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jonreading
11-04-2010, 11:30 AM
Over the last several years I have read threads centered around violence in aikido. This theme also appears as a tangent in many related threads such as spirituality, combat, philosophy, "street" fighting, and so forth.

Inevitably, these threads all acquire a post (or multiple posts) that asserts an aikido person is capable of: A. protecting the attacker from harm, B. disarming an armed attacker, C. avoiding confrontation, D. all of the above. Currently, there are a couple of these very threads active.

I jest here but the point of my thread will be to argue whether it is realistic to expect an aikido person to successfully engage an attacker with a positive result (for all). I define successful engagement as the resolution of conflict without injury to either party (let's go will Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere terminology).

Building from the ground up are we that good? Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?

I think most of us are all talk. Those who have the necessary skills (to back up their talk) are few and far between. That does not mean I should abandon my philosophy, but it does means I should mitigate my expectations.

Thoughts?

Demetrio Cereijo
11-04-2010, 11:50 AM
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett.

Cyrijl
11-04-2010, 11:57 AM
You set so many conditions. The answer is "no". Random person in random altercation. Someone will probably get hurt, physically, emotionally or mentally.

Now, can an "aikido person" successfully restrain someone until the police come? Probably. But is someone is hell bent on hurting you, the moment you let them up, they are coming after you. Not every person is either capable of rational choice, or in the condition to make rational choices.

mathewjgano
11-04-2010, 12:07 PM
I look at it in terms of possibility and probability: Sure, it's possible, though whatever the probability is would vary on any number of factors, many of which would necessarily be invisible to me. If I'm caught on a day where my mind is sharp and my body is responsive (I've had days where I felt neither) I think I can do quite a bit to realize the ideal, and under most of the situations I'm likely to find myself in.
P.S. Not-harming the attacker means, "in a lasting way," to me.

George S. Ledyard
11-04-2010, 12:08 PM
This is my post from another thread on basically the same topic. Most folks do not understand the "non-violence" of Aikido. The way it got tranlasted into the West was not exactly how O-Sensei thought of it, which is far more complex.
I think this fundamentally a flawed and unrealistic interpretation of O-Sensei's message and intention.

Yes, Aikido techniques can be used to prevail without serious injury over an attacker if ones skills exceed, by a fair amount I think, the skills of that attacker.

But it is a myth without foundation that this is what happens i Aikido, as a martial art. A martial art, as opposed to some system of self defense, is about an encounter with an opponent who is trained. At least that was always the assumption when the term "martial arts" was coined.

O-Sensei made a couple of statements on this subject. One was that, if you wrote the character for life and the character for death on two sides of a sheet of paper, that was how much separated the outcome in a real martial encounter. In other words, one or the other combatants is dead.

The other statement is along the same lines... He said that the reason that there is no competition in Aikido is because there is no way to do it safely. If there is real contention, there will be injury. He was opposed to sportification, meaning the introduction of rules to allow competition, because he felt that Aikido was a practice that was about being in accord with the natural forces and environment around one, in which there is no real separation between you and anything else, including the attacker. Artificial "rules" have nothing to do with that.

mathewjgano
11-04-2010, 12:08 PM
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett.

Cool points awarded to Demetrio!:D

phitruong
11-04-2010, 12:25 PM
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett.

you read Pratchett and you mentioned ape? are you crazy? it's orangutan! :)

mickeygelum
11-04-2010, 12:36 PM
Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?



Absolutely not...and that is the "snake oil" that sells Aikido.

...someone is hell bent on hurting you, the moment you let them up, they are coming after you.

...an absolutely true statement.

from the ground up are we that good?

"WE" are'nt..... " I " am. I, speaking for myself only, know when to tweak, dislocate, destroy and end an existence. Those actions all have their proper time and place, and their unique ramifications.

" Aikido is an art for pussies.."

There are a multitude of examples out there (and here),
just look...some are nidan and above.

"We are not that good...a few of us are.

Train well,

Mickey

Budd
11-04-2010, 12:41 PM
Just give the Librarian ("ook") a banana and he'll be fine . . ;)

But to address the topic of the thread . . whenever you get a group of role players together, discussions around stats and capabilities can quickly reach into the realm of the absurd and supernatural. I wager all of us have been there at some point. It comes down to expectations and how you realistically prepare yourself and test yourself against those expectations.

Striving for objective measures with regard to capabilities is often a very worthwhile and admirable exercise.

Kevin Leavitt
11-04-2010, 12:42 PM
Jon,

Good post. I think that too often we look at things through very simple and fundamental eyes.

In reality the world and our engagements are very complex. In my experiences where I am right now, the enemy is a very complex thing. He is human at the basic level and yes, he will engage you with violence and harm if the opportunity or target presents. He is not stupid though, and very smart.

He keenly understands second and third order effects, he understand the art of fighting the fight in indirect and subtle ways.

He will be your friend one minute and then when you let your guard down he is ready to strike.

He will attack and prey on the weak and the oppressed.

In my experiences it is never a even or fair fight, most of the time you never get to meet your enemy face to face...again, he is smart and knows what he is doing.

Most true enemies I think are like that. It is never a simple as the romantic idea of "two opponents meet on the battlefield and fight/reason". It is a complex dance over time, distance, idealogies, skills, and experiences.

To me, "engaging" my enemy is something that is done with my whole being over time, distance...etc.

By trying to help those that are weak so they may one day stand up for themselves.

By being prepared, ready and aware...that is doing the things every day and every minute that prevent you from being a soft/easy target.

By living a good life and trying to "be the change you want to see in the world".

By understanding your environment. Standing in the right places. Smiling at the right time. Not allowing things or people to distract you.

I have found that the "battle" or "engagement" with your "enemy" is one that is fought more strategically than tactically. Tactics are direct engagement is used when all else fails.

Again, I think that a big mistake in martial arts is the fact that we tend to take a very superficial and overly simplistic look at how this whole budo, aiki thing works. As a daily practice in the very limited time we have to practice and the limited things we do practice, it can really do very little to prepare us for a one on one direct violent encounter with physical skills. However, it can serve as a good allegory or what not to help remind us what it is that we need to stay focused on.

That is, if we are looking at it with the correct perspective!

chillzATL
11-04-2010, 01:05 PM
If you view it as a martial art, then it should be able to stand up under some level of pressure in a martial context. For that to happen then it needs to be practiced with some level of serious intent, which really isn't the case these days, so no.

I really don't believe it was ever intended to be a direct fighting art. It was about experiencing, building and exploring aiki, not about fighting techniques. With aiki those techniques may well be far more valuable in a fighting context, but without it, only to a certain degree.

Alfonso
11-04-2010, 01:31 PM
what's rule # 1?

mathewjgano
11-04-2010, 01:32 PM
If you view it as a martial art, then it should be able to stand up under some level of pressure in a martial context. For that to happen then it needs to be practiced with some level of serious intent, which really isn't the case these days, so no.
Could you define what you mean by serious intent? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of "Aikido" people who have that, using my sense of the phrase, at any rate.

I really don't believe it was ever intended to be a direct fighting art. It was about experiencing, building and exploring aiki, not about fighting techniques. With aiki those techniques may well be far more valuable in a fighting context, but without it, only to a certain degree.
I might be misunderstanding your meaning here, but I'm pretty sure the ability to protect oneself was included in the intent of O Sensei regarding his art...even later on in his life, where it could be argued the emphasis was lessened.

what's rule # 1? Don't talk about fight club? :p


P.S. Kevin, awesome post!

chillzATL
11-04-2010, 01:59 PM
Could you define what you mean by serious intent? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of "Aikido" people who have that, using my sense of the phrase, at any rate.

Meaning they intend to hit you and hurt you with that hit. I don't think you see that level of seriousness or intent in many dojos. Even then it's probably a rarity in those dojos.

I might be misunderstanding your meaning here, but I'm pretty sure the ability to protect oneself was included in the intent of O Sensei regarding his art...even later on in his life, where it could be argued the emphasis was lessened.

Sure, I think it was, if one were actually doing his art, but that requires aiki, which is in short supply these days.

dps
11-04-2010, 02:30 PM
Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology


To paraphrase my son, " If you haven't realized by now that the answer is no then you have not practiced Aikido long enough to know what Aikido is."

One of my favorite movie quotes is from the 1987 movie " Gardens of Stone" where Sgt. Major "Goody" Nelson (James Earl Jones) tells Platoon Sergeant Clell Hazard (James Caan),

"Sometimes you eat the Bear, sometimes the Bear eats you."

dps

Demetrio Cereijo
11-04-2010, 02:35 PM
what's rule # 1?

Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.

Rob Watson
11-04-2010, 03:50 PM
Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.

Fear the beard.

Alfonso
11-04-2010, 05:16 PM
Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.

would rule #1 even exist without Morihei Ueshiba ?

David Board
11-04-2010, 05:36 PM
would rule #1 even exist without Morihei Ueshiba ?

Ask the Sweeper.

Anjisan
11-04-2010, 05:59 PM
You set so many conditions. The answer is "no". Random person in random altercation. Someone will probably get hurt, physically, emotionally or mentally.

Now, can an "aikido person" successfully restrain someone until the police come? Probably. But is someone is hell bent on hurting you, the moment you let them up, they are coming after you. Not every person is either capable of rational choice, or in the condition to make rational choices.

And don't forget those wiley old predators who are cold, calculating, and sickly rational. If only drunks and guys with short tempers were the biggest threats to to our kids, loved ones, the innocent and our personal safety.

George S. Ledyard
11-04-2010, 09:06 PM
Jon,

Good post. I think that too often we look at things through very simple and fundamental eyes.

In reality the world and our engagements are very complex. In my experiences where I am right now, the enemy is a very complex thing. He is human at the basic level and yes, he will engage you with violence and harm if the opportunity or target presents. He is not stupid though, and very smart.

He keenly understands second and third order effects, he understand the art of fighting the fight in indirect and subtle ways.

He will be your friend one minute and then when you let your guard down he is ready to strike.

He will attack and prey on the weak and the oppressed.

In my experiences it is never a even or fair fight, most of the time you never get to meet your enemy face to face...again, he is smart and knows what he is doing.

Most true enemies I think are like that. It is never a simple as the romantic idea of "two opponents meet on the battlefield and fight/reason". It is a complex dance over time, distance, idealogies, skills, and experiences.

To me, "engaging" my enemy is something that is done with my whole being over time, distance...etc.

By trying to help those that are weak so they may one day stand up for themselves.

By being prepared, ready and aware...that is doing the things every day and every minute that prevent you from being a soft/easy target.

By living a good life and trying to "be the change you want to see in the world".

By understanding your environment. Standing in the right places. Smiling at the right time. Not allowing things or people to distract you.

I have found that the "battle" or "engagement" with your "enemy" is one that is fought more strategically than tactically. Tactics are direct engagement is used when all else fails.

Again, I think that a big mistake in martial arts is the fact that we tend to take a very superficial and overly simplistic look at how this whole budo, aiki thing works. As a daily practice in the very limited time we have to practice and the limited things we do practice, it can really do very little to prepare us for a one on one direct violent encounter with physical skills. However, it can serve as a good allegory or what not to help remind us what it is that we need to stay focused on.

That is, if we are looking at it with the correct perspective!

Hi Kevin,
Folks doing Aikido often tend towards the "samurai wanna be" side of things. While many of the things we train in the dojo can be applied in a more martial context, the training itself has nothing to do with real fighting, even less with combat.

Most folks have never trained in an art that was about real combat, don't have any idea what that would entail, and are completely unrealistic about the training they are doing. On the positive side, I think that Aikido folks are less prone to this kind if "magical thinking" than some other arts because the way we train is just so removed from real fighting, is so stylized, that most folks realize that it isn't about fighting.

Having trained for a couple of years with Ellis Amdur Sensei in the Araki Ryu, I have to say I REALLY appreciated the experience because it put so much in perspective. I actually incorporated some stuff in to my Aikido from it but mostly it was the contrast that helped me understand what we were and were not doing in Aikido.

The first set of empty hands forms we learned from Amdur Sensei involved assassinating a guest whom you were serving tea. They were contained in the Araki Ryu manuals under some heading on the order of "How to Defeat a Superior Swordsman". In other words, don't sword fight him. That's real combat or warfare. That's why our enemy pursues asymmetrical warfare. We ARE the superior swordsman!

Aikido training is so not about this that it would be harder to find any other martial art less about this. Japanese ceramics are just as good preparation for combat as Aikido.

Aikido practice is not about fighting, it is not really about self defense except peripherally. It is really about how we live in our daily lives. Just as the Araki Ryu, which was really the dark side of the force, was fundamentally about conflict and how to survive in the midst of a world that is in conflict, Aikido is about how one lives ones life in such a way that it doesn't produce conflict and how one can potentially meet the ordinary conflicts of our daily lives in such a way that they can be transformed into something that isn't destructive and doesn't create more of that "conflict" energy.

Over and over we have these threads which I think shows how folks don't really understand what they are doing in the art. This is just another slightly changed version of "does Aikido work on the street?" I think that is about the silliest question one could ask considering that much of what ones see passing for Aikido doesn't even "work" in the dojo much less "on the street".

John Matsushima
11-04-2010, 11:40 PM
I think that if a skilled judoka or wrestler can do it, then why not an Aikidoka?

SeiserL
11-05-2010, 03:56 AM
IMHO, very few people walk the talk in any area of life.

There is often discrepancies between fantasy expectations and reality.

Should we lower our expectations or raise the quality of our training?

Rolf Granlund
11-05-2010, 04:39 AM
I personally would vote whole heartedly for raising the level of our training. There is no other option if we want to take what we learn in the dojo out onto the streets. And I'm not just talking physical altercations.

AsimHanif
11-05-2010, 07:24 AM
Good question John. Great response Lynn.
Too often I have read very long diatribes and pontifications from folks on this very forum. Most of it is self serving. Fortunately I've had opportunities to feel and observe some of them on the mat only to find their words did not match their actions in the least.
It serves as a reminder to me to 'shut up and train'.
AH

Lyle Laizure
11-05-2010, 07:50 AM
Over the last several years I have read threads centered around violence in aikido. This theme also appears as a tangent in many related threads such as spirituality, combat, philosophy, "street" fighting, and so forth.

Inevitably, these threads all acquire a post (or multiple posts) that asserts an aikido person is capable of: A. protecting the attacker from harm, B. disarming an armed attacker, C. avoiding confrontation, D. all of the above. Currently, there are a couple of these very threads active.

I jest here but the point of my thread will be to argue whether it is realistic to expect an aikido person to successfully engage an attacker with a positive result (for all). I define successful engagement as the resolution of conflict without injury to either party (let's go will Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere terminology).

Building from the ground up are we that good? Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?

I think most of us are all talk. Those who have the necessary skills (to back up their talk) are few and far between. That does not mean I should abandon my philosophy, but it does means I should mitigate my expectations.

Thoughts?

I have heard a lot of folks say that one can use Aikido to protect themselves and yet not hurt their attacker. I laugh at this. If they mean they can use Aikido to avoid a conflict and therefore neither attacker or defender are harmed then ok I can buy that. But when it comes to the physical confrontation I find it difficult to believe that the attacker will not be harmed. Not to mention the defender. Most attackers don't attack with advance notice. It is generally a surprise attack, and while I am very aware of my surroundings people will occasionaly get in close without my noticing them. I would guess that an attacker probably hasn't had the training that some of us have had and can protect him/herself the way an Aikido practitioner could.

Pain is inevitable.

jxa127
11-05-2010, 08:30 AM
Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?


Yes -- depending on the circumstances.

I've done it twice (and I'm not really that good), and so have people I've trained with.

One former training partner, who ended up graduating college and working as a cop, used a beautiful nikkyo to take down a semi-violent (belligerent, anyway) citizen and then handcuff him.

Frankly, what I've done, and most of what I've heard from other people falls into the category of physically restraining somebody doing something stupid as opposed to dealing with a cold, calculated all out attack.

BUT not all confrontations are attacks, even if they do get physical.

Maybe, for the vast majority of people studying aikido, the art is best suited to dealing with violent confrontations rather than all out attacks. I don't really know.

Regards,

-Drew

jonreading
11-05-2010, 08:37 AM
Well shoot. I am hearing only one side...The right side. HAHAHAHA. Sorry.

I think this cuts to the heart of the matter. Oddly enough, many of the same posters who have replied in other threads under the ideology that confrontation without injury is a valid expectation are not posting to this thread. Many of the same posters who confront these claims are posting to this thread. I appreciate the responses.

The resounding response from the posts here seems to point out that aikido is more about living than fighting. More specifically, it is not realistic to expect that your physical aikido will wholly prepare you to engage in physical confrontation.

Why does this message not resonant with aikido? Or does it? Where is this message becoming diluted or contorted? Clearly there are aikido people who make these claims and believe they are consistent with aikido.

I think Lynn may have touched on the next logical question series. How do we strike the proper balance in training and philosophy? How do I [correctly] translate the philosophy of aikido into my personal ideology? What are my realistic expectations for my physical competency?

If someone walks into your dojo and asks you, "what should I expect?" What is you candid answer? "Something you cannot do for 30 years, then won't be able to explain for 20 years after that?"

Russ Q
11-05-2010, 08:51 AM
If someone walks into your dojo and asks you, "what should I expect?" What is you candid answer? "Something you cannot do for 30 years, then won't be able to explain for 20 years after that?"

