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Lee Salzman
11-21-2011, 01:40 AM
There was something Bruce Wells said in David Orange's Primer thread that got my mind going, "We are trying to incorporate what you taught into our classes but boy you gave us a lot."

If I walk into an aikido dojo now and try to put some of the ideas into practice, the dynamic is no longer the same, like I notice myself tanking on purpose to not feel like I'm disrupting their training, such as it is. I always feel like I have to sneak the stuff in the back door, when nobody is looking, to prevent it from being misinterpreted, especially when I am at a level where trying many things will fail, where I need to fail at very specific things so I can learn, and teachers will see reasons for that failure that is not necessarily IS/Aiki which derail my attempts to try.

So that brings a two-pronged question:

1) So if you have either done or are doing solo IS training, how are you putting it into actual practice in the dojo, especially with other people who may not be on the same page? How is it improving your practice of aikido?

2) If you are teaching aikido, or just have ideas about how it needs to be taught, how then do you think the dynamic of the actual training environment itself must change to support IS/Aiki development? Yeah, yeah, I know there has to be solo training in there now, but you've got a room full of live bodies rather than imaginary friends, so what do you do with them now?

Tim Ruijs
11-21-2011, 02:14 AM
Do not know much about IS, but solo exercises are not entirely uncommon to Aikido.
(tai sabaki tenkan, irimi tenkan) and some work with weapons...
So based on that alone I would say it would be easy to incorporate solo exercises.
More important you shift focus in your training. When you put more emphasis on aiki aspects, you will surely find it in each exercise!

Chris Knight
11-21-2011, 04:37 AM
(tai sabaki tenkan, irimi tenkan) and some work with weapons...

hi tim, i dont think these are the solo exercies lee is relating to

although exercises, they dont work on the correct aspects of body training, in my eyes

cheers, chris

Pauliina Lievonen
11-21-2011, 05:06 AM
My teacher has met Dan so that helps a lot. Plus I'm one of the seniors at the dojo nowadays, if I struggle with something and my teacher comes by, it's ok for me to say "I'm just working on xyz, feel free to ignore me..." :D I can't really imagine how I would train at a dojo where noone else knew anything about this stuff.

Not all my dojomates are interested in the same things though. And with beginners I have to go with the flow anyway so they can practice which hand and foot goes where. So practice is kind of a messy affair where I end up taking ukemi in many different ways during one class. And as tori, with some people I can go sloooow and work with connected resistance and with others I'll just enjoy throwing them around. Makes for nice varied classes actually. Not the most systematic way to train but then again I do this because I like to and not because I've got a deadline or something.

kvaak
Pauliina

Tim Ruijs
11-21-2011, 05:39 AM
hi tim, i dont think these are the solo exercies lee is relating to

although exercises, they dont work on the correct aspects of body training, in my eyes

cheers, chris
:) I know and understand your confusion. I only meant to say that solo exercises do exist in Aikido, not that they have IS purpose, but are merely solo.

Ernesto Lemke
11-21-2011, 05:47 AM
I have been working on IT for only about 4 years now, the last one of which according to what Dan Harden presents, so, I don't know much about it either.

To offer an answer to your questions Lee:

1) I both have my own dojo and also am in luck that my overseas teacher also trains with Dan. So in my/our case, everyone is on the same page. Lucky us :D

2) I was working on IP/Aiki yesterday with a friend from a different dojo. He is the only one in his dojo who went to Dan's seminars and he is facing things similar to what you described, and then some other stuff too. All of which is actually non-productive to making any progress in IT.

I really don't know if it actually is possible to get this work done efficiently in your average type dojo. Notice I said efficiently, not that it's impossible. The thing is that in order to work on IS elements with a partner, you do need a certain type of feedback (both physical and verbal) so as to not screw the thing up. Things I've found helpfull are similar as how you could approach "regular" kata training:
- Work one thing at a time.
Basics first and foremost of course. Think spine, 6 directions etc. how is that holding up during "regular" practice? I was telling my friend that I could maybe split up the first basic excercise into 30 different seperate pointers, all asking for attention at the same time. Evidently one can't do that all at once (I sure can't) so I address them seperately, then check all of them again and again and again, till they get burned in.
- Allow for failure in order to progress
Especially when one has a certain amount of development/experience in "regular" aikido, you become more or less proficient technique wise. So, since IT is aksing for a radical (with some people more so then others) counter-intuitive approach to training, one must let go of old ways of moving. So, if that means "loosing" during waza/kata practice, so be it. The ego wants to "show and proof", at least mine does. I really have to make a conscious decision to not go there and explore whatever it is I AM working on, accepting that in the meantime you feel and are acting like a beginner: stumbling, aware that you suck big time, not wanting to be there but are there nevertheless etc.
- Speak up/ask
Ask your partner to go easy on ya if that's what's needed. Also ask for feedback on the specific things you're working on. That doesn't have to lead into a debate or discussion. Just things like not using "normal" muscle strength, keeping shoulders low, spine straight, that's all see-able for a partner. The more detailed stuff isn't as much see-able as it is feelable so I would look for someone in the dojo with perhaps some experience and whom you'd feel comfortable asking.

