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graham christian
11-20-2010, 07:25 AM
Four videos for your musings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiRfJppQJcQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt-aqDPqF7M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fTSjj8eQkI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPidmEdPTNM

Marc Abrams
11-20-2010, 08:36 AM
maybe it is just my "bad eyes"..... The Aikido and sword work appears to be missing a lot of basics in your clips. The sword work itself, demonstrated a genuine lack of understanding of proper use of swords.

Simply looks to me like collusive training which makes people feel good, while imparting precious little in terms of any martial skills.

Marc Abrams

Janet Rosen
11-20-2010, 07:53 PM
Simply looks to me like collusive training which makes people feel good, while imparting precious little in terms of any martial skills.

Yep, just as I saw in the empty hands vids.

kewms
11-20-2010, 08:36 PM
If I were going to post a demo video of myself, I would find more skillful ukes than shown here. Without a decent attack, I could be the second coming of O Sensei and I'd still look terrible.

Also, was there a reason for speeding up the last video? It looks kinda silly, honestly.

Katherine

graham christian
11-26-2010, 01:54 PM
maybe it is just my "bad eyes"..... The Aikido and sword work appears to be missing a lot of basics in your clips. The sword work itself, demonstrated a genuine lack of understanding of proper use of swords.

Simply looks to me like collusive training which makes people feel good, while imparting precious little in terms of any martial skills.

Marc Abrams

You're welcome. 1)What is collusive training? 2) All training should make people feel good in Aikido. 3) Martial principles are hard to see by the uninformed.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 01:55 PM
Yep, just as I saw in the empty hands vids.

Never heard of that.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 02:06 PM
If I were going to post a demo video of myself, I would find more skillful ukes than shown here. Without a decent attack, I could be the second coming of O Sensei and I'd still look terrible.

Also, was there a reason for speeding up the last video? It looks kinda silly, honestly.

Katherine

If I wanted to do a demo video of myself blah blah blah. Been there, done that. All looks great and 'wow look at him' but not for me now.
I prefer just clips taken from normal training where it all looks too easy.

Plus, what's wrong with looking silly?

Russ Q
11-26-2010, 02:25 PM
I prefer just clips taken from normal training where it all looks too easy

Graham, it all looks so easy cause it is....the way you are doing it....Looks like you and your mate were running the dojo that day. I know this is unsolicited advice:-) but you should show what you know. Clearly sword word, the most basic of basics in sword work, requires more study on your part before you instruct it.

I love your laid back attitude (my perception). Take of your hats though. Move your body, connect with your training partners and make yourself sweat...every time you're in the dojo. Don't look back ten years from now only to discover you weren't really training aikido...that's such a huge blow to the ego when you only need chip away at it bit by bit, everyday.....

Good luck to you,

Russ

kewms
11-26-2010, 02:48 PM
If I wanted to do a demo video of myself blah blah blah. Been there, done that. All looks great and 'wow look at him' but not for me now.
I prefer just clips taken from normal training where it all looks too easy.

Plus, what's wrong with looking silly?

Honestly? If that's what your normal training looks like, you're wasting your time.

Katherine

Chris Covington
11-26-2010, 05:12 PM
What's with the hats? They look like they should be at a Ziggy Marley concert not in a dojo.

Richard Stevens
11-26-2010, 05:25 PM
This type of training may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if he and his training partners are getting something out of it and are happy with their methods, more power to them. I personally like intense training sessions involving some pain and lots of sweat, but others may not.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 05:55 PM
Graham, it all looks so easy cause it is....the way you are doing it....Looks like you and your mate were running the dojo that day. I know this is unsolicited advice:-) but you should show what you know. Clearly sword word, the most basic of basics in sword work, requires more study on your part before you instruct it.

I love your laid back attitude (my perception). Take of your hats though. Move your body, connect with your training partners and make yourself sweat...every time you're in the dojo. Don't look back ten years from now only to discover you weren't really training aikido...that's such a huge blow to the ego when you only need chip away at it bit by bit, everyday.....

Good luck to you,

Russ

Interesting thoughts Russ.You are quite right, it is easy. To me reading is easy which shows I went through the discipline of learning how to read, the same goes for everything in life.
When I see a person doing something all too easily, be it a golfer, a football player, a martial artist or even a car mechanic who just looks and listens to a car and diagnoses what's wrong with it, then I see someone who has been through the mill.
Now by what you say about sword work I think I can safely assume you think the basics of the sword are to do with physical subari or set cuts of some kind or another, or kata. Mmmmm. Not my way I'm afraid.
First I teach how to cut with Ki, from center and with weight underside from the view of cutting through the universe. Without this then the sword training is a waste of time.
Secondly, as with attacks without the sword, I teach two things to start with:1)He who holds back gets hit. 2)He who runs in, rushes in with great intention and force gets hit harder.
Watching this, especially the second one above all looks very good but is not basic, not worth jot.
Even he who enters with superb technique gets hit.
Then I teach about center line, for the key to Aikiken is ALL to do with center line for the true sword doesn't protect YOU it merely protects center line. It operates from center line, it returns to center line.
Then, more important than all of this is to learn how to enter with no mind, with zanshin, and the spirit of loving protection reaching out and cutting through the universe from the void.
If you understand this then I bow to you. If you don't then it's all good, don't worry about it.
Now, for a time, a period of about ten years, I trained four times a week in the fashion you describe and learned many things. I learned how to relax, how to face and welcome the opponent for to me he is no longer an opponent. How to give myself completely and thus allow the opponent to strike without resisting and thus to see what is happening almost in slow motion so theres no need to rush. Just a simple motion, an aiki motion, and all is done.
So finally let me ask you this: 'Have you ever differenciated between Aikido Technique and Aikido Motion?'

graham christian
11-26-2010, 05:59 PM
What's with the hats? They look like they should be at a Ziggy Marley concert not in a dojo.

All are welcome in my dojo. If you are a Sikh then you too are welcome with your turban. If you are a robot then you will be confused.But don't worry, I'll still love you.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 06:09 PM
This type of training may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if he and his training partners are getting something out of it and are happy with their methods, more power to them. I personally like intense training sessions involving some pain and lots of sweat, but others may not.

Well said. I enjoy watching all types of Aikido for I appreciate what others are doing. In fact I like to learn both ways, but that's me. I show students two ways of the same thing, one I call Samurai and the other I call Buddhist and give them the choice of which they prefer.
Most want to learn the 'soft' way for it's more of a challenge and takes Aikido into the realms of self developement.
G.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 06:11 PM
Honestly? If that's what your normal training looks like, you're wasting your time.

Katherine

Your cup is indeed full, but thank you anyway.

Russ Q
11-26-2010, 06:40 PM
Hey Graham,

Clearly you're happy with your training so that's great! I agree one can't tell a whole lot from video...that said, when I look at what you've posted I don't see committed attacks, anyone protecting their center line, any kind of kuzushi or decent timing for that matter....This is just my opinion. One more thing, be careful of being complacent in your practice....sounds like that's what's happened....big time.

Cheers,

Russ

Abasan
11-26-2010, 07:45 PM
Graham, I just noticed in the last video that you had your blade down when you drew your ken from your belt. Just practice or is that how you normally do it?

Anyway, I'm not here to sound off on what's good or bad about the way you practice, there's a time and place for relaxed practice and I guess this place is it. You probably could get away with how you set up your dojo in this setting, but if you were to ever do more rigorous training, you might consider protecting that furniture next to the mats. The corner looks like an accident waiting to happen.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 07:46 PM
Hey Graham,

Clearly you're happy with your training so that's great! I agree one can't tell a whole lot from video...that said, when I look at what you've posted I don't see committed attacks, anyone protecting their center line, any kind of kuzushi or decent timing for that matter....This is just my opinion. One more thing, be careful of being complacent in your practice....sounds like that's what's happened....big time.

Cheers,

Russ

Hi Russ.
'I don't see, looks like, sounds like.' Well done1

graham christian
11-26-2010, 08:04 PM
Graham, I just noticed in the last video that you had your blade down when you drew your ken from your belt. Just practice or is that how you normally do it?

Anyway, I'm not here to sound off on what's good or bad about the way you practice, there's a time and place for relaxed practice and I guess this place is it. You probably could get away with how you set up your dojo in this setting, but if you were to ever do more rigorous training, you might consider protecting that furniture next to the mats. The corner looks like an accident waiting to happen.

Hi Ahmad.
Not sure what you mean about the sword blade being down.

Granted the corner could be padded up. Rest assured that all students are taught as a priority that it is their duty to protect their attacker in my Aikido. This means they are made fully responsible for the attacker. Peace. G.

SeaGrass
11-26-2010, 08:43 PM
Is this the new age aikido i heard about?

Janet Rosen
11-26-2010, 08:50 PM
Never heard of that.

Um yes the videos you posted earlier showing training without weapons. Like others who posted in that thread, my teacher's lineage is Tohei Sensei and we include his 4 principles and are explicit about ki in our training- but we are also equally explicit about sincere attacks and martial intent, which I believe is what several of us are saying we don't see in your videos.

graham christian
11-26-2010, 09:39 PM
Um yes the videos you posted earlier showing training without weapons. Like others who posted in that thread, my teacher's lineage is Tohei Sensei and we include his 4 principles and are explicit about ki in our training- but we are also equally explicit about sincere attacks and martial intent, which I believe is what several of us are saying we don't see in your videos.

Well done Janet, thats a bit more specific and clearer. So let me say this: You will never see sincere attacks with martial intent in an Aikido video unless you see an Aikidoka using it in a real life situation from some street happening or such.

Then there is what you mean by sincere. A 'slow' sincere cut with tegatana using Ki or weight underside is far more powerful than a fast super physically strong cut believe it or not.

Until a person has experienced this then of course they can't see it. As for the martial intent, well I can only tell you this: Once O'Sensei said true budo is love and then formed Aikido I believe at that point the whole purpose of this martial discipline changed. No longer was it to defeat the enemy or to dominate or to win etc. It was now to harmonise and thus the spiritual side of the techniques and motions needed to be fully understood and experienced which takes far more discipline than mere physical.

Anyway, now that you have pointed out your viewpoint regarding those who say about Tohei and Ki etc. I see where you and others are coming from.

Thank you. G.

kewms
11-27-2010, 02:43 AM
Then there is what you mean by sincere. A 'slow' sincere cut with tegatana using Ki or weight underside is far more powerful than a fast super physically strong cut believe it or not..

I entirely agree.

But I don't see either type of cut in the videos you posted.

*shrug* Enjoy your training.

Katherine

sakumeikan
11-27-2010, 03:47 AM
Four videos for your musings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiRfJppQJcQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt-aqDPqF7M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fTSjj8eQkI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPidmEdPTNM

Dear Graham,
Please do not take offense here.Nothing personal.You and your group seem to enjoy what you are doing .Your later blogs indicate that you have some idea of philosophical origins of Aikido. However in my humble opinion[for what it is worth] you are lacking in basic skills both in body art and weaponry.Tohei Sensei
certainly concentrated on relaxation, one point etc but no one ever stated that his waza was ineffective.
Still I am sure you have good intent.I wish you and your students well.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-27-2010, 08:24 AM
Is this the new age aikido i heard about?

I think Graham is beyond new age aikido.

Marc Abrams
11-27-2010, 08:38 AM
You're welcome. 1)What is collusive training? 2) All training should make people feel good in Aikido. 3) Martial principles are hard to see by the uninformed.

Graham:

1) Collusive Training. Watch your own videos and read your own writings and you should easily understand that what you do is nothing other than collusive practice. Both sides acting unnaturally to come to some colluded conclusion.

2 & 3) Where on God's green earth did you derive that all training should make people feel good in Aikido? Where on God's green earth did you come to the belief that what you do has martial principles to them and that I, one of the uniformed, could not see it?

Stanley Pranin worked very hard to put together the Aiki Expos, to help the Aikido world move back to the founder's Aikido and practice, and move away from the collusive, feel-good practice seen in your videos. Funny, I don't recall seeing you at any of them. You speak to other's about the words of O'Sensei, you speak to others about Ki is your work as though you are far more "knowing" that many of the posters on this forum. People have been trying to "wake you up" and get you to consider that what you are doing inside of your four-mat, cloistered, shared delusional space has little if any to do with the legacy of O'Sensei.

What, if any experience do you have with any of the direct student's of O'Sensei? You talk about Ki, yet have you any experience with Tohei Sensei or any of his top students?

Your practice lacks of martial integrity. You make ridiculous statements such as "You will never see sincere attacks with martial intent in an Aikido video unless you see an Aikidoka using it in a real life situation from some street happening or such." to try and hide this obvious fact.

Why don't you bring in some full-contact, karateka and film your encounter with him? Why don't you bring in some kendo person of equal rank and film your encounter with him? If you want some safer, encounters with reality, I would recommend these two idea:
1) George Ledyard Sensei conducts 4--day randori and weapons intensives in the US. You should attend one. Protective gear and shinai would be a safe environment for you to see what you can really do with weapons.
2) Kenji Ushiro Sensei will be in Lyon France in April of 2011. You should attend to get an idea of what Ki is really about, and how it can be used effectively and safely in practice with real martial intent.

Then again, you can continue to post about what you think that you know and what you think that you can do. We will continue to try and get you to taste a dose of reality. Hopefully, one day, you might wake up and see that some of those who you view as "uniformed" have put in far greater time, have developed greater skill levels that can be safely demonstrated with martial integrity with real martial intent in attacks, and have a deeper understanding of philosophies that you attempt to "teach" others.

Marc Abrams

sakumeikan
11-27-2010, 10:03 AM
Graham:

1) Collusive Training. Watch your own videos and read your own writings and you should easily understand that what you do is nothing other than collusive practice. Both sides acting unnaturally to come to some colluded conclusion.

2 & 3) Where on God's green earth did you derive that all training should make people feel good in Aikido? Where on God's green earth did you come to the belief that what you do has martial principles to them and that I, one of the uniformed, could not see it?

Stanley Pranin worked very hard to put together the Aiki Expos, to help the Aikido world move back to the founder's Aikido and practice, and move away from the collusive, feel-good practice seen in your videos. Funny, I don't recall seeing you at any of them. You speak to other's about the words of O'Sensei, you speak to others about Ki is your work as though you are far more "knowing" that many of the posters on this forum. People have been trying to "wake you up" and get you to consider that what you are doing inside of your four-mat, cloistered, shared delusional space has little if any to do with the legacy of O'Sensei.

What, if any experience do you have with any of the direct student's of O'Sensei? You talk about Ki, yet have you any experience with Tohei Sensei or any of his top students?

Your practice lacks of martial integrity. You make ridiculous statements such as "You will never see sincere attacks with martial intent in an Aikido video unless you see an Aikidoka using it in a real life situation from some street happening or such." to try and hide this obvious fact.

Why don't you bring in some full-contact, karateka and film your encounter with him? Why don't you bring in some kendo person of equal rank and film your encounter with him? If you want some safer, encounters with reality, I would recommend these two idea:
1) George Ledyard Sensei conducts 4--day randori and weapons intensives in the US. You should attend one. Protective gear and shinai would be a safe environment for you to see what you can really do with weapons.
2) Kenji Ushiro Sensei will be in Lyon France in April of 2011. You should attend to get an idea of what Ki is really about, and how it can be used effectively and safely in practice with real martial intent.

Then again, you can continue to post about what you think that you know and what you think that you can do. We will continue to try and get you to taste a dose of reality. Hopefully, one day, you might wake up and see that some of those who you view as "uniformed" have put in far greater time, have developed greater skill levels that can be safely demonstrated with martial integrity with real martial intent in attacks, and have a deeper understanding of philosophies that you attempt to "teach" others.

Dear Marc,
You certainly got the six guns out and fired some rounds at Graham.Lets be charitable.The guys heart might be in the right place but his aikido is elsewhere.Since I have only seen the videos on You tube I dont want to totally state that Graham is not too adept at Aikido .If this is Tohei based aikido and he is an qualified teacher in this method,it would suggest to me there is something amiss here.
While Aikido is a broad church and there are many methods of Aikido, I see very little evidence of good quality training in the vids.
Perhaps Graham you would care to tell our readers more about your aikido lineage?I personally do not want to judge anyone solely on the basis of a couple of video clips alone.
Cheers, Joe.

Marc Abrams
11-27-2010, 10:10 AM
Dear Marc,
You certainly got the six guns out and fired some rounds at Graham.Lets be charitable.The guys heart might be in the right place but his aikido is elsewhere.Since I have only seen the videos on You tube I dont want to totally state that Graham is not too adept at Aikido .If this is Tohei based aikido and he is an qualified teacher in this method,it would suggest to me there is something amiss here.
While Aikido is a broad church and there are many methods of Aikido, I see very little evidence of good quality training in the vids.
Perhaps Graham you would care to tell our readers more about your aikido lineage?I personally do not want to judge anyone solely on the basis of a couple of video clips alone.
Cheers, Joe.

Joe:

Sometimes a healthy dose of reality is needed to break through. I was actually being relatively kind in my dosing. When he seeks to pontificate based upon a cursory understanding, he invites a certain nature of response. He is very lucky this is the Aikido world. Much of the martial arts world is not as charitable as we tend to be.

We both agree about the nature of Graham's practice. I agree that his heart is in the right place. When you teach, you need much more than a heart in the right place. Hopefully, he can take what he has and move beyond where he is, so that he can regain a realistic sense of martial integrity to all aspects of his Aikido life.

Cordially,

Marc Abrams

sakumeikan
11-27-2010, 10:45 AM
Joe:

Sometimes a healthy dose of reality is needed to break through. I was actually being relatively kind in my dosing. When he seeks to pontificate based upon a cursory understanding, he invites a certain nature of response. He is very lucky this is the Aikido world. Much of the martial arts world is not as charitable as we tend to be.