Damn near! :-) Because of the learning curve, aikido is a huge commitment and useless in a fighting situation for many years. (Even after obtaining a degree of proficiency (say 10 years in) it has very limited potential as a "fighting/self defence" art IMO). Therefore there has to be more overriding reasons to train. See George's post. Perhaps we can hope for a benelovent confrontation with the drunk or the aggressive panhandler but facing off against someone really bent on trying to hurt you requires a willingness to do anything to win (and having the opportunity to do so). As Lynn says, lets lower our expectations and train harder.

Cheers,

Russ

George S. Ledyard
11-05-2010, 09:51 AM
IMHO, very few people walk the talk in any area of life.

There is often discrepancies between fantasy expectations and reality.

Should we lower our expectations or raise the quality of our training?

Hi Lynn,
Well, raising the quality of the training is difficult. Given the thread about "is twice a week enough?" one can see that there is a certain lack of will in that area. Not to mention the issue of the steadily increasing average age of the average Aikidoka. There are whole dojos now where no one is young enough to even train as you would have to train if street application were your intention.

Then there is the need to change the form of the practice if that is to be the focus. I taught police, corrections, and security personnel for fifteen years. I have had plenty of my students apply techniques I taught them against resistant subjects quite successfully. But what I taught wasn't Aikido, it was Aikido based Defensive Tactics. People who are doing standard Aikido as it is done in the vast majority of dojos are fooling themselves if they think they are training for "applied self defense" or preparing themselves to fight other highly trained martial arts practitioners.

If practical application is your focus, which it was with my Defensive Tactics System, the techniques need to get smaller. There absolutely must be atemi waza. Now that atemi waza does not necessarily have to be impactive... in the LE world atemi includes "distraction" techniques such as a slap or even a pinch, something that causes pain or even just physically shifts the subject's attention.

The vast majority of the ura versions of Aikido techniques you throw out... No one in the real world is going to run around you in a circle. You have to totally retool the ukes... In the real world, the uke is not interested in the study of connection. He will let go, withdraw, break connection, resist, try to escape, clinch, and pretty much all of those things that an Aikido uke is taught from day one not to do. If you want to be prepared to fight with non-Aikido folks, you need to train with partners who are not acting like Aikido folks.

Every time this subject comes up, the few folks who have actually successfully used Aikido techniques for self defense contribute their success stories as proof that Aikido "works". I am not saying Aikido doesn't work. I am saying that the entire structure of the art as it has been developed since it stopped being called Aiki Budo is not designed for this purpose, if it ever was. Ellis Amdur has a lengthy discussion of this whole thing in his book Hidden in Plain Sight. There are many people who would debate whether Daito Ryu was really ever such a system.

Anyway, if you have successfully applied your Aikido for self defense, you encountered a subject that was not anywhere near as well trained as you were, or even trained at all. Bad guys may be dangerous but they are typically not formally trained.

There was a female karate instructor out here in Seattle many years ago who was assaulted as she entered her home. It was a true life and death encounter. The assailant clearly knew she had training and attempted to neutralize her by cutting at her eyes with a knife. They fought tooth and nail through her whole first floor and she was able to inflict enough damage that the assailant finally fled. She was in critical condition and sustained a number of permanent injuries.

That is a real self defense encounter. If you think your little nikkyo or sankyo will serve you in that kind of situation you are delusional. This karate teacher didn't have any "less than lethal" techniques in her repertoire and she barely survived. After her recovery she had to completely redo the training at her school to make it more practically oriented.

If you were to do what would need to be done to get Aikido to make sense as a form of practical self defense that would result in a reliable set of skills in a time frame that wouldn't require that training take over your life, by the time you were done, it wouldn't be Aikido any more.

And this whole protect yourself while protecting the other guy thing is nice and can be done in the right circumstances. That's in fact what I taught my police and security folks to do. But I would NEVER teach anyone to respond to a deadly force situation with less than deadly force. If the opponent in a deadly force encounter is not dead at the end, he will be broken. Any other result is just pure dumb luck.

Lyle Bogin
11-05-2010, 10:11 AM
I work with a lot of kids who lean toward surprising and aggressive behavior. This requires a great deal of interaction where things get physical and the outcome MUST be that noone is harmed. Aikido training has enabled me to moderate my use of strength. 5 years in (and I dunno how many confrontations/emergencies) and so far so good.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-05-2010, 10:20 AM
Something I have pondered a lot in this context recently is what I call for myself the „O-Sensei phantasy“ (please note straight away that this is not about the historical Morihei Ueshiba). It goes somehow like this: Through aikido, it is possible to be invincible, wise and morally superior, regardless of age, fitness and actual fighting experience.

Many an instructor and many a dojo website proclaim or insinuate this, more or less openly.

It can be extended to: I am not there yet, but my instructor is pretty good, and my shihan is certainly almost there, after all he knew the founder. And I am told it takes time, so I will do what I am told.

On a subtle level, this is what motivated my training as an enthusiastic young aikidoka in my first years – though I would have denied it of course, as most people would. In a way I should even be grateful, because I did a hell of a lot of dedicated training at that point...

I then became quite cynical about the O-Sensei phantasy for a while. Nowadays, I am interested in re-phrasing it as a kind of koan for the everyday, on and off the mat: what would it mean to maintain everybody’s integrity, even under pressure, here and now. And work towards the O-Sensei phantasy as a kind of admittedly impossible goal, a bit like „I vow to save all sentient beings...“.

This is not just metaphorical, for me personally there is an absolutely essential physical element there: if I shrink into fear and adversity even through a strong grip, how can I claim to have a mind of integrity under pressure, yet. And so we can step up the intensity. As George Sensei wrote somewhere: if there is not conflict in the training, how can we be claiming to train for conflict....

I have few illusions as to using aikido in a life-or-death scenario against a trained fighter. But I can honestly say that was never a primary goal of mine after, well, maybe 3rd kyu.

The interesting contradiction in relation to the OP : no, I am not that good – but had I not once had the hope/ illusion/ phantasy, I would maybe not have gotten to where I am, which is a great and interesting place.

kewms
11-05-2010, 10:52 AM
How many students of other martial arts have successfully used their skills in a self-defense encounter, with or without harm to the attacker? How many would be able to if the situation arose?

I think any discussion of the question has to include a couple of points that are usually ignored:

* True self-defense encounters are relatively rare, and the vast majority of potential situations can be avoided through lifestyle precautions that have nothing to do with any martial art. Even more can be avoided or diffused through awareness and calm -- attributes that martial arts develop, but which are independent of technical prowess.

* True self-defense encounters are very very serious, involving attackers who often have weapons and actively seek to use surprise, intimidation, and overwhelming force. These conditions are nearly impossible to replicate in a dojo, in any art.

And for that reason, speculation about whether aikido (or any other art) "works" is somewhat pointless. Unless you've been there, you don't know. No matter what your training or level of experience, you just don't know.

Katherine

George S. Ledyard
11-05-2010, 10:53 AM
I work with a lot of kids who lean toward surprising and aggressive behavior. This requires a great deal of interaction where things get physical and the outcome MUST be that noone is harmed. Aikido training has enabled me to moderate my use of strength. 5 years in (and I dunno how many confrontations/emergencies) and so far so good.

Hi Lyle,
I actually had a separate program called Options for protective Control which I developed for the Mercer Island School District and then taught around a bit. In Washington State most defensive tactics techniques which are standard for LE and Security are considered excessive force with juveniles unless there is a threat pf physical arm to another one of the kids or a teacher. So normal pain compliance is out. All you can really do is balance control and limb compression. You really need to have a positive size mismatch to exercise that much restraint on a kid who may have a full adult sized body but whom the state considers a child. Juvenile stuff is an art in itself.
- George

George S. Ledyard
11-05-2010, 11:13 AM
I then became quite cynical about the O-Sensei phantasy for a while. Nowadays, I am interested in re-phrasing it as a kind of koan for the everyday, on and off the mat: what would it mean to maintain everybody’s integrity, even under pressure, here and now. And work towards the O-Sensei phantasy as a kind of admittedly impossible goal, a bit like „I vow to save all sentient beings...“.

This is not just metaphorical, for me personally there is an absolutely essential physical element there: if I shrink into fear and adversity even through a strong grip, how can I claim to have a mind of integrity under pressure, yet. And so we can step up the intensity. As George Sensei wrote somewhere: if there is not conflict in the training, how can we be claiming to train for conflict....

Yes, I think this is what I am getting at. I think that Aikido is about developing such a deep understanding of the connection of all of us that it becomes ones default setting. Training must function as a vehicle to remove fear. Fear is essentially dualistic. If one really wants to make an understanding of connection ones default setting on a very deep level, the issue of fear must absolutely be dealt with. But most martial arts folks think that the fear they need to deal with is the fear of injury. Actually, many of the rough, tough martial artists I know are pretty much fearless when it comes to the physical aspect of confrontation yet they are largely unconscious of how fear based most of their relationship / social interactions really are.

Aikido practice can be and should be about far deeper stuff than merely self defense. Most students of Aikido will never, in their lives, use a single technique they've learned on the mat for self defense. If it isn't about something deeper and more central to ones life issues, why spend all that time and money?

Aikido is a means of personal transformation and development with a martial paradigm. The process of trying to perfect ones Aikido will pretty much push every button you have over time. You either step up to the plate and deal with your stuff or your stuff becomes the limiting factor in your Aikido. That's the purpose of the practice as far as I can see, and is of far more use to the average practitioner than effective street technique will ever be.

jxa127
11-05-2010, 11:31 AM
Every time this subject comes up, the few folks who have actually successfully used Aikido techniques for self defense contribute their success stories as proof that Aikido "works".

George,

I greatly enjoy your posts. Thank you for posting in detail what you've experienced.

Something bothers me about this whole meta-conversation that keeps popping up about whether or not aikido "works," and I'm wondering what your thoughts are.

First, what do you define as "aikido"? From my point of view, what you describe as your "aikido-based defense techniques" are aikido. Why do you consider them to not be aikido?

Second, a common rejoinder in these types of discussions goes along the lines of "of course "aikido" works, or at least mine does." Thereby implying that the art as a whole is sound, people just aren't doing it correctly. The whole discussion of internal strength training and aiki seems to follow from this line of reasoning. In other words, "aikido" works, as long as you do it like O 'Sense did, using lots of aiki.

You write:

Aikido is a means of personal transformation and development with a martial paradigm. The process of trying to perfect ones Aikido will pretty much push every button you have over time. You either step up to the plate and deal with your stuff or your stuff becomes the limiting factor in your Aikido. That's the purpose of the practice as far as I can see, and is of far more use to the average practitioner than effective street technique will ever be.


That seems to set up a dichotomy: "effective" aikido for self-defense vs. introspective aikido for self realization. I don't think you're saying that one can't be both deadly and enlightened (for lack of a better word), but it seems really difficult to get both with the broadly accepted training methods.

Am I understanding your point correctly?

Thank you,

rob_liberti
11-05-2010, 11:41 AM
I personally train aikido to develop direct experience with universal principles.

Over time, I continue to increase the level of attack and resistance to pressure test my physical understanding of the universal principles. I started exploring with dealing with attacks that were not the typical symbolic attacks done in aikido proper a few years ago and, honestly, I found I still had a lot to learn from the simple symbolic attacks but the increased challenge has been rewarding.
My physical goal is to always work more and more towards dealing with an attacker who attacks with aiki-powered MMA and not hurt them. Do I think that is reasonable? I’m not stupid; it’s a stretch goal.

Realistically, I think I can get to the point where I will be able to deal with aiki-powered MMA type attackers and do minimal damage to the attacker.

My reason is simply that for me to be able to do such a thing, I will have to be able to manifest universal principles so well that I’ll be able to manifest my true self. That is my goal. Hopefully, I’ll be able to apply the physical understanding of such principles to some amazing writings about universal principles – that I would, otherwise, not be able to truly understand very well at all. I suspect that this is potentially what O-sensei did with aiki and his study of the Kotodama.

Some people say that it is unreasonable to even want to protect your aggressor. I can see this in general. How about when you work for some institution for mentally disabled people who are very physically strong and go crazy sometimes? How about when you want to keep a teenager from hurting his brother or driving drunk and things escalate? Or, how about when you’re in the dojo and the young newbie gets overzealous and you need to step in?

Am I THAT good? Not yet...

jonreading
11-05-2010, 11:44 AM
I think we can wage a point/counter point debate over "practical" examples of aikido at length. For every good result, I am sure there exists a bad result; possibly bad enough that we do not hear about it because it was a mortal outcome.

I see more specialized training within aikido than I previously remember. I believe this to be a reasonable outsource of training that may satisfy those who require significant combat training (and that loosely falls inside the aikido system). Its really cross-training of sorts, but it also maintains a line between aikido and practical [combat] training.

I have begun to see some leaders in aikido look critically at both the translated and interpretative aspects of aikido. Its like a math problem with an incorrect variable - you can answer the problem, but the answer does not solve the equation. I think we need to look critically at some of our founding principles and philosophy separate of "what O'Sensei did". I think we need to apply a better cultural filter to translating Eastern culture into Western culture.

I do not open threads. However, the recent number of threads concerning this topic finally got me to ask a confrontational question. It is outrageous that I should even ask the question, are we that good? Yet we have threads, posts, and other evidence that confirm there are those training who absolutely think they are that good or that aikido is that good. I think fantasy was used a lot...

Ledyard Sensei mentioned it at the beginning of the thread - it is silly to even ask the question, but yet here we are.

drcarey
11-05-2010, 11:44 AM
Ideally, if you have trained long enough, you should be able to resolve a conflict with minimal injuries.
Rarely, even in science, does reality approach the ' ideal'.
A determined attacker will also be persistant, they will not stop just because you may have thrawted their first attack.
In reality the attacker will not react the way your uke does.
Nor will they attack at a speed appropriate to your abilities.
Or, for that matter, from a direction you expect.
They will not follow your lead, take a fall or throw appropriately.
In training Aikido, both uke and nage become 'programmed' to a limited number of specific attacks and ways of reacting during the exchange. In order to 'train safely' ukes are programed to respond to techniques in certain ways, take falls and throws in certain ways.
Although the possible variations of techniques available is virtually limitless, reality limits us to what we are familiar with and fewer still to those that come 'automatically'.
Outside of the dojo, things do not work this way.
A determined and persistant attacker will not stop until he is unable to continue. That may only come from restraint, injury, unconsciousness, or unfortunately, death.
The best the Aikidoka can hope for, in my opinion, is to do the least harm while insuring their own survival.

Kevin Leavitt
11-05-2010, 11:48 AM
George, thanks for your response to my post and all your others as well. I really hope to meet and train with you one day! I never seem to be around when you come to DC or the east coast though!
Jon Reading wrote:

I think Lynn may have touched on the next logical question series. How do we strike the proper balance in training and philosophy? How do I [correctly] translate the philosophy of aikido into my personal ideology? What are my realistic expectations for my physical competency?


Very good questions. I think these are probably the most important questions we should ask ourselves. I struggle with this constantly.

I think there is no right answer to this and every one must find their own way. it is a personal issue.

What is important though, is that we ask the questions and honestly seek the answers.

As a soldier, I have contemplated a great deal on the paradox of my personal beliefs toward peace and doing no harm, and the fact that doing harm actually plays a significant role in my life.

My aikido practice helps me reconcile those paradoxes.

A few post on this thread and a great deal of post on other threads deals with the whole concept of "real training", and some how eludes that much of aikido is "not realistic".

I think George Ledyard Sensei covers it pretty well.

I was fairly confused for a long while about my aikido practice...however, today, I am very clear about it and why I continue to do it.

Much like George's experiences...I use my aikido training when training for military tactics...however, as anyone who trains in defensive tactics, combatives, or any other type of program knows....these types of training are very specific, they are taught by qualified professionals that understand the nature of the training methods they are using, they are practices with control measures and parameters designed to ellicit or train particular responses/habits etc. They are very focused.

TMAs like aikido, TKD, BJJ or whatnot...are not those things...although there may be parallels and many similarities.

I think the average student simply does not have a good understanding of the intent of martial methodologies.

That should not be taken as an insult by anyone. It simply means that they do not understand how the stuff/fighting works. Why should they?

So, the realistic expectations of physical competency:

Most people have no frame of reference to establish this. In running we have measured tracks and distances and others we can judge how well we do.

In football and other sports we have rules and scores.

However, in martial arts, excluding competitive segments like Judo, BJJ, and TKD, we really have nothing to measure or judge by other than the picture/image of the "enemy" we have created in our head and rationalized what that looks like and it is based on our worst fear.

It seems rational to us, and so we start practicing something like aikido and the whole transference thing kicks with aikido as the solution set to fix it.

However, if over time, we look at the problem, begin to strip away fear, isolate the issues, we may begin to see our perceived enemy/threats a little clearer and develop more appropriate responses or skills to address them.

So as far as physical competency...I think this is a very, very difficult question to answer.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-05-2010, 11:56 AM
IMO, the question we should make to ourselves is not "Are We that Good?" but "Are We Into Orwellian Doublethink?".

George S. Ledyard
11-05-2010, 12:00 PM
George,

I greatly enjoy your posts. Thank you for posting in detail what you've experienced.

Something bothers me about this whole meta-conversation that keeps popping up about whether or not aikido "works," and I'm wondering what your thoughts are.

First, what do you define as "aikido"? From my point of view, what you describe as your "aikido-based defense techniques" are aikido. Why do you consider them to not be aikido?