Again, these "pointers" are applicable in "regular" practice. I trust that my fellow IP/Aiki afficionados will see how these also apply to IT.
Well, for whatever it's worth. Good luck everyone.

Mark Freeman
11-21-2011, 06:17 AM
So that brings a two-pronged question:

1) So if you have either done or are doing solo IS training, how are you putting it into actual practice in the dojo, especially with other people who may not be on the same page? How is it improving your practice of aikido?

2) If you are teaching aikido, or just have ideas about how it needs to be taught, how then do you think the dynamic of the actual training environment itself must change to support IS/Aiki development? Yeah, yeah, I know there has to be solo training in there now, but you've got a room full of live bodies rather than imaginary friends, so what do you do with them now?

Hi Lee,

I am fairly new to the solo IS training. Although I met Mike Sigman a couple of years ago and Dan last year, both of them showed and recommended solo exercises. I just didn't have the self discipline to practice them. I did however gain much from their paired practice work, which both informed and improved my teaching of aikido.

After attending Dan's recent UK training, I have started to do the solo work every day. All part of my own desire to get into the best possible shape I can, before launching myself onto the rest of the aikido community, on my self indulgent world tour.

How is it improving my practice? Well, I've always enjoyed practicing...now, I enjoy it even more!:) I know that is not that helpful to you, but it is a great help to me. If I were to try to be more helpful, I would say that I am more aware of my internal mind body state than I was, which I didn't think was possible, as I have always been pretty well focussed on this aspect. Maybe it feels like in this whole mirror polishing process, I have finally found a more effective cleaner!

What do I do different with my students? I invent more useful metaphors for them to ponder as they practice. I invent new exercises for them to practice. I challenge myself to put myself on the line by getting them to try ever harder to unbalance or otherwise disturb me. Otherwise I just keep instructing our whole curriculum with a renewed sense of purpose.

Good questions.

regards

Mark

chillzATL
11-21-2011, 07:40 AM
I see no issues in integrating "this stuff" into aikido. I will admit that for quite a while I went around wondering how this or that aspect fit into it, but once I got to a point that I was comfortably feeling things in me and looking at the training as a method of changing the way I use my body and not these individual pieces that are almost like techniques themselves, then it started coming together for me.

In a lot of ways I feel fortunate that our style is one that has all of the tools to make it work and nothing I've experienced in the IS training has contradicted or invalidated anything we were already doing. What it has done is expand and inform those things in ways that would have never happened otherwise. There's not a single thing that we do that I do the same way now. outwardly it may look the same, but what i'm focusing on, trying to feel and trying to do are completely different. We have a huge selection of taiso, breathing exercises, ki testing (aka, pushing) and other things. We're very "ki heavy" anyway, so nothing I do or talk about now seems out of place to anyone. We're also very anti-dive bunny. You are expected to give resistance and be able to work with it as your rank increases and it is not uncommon to see people from all ranks stopping other people, even those of higher rank, when they're not actually doing the things they're supposed to be doing. The way things are taught is also very open to interpretation. Our instructor was a student of Ueshiba and quite a few other MA greats from that era and a fighter. He incorporates a lot of other things into what he teaches and is ok with his students doing the same as long as the core principles are being followed.

As for making a difference, yes, definitely. For one, I can feel it when I'm working with some people. Those big, strong guys who like to be big strong guys. I find them easier to deal with most of the time and when things aren't working, I don't look at anything technical to fix it. I look at what I"m doing, in me, and start fixing things from the inside out. The people I work with feel it as well and comment on it often. While few of them are interested in the training outside of class at this point (give it time) several of them have already picked up on things that I do and talk about and are actively thinking about what they're doing in those ways and even just doing that helps. To me, that's been one of the coolest things about the IS training and how it relates to what we were already doing. A lot of those things just needed a clearer, more open way to explain them. Once you have that then I feel you're going to make progress, even if it's slowly, as long as you remember to look inside yourself to fix things that aren't working and not at the external things (footwork, technical minutiae, etc). From there it just takes desire and honesty. A lot of honesty. Someone who has that will seek out other types of solo training to further improve their skills, which is how it should be. It doesn't matter if you have a road map labeled "easy steps to become O'sensei". Only a select few are going to put in the time to get there, so it doesn't matter if you offer it all up to them on a plate or not.

chillzATL
11-21-2011, 07:46 AM
More important you shift focus in your training. When you put more emphasis on aiki aspects, you will surely find it in each exercise!

Well said Tim! It is not so much what you do, but how you do it that really matters.