We both agree about the nature of Graham's practice. I agree that his heart is in the right place. When you teach, you need much more than a heart in the right place. Hopefully, he can take what he has and move beyond where he is, so that he can regain a realistic sense of martial integrity to all aspects of his Aikido life.

Cordially,

Marc Abrams

Dear Marc,
Thanks for your comments.Unfortunately Aikido has for some people a quasi mystical element.All this stuff about love /harmony/ making oneself blend with the universal etc
I have it on good authority that O Sensei was a man who could get quite agitated on certain occasions .In this particular mode his hair on the back of his neck bristled.
Certainly some of the Shihan I have worked with have the ability to really damage you big time.However having the ability to sort somebody out , does not mean you have to exercise that ability.Rather than use the Iron Fist use the Buddha Heart.
Severe training[Shugyo] nowadays is pretty rare.Some classes do not focus on the Martial aspects of Aikido. This is ok if thats what the teacher /students want. Each person has to choose their own path.But the Path surely must be based on sound principles.If not the Art gets diluted and before long Aikido is no more . We must try and preserve the values of Aikido for the future generations.

kewms
11-27-2010, 11:32 AM
Sometimes a healthy dose of reality is needed to break through. I was actually being relatively kind in my dosing. When he seeks to pontificate based upon a cursory understanding, he invites a certain nature of response. He is very lucky this is the Aikido world. Much of the martial arts world is not as charitable as we tend to be.


Toward individuals, or toward other arts. Videos like these are why students of other arts tend to scoff at aikido.

Katherine

Marc Abrams
11-27-2010, 12:59 PM
Dear Marc,
Thanks for your comments.Unfortunately Aikido has for some people a quasi mystical element.All this stuff about love /harmony/ making oneself blend with the universal etc
I have it on good authority that O Sensei was a man who could get quite agitated on certain occasions .In this particular mode his hair on the back of his neck bristled.
Certainly some of the Shihan I have worked with have the ability to really damage you big time.However having the ability to sort somebody out , does not mean you have to exercise that ability.Rather than use the Iron Fist use the Buddha Heart.
Severe training[Shugyo] nowadays is pretty rare.Some classes do not focus on the Martial aspects of Aikido. This is ok if thats what the teacher /students want. Each person has to choose their own path.But the Path surely must be based on sound principles.If not the Art gets diluted and before long Aikido is no more . We must try and preserve the values of Aikido for the future generations.

Joe:

You are I are in total agreement. My teacher was one of O'Sensei's direct students so I know what you are talking about in regards to training at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo with O'Sensei. The Buddha Heart does not truly exist in a real conflict without a true Iron First. The attacker is pre-consciously aware of this and responds accordingly.

Shugyo can be severe in honesty and spirit without physical brutality. I am okay with people choosing their own paths. If they try and sell that path as representative of some martial tradition when it is little more that a shared delusional space, they are not only fooling themselves but potentially endangering their students with a psychotically false sense of security. Graham represents what a lot of Tai Chi had devolved into. The real stuff is fantastic in it's martial reality. The "new age" stuff is simply empty. Graham should not talk about his stuff as having no martial integrity, based upon an idealistic philosophy that sinks in the "waters of reality."

Regards,

Marc Abrams

mathewjgano
11-27-2010, 01:18 PM
Hi Graham,
Until a person has experienced this then of course they can't see it.
Here you seem to be suggesting that none of these folks who have criticized your training have experienced ki-based training. Is that the case?
As for the martial intent, well I can only tell you this: Once O'Sensei said true budo is love and then formed Aikido I believe at that point the whole purpose of this martial discipline changed. No longer was it to defeat the enemy or to dominate or to win etc. It was now to harmonise and thus the spiritual side of the techniques and motions needed to be fully understood and experienced which takes far more discipline than mere physical.
Are you saying your practice is unconcerned with remaining standing after someone attacks you? Or that it is a secondary or tertiary concern compared to generating an enjoyable, healthy feeling?
My meager sense of O Sensei's intent for Aikido was that, yes, on the whole it should feel good, but that "harmonization" has more to do with operating in accordance/concordance with natural laws/forces/strengths. Love is the ki we try to imbue our movements with so we cause as little harm as possible. In other words, sometimes we may need to let the attacker hit us for the greater good to come about, but sometimes we may also need to break something to serve that same noble goal. Knowing the difference and being able to account for both is damned hard, but that's why the need for such constant and sincere/intense training.
Take care,
Matthew

kewms
11-27-2010, 01:45 PM
Until a person has experienced this then of course they can't see it. As for the martial intent, well I can only tell you this: Once O'Sensei said true budo is love and then formed Aikido I believe at that point the whole purpose of this martial discipline changed. No longer was it to defeat the enemy or to dominate or to win etc. It was now to harmonise and thus the spiritual side of the techniques and motions needed to be fully understood and experienced which takes far more discipline than mere physical.

Not just picking on you, because I see this spiritual vs. physical dichotomy in a lot of discussion of aikido.

The challenge is that you need both. If physical rigor is absent, if your practice falls apart in the presence of sincere attacks, you're no longer practicing a martial art. Which is fine, but you should no longer call it aikido.

In your terminology, it's not samurai OR Buddha, but samurai AND Buddha. Choosing the Buddha side alone is not the "more difficult" path, it's just as much a way of avoiding the main challenge as the samurai side alone is.

Katherine

Tony Wagstaffe
11-27-2010, 01:59 PM
Did somebody just wake me up for this!! :hypno:

Marc Abrams
11-27-2010, 02:21 PM
Did somebody just wake me up for this!! :hypno:

Tony:

We feel your pain! Now if only we can get Graham to wake up......

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Mary Eastland
11-27-2010, 02:43 PM
Hi Graham;
Can you talk about what you were teaching in those videos? In one it looked like your uke was experienced yet he was receiving the throw as though he did not know how to fall. Were you working on something specific that we can't tell from a video?
thank you,
Mary

Michael Hackett
11-27-2010, 02:53 PM
I think I've mentioned this before, but I had the privilege of doing a session with Homma Sensei at the 2005 AikiExpo. Homma Sensei picked up a jo and held it horizontally. He explained that Aikido can be represented by the length of the jo, with one end being the "aiki bunny dance" and brutal. bone crushing martial technique on the other (and I am paraphrasing here). He ended his discussion by saying that both ends of the jo were poor Aikido, but a practitioner had to be able to move back and forth along the jo to truly practice Aikido. As he spoke, he made it clear with the path of his hands that the movement in the art was within the middle half or third of the jo. My understanding was that either extreme was something to be avoided and what he said rang true for me, given his lineage with Toyoda Sensei through Tohei Sensei to O Sensei.

Lyle Laizure
11-27-2010, 04:17 PM
Toward individuals, or toward other arts. Videos like these are why students of other arts tend to scoff at aikido.

Katherine

I agree but to be honest it isn't just limited to Aikido.

I can't say that I understand the training but I would be interested in knowing more about his training/lineage/ranking etc.

mickeygelum
11-27-2010, 04:41 PM
Aikido can be represented by the length of the jo, with one end being the "aiki bunny dance" and brutal. bone crushing martial technique on the other (and I am paraphrasing here). He ended his discussion by saying that both ends of the jo were poor Aikido

So true, Michael.

Greetings All,

While Graham has his "perspective", I also equate that same expression to that of several godan/rokudans that post here.

While the majority of members/posters here is Aikikai, when will the truth be told about those"perspectives" that are scoffed at by the rest of the world.

While the criticism of Graham's perspective has been harsh, when will that same criticism be levied upon the namedropping, "snake oil senseis".

While there are plenty of aikidoka that employ the physicality of Aikido daily, in life threatening or tense situations, why diminish it by rearing the " do not cause harm to the attacker" recital. The sick, lame and lazy that have their own "goals" established should not equate to those that push the bar higher daily. In reality, there are professionals that exemplify the basic tenets of Aikido daily.

As a matter of fact, Aikido, at least Aikikai for the most part and even some Tomiki perversions has become the Tai Chi of obese intellectuals and smug wannabe warriors, that could sell ice makers in the Arctic Circle.

"Can't we all just get along ", Hell no, because there will always be the ones who can and the ones who cannot...too bad there will always be a greater majority that cannot.

It is so easy to attack those that cannot, how about "putting up or shutting up" with the ones who can and will welcome the training?

Truth be told, it all comes down to the person...and in their own mind they know who and what they are.

Train well,

Mickey

ps...when one makes an endorsement, your credibility, ability and perspective are attached

mathewjgano
11-27-2010, 06:59 PM
As a matter of fact, Aikido, at least Aikikai for the most part and even some Tomiki perversions has become the Tai Chi of obese intellectuals and smug wannabe warriors, that could sell ice makers in the Arctic Circle.
...
Truth be told, it all comes down to the person...and in their own mind they know who and what they are.

Train well,

Mickey
Interestingly enough (to me at least:) ), I came to Aikido because I viewed it as "Japanese Tai Chi," which to my mind meant it was more meditative than martial (I have since learned both can be perfectly effective as physical self-defense practices). This is why I asked my questions about Graham's meaning. I don't think it's inapropriate to put healthful socializing in the forefront of one's training. As long as we're honest with ourselves and open to new points of view, i say we can't really go wrong for the most part.
Incidentally, my brief experience with Tomiki Ryu gave a very nice comparison for the "flavor" I began with. I can only imagine how a greater cross-section of experience would deepen my perspective.

graham christian
11-27-2010, 07:07 PM
Graham:

1) Collusive Training. Watch your own videos and read your own writings and you should easily understand that what you do is nothing other than collusive practice. Both sides acting unnaturally to come to some colluded conclusion.

2 & 3) Where on God's green earth did you derive that all training should make people feel good in Aikido? Where on God's green earth did you come to the belief that what you do has martial principles to them and that I, one of the uniformed, could not see it?

Stanley Pranin worked very hard to put together the Aiki Expos, to help the Aikido world move back to the founder's Aikido and practice, and move away from the collusive, feel-good practice seen in your videos. Funny, I don't recall seeing you at any of them. You speak to other's about the words of O'Sensei, you speak to others about Ki is your work as though you are far more "knowing" that many of the posters on this forum. People have been trying to "wake you up" and get you to consider that what you are doing inside of your four-mat, cloistered, shared delusional space has little if any to do with the legacy of O'Sensei.

What, if any experience do you have with any of the direct student's of O'Sensei? You talk about Ki, yet have you any experience with Tohei Sensei or any of his top students?

Your practice lacks of martial integrity. You make ridiculous statements such as "You will never see sincere attacks with martial intent in an Aikido video unless you see an Aikidoka using it in a real life situation from some street happening or such." to try and hide this obvious fact.

Why don't you bring in some full-contact, karateka and film your encounter with him? Why don't you bring in some kendo person of equal rank and film your encounter with him? If you want some safer, encounters with reality, I would recommend these two idea:
1) George Ledyard Sensei conducts 4--day randori and weapons intensives in the US. You should attend one. Protective gear and shinai would be a safe environment for you to see what you can really do with weapons.
2) Kenji Ushiro Sensei will be in Lyon France in April of 2011. You should attend to get an idea of what Ki is really about, and how it can be used effectively and safely in practice with real martial intent.

Then again, you can continue to post about what you think that you know and what you think that you can do. We will continue to try and get you to taste a dose of reality. Hopefully, one day, you might wake up and see that some of those who you view as "uniformed" have put in far greater time, have developed greater skill levels that can be safely demonstrated with martial integrity with real martial intent in attacks, and have a deeper understanding of philosophies that you attempt to "teach" others.

Marc Abrams

Marc. Chill out. 1) I now understand what collusive attacking is.
2) Where on Gods green earth did I come to the belief that you could not see it? From you, thats where, you said it yourself.
3)Only rants like this, and collusive attacking and belittling give me the idea that maybe I do 'know' more than some here. Why don't I bring in some sumo wrestlers?

Didn't realize some are so childish and disrespectful. My fault. I apologize. G.

graham christian
11-27-2010, 07:13 PM
Toward individuals, or toward other arts. Videos like these are why students of other arts tend to scoff at aikido.

Katherine

Wow. Another wise statement.

graham christian
11-27-2010, 07:16 PM
I think I've mentioned this before, but I had the privilege of doing a session with Homma Sensei at the 2005 AikiExpo. Homma Sensei picked up a jo and held it horizontally. He explained that Aikido can be represented by the length of the jo, with one end being the "aiki bunny dance" and brutal. bone crushing martial technique on the other (and I am paraphrasing here). He ended his discussion by saying that both ends of the jo were poor Aikido, but a practitioner had to be able to move back and forth along the jo to truly practice Aikido. As he spoke, he made it clear with the path of his hands that the movement in the art was within the middle half or third of the jo. My understanding was that either extreme was something to be avoided and what he said rang true for me, given his lineage with Toyoda Sensei through Tohei Sensei to O Sensei.

Funny, that's my view too.

graham christian
11-27-2010, 08:37 PM
Hi Graham;
Can you talk about what you were teaching in those videos? In one it looked like your uke was experienced yet he was receiving the throw as though he did not know how to fall. Were you working on something specific that we can't tell from a video?
thank you,
Mary

Hi Mary. I will try my best .

1) In the first video I was showing that you could study all techniques from the viewpoint of the sword, the jo, and the spear. Each has a different feel, a different energy. So for this one I was obviously showing the sword for I teach that the Ki cuts through and the sword follows.

2)In the second one it starts with two students practicing. One was asking the other why he couldn't just attack how he wanted, he hadn't any experience previously. So the other was showing him even though he hasn't taught it before but has been uke many times.
I found it interesting to observe how he was doing and let it progress.
Now when I take over I am showing a few separate things. First I was showing uke what it felt like if I stepped off line and cut down on his shomen attack and then what it felt like if I did the same but with weight underside.
Secondly I was showing him how to cut through and allow the sword to immediately return to center line in which case the uke either has to stop, or or run straight into the point.
Thirdly I was showing that no matter what cut or turn or entering you do you must always be focused on and ready to cut through the opponents center line. Return to center line. Once again it was for him to see what it felt like.

3)The third one was altogether different. I was asked to show what I had said the previous week by the sensei watching. So this wasn't teaching the uke, it was only asking him to cut shomen while I showed my friend.
I had said that movement depended on your intention. ie: If you intend to oppose and counter then you would have one group of possible actions. If you intend to blend with then you have another. If you intend to BE the attacker then you move and act differently, and have a totally different 'mindset' for want of a better word.
4)The fourth one was for fun, no particular significance.

That's all. Oh except for the uke and the throw. Not sure which one you mean. In the first one you will notice that I was holding whilst cutting, you cannot breakfall from this, take nikkyo for example, but you are right in as much as he could have 'fallen' better. In his defence I must say he hadn't got a clue what I was doing, he had never experienced that before.

In the third one where I was asking him to attack while I was unarmed he was not only bemused and uncentered, he was lost.

Well, that's the best I can do. Hope it answers your question. G.

Mary Eastland
11-27-2010, 08:56 PM
Hi Graham:
Thank you for the explanation. That was very interesting.
Mary

Anthony Loeppert
11-27-2010, 09:33 PM
3)Only rants like this, and collusive attacking and belittling give me the idea that maybe I do 'know' more than some here.


Interesting. I genuinely hope your general (outside of aikido) learning method is different from this attitude. If not, I assume had you thought 2+2=3 or some other such absurdity and you posted to various math websites proclaiming your new truth, the responses you receive would no doubt increase your resolve.

Good day! Enjoy your "truth".

Andrew Macdonald
11-28-2010, 12:32 AM
I can't say good or bad, or comment much about ki exercises or apps in this video.

on the other hand

I know the difference between what I want to study and what I don;t want to study.

this would be the latter

Marc Abrams
11-28-2010, 09:14 AM
Marc. Chill out. 1) I now understand what collusive attacking is.
2) Where on Gods green earth did I come to the belief that you could not see it? From you, thats where, you said it yourself.
3)Only rants like this, and collusive attacking and belittling give me the idea that maybe I do 'know' more than some here. Why don't I bring in some sumo wrestlers?

Didn't realize some are so childish and disrespectful. My fault. I apologize. G.

Graham:

Please allow me to offer you a constructive re-frame to this response.
1) Instead of me "chilling out", maybe you should ramp it up. Words like connection, Ki,...... are nice and fuzzy things to explore in a gentle, collusive environment and simply do not offer a pathway to utilizing these necessary skills in the middle of chaos and conflict. You stated that the videos posted were how you ran your classes. That pattern of training simply does not translate to functional effectiveness in the midst of a real conflict. I suggest that you find some way to communicate with, or research the experiences of teachers who did train under O'Sensei to get an idea as to what that training environment was like. Practicing in your manner is your choice. Acting as a teacher implies a far greater degree of responsibility that can directly effect the health and well-being of your students.

2) I saw and understood quite well what was and what was not going on in your video clips. If you think that my response was a "rant" then that says an awful lot in regards to your ability to function in the midst of true conflict. Your belief that maybe you do "know more" than others on this forum has yet to be observed through your video clips and writings. Both demonstrate a place in your training where a little knowledge and experience is being interpreted as far beyond what is really there. That is not a safe place to be when having to actually rely on what you really do know. A sumo wrestler, along with the other possibilities that I did suggest would be helpful to you. Drop your defensiveness and find out how empty your "glass of experience" is. This is a very helpful tool. One that I regularly employ to find as many holes in my skill sets and understandings as I possibly can, so that I can work even harder to better develop my skill sets and understandings to the levels of my teachers.