I consider it to be Aikido when it is based on standard kihon waza and the practice is in the form of normal practice. Now, Saotome Sensei would say that Aikido has no from. So, in that sense, anything that involved technique with "aiki" would be Aikido by his standard. But that might mean stepping in and knocking the attacker out cold and a lot of folks on this forum wouldn't necessarily recognize that as Aikido, although it's the way I was trained.

Second, a common rejoinder in these types of discussions goes along the lines of "of course "aikido" works, or at least mine does." Thereby implying that the art as a whole is sound, people just aren't doing it correctly. The whole discussion of internal strength training and aiki seems to follow from this line of reasoning. In other words, "aikido" works, as long as you do it like O 'Sense did, using lots of aiki.

You write:

That seems to set up a dichotomy: "effective" aikido for self-defense vs. introspective aikido for self realization. I don't think you're saying that one can't be both deadly and enlightened (for lack of a better word), but it seems really difficult to get both with the broadly accepted training methods.

Am I understanding your point correctly?

Thank you,

Yes, Aikido practice is broken and needs to be fixed. Much of what people are doing in their practice not only doesn't work "on the street" it doesn't work in the dojo. Forget applied self defense situations, folks can't actually do what they think they can under the controlled circumstances of the dojo. This kind of practice isn't good martial arts nor is it deep spirituality. It's just faux Aikido, an Aikido-like substance with no actual nutritional value. People are either muscling and torquing the hell out of their partners, in other words, absolutely no "aiki" simply application of physical power or they are totally colluding with each other and trying to be O-Sensei without one iota of the foundation to do so and no training method that would develop the skills.

For 26 years I was in the muscle and torque group. We were trained to do this as a martial art and made the fundamental mistake that we had to be really physical and "strong" for the practice to be real. After the first Aiki Expo exposed me to some teaching methodology that made more sense, I realized that I could have kept training the way I had been and would NEVER have developed an understanding of what my teacher, Saotome Sensei, was doing. I devote all my efforts these days to showing folks how to train in a way that will actually result in some skill in Aikido that actually is based on "aiki" principles and not just efficient application of power against weak lines on the body.

Kevin Leavitt
11-05-2010, 12:02 PM
Jon Reading wrote:

I see more specialized training within aikido than I previously remember. I believe this to be a reasonable outsource of training that may satisfy those who require significant combat training (and that loosely falls inside the aikido system). Its really cross-training of sorts, but it also maintains a line between aikido and practical [combat] training

I agree with this. my Aikido training relates to what I do for training in the military. For example, the use of correct posture we learn in aikido and how to move is identical to the same posture I use for shooting and moving. You could probably say the same thing about football and blocking. At the base level, they are all kinesthetic practices that are based on the same foundational principles.

So why don't we see football players practicing aikido en masse? I tend to beleive the answer is that aikido is not an efficient enough of methodology to spend time on teaching football players how to block! Same reason we don't spend time practicing aikido in the Military even though I believe it directly relates.

So, I do believe that there is a line between practices and we need to be clear about them. The founder's goals are clear to me I think, and I am clear not to confuse them and the aiki method of training with the other methodologies or martial arts I study.

That is, I while the things I do are very kinesthetically related and there is overlap and benefit, I am also cognizant of the fact of why we train them differently.

George S. Ledyard
11-05-2010, 12:11 PM
Jon Reading wrote:

I agree with this. my Aikido training relates to what I do for training in the military. For example, the use of correct posture we learn in aikido and how to move is identical to the same posture I use for shooting and moving. You could probably say the same thing about football and blocking. At the base level, they are all kinesthetic practices that are based on the same foundational principles.

So why don't we see football players practicing aikido en masse? I tend to beleive the answer is that aikido is not an efficient enough of methodology to spend time on teaching football players how to block! Same reason we don't spend time practicing aikido in the Military even though I believe it directly relates.

So, I do believe that there is a line between practices and we need to be clear about them. The founder's goals are clear to me I think, and I am clear not to confuse them and the aiki method of training with the other methodologies or martial arts I study.

That is, I while the things I do are very kinesthetically related and there is overlap and benefit, I am also cognizant of the fact of why we train them differently.

Frankly, I am a big believer in taking what you've learned from your outside experience and incorporating it in to your Aikido to make it better. That's why I have crossed trained for 35 years. The elements of the training you receive in the military stress skills that could be and should be in Aikido but are perhaps not, Rather than folks pretend their Aikido contains everything they need to know, they should get exposed to all sorts of different ways of looking at things. You get that through your job. Most folks don't. And then we ar back to the whole "is twice a week enough?" conundrum... If you are going to do decent Aikido you need more than twice a week. If you are going to cross train, you are probably going to need 4 or more days a week unless you are lucky enough to have a dojo which offers alternative training right at he school, and even then, it might require additional time commitment.

Russ Q
11-05-2010, 12:17 PM
Aikido is a means of personal transformation and development with a martial paradigm. The process of trying to perfect ones Aikido will pretty much push every button you have over time. You either step up to the plate and deal with your stuff or your stuff becomes the limiting factor in your Aikido. That's the purpose of the practice as far as I can see, and is of far more use to the average practitioner than effective street technique will ever be.

This is it. For me, my aikido training will undoubtedly be helpful in any kind of real self defence encounter but the reason for training in the first place is personal transformation.....dealing with one's own "shit" is positive martial application in itself, although limited by many potential variables.

Good thread.

Kevin Leavitt
11-05-2010, 12:19 PM
George Ledyard wrote:

Yes, Aikido practice is broken and needs to be fixed. Much of what people are doing in their practice not only doesn't work "on the street" it doesn't work in the dojo. Forget applied self defense situations, folks can't actually do what they think they can under the controlled circumstances of the dojo. This kind of practice isn't good martial arts nor is it deep spirituality. It's just faux Aikido, an Aikido-like substance with no actual nutritional value. People are either muscling and torquing the hell out of their partners, in other words, absolutely no "aiki" simply application of physical power or they are totally colluding with each other and trying to be O-Sensei without one iota of the foundation to do so and no training method that would develop the skills.

I think that this is what gets us into trouble though....and creates the paradox we struggle with. I studied Martial Arts for years and did what I was told to do and struggled trying to do what my instructors told me to do...or better what I was hearing or wanted to hear...and yet found out that I could not fight and was doing alot of things very, very wrong.

It wasn't until I developed a better foundation in fighting skills and basic grappling for me that the light bulb went off and my aikido training started to make more since. It wasn't until I trained with some of the same guys you've trained with over the past couple of years that it began to make even more sense!

What I needed was perspective and a good frame of reference to be able to assess my training and begin to see the value and rationale in methodologies.

I think now, I have a better understanding and when I get with my teachers, I hope I am a much better student and can better listen to what it is that they are really trying to communicate and then try and work with it in a more honest and intended way.

To me, that does not mean that everyone needs to learn how to fight or we need to introduce a great deal of "reality" into our practices such as MMA and change our practices radically.

However, I do think that there are two basic issues that surround the problem.

1. We simply need lots of experiences in many different ways over time in order to be able to have a deeper understanding of our practice.

2. We need competent teachers that understand what the heck they are really teaching and can correctly mentor and bring students along in a sane, rationale, progressive manner, that pushes them to get better.

I think both these things are hard to line up.

thisisnotreal
11-05-2010, 12:36 PM
IMO, the question we should make to ourselves is not "Are We that Good?" but "Are We Into Orwellian Doublethink?".

while i'm not completely a doubleplus unfan of doublethink, might i suggest groupthink (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink) is a factor, as well?

drcarey
11-05-2010, 01:12 PM
I think that everyone who trains in Aikido is working toward the goal of being 'that good'.
But, for reasons stated earlier, and lack of infinate training time we can never actually reach it.
That does not mean we should abandon the goal.
We must however train with 'eyes open', see what does work and why.
There is more to what we do than simply 'finding effective technique'.
Are we that good?.... probably not.... but we can try to be!

George S. Ledyard
11-05-2010, 01:28 PM
I think that everyone who trains in Aikido is working toward the goal of being 'that good'.

I think we already established in the thread on "is twice a week enough?" that this isn't true...

Janet Rosen
11-05-2010, 01:55 PM
Some random thoughts engendered by this very interesting thread....
I didn't start aikido til I was 41... but as a teenager I traveled the subways and sidewalks of NYC in the late 60s through early 70s routinely as late as midnight and my posture and intent could either make me seem invisible or unapproachable; when I was 19 and moved to the blighted Haight Ashbury of SF, for a couple of years I did overnight community street patrols and security at free rock concerts and despite being 5'2" managed to literally jump into the middle of things and defuse/de-escalate, including a couple of situations involving knives. So I know that the idea of "irimi" with voice (yeah girls from Brooklyn kiai pretty good) and body was firmly ingrained decades before I set foot on the mat as well as the idea of keeping safe distances and using body and voice to de-escalate.

But in my normal adult life I don't worry a whole lot day to day about being attacked - I figure the totally random attack is about like the totally random earthquake; it may come some day but I can't walk around preoccupied by it. So I didn't come to aikido primarily for self defense or with any fantasy of being a badass, and I did come to it with a pretty developed moral code already in place. In my past experiences I was lucky; I have never had the misfortune to have someone really come at me with a committed attack - all I can be sure of from past experience is that it's unlikely I'll freeze but beyond that, who knows? ... I'm not in the military or LE, and its not what I'm looking to answer when I get on the mat. Aikido for me is - as others have said perhaps more cogently - a place to work on how I am in the world with other people, in a martial context. No other activity or sphere in which I've ever engaged has provided me this opportunity which is why aikido is so precious to me.

drcarey
11-05-2010, 02:14 PM
I think we already established in the thread on "is twice a week enough?" that this isn't true...

Sorry, I have not read that thread.
Perhaps my meaning here needs clarification...
"That good" in my context did not mean an 'undefeatable badass'...
It meant more someone so in control of himself and his actions that he/she would not allow the attacker ever to be injured under any circumstances.
Someone so respectful of life and maintaining harmony that through his/her enlightened way of doing things injury would be unthinkable.
That sort of being "Good"...

Janet Rosen
11-05-2010, 03:48 PM
Someone so respectful of life and maintaining harmony that through his/her enlightened way of doing things injury would be unthinkable.
That sort of being "Good"...

How can any person who is willing to engage physically with an attacker possibly guarantee such an outcome?

Michael Hackett
11-05-2010, 04:15 PM
Your seemingly random thoughts are far more cogent than most of us. Well said.

drcarey
11-05-2010, 07:50 PM
How can any person who is willing to engage physically with an attacker possibly guarantee such an outcome?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee...
My earlier statements were to clarify that that level of enlightened ability was a goal to be sought in Aikido.
Not that it would ever be achieved, much less guaranteed...

drcarey
11-05-2010, 08:05 PM
How can any person who is willing to engage physically with an attacker possibly guarantee such an outcome?

Another side note...
An attacked person, in my opinion, is not 'willing to engage physically'.
There is no choice or willingness... I am fairly sure most people would choose to not be attacked...
The discussion or my point in it is: the intent you have and the manner in which you are able to respond to (attack), your morality...

dps
11-06-2010, 12:02 AM
So, in that sense, anything that involved technique with "aiki" would be Aikido by his standard.

For 26 years I was in the muscle and torque group. We were trained to do this as a martial art and made the fundamental mistake that we had to be really physical and "strong" for the practice to be real. After the first Aiki Expo exposed me to some teaching methodology that made more sense, I realized that I could have kept training the way I had been and would NEVER have developed an understanding of what my teacher, Saotome Sensei, was doing. I devote all my efforts these days to showing folks how to train in a way that will actually result in some skill in Aikido that actually is based on "aiki" principles and not just efficient application of power against weak lines on the body.

So for those 26 years you weren't practicing Aikido.

dps

George S. Ledyard
11-06-2010, 01:05 AM
So for those 26 years you weren't practicing Aikido.

dps

I was trying... but if Aikido is not Aikido without "aiki" I wasn't. Not really... It certainly had almost nothing to do with what I am doing now.

dps
11-06-2010, 01:30 AM
Thank you for your answer George and I want to make it clear to everyone that I intended no disrespect toward you in asking the question.

What has baffled me since I have found Aikiweb is the apparently large number of people practicing Aikido that were not taught or did not learn some basics things that I did when I first started Aikido like aiki, atemi, and what is now called inner strength. Not to put myself out there as an expert on anything because I'm not but it certainly makes me appreciate the training I had under Sensei Cycyk 25 years ago.

dps

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-06-2010, 03:34 AM
Thank you for your answer George and I want to make it clear to everyone that I intended no disrespect toward you in asking the question.

What has baffled me since I have found Aikiweb is the apparently large number of people practicing Aikido that were not taught or did not learn some basics things that I did when I first started Aikido like aiki, atemi, and what is now called inner strength. Not to put myself out there as an expert on anything because I'm not but it certainly makes me appreciate the training I had under Sensei Cycyk 25 years ago.

dps

Hi David,
no disrespect here either, but what baffles me in turn is how many people, when IS/aiki is mentioned, tell me this story or a similar one: oh, we have been doing that all along, how strange that it has been absent from your training. My teacher is great at it.

I have been told that even by a ninjutsu guy from somewhere in the woods in Germany, when I mentioned a seminar with Mike Sigman on a closed German forum.

So I guess I just have to shrug. Sure, you have been doing it all along. We others just missed it.

So to come back on topic: In terms of "are we that good", I guess it just means they are that good, and have been all along - or is that not why you mention it?

dps
11-06-2010, 04:30 AM
Hi David,
no disrespect here either, but what baffles me in turn is how many people, when IS/aiki is mentioned, tell me this story or a similar one: oh, we have been doing that all along, how strange that it has been absent from your training.

Why is it difficult to believe?

dps

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-06-2010, 04:46 AM
Shrug... :)

Let's not turn this into an IS debate. I have my experiences that make it difficult to be believe, you have yours that make it easier, apparently.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-06-2010, 06:13 AM
Shrug... :)

Let's not turn this into an IS debate. I have my experiences that make it difficult to be believe, you have yours that make it easier, apparently.

Hi David, I realise this may have seemed arrogant, so just to clarify: I have my answers to your questions, but they would derail an otherwise interesting thread that I would like to continue.

Everybody else, sorry for potentially derailing an otherwise interesting thread...

In terms of the OT:

For myself, I try to reason the argument "what kind of conflict can I resolve with aikido" not from the side of the "most violent encounter possible TM" (or the famous circus ponies of death ;) ) , but from the other side. The assumption being that, as human beings, we are necessarily in a web of many relationships, and every relationship entails conflict. I see aikido as a practice (a powerful "psychophysical" practice for lack of a better term) that deals with this conundrum, but I start practicing with the real encounters on the mat and in my life. Difficult enough. Maybe one day I will be good enough to defuse even more violent encounters without doing harm, and that is certainly an important direction of present training, but the motivation of my training these days is to be free and at ease in present encounters - on the mat and elsewhere. And this by no means entails that those encounters don't entail real pressure, depending on training partners and training scenarios.

So a possible reality check for my training at the moment is whether I can, physicall and mentally, relax and accept completely when a very heavy and uncooperative uke with a known passive aggressive tendency (I am making this person up but they sure exist) grabs me in morote-dori to see what I can do. Without disliking him in the process for what he is. I find this more and more difficult the closer I look at both my body and mind.

Whatever happens in the "street" is not disconnected from that, but much further up the ladder, and actually much less "real" where I live.

rob_liberti
11-06-2010, 06:33 AM
Hi Nicholas,

To me, I think there are levels of training with aiki, just like there are levels of cleanliness, and levels of physical strength.

I have friends who tell me they are very clean. And to them, they are very clean. My mom, would consider their house a pigsty because it is not showroom clean. As an older Irish women explained to me once, <brogue> "they think they are the 'lace curtain Irish,' but they are the 'shanty Irish' and don't know it!!!" </brogue>

When I was playing highschool football I simply did not have the life experience to begin to comprehend just how different it would be to play with someone who played college football. The amount of physical power differential was almost outside of my capacity to imagine at the time - and certainly outside of my willingness to imagine due to pride and youthful arrogance.

In life, I find that people are generally willing to accept that there are physically stronger people and physically weaker people - but the amount of HOW MUCH stronger is generally only going to be well understood if you are on the high side of that spectrum (like one of the people who played linebacker for professional football). If professional football didn't exist, many people who were good for college football would probably be tricked into thinking they were as powerful as it _could_ get.

I see this "spectrum-perception" issue with aikido folks (and people in general) ALL the time, but it is to be expected. How can you imagine something so far outside of your experience? When your experience has defined greatness to be what other people wouldn't consider very good or very skilled at all, you will end up talking past each other every time.

Interestingly, people tend to be VERY unwilling to accept that there are vast differentials in intelligence, mental capacity, and aptitude. One kid can read, write, do basic math in first grade, and another kid can't do that level at 3rd grade, and another kid is graduating college at 12. People tend to not want to believe that there is such disparity. And when you talk about very smart kids like the first grader mentioned above to the parent's of the 12 year who just finished college, anything they say back to you will sound arrogant and boastful (and may be, but maybe not intended).
When people talk about how all of the kids should be treated as if they have the same mental abilities, that's generally a result of emotional investment combined with never having met any super smart children.

