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Thomas Osborn
08-01-2010, 02:13 PM
NOTE; A few people have questioned why I do not teach throws. I have found three reasons for doing techniques to a standing pin, as opposed to finishing with a throw or a ground pin.
Site limitations
It is very rare to find any kind of mat in a VA facility. Much more usual is linoleum, wood, concrete slab or rug on slab. These all preclude any type of throw. I may do an occasional take down to a ground pin, but I usually only do a demonstration if I have a vet who I feel can take the move safely. There have always been a number of vets in each class who do not have the flexibility or capability to get down on the ground safely.
Teaching objective versus time limitations
Learning to do even basic falls safely, can take many classes, even in a dojo with adequate mats. Plus, falls and rolls are rarely useful in the real world, and probably won’t be particularly helpful in dealing with their PTSD issues. As I normally have vets for only a few weeks, I would much rather commit the time to giving them exposure to principles and practices which can be of value in their day-to-day living.
Learning advantages
An Aikido, technique is a process, it is not an end. In the dojo it sometimes seems as if most nage are focusing intensely on getting to the end of a technique, the throw. All to often the process between the attack and throw are rushed through, often given short shrift. There is not adequate focus on the intermediate motions and actions that bring you to, and allow a successful finish. This lack of attention to the process also often results in a loss if control of uke. [NOTE; working with people who don’t know how to “take ukeme” has shown me how often I am apt to lose control during a technique because my technique is not consistantly focused on where I am “now” as a part of a flowing process. I’m not always sure the vets are learning much, but I am learning an enormous amount about the misperceptions, subtle weaknesses and glaring faults in my own Aikido.]
When doing a technique to a standing pin, there in no idea of “throwing uke away”. As the desired end result is to hold uke in a safe and controlled position, there is more focus on attaining and maintaining control through out the entire technique. Students quickly find that a smooth, balanced flow is what best allows firm control from the initiating attack through to the final pin, where, as on of the vets put it, “Now we can talk this situation over. Right?”

Of course, it would be best to teach technique to both a standing pin and a throw. But without mats, I can’t do that. And I really believe it would be very benificial to occasionally do techniques to a standing pin as a part of a regular dojo’s learning process.


(Original blog post may be found here (http://ptsd-veterans.blogspot.com/2010/08/no-throws-aikido.html).)

Janet Rosen
08-01-2010, 02:39 PM
I think your reasons, given the group you are teaching and your/their goals, is apt, and agree the potential benefits are excellent for all of us - learning to be in control of one's own body before joining with the training partner, then keeping that control with the two forming one, should mean being able to go just to the point of taking balance and choosing how/when/where uke goes.

danj
08-01-2010, 08:52 PM
Possibly the only danger in stopping technique at a certain point (for the very good reasons you describe) is that the completion of full movement of technique isn't learnt and may compromise the effectiveness of technique (should that be a goal). Weapons work, solo or paired can help develop that sense of completion of movement without the draw backs associated with it in aikido kata practice.
just my 0.02 anyway, bravo for a great programme!

Buck
08-02-2010, 09:41 AM
NOTE; [I]A few people have questioned why I do not teach throws.

Really interesting blog entry. I understand the reasons for not teaching throws per the limitations and circumstances; what an interesting teaching challenge.

While reading the blog I was thinking about how really important are throws and the roles they have. Do techniques have two parts to the waza. One being the engagement and the other the throw? What changes and discoveries are made if throws can't be done? How does that change the dynamics, the mechanics, and approach to wazas.

As I never thought not to finish with a throw or take to ground to pin; for those waza that do. This opens up new avenues for my training.

Good blog!

L. Camejo
08-02-2010, 09:49 AM
Plus, falls and rolls are rarely useful in the real world,Seriously? Haven't you ever slipped and fell?

The most often used physical element of our Aikido outside of the dojo has been ukemi. My wife took only 2 classes and that was the only thing she knew and it saved her from getting a broken collarbone or worse during a fall.

I can understand not teaching it because of the lack of mats or other reasons, but to say it isn't used in the real world does not jibe with my experience or most of the Aikidoka I know who have been training for some years.

Just a thought.

LC

Carsten Möllering
08-03-2010, 01:58 AM
Interesting.

When I practice waza or maybe you call it kihon, there is a specific "construction" of each technique.
There is the meeting (deai), contact (atari), breaking the balance (kuzushi) and at last applying the technique itself (waza).

In the aikido I know, the feeling in this process is leading "down". The Orientation of the body in this process is "downwards". And the construction of each technique uses the "way down", uses gravity.

So, when not using this way down, this orientation and feeling downwards, this construction downways, the whole process, beginning from the first movement, from the first contact, changes in a very specific way.

There are standing holds or chokes we practice sometimes, from irimi nage or shiho nage or ude garami ...
This feeling is different.

I used to train in a dojo where there was no breakfall possible. What was practiced there was no more "compatible" after a while. The techniques had changed

So don't you think, you are "changing" the techniques?