3) Your reference to people being childish and disrespectful is simply your defensiveness trying to mask your own inadequacies that come across in a all-to-typical, passive-aggressive manner amongst Aikidoka. You have a foundation upon which you have the opportunity to develop and later teach Aikido. Stop sitting back and recounting all of your years of hard work to reach the level of enlightenment that you believed that you have reached. Go out and push yourself to discover where you really are. My suggestions to you were designed to push you in that direction. That is where real growth and progress lies. Many of us continue along this path in hopes of being able to better represent an art that is so inconsistently represented throughout the world. The more we discover, the more we discover how little we have uncovered and how much more there is to delve into so that real progress is achieved.

You are best served by dropping the apologies and pontifications and begin to push yourself in whatever manner possible to safely test the boundaries of your competence.

Believe it or not, we will still be here supporting you and pushing you to not give up when you truly come face-to-face with where you really are. The first Aiki Expo was the first of those profound wake-up calls for me. I still push myself harder and harder every year to find those wake-up calls.

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams

Aikirk
11-28-2010, 10:38 AM
The third video caught my interest. Now I'm only a humble mudansha, but I wonder from which school you've got your sword skills from?

Uke seems particullarly unskilled with a sword, and attacks in strange ways. First of all:

1, Why is his sword pointing towards your stomach? As far as I know, it should be pointing towards the throat or face, before the initial attack.

2. The sword is sometimes as low as pointing to the mat, before he attacks. Why?

3. The angle is tricky, but it seems like uke draws his sword way to late, and will actually walk into to you, before having made the actual cut.

4. You do an iriminage to a person who has got a sword? I see no control of the sword.

I know this is not actual teaching of uke, but if you are going to teach sword techniques properly, uke must know the basic way of attacking. There is a good reason why kendo guys don't initiate attacks with a lowered sword.

And I'm sorry to say, but your sword techniques looks very poor indeed.

graham christian
11-28-2010, 11:21 AM
Graham:

Please allow me to offer you a constructive re-frame to this response.
1) Instead of me "chilling out", maybe you should ramp it up. Words like connection, Ki,...... are nice and fuzzy things to explore in a gentle, collusive environment and simply do not offer a pathway to utilizing these necessary skills in the middle of chaos and conflict. You stated that the videos posted were how you ran your classes. That pattern of training simply does not translate to functional effectiveness in the midst of a real conflict. I suggest that you find some way to communicate with, or research the experiences of teachers who did train under O'Sensei to get an idea as to what that training environment was like. Practicing in your manner is your choice. Acting as a teacher implies a far greater degree of responsibility that can directly effect the health and well-being of your students.

2) I saw and understood quite well what was and what was not going on in your video clips. If you think that my response was a "rant" then that says an awful lot in regards to your ability to function in the midst of true conflict. Your belief that maybe you do "know more" than others on this forum has yet to be observed through your video clips and writings. Both demonstrate a place in your training where a little knowledge and experience is being interpreted as far beyond what is really there. That is not a safe place to be when having to actually rely on what you really do know. A sumo wrestler, along with the other possibilities that I did suggest would be helpful to you. Drop your defensiveness and find out how empty your "glass of experience" is. This is a very helpful tool. One that I regularly employ to find as many holes in my skill sets and understandings as I possibly can, so that I can work even harder to better develop my skill sets and understandings to the levels of my teachers.

3) Your reference to people being childish and disrespectful is simply your defensiveness trying to mask your own inadequacies that come across in a all-to-typical, passive-aggressive manner amongst Aikidoka. You have a foundation upon which you have the opportunity to develop and later teach Aikido. Stop sitting back and recounting all of your years of hard work to reach the level of enlightenment that you believed that you have reached. Go out and push yourself to discover where you really are. My suggestions to you were designed to push you in that direction. That is where real growth and progress lies. Many of us continue along this path in hopes of being able to better represent an art that is so inconsistently represented throughout the world. The more we discover, the more we discover how little we have uncovered and how much more there is to delve into so that real progress is achieved.

You are best served by dropping the apologies and pontifications and begin to push yourself in whatever manner possible to safely test the boundaries of your competence.

Believe it or not, we will still be here supporting you and pushing you to not give up when you truly come face-to-face with where you really are. The first Aiki Expo was the first of those profound wake-up calls for me. I still push myself harder and harder every year to find those wake-up calls.

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams

Hi Marc.
Thank you for your considered response, I like it, I respect it. More than that I see you do have lots of experience by what you say and even more than that, that your intentions are indeed honourable. For this I thank you.
: Regards. G.

Tony Wagstaffe
11-29-2010, 11:19 AM
Tony:

We feel your pain! Now if only we can get Graham to wake up......

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Nah! I wouldn't bother, but you can give me a shake when something really interesting comes up.....;) :D

jonreading
11-29-2010, 03:35 PM
In response to a post earlier... These videos seem to be orchestrated as an collusive effort between uke and nage. It is important that when we instruct we rely upon reproduce-able techniques. I think a concern many of us share is the ineptitude these moves would demonstrate against a non-collusive partner. Collusion is not bad for learning, but we need to be careful where else it rears its head...

I think the videos rather imply an imperfection in instructional training. It's tough, but we have a burden as instructors to communicate effective aikido. I think that burden is unfettered by the martial attitude and unfettered by spiritual doctrine; of which I believe the student has the largest say in how her aikido will manifest. It sounds like in the posts as an instructor we are even trying to sway that education.

Michael Neal
11-29-2010, 06:08 PM
you need to take a couple trial practices at BJJ or Judo to see how you should really train, time to put down put down the ganja!

Michael Neal
11-29-2010, 06:53 PM
better yet, watch the Samurai Spirit Video, that to me seems like how Aikido should be trained

Randy Sexton
11-30-2010, 09:15 AM
Whew! 4 words come to mind. Please work on Realism, Zanshin, Connection, Precision. Otherwise thanks for sharing.
Doc

By the way, I agree with others, dump the hats if you are going public. Just my opinion.

George S. Ledyard
11-30-2010, 02:40 PM
What makes Aiki Sword just that and not Ken Jutsu is that the sword work should reflect the very same principles operating in the empty hand. One doesn't necessarily use kenjutsu as the standard for evaluating aiki ken. As far as I can see, this sword work reflects quite nicely the same principles operating in the empty hand being done. However, what one thinks of that is another matter entirely...

I realize that there are a million reasons why people choose to do Aikido. I know many folks who are quite good at what they do who have simply crossed the line into territory where you can't maintain that a martial art is being done... it has become something else. Perhaps that something else is valuable, fulfilling and worth doing... I can't really say. It simply wasn't the way I was taught.

I was taught that Aikido was Budo. A new new Budo to be sure, a very different way of thinking about Budo, but Budo nonetheless. There is no Budo going on here. Everything I have seen is completely and absolutely collusive. I have been working with people like Saotome Sensei, Ikeda Sensei, Howard Popkin Sensei, William Gleason Sensei, Endo Sensei, Don Angier Sensei and others. These are people who can drop you effortlessly, sometimes without seeming to move, at least visibly. I actually understand what they are doing and can do it myself, not as well as I'd like yet, but I get it, and can see when those principles are operating and when they are not.

There is nothing going on here, either in the empty hand or the sword work that is anything other than relaxation work coupled with collusive ukemi. I like the level of relaxation, actually. But the technique shows no understanding of how that relaxation could be expressed martially. For it to be a martial art, one needs to be able to express that relaxation in an encounter with someone operating on an entirely different paradigm and still have the technique work. If you took some 200 pound footballer off the street and told him to grab one of the folks in these videos, he'd have torn their arms off before they ever moved him, much less threw him. That's my take on it, It's pretty much entirely wishful thinking from the martial perspective. Now take that away and I don't have an issue with it. If folks think that Aikido isn't really a martial art, which many folks seem to believe, then fine, this is nice relaxation, movement work. But it is "faux" martial arts, and therefore not Budo in any way I understand the term.

Now, I could be wrong... I have seen people like Ushiro Sensei or Vladimir Vasiliev do things that I have no idea how they did what they did. It might as well be "magic" for all that I understand it. So, maybe I am merely not advanced enough to understand what is happening here and the teacher and the students are functioning at such a high level that I am missing it. Like I said, I have trained with folks who operate at this, at least to me, incomprehensible level. I think two or three hundred years ago, anyone doing stuff like what they can do would have been burned at the stake with a bunch of folks standing around chanting "witch, witch, witch..."

The problem is that I have been around Aikido for 35 years. I have trained, at one time or another, with many of the greats, or with folks who had trained directly with them. I have never seen that level of incomprehensible technique coming from any Aikido teacher. Some, like my own teacher, seemed magical for many years, until I had some help understanding what was really happening. Now I understand it. He's better at it by magnitudes than I am, but I get it and can explain it and do it. I just need a few decades more practice to be as good as he is (if he would only stop getting better, that is). Anyway, to the extent that I understand what is happening in Aikido, and I have not, at this point, seen any Aikido teacher that I don't at least understand what is being done. So I am either forced to concede that this Aikido group has taken its work to a level beyond the very best people I have ever trained with, taken their technique to that level of incomprehensible skills that only two or there people I have met or even heard about have attained, or I am forced to conclude that its just "faux" Aikido, an "Aikido-like" substance, with only an exterior resemblance in outer form to real Aikido.

While I am a consistent critic of Aikido with no "aiki", that physical, muscly, art that is simply application of strength against weak lines of the opponent, at least there is something there going on that's real. It won't work against someone stronger or better trained than you are and it lacks any real depth but it is "real" in what it is. I know, I trained that way for years myself.

I am on record as saying that I do not believe that the Founder intended for Aikido to be about fighting and that the from of the practice needs to be changed if that is what you wish to do with it. But I do not in any way mean that this is what happens to Aikido when you take away the idea that it is about fighting. If one really entertains the idea that Aikido can be about "conflict resolution" and contains some lessons in how to stand at the center of conflict and stay balanced and centered oneself, I absolutely fail to see how one does this when there is no "conflict" to begin with. When everything is sweetness and light, everyone is holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" together, there is no conflict and there is no practice of conflict resolution.

Getting to the point at which one really understands the idea that "there is no attacker", that we are all fundamentally connected, even when the other guy intends to take your head off, will NEVER happen the way these folks are working. Never. And if that isn't the focus of the training, it isn't Aikido in any way I understand it, and it isn't Budo.

I am sorry to be so critical... but Aikido is in trouble. The demographics have shifted and around the world numbers are down. There is too much Aikido that simply doesn't deliver the goods... Mediocre Aikido will not last another couple generations. In order for the art to survive in the face of all of the various elements in peoples' lives that pull them away from training, in the face of other martial arts that seem to offer more effectiveness for folks who want to "fight", the art will have to get back the depth and sophistication it had in the day of the Founder. It will have to reproduce the kind of art that lead skilled, experienced martial artists to turn to Aikido as a step beyond what they had been doing.

When anyone with the least experience in a martial art looks at these videos, he is going to be so turned off that he'll potentially never look at Aikido as a serious martial art again. Really great Aikido looks fake, and that's a problem for growing the art. Until you have someone dump you effortlessly on your ass and you never felt anything, you will think it's all BS. That cannot be helped I am afraid. But when its real, someone from another art can walk into your dojo and leave with a new understanding, perhaps even wish to start training.

What is going on here tarnishes the art. It's not even bad martial arts, its not martial arts at all. A junior practitioner from some local Macdojo would eat these folks alive. Any Aikido practitioner with a bokken coming from a style that does sword work, like the ASU, the Birankai, or the Iwama folks, would simply destroy these folks doing what they seem to be doing.

Because these are public forums and so many people of different levels read these and even folks who know nothing about Aikido come here to find out about the art, it is important that folks be willing to say the "Emperor has no clothes" when that is the case. I recently posted some video clips that I knew would generate some discussion along those lines. It didn't matter to me since I know I can do what was in them. I didn't mind that there were folks who thought it was fake, I was simply trying to reach those folks who would understand and appreciate what was being done and perhaps generate the kind of discussion that would open up some minds. I was happy with the result. We had some good discussion, I got to explain a bit more deeply what I was doing, to the extent that I could use words to explain it all, and perhaps the result was positive in the end. I thought so any way. The fact that there are some folks out there who still think it was "fake" is of no concern to me.

So, you've posted these clips and sent folks to your website and it's up there for all to see. Once you do that, it's basically open season. Don't expect folks to be positive and respectful of things they see as really bad. I do not think it should be personal. It should stay oriented towards a discussion of the Aikido being shown (other than the pretty correct "lose the hats" comment). These are not bad people doing this Aikido. I am sure that they are very good people doing bad Aikido. And the discussion will probably not change that view much.

Michael Neal
11-30-2010, 02:55 PM
Just compare to the Aikido shown in the Samurai Spirit Aikido (documentary) video, especially the scenes where the Aikido students are training.

There is a magnitude of difference in training intensity, I am actually more interested in Aikido after watching them. But the video here makes me think these other guys are just smoking weed swinging wooden sticks around for Live Action Role Playing.

George is right, Aikido is in a serious crisis right now. I have been away from these forums for a few years and instantly noticed how there are so fewer posts here than in the past. Seems interest has really faded.

Shodokan and Yoshinkan are actually becoming respected in some MMA circles, I am seeing more positive attitude towards Aikido as a result. Aikido has a chance to rebound with the right kind of training.

Time for an Aikido Renaissance!

Alberto_Italiano
11-30-2010, 03:11 PM
Four videos for your musings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiRfJppQJcQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt-aqDPqF7M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fTSjj8eQkI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPidmEdPTNM

Very instructive - thank you.
I bookmarked them, for this illustrates perfectly the type of approach that made me unfit for most dojos.

I have arranged with 3 partners and we train at home - there may be no mat and thus we need extra care (plus knee protections, boxing helmet, and we conclude no projection), and there may be no instructor and thus we may never develop a gracious looking aikido (or have hope for a belt); and yet, we also don't do that type of things we see in the videos :-)

The fact Aikido is so aristocratic and so inclined to let you entertain the hope for a supernatural approach to fight, made too many forget that in order to attain that supernatural approach, you have to spend a lifetime of training first (and also have a mental talent - consider George Ledyard: his posts are always among the very best, and this because he is clearly intellectual, and yet martial -he spoke of budo, in fact).

We don't need more guys who speak of "ki". The truth is: I have no idea what "ki" is. If we are not ready to admit that, we have no hope of attaining it one day. However, we have significant chances of developing an "aikido" like that of the video, spend money for it, and say it's like that because we're using "our ki".

sakumeikan
12-01-2010, 10:32 AM
Hi Ahmad.
Not sure what you mean about the sword blade being down.

Granted the corner could be padded up. Rest assured that all students are taught as a priority that it is their duty to protect their attacker in my Aikido. This means they are made fully responsible for the attacker. Peace. G.
Dear Graham,
Maybe I can offer an explanation about the sword blade being down?Usually in Iaido the cutting edge of the sword [in the saya]is uppermost[ie the curvature of the sword is curved edge above ].In order to change the angle of cut [say Kesa Giri ] using the left hand on the saya you turn the saya to the appropriate angle in order to initiate the correct cutting motion.In your case the saya[ at rest as it were ]is curved edge down over.Just a minor point but an important one.
Hope this helps. Joe.
.

George S. Ledyard
12-01-2010, 01:07 PM
We don't need more guys who speak of "ki". The truth is: I have no idea what "ki" is. If we are not ready to admit that, we have no hope of attaining it one day. However, we have significant chances of developing an "aikido" like that of the video, spend money for it, and say it's like that because we're using "our ki".

Hi Alberto,
While I understand what you are saying, I would disagree. This "debate" has been going on for quite a long time. It's how the cycle of change functions with the "pendulum" swinging back and forth...

Anyway, I think it is a sign of the deep issues facing Aikido that folks like you who are training seriously feel that they don't know what "ki" is and don't really feel the concept is helpful in your training. That's a problem. It's the result of poor "transmission".

"Ki" is a term for various things we either do not have good terminology for in the West or the explanation of those things is so complex that it's difficult to use those explanations in our training (or healing or whatever). So we develop terminology. While "ki" happens to have been used by the Chinese the concept goes back as far as history in India. For thousands of years terms like this have been used. One is taught what they mean through experience and training.

So when we get to the point at which a good portion of the folks seriously practicing Aikido either doubt the concept or can't define it specifically enough for it to be useful in their training, it is a failure of the system, of the "transmission". Folks who come out of a Chinese martial arts background use these terms all the time. But they are taught through hands on experience what they mean. They get to "feel" it in their teachers and they feel it in their bodies. But when people are teaching who have little or no understandi8ng of these principles, the whole thing breaks down.

A lot of this comes from the attachment to success. Because martial artists are often such type-A, Alpha-dog personalities, they often settle for what seems to work at the time rather than be patient and take their training to a deeper level.

As an example... my good friend Dan Messisco Sensei, an Aikido teacher now, was one of the top Tang So Do practitioners in the world in his younger days. He talked about how when he was training his teacher announced that it was time for the senior students to enter some tournaments and compete. Now these guys were being trained traditionally, very old school. So they went out and entered their first tournament and got their asses kicked. Their teacher told them how pleased he was by their performance. They of course said "but we just got destroyed out there..."

His reply was that he was pleased because they had stayed with their training and had attempted to apply the form of what they had been studying and didn't settle for the "tricks" that most of the competitors used in order to win. So they kept going and competing, kept losing, until one day they started winning. They stuck with the traditional form of the training because, while it was not the fastest way to "winning" in the short run, it was the road to a deeper knowledge in the long run. Dan said that once they had integrated the traditional form and the deeper principles contained in that form, no one could touch them. It just took a long period of being patient to get to the goodies. If they had settled, as most folks did, for developing the tricks simply based on the speed and athleticism available to the young, their art would never have developed this kind of depth.