I find people's thoughts about aiki and IS to be treated much the same way - and for much the same reasons. If I say - no your kid isn't as super bright as you think, it's going to raise instant defensiveness. I understand, and I'm sure your kid is wonderful. What I'm getting at is that if I say - no your teacher just has the most rudimentary aiki abilities and mostly uses slightly more sophisticated external martial arts than others in YOUR experience, I'm certain to raise the same kind of instant defensiveness.

The only way to get the experience to not be talking past one another is to actually go out and find those people demonstrating and teaching aiki/IS and test your abilities to whatever level you find safe (physically and emotionally).

To me, that is the heart of this thread, really. To answer are we really THAT good, we need to define what THAT good is - and I don't think it can be truly appreciated without going out to see the people who have something special going on. There are a lot of people going to see Dan Harden in California right now - I assume many of those people will redefine for themselves what THAT good is. Several people who have some direct experience with what Dan Harden, Mike Sigman and Aukusawa can do are slowly trying to meet and experience each teacher and even some others like Ushiro sensei.

To me, I can protect my son from getting hurt when he all out attacks me because the power differential is so incredibly vast and his skill level is not too high yet (6 years old). Well, if I can do that based on that power and skill differential with a child, doesn't it seem like I can theoretically do that with an adult who is attacking me as long as I train my power and skills to be similarly vastly superior than the typically trained adult? My question is: how far can I take that? Can I do that against MMA? Can I do that against aiki-powered MMA? We'll see...

Rob

kewms
11-06-2010, 09:29 AM
Why is it difficult to believe?

dps

No disrespect to you or your teachers intended. I don't know you. But if everyone who talks about IS training were actually doing it, the state of modern aikido would be very different.

Katherine

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-06-2010, 10:35 AM
Hi Rob,
nice post with a lot of interesting wider context to see stuff in, thanks a lot. Say hi from me please.

In relation to the thread topic, for me one very interesting consequence of meeting IS specialists (and being hugely impressed with them), plus some very good external MMA people, was the realisation how much I am actually committed to the (my) idea of aikido, of dealing with conflict in a certain way and with certain goals. Becoming "that good" - or not that good, more likely - for aikido reasons. The meetings really made me wonder what I personally would do with such power, why I would want to have it, and unlike some other people I have heard of, that seems to lead me back to aikido - though possibly to a very similar training paradigm to what you describe.

drcarey
11-06-2010, 11:44 AM
My understanding, limited though it may be, is that Aikido is not about 'fighting techniques'.
Aikido is about 'not fighting' techniques.
It is about self control, refining and developing 'the self' to a high level.
At some point we no longer need to 'win' the arguement, we do not even need to participate with it as an arguement.
No we, for the most part, are not that good.
I will say this again... We can try to be.

dps
11-06-2010, 07:40 PM
Building from the ground up are we that good? Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?



Maybe it is something we should not worry about.


My understanding, limited though it may be, is that Aikido is not about 'fighting techniques'.
Aikido is about 'not fighting' techniques.
It is about self control, refining and developing 'the self' to a high level.
At some point we no longer need to 'win' the arguement, we do not even need to participate with it as an arguement.
No we, for the most part, are not that good.
I will say this again... We can try to be.

It is about survival.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mDv85KPpKI

"Saotome Sensei teaches that in our Aikido training we should study survival techniques."

dps

Michael Varin
11-06-2010, 07:54 PM
But if everyone who talks about IS training were actually doing it, the state of modern aikido would be very different.

How so?

drcarey
11-06-2010, 09:13 PM
Please disregard any earlier comments by me....
They are simply the incoherant ramblings of an ignorant wanderer who needs a new 'hobby'.
It seems my efforts and interest for the past 30+ years are of no use or value.
So please disregard...

kewms
11-06-2010, 10:50 PM
How so?

Everyone "knows" that aikido isn't about strength, that internal power is very important, and so forth and so on. On message boards like this, many many people will tell you that *their* training is all about aiki, and dealing with sincere attacks, and all of that good stuff.

But then I go to seminars and see hordes and hordes of people who are muscling everything, attacking in stupid ways, and/or allowing someone half their size (like, say, me) to back them off the mat. Where are these people coming from?

There's a pretty clear disconnect between the training that people will tell you they are doing, and the results I see in the general aikido population. That says to me that there are a lot of people out there who don't know what they don't know.

Katherine

Michael Varin
11-07-2010, 01:56 AM
There's a pretty clear disconnect between the training that people will tell you they are doing, and the results I see in the general aikido population. That says to me that there are a lot of people out there who don't know what they don't know.

Agreed, but you still didn't answer the question. In fact, I think you just raised a few more...

SeiserL
11-07-2010, 04:48 AM
IMHO, when I look at the way most dojo martial arts (not just Aikido) are taught and the training, we certainly protect our attacker from harm not because we are that good, but because we are that bad.

Compassion is having the skills and psychology to do harm and not doing it. Just not doing it is incompetence.

The dojo is not a temple or psychologist office for trying to get congruence between our physical skills and our psychology (emotional and cognitive, individual and familial), philosophy, sociology, cultural, religious, and spiritual beliefs.

rob_liberti
11-07-2010, 05:50 AM
Compassion is having the skills and psychology to do harm and not doing it. Just not doing it is incompetence.

I hear what your saying. The definition that works best for me is that "compassion" is bringing a loving attention to something. Demonstrating that in aikido by learning how to do minimal damage to someone is pretty much exactly what we ask our police force to do. We don't let them shoot someone for pushing them. Here are the 5 levels of the "Force Continuum":
-verbal commands
-empty hand control (<-- hmm can we improve on this one???!!!)
-tools (pepper spray, pr24/tonfa, taser)
-less lethal (<-- what's this?!)
-deadly force

Less lethal force has been added by police to temporarily incapacitate, confuse, delay, or restrain an adversary in a variety of situations. Why? Because we as a people demand such demonstrations of compassion.

Obviously the "empy hand control" must have various sub-levels.
There are two subcategories called, "soft empty hand techniques" and "hard empty hand techniques." Soft Empty Hand Techniques: At this level minimal force would involve the use of bare hands to guide, hold, and restrain -- applying pressure points, and take down techniques that have a minimal chance of injury. Hard Empty Hand Techniques: At this level the use of force includes kicks, punches or other striking techniques such as the brachial stun or other strikes to key motor points that have a moderate chance of injury. - from:
http://www.policetest.info/FORCE_CONTINUUM_POLICE_USE_OF_FORCE.htm

We ask our police to be THAT good and ask them to use their judgment about when being that good isn't enough for them to stay safe themselves while trying to protect the aggressor. Can we raise the bar about where that threshold is? Can we be THAT much better?

Katherine, be careful. Some folks are reading what you believe to be truth (and I agree) and all they can do is react as if you are telling them that their baby is ugly.

I know everyone faced with questions like "are we THAT good" and answers like "we'll probably not, but there are some ways to get a lot closer that most of you are not doing" will upset folks. But, the VERY STRONGLY desired "polite fiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polite_fiction)" is how aikido got to be in the state it is in today where pretty much NO ONE is THAT good yet...

Rob

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-07-2010, 07:03 AM
Hi Lynn,


The dojo is not a temple or psychologist office for trying to get congruence between our physical skills and our psychology (emotional and cognitive, individual and familial), philosophy, sociology, cultural, religious, and spiritual beliefs.

You sort of keep mentioning that over the years I have been lurking here - could you elaborate? For me, the dojo is certainly a place (not a temple, not an office) to ponder and practice a little more congruence at least between physical skill, the psyche, personal philosophy and some beliefs - and, in line with this thread, this is the one area where I think I have, after many years of training in and outside of aikido, some competence, where I am, to a degree, THAT GOOD teaching. Also, I do not think I would be doing aikido if the dojo were not such a place.

Of course, I am talking neither clinical psychology nor scientific discourse or religious doctrine here - those are realms I keep separate from aikido.

So, if you could be so kind, what exactly do you mean?

kewms
11-07-2010, 09:21 AM
Katherine, be careful. Some folks are reading what you believe to be truth (and I agree) and all they can do is react as if you are telling them that their baby is ugly.


Sure. Such is the nature of Internet fora.

But if I've never seen your baby, but you still interpret my comments as saying that it's ugly, maybe you have some doubts of your own about its attractiveness. Might be a good idea to go train with some of the people mentioned in these discussions and see what they think.

Katherine

SeiserL
11-07-2010, 09:21 AM
You sort of keep mentioning that over the years I have been lurking here - could you elaborate? ... Of course, I am talking neither clinical psychology nor scientific discourse or religious doctrine here - those are realms I keep separate from aikido. So, if you could be so kind, what exactly do you mean?
Osu,

That is exactly my meaning.

I hear a lot of talk about Aikido having almost magical mystical healing powers to get our heads unlodged from where they have taken residence.

I agree that Aikido is a brilliant tool and the dojo is supposed to be a great/safe place to train and transform.

But, it is not a substitute for actually doing the work under some one whose expertise is teaching how to heal from life long trauma, how to find philosophical congruence, or spiritual awakening and awareness. Very few people have that expertise.

So when it gets too optimistically philosophical I tend to get protective of people who may buy into the illusion and feel betrayed by Aikido and our community for not delivering on the hype.

The streets taught me to fight. The military taught me to kill. The martial arts have taught me I need to control myself.

Other studies have taught me other lessons. There is no one-stop shopping, one'size fits all, or one quick-fix magic pill.

So being honest about our skill level also requires we be honest about Aikido.

Better?

Thanks for asking.

Rei, Domo.

George S. Ledyard
11-07-2010, 09:46 AM
Sure. Such is the nature of Internet fora.

But if I've never seen your baby, but you still interpret my comments as saying that it's ugly, maybe you have some doubts of your own about its attractiveness. Might be a good idea to go train with some of the people mentioned in these discussions and see what they think.

Katherine
You and Rob are students of the same teacher...

kewms
11-07-2010, 10:07 AM
You and Rob are students of the same teacher...

I know. I've trained with Rob many times. For the record, neither his son nor his aikido is ugly.

Perhaps I should have used "one" rather than "you" in my previous post. I'm sure Rob got my meaning, but others may have been confused.

Katherine

mathewjgano
11-07-2010, 10:18 AM
There's a pretty clear disconnect between the training that people will tell you they are doing, and the results I see in the general aikido population. That says to me that there are a lot of people out there who don't know what they don't know.

Katherine

I've read most people as describing what they're striving for more than what they can accomplish at the drop of a hat...but maybe I'm inserting my own "common sense" into their meaning.
Can I protect myself and my attacker? Yes I can. Would I? Too complex to answer honestly. Definately maybe. And none of this has anything to do with how good I think I am at "aiki" (not good, would be the answer to that, btw), because even that can't always help you.

rob_liberti
11-07-2010, 01:06 PM
You and Rob are students of the same teacher...

Agreed, but also Katherine has been your student for several years now too. That just means that she doesn't think your aiki baby is ugly either - and having a similar background, I'd agree. You are putting a lot of effort into developing aiki for yourself and your students and that will make aikido better. Obviously, you are working towards being THAT good - and we appreciate that.

Rob

Ketsan
11-07-2010, 06:33 PM
The first set of empty hands forms we learned from Amdur Sensei involved assassinating a guest whom you were serving tea. They were contained in the Araki Ryu manuals under some heading on the order of "How to Defeat a Superior Swordsman". In other words, don't sword fight him. That's real combat or warfare.

That's what I'd call Aikido 101. Recognition and harmonisation with reality. Don't match strength with strength; don't fight people on their battlefield. I'd say that's a fundamental principle behind everything in Aikido.

"Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength. Draw him outside of that sphere and into your own and his strength will dissipate." O-Sensei.

Michael Varin
11-07-2010, 06:43 PM
NIce post, Alex.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-08-2010, 02:29 AM
Osu,

That is exactly my meaning.

I hear a lot of talk about Aikido having almost magical mystical healing powers to get our heads unlodged from where they have taken residence.

I agree that Aikido is a brilliant tool and the dojo is supposed to be a great/safe place to train and transform.

But, it is not a substitute for actually doing the work under some one whose expertise is teaching how to heal from life long trauma, how to find philosophical congruence, or spiritual awakening and awareness. Very few people have that expertise.

So when it gets too optimistically philosophical I tend to get protective of people who may buy into the illusion and feel betrayed by Aikido and our community for not delivering on the hype.

The streets taught me to fight. The military taught me to kill. The martial arts have taught me I need to control myself.

Other studies have taught me other lessons. There is no one-stop shopping, one'size fits all, or one quick-fix magic pill.

So being honest about our skill level also requires we be honest about Aikido.

Better?

Thanks for asking.

Rei, Domo.

Better! :)
Thanks for the answer, I agree. Very few people have that expertise....

jonreading
11-08-2010, 08:01 AM
IMHO, when I look at the way most dojo martial arts (not just Aikido) are taught and the training, we certainly protect our attacker from harm not because we are that good, but because we are that bad.

Compassion is having the skills and psychology to do harm and not doing it. Just not doing it is incompetence.

The dojo is not a temple or psychologist office for trying to get congruence between our physical skills and our psychology (emotional and cognitive, individual and familial), philosophy, sociology, cultural, religious, and spiritual beliefs.

I think there is a lot of truth here. Aikido is unique because our training environment is often deliberately orchestrated to return a 100% success ratio. Our training is often coopertative-oriented. Everything about what we do in the dojo is about minimizing harm.

So is this prevailing mindset a product of a "soft" training environment?

When I constructed this thread, I chose to approach the question by incorporating a dominant mindset into the question; that is, that one can physically support the ideology that a fight can conclude without harm to involved parties. I did so because when you critically review the physical component of aikido, there are a number of threads that address this matter (i.e. "does aikido work in a fight?" or some variation thereof). None of these threads exude a aura of physical competence, let alone expertise. However, if this question is approached from the philosophical side, there is little opposition to the prevailing thought that with enough training, one can engage in a confrontation with confidence and skill sufficient to render the attacker inept while incurring (or delivering) no harm.

Yet in comparison, our competing threads draw very different conclusions... We are not competent to fight, yet if we train long enough you can expect to realize the highest form of aikido, fighting without hurting each other. What (or WTF)? Somebody waks into my dojo and that is the line I am giving them... "Well, Aikido is not about fighting, so you won't actually learn to fight. But, if you train long enough you'll learn how to fight so well that you won't need to hurt anyone when you do [fight]." I'd kick my own ass if I said that... But since I trained aikido I couldn't... But if I trained long enough I could do it without hurting my ass. Shoot.

Budd
11-08-2010, 08:34 AM
Yeah, at the end of the day you can talk it to death. I think the important consideration is that you have a clear expectation of the skills you want to impart while making sure that you have objective measures in place to make sure that you're meeting the required checkpoints in order to hit them.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-08-2010, 08:45 AM
Somebody waks into my dojo and that is the line I am giving them... "Well, Aikido is not about fighting, so you won't actually learn to fight. But, if you train long enough you'll learn how to fight so well that you won't need to hurt anyone when you do [fight]."

Don't forget to add he/she can't use aikido in a sport/competition/alive environment because his/her opponent will end dead or crippled for life.

George S. Ledyard
11-08-2010, 09:19 AM
That's what I'd call Aikido 101. Recognition and harmonisation with reality. Don't match strength with strength; don't fight people on their battlefield. I'd say that's a fundamental principle behind everything in Aikido.

"Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength. Draw him outside of that sphere and into your own and his strength will dissipate." O-Sensei.

You have absolutely no idea to what I am referring. There is zero confluence between what I was doing in these Araki Ryu forms and Aikido. In fact, I would say it was as opposite as one could get.

The whole set of forms was about projecting the mindset that this person was your honored guest. You buried your intention to take him out far below the surface so there was no "leakage" that his intuition would pick up. You actually had to believe the role yourself on some level. At the right moment you released the inner beast. The technique was savage. It required kicking into a very old part of the brain. I have never seen ANYTHING in Aikido that remotely resembles what I am talking about. Anyone who even tried to do his Aikido with the energy that these Araki Ryu forms embodied would be thrown out of any dojo I know of.

Take a look at the Aiki Expo demos of Amdur Sensei's guys doing these forms. Then tell me you think it has anything in common with Aikido, nor would anyone wish it to. This stuff is totally the dark side of the force. Saotome Sensei has taught us what he class "dark side" technique. It is the destructive side of our art, the "Kali" energy. It isn't even in the ball park with the raw savagery of those Araki Ryu forms. Aikido was created to reprogram us so that we don't act from that "old" mind.

jonreading
11-08-2010, 10:52 AM
Hi David,
no disrespect here either, but what baffles me in turn is how many people, when IS/aiki is mentioned, tell me this story or a similar one: oh, we have been doing that all along, how strange that it has been absent from your training. My teacher is great at it.

I have been told that even by a ninjutsu guy from somewhere in the woods in Germany, when I mentioned a seminar with Mike Sigman on a closed German forum.

So I guess I just have to shrug. Sure, you have been doing it all along. We others just missed it.

So to come back on topic: In terms of "are we that good", I guess it just means they are that good, and have been all along - or is that not why you mention it?

I think the best best description I heard was, "Mostly, we are fools dressed in pajamas playing at being a samurai. Every once in a while we learn something."

To argue whether internal power is aiki is another thread. To argue whether atemi is aiki another thread. Many of these threads exist with good arguments. I think the relevancy to this thread is the claim that our training is not consistent with aiki.

I agree with this point. The loooonnnnnggggg learning curve of aikido suggests that whatever it is we are doing, it is not aiki. And that is not to say whatever we did was not valuable either, only that it was not aiki.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-08-2010, 10:52 AM
Aikido is unique because our training environment is often deliberately orchestrated to return a 100% success ratio. Our training is often coopertative-oriented. Everything about what we do in the dojo is about minimizing harm.