Carsten

Janet Rosen
08-03-2010, 10:51 AM
In the aikido I know, the feeling in this process is leading "down". The Orientation of the body in this process is "downwards". And the construction of each technique uses the "way down", uses gravity.

Hi Carsten. I can't speak for the OP but I would say that there are definitely times in many techniques during which my primary direction is not downward.

On shihonage at speed my movement is a spiraling one that starts mostly lateral, sweeps upward (to bring break uke's posture that way), then circles and drops only at the end.

Doing it slowly, either as a training exercise to find balance points, or in working with folks who cannot go to the ground, it is easy to stop at the "up" balance breaking point OR to complete the circular movement but support them into as much of a back stretch as they can handle.

There are direct entry iriminages that I do as pure "enter and down" that I'd never attempt with someone who couldn't take a fall. On something like, say, ikkyo, I'd say I have a choice based on the attack and the attacker. If the attack is a fast shomenuchi, sure I could do a direct entry approach and respong with a strong downward cut that brings uke down. But on a more lateral attack, say a katatori, I'm just as likely to start with a more lateral/circular move that can take uke's balance to the point of turning and needing to put his free hand on the ground - at which point, if he cannot safely go to the ground, we stop.

I don't see these as changing the technique, just as choosing to not completely finish it.

Conrad Gus
08-03-2010, 12:33 PM
Asai Sensei in Germany does a great deal of teaching with beginners using movements that do not end in ukemi or ground pins. It takes away the fear barrier for long enough for them to learn some aikido rather than treating ukemi as a prerequisite to actually learning techniques.

Additionally, it has the effect of increasing attendance in the beginner classes because less people quit due to difficulty with falling or rolling.

Carsten Möllering
08-04-2010, 06:47 AM
Asai Sensei in Germany does a great deal of teaching with beginners using movements that do not end in ukemi or ground pins. Really? Where did you experience this?
In all the dojo I know which follow Asai Sensei, beginners are taught to roll and fall from the beginning.

There are excercises in which no partner goes down to the ground, but they are made for dealing with the contact and are not limited to beginners.

It takes away the fear barrier for long enough for them to learn some aikido rather than treating ukemi as a prerequisite to actually learning techniques.
Your experience is kind of interesting to me because just the dojo of Asai sensei, and he himself, are known for very demanding ukemi, which is also very "hard" compared to what we ( > Endo sensei) do.
And as I said: Beginners do learn this from their first hour on.

Additionally, it has the effect of increasing attendance in the beginner classes because less people quit due to difficulty with falling or rolling.
Like in another thread: I am astonished that doing ukemi, or learning ukemi can be a reason for quitting aikido?

You can lead your partner safe and soft to the ground. There is no need for breakfall, no need for forward roll, no need for backward roll in no technique.
I practiced with people with injured necks, with people about 75 years old, with pregnant women, with people with injure back/spine and so on.

That is also our way to treat beginners who are not used to taking ukemi.

Carsten

Conrad Gus
08-04-2010, 11:43 AM
Really? Where did you experience this?

Your experience is kind of interesting to me because just the dojo of Asai sensei, and he himself, are known for very demanding ukemi, which is also very "hard" compared to what we ( > Endo sensei) do.
And as I said: Beginners do learn this from their first hour on.

Like in another thread: I am astonished that doing ukemi, or learning ukemi can be a reason for quitting aikido?

You can lead your partner safe and soft to the ground. There is no need for breakfall, no need for forward roll, no need for backward roll in no technique.
I practiced with people with injured necks, with people about 75 years old, with pregnant women, with people with injure back/spine and so on.

That is also our way to treat beginners who are not used to taking ukemi.

Carsten

Well, obviously your experience trumps my second-hand information. My sensei (Inaba Sensei in Calgary) was good friends with Asai Sensei and he told me that Asai Sensei told him this one time (years ago).

Having said that, when Asai Sensei came to Calgary last summer, he did stress the importance of realistic ukemi. We did painful nikkyo for quite a while, with Sensei admonishing us to not tap out too early.

As for beginners quitting aikido because of ukemi, my wife and my cousin both injured their shoulders trying to do mae ukemi and quit aikido soon after. Of course, that could have just been unfortunate accidents or even crummy teaching.

Janet Rosen
08-04-2010, 12:58 PM
As for beginners quitting aikido because of ukemi, my wife and my cousin both injured their shoulders trying to do mae ukemi and quit aikido soon after. Of course, that could have just been unfortunate accidents or even crummy teaching.

Shoulder separation is one of the common aikido injuries, mostly with beginners, and IMO reflects how common there is faulty teaching of rolling or lack of monitoring and correcting beginner's rolls. It almost always happens from either a collapse of the forward arm, which is predictable in newbies, or from the newbie "leaping" from hand to shoulder because they rear the forward hand will collapse.