So, folks who are serious about the martial aside of the training often get led astray by being attached to success too early. They settle for fast movement and physical strength. They are happy when their partner falls down and unhappy when they can't throw him. It's all about the result of ones actions on some "other". They don't like terms like "ki" and other seemingly ethereal concepts because they really don't know how to use them in making the other guy fall down, which is the pretty shallow focus of their training.

Then there are the folks who intuitively understand that it isn't about the result but rather the process and how that shapes us as individuals. Masagatsu, Agatsu - often translated as True Victory is Self Victory. So they focus almost entirely on how they feel emotionally when they train. They love the instruction to practice joyously, they groove on the imperative to exercise "the spirit of loving protection". The problem is that these folks typically ignore the form. They are also attached to the result... but in their case the result is some sort of nice feeling of calm and peace, a harmonious "feel" and the pretty much don't care if they can do what they do against an actual opponent, because, as the Founder stated, there is no opponent.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, still one of my all time favorites, talked about two ways of looking at the world that are prevalent. First was the scientific, rational way of approaching the world. In his book, he represented that type of person. His son in law, however, represented what he called the "groovy" way of approaching the world. This way is characterized by "feel", intuition, finds great satisfaction in the intangibles and is often offended by the mechanistic, overly brain centered way that technical people approach life.

You can easily see both types here on the Forums... And they are mutually antagonistic. One of the points of Pirsig's book was that both of these "types" are trapped. The "Zen" angle referred to in the title of the book points to the need for these two ways of processing our experience to come together as a whole. They should not be separate. But this is extremely difficult because it calls for everyone to go outside their comfort zone. People don't really want to do this. Ushiro Kenji stated in his last book that "What you know is the enemy of learning." I think that is totally spot on.

What needs to happen to "save" Aikido is losing our attachment to success. For some that would be ceasing to look at the success or failure of waza as the measure of ones Aikido. These folks need to dig deep and look for understanding of what is currently unknown or not understood as their path. It will require some extensive period of time in which what they do doesn't really "work" in the same way that Messisco Sensei's teacher had them competing and losing until their stuff began to work on a deeper basis.

For others it would be letting go of the attachment to the "groovy" side of the art and digging down to a rational and scientific understanding of principle. This requires a total retooling of ukemi, since it is the uke's job to force the partner to do a technique correctly. The kind of collusion one sees that is currently endemic in Aikido makes rational and scientific understanding of principle impossible.

Aikido is often said to be about Mind-Body-Spirit unification. As I have stated before, I do not think that is correct. Mind-Body-Spirit is unified and inseparable already. So to be doing Aikido, one has to develop an understanding of the art on all three levels. One level of understanding without the others is imbalanced and incomplete. Simply pursuing ones training with a focus on one of these areas with the assumption that an understanding of the other areas will come automatically is misguided. Training needs to have a balance of elements or it will not result in any deep understanding or skill.

So, if you don't have a sense of what "ki" means and how it functions in your training, the solution is not to throw the concept out, it is to find a teacher who can show you what you need to know to understand it. A teacher like Endo Sensei can show you a very clear and consistent presentation of "ki" and "aiki".

Someone like Dan Harden or one of the folks currently working with him could show you another aspect of the functioning of these principles.

Some folks take the approach that what they don't understand simply doesn't exist. I have seen Aikido teachers who stated that "ki" was all bullshit. They are wrong and their mistaken outlook reflects in their crude technique. Other folks are open minded but simply don't feel they have access to anyone who can teach them on that level. So they proceed to train in a way that they understand. Well, you learn what you train. You will never develop an understanding of "ki" or "aiki" by training with disregard of these concepts. You need to find a teacher who teaches it. Not simply demos how good he is, but actively teaches the principles in a rational, body centered manner.

Kuroiwa Yoshio Sensei wrote an article in which he discussed these things in Aikido Journal. I would highly recommend reading it. He was a teacher whose style was clear, scientific, and methodical. He talks about the need to address ones training on these various levels to go beyond just a basic and remedial skill. Without being aery-fairy at all he gives you a concise picture of how ones training is a balance and that this is what results in Aikido.

Training and Cognition (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=558)

So, don't throw out an idea that you don't understand, find a teacher who can explain it to you and show you how to train it.

Alberto_Italiano
12-01-2010, 04:21 PM
...snip...

His reply was that he was pleased because they had stayed with their training and had attempted to apply the form of what they had been studying and didn't settle for the "tricks" that most of the competitors used in order to win. So they kept going and competing, kept losing, until one day they started winning. They stuck with the traditional form of the training because, while it was not the fastest way to "winning" in the short run, it was the road to a deeper knowledge in the long run. Dan said that once they had integrated the traditional form and the deeper principles contained in that form, no one could touch them. It just took a long period of being patient to get to the goodies. If they had settled, as most folks did, for developing the tricks simply based on the speed and athleticism available to the young, their art would never have developed this kind of depth.

So, folks who are serious about the martial aside of the training often get led astray by being attached to success too early. They settle for fast movement and physical strength. They are happy when their partner falls down and unhappy when they can't throw him. It's all about the result of ones actions on some "other". They don't like terms like "ki" and other seemingly ethereal concepts because they really don't know how to use them in making the other guy fall down, which is the pretty shallow focus of their training.

...snip...

because, as the Founder stated, there is no opponent.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, still one of my all time favorites

...snip...

What needs to happen to "save" Aikido is losing our attachment to success.

...snip...

So, don't throw out an idea that you don't understand, find a teacher who can explain it to you and show you how to train it.

Hallo George

always a pleasure to read you. I would like to take this opportunity to explain better what I mean by "rejecting" the idea of "ki": it is misused.
What I object against, is exactly this misuse of this word.

You are commendable not only for your efforts (the quality of your posts is always and invariably among the very best) but also for your intellectual honesty in declaring that if Aikido does not realize it has to change, in a couple of generations it may be a martial art that nobody ever practices. Nearby my place there is a famous martial arts gym - two years ago, they told me, they quit holding aikido lessons - reason: nobody attended them.

Now, one of the reasons this may happen, is this misuse of the term "ki" that leads towards too speculative an aikido, or to Senseis that make their pupils open their arms and move them slowly in circle saying "aaaa-oooo-iiiii-eeeee-uuuuu" (no y, for it's not an Italian letter!).
It's normal that people quit attending, then - I did! lol

I have seen already dozens of aikidokas who pretend they know what "ki" is - the fact I reject this assumption, this pretence, does not mean I am rejecting the idea of "ki" - it means I am rejecting (having in mind your same concerns, probably) its fabrication.

You set an interesting conceptual path here - from a sensei happy that his pupils lost, to what the founder stated: there is no opponent.
A serious training is one where you fail repeatedly while facing a serious attack - you never learn so much like then. Eventually, one has to attain a level where fighting becomes impossible: the real ambition behind any martial art, so it seems to my humble perception, is to attain a level so high, that fighting is made impossible so refined your technique is. Eventually, you should be able to fight (and win) without miving a finger.
We linger on metaphysical grounds.

The idea of "ki" partakes of this metaphysical ground. As you stated much better than me, it's an elusive concept.

Years ago I practiced pranayama for 3 months and it scared the hell out of me - I quit doing it. I started feeling an enormous physical energy and it seemed to me it was flowing through my arms rippling my skin. When one day i was practicing pranayama and i felt this energy flowing very strong, the bulb of my bedside lamp exploded. I decide to quit it - i was terribly scared.

There is something, somewhere out there, that is "ki". Once we find it, we will know. Till then, there is no replacement for the real "ki" made of "aaaa-eeee-iiii-oooo-uuuu", if we want to keep aikido alive.
Ki exists - only I know I did _not_ meet it yet, and also many persons I see who pretend they know what it is, actually don't. That was my point.

kewms
12-01-2010, 06:53 PM
There is something, somewhere out there, that is "ki". Once we find it, we will know. Till then, there is no replacement for the real "ki" made of "aaaa-eeee-iiii-oooo-uuuu", if we want to keep aikido alive.
Ki exists - only I know I did _not_ meet it yet, and also many persons I see who pretend they know what it is, actually don't. That was my point.

Kotodama practice is the Shinto equivalent of pranayama practice. Just because your experience with it seemed meaningless, that doesn't mean the practice itself isn't valid, just that your kotodama teacher was (apparently) less gifted than your pranayama teacher.

Katherine

graham christian
12-01-2010, 08:49 PM
Dear Graham,
Maybe I can offer an explanation about the sword blade being down?Usually in Iaido the cutting edge of the sword [in the saya]is uppermost[ie the curvature of the sword is curved edge above ].In order to change the angle of cut [say Kesa Giri ] using the left hand on the saya you turn the saya to the appropriate angle in order to initiate the correct cutting motion.In your case the saya[ at rest as it were ]is curved edge down over.Just a minor point but an important one.
Hope this helps. Joe.
.

Hi Joe,
Thank you for that.That makes perfect sense. G.

Russ Q
12-01-2010, 10:31 PM
Hi Graham,

Are you thinking about what George Sensei has written. Not playing the parent, just curious if you are thinking about it....?

Russ

graham christian
12-01-2010, 11:52 PM
What makes Aiki Sword just that and not Ken Jutsu is that the sword work should reflect the very same principles operating in the empty hand. One doesn't necessarily use kenjutsu as the standard for evaluating aiki ken. As far as I can see, this sword work reflects quite nicely the same principles operating in the empty hand being done. However, what one thinks of that is another matter entirely...

I realize that there are a million reasons why people choose to do Aikido. I know many folks who are quite good at what they do who have simply crossed the line into territory where you can't maintain that a martial art is being done... it has become something else. Perhaps that something else is valuable, fulfilling and worth doing... I can't really say. It simply wasn't the way I was taught.

I was taught that Aikido was Budo. A new new Budo to be sure, a very different way of thinking about Budo, but Budo nonetheless. There is no Budo going on here. Everything I have seen is completely and absolutely collusive. I have been working with people like Saotome Sensei, Ikeda Sensei, Howard Popkin Sensei, William Gleason Sensei, Endo Sensei, Don Angier Sensei and others. These are people who can drop you effortlessly, sometimes without seeming to move, at least visibly. I actually understand what they are doing and can do it myself, not as well as I'd like yet, but I get it, and can see when those principles are operating and when they are not.

There is nothing going on here, either in the empty hand or the sword work that is anything other than relaxation work coupled with collusive ukemi. I like the level of relaxation, actually. But the technique shows no understanding of how that relaxation could be expressed martially. For it to be a martial art, one needs to be able to express that relaxation in an encounter with someone operating on an entirely different paradigm and still have the technique work. If you took some 200 pound footballer off the street and told him to grab one of the folks in these videos, he'd have torn their arms off before they ever moved him, much less threw him. That's my take on it, It's pretty much entirely wishful thinking from the martial perspective. Now take that away and I don't have an issue with it. If folks think that Aikido isn't really a martial art, which many folks seem to believe, then fine, this is nice relaxation, movement work. But it is "faux" martial arts, and therefore not Budo in any way I understand the term.

Now, I could be wrong... I have seen people like Ushiro Sensei or Vladimir Vasiliev do things that I have no idea how they did what they did. It might as well be "magic" for all that I understand it. So, maybe I am merely not advanced enough to understand what is happening here and the teacher and the students are functioning at such a high level that I am missing it. Like I said, I have trained with folks who operate at this, at least to me, incomprehensible level. I think two or three hundred years ago, anyone doing stuff like what they can do would have been burned at the stake with a bunch of folks standing around chanting "witch, witch, witch..."

The problem is that I have been around Aikido for 35 years. I have trained, at one time or another, with many of the greats, or with folks who had trained directly with them. I have never seen that level of incomprehensible technique coming from any Aikido teacher. Some, like my own teacher, seemed magical for many years, until I had some help understanding what was really happening. Now I understand it. He's better at it by magnitudes than I am, but I get it and can explain it and do it. I just need a few decades more practice to be as good as he is (if he would only stop getting better, that is). Anyway, to the extent that I understand what is happening in Aikido, and I have not, at this point, seen any Aikido teacher that I don't at least understand what is being done. So I am either forced to concede that this Aikido group has taken its work to a level beyond the very best people I have ever trained with, taken their technique to that level of incomprehensible skills that only two or there people I have met or even heard about have attained, or I am forced to conclude that its just "faux" Aikido, an "Aikido-like" substance, with only an exterior resemblance in outer form to real Aikido.

While I am a consistent critic of Aikido with no "aiki", that physical, muscly, art that is simply application of strength against weak lines of the opponent, at least there is something there going on that's real. It won't work against someone stronger or better trained than you are and it lacks any real depth but it is "real" in what it is. I know, I trained that way for years myself.

I am on record as saying that I do not believe that the Founder intended for Aikido to be about fighting and that the from of the practice needs to be changed if that is what you wish to do with it. But I do not in any way mean that this is what happens to Aikido when you take away the idea that it is about fighting. If one really entertains the idea that Aikido can be about "conflict resolution" and contains some lessons in how to stand at the center of conflict and stay balanced and centered oneself, I absolutely fail to see how one does this when there is no "conflict" to begin with. When everything is sweetness and light, everyone is holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" together, there is no conflict and there is no practice of conflict resolution.

Getting to the point at which one really understands the idea that "there is no attacker", that we are all fundamentally connected, even when the other guy intends to take your head off, will NEVER happen the way these folks are working. Never. And if that isn't the focus of the training, it isn't Aikido in any way I understand it, and it isn't Budo.

I am sorry to be so critical... but Aikido is in trouble. The demographics have shifted and around the world numbers are down. There is too much Aikido that simply doesn't deliver the goods... Mediocre Aikido will not last another couple generations. In order for the art to survive in the face of all of the various elements in peoples' lives that pull them away from training, in the face of other martial arts that seem to offer more effectiveness for folks who want to "fight", the art will have to get back the depth and sophistication it had in the day of the Founder. It will have to reproduce the kind of art that lead skilled, experienced martial artists to turn to Aikido as a step beyond what they had been doing.

When anyone with the least experience in a martial art looks at these videos, he is going to be so turned off that he'll potentially never look at Aikido as a serious martial art again. Really great Aikido looks fake, and that's a problem for growing the art. Until you have someone dump you effortlessly on your ass and you never felt anything, you will think it's all BS. That cannot be helped I am afraid. But when its real, someone from another art can walk into your dojo and leave with a new understanding, perhaps even wish to start training.

What is going on here tarnishes the art. It's not even bad martial arts, its not martial arts at all. A junior practitioner from some local Macdojo would eat these folks alive. Any Aikido practitioner with a bokken coming from a style that does sword work, like the ASU, the Birankai, or the Iwama folks, would simply destroy these folks doing what they seem to be doing.

Because these are public forums and so many people of different levels read these and even folks who know nothing about Aikido come here to find out about the art, it is important that folks be willing to say the "Emperor has no clothes" when that is the case. I recently posted some video clips that I knew would generate some discussion along those lines. It didn't matter to me since I know I can do what was in them. I didn't mind that there were folks who thought it was fake, I was simply trying to reach those folks who would understand and appreciate what was being done and perhaps generate the kind of discussion that would open up some minds. I was happy with the result. We had some good discussion, I got to explain a bit more deeply what I was doing, to the extent that I could use words to explain it all, and perhaps the result was positive in the end. I thought so any way. The fact that there are some folks out there who still think it was "fake" is of no concern to me.

So, you've posted these clips and sent folks to your website and it's up there for all to see. Once you do that, it's basically open season. Don't expect folks to be positive and respectful of things they see as really bad. I do not think it should be personal. It should stay oriented towards a discussion of the Aikido being shown (other than the pretty correct "lose the hats" comment). These are not bad people doing this Aikido. I am sure that they are very good people doing bad Aikido. And the discussion will probably not change that view much.