So is this prevailing mindset a product of a "soft" training environment?

When I constructed this thread, I chose to approach the question by incorporating a dominant mindset into the question; that is, that one can physically support the ideology that a fight can conclude without harm to involved parties. I did so because when you critically review the physical component of aikido, there are a number of threads that address this matter (i.e. "does aikido work in a fight?" or some variation thereof). None of these threads exude a aura of physical competence, let alone expertise. However, if this question is approached from the philosophical side, there is little opposition to the prevailing thought that with enough training, one can engage in a confrontation with confidence and skill sufficient to render the attacker inept while incurring (or delivering) no harm.

Yet in comparison, our competing threads draw very different conclusions... We are not competent to fight, yet if we train long enough you can expect to realize the highest form of aikido, fighting without hurting each other. What (or WTF)? Somebody waks into my dojo and that is the line I am giving them... "Well, Aikido is not about fighting, so you won't actually learn to fight. But, if you train long enough you'll learn how to fight so well that you won't need to hurt anyone when you do [fight]." I'd kick my own ass if I said that... But since I trained aikido I couldn't... But if I trained long enough I could do it without hurting my ass. Shoot.

Hi Jon,
I think you are spot on here, and the only thing I can say is that I believe at least two people posting in this thread are quite actively working on constructing new training paradigms to address the problem. (Some aspects are addressed in the thread about "two days a week") Others sure are out there, and yet others again will say that where they are, there never was a problem, which I hope for them is true. (I myself do not have the expertise to judge any of this.)

Personally, nowadays I am not so much discouraged by the issue, but excited by the new forms of training that we will inevitably see quite soon. (Even if I have the feeling I may have to watch from the sideline of another continent. Well, at least there are DVDs ...) I find the prospect of integrating what is often referred to as "post-war aikido" - the form that spread throughout the world, mixed with other things and touched many lives in positive ways - with a more martial, IS driven paradigm very exciting. If we will get there, who knows.

But I find it much more interesting than the idea that there are some few Japanese 8th Dans left who will forever be our unattainable standard because they knew the founder and we did not.

dps
11-08-2010, 11:24 AM
I agree with this point. The loooonnnnnggggg learning curve of aikido suggests that whatever it is we are doing, it is not aiki. And that is not to say whatever we did was not valuable either, only that it was not aiki.

http://posterous.com/getfile/files.posterous.com/manan/N51inzrj1AO4eFiO9ezCYLuGsZKp1mMd7Yhj92XiadrrU3uDEGHUnXVazaqr/Schrodingers_Cat.png.scaled.500.jpg

Lee Salzman
11-08-2010, 11:40 AM
http://posterous.com/getfile/files.posterous.com/manan/N51inzrj1AO4eFiO9ezCYLuGsZKp1mMd7Yhj92XiadrrU3uDEGHUnXVazaqr/Schrodingers_Cat.png.scaled.500.jpg

With respect to Jon's statement, I think less Schrodinger's cat, more emperor's new clothes. The more and longer we seem to fail at living up to our expectations of aikido, the more certain we seem to become the problem is in us and not the methodology we are employing. Maybe in a perverse way, it is easier for us to believe that than accept we've invested lots of time into smoke and mirrors, at the level of mass delusion on a grand scale.

kewms
11-08-2010, 11:44 AM
That's what I'd call Aikido 101. Recognition and harmonisation with reality. Don't match strength with strength; don't fight people on their battlefield. I'd say that's a fundamental principle behind everything in Aikido.

Matching your strength against your opponent's weakness is a fundamental strategic principle going back at least as far as Sun Tzu. It probably appears in some form in every single combat art. It doesn't have much -- if anything -- to do with what makes aikido unique.

Katherine

dps
11-08-2010, 12:59 PM
In the thought experiment of Schrodinger's cat, a cat is put in a box with a mechanism to release a poison to kill the cat. The box is sealed. Is the cat dead or alive? You do not know for sure until you open the box.

If there are a million boxes and you open up 10,000 boxes and find dead cats in every one of the 10,000 boxes, should you assume that the remaining boxes contain dead cats?

dps

David Board
11-08-2010, 01:36 PM
In the thought experiment of Schrodinger's cat, a cat is put in a box with a mechanism to release a poison to kill the cat. The box is sealed. Is the cat dead or alive? You do not know for sure until you open the box.

If there are a million boxes and you open up 10,000 boxes and find dead cats in every one of the 10,000 boxes, should you assume that the remaining boxes contain dead cats?

dps

You should expect that the next box you open will contain a dead cat. As for what is in the boxes, wait a while and see if things start to stink.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-08-2010, 01:37 PM
If there are a million boxes and you open up 10,000 boxes and find dead cats in every one of the 10,000 boxes, should you assume that the remaining boxes contain dead cats?

You should assume some boxes will contain very angry cats.

dps
11-08-2010, 01:49 PM
You should expect that the next box you open will contain a dead cat. As for what is in the boxes, wait a while and see if things start to stink.

You should assume some boxes will contain very angry cats.

So you should stay away from people whose Aikido stink or angry Aikidoka.

dps

thisisnotreal
11-08-2010, 06:18 PM
You buried your intention to take him out far below the surface so there was no "leakage" that his intuition would pick up. You actually had to believe the role yourself on some level. At the right moment you released the inner beast.

Hah! thought of this< (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xefnhXCUBOM&feature=player_embedded). Can you imagine being the guy walking thru the other guys. Reminds me of this< (http://sealwyf.wikispaces.com/file/view/foxhounds.jpg/32470845/foxhounds.jpg) picture...

Ketsan
11-08-2010, 07:09 PM
You have absolutely no idea to what I am referring. There is zero confluence between what I was doing in these Araki Ryu forms and Aikido. In fact, I would say it was as opposite as one could get.

The whole set of forms was about projecting the mindset that this person was your honored guest. You buried your intention to take him out far below the surface so there was no "leakage" that his intuition would pick up. You actually had to believe the role yourself on some level. At the right moment you released the inner beast. The technique was savage.

Again that's just normal where I train. You show nothing to your opponent or you show them whatever gives you an edge.

"When your eyes engage those of another person, greet him or her with a smile and they will smile back. This is one of the essential techniques of Aikido." O-Sensei.

This is the single most dangerous teaching (IMO) in Aikido once you understand why they smile back and you realise that people will react in pre-programed ways to certain behaviors, or at least I did.
For me this is just learning to harmonise with the person in front of me; learning to open him up. If I can make him smile just by smiling at him, what else can I do? Well I can make him angry by being angry at him and then he'll walk straight into my trap. I can make him feel powerful by acting weak and again he walks straight into my trap. I can even put the fear of God into him by just quietly looking at him and keeping a blank face and a posture that's relaxed and confident.
This is basic martial arts: "All warfare is based on deception." Sun Tzu
Harmony is the basis of deception; if I do not understand him how can I fool him? If I do not have a connection to him, how can I fool him? And if I'm learning to connect and harmonise with someone in Aikido why would I not use this to my advantage when someone is trying to kill me by using deception? What are we? Samurai wannabes sticking to the honourable code of Bushido which bans trickery?

If you're not doing this you're not doing anything martial. You're creating a nice level playing field and inviting him to do his best; it's UFC stuff.

It might be the case that after all this I then don't have to put his face in range of my boot with rokkyo after elbowing him into semi-conciousness. But that's my choice, it says nothing about the possibilities of Aikido training.


Take a look at the Aiki Expo demos of Amdur Sensei's guys doing these forms. Then tell me you think it has anything in common with Aikido, nor would anyone wish it to. This stuff is totally the dark side of the force. Saotome Sensei has taught us what he class "dark side" technique. It is the destructive side of our art, the "Kali" energy. It isn't even in the ball park with the raw savagery of those Araki Ryu forms. Aikido was created to reprogram us so that we don't act from that "old" mind.

You're talking about forms. Who uses forms in a fight? Also we don't have to be as savage as they are; we just have to be savage enough to win and in my experience Aikido is far more savage than Thai boxing or Judo or Boxing. Or rather I would say that it lends itself to savagery more than those other arts do. Mind you I'm in Chiba's line. :D
We have an art where you can hit a guy six times with fists and elbows while doing a technique. Actually we have an art where hitting someone with one big strike is the technique.
Consider shomen uchi uchi kaiten nage. You cut them down you've got rokkyo on to stop them getting up and out the corner of your eye you see their mate. Complete the technique or KO him with a kick to the head and move onto his mate? Im not saying it's realistic I'm just pointing out that if needed nice gentle forms can be adapted very simply to become as savage as you could need them to be.

Aikido would appear to have failed to reprogram my mind. But then all the atemi and throwing people about and putting people in jointlock and then throwing them about kinda suggests being savage to me. :D

Ketsan
11-08-2010, 07:11 PM
Matching your strength against your opponent's weakness is a fundamental strategic principle going back at least as far as Sun Tzu. It probably appears in some form in every single combat art. It doesn't have much -- if anything -- to do with what makes aikido unique.

Katherine

Exactly my point. It's so fundamental that if you're not doing it claiming what you do as a martial art is a weak claim at best.

grondahl
11-09-2010, 02:23 AM
Have you ever trained another martial art seriously?

Aikido would appear to have failed to reprogram my mind. But then all the atemi and throwing people about and putting people in jointlock and then throwing them about kinda suggests being savage to me. :D

jonreading
11-09-2010, 07:13 AM
All warfare is based on deception." Sun Tzu

I think aikido is not about deception, I think its about [the lack of] communication. My partner needs to know how to resolve the conflict, right? I give my partner the information she needs to safely resolve the conflict, but not enough information to risk my safety. I am not necessarily saying anything false, I am just not saying everything... I have never seen a shihan "trick" anyone. In fact, when I work with [good] sempai I rarely am mislead in where to go or how to resolve the technique. Contrary, I usually find the technique easier to feel than when I work out with kohai. I believe this to be the result of better communication skills on the part of sempai.

To this point I also argue:
A. O'Sensei deliberately removed much of the warfare from aikido. You can find it if you look, but in daily practice its difficult to see. George touched on this... Aikido is about civilizing martial arts so its practitioners don't have to experience that trauma. Kevin posted some great responses on this thread about real warfare that we don't even begin to understand as civilians.
B. The arts that use what we call deception (which is probably more appropriately called treachery) are so perverse we cannot often comprehend them. The point of the treachery is to believe with such conviction your deception, it is not deception. To are not lying when you commit treachery, you actually create an alternate personality that is morally capable of playing out the treachery, to gain the confidence and trust of your opponent. The execution of treachery is the primary personality coming forward to abuse that status. It messes with your head to do such things - we prescribe pills for that kind of stuff. We don't do this in aikido.

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 07:39 AM
Have you ever trained another martial art seriously?

Yeah. My dad taught me Jujutsu and boxing from about three years old, so he says. Then I did Jujutsu formally for a couple of years then moved into TKD for three or four years. Then lau gar and kick boxing for a year or so and then finally Aikido.

I'm not sure what that has to do with the bit you've quoted; you seem to be taking issue with my statement that Aikido doesn't retrain the mind to make one less savage. I was/am being slightly facetious, hence the smiley, but I'm also making a serious point.

It makes no sense to me why doing kote gaeshi in jujutsu produces the "old" mindset and yet teaching the same technique in Aikido, often with more atemi than in Jujutsu, teaches the "new" mindset.

I may be wrong but it seems to me that a lot of people learn the kata and then stop. Where as people like me are trying to go beyond the kata and into oyo waza. I could be wrong.

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 08:57 AM
My partner needs to know how to resolve the conflict, right?

Why? Their intention is to hammer you into the mat; they have all the information they need to do that. I train with my best friends, so I would hate to hurt them but when I attack them I attack with the full intent of hospitalising them, or worse, because my attack has to be honest for them to train properly. For that I take on a role which I believe with total certainty. You could even say I create an alternate personality because there's no way in hell I'd throw a punch at my best mate. But for that moment I am not Alex I am "the attacker."

I give my partner the information she needs to safely resolve the conflict, but not enough information to risk my safety.

Eh?

I take it you mean this:
In fact, when I work with [good] sempai I rarely am mislead in where to go or how to resolve the technique. Contrary, I usually find the technique easier to feel than when I work out with kohai. I believe this to be the result of better communication skills on the part of sempai.

Yes but then you do it by choice. There is no conflict here, you're resolving nothing, there is no problem to start off with. You've decided to fall over and your sempai has decided to throw you on the floor; all you want to know is how your sempai wants you to fall over.
The only reason you don't know how to "resolve the technique" is because you've chosen not to simply ask but instead to avoid effective communication in favour of intuition so that you can practice.

If that's Aikido then it was replaced several hundred thousand years ago with the invention of language.

There's no technical skill here; it's not like judo where there is conflict which must be delt with. What you're describing is an ideal place to be. There's nothing to be learned there because there really aren't any problems to be solved.

I rarely am mislead in where to go or how to resolve the technique So the technique to you is the problem because it requires resolution. The simple solution to this is don't do Aikido, problem solved.

C. David Henderson
11-09-2010, 10:26 AM
If that's Aikido then it was replaced several hundred thousand years ago with the invention of language..

That's a keeper.

Regards.

kewms
11-09-2010, 10:47 AM
It makes no sense to me why doing kote gaeshi in jujutsu produces the "old" mindset and yet teaching the same technique in Aikido, often with more atemi than in Jujutsu, teaches the "new" mindset.


Except that's not the example we were discussing. Ledyard Sensei compared Araki Ryu assassination techniques to aikido and found an enormous difference in attitude. What was your Araki Ryu experience, again?

Katherine

kewms
11-09-2010, 10:55 AM
Why? Their intention is to hammer you into the mat; they have all the information they need to do that. I train with my best friends, so I would hate to hurt them but when I attack them I attack with the full intent of hospitalising them, or worse, because my attack has to be honest for them to train properly.

How many people have you actually hospitalized? Sent to the emergency room?

If the answer is zero, then either your attacks are lousy, everyone you're practicing with is much more skillful than you, or you aren't *really* attacking with full force. (Or all of the above.)

Which is fine. I don't actually believe that you have to attack with killing force in order to train honestly and sincerely. But if you *are* attacking with killing force, someone is going to get hurt. Very very few people are skillful enough (as either uke or nage) to manage that level of energy safely every single time.

Katherine

jonreading
11-09-2010, 11:10 AM
My partner needs to know how to resolve the conflict, right?
Why? Their intention is to hammer you into the mat; they have all the information they need to do that. I train with my best friends, so I would hate to hurt them but when I attack them I attack with the full intent of hospitalising them, or worse, because my attack has to be honest for them to train properly. For that I take on a role which I believe with total certainty. You could even say I create an alternate personality because there's no way in hell I'd throw a punch at my best mate. But for that moment I am not Alex I am "the attacker."

Good question. For me its the fact that aikido is about conflict resolution, not fighting. I have to posses a quality of skill sufficient to apply technique (jitsu), but that is not aikido. I think on some level uke not only determines the resolution to technique, but whether you are practicing aikido. If uke is not in collusion with nage to protect his body we have jitsu; if uke comprehends the situation in which he has placed himself and uses his judgement to escape we have do. I believe this to be an advantage that allows us not only to engage in physical aikido ("fighting"), but also apply those learned principles to other areas of our life. However, it is also to say that aikido is designed to function with or without collusion from our partner (i.e. sometimes you need to open the can).

Aikido is about nage allowing uke to resolve conflict. I am a firm believer that aikido is not about controlling another person. This aikido becomes fallible when you cannot control your partner. While over-simplistic, I heard the relationship described as "uke should prove to nage that he is worth saving by expressing a knowledge of the predicament in which he has placed himself." Satsujinken, katsujinkin, blah blah blah. I think this is where we sometimes confuse cooperation with collusion. Cooperation is about multiple parties working towards a common goal; collusion is about multiple parties working towards an uncommon goal.

There is no conflict here, you're resolving nothing, there is no problem to start off with.
Absolutely. I routinely train with sempai who under normal circumstances I would never approach as point of confrontation, these individuals are far more skilled than I. The point of [aikido] training is to artificially create a confrontation so that is may be resolved under a controlled environment. I believe a key role a dojo plays in our training is to provide a "safe" place in which to study, analyze and test martial science.

So the technique to you is the problem because it requires resolution. The simple solution to this is don't do Aikido, problem solved.
In a sense, yes. For most of us aikido probably classifies as a hobby, not a profession. It needs to be something we enjoy. The correct application of technique is one aspect of my aikido training. As a point of study I enjoy applying techniques in my training. In another thread on this forum (Drop out rates) there is a real demographic of aikido students who stop training for the purpose you mention - they do not enjoy the study of aikido.

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 11:46 AM
Except that's not the example we were discussing. Ledyard Sensei compared Araki Ryu assassination techniques to aikido and found an enormous difference in attitude. What was your Araki Ryu experience, again?

Katherine

No he pointed out his enormous difference in attitude.

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 12:02 PM
How many people have you actually hospitalized? Sent to the emergency room?

If the answer is zero, then either your attacks are lousy, everyone you're practicing with is much more skillful than you, or you aren't *really* attacking with full force. (Or all of the above.)

Which is fine. I don't actually believe that you have to attack with killing force in order to train honestly and sincerely. But if you *are* attacking with killing force, someone is going to get hurt. Very very few people are skillful enough (as either uke or nage) to manage that level of energy safely every single time.