Dave de Vos
11-21-2011, 02:47 PM
So if you have either done or are doing solo IS training, how are you putting it into actual practice in the dojo, especially with other people who may not be on the same page? How is it improving your practice of aikido?

In the dojo I just keep my eyes peeled for opportunities where I can sneak in some internal aspect. It's kinda hard, because as a beginner, I need to pay attention to a lot of external things too. The advantage of being a beginner though, is that people will cut me some slack to figure things out slowly ;)

I am trying more to feel what is happening, avoiding to "muscle" techniques on my partner.

I think it's too early to tell if it improves my practice. But being new and eager, my practice would probably improve with or without it (in one way or another).

Gerardo Torres
11-21-2011, 03:39 PM
In the dojo I just keep my eyes peeled for opportunities where I can sneak in some internal aspect. It's kinda hard, because as a beginner, I need to pay attention to a lot of external things too. The advantage of being a beginner though, is that people will cut me some slack to figure things out slowly ;)
I've been pondering on the pros and cons of learning and applying IP/aiki for both beginners and advanced students within the current aikido training paradigm. As you noted the biggest set back for a beginner is that you have to worry about learning the waza, the "external" aspect (as it's widely taught today anyway: move your foot here, your hand goes there, etc.). I have done the waza for many years so I am able to go on autopilot and concentrate on basic things like keeping connection, opening the body, moving from center, etc. But because I have done the waza without the internal requirements for so many years there is a long and agonizing de-programming of bad habits I have to go through in order to apply the more sophisticated IP/aiki concepts. For example doing intent-driven movement, spiraling, elbow power, etc., at the pace we're required to move during regular aikido training is almost impossible for me at this point -- the "normal" movement eventually takes over. Regular training is too fast for me, I would basically need it to slow down or stop to be able to fully and successfully train IP/aiki within this paradigm. The only solution I see for this is to do less regular aikido and more isolated IP/aiki training, at least until the body changes and I am able to put it back into regular aikido training.

Then again if the curriculum is revised to maximize learning of IP/aiki (and it needs a thorough, complete revision), both beginners and advanced will benefit equally and without their particular frustrations. IMO this revision should include teaching waza as a manifestation of IP/aiki rather than teach technique as driven by external situations. For example instead of teaching isolated techniques from kosa-dori (cross-hand grab), you teach how to spiral, move from the center, etc., and when they touch you techniques are borne (or become evident) out of this interaction with your trained body.

ChrisMoses
11-21-2011, 03:54 PM
1) So if you have either done or are doing solo IS training, how are you putting it into actual practice in the dojo, especially with other people who may not be on the same page? How is it improving your practice of aikido?

2) If you are teaching aikido, or just have ideas about how it needs to be taught, how then do you think the dynamic of the actual training environment itself must change to support IS/Aiki development? Yeah, yeah, I know there has to be solo training in there now, but you've got a room full of live bodies rather than imaginary friends, so what do you do with them now?

1) We call what we do "Aiki-budo" or "Aiki-jujutsu" and everyone in class is overtly working IS along with the other principles we're working on. It's completely overt, but I don't think it's aikido. Interestingly, the better everyone gets at IS that we train with, the LESS minimal-motion our waza has become. We've found that the more jujutsu like aspects of our training is what continues to work when you're using frame/IS to throw someone who also has some frame/IS. That's not to say that it's always force on force rough and tumble, jujutsu can (should?) be extremely subtle and precise. All leading is gone (if it was ever there) and it takes a LOT to get kuzushi on anyone anymore. Many of the Yanagi-ryu influenced very minimal motion things just flat out stopped working on anyone in class a while ago. It just bounces off of you.

2) That said, I still teach Aikido one day a week and I just back it way, way off. As uke, I don't put any frame resistance at all and basically just go with it. I try to be clear that I think one of the biggest differences between aiki-budo and aikido is that in aiki-budo, we try to keep our frame and never lose ourselves in our attacks. In aikido, the assumption is that you're going to let go of your stability and attack with too much juice, then you'll follow that attack by trying to reorient yourself to face nage. That said, as nage, I'm basically doing the same thing whether it's aiki-budo or aikido. In aiki-budo I'll control uke's movement and momentum more, where in aikido I'll let people keep moving. My focus is almost entirely aiki-budo and not aikido though. I feel no need to save or improve aikido, it is what it is, love it or leave it for what it is. :)

Pauliina Lievonen
11-21-2011, 07:13 PM
1) We've found that the more jujutsu like aspects of our training is what continues to work when you're using frame/IS to throw someone who also has some frame/IS. That's not to say that it's always force on force rough and tumble, jujutsu can (should?) be extremely subtle and precise. All leading is gone (if it was ever there) and it takes a LOT to get kuzushi on anyone anymore. Many of the Yanagi-ryu influenced very minimal motion things just flat out stopped working on anyone in class a while ago. It just bounces off of you.Funny you should say this because I've discovered the same thing. Some of my dojomates are pretty solid, and I have to throw everything I have into the mix for anything to work - being as connected both to myself and to them as I can but also doing the technique as precisely and clearly as I can, with enough movement. Minimal movement seems to work only with people who have significantly less experience than me, or are less connected in themselves.