HI George,
May I congratulate you on an excellent response.Why do I say this? Because I see it is heartfelt, considered and sincere.
I have never been on a forum before and thus am learning many things here so it's all good to me. I find many of the responses interesting as I didn't expect it and so I learn I have been quite naive.
Now, as to going in to a big defence of my Aikido I have refrained from doing so for I have nothing to prove, my purpose is not to say look at me and how good I am, rightly or wrongly I did it as an experiment. Only recently, this year, someone pointed out to me that the Aikido I do was taped on camera and proceeded to show me how to make it into little vids. On doing this I was amazed because in all the 30 years of practice I had never seen myself do it. On looking at the vids my friends and students past and present got me to put them on youtube. It was all good fun for me yet I could see that not many people would understand what I was doing and that if I ever made any teaching videos they would have to be different to these, step by step, with commentary.So here in this forum I wondered what people in the Aikido fraternity would summise and boy did I find out!
I was trained in a private dojo, by invite only, so let me tell you just a little about my teacher. After being there for five years I remember asking him why he wasn't in a federation like Aikikai, or Yoshinkan etc. He told me that in the early days in this country he came to a dilemma in himself, he said many of those he trained with seemed to be going down the macho force route and refusing to develope on the Ki side of things, ie: have the Ki tests as he showed us as a major part of their training. He also said , rightly or wrongly that he thought if he made a stance politically at the time it would possibly cause a big split with some following him and others not. So he decided to go independant and was no longer interested in big organizations.
As for me, after 15 years it was time to go my own way, and to me from now on the world, the streets, work, would be my dojo so I ended up teaching privately whoever happened across me and liked what I had to offer. I never wanted to be an organization and so have never done Aikido as a business or club and only recently gave my style a name. I did hope that showing it with a different name ie:Golden Center, would show it is not the Aikido you are used to seeing and thus not cause offence.Once again naive.
On the point of collusive training believe it or not I wholeheartedly agree with you and see the conclusions drawn from my videos gives this view 100%. I now know if I want others to actually see through film the effect of what I do on a 200lb wrestler IT would take a different type of video. So, as with showing people flying at me and me taking them and projecting them into a nice dramatic breakfall it all gives me a dilemma. I am not promoting my Aikido, or Aikido as yet for that matter, yet if I put anything on a public forum then I should do it in an expected manner which would then enter the field of promotion. So once again I have a decision to make and a lesson to learn.
As far as the situation worldwide to do with Aikido being on the decline goes then not being involved in organizations and the politics of it all then this comes as an unwelcome surprise to me and explains some of the touchyness I have encountered here. But here I must state my view clearly and give a message to all those who have had their confidence knocked or their hopes for the future of Aikido shaken. IT IS EASY TO BLAME OTHERS WHEN THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL. The answer is ALWAYS in your own scene.
I have had a couple of people insist I watch a video called samurai spirit and say how it inspired them and it promotes Aikido. Well I have watched it and can see how it could do that for some or even many, all be it very contrived, but what I say to them is this: If it is good promotion you want then make some good ones yourself, or get your organization to do it and stop crying like little babies. There is no honour in destructive criticism and blame and thus no center, no samurai spirit, apart from no manners or self discipline.
So I will finish off here with something you may find interesting as it is from someone not immersed in your organizational world of Aikido. The people I know, the ones I work with, friends and associates of mine get to know me and thus know I do this 'thing' called Aikido. Many have tested me, many have questioned things I do like Ki-atsu for example, but none disrespect me. I am never rude or belittling or critical, be they a doctor, a shop owner or a drug dealer. Yet when they are in trouble they know I can help. This I find applies in life and the reason I am saying it here is because in my experience everyone who has experienced my Aikido hasn't got a bad word to say about it. I have advised many people on Aikido and sent many people to Aikido clubs over the years for I have no opinion as to that ones better than that one I only tell them to find the one they like.I have people who come to me from various martial arts now and again for advice on what they do which may be an art of which I have no experience or knowledge but I get them to show me what they are getting stuck on and almost always help them to a solution for I can see the principles of what they are doing and thus where they are failing. This doesn't make them want to do Aikido but they go away and overcome that which they were getting stuck on in their own art and in this way I maintain a respect for Aikido from them. So in my zone of influence the people see what I do as disciplined, helpful and when they need it -useful. If I was a brash, arrogant, 'superior' kind of person then I am as sure as the sun shines that it would give Aikido a bad name. So from my viewpoint and experience I suggest All Aikidoka should look at their own behaviour as a major factor of peoples perception of Aikido and even in this forum for people are not stupid and by and large they do believe that Aikido is a more harmoniouse form of martial art and so expect the adherents to be very well mannered, polite, reasonable, helpful and strong in mind and spirit. Samurai if you like.(The good ones anyway)
Well if you have read this then thank you for listening.
Peace. G.

graham christian
12-01-2010, 11:59 PM
Hi Graham,

Are you thinking about what George Sensei has written. Not playing the parent, just curious if you are thinking about it....?

Russ

Hi Russ, now this did make me smile, I have just finished responding to what George said and then as I return to the page I see this. Good Ki.
G.

George S. Ledyard
12-02-2010, 02:36 AM
HI George,
May I congratulate you on an excellent response.Why do I say this? Because I see it is heartfelt, considered and sincere.
I have never been on a forum before and thus am learning many things here so it's all good to me. I find many of the responses interesting as I didn't expect it and so I learn I have been quite naive.
Now, as to going in to a big defence of my Aikido I have refrained from doing so for I have nothing to prove, my purpose is not to say look at me and how good I am, rightly or wrongly I did it as an experiment. Only recently, this year, someone pointed out to me that the Aikido I do was taped on camera and proceeded to show me how to make it into little vids. On doing this I was amazed because in all the 30 years of practice I had never seen myself do it. On looking at the vids my friends and students past and present got me to put them on youtube. It was all good fun for me yet I could see that not many people would understand what I was doing and that if I ever made any teaching videos they would have to be different to these, step by step, with commentary.So here in this forum I wondered what people in the Aikido fraternity would summise and boy did I find out!
I was trained in a private dojo, by invite only, so let me tell you just a little about my teacher. After being there for five years I remember asking him why he wasn't in a federation like Aikikai, or Yoshinkan etc. He told me that in the early days in this country he came to a dilemma in himself, he said many of those he trained with seemed to be going down the macho force route and refusing to develope on the Ki side of things, ie: have the Ki tests as he showed us as a major part of their training. He also said , rightly or wrongly that he thought if he made a stance politically at the time it would possibly cause a big split with some following him and others not. So he decided to go independant and was no longer interested in big organizations.
As for me, after 15 years it was time to go my own way, and to me from now on the world, the streets, work, would be my dojo so I ended up teaching privately whoever happened across me and liked what I had to offer. I never wanted to be an organization and so have never done Aikido as a business or club and only recently gave my style a name. I did hope that showing it with a different name ie:Golden Center, would show it is not the Aikido you are used to seeing and thus not cause offence.Once again naive.
On the point of collusive training believe it or not I wholeheartedly agree with you and see the conclusions drawn from my videos gives this view 100%. I now know if I want others to actually see through film the effect of what I do on a 200lb wrestler IT would take a different type of video. So, as with showing people flying at me and me taking them and projecting them into a nice dramatic breakfall it all gives me a dilemma. I am not promoting my Aikido, or Aikido as yet for that matter, yet if I put anything on a public forum then I should do it in an expected manner which would then enter the field of promotion. So once again I have a decision to make and a lesson to learn.
As far as the situation worldwide to do with Aikido being on the decline goes then not being involved in organizations and the politics of it all then this comes as an unwelcome surprise to me and explains some of the touchyness I have encountered here. But here I must state my view clearly and give a message to all those who have had their confidence knocked or their hopes for the future of Aikido shaken. IT IS EASY TO BLAME OTHERS WHEN THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL. The answer is ALWAYS in your own scene.
I have had a couple of people insist I watch a video called samurai spirit and say how it inspired them and it promotes Aikido. Well I have watched it and can see how it could do that for some or even many, all be it very contrived, but what I say to them is this: If it is good promotion you want then make some good ones yourself, or get your organization to do it and stop crying like little babies. There is no honour in destructive criticism and blame and thus no center, no samurai spirit, apart from no manners or self discipline.
So I will finish off here with something you may find interesting as it is from someone not immersed in your organizational world of Aikido. The people I know, the ones I work with, friends and associates of mine get to know me and thus know I do this 'thing' called Aikido. Many have tested me, many have questioned things I do like Ki-atsu for example, but none disrespect me. I am never rude or belittling or critical, be they a doctor, a shop owner or a drug dealer. Yet when they are in trouble they know I can help. This I find applies in life and the reason I am saying it here is because in my experience everyone who has experienced my Aikido hasn't got a bad word to say about it. I have advised many people on Aikido and sent many people to Aikido clubs over the years for I have no opinion as to that ones better than that one I only tell them to find the one they like.I have people who come to me from various martial arts now and again for advice on what they do which may be an art of which I have no experience or knowledge but I get them to show me what they are getting stuck on and almost always help them to a solution for I can see the principles of what they are doing and thus where they are failing. This doesn't make them want to do Aikido but they go away and overcome that which they were getting stuck on in their own art and in this way I maintain a respect for Aikido from them. So in my zone of influence the people see what I do as disciplined, helpful and when they need it -useful. If I was a brash, arrogant, 'superior' kind of person then I am as sure as the sun shines that it would give Aikido a bad name. So from my viewpoint and experience I suggest All Aikidoka should look at their own behaviour as a major factor of peoples perception of Aikido and even in this forum for people are not stupid and by and large they do believe that Aikido is a more harmoniouse form of martial art and so expect the adherents to be very well mannered, polite, reasonable, helpful and strong in mind and spirit. Samurai if you like.(The good ones anyway)
Well if you have read this then thank you for listening.
Peace. G.

Hi Graham,
Thanks for your response. You know, the good stuff looks fake... It even feels fake in that your mind is telling you that shouldn't have worked, even as you are headed to the floor.

At the first Aiki Expo, I met a friend in the hallway who had just walked out of Angier Sensei's class in disgust. He said it was terrible, the ukes were just tanking and the whole thing was fake. Well, I had actually trained several times with Angier Sensei before then. I told him to get his ass back into that class, go to the front row, and not leave until he had felt it, then he could tell me it was fake. I met him again later and he thanked me for saving him from making a big fool out of himself.

As I said, there's a bunch of stuff out there that's as close to magic as anything I am likely to experience. It's magic because I don't understand it and don't know how to even go about thinking about it.

Yet, at this point, I am better than I ever thought I would be. I am doing stuff on the mat that I used to think only the 8th Dans did. But it's no big deal... it's explainable and teachable. I can get a brown belt to do most of these things if you gave me 20 minutes to half an hour. So what was, at least, magical is now commonplace and other things I have encountered have taken the place of what I once thought was unattainable.

So, ok. I'm not going to be the one who says you can't do what you think you can. If you had better training than most of us did, which in the Aikido world wouldn't have been hard, and you were lucky enough to have found a teacher who really had the goods as some of these folks I encountered at the Expos clearly do, then I think there is every likelihood you could be that good. No way of knowing... not without heading for the UK and trying it out. My perception could be quite wrong. I have seen a number of things that looked phony that I know for a fact weren't, so I have learned not to invest too heavily in my own opinions on these things. If you were closer I'd simply come play and we'd see.

So, we can leave it at that... I can't see it, but you say you've got it. I suppose you are in a better position to know about that than I. So no further argument is necessary or desirable.

Someday, you and I will have met and one or the other will have learned something, possibly both. Someday I will have met Sczepan and he can find out whether I can do what I say I can... he doesn't see it when he looks at my stuff either.... I swear, before I die, I am going to figure out how to stick someone to a wall like Vlad and Okamoto Sensei can do... It's all part of the process for all of us who are really training. If we put ourselves in the way of knowledge it will come, maybe not in a comfortable manner, but it will come.

So good luck in your efforts. I applaud the fact that you didn't get all defensive and belligerent when you got rained on. That's quite a bit more than many of the bad asses here can manage. So I'll reserve my own final judgment and keep watching your stuff. Maybe I am simply missing something that I will better understand after more time messing with this stuff.

But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George

George S. Ledyard
12-02-2010, 02:44 AM
Years ago I practiced pranayama for 3 months and it scared the hell out of me - I quit doing it. I started feeling an enormous physical energy and it seemed to me it was flowing through my arms rippling my skin. When one day i was practicing pranayama and i felt this energy flowing very strong, the bulb of my bedside lamp exploded. I decide to quit it - i was terribly scared.

Actually, weird shit like this can be fairly common experiences amongst folks doing certain kinds of training. Certainly there are tons of stories going back thousands of years. Rather than quit, it is important that you have a really qualified teacher who can help you and also recognize when you are in trouble.

Saotome Sensei said much the same thing about some Aikido misogi exercises he did when he was training with O-Sensei. He said that there were certain things it was best not to do alone in case you had a bad reaction to them.

But to me, it sounds like you quit just when stuff was really starting to happen and that is too bad.

Mary Eastland
12-02-2010, 08:48 AM
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Graham, I see your relaxed style in your posts and responses to negative critisism. I also like how you let things that really don't matter just pass on by. That to me is trully Aikido in the way that I want to train.
Mary

Mary Eastland
12-02-2010, 08:53 AM
"But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George"
Hi George:
I read all of your post. I really liked it except for the above quote. Maybe you don't understand why they wear the hats. Have you ever thought of asking why instead of saying something rude? Part of internal training is letting the impulse to say something mean pass by and getting to the connection.
Understanding helps build connection. You don't have to like something to just let it be.
Mary

graham christian
12-02-2010, 10:41 AM
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Graham, I see your relaxed style in your posts and responses to negative critisism. I also like how you let things that really don't matter just pass on by. That to me is trully Aikido in the way that I want to train.
Mary

Thank you Mary, a pleasant surprise.

ChrisHein
12-02-2010, 11:23 AM
HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity. If Graham Christian had put up these exact same videos, but the setting was in a formal Japanese Dojo, and Graham was a 6-10 dan the first several responses would have been, "thank you sensei for putting up this profound work". Then likely someone would have come along and said, "this is crap, it's all cooperative". To which someone (one of the 6-10th dans followers likely) would have retorted with something like, "you don't know what you're talking about, this stuff has to be felt to be understood". This would go on and on.

I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.

mathewjgano
12-02-2010, 11:40 AM
HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity...I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.

I think we all could do better in how we tell people that what we think they're doing could be improved.

I have enjoyed reading this thread. Graham, I see your relaxed style in your posts and responses to negative critisism. I also like how you let things that really don't matter just pass on by. That to me is trully Aikido in the way that I want to train.
Mary
...but he didn't reply to my questions...oh...:D

George S. Ledyard
12-02-2010, 12:03 PM
"But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George"
Hi George:
I read all of your post. I really liked it except for the above quote. Maybe you don't understand why they wear the hats. Have you ever thought of asking why instead of saying something rude? Part of internal training is letting the impulse to say something mean pass by and getting to the connection.
Understanding helps build connection. You don't have to like something to just let it be.
Mary

Hi Mary,
It was meant more as a joke, really.

As a piece of advice, well, I stand by it. The hats definitely detract from the first impression. They act as a distraction from what Graham is, I believe, trying to show. And, at least until people know and understand Graham better, they do not help on the credibility side.

Do I care? Certainly not. If their Aikido is good, they can wear tutus for all I care.

- George

Marc Abrams
12-02-2010, 12:07 PM
HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity. If Graham Christian had put up these exact same videos, but the setting was in a formal Japanese Dojo, and Graham was a 6-10 dan the first several responses would have been, "thank you sensei for putting up this profound work". Then likely someone would have come along and said, "this is crap, it's all cooperative". To which someone (one of the 6-10th dans followers likely) would have retorted with something like, "you don't know what you're talking about, this stuff has to be felt to be understood". This would go on and on.

I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.

Chris:

Thank You For Sharing....

Marc Abrams

George S. Ledyard
12-02-2010, 12:31 PM
Graham Christian had put up these exact same videos, but the setting was in a formal Japanese Dojo, and Graham was a 6-10 dan the first several responses would have been, "thank you sensei for putting up this profound work".

Actually, I think people would have been critical regardless. Look at the responses to many of the Demos at the All Japan Aikido demos. There were 8th Dan Shihan who came up for heavy criticism because of the complete "wishful thinking" aspect of what they did.

Then likely someone would have come along and said, "this is crap, it's all cooperative". To which someone (one of the 6-10th dans followers likely) would have retorted with something like, "you don't know what you're talking about, this stuff has to be felt to be understood". This would go on and on.

Well, sure. That's the nature of the give and take on the forums. I think it is productive, overall. I have a hard time when things get personalized... it should be about the Aikido. The idea that someone is somehow a better person because his or her technique is good or is in some way falling short as a person if you think his Aikido isn't up to par, is really mistaken thinking.

On the other hand, I think there is far too much "It's all ok." thinking in Aikido. I certainly do not expect everyone to be in agreement on much of anything, but I think that the back and forth can help people really get clear in their minds what it is they want from their Aikido. And, very occasionally, perhaps, folks can see a different side of things through these exchanges.

But I do think it is important, as I have said, for the future of the art, that people have some idea what works and what doesn't, what is aiki and what is not, that they develop a "trained eye" for what is good Aikido and what isn't.

In this case, I think I understand Graham better through the exchange. He handled himself in a very classy manner. I found the details of his training history helpful in reassessing what he is doing. Maybe he got something out of my contribution, I don't know. But I think being able to stand in the center of the storm and hold your own is an absolute requirement of Aikido as some sort of transformational practice. I look at the on-line give and take as just another form of practice.

mathewjgano
12-02-2010, 02:10 PM
...I look at the on-line give and take as just another form of practice.

As usual, I really enjoyed reading your perspective, but this bit rings very personally true. I find that when I view the different opinions being expressed as part of a process, they don't bug me like they used to.
That said, I do think it's hard not to get personal on some level...particularly when we're expressing personal opinions and displaying personal examples. The person is very key to these exchanges because in addressing an opinion or example of practice we're addressing the people expressing them. My opinion is that it isn't so bad to get personal, as long as we respect the fact that we're always including a variety of assumptions...that is to say: to treat our opinions as opinions and not as facts, no matter how convinced we might be about them.
Take care,
Matt
P.S. Sorry to all if I'm detracting from the topic(s) too much...I've got some serious cabin fever right now, and frankly am loving the forum for the mental stimulation I'm getting from it.

Russ Q
12-02-2010, 04:48 PM
Hi Russ, now this did make me smile, I have just finished responding to what George said and then as I return to the page I see this. Good Ki.
G.

Cheers Graham, good training to you!

Russ

Alberto_Italiano
12-03-2010, 09:31 AM
Kotodama practice is the Shinto equivalent of pranayama practice. Just because your experience with it seemed meaningless, that doesn't mean the practice itself isn't valid, just that your kotodama teacher was (apparently) less gifted than your pranayama teacher.

Katherine

But I never said my experience with ki was meaningless. Why is it so difficult to make onself understood? I am saying that ki is something so terrible, so high, and so powerful, that I find that when people mistake it for "aaa-eee-iii-ooo-uuu", they're making it a wrong. And I am saying that most of the times when we see a cheap aikido or an aikido that has forfaited any budo (as George most rightly pointed out), we find the abused explanation "we train with our ki" as a far too convenient explanation.
I hope this clarifies - if not, probably that's my fault: I can't explain my point clearly enough - probably due also to the fact English is not my native language I guess.

Speaking of ki is like speaking of angels and gods: i can say an angel spoke to me, but one thing is an angel and another one hearing voices :-)

ps:
Pranayama teacher? Why we always assume one needs a teacher? I found it an assumption that is, in its deep root, "counterki".
There is only _one_ teacher, and only _one_ master: it's the same one, everywhere, and it attends every dojo. Only, it speaks with so low a voice, that it's rarely heard :-)

Fred Little
12-03-2010, 11:28 AM
Kotodama practice is the Shinto equivalent of pranayama practice. Just because your experience with it seemed meaningless, that doesn't mean the practice itself isn't valid, just that your kotodama teacher was (apparently) less gifted than your pranayama teacher.

