feel like I've just dived into a well of stuff I've never even heard about. Sure, I've found countless of threads with them contributing, but it's all hocuspocus to me.

So where am I even supposed to start? :freaky:

You could do a search for their videos on YouTube to get more of a visual sense of what they're talking about (though it's something that really needs to be felt and experienced more than anything, this is a good start).

Really, the best thing you can do is get together with other students and start experimenting on your own.

Actually, my own instructor - who has a very clear and articulate way of explaining things - has had us practicing along similar lines in our adapted Aikido classes and has blogged about the exercises here on this site. Just offhand, some relevant posts would be:

http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/grab-my-wrist-1133/taking-root-3423/

http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/grab-my-wrist-1133/some-exercises-you-might-wanna-try-sometime-3185/

http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/grab-my-wrist-1133/some-training-thoughts-3876/

http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/grab-my-wrist-1133/advice-to-aikido-newbies-3228/

http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/grab-my-wrist-1133/taking-balance-3207/

Cheers,
J

jducusin
03-17-2010, 11:21 AM
Maybe with Lynn Seiser's advice. Or, perhaps, ask yourself why you're looking for "tips". Do you really feel that you've mined everything out of your practice -- out of what you can learn by simply training?

Very good point - I just revisited the original poster's first message and was reminded of how long he's been training so far...if things are going stale in practice, it would be a good idea to ask why and if there is something more that uke or nage can do within technique to up the ante. "20-year martial art" and all...

phitruong
03-17-2010, 01:32 PM
I'M MORE CONFUSED THAN EVER :p

So I looked up those folks through search, and every post I saw got me more and more confused. I've got no idea what they're talking about. I feel like I've just dived into a well of stuff I've never even heard about. Sure, I've found countless of threads with them contributing, but it's all hocuspocus to me.

So where am I even supposed to start? :freaky:

confused is a good thing. the stuffs that those folks talked about tend to go over the head of most folks. you will hear this phrase often: it has to be felt (IHTBF), i.e. hand-on transmission approach.
look under the non-aikido tradition forum for some of the workshops. i know that Dan don't usually do workshop so try PM him to see. btw, what they teach isn't magic bullet. it still takes personal commitment in training, lots of training. did i mention lots of personal solo training?

also, if you have a chance to play with those crazy systema buggers, please do so. you might learn interesting stuffs. if they ask to kick you down the stair backward, say "NO" or "HELL NO". :D

Steven Lasher
03-29-2010, 07:35 AM
Tim

Try reading the book "Mastery" by George Leonard. It discusses the frustration of hitting training plateaus and the importance of getting used to them. The longer that we train the smaller the gains seem to be so our progress does seem to be harder to come by. The good news is that you are aware of it getting harder and that's real progress!

edgarhaliman
04-02-2010, 10:56 AM
Hmm.. I think,the very best practice i've ever done is suburi and kata.. And the very best tip i've ever got is "like the moon reflected in water" :)

tlk52
04-02-2010, 10:53 PM
I've been doing rowing exercise/funekogi undo (medium fast and fast) for 10-15 minutes at a time... and also practicing standing on one foot (post standing) that I learned in a brief time practicing xing yi.

with both exercises, it's very interesting observing my own body going through changes. feeling where there is tension and letting it dissipate over time etc...

I think it's made a difference in technique but I'm not sure how to articulate it.

thisisnotreal
04-02-2010, 11:08 PM
I've been doing rowing exercise (medium fast and fast) for 10-15 minutes at a time... and also practicing standing on one foot (post standing) that I learned in a brief time practicing xing yi.

with both exercises, it's very interesting observing my own body going through changes. feeling where there is tension and letting it dissipate over time etc...

I think it's made a difference in technique but I'm not sure how to articulate it.
hi, I think you did well! I know what you mean. I always find it interesting people describing the body changes. It seems never ending..
Frankly, for me, the best tip I got was basically (maybe this is really sad too! i don't know!) from DH writing/saying about how aiki is in the body; and predominantly about the 'connected' body, at that. -do i need to disclaimer every time/?- just my ideas coming up:If -I- personally could give a tip that I think I learned myself...that is good: is about on how to increase joint stability is a good problem to search on. think about that problem - how to remove joint laxity-.[!]. and consider...about -that- tension being able to be grown without bounds in the body. as you age. getting more taut..and springy. skill based strength.
Josh

thisisnotreal
04-02-2010, 11:17 PM
Hmm.. I think,the very best practice i've ever done is suburi and kata.. And the very best tip i've ever got is "like the moon reflected in water" :)

and the very best tip i could give you on that bit at the end...is to talk about it, imagining of Yamabiko ('Way of the Mountain Echo') as the mirror -image/echo/reflection- of the dantien/tanden/hara effect on -you- *IN* your body. As the dantien area flexes, as you -get behind a push. It is in that way -reflected in the water-.
random thoughts & humbly yours,
Josh

thisisnotreal
04-04-2010, 10:37 PM
I would ask it slightly differently... I would ask about that the best exercise and tips to build the body. More specifically: what exercises help to change your body, and what kind of changes you'd be best looking for.
And, if it matters... yp .. i'm actually asking. and would love to hear what people would talk about with respect to that stuffs
good luck

thisisnotreal
04-06-2010, 12:20 AM
or maybe another way to put it:: "What do you wish you had known?".

thisisnotreal
04-06-2010, 10:14 PM
do i get the record for the longest uninterrupted stream of posts? :)

come on'now

thisisnotreal
04-06-2010, 10:30 PM
Here's something I wish I knew earlier:
if you have any body, joint or other soft-tissue injury and it's got you stuck,sad or otherwise messed up, and are looking to do something;: would recommend to check into a book that I think feeds into the connected body thing.I think it's useful as a bodywork method to help build, stretch or crack yourself into a better position/alignment. It's called The Permanent Pain Cure (http://www.permanentpaincure.com/method.htm). good luck.

bulevardi
06-02-2010, 08:46 AM
The best exercise is when everyone goes shikko over the tatami, everyone attacks by randomly randori to someone (all the way suwariwaza), and the technique will be kokyu-ho.

Robert Calton
06-02-2010, 05:43 PM
+1 for Aiki Taiso and stretches.

The best advice I've heard so far is simply "relax." :D

aikistl
06-09-2010, 12:17 AM
There were times in the kyu ranks and even now that the following is most certainly true...."The more you learn, the less you know." This always puzzled me. I thought, I am getting better.....therefore these 4 corner throws, breakfalls, and wrist techniques ought to come quick as a whip.......

However, an instructor once told me the following "The better you get at technique, the better you want to get at technique." So just remember slow and steady wins the race.