Carsten Möllering
08-05-2010, 02:52 AM
Having said that, when Asai Sensei came to Calgary last summer, he did stress the importance of realistic ukemi. We did painful nikkyo for quite a while, with Sensei admonishing us to not tap out too early.:)
That sounds like Asai sensei as I know him.
He is very gentle with beginners. (As most high gradet teachers are ...) But his working on ukemi is famous over here.

Well:


... my wife and my cousin both injured their shoulders trying to do mae ukemi and quit aikido soon after. ....
Shoulder separation is one of the common aikido injuries, mostly with beginners:eek:
In over 16 years I never (!) experienced a beginner injuring his or her shoulder. Never. (what does "shoulder separation" mean? Don't find it in my dictionary but sounds heavy.)
There where three shoulder injuries in those years. All of them by very experienced uke when nage stepping on their hakama.

Teaching and practicing ukemi is part of every class. Even when teaching the advanced students.
The problems, you describe, Janet, are well known, aren't they?

Carsten

Janet Rosen
08-05-2010, 12:51 PM
In over 16 years I never (!) experienced a beginner injuring his or her shoulder. Never. (what does "shoulder separation" mean?

It refers to an injury at the top of the shoulder where the clavicle (collarbone) attaches to the upper front aspect of the scapula (shoulder blade), known as the AC joint.
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00033
I've never heard of an aikido person doing it badly enough to need surgery - plenty of time off to heal seems to do it. Folks used to tape the injury - out of favor among ER docs and other western med types, but still sometimes done in the M.A. community; I learned to do it and am in favor of keeping it available when needed.
My minor one from 1996 still bugs me with a little stiffness and ache in certain weather.

George S. Ledyard
09-16-2010, 02:29 AM
:)
That sounds like Asai sensei as I know him.
He is very gentle with beginners. (As most high gradet teachers are ...) But his working on ukemi is famous over here.

Well:

:eek:
In over 16 years I never (!) experienced a beginner injuring his or her shoulder. Never. (what does "shoulder separation" mean? Don't find it in my dictionary but sounds heavy.)
There where three shoulder injuries in those years. All of them by very experienced uke when nage stepping on their hakama.

Teaching and practicing ukemi is part of every class. Even when teaching the advanced students.
The problems, you describe, Janet, are well known, aren't they?

Carsten

Well, I must say that your experience would be atypical. Shoulder injuries are certainly one of the most common Aikido injuries. The main cause for beginners is rolling incorrectly and landing on the shoulder. Many adults have this problem but it isn't bad enough to cause a shoulder separation, but it does cause them to quit before they really get very far.

Later on, incorrect shomen attacks, yokomen attacks, way too forceful ikkyos, etc all can cause shoulder injury. I had my shoulder separated when I was a San Dan when my partner dropped me on my shoulder. So going all that time without ever seeing a shoulder injury... I don't think that's representative. I have seen quite a few.

WilliB
09-16-2010, 03:17 AM
Just to add my 2 yen, I strongly disagree with this part:

"Plus, falls and rolls are rarely useful in the real world,"

To the contrary, I can testify that being used to falling and rolling has saved my bones in real life several times already. If anything, I´d say that is the ONLY part of Aikido that I have been forced to use in real life.

Carsten Möllering
09-16-2010, 03:46 AM
So going all that time without ever seeing a shoulder injury... I don't think that's representative. I have seen quite a few.
I said there where no shoulder injuries of beginners.
And truely: The shoulder issue never and in no dojo where I practice caused a beginner to not take on with aikido.

I said that the injuries I experienced (3 when I wrote my post, now a forth one happened) happenend to advanced students.

And I know quite a few places where aikido is taught ... ;-)

How can shomen or yokomen cause a shoulder injurie?

Carsten

George S. Ledyard
09-18-2010, 01:23 PM
How can shomen or yokomen cause a shoulder injurie?

Carsten

Actually, because many Aikido folks have bad body mechanics, they hurt themselves when they strike. I had a student who did a yokomen attack... I did a direct entry and when he struck my deflecting arm his shoulder dislocated. He had gotten his hips turned too much and his striking hand was no longer in front of his center. The way most folks do ikkyo is VERY rough on shoulders if the attacker is really striking. This is one of the reason one sees such wretched striking, because putting much energy in to a shomen uchi when your nage is still at the stage of muscling technique, gets your shoulder stressed big time. Usually this results in a repetitive stress injury over time rather than an acute trauma like a separation.

I had a kid in the kid's class practicing rolls from a kneeling position. He landed directly on his shoulder and got a separation. This was his second day of class and he wasn't even being thrown... So I am just saying, I have seen a number of shoulder injuries over the years and a large number were beginners learning to roll. I think that this is one of the significant contributors to why folks quit at the beginning stages. I do not believe it is a rarity.

DonMagee
09-22-2010, 11:59 AM
From a combat sport sense and a self protection/defense sense I would rate ukemi learned in aikido and judo as the two most useful things I've learned. I say two because judo ukemi is about surviving, and aikido ukemi is about escaping.

Being picked up and slammed on the hard ground without losing composure and not getting injured could save your life.