Katherine

Katherine,

Your assertion of identity between pranayama practice and kototama practice is really quite astonishing. Would you care to offer some support for the assertion?

Regards,

Fred Little

kewms
12-03-2010, 12:07 PM
Katherine,

Your assertion of identity between pranayama practice and kototama practice is really quite astonishing. Would you care to offer some support for the assertion?

Regards,

Fred Little

Why is it so astonishing? Both seek (roughly) to focus and channel the energy of the universe (be it ki or prana) through the individual. They are similar practices aimed at similar goals, and therefore perform equivalent functions within their respective systems.

(And note that "equivalent" was the word I used, not "identical.")

Katherine

kewms
12-03-2010, 12:11 PM
But I never said my experience with ki was meaningless. Why is it so difficult to make onself understood? I am saying that ki is something so terrible, so high, and so powerful, that I find that when people mistake it for "aaa-eee-iii-ooo-uuu", they're making it a wrong. And I am saying that most of the times when we see a cheap aikido or an aikido that has forfaited any budo (as George most rightly pointed out), we find the abused explanation "we train with our ki" as a far too convenient explanation.


I agree that the explanation is often misused. But not always. The same exercises can be either very powerful or completely pointless, and it's not always possible to tell from the outside.

Katherine

Fred Little
12-03-2010, 01:11 PM
Why is it so astonishing? Both seek (roughly) to focus and channel the energy of the universe (be it ki or prana) through the individual. They are similar practices aimed at similar goals, and therefore perform equivalent functions within their respective systems.

(And note that "equivalent" was the word I used, not "identical.")

Katherine

You're compounding the original assertion but offering no basis for the original unfounded claim of "equivalence" beyond additional generic assertions that are equally unfounded.

In order to make the argument, you would need -- at a minimum -- to establish the similarities of each practice, establish the commonality of the goals of the respective practices, establish the equivalency of the respective systems, and establish the equivalent functions.

I would argue that in the absence of an evidentiary basis, the assertions are sterling examples of Orientalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_(book)), fallacies of precisely the kind that Said sought to debunk in his work of the same name. Admittedly, they would fall into the Orientophile, rather than Orientophobe, pigeonhole, but the broader point stands.

In a number of critical respects, pranayama and kototama are striking different practices with markedly different goals: the former emphasizing breath in itself as a primary tool, the latter emphasizing vocalization as a primary tool, the former aiming toward an ultimately impersonal realization which is not wed to a particular national or political order, the latter aiming toward the development of individual power to be wielded for unabashedly nationalist purposes in the service of the Imperial Household of Japan; the former embedded within the comparatively ordered complexity of Vedic or Indic micro and macro cosmology, the latter arguably little more than a crude and debased knock-off of the former grafted onto the primitive, amoral, and chaotic cosmology of Japan, and so forth.

In this context, while it's certainly accurate to point out that you used the word "equivalent" and not "identical," to the extent that you've established an equivalence, it's too loose to be terribly useful except to the extent that it achieves through connotation what would be immediately dismissed if attempted through denotation, as you yourself hasten to show.

Best regards,

FL

thisisnotreal
12-03-2010, 02:13 PM
Isn't the commonality in that both are working with the intrinsic energy in the human body?

And regarding just that:: Why the need to have some sort of a cosmic link with the universe in that discussion? (i.e. channeling the energy of the 'universe') What is wrong with considering It is the energy..._in_ the human body that is being discussed? That is profound enough. Taking anything beyond that as fact is....problematic for a host of reasons. I do not feel it fair that it always be presented in this way, and that's why I mention it.

My honest best answer to that is: Choice. Certainly the 'origin' of that energy is a problem; but the context of this or that specific answer, or religious backdrop....is another conversation. Completely. I believe this question is the same question as "Where do we come from?". And a Great Question, at that.
Frankly; both of those practices are a 'bridge' of sort between elements of the bodyskill and the specific religious cosmologies themselves. They are practices coming from a religious context and that is reflected in many ways..and in their requirements and respective conclusions reached.

Stepping onto, and past that 'bridge', launching from the bodyskill..to...the 'other'...is a leap of faith and that should be made clear, about that path, from the get go.

kewms
12-03-2010, 03:23 PM
Frankly; both of those practices are a 'bridge' of sort between elements of the bodyskill and the specific religious cosmologies themselves. They are practices coming from a religious context and that is reflected in many ways..and in their requirements and respective conclusions reached.

Precisely. They are equivalent practices in that they serve similar purposes within their respective contexts. I am well aware of the many and vast differences between the Vedic and Shinto world views, but they simply aren't relevant to the point which I was trying to make: if you concede that pranayama is a valid practice within *its* context, then you shouldn't dismiss kotodama practice quite so easily as the person to whom I was responding did.

To use perhaps a less inflammatory example, Spanish tapas and Chinese dim sum are entirely different: they don't taste the same, they don't use the same ingredients, they aren't prepared in the same way. And yet they are "equivalent" because they serve similar functions within their respective cultures.

(Note also that I take no position on the validity -- or lack thereof -- of either the Vedic or the Shinto world view, relative either to each other or to the objective world.)

Katherine

mickeygelum
12-03-2010, 03:46 PM
I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.


True statement, I concur, Chris.

Train well,

Mickey

Fred Little
12-03-2010, 05:01 PM
Precisely. They are equivalent practices in that they serve similar purposes within their respective contexts. I am well aware of the many and vast differences between the Vedic and Shinto world views, but they simply aren't relevant to the point which I was trying to make: if you concede that pranayama is a valid practice within *its* context, then you shouldn't dismiss kotodama practice quite so easily as the person to whom I was responding did.

To use perhaps a less inflammatory example, Spanish tapas and Chinese dim sum are entirely different: they don't taste the same, they don't use the same ingredients, they aren't prepared in the same way. And yet they are "equivalent" because they serve similar functions within their respective cultures.

(Note also that I take no position on the validity -- or lack thereof -- of either the Vedic or the Shinto world view, relative either to each other or to the objective world.)

Katherine

Certainly, we can agree that food is a good thing and good food is a better thing: Recognizing how dangerous as it is to push any analogy too far, I still remain concerned that at this level of analysis, Cheez-Whiz and Ritz Crackers are equivalent to freshly shaved parmesan and thin slices of baguette with a hint of extra virgin olive oil. But there are obvious and critical distinctions of age, texture, type, and taste which this assertion of equivalence elides, and the failure to make such distinctions can be more than enough to result in one losing an appetite for the offering, seeking sustenance elsewhere, and warning others off the sort of establishment where one is likely to get the former when ordering a bit of cheese, having had an unfortunate experience with just such a place. And by the same token, if the raclette somewhere else was initially engaging but ultimately a bit harder on the system than desirable and one has sworn off it as well, this too is worth knowing beyond any possible comparison between raclette and Cheez-Whiz.


Regards,

FL

sakumeikan
12-04-2010, 05:48 AM
Why is it so astonishing? Both seek (roughly) to focus and channel the energy of the universe (be it ki or prana) through the individual. They are similar practices aimed at similar goals, and therefore perform equivalent functions within their respective systems.

(And note that "equivalent" was the word I used, not "identical.")

Katherine

Dear Katherine,
Perhaps you would care to elaborate on the similarity/links between the study of Kotodama theory and Prana yama training?
Kotodama theory is the concept that words have esoteric meaning eg Sutras /Mantras or basic Japanese alphabet sounds.
Prana yama is the practice of specific breathing techniques.
I appreciate that both may have some value as as training aid but I do not see a direct connection.
Yours Sincerely joe.

kewms
12-04-2010, 06:52 PM
Dear Katherine,
Perhaps you would care to elaborate on the similarity/links between the study of Kotodama theory and Prana yama training?
Kotodama theory is the concept that words have esoteric meaning eg Sutras /Mantras or basic Japanese alphabet sounds.
Prana yama is the practice of specific breathing techniques.
I appreciate that both may have some value as as training aid but I do not see a direct connection.
Yours Sincerely joe.

To the best of my knowledge, the best English language sources on kotodama and aikido are William Gleason's books: The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido and Aikido and Words of Power. I studied with Gleason Sensei for many years, but don't pretend to match his expertise on the subject. As I understand it, though, the kotodama tie sound/vibration, breath, and energy flow together. Each kotodama syllable is associated with a specific breath and a specific type (both direction and quality) of energy flow. These in turn have various connections to aikido technique.

In prana yama, as I understand it, the breathing techniques are likewise a means for directing the flow of energy. As yoga is not a martial practice (or at least the yoga I've encountered is not), however, there is less emphasis on external "sources" or "targets" for the energy thus controlled, and therefore less need for the directional characteristics of the kotodama. On the other hand, yoga seems to have a more complete set of tools for understanding what all that energy does to the practitioner's own body.

Katherine

Rafael Martinez
12-05-2010, 12:14 PM
[QUOTE=George S. Ledyard;269174]

... it is "faux" martial arts, and therefore not Budo in any way I understand the term.

I came to aikido with 15 years of budo behind me and have been studying aikido for 12 years now. It was apparent from day one that most if the aikido being taught is exactly that, a "faux" art. I continued to train in it because I saw value in the ukemi and in some of the training movements. Having come from other arts I am able to use aiki principles to enhance my other arts. My own efforts to introduce martial efficacy have been met with resistance so I have redirected my efforts to teaching a mixed martial arts class that centers around aikido. This will address the martial dilemma to an extent. But those of us who train in this fashion are a very small minority. For the most part aikido remains in the fantasy realm of budo and is moving in a direction that should more properly be called a martially inspired exercise or dance. Any one interested in learning how to fight should not train in aikido. My own sensei has stated this on several occasions, and I agree with this. But it does have great value as one ages, allowing one to continue training where this is not possible in most other arts.

kironin
12-06-2010, 11:20 AM
Great post! George.

purely, side note. Always interesting to see another perspective on something like the initial reaction to Angier's class. Always a good idea to be at the front of the room if possible (which I recall being in that class).

My only commentary on this thread really has nothing to do with the videos, only with the idea that it's good G is at least attempting to engage with the Aikido community outside his small group. Organizations have problems but so there can be issues with being independent as well, and thinking in isolation without challenge is one of them. It's a different sort of challenge to engage those that have as much experience or more in the art you practice than it is to be challenged by beginners or someone from a different art, and worth engaging in.

Hi Graham,
Thanks for your response. You know, the good stuff looks fake... It even feels fake in that your mind is telling you that shouldn't have worked, even as you are headed to the floor.

At the first Aiki Expo, I met a friend in the hallway who had just walked out of Angier Sensei's class in disgust. He said it was terrible, the ukes were just tanking and the whole thing was fake. Well, I had actually trained several times with Angier Sensei before then. I told him to get his ass back into that class, go to the front row, and not leave until he had felt it, then he could tell me it was fake. I met him again later and he thanked me for saving him from making a big fool out of himself.

As I said, there's a bunch of stuff out there that's as close to magic as anything I am likely to experience. It's magic because I don't understand it and don't know how to even go about thinking about it.

Yet, at this point, I am better than I ever thought I would be. I am doing stuff on the mat that I used to think only the 8th Dans did. But it's no big deal... it's explainable and teachable. I can get a brown belt to do most of these things if you gave me 20 minutes to half an hour. So what was, at least, magical is now commonplace and other things I have encountered have taken the place of what I once thought was unattainable.

So, ok. I'm not going to be the one who says you can't do what you think you can. If you had better training than most of us did, which in the Aikido world wouldn't have been hard, and you were lucky enough to have found a teacher who really had the goods as some of these folks I encountered at the Expos clearly do, then I think there is every likelihood you could be that good. No way of knowing... not without heading for the UK and trying it out. My perception could be quite wrong. I have seen a number of things that looked phony that I know for a fact weren't, so I have learned not to invest too heavily in my own opinions on these things. If you were closer I'd simply come play and we'd see.

So, we can leave it at that... I can't see it, but you say you've got it. I suppose you are in a better position to know about that than I. So no further argument is necessary or desirable.

Someday, you and I will have met and one or the other will have learned something, possibly both. Someday I will have met Sczepan and he can find out whether I can do what I say I can... he doesn't see it when he looks at my stuff either.... I swear, before I die, I am going to figure out how to stick someone to a wall like Vlad and Okamoto Sensei can do... It's all part of the process for all of us who are really training. If we put ourselves in the way of knowledge it will come, maybe not in a comfortable manner, but it will come.

So good luck in your efforts. I applaud the fact that you didn't get all defensive and belligerent when you got rained on. That's quite a bit more than many of the bad asses here can manage. So I'll reserve my own final judgment and keep watching your stuff. Maybe I am simply missing something that I will better understand after more time messing with this stuff.

But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George

MM
12-06-2010, 12:17 PM
HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity. If Graham Christian had put up these exact same videos, but the setting was in a formal Japanese Dojo, and Graham was a 6-10 dan the first several responses would have been, "thank you sensei for putting up this profound work". Then likely someone would have come along and said, "this is crap, it's all cooperative". To which someone (one of the 6-10th dans followers likely) would have retorted with something like, "you don't know what you're talking about, this stuff has to be felt to be understood". This would go on and on.

I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.

First, I'm surprised Jun let this go by. It's one thing to criticize in a discussion about how aikido is being done and whether or not it's personally defined as "aikido", but calling people "pompous asses"?

I have a very good idea of the kind of people that George Ledyard has trained with. I'd wager that he's also viewed quite a lot of video content, read books, etc. Would you care to compare your background, Chris, with George's? Care to offer your views on the thread topic?

Or let's substitute Marc Abrams ...

From Saotome to Ikeda to Imaizumi to Ushiro to Kaizen to a whole host of quality teachers/respected men, these people have put in the time to actually have informed opinions. Yes, criticism can be harsh at times. Who in their budo career hasn't gotten that from their teacher? But, I'd have an extremely hard time believing that George or Marc had any bad intent behind their words.

And even if you try to say that you didn't include them, it's still rather rude to apply "pompous asses" to the other people. Do you know them? Know their bona fides? If they are new students, they're certainly entitled to make mistakes. We all have been there. It's the seniors who are there to correct them, not call them "pompous asses". And if they've been around awhile, you want to compare bona fides with them so that you can assert your view that they are "pompous asses"? In front of the whole world?

I've heard (but haven't met) about one of your teachers. He has a very good reputation and I have yet to see him call someone a pompous ass online. I even wouldn't believe it if someone said he did. I'd have to say, show me. He's a stand up guy. Very respected.

What I'm trying to say is that I think you were a bit rude here. If that's who you want to be ... you're certainly welcome to become that kind of person. But, when you find doors closing, don't be surprised. Someone recently told me that in budo, it's *all* about the relationships. It was an extremely important and great piece of advice. Something worth thinking about ...

Mark

gdandscompserv
12-06-2010, 03:44 PM
Having come from other arts I am able to use aiki principles to enhance my other arts. My own efforts to introduce martial efficacy have been met with resistance so I have redirected my efforts to teaching a mixed martial arts class that centers around aikido. This will address the martial dilemma to an extent. But those of us who train in this fashion are a very small minority.
Not so sure that we're that small of a minority. I think many whom train this way just don't waste their time debating the value of such training on forums.
:D

George S. Ledyard
12-07-2010, 11:14 AM
Not so sure that we're that small of a minority. I think many whom train this way just don't waste their time debating the value of such training on forums.
:D

Ricky,
I don't think it's a waste of time... it's a matter of raising awareness. Just look at these forums. Two or three years ago very few people had any idea about internal power training, no exposure to Howard Popkin, Toby Threadgill, Ushiro Kenji, and so on.

Now, not only are these teachers, including ones like Dan H who previously didn't even think people, especially Aikido people, were even open to what he was doing, are teaching widely, folks are traveling far and wide trying to get face time, and change is in the air.

There are Federation Shihan who have started working on this stuff. And I think much of this change started way back in 2000 when some of us cam e back from the Aiki Expos and started talking about what we'd seen and done.

Sure, there are still folks who pooh pooh it all, or just assume that they are already doing it and don't need to change anything. There are folks who are entirely happy with what they've been doing and don't feel the need to change anything. But every month one or two of these folks sees a chance to check out one of these teachers and decides to see what all the fuss is about. And that is because of the exchanges here on the forums.

Sure, you feel as if you are spitting into the wind a lot of the time. But I think that if you really love Aikido and want it to be the amazing art it has the potential to be, technically and spiritually, then it is worth the effort to get through to the folks who are open to new perspectives.

jonreading
12-07-2010, 12:17 PM
At the risk for digressing this thread, I think the undercurrent I get from some of these posts has not to do with the specifics of Graham's posts, but the manner of expression the videos Graham posted [unclearly] represent.

To use another video series, I am going to reference a number of videos posted to YouTube by Frank Doran Sensei (or rather, his people maybe). Doran Sensei is great because his stuff looks absolutely fake, but its not. In many of his videos he moves [too] slowly, makes [too] big movements, emphasizes connected states, and looks [too] relaxed. Yet I believe his videos do not contest what he is doing is "applied" or anything but instructive and he is precise and mechanical in his movement. George Sensei has similar videos (although the wild wonder from the North claims he talks too much).

I think that videos can help us learn aikido, but we need to be respectful of how and what we communicate in a video. We also need to be critical of our community when dialog is unclear. I think the resounding critique in this thread is that it is unclear for what these videos are intended.