Katherine

I never used the word force.

Ryan Seznee
11-09-2010, 12:19 PM
In the thought experiment of Schrodinger's cat, a cat is put in a box with a mechanism to release a poison to kill the cat. The box is sealed. Is the cat dead or alive? You do not know for sure until you open the box.

If there are a million boxes and you open up 10,000 boxes and find dead cats in every one of the 10,000 boxes, should you assume that the remaining boxes contain dead cats?

dps

The point of the experiment, and your graphic, is that the cat must be assumed to be both alive and dead until otherwise proven, since you don't know if the poison has been released yet. Meaning if you 10,000 boxes were opened up to find that the cats were dead, the other 990,000 would still have to be treated as though the cats were both alive and dead until open. I took this to mean we are both "that good" and "not that good" until otherwise proven right or wrong thought a situation arising, which I agree with. Discussions like this get nowhere and repopulate themselves on this site about once a month. Both sides are right in the void of "what if"?

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 12:32 PM
Except that's not the example we were discussing. Ledyard Sensei compared Araki Ryu assassination techniques to aikido and found an enormous difference in attitude. What was your Araki Ryu experience, again?

Katherine

Kata is not fighting.

Aikido teaches you to cut down unarmed people with a sword. That's the basis of all our techniques. Tori moves to draw his sword, uke grabs his wrist to prevent it and tori kills him anyway. Is this nicer than Araki Ryu? Uke is always trying to defend themself and uke is always loosing. We're always rehearsing murder in the dojo but because it's an Aikido dojo suddenly simulating this murder becomes, "learning connection."

If an Aikidoka does tenchi nage with a broken bottle on a guy that he knows has a gun does the Aikidoka cease to be an Aikidoka at some point? Does all the Aikidoka's technical knowledge suddently cease to be Aikido at some point and become some other art?

I've been taught to do that with a tanto I could do it with a bottle, a pint glass; any number of sharp objects and if the guy was foolish enough to grab my wrist to stop me using the weapon.............

It's not the kata, it's the mind that's using the information from the kata.

Ryan Seznee
11-09-2010, 12:37 PM
Over the last several years I have read threads centered around violence in aikido. This theme also appears as a tangent in many related threads such as spirituality, combat, philosophy, "street" fighting, and so forth.

Inevitably, these threads all acquire a post (or multiple posts) that asserts an aikido person is capable of: A. protecting the attacker from harm, B. disarming an armed attacker, C. avoiding confrontation, D. all of the above. Currently, there are a couple of these very threads active.

I jest here but the point of my thread will be to argue whether it is realistic to expect an aikido person to successfully engage an attacker with a positive result (for all). I define successful engagement as the resolution of conflict without injury to either party (let's go will Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere terminology).

Building from the ground up are we that good? Is it reasonable to expect that at some point my physical abilities will support my philosophical ideology (to engage in confrontation without injury to any involved party)?

I think most of us are all talk. Those who have the necessary skills (to back up their talk) are few and far between. That does not mean I should abandon my philosophy, but it does means I should mitigate my expectations.

Thoughts?

How long is a piece of string?

Russ Q
11-09-2010, 01:29 PM
when I attack them I attack with the full intent of hospitalising them

This implies "force" to me Alex.

How many people have you actually hospitalized? Sent to the emergency room? If the answer is zero, then either your attacks are lousy, everyone you're practicing with is much more skillful than you, or you aren't *really* attacking with full force. (Or all of the above.

I think this question is still valid....maybe you're saying you train with full intent to land your strike on the intended target whether moving slowly, half speed or full speed...

Aikido teaches you to cut down unarmed people with a sword. That's the basis of all our techniques. Tori moves to draw his sword, uke grabs his wrist to prevent it and tori kills him anyway. Is this nicer than Araki Ryu? Uke is always trying to defend themself and uke is always loosing. We're always rehearsing murder in the dojo but because it's an Aikido dojo suddenly simulating this murder becomes, "learning connection."

Really, is that what your doing....rehearsing murder? Is this what your instructor is telling you is the proper mindset for training?

Curious....

Russ

mathewjgano
11-09-2010, 01:53 PM
Why? Their intention is to hammer you into the mat; they have all the information they need to do that.
Not necessarily. Some of us have to edge our way toward a greater version of that understanding, but maybe I'm missing the point of this.
I train with my best friends, so I would hate to hurt them but when I attack them I attack with the full intent of hospitalising them, or worse, because my attack has to be honest for them to train properly. For that I take on a role which I believe with total certainty. You could even say I create an alternate personality because there's no way in hell I'd throw a punch at my best mate. But for that moment I am not Alex I am "the attacker."
Sounds dangerous. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for "alive" training, but I believe a person can dial it back (i.e. no intent to hospitalize) and still be quite authentic. To me, an intent to hospitalize means doing some nasty stuff without thinking it through...since much of what we're training is automatic in response. I don't need to be mean to teach how to deal with meanies. I need only to intend to hit, wrap/twist, or throw. Two well-practiced people can come close to "hospitalization-level" of intensity, but I don't ever want to train with someone who is trying to injure, lest one of us makes a mistake and allows it to happen.
I'm inclined to agree with you over the similar/dissimilar nature of the Evil Tea Servant with respect to some aspects of Aikido. There is overlap, even if the net result is to move in different directions (i.e. to help an attacker vs. to hurt a guest).

Aikido teaches you to cut down unarmed people with a sword. That's the basis of all our techniques.
I disagree. Aikido's roots are concerned with killing while not being killed (which fits your description on the battle field). Aikido (ala Ueshiba) is not concerned with killing unarmed people. The basis of the techniques I've learned has more to do with how to deal with an incoming weapon while not being hurt.


How long is a piece of string?
I suppose that depends on the piece. This piece here is about this long.:p

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 04:28 PM
I think this question is still valid....maybe you're saying you train with full intent to land your strike on the intended target whether moving slowly, half speed or full speed...

When I'm attacking I'm attacking. I am the attacker, I'm not an uke waiting to be thrown. I attack hard, I might pull it if I sense something is wrong but I am attacking.

Really, is that what your doing....rehearsing murder? Is this what your instructor is telling you is the proper mindset for training?

Curious....

If you're making a cup of tea and thinking about making dinner do you end up with a steak?

Ketsan
11-09-2010, 04:49 PM
Not necessarily. Some of us have to edge our way toward a greater version of that understanding, but maybe I'm missing the point of this.

How complicated his lifting your hand and then placing it on the head of someone else with force?

Sounds dangerous. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for "alive" training, but I believe a person can dial it back (i.e. no intent to hospitalize) and still be quite authentic. To me, an intent to hospitalize means doing some nasty stuff without thinking it through...since much of what we're training is automatic in response. I don't need to be mean to teach how to deal with meanies. I need only to intend to hit, wrap/twist, or throw. Two well-practiced people can come close to "hospitalization-level" of intensity, but I don't ever want to train with someone who is trying to injure, lest one of us makes a mistake and allows it to happen.

Well there is such a thing as pulling an attack if it looks like tori can't handle it. But at that moment when I start my attack my intention is to do as much harm as I imagine someone who was actually attacking would want to do.

I disagree. Aikido's roots are concerned with killing while not being killed (which fits your description on the battle field). Aikido (ala Ueshiba) is not concerned with killing unarmed people. The basis of the techniques I've learned has more to do with how to deal with an incoming weapon while not being hurt.

We still do it. Fine we practice it for other reasons but it's there.

kewms
11-09-2010, 04:50 PM
When I'm attacking I'm attacking. I am the attacker, I'm not an uke waiting to be thrown. I attack hard, I might pull it if I sense something is wrong but I am attacking.

Fine. Nothing wrong with strong, sincere attacks.

But that's not the same as attacking with intent to hospitalize.

And certainly not the same as the Araki Ryu mindset of serving tea with intent to kill.

Katherine

Russ Q
11-09-2010, 06:25 PM
Alex,

Thank you for your clarifications. Perhaps save your words and reread them in ten years and see what you think then....

Cheers,

Russ

mathewjgano
11-09-2010, 06:53 PM
How complicated his lifting your hand and then placing it on the head of someone else with force?
Ask my buddy who thought, "hey cool! a punching bag." He then sprained his wrist on it...first punch.

But at that moment when I start my attack my intention is to do as much harm as I imagine someone who was actually attacking would want to do.
I think I see what you mean, now. You mean you're trying to hit as hard as you can; putting as much effort into the movement you can muster, whatever it may be.

We still do it. Fine we practice it for other reasons but it's there.
I don't recall ever practicing kata where I cut down an unarmed opponant...granted I've got limited experience, and my memory aint perfect.

drcarey
11-09-2010, 11:24 PM
Some of us are not nearly as good as we think we are.
Others are alot better than we know.
Aikido is for connecting to the 'universal', not for expanding our egos.
Aikido is for improving our own standards, not meeting someone elses.
Read and ignore all of my entries before taking something out of context.
I'm not 'that good'.:circle:

dps
11-09-2010, 11:56 PM
The point of the experiment, and your graphic, is that the cat must be assumed to be both alive and dead until otherwise proven, since you don't know if the poison has been released yet. Meaning if you 10,000 boxes were opened up to find that the cats were dead, the other 990,000 would still have to be treated as though the cats were both alive and dead until open. I took this to mean we are both "that good" and "not that good" until otherwise proven right or wrong thought a situation arising, which I agree with. Discussions like this get nowhere and repopulate themselves on this site about once a month. Both sides are right in the void of "what if"?

Yes, reality is not determined until the box is opened and the cat is observed.

The reality of being "that good" or not is not known until an opportunity to apply the idea ( open the box) is experienced, like being attacked for real.

Does a person have aiki or inner strength is not known until observed.

The cat in the last box opened has a 50% chance of being dead or alive when the lid is opened.

Maybe a better question is how do you train to be "that good"?

dps

CitoMaramba
11-10-2010, 12:21 AM
Perhaps a video of the mentioned Araki Ryu Kata will help:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2_Z-whRDRk

Note that tori is serving tea to the uke, and as uke reaches for the tea, tori grabs uke's hand, twists it in something similar to kotegaeshi, kicks and immobilizes uke, then disarms uke by taking uke's tanto from the obi, and finally administers a coup de grace with tegatana.

I don't recall ever seeing that as part of Aikido keiko..(the tea serving part, I mean, not the kotegaeshi)

Flintstone
11-10-2010, 01:16 AM
I don't recall ever seeing that as part of Aikido keiko..(the tea serving part, I mean, not the kotegaeshi)
Reminds me of Hanmi Handachi Katatedori Kotegaeshi. Kind of.

phitruong
11-10-2010, 06:43 AM
Perhaps a video of the mentioned Araki Ryu Kata will help:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2_Z-whRDRk

Note that tori is serving tea to the uke, and as uke reaches for the tea, tori grabs uke's hand, twists it in something similar to kotegaeshi, kicks and immobilizes uke, then disarms uke by taking uke's tanto from the obi, and finally administers a coup de grace with tegatana.

I don't recall ever seeing that as part of Aikido keiko..(the tea serving part, I mean, not the kotegaeshi)

i don't think the technique was what Ledyard talking about, but it's the mindset of the person execute the technique. the mindset of a cold-blood calculated assassin that kills at up close and personal without feeling or might even enjoy such killing. it's the crocodile brain.

of course i know nothing about that since i have not been trained in such matter, but only in the loving harmony of aikido. :)

Keith Larman
11-10-2010, 07:02 AM
Well, fwiw...

I just reread the first post. I *tried* to read through all the other responses, really, I tried, but I kept finding my eyes rolling back in my head due to too many oddly bifurcating streams of thought. But I wanted to say something so, like I said, I went back to the first post. I'll stick to that and get my 2 cents in...

Like some in this thread I've put on the gear and sparred. I've also stripped down into the tight bicycle shorts/t-shirt duo that makes me look incredibly silly (just me -- everyone else of course looks manly and quite confident -- me, I just look like a gigantic pale white manatee stuffed into colored sausage casings). Grappling and actually sparring with intent (but some safety equipment and with some rules (please don't kill me)) with trained folk is really a good experience. I'm reminded that most of O-sensei's students had intense backgrounds prior to training with O-sensei. He wasn't working with rank beginners -- he was a guy really good martial artists searched out to get even better. Or because they were really good and they found that he had something they wanted, whatever that might be.

So, like everyone, I see the notions the OP posted through my own eyes, experience and understanding of history. Leaving aside the at best variable definition of violence in use here, "resolving a conflict" with someone with skills intent on harming you is quite difficult indeed. I think Ueshiba M's intent and ideal was superb and a wonderful ideal to strive for. But I also have no illusions as to how difficult indeed that path is. As I said, those early deshi had no illusions about what strong martial arts were all about. And how difficult it was to prevail in a conflict. So they came to the table with considerable skill and experiential knowledge.

So putting out those observations my opinion is that many if not most are somewhat "overconfident" in their abilities. I see flowery, cooperative stuff and often hear the Mongo voice in my head saying "send me in, coach, I could rip his freaking head off". I tell Mongo to calm down, try things as shown, but in reality Mongo does often have a point.

Now this isn't to say the end goal isn't a great thing. I truly think the ideal is a good ideal to strive for. Attaining that ideal, however, isn't trivial. If you think it is get together with someone who really has fought, and I don't mean just a friendly jabbing session at the dojo. One might be able to control someone out of control with no real skills. But someone with some skills, power and desire to do you harm... That's a difficult situation.

So I have sympathy and truly hold the ideals of conflict resolution, spirit of loving protection (also seen as an attitude to allow one to move and function in a way that is different while still being martially effective), self-victory, etc. all to be important ideals. But they are lofty ideals to be sure. And one few of us will likely attain because the bar is so very high. Doesn't mean we shouldn't aim for them. But we have to be really careful not to think we've gotten there when we're really miles and miles away.

Okay, I feel better now.

Ryan Seznee
11-10-2010, 07:20 AM
Yes, reality is not determined until the box is opened and the cat is observed.

The reality of being "that good" or not is not known until an opportunity to apply the idea ( open the box) is experienced, like being attacked for real.

Does a person have aiki or inner strength is not known until observed.

The cat in the last box opened has a 50% chance of being dead or alive when the lid is opened.

Maybe a better question is how do you train to be "that good"?

dps

I agree. Again, the only way to be sure is it put someone in a situation like that, but just like the cat's plight, death is a possible (and in some cases probable) outcome. This is why we don't do this sort of thing in modern society.

I think your question is more interesting than the question at this post, but others will disagree with me...

phitruong
11-10-2010, 07:41 AM
in the old days when we still ran on top of tree top and fought on bamboo trees with army of folks who armed with sharp and pointy things :) , being good meant that you were still alive and kicking versus being dead and no longer be able to propagate your stuffs. sort of darwin law survival of the good, the bad and the ugly.

modern society, where we duel with lawyers, there isn't really a way to say that we are good or not; other than various gladiator avenues like UFC, K-1, and so on. most of folks will lose against a good team of lawyers. as you noticed, that the lawyer species have propagated wide and far.

sort answer: we sucked. lawyers are that good, because they can blend through space and time in multi-dimensions.

Mary Eastland
11-10-2010, 07:46 AM
Being concerned with the question will distract from the quest. To be totally in the moment, seeing the situation exactly as it is will help me.
I train mindfully.
When I was attacked I responded at first with fear and anger. When I was grabbed by two hands on one arm...I returned to my center. My attacker was lowered gently to the ground. The altercation was over.
Mary

Ketsan
11-10-2010, 08:48 AM
Fine. Nothing wrong with strong, sincere attacks.

But that's not the same as attacking with intent to hospitalize.

And certainly not the same as the Araki Ryu mindset of serving tea with intent to kill.

Katherine

You claiming to know better than I do what's going through my head when I attack. Interesting.

Ellis Amdur
11-10-2010, 09:13 AM
Since my Araki-ryu is being discussed, at least peripheral to the main discussion - -- George made an important point that slipped by people.
So, when I read about people talking about their attitude as they attack, that's well and good. But George was alluding to a specific curriculum that effects one psychologically, perhaps neurologically. This is different from IS, though not mutually exclusive. It is, essentially, berserker rage. People have an idea that this is a chaotic state, uncoordinated, but it is not. The best way think about it is tapping in to the "lizard brain" and by practicing the core skills/techniques, making them pseudo-instincts. In other words, the "instinctive" response when "berserk," is those techniques. You can't just assume a "bad attitude" and tap into this AND function using with precision and integrity.
Similarly, simply asserting that aikido is love and doing techniques as commonly taught will not impart internal strength skills. YOu not only have to practice a lot, you need a specific curriculum and a teacher who knows what he or she is talking about.
(for the poster who dismissed George's reference to me, saying that he was just talking about kata - no, not really. Kata is actually a only part of how we train - - -and I am not going to hijack the thread by going into that/I've written about that elsewhere)
Best
Ellis Amdur

kewms
11-10-2010, 09:35 AM
You claiming to know better than I do what's going through my head when I attack. Interesting.

*shrug* I know what you wrote.

Katherine

Ketsan
11-10-2010, 10:48 AM
*shrug* I know what you wrote.

Katherine

I wrote I intend to hospitalise tori when I attack but that I don't always follow through with that intention.

kewms
11-10-2010, 11:43 AM
I wrote I intend to hospitalise tori when I attack but that I don't always follow through with that intention.

Right.