Is the video intended for instruction? If so, important details like the incorrectly positioning your bokken as it would sit in saya is an important critique. Is the video intended for demonstration? If so, the lack of conviction from uke is an important factor. Without these critiques, how can Graham make a better video? Without these critiques, how can we keep Graham honest?

Criticism sometimes doesn't feel good, but it is a necessary feedback tool to improving. Wanna know the difference between Graham's video and the video of the shihan doing the same thing? The shihan doesn't wear his sword upside down. If the Aikido community is not willing to consider its own legitimacy, who will?

We have an obligation to our art and each other to make it better. This obligation starts in our dojo. My instructor invested time to teach me aikido. I have an obligation to pass on my time to another. The world wide web allows me to expand my obligation beyond my dojo. If I can write something that helps someone else on this forum, I consider my time well-spent. If I can read something that will help my training, I appreciate the time that poster spent writing.

I remember when "is not" was the correct usage, "ain't" was not a word. Guess what? Not enough people cared about correctly using "is not"...

Dennis Hooker
12-07-2010, 12:27 PM
George old friend, some Aikido people have taken a path that lead away for the internal arts and some did not, some still walk both paths even though Hombu Dojo elders decided to split ways and distinctly limit their training to include or exclude aspects of internal training. None the less this thread runs through all Aikido and it is nothing new. Just because some people are only now finding value in it and seeking it out does not negate the fact that it was and is there. I for one find it refreshing that young dogs are now old and seeking a little different path. I think it is coming back together. The thread is stronger, in some aspects, within some groups than others but it is nothing new to Aikido at all.

George S. Ledyard
12-07-2010, 12:52 PM
George old friend, some Aikido people have taken a path that lead away for the internal arts and some did not, some still walk both paths even though Hombu Dojo elders decided to split ways and distinctly limit their training to include or exclude aspects of internal training. None the less this thread runs through all Aikido and it is nothing new. Just because some people are only now finding value in it and seeking it out does not negate the fact that it was and is there. I for one find it refreshing that young dogs are now old and seeking a little different path. I think it is coming back together. The thread is stronger, in some aspects, within some groups than others but it is nothing new to Aikido at all.

Hey Buddy!
Hope all is well... Genie and I are looking forward to seeing you at Winter Camp.

Sure, it was always there... we certainly had it right in front of us all these years, even if we didn't understand it as we would have liked. But I think it is a hopeful sign that I see the trend away from a deeper understanding of the art perhaps changing back again. It's gone so far one direction, now it's time to "return to the source" so to speak. Folks like yourself who quietly taught something much deeper all these years with little fame and certainly no fortune are getting at least some of the recognition you have deserved because folks are starting to understand the difference between what is quality and what is not. Your Aikido has always been quality and I know it has been hard for those of you who have understood all along to watch the art deteriorate because folks simply did not know any better.

Anyway, I am hopeful at this point, which wasn't the case five years ago.

kewms
12-07-2010, 01:18 PM
I think that videos can help us learn aikido, but we need to be respectful of how and what we communicate in a video. We also need to be critical of our community when dialog is unclear. I think the resounding critique in this thread is that it is unclear for what these videos are intended.

Is the video intended for instruction? If so, important details like the incorrectly positioning your bokken as it would sit in saya is an important critique. Is the video intended for demonstration? If so, the lack of conviction from uke is an important factor. Without these critiques, how can Graham make a better video? Without these critiques, how can we keep Graham honest?

Indeed.

When a video is posted without explanation, people (myself included) will project their own assumptions about what a demo video "should" include, or what correct instruction "should" look like. Explaining the purpose of a video won't necessarily fend off criticism, but it will help to make sure that the criticism is on point.

Another forum I read has a "Digital Coaching" area. Videos posted there are assumed to be from people seeking guidance, who know that their form isn't correct and need help improving. As such, they generally get a pretty respectful, helpful response. If the very same videos were posted on the very same site with more boastful commentary, they'd get ripped to shreds. Context is everything.

Katherine

thisisnotreal
12-07-2010, 02:30 PM
... some still walk both paths even though Hombu Dojo elders decided to split ways and distinctly limit their training to include or exclude aspects of internal training.
Hello Mr. Hooker,
May I ask why you think there was a decision to distinctly limit certain parts of the training? Are you referring to the Ki Society split? Or ... something else?
Thanks for your thoughts.
Josh

Dennis Hooker
12-07-2010, 03:01 PM
Hello Mr. Hooker,
May I ask why you think there was a decision to distinctly limit certain parts of the training? Are you referring to the Ki Society split? Or ... something else?
Thanks for your thoughts.
Josh

Ya Josh that is it. It was not a happy time.

graham christian
12-07-2010, 08:31 PM
Hi Graham,

Here you seem to be suggesting that none of these folks who have criticized your training have experienced ki-based training. Is that the case?

Are you saying your practice is unconcerned with remaining standing after someone attacks you? Or that it is a secondary or tertiary concern compared to generating an enjoyable, healthy feeling?
My meager sense of O Sensei's intent for Aikido was that, yes, on the whole it should feel good, but that "harmonization" has more to do with operating in accordance/concordance with natural laws/forces/strengths. Love is the ki we try to imbue our movements with so we cause as little harm as possible. In other words, sometimes we may need to let the attacker hit us for the greater good to come about, but sometimes we may also need to break something to serve that same noble goal. Knowing the difference and being able to account for both is damned hard, but that's why the need for such constant and sincere/intense training.
Take care,
Matthew

Hi Mathew,
On reading through this thread I saw you communicating to Chris Hein and commenting I didn't answer your questions so I that's why I've come back to this one.

On appearing to suggest none of the people criticising have experienced Ki based training. Well yes I was. However since then I have changed my mind to a degree.

As to remaining standing after an attack, well I don't know what you mean by that unless it's connected to the statement about feeling good giving that impression.

I stand by that statement that all training should make you feel good otherwise you're doing the wrong training. If a person is sweating blood and tears and knows why then they will feel good, and so they should.

As far as what O'Sensei meant by what he said, well I use these things as an entrance point for students rather than something they have to wait and find out about in 20 years. This I have found makes me different to most teachers I have read about or met or seen, note I said different, not better, not worse.

As an example, let's start with the word Aikido. Very simple to me, harmony-love,kindness,life energy-the way. I see people on some writings trying to say it's all a matter of interpretation and the japanese language blah, blah, blah. Well, not to me. Love is love and harmony is harmony so I suggest many people do not know what love is and also do not know what harmony is.

Your definition of harmony is one of the best I've seen which leads me to point out that there are indeed natural laws to be learned and followed in Aikido. It is precisely this point which could better be understood. For example love itself has natural laws so I translate these as priciples to be followed in Aikido.

Love never harms, nor does kindness and yet they are both enegies of Ki. They both work towards and result in harmony which is also non-harmful. So hence my statement in a previous thread that there is no harm in true Aikido.

As far as harmony goes I find most people translate it as moving in unison or even that it means moving in unison in order to attack, seek an opening and attack or dominate etc. etc. Excuse me for smiling but a little differenciation is needed here if anyone wants to understand better what O'Sensei meant by there is no attacking in Aikido(his own words) and there is no enemy.

There is a whole subject everyone is aware of which is the subject of harmony. It deals with sound. It's called music. Sounds in harmony.

Now two samurai may move in unison and strike and kill each other. This is not harmony. Another samurai may move in unison and kill the other samurai and yet remain alive. That is not harmony but he used 'some' rules of harmony in order to achieve his disharmonious goal. In music however you have notes all working in harmony, all in unison and yet in that unison the support, enhance and help each other. Result is music. Sounds clashing with each other or stopping each other or overwhelming each other or forcing each other or killing each other results in noise. It may be an interesting noise, it may be a loud noise, it may be a noise with five stars and gold braid but none the less it is just noise.

I don't expect others to teach like me or be like me for in a way I teach almost opposite to the way most people teach, I teach more like a zen master. But there is a difference, I am willing to explain in a way that any enquirer could understand if they should ask.

For me there is physical ma-ai, there is mental ma- ai and there is spiritual ma-ai and I make it my job to study the three aspects of all things Aikido and am not satisfied until I know and can demonstrate all three and I apply this to center, to koshi, to tai-sabke et al.

So there you are, a little insight into me and my way. It may lead to more questions than answers but there again if I was to tell you of my experiences in the real world you would still have the same questions. For example, the sword or Aikiken. Let's say as far as it is taught if someone was to ask me certain questions I might have to look up the terminology to see what they mean before I could answer them yet the principles I do know I teach in such a way that the student is still waiting to learn the sword, unaware that they know more than what they think for I tell them I will not teach them what others call the way of the sword or Aikiken until 'much later.Here's one little happening:

So off goes one of my students to cyprus, where he was born, to visit his family and spend a few months with them. Officially he knows hardly anything about the sword and if one of the experts on this forum was to give him a few questions he would probably be confused. Anyway he was harassed by some cousins to take them to a dojo to see some real martial arts so he took them to one which was nearby and was in fact a Kendo School.

As they watched he tried to explain what was happening. After the class finished the second in charge, as he called him, came over to talk to him as he had heard some of the things he had been saying and found them fascinating but strange. It ended with him giving him bokken to show what he meant. This led to the second dan attacking and losing, which then led to the teacher getting involved. Now he was a 6th dan and explained how in competition they would do real attacks and proceeded to demonstrate. Well the first time he had the bokken knocked out of his hands and on the second try he ended up on the floor. They were not angry but surprised. When he came back he was on a high for a month yet still trying to understand why it had been so easy for him.

Well it's all fun to me, hope I answered your question.
Good training. G.

Lyle Laizure
12-07-2010, 09:12 PM
Graham, you may have answered this earlier but please indulge me...What is the purpose of your training? While this can be a variety of different things do you expect to be able to defend yourself, expect that your students will be able to defend themselves in a physical manner against an attacker meaning to cause you/your student bodily harm?

Amassus
12-08-2010, 03:16 AM
Hello all.

I have found this thread to be interesting and insightful. As an aikido practitioner of an independent club, some points raised here have indeed intrigued me.

I, for one, am happy not to be part of the larger organisations found in NZ, but I also enjoy when a high ranking member of one of these organisations joins us on the mat from time to time. There is plenty to learn from them and it keeps our training in context.

I have really enjoyed how this thread did not grind down to a few posters ripping into each other. Instead, it appears, on the whole, a common ground was found.

Awesome guys!

Dean.

Mark Peckett
12-08-2010, 06:38 AM
Like Dean, I have followed this thread with interest.

It strikes me that the problem with aikido is that there is a quasi-religious element to it that doesn't exist in most other martial arts or sports; and that means that there is always going to be personal interpretation.

You can see this development in religions like Christianity; how many separate interpretations of that faith are there? And within Christianity there are those sects who believe that by channeling the Holy Spirit they can handle poisonous snakes or heal the sick. I don't doubt that most of these people are sincere in their belief, although without doubt there are a few who have made a great deal of money out of it.

Does not the same situation occur in aikido? There are those who believe that they are channeling ki to achieve remarkable results, although once again, there may be those who are simply exploiting the gullible.

However, as people like Richard Dawkins and Philip Pullman have found out, you can be as rational as you like, it does not change faith. It is the nature of faith that it cannot be rational. If God provably exists then there is no faith, and without faith there is no religion.

For some people within the aikido community, ki matters more than for others, and although debate will continue, it cannot reach a resolution.

I would add, that for me aikido is a tool for personal examination: on a physical/intellectual level "Why isn't this technique working? Why does this happen when I move my foot here, or if my hand does that?"; but also on an emotional/spiritual level "Why do I get angry when this person deliberately stops my technique? Why do I experience anger/fear when I get hit by a well-delivered tsuki during practice, and how can I resolve those emotions within myself and let them go? And if I can practise without emotional ties and intellectual questions, will I experience something greater than myself? And if I do, is that satori, God or ki?"

Provide practice is sincere, the debate about whether ki exists, or whether our art is collusive and not martial, although endlessly interesting, doesn't really matter.

But let me add the caveat that I would agree it would be dangerous to present what is effectively spiritual practice as an effective self-defence form and it behooves the teacher instructing the class both to be aware of the difference and to point it out to his students.

sakumeikan
12-08-2010, 10:42 AM
Hi Mathew,
On reading through this thread I saw you communicating to Chris Hein and commenting I didn't answer your questions so I that's why I've come back to this one.

On appearing to suggest none of the people criticising have experienced Ki based training. Well yes I was. However since then I have changed my mind to a degree.

As to remaining standing after an attack, well I don't know what you mean by that unless it's connected to the statement about feeling good giving that impression.

I stand by that statement that all training should make you feel good otherwise you're doing the wrong training. If a person is sweating blood and tears and knows why then they will feel good, and so they should.

As far as what O'Sensei meant by what he said, well I use these things as an entrance point for students rather than something they have to wait and find out about in 20 years. This I have found makes me different to most teachers I have read about or met or seen, note I said different, not better, not worse.

As an example, let's start with the word Aikido. Very simple to me, harmony-love,kindness,life energy-the way. I see people on some writings trying to say it's all a matter of interpretation and the japanese language blah, blah, blah. Well, not to me. Love is love and harmony is harmony so I suggest many people do not know what love is and also do not know what harmony is.

Your definition of harmony is one of the best I've seen which leads me to point out that there are indeed natural laws to be learned and followed in Aikido. It is precisely this point which could better be understood. For example love itself has natural laws so I translate these as priciples to be followed in Aikido.

Love never harms, nor does kindness and yet they are both enegies of Ki. They both work towards and result in harmony which is also non-harmful. So hence my statement in a previous thread that there is no harm in true Aikido.

As far as harmony goes I find most people translate it as moving in unison or even that it means moving in unison in order to attack, seek an opening and attack or dominate etc. etc. Excuse me for smiling but a little differenciation is needed here if anyone wants to understand better what O'Sensei meant by there is no attacking in Aikido(his own words) and there is no enemy.

There is a whole subject everyone is aware of which is the subject of harmony. It deals with sound. It's called music. Sounds in harmony.

Now two samurai may move in unison and strike and kill each other. This is not harmony. Another samurai may move in unison and kill the other samurai and yet remain alive. That is not harmony but he used 'some' rules of harmony in order to achieve his disharmonious goal. In music however you have notes all working in harmony, all in unison and yet in that unison the support, enhance and help each other. Result is music. Sounds clashing with each other or stopping each other or overwhelming each other or forcing each other or killing each other results in noise. It may be an interesting noise, it may be a loud noise, it may be a noise with five stars and gold braid but none the less it is just noise.

I don't expect others to teach like me or be like me for in a way I teach almost opposite to the way most people teach, I teach more like a zen master. But there is a difference, I am willing to explain in a way that any enquirer could understand if they should ask.

For me there is physical ma-ai, there is mental ma- ai and there is spiritual ma-ai and I make it my job to study the three aspects of all things Aikido and am not satisfied until I know and can demonstrate all three and I apply this to center, to koshi, to tai-sabke et al.

So there you are, a little insight into me and my way. It may lead to more questions than answers but there again if I was to tell you of my experiences in the real world you would still have the same questions. For example, the sword or Aikiken. Let's say as far as it is taught if someone was to ask me certain questions I might have to look up the terminology to see what they mean before I could answer them yet the principles I do know I teach in such a way that the student is still waiting to learn the sword, unaware that they know more than what they think for I tell them I will not teach them what others call the way of the sword or Aikiken until 'much later.Here's one little happening:

So off goes one of my students to cyprus, where he was born, to visit his family and spend a few months with them. Officially he knows hardly anything about the sword and if one of the experts on this forum was to give him a few questions he would probably be confused. Anyway he was harassed by some cousins to take them to a dojo to see some real martial arts so he took them to one which was nearby and was in fact a Kendo School.

As they watched he tried to explain what was happening. After the class finished the second in charge, as he called him, came over to talk to him as he had heard some of the things he had been saying and found them fascinating but strange. It ended with him giving him bokken to show what he meant. This led to the second dan attacking and losing, which then led to the teacher getting involved. Now he was a 6th dan and explained how in competition they would do real attacks and proceeded to demonstrate. Well the first time he had the bokken knocked out of his hands and on the second try he ended up on the floor. They were not angry but surprised. When he came back he was on a high for a month yet still trying to understand why it had been so easy for him.

Well it's all fun to me, hope I answered your question.
Good training. G.
Dear Graham,
If indeed the incidents that you described with your junior student occurred as you state and your student downed a 6th Dan Kendoka, all I can say is this either your guy is really good or the 6th Dan Kendoka should immediately hang up his hakama and shinai and take up tiddly winks.

ChrisHein
12-08-2010, 11:21 AM
First, I'm surprised Jun let this go by. It's one thing to criticize in a discussion about how aikido is being done and whether or not it's personally defined as "aikido", but calling people "pompous asses"?

I have a very good idea of the kind of people that George Ledyard has trained with. I'd wager that he's also viewed quite a lot of video content, read books, etc. Would you care to compare your background, Chris, with George's? Care to offer your views on the thread topic?

Or let's substitute Marc Abrams ...

From Saotome to Ikeda to Imaizumi to Ushiro to Kaizen to a whole host of quality teachers/respected men, these people have put in the time to actually have informed opinions. Yes, criticism can be harsh at times. Who in their budo career hasn't gotten that from their teacher? But, I'd have an extremely hard time believing that George or Marc had any bad intent behind their words.

And even if you try to say that you didn't include them, it's still rather rude to apply "pompous asses" to the other people. Do you know them? Know their bona fides? If they are new students, they're certainly entitled to make mistakes. We all have been there. It's the seniors who are there to correct them, not call them "pompous asses". And if they've been around awhile, you want to compare bona fides with them so that you can assert your view that they are "pompous asses"? In front of the whole world?

I've heard (but haven't met) about one of your teachers. He has a very good reputation and I have yet to see him call someone a pompous ass online. I even wouldn't believe it if someone said he did. I'd have to say, show me. He's a stand up guy. Very respected.