But if you go in prepared to abort your attack, were you actually attacking with intent to hospitalize someone?

Which may sound like pointless semantic quibbling, but there's a big difference between someone who is really, sincerely trying to hurt you and someone who only pretends to be.

*shrug* I think we're talking past each other. I'm done here.

Katherine

Ketsan
11-10-2010, 11:49 AM
Since my Araki-ryu is being discussed, at least peripheral to the main discussion - -- George made an important point that slipped by people.
So, when I read about people talking about their attitude as they attack, that's well and good. But George was alluding to a specific curriculum that effects one psychologically, perhaps neurologically. This is different from IS, though not mutually exclusive. It is, essentially, berserker rage. People have an idea that this is a chaotic state, uncoordinated, but it is not. The best way think about it is tapping in to the "lizard brain" and by practicing the core skills/techniques, making them pseudo-instincts. In other words, the "instinctive" response when "berserk," is those techniques. You can't just assume a "bad attitude" and tap into this AND function using with precision and integrity.
Similarly, simply asserting that aikido is love and doing techniques as commonly taught will not impart internal strength skills. YOu not only have to practice a lot, you need a specific curriculum and a teacher who knows what he or she is talking about.
(for the poster who dismissed George's reference to me, saying that he was just talking about kata - no, not really. Kata is actually a only part of how we train - - -and I am not going to hijack the thread by going into that/I've written about that elsewhere)
Best
Ellis Amdur

You can use my name. I did say it after all. :)

And unless I totally misunderstand you you've pretty much made half my point.

Does if you're tapping into that lizard brain, programing that berzerk response because that's basically what your Sensei is teaching will the fact that you're doing Aikido kata change how you respond when attacked? We're not all training with the same mindset.
The other half of what I am saying is that not all Aikidoka are doing their kata the same way. Not all of us have the same definition of terms like "connection."

So to go around making blanket statements about the martial effectiveness of all "Aikidoka" is very bold.

Ketsan
11-10-2010, 11:50 AM
Right.

But if you go in prepared to abort your attack, were you actually attacking with intent to hospitalize someone?

Which may sound like pointless semantic quibbling, but there's a big difference between someone who is really, sincerely trying to hurt you and someone who only pretends to be.

*shrug* I think we're talking past each other. I'm done here.

Katherine

As there is in aforementioned Araki Ryu kata. Unless part of the training is to kill your partner?

Ellis Amdur
11-10-2010, 07:25 PM
Well, this could easily devolve into some abstract quibbling.

Osawa sensei, senior, shihan-bucho of the Aikikai Honbu, late of the Aikikai and I had a conversation about this very subject, upon my resignation from Honbu dojo, and when I described what I was learning and doing, he told me, with no sense of confrontation, but simply conveying a fact, that what I was doing is "exactly what aikido is not."

I'm told that when several top teachers of Systema observed my myself and my student presenting Araki-ryu, they turned to their students and stated something like, "We are not trying to do that. That is what we have left behind."

Which leads back to the issue if Ueshiba was doing anything different from Daito-ryu, given that the techniques were, largely, the same. Ueshiba stated clearly that he was doing something different. Do we tell him that he didn't know what he was talking about?

Finally, "because that's basically what your Sensei is teaching," I haven't seen my teacher in over a decade and a half. I've been teaching this curriculum, passed down over 19 generations, for over 30 years.

I posted because there was this side discussion of a tradition which I am responsible for as shihan. Simply that accurate information about what I teach is out there. I am not doing so to debate in the abstract.

Apologies for the thread drift.

George S. Ledyard
11-11-2010, 02:05 AM
Well, this could easily devolve into some abstract quibbling.

Osawa sensei, senior, shihan-bucho of the Aikikai Honbu, late of the Aikikai and I had a conversation about this very subject, upon my resignation from Honbu dojo, and when I described what I was learning and doing, he told me, with no sense of confrontation, but simply conveying a fact, that what I was doing is "exactly what aikido is not."

I'm told that when several top teachers of Systema observed my myself and my student presenting Araki-ryu, they turned to their students and stated something like, "We are not trying to do that. That is what we have left behind."

Which leads back to the issue if Ueshiba was doing anything different from Daito-ryu, given that the techniques were, largely, the same. Ueshiba stated clearly that he was doing something different. Do we tell him that he didn't know what he was talking about?

Finally, "because that's basically what your Sensei is teaching," I haven't seen my teacher in over a decade and a half. I've been teaching this curriculum, passed down over 19 generations, for over 30 years.

I posted because there was this side discussion of a tradition which I am responsible for as shihan. Simply that accurate information about what I teach is out there. I am not doing so to debate in the abstract.

Apologies for the thread drift.

Sorry Ellis...

Ellis Amdur
11-11-2010, 08:56 AM
George - My comment wasn't directed at you. I posted to try to ensure clarity about my ryu, but my last post was in hopes of steering the thread back to it's subject, as I didn't want the side issue of Araki-ryu to take over a thread on aikido.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Cliff Judge
11-11-2010, 09:21 AM
George - My comment wasn't directed at you. I posted to try to ensure clarity about my ryu, but my last post was in hopes of steering the thread back to it's subject, as I didn't want the side issue of Araki-ryu to take over a thread on aikido.
Best
Ellis Amdur

With all due respect, sir, we've got your number. You just don't want the thread on aikido to KNOW that the side issue of Araki-ryu is actually planning on throwing it down to the ground and inserting a one shaku knife between its fourth and fifth ribs at a 15 degree angle. :D

SeiserL
11-11-2010, 09:43 AM
Apologies for the thread drift.
Osu Sensei,
Having trained with you many times, I do not find you thoughts a drift (IMHO accuracy is never a drift) or your teaching incompatible with my Aikido.
We may never know if we are good enough in a situation if we never allow even the mental intent of being there.
Rei, Domo.

mathewjgano
11-11-2010, 12:01 PM
To recap a bit in order to make sure I'm reading some things correctly:
So the Araki Ryu example was provided by Ledyard Sensei to show a divergence between Aikido and other, more destruction-oriented, approaches; the purpose being to illustrate how far removed from a berzerker mindset Aikido is. And thus, that in order to "play nice" one probably needs something extra (i.e. "internal" aiki...for lack of better phrasing) to level the playing field?
Alex was then saying that Araki Ryu curriculum exemplified the general idea of not-contesting where you're weaker (i.e. "Aikido 101") and suggesting that the adoption of a "berzerker" mindset (never mind the possible differences in applied meaning of the term) might be a part of Aikido insofaras some folks interpret Aikido differently and practice with it; the intention being to replicate the kind of intesity of purpose one is likely to encounter in a serious attack.
Am I tracking ok? Regardless, I'd just like to say thank you for the great series of posts for me to consider. I've found it very intersting (that's not a euphemism!)!
Take care!
Matt

thisisnotreal
11-11-2010, 12:46 PM
my 0.02, to the OP;
Are we that good?
To answer that, doesn't it go like this?: First: You'd have to be better than everyone else.
Then not only that; but so much better than them, that you're still in your comfort zone; such that you don't even accidentally hurt the attacker. You have to be so safe and secure in your body, your posture, your position, your mindset; that you can -be- you perfectly. And not pushed out of that ...fudoshin. Immovable mind. (Am I using the term wrong?)
I think the only way to tap into this level: is to build and cultivate your power and skill. I think pursuing aiki is the only way to get there...but even still I think it is best to say it *may* allow for this eventuality. But talent, skill, ma education, testing and dedication will be the limiting factors.

Isnt' this the only answer?
O Sensei himself was the best at aikido ever; and apparently he was bested twice, or so I've read on these boards... so frankly; I see this as some sort of limiting case. Nobody is perfect on this plane of existence. Monkeys fall out of trees; and anything can happen on any given day.

Was Wang Shu Jin ever bested? What about Sagawa? I think I read he was undefeated. Takeda?
Could he do it without hurting the guy? Did they care? Is this consideration a core of what makes Aikido different? (as was said earlier above). I don't know and these are honest questions of mine.

I'm thinking the Short version is: Nobody is that good...but some people can come damn close.

just random thoughts aimed at you, Jon.
j :)

Flintstone
11-11-2010, 12:50 PM
O Sensei himself was the best at aikido ever (...)
Not wanting to sound heretic but is that really so? Also an honest question. And certainly not a personal attack.

thisisnotreal
11-11-2010, 12:54 PM
Don't know. Isn't it axiomatic? No worries Alejandro.
again; thos're my honest questions too. ..so i appreciate them in kind..

Ellis Amdur
11-11-2010, 02:09 PM
Matt - to your summary, further points. If George hadn't discussed Araki-ryu specifically, I wouldn't have felt a need to participate. But responses to George were one the line of, "We do that too."
The additional point is similar to the interminable discussions on internal training. So many people in aikido say, "We do that." or "We know that - it's just a matter of practicing more hours than I do." However, internal training requires more than catchphrases - it requires a curriculum. And has been pointed out, many eminent teachers withhold essential knowledge from their students. Expertise in this field require not only a lot of hours of practice, the assumption of a certain attitude, but specific instruction on very complicated and/or subtle details. One of my teachers - just today - taught me something that I never would have dreamed of - or conceived of, without his instruction. A body mechanics technique, that would be incomprehensible to me had I not learned previous steps.
Similarly, asserting that one has violent intent, or that one is a tough guy, or at least one's teacher is a tough guy, does not establish that one has learned a very specific curriculum (not exclusive to Araki-ryu, by the way) which creates something specific, which George and then I struggled to describe.

Aikido is sometimes viewed as this grab-bag, in which "anything can be aikido." This is not the equivalent of "anything can be music." The kind of claim I'm objecting to is more like, "Anything can be Mozart."

Best
Ellis Amdur

kewms
11-11-2010, 03:59 PM
Aikido is sometimes viewed as this grab-bag, in which "anything can be aikido." This is not the equivalent of "anything can be music." The kind of claim I'm objecting to is more like, "Anything can be Mozart."


Or even, "anything can be Mozart's oboe concerto."

This happens in the sciences, too. An expert writes an article (or is interviewed by a reporter) for a non-expert audience, and in order to make the material accessible, necessarily simplifies it substantially. Often, to such an extent that the result seems trivial to non-experts.

That doesn't mean that this particular experiment (or piece of martial practice) isn't unique and important, just that words have (again) proven inadequate to the task of showing why.

Katherine

Ketsan
11-12-2010, 03:21 PM
To recap a bit in order to make sure I'm reading some things correctly:
So the Araki Ryu example was provided by Ledyard Sensei to show a divergence between Aikido and other, more destruction-oriented, approaches; the purpose being to illustrate how far removed from a berzerker mindset Aikido is. And thus, that in order to "play nice" one probably needs something extra (i.e. "internal" aiki...for lack of better phrasing) to level the playing field?
Alex was then saying that Araki Ryu curriculum exemplified the general idea of not-contesting where you're weaker (i.e. "Aikido 101") and suggesting that the adoption of a "berzerker" mindset (never mind the possible differences in applied meaning of the term) might be a part of Aikido insofaras some folks interpret Aikido differently and practice with it; the intention being to replicate the kind of intesity of purpose one is likely to encounter in a serious attack.
Am I tracking ok? Regardless, I'd just like to say thank you for the great series of posts for me to consider. I've found it very intersting (that's not a euphemism!)!
Take care!
Matt

All martial arts basically use the same tactics and the mindset we were discussing is derived from those tactics because tactics are only successful if the opponent is unaware of them and therefore deception is required.

So if one wishes to separate Aikido from any kind of violent mindset it must first separate itself completely from a martial paradigm.

The fundamental reality of an Aikido technique is that uke is off balance and tori is on balance. Tori is in control. That Aikidoka use harmonisation, blending and redirection to produce this state changes nothing. Simply stating that the mindset is not the same as in other arts again changes nothing. Is being pinned to the mat in Judo different from being pinned in Aikido? Is the act of pinning really an example of conflict resolution? No. It is containment of the conflict, it is control of the aggressive party, it is not resolution.

Of course some Aikidoka like Jon maintain that Aikido is not about controling uke in which case uke is free to act which means that tori is not an agentic force; we can dispense with tori all together; they're superfluous in a training system were uke is determined to find the mat by any means. Their only function is to maintain an illusion of training so that uke doesn't feel daft doing what they are in reality doing: throwing themselves on the floor. The correctness of technique here is meaningless because the priority is to maintain connection and harmony no matter how artificial one has to be.

The other approach is tori based Aikido. Tori harmonises with the attacker to establish control and it is this control which allows the Aikidoka to be kind.
To do this requires a mindset that allows you to act boldly and "aggressively" to an attack and this mindset, from my experience is not an adrenalin rush. I play paintball I know what an adrenalin rush is and I know what I feel now when I play paintball these days: It's a cold blooded highly focused, highly controlled state and that is what I and others I've talked to experience when Aikido is used for real. This is the state I try to achieve in training and I'm not alone.

mathewjgano
11-18-2010, 01:34 PM
Matt - to your summary, further points. If George hadn't discussed Araki-ryu specifically, I wouldn't have felt a need to participate. But responses to George were one the line of, "We do that too."
...
Aikido is sometimes viewed as this grab-bag, in which "anything can be aikido." This is not the equivalent of "anything can be music." The kind of claim I'm objecting to is more like, "Anything can be Mozart."

Best
Ellis Amdur

Ellis,
Good points. And thank you for your reply. I often get caught up focusing too much on part of what people are saying and missing a lot as a result. I'm sure it's frustrating to many people, particularly people who have taken serious efforts to know what they're talking about, so I'm very appreciative when I get feedback.
Thank you again, and take care!
Matt

Alberto_Italiano
11-30-2010, 09:22 AM
Jon

there are many good replies here - George and Kevin are priceless and much more informed than me.

Let me state why I think the way i think: my martial background over 20 years ago was boxing. Hitting and being hit was daily bread. It was no fiction: they hit you everyday with the intention to break your nose, or make your ankles fail with chin blows.

I often wondered why in boxing this type of training is considered normal, and in other martial studies it is not till the point on a dojo you may never see how a real attacker would behave in decades - you might find that out the day you get attacked in the street and you will realize then that all your techinques fail - you will tray an iriminage only to discover that when you place your hand on the neck of your opponent, he does not bend in the least...

As far as aikido is concerned, I'm a nuisance. So I can tell you only after my boxing background: the first sign that you're fit for real combat is when you know how your opponent is going to strike you and when merely by looking into his eyes. It is a notion that can be calibrated to the millimeter and to the millisecond and that only the habit of fighting may generate. Also, it is something that one day you attain but that you may _lose_ if you quit training.

As for aikido, I think that what we see in most dojos is very far from what aikido can do. Aikido can be _devastating_. If you apply your strenght in the direction the force of your opponent goes and a technique upon that, the projection can be truly terrible and intercept all the intervening objects in the way - tables, glasses, plates, bystanders, chairs...

However, in a real situation you have to _earn_ your technique: it's not like in dojos where uke places his arm for you to operate; rather, you have to fight your way to your technique, and be ready to take the incoming punishment any time you fail and, when you fail, be ready to move on to another technique immediately and on and on till one succeeds.

Most aikidokas think that aikido is terrible - and as a matter of fact it can be: only, they don't know yet theirs isn't.

Train. Train. Train. Once you're trained a lot, your promptness to respond to an attacker is _instantly_ available. A guy may come up out of the blue and hit you and you are ready to fight back the same instant you see this unexpected arm flash.
And yet you can fail.

Train for being ready.
Train with real ukes that have no mercy.
When you start understanding how you're going to be attacked next, it's a good sign. Till then, avoid confrontations of any sort - as I do!

jonreading
11-30-2010, 12:10 PM
As this thread has progressed, I have been surprised by the lack of posts from those individuals who I was trying to engage to justify a mentality that is in my opinion unsustainable, if not unfeasible.

As I have trained over the years, I have noticed this "arm-chair quarterback" mentality created from a divergence in skill and principle. For whatever reason, we now have a sizable demographic of aikido people who hold principles and values which are not sustainable as evidenced by their skill. As a sports analogy, this is the arm-chair quarterback who pontificates upon the mistakes that Brett Farve made Sunday as if he could perform better... if he could throw the football... and was in better shape... and athletic... and played football in college...

Aikido is possessed of sustainable and real goals, principles and values. The answer to the rhetorical question, "Are we that good?" is no. But in asking the question I wanted to engage a discussion that required posts to critically evaluate the validity of their message.

Of course some Aikidoka like Jon maintain that Aikido is not about controling uke in which case uke is free to act which means that tori is not an agentic force; we can dispense with tori all together; they're superfluous in a training system were uke is determined to find the mat by any means. Their only function is to maintain an illusion of training so that uke doesn't feel daft doing what they are in reality doing: throwing themselves on the floor. The correctness of technique here is meaningless because the priority is to maintain connection and harmony no matter how artificial one has to be.


I do maintain that aikido is more about uke resolving confrontation than nage doing something to uke. I may need to clarify a couple of points Alex mentions though. As soon as we talk about doing, we have dis-unification between uke and nage - they become two separate entities of which one does something to the other. Alex uses the catalyst term "agent" to describe this multi-entity relationship. Rather, I believe the "aiki" part of aikido is the connection established between uke and nage that unifies uke's center to nage's, thus transferring control of both entities to nage. Largely, this is evidenced in our "initial strike" oriented training - if I successfully connect and seize control of uke's center, the subsequent technique is to some extent mute. My instructor used to say as soon as you set your intent to attack me, you are [on the ground], the only question is how do you get there. I think there exists a doka of similar nature...

I believe that the aiki part of our training is to connect with our partner. Kuriowa Sensei wrote an article differentiating kihon from kihon waza and kata. The "kihon" to which I believe Kuriowa sensei was referring is the connection and entering at the onset of each engagement, the "kata" to which he referred is the mechanical movement of technique and the "kihon waza" to which he referred is the natural application of technique to uke after connecting with uke and seizing control of his center. I think we have lost the "kihon" in our training and focused largely on the execution of technique. If the technique (kata) is mechanically practical then we may still apply it, but we do not have the pre-requisite aiki. Some of the more experienced guys would probably take that a step further that argue that application would be jitsu and not do because nage is not unified with uke.

There still exists an importance to correctly perform kata, but in progressive training it would be assumed that nage is familiar with kata before attempting to create the natural movement of waza. In this sense one could argue that the [correct] form of kata would be of secondary importance if you were attempting to execute waza. I think this is where a lot of aikido people put the cart before the horse and try executing waza before they can correctly perform kata. Oh, and we've already cut out kihon before we even try to execute waza so there isn't even the connection between uke and nage. And we wonder why we can't punch our way out of a paper bag...

The article by Kuriowa Sensei is a couple decades old probably but I believe it makes a significant amount of sense (A Common Sense Look At Aikido). I guess you just have to feel it to know what I am talking about. Wait, no. If I said that I'd have to beat up myself. Dang. Seriously though, I think its a great article.

Alberto_Italiano
11-30-2010, 01:38 PM
I love this forum.

Another cent by me about being "good".
Administration of disorder: this is what a fight is about.

The guy attacks with a hook (in my humble world, that's still called hook and not yokomenuchi lol). Panic ensues (not confidence!), my arms raise to block it as if it were karate. I fail and the hook _hits_ my face. I instintively lower to dodge a second hook (that did not come) and that's not aikido but boxing, yet as I am raising back I step sideway in a confused memory that in aikido you need to stay tangent... I find uke's arm in front of me and I grab it awkwardly. Disorder.

I grab it and manage to place it under my left arm and right arm to block it - something for which, in most dojos, they would immediately oust you from the dojo for that's potentially an arm breaking technique. Yet I know it, and I move backward very _carefully_ holding this arm.

Uke struggles frantic to set his arm free and _succeeds_ to slip it out of my grip. I know I'm in for another confrontation and jumping sideway I push his arm against him and I grab it again. Disorder.

I try to walk toward uke as I push his arm against him but damn, he has a good footing for some reason! He pushes his arm against me to set it free and face me again. I lower his arm, pulling and getting nearly on my knees, we are both almost on the floor, he manages to raise back, I try shiho nage - direct, without pivoting and turning on myself (most dojos would complain shiho nage is not done like that...). Uke is on the ground on his back. I rotate his wrist and simulate placing my knee on his elbow. Endgame.

Very disordered. Yet, somewhat realistic. No real struggle resembles ideograms. We cannot be "that good", for at times in a real world to be good it needs to be "that ugly" (and with a reddened cheekbone.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
12-01-2010, 01:14 AM
Hi Jon,

I guess I agree with your points and really sympathise with your position, but yet, I am not so sure who you are pressing the case with after 150 posts?

There are those of us who dont have a lot of experience; they won’t be able to judge anyway.
There are those of us who know what they do and are happy with what they do; they don’t mind who they can defeat or not in mostly theoretical confrontations, much like a painter does not mind that photography produces clearer pictures. I actually see a potential for some wisdom there.
There are those who arguably don’t know what they do and are happy with that as well. Unlike others, I feel no real need to reform them, though their statements do bug me at times.
There are those of us who have made up their minds that they want to train in a different way; they have made connections, got information, formed networks and started to work. Some have gone quite silent on the forums and my guess is you won’t hear much from them for the next five to ten years or so.
There are those of us who claim they (well mostly: their teachers :rolleyes: ) have always been able do what others cannot, who claim to always have been at aikido’s full potential; they will think or say your training is deficient because of the questions you ask, and remain in their black box. We will never know how good they are, though we may make informed guesses – or even be in for some surprises.

In a way, I think that battle has been fought over the last couple of years. Once the noise has subsided, there is quite a clear picture of some salient strengths and weaknesses on all sides, at least in my confused mind... And now we will have to wait.

Personally, I am getting more interested in questions like how aikido is going to be run politically in a few years, or how on earth one would have to go about strengthening the spiritual aspect of our practice. Meanwhile, some inverse breathing wont harm .... ☺

jonreading
12-01-2010, 07:31 AM
Nicholas-

Mostly I press the matter to encourage posters to make reasonable and valid posts worthy of defense and discussion. This thread is part aikido, part discourse etiquette. Sometimes I think we get carried away and say whatever we want and sometimes whatever we want to say is baseless...however interesting it may be...

If I were to make a claim, "The sky is not blue," one would expect that I provide some reason to substantiate my claim. If I could not present a compelling reason, my claim would be dismissed.

And to be clear, I am not looking to judge the responses in this thread, only to ask posters to publish the reasoning behind the claims. I think we could all benefit from responses with sound reasoning behind them... of which we have several great posts.

KaliGman
12-08-2010, 11:10 PM
Shortest answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: No, most Aikidoka posting on forums (and martial artists in general) have never experienced even "realistic sparring," much less a committed street attack. Many a delusion would be shattered if a few sparring partners just launched hard, fast, right hands at a few mouths, without even considering what a decent high school wrestler could do to some egos.

Longest answer I am going to post: Aikido has many good points and has something to offer, in regard to combat methodologies, to anyone who studies under a good instructor. However, not all martial systems are equal and Aikido is one of the less effective systems. I do not mean that some form of Aikido cannot work in real life in real combat, if conducted at a high level by a skilled person. I simply mean that AIkido has many holes within it's methodologies compared to some other systems. It is particularly bad against a skilled knife artist or against a skilled, fast striker who throws blows in combination attacks (multiple hits per second rather than the single, direct, and usually slow attacks practiced in most Aikido dojos), or one who utilizes vertical level changes. Almost all AIkido lacks sparring at speed against a resisting opponent, which is one of the primary methods of gaining skill and confidence and innoculating oneself against real world violence. Training is not the same as being attacked or fighting for your life. I have been attacked and have fought people who were trying to kill me. I have subdued and arrested many people who had killed multiple human beings and a few who made their livings by killing. Hard training is not the same as the real deal, but it is the next best thing we can do to prepare. There is a reason that "train hard, fight easy" is a mantra in military and police circles. There is also a reason that many of the "legendary" Aikido "fighters," and all of the Aikidoka whom I have personally met who could actually fight at a decent level,have cross trained in other martial arts.

The majority of people who feel that they can subdue an attacker without injury have never even been punched in the face, much less had someone try to kill them. I have studied multiple arts taught by many skilled instructors. My friend and teacher Apohan Tuhan Hasting Albo probably said it best, though, when he said "In order to show compassion you have to be able to kill." What he meant was, in order to safely control an attacker and negate his ability to attack without hurting him, you have to be so much more skilled than the attacker that you could literally kill him at any point during the attack, if you so chose. If you do not outclass your opponent by this kind of margin, then attempting to control the opponent without injuring the opponent is opening yourself to danger, injury, and, depending on the situation, possibly death.

I have, by no means, crossed hands with all of the members of this board, though I have done so with a few. I mean no disrespect to anyone's training. If you are training for spiritual development, then more power to you and continue on your journey. Do not confuse such training with realistic self-defense methodologies, however. Learn this from me, a middle aged guy with various scars, injuries, broken bones, and interesting stories to tell: check the ego at the door, do not mistake collusive "dojo" randori as realistic training, and if confronted on the street, trust your running shoes rover your irimi.

kewms
12-09-2010, 12:35 AM
It is particularly bad against a skilled knife artist or against a skilled, fast striker who throws blows in combination attacks (multiple hits per second rather than the single, direct, and usually slow attacks practiced in most Aikido dojos), or one who utilizes vertical level changes.

How effective is *any* unarmed style against a skilled knife artist?

Katherine

phitruong
12-09-2010, 05:44 AM
How effective is *any* unarmed style against a skilled knife artist?

Katherine

very effective....in bleeding :)

of course it depends on the knife, big knife, small knife, meat cleaver, ... personally, i prefer axe. there is something very elemental about an axe that reaches inside your soul and tells you "oh dear god! it's time i run home and do the dishes!" :D

Anjisan
12-09-2010, 07:26 AM
How effective is *any* unarmed style against a skilled knife artist?

Katherine

First, I guess that it would depend on the skill level of the artist-are we talking about a 29 year Escrima guy or something else?

Second, I have always thought that the typical knife defences taught in Aikido are lacking in terms of dealing with anyone besides the punk outside the liquor store who just wants your wallet--certainly not a predator. As such, I personally have begun to incorporate Krav Maga into my Aikido to attempt to address the deficit.

phitruong
12-09-2010, 09:07 AM
First, I guess that it would depend on the skill level of the artist-are we talking about a 29 year Escrima guy or something else?

Second, I have always thought that the typical knife defences taught in Aikido are lacking in terms of dealing with anyone besides the punk outside the liquor store who just wants your wallet-.

if i find a 29 year escrima guy who asked me for my wallet outside the liquor store, i would gladly give him all my money, buy him the drink and ask him to teach me. :)

Anjisan
12-09-2010, 11:00 AM
if i find a 29 year escrima guy who asked me for my wallet outside the liquor store, i would gladly give him all my money, buy him the drink and ask him to teach me. :)

I completely agree! However, I guess the issues becomes if one is attacked by someone with skill and INTENT on causing you harm, having the appropriate skills to respond. I certainly agree to give the thug one's wallet-it is just that there have been occasions that I know of where just because you give him/them your wallet does not save you from a pistol whipping or beating. The previous typical response of highjacked passengers comes to mind where if one just does what the terrorists want they will eventually let you go when the plan all along was to blow up the plane-sheep to slaughter so to speak.

KaliGman
12-09-2010, 01:48 PM
How effective is *any* unarmed style against a skilled knife artist?

Katherine

Glad I was able to see this during a late "lunch" (spent mostly doing paperwork) and respond. To clarify, for this forum audience, I meant relatively skilled with a knife in a street crime environment. To be quite frank, very few in Aikido understand the angles of attack, the transitions from one cut to another, etc. of the short blade. The knife does not move like a sword, it is much faster and more lively, and contemporary knife methodologies are not addressed at all well by traditional Aikido techniques/skill sets. There are literally hundreds of different kali and silat systems. The best silat and kali systems address empty hand against the knife very well indeed. Stick trains kinfe, which trains empty hand. The thing to remember is that "effective" against a committed knife attach can be defined as surviving the first pass or two of the blade which will occur during a surprise assault, and being able to retreat and/or access your own defensive tools. It can also be defined as stopping the knife attack and controlling the attacker, which is much more difficult. Against a very well trained kali or silat fighter armed with a knife, no one who is going to be very happy fighting unarmed, though a person with much, much more skill than the attacker may be able to prevail. However, humans are weapon and tool users for a reason--they give us advantages not possessed by merely utilizling our "natural" weapons.

KaliGman
12-09-2010, 01:53 PM
very effective....in bleeding :)

of course it depends on the knife, big knife, small knife, meat cleaver, ... personally, i prefer axe. there is something very elemental about an axe that reaches inside your soul and tells you "oh dear god! it's time i run home and do the dishes!" :D

Axes designed for felling small trees, camp chores, and splitting wood are very badlly balanced for fighting, and recovering from a normal cutting stroke with such a device requires what would be seen in a blade confrontation as an eternity. Now "fighting axes" and tomahawks are a different animal entirely...:D .

KaliGman
12-09-2010, 02:05 PM
if i find a 29 year escrima guy who asked me for my wallet outside the liquor store, i would gladly give him all my money, buy him the drink and ask him to teach me. :)

I don't ask for money outside liquor stores, and I don't drink. However, I am head of a Filipino martial system (Albo Kali Silat), and you are welcome to come train. Perhaps you could attend a seminar (I believe the next one is Columbus, Ohio, sometime after the New Year). I don't do that many seminars, actually. My law enforcement job keeps me pretty busy. Here is some background information, if you are interested (though it is a bit out of date and magazines always compress contributor biographies a bit): http://www.blackbeltmag.com/jon_holloway/archives/746

kewms
12-09-2010, 08:12 PM
Against a very well trained kali or silat fighter armed with a knife, no one who is going to be very happy fighting unarmed, though a person with much, much more skill than the attacker may be able to prevail. However, humans are weapon and tool users for a reason--they give us advantages not possessed by merely utilizling our "natural" weapons.

That was my point. Unarmed vs. an edged weapon is a very very severe disadvantage, no matter what kind of training you have. Aikido deserves criticism (IMO) not so much because it does poorly against knife attacks, but because so many practitioners have unrealistic expectations of their ability to deal with knives.

Katherine

KaliGman
12-10-2010, 11:05 AM
That was my point. Unarmed vs. an edged weapon is a very very severe disadvantage, no matter what kind of training you have. Aikido deserves criticism (IMO) not so much because it does poorly against knife attacks, but because so many practitioners have unrealistic expectations of their ability to deal with knives.

Katherine

Katherine,

I think you misunderstood what I have said in this thread, which is probably my fault for not stating things more clearly and unequivocally. Please indulge me and let me try to clarify what I was trying to say earlier in this thread.

There are systems, to include some kali and silat systems, that contain training in methodologies which can give a person a decent chance to survive an edged weapon attack while unarmed. Training in typical Aikido methodologies will not provide the student with a decent chance (or really much chance at all) in surviving an edged n atweapotack. To be perfectly frank, I have never seen anyone who is what I consider "good" going against a knife while empty handed in full-contact sparring or in real attacks who had not spent a significant amount of time training and sparring knife against knife and empty hand against knife. Training with a knife and sparring knife against knife teaches the possible mechanisms and angles of knife attacks and develops speed and the ability to check attacks. Without these skills and abilities, surviving an edged weapon attack becomes more a matter of pure luck, the decision of an attacker to cease his or her attack for some reason (rather than anything you have done to stop them from being able to attack), or having a completely inept attacker. To be brutally honest, the majority of the persons who I have seen practicing Aikido in the last 30 or so years have about as much chance of surviving an edged weapon encounter on the street as I do of winning the Powerball Lottery while being struck by lightning and being simultaneously bitten by a shark.

Please note that, in my earlier posts, I was not merely stating that Aikido is not very good against the knife, but was attempting to point out some empty hand versus empty hand problems that the system has as well. To clarify, Aikido methodologies are not very good at stopping a competent fighter who is proficient in a striking art which emphasizes footwork and attacking in combinations rather than a single attack. Some other arts offer superior methodologies for dealing with such individuals. Also note that I had stated that Aikido has problems with those who change levels when fighting. What I mean by that is someone who will go from standing erect to attacking a lower level target, such as the knee or leg. This could be anything from a collegiate wrestler going for a quick single leg to a Harimau Silat fighter dropping to a seated position while kicking and trapping an opponent's leg and destroying his knee joint.

Of course, there are problems and holes in any art, and value in it as well. I find Aikido methodologies to have a lot of value in my work when I need to control or arrest a passively resisting subject (not fighting, but not cooperating in the arrest either), when dealing with less dangerous situations and opponents and putting them in a position where they can be safely arrested, and the like. Many others find value in Aikido for exercise, spiritual development, fellowship, and other reasons. For me, the focus on my training is combat and survival, as the nature of what I do for a living means that I will routinely deal with some very violent people who would have no remorse whatsoever if they stomped me into jelly. I am absolutely not qualified to voice an opinion on Aikido and spiritual development, etc., and I will not do so. Also, please note that all this is only my opinion. Of course, my opinion is based on training and experience in multiple fighting arts, dealing with real attacks from those armed with knives, clubs, and guns, dealing with real attacks from multiple attackers, and continuously sparring and seeking out those with other methodologies. All this has allowed me to try to find where the holes in my personal defense system are before these problem areas result in holes in my actual person. To be honest, sometimes I had to learn the hard way and I did get cut or have a broken bone or two. I seek to continuously evaluate what I do from a realistic self-defense perspective and, if what I do does not work, then I find something that does.

I expect that your reasons for training are, happily, much different from mine and that you probably will not have to deal with some of the situations that I train for and experience in real life. I also expect that you are making good progress in the direction your training is taking you. Happy training to you and, in case I don't get back to this thread (or board) in time to say it, Merry Christmas.

Anjisan
12-12-2010, 08:43 AM
That was my point. Unarmed vs. an edged weapon is a very very severe disadvantage, no matter what kind of training you have. Aikido deserves criticism (IMO) not so much because it does poorly against knife attacks, but because so many practitioners have unrealistic expectations of their ability to deal with knives.

Katherine

I agree that is a concern, but not something that cannot be dealt with. Each dojo has to decide for itself if beyond the "traditional" attacks and responses if modifications will be made. I am certainly not asserting that Aikidoka are going to start to be as competent at knife defence as a Kali practitioner, but there is certainly room for improvement in the curriculum so that an Aikidoka can deal with the majority of likely knife attacks much more competently. In essence, a dose or two of reality based training injected into a traditional martial art such as Aikido. Personally, I have gone outside Aikido to incorporate more knife/gun defences into "my Aikido" but if it can be done dojo wide it would make it so much easier.