What I'm trying to say is that I think you were a bit rude here. If that's who you want to be ... you're certainly welcome to become that kind of person. But, when you find doors closing, don't be surprised. Someone recently told me that in budo, it's *all* about the relationships. It was an extremely important and great piece of advice. Something worth thinking about ...

Mark

Hey Mark,
I stand on my own two feet. I'm glad you like one of my teachers (I probably like him as well), but we are different people. My current body of work, and my opinions are my own. I don't look at anyones list of credentials before I look at what they can do, because it simply doesn't matter.

What I said was weak compared to the earlier comments. I hope what I said had the power to make people look closer at what was being said, which was disgusting.

Marc Abrams
12-08-2010, 01:02 PM
Hey Mark,
I stand on my own two feet. I'm glad you like one of my teachers (I probably like him as well), but we are different people. My current body of work, and my opinions are my own. I don't look at anyones list of credentials before I look at what they can do, because it simply doesn't matter.

What I said was weak compared to the earlier comments. I hope what I said had the power to make people look closer at what was being said, which was disgusting.

Chris:

People made specific comments about specific aspects of what they took from the videos. Your comment was a broad-shot, without any specifics as to what you considered to be "pompous asses." Most people ignored your first post because it added nothing constructive to the thread. If you have any genuine concerns about specific people, then if you stand on your own two feet, either address the people directly through PM or on a public thread. Graham has done a fine job standing behind what he says without your "assistance."

Marc Abrams

Janet Rosen
12-08-2010, 02:39 PM
EEK !!! Have mercy, people!!!! PLEASE take a moment to trim long posts you are quoting before adding your few sentences at the end. Thank you.

mathewjgano
12-08-2010, 05:13 PM
Hi Graham,
Thanks for answering my questions!
As to remaining standing after an attack, well I don't know what you mean by that unless it's connected to the statement about feeling good giving that impression.
I stand by that statement that all training should make you feel good otherwise you're doing the wrong training. If a person is sweating blood and tears and knows why then they will feel good, and so they should.
Absolutely, I agree. I was trying to see how you might set your priorities as a place to potentially address some of the comments made about the training in the videos, and partly because I came to Aikido without much care for learning a strictly martial form of effectiveness. My thinking was that, rather than address the appearance of the training, we might discuss the values which drive it.

As an example, let's start with the word Aikido. Very simple to me, harmony-love,kindness,life energy-the way. I see people on some writings trying to say it's all a matter of interpretation and the japanese language blah, blah, blah. Well, not to me. Love is love and harmony is harmony so I suggest many people do not know what love is and also do not know what harmony is.
Well, there is certainly a valuable discussion to semantics, so I can see why folks would say that. However, that the homonym "ai" (love) is even discussed, i think, points to an undeniable intended aspect of Ueshiba Aikido. Arguably he felt somewhat differently earlier on in life...but then again haven't we all?
Your definition of harmony is one of the best I've seen which leads me to point out that there are indeed natural laws to be learned and followed in Aikido. It is precisely this point which could better be understood. For example love itself has natural laws so I translate these as priciples to be followed in Aikido.
Thank you, though to my mind it's a very wide open definition and means that sometime I may have to intentionally hurt someone very badly. To my mind it means looking for both the best and worst-case scanarios to any given situation and accounting for them to the best of my ability. This means I have to be capable of being indominable as well as yielding and everything in between...again, to the best of my abilities, based on my daily priorities...which is always seems to involve some measure of a gamble, give and take, what-have-you...and that's Great Nature for you...as I've come to view it, at any rate:)
Well it appears my crying son is not going back to sleep so I'm done for now. Sorry if I got less comprehensibe here at the end...top of the head on a deep subject and all...
Take care,
Matt

kewms
12-08-2010, 06:46 PM
Well, there is certainly a valuable discussion to semantics, so I can see why folks would say that. However, that the homonym "ai" (love) is even discussed, i think, points to an undeniable intended aspect of Ueshiba Aikido.

Or else to a horrible mis-translation perpetuated by non-Japanese speakers.

Sorry, but if we're going to talk about Ueshiba Sensei's actual intent, we simply MUST consider what the words he used actually mean in Japanese. The Japanese meanings may or may not be relevant to *your* aikido, but they certainly were relevant to *his.*

Katherine

mathewjgano
12-08-2010, 07:54 PM
Or else to a horrible mis-translation perpetuated by non-Japanese speakers.

Sorry, but if we're going to talk about Ueshiba Sensei's actual intent, we simply MUST consider what the words he used actually mean in Japanese. The Japanese meanings may or may not be relevant to *your* aikido, but they certainly were relevant to *his.*

Katherine

So there was never any reference of love being attributed to Aikido by O Sensei? I've heard folks say Kisshomaru emphasized it considerably more than O Sensei, but I thought he still described something to this effect.

Josh Reyer
12-08-2010, 09:27 PM
Love is love and harmony is harmony so I suggest many people do not know what love is and also do not know what harmony is.
Love is love, harmony is harmony, but 合 is neither love, nor harmony. I suggest that many people don't know what 合 is.

Which is not to say that 愛, love, was not an important part of Ueshiba Morihei's worldview.

graham christian
12-08-2010, 09:39 PM
So there was never any reference of love being attributed to Aikido by O Sensei? I've heard folks say Kisshomaru emphasized it considerably more than O Sensei, but I thought he still described something to this effect.

Hi Mathew, and Katherine and all.

This may or may not be old news but I shall give you a reference to where you can read what I say put by someone better qualified than me:

The Aikido Faq: An interview with O'Sensei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

Can also be found by just typing in: O'Sensei Interview on google.

Cheers. G.

graham christian
12-08-2010, 10:42 PM
Graham, you may have answered this earlier but please indulge me...What is the purpose of your training? While this can be a variety of different things do you expect to be able to defend yourself, expect that your students will be able to defend themselves in a physical manner against an attacker meaning to cause you/your student bodily harm?

Hi Lyle, nice to meet you.

The purpose? Well, first of all I entered Aikido because I was a young angry man and with a friend of mine discussed how we stood up to bullies, wouldn't follow the crowd of gang culture, were angry with life and agreed that even though we felt this was right we saw the end to continuously doing this would either be prison or worse, there must be something that could help us. I told him I had read books on chi and was willing to save up and go to china and learn it because it seemed to me the truth was in yourself if you could only find it. We had similar views.

The next year he told me he had found a guy in Watford who taught Ki which was the same thing so off we went.

Thus my first purpose was to learn 'chi'.

This soon turned into to improve myself.

As to defending myself against physical attacks I must point this out first. As a fit strong young man, me a footballer and my friend a boxer, we tried many times to defeat, to outwit, to test the teacher and others in the class and thus learned the hard way first.

Now, our greatest question to ourselves was could this that we were learning work in real life situations. We seemed masters of finding out so yes is the answer to your question.

I have been in many dangerous, physical situations and in the end wondered why? It all seemed good to me as I was prooving this way worked but then I realized somehow it was me who was creating these situations in order to prove. Everything changed at that point for me and I realized I had nothing to prove and plenty more to learn and it truly was a path of self developement even though the ability to handle physical aggressors was a side effect.

Now I only smile when a student tells me when something drastic happened and all they did was tai-sabake, or 'be with', or welcome the attack or.... you get the drift.

Recently my son was showing a girl around a house. He
works for a home cleaning company as a driver and basically picks up the cleaners and takes them to their destinations. This girl was new so he had been left the keys so he could take her in the house and show her where everything was.

A neighbour had seen him go in, leave the door open and put two and two together and decided he was a burglar in his friends house and so ran in to sort him out.

He said he was at the sink and turned to see this big bald guy rushing him and about to give him a right hook. All he knew was everything went to center and he joined him, he had turned and found himself next to him with his arm around his shoulders and the guy froze. He said all he did was smile and say Hi. He said the guys eyes were wide and confused so he proceeded to introduce himself and tell him what he was doing. The guy needed a cigarette, sat down and apologised and soon after they left together leaving the girl there to do her cleaning.

He said the only mischievous thing he did was act like nothing had happened leaving the poor guy totally bemused.

To me this was excellent Aikido and he was on a high for quite a while.

Cheers. G.

kewms
12-09-2010, 01:26 AM
Hi Mathew, and Katherine and all.

This may or may not be old news but I shall give you a reference to where you can read what I say put by someone better qualified than me:

The Aikido Faq: An interview with O'Sensei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

Can also be found by just typing in: O'Sensei Interview on google.

Cheers. G.

Do you have a link to the original Japanese?

I'm not saying this translation isn't accurate, just that many of the critical concepts (like 合気, for instance) really have no exact English equivalents. Moreover, even when a word like "harmony" is an accurate literal translation, the concept is not understood in the same way in the Japanese and American cultures.

Katherine

kewms
12-09-2010, 01:28 AM
Love is love, harmony is harmony, but 合 is neither love, nor harmony. I suggest that many people don't know what 合 is.

Precisely.

Katherine

Carsten Möllering
12-09-2010, 02:53 AM
... many of the critical concepts (like 合気, for instance) really have no exact English equivalents. Moreover, even when a word like "harmony" is an accurate literal translation, the concept is not understood in the same way in the Japanese and American cultures.
Yes.

And this is self-evident, or better to say, natural, to everyone who works with historical texts (or facts). Texts from other times or/and other cultures can only be understood referring to their context.

E.g.: ki which is often understood as something "supernatural", belonging to the world of gods and religion, or at least being kind of mysterious, is an everyday term and phenomenon in it's original context. And aiki originally is just a techincal concept.
Not long ago I talked to a Japanese woman who was very astonished to learn that a lot of thoughts and phenomenons are seen as "spiritual" or even "religious" in western contexts.

It helps to regard that 合 can not be translated with "love".
But it may help also or even more, to take look to texts like "budo" and to see that terms like "harmony" or "love" are used different from the christian/western understanding.

So the "budo of love" can mean to "punch the opponent to his face with full force". (cited from my memory) It is simply obvious that "love" in this context does not mean the same as "love" in a christian understanding. (Which is the origin of the understanding of love in a modern-western context.)

It also helps a lot when remembering that terms like "love" and "harmony" where used by O Sensei already in 1925, which was also the year of his famous "enlightenment". Please look at his art in that time. (Which wasn't even called aiki budo then.)

phitruong
12-09-2010, 06:57 AM
Love is love, harmony is harmony, but 合 is neither love, nor harmony. I suggest that many people don't know what 合 is.

Which is not to say that 愛, love, was not an important part of Ueshiba Morihei's worldview.

in asia, we regularly referred to ki/chi/khi as gas, as in too much bean and cabbage.

so here i thought aikido is "the loving way of gasing" and O Sensei was a grandmaster in such thing; thus, i have been pursuit this to the detrimental of friends and family. is it wrong to pursuit such thing? :D

Peter Goldsbury
12-09-2010, 07:56 AM
Do you have a link to the original Japanese?

PAG. The original Japanese can be found on pp. 198-219 of a book with the title 『合気道』, a reprint of the Showa 32 (1957) original. This book is freely available in Japan, but, unfortunately, it is one of a number of books published under the name of Morihei Ueshiba that has not been translated into English.

I'm not saying this translation isn't accurate, just that many of the critical concepts (like 合気, for instance) really have no exact English equivalents. Moreover, even when a word like "harmony" is an accurate literal translation, the concept is not understood in the same way in the Japanese and American cultures.

PAG. I think this is a point of crucial importance and should be borne in mind in any discussion of Morihei Ueshiba's use of 合気 and 愛気. Rather than in the FAQ 『合気道』interview, Ueshiba's views about 合気 and 愛気 are set out in some detail in a text that has been translated into English, after a fashion. The text is 『合気神髄』 and the English translation is The Secret Teachings of Aikido. This work is actually an edited collection of short articles published under the name of Morihei Ueshiba in the Aikikai's Aikido Shimbun. The articles all have their own titles and there is a whole section, Section 2, with the title 「合気とは愛気である」. The translator, John Stevens, renders this as Aikido is the Spirit of Love and this explains the qualification after a fashion, above. I think that Prof Stevens was set the task of producing a rendering of Morihei Ueshiba's thoughts, but as far as possible divorced from the Omoto cultural/religious milieu in which they were conceived. So he takes enormous liberties with the translation.

So I really believe that to understand Morihei Ueshiba's thinking about 合気 and 愛気, it is necessary to have at least an elementary grasp of the Japanese language and of Omoto thinking.

sakumeikan
12-09-2010, 10:13 AM
PAG. The original Japanese can be found on pp. 198-219 of a book with the title 『合気道』, a reprint of the Showa 32 (1957) original. This book is freely available in Japan, but, unfortunately, it is one of a number of books published under the name of Morihei Ueshiba that has not been translated into English.

PAG. I think this is a point of crucial importance and should be borne in mind in any discussion of Morihei Ueshiba's use of 合気 and 愛気. Rather than in the FAQ 『合気道』interview, Ueshiba's views about 合気 and 愛気 are set out in some detail in a text that has been translated into English, after a fashion. The text is 『合気神髄』 and the English translation is The Secret Teachings of Aikido. This work is actually an edited collection of short articles published under the name of Morihei Ueshiba in the Aikikai's Aikido Shimbun. The articles all have their own titles and there is a whole section, Section 2, with the title 「合気とは愛気である」. The translator, John Stevens, renders this as Aikido is the Spirit of Love and this explains the qualification after a fashion, above. I think that Prof Stevens was set the task of producing a rendering of Morihei Ueshiba's thoughts, but as far as possible divorced from the Omoto cultural/religious milieu in which they were conceived. So he takes enormous liberties with the translation.

So I really believe that to understand Morihei Ueshiba's thinking about 合気 and 愛気, it is necessary to have at least an elementary grasp of the Japanese language and of Omoto thinking.

Hello Peter, my old chum,
First how are you doing?Next for us ignorant Picts can you be so kind to include along with your Kanji lettering include the Romanization translation?it saves me looking at the Chinese restaurant menu for equivalent symbols or sneakily checking out the tattoos on the Geordie ladies on a Fri night down the Bigg market.
Cheers, Joe.

Peter Goldsbury
12-10-2010, 01:32 AM
Hello Peter, my old chum,
First how are you doing?Next for us ignorant Picts can you be so kind to include along with your Kanji lettering include the Romanization translation?it saves me looking at the Chinese restaurant menu for equivalent symbols or sneakily checking out the tattoos on the Geordie ladies on a Fri night down the Bigg market.
Cheers, Joe.

Hello Joe,

I am fine and the weather is still quite good here in Hiroshima, compared to what you have been having in the land of the Picts recently. As for the romanization, I am happy to oblige.

"I think this is a point of crucial importance and should be borne in mind in any discussion of Morihei Ueshiba's use of 合気 [aiki] and 愛気 [aiki]. Rather than in the FAQ 『合気道』interview, Ueshiba's views about 合気 [aiki] and 愛気 [aiki] are set out in some detail in a text that has been translated into English, after a fashion. The text is 『合気神髄』 [Aiki Shinzui = The (Quint)Essence / Heart / Soul of Aiki] and the English translation is The Secret Teachings of Aikido. This work is actually an edited collection of short articles published under the name of Morihei Ueshiba in the Aikikai's Aikido Shimbun. The articles all have their own titles and there is a whole section, Section 2, with the title 「合気とは愛気である」[Aiki to wa aiki de aru]. The translator, John Stevens, renders this as Aikido is the Spirit of Love and this explains the qualification 'after a fashion', above. I think that Prof Stevens was set the task of producing a rendering of Morihei Ueshiba's thoughts, but as far as possible divorced from the Omoto cultural/religious milieu in which they were conceived. So he takes enormous liberties with the translation.

So I really believe that to understand Morihei Ueshiba's thinking about 合気 [aiki] and 愛気 [aiki], it is necessary to have at least an elementary grasp of the Japanese language and of Omoto thinking.

Note on Aiki to wa aiki de aru.
The construction to wa is short for to iu no wa [と言うのは] . Here is an example:
泥棒とは人の物を盗むやつのことだ。
Dorobou to wa hito no mono wo nusumu yatsu no koto da.
A thief is a person who steals the property of others.
What we mean by a thief is a guy who steals the property of others.

Morihei Ueshiba's expression is: 'What I mean by aiki 合気 is aiki 愛気'.

Tony Wagstaffe
12-11-2010, 07:37 AM
So true, Michael.

Greetings All,

While Graham has his "perspective", I also equate that same expression to that of several godan/rokudans that post here.

While the majority of members/posters here is Aikikai, when will the truth be told about those"perspectives" that are scoffed at by the rest of the world.

While the criticism of Graham's perspective has been harsh, when will that same criticism be levied upon the namedropping, "snake oil senseis".

While there are plenty of aikidoka that employ the physicality of Aikido daily, in life threatening or tense situations, why diminish it by rearing the " do not cause harm to the attacker" recital. The sick, lame and lazy that have their own "goals" established should not equate to those that push the bar higher daily. In reality, there are professionals that exemplify the basic tenets of Aikido daily.

As a matter of fact, Aikido, at least Aikikai for the most part and even some Tomiki perversions has become the Tai Chi of obese intellectuals and smug wannabe warriors, that could sell ice makers in the Arctic Circle.

"Can't we all just get along ", Hell no, because there will always be the ones who can and the ones who cannot...too bad there will always be a greater majority that cannot.

It is so easy to attack those that cannot, how about "putting up or shutting up" with the ones who can and will welcome the training?

Truth be told, it all comes down to the person...and in their own mind they know who and what they are.

Train well,

Mickey

ps...when one makes an endorsement, your credibility, ability and perspective are attached

Kinell.... Missed this one!! must be getting dafter by the minute!!

Love it!! ;) :) :D