kvaak
Pauliina

Carsten Möllering
11-22-2011, 04:04 AM
... in aiki-budo, we try to keep our frame and never lose ourselves in our attacks.
This is exactly, what we try to do in our attacks in our aikido: Remaining stable, being centered, preserving the structure of our body and a heavy center... So we don't let go ourselves, don't leave our own "sphere". We spend some time on teaching and learning this
It is toris job, to connect to this well structured uke and change his structure.

In aikido, the assumption is that you're going to let go of your stability and attack with too much juice, then you'll follow that attack by trying to reorient yourself to face nage.

Why do you attack this way in aikido?
What is the purpose of attacking this way?

... in aikido I'll let people keep moving.
So uke would just stand right there where he was standing before his attack and would be well grounded if I didn't try to connect to him an "move" him.

I don't understand what it does teach, if uke is moving "beyond himself" or ist moving "without reason" instead of remaining centered?
What does it teach uke? What does it teach nage? Or what should it teach?

Janet Rosen
11-22-2011, 10:07 AM
Really good post!
I'm still dealing with tons of bad habits (like still carrying too much tension in certain areas) but I believe these are not really "aikido" bad habits; rather, they are ingrained body patterns in place whether I am sewing, cooking, or doing aikido. So the solution at least for me can't be just in the dojo, and I may be wrong but I suspect the solution also will not be based exclusively on doing solo IP exercises - though they will certainly be a major focus, I'm also specifically working on targeting release of certain muscles I chronically hold.
In terms of teaching aikido, I have long been a proponent of integrated curriculae that introduce both body principles and waza from day one. As more teachers begin to be able to teach IP/aiki I think this will be reflected in dojos scattered around the country/world.

I've been pondering on the pros and cons of learning and applying IP/aiki for both beginners and advanced students within the current aikido training paradigm. As you noted the biggest set back for a beginner is that you have to worry about learning the waza, the "external" aspect (as it's widely taught today anyway: move your foot here, your hand goes there, etc.). I have done the waza for many years so I am able to go on autopilot and concentrate on basic things like keeping connection, opening the body, moving from center, etc. But because I have done the waza without the internal requirements for so many years there is a long and agonizing de-programming of bad habits I have to go through in order to apply the more sophisticated IP/aiki concepts. For example doing intent-driven movement, spiraling, elbow power, etc., at the pace we're required to move during regular aikido training is almost impossible for me at this point -- the "normal" movement eventually takes over. Regular training is too fast for me, I would basically need it to slow down or stop to be able to fully and successfully train IP/aiki within this paradigm. The only solution I see for this is to do less regular aikido and more isolated IP/aiki training, at least until the body changes and I am able to put it back into regular aikido training.

Then again if the curriculum is revised to maximize learning of IP/aiki (and it needs a thorough, complete revision), both beginners and advanced will benefit equally and without their particular frustrations. IMO this revision should include teaching waza as a manifestation of IP/aiki rather than teach technique as driven by external situations. For example instead of teaching isolated techniques from kosa-dori (cross-hand grab), you teach how to spiral, move from the center, etc., and when they touch you techniques are borne (or become evident) out of this interaction with your trained body.

Budd
11-23-2011, 11:38 AM
I've tried a couple different methods of rewiring IS stuff back into an ongoing class situation. Since moving to WNY, I've had the forced luxury of trying a number of things out in my solo practice, while working out occasionally with visitors, dojo hopping (though I've mostly been going to MMA gyms with some sidebars in western fencing), etc.

It's come to a point where I want to flesh out MY practice, though, so in the interest of seeing who's interested in working on stuff I want to work on, I'm starting an Introduction to Taikyoku Aikido class through one of the community ed groups (still working on which one - will depend who signs up as there's a couple options currently being advertised). To start, it will be minimal "aikido" stuff - plainclothes, working on aikido taiso and IS fundamentals with a very slow start into "waza" and other applications. Any partner drills will emphasize the center-to-center connection and build out from there. This will be very much a work in progress effort - independent of dojo/organizational affiliations or rank.

But a basic foundation of the practice is that everything will be subservient to IS/body fundamentals. Especially at the beginning, it will be much less a practice of martial arts, but more one of body cultivation - with applications, sparring and methodology growing out from there. First, let's see if we get anyone that wants to train this way ;) Otherwise, I'll keep doing my own thing.

chillzATL
11-23-2011, 12:04 PM
I've tried a couple different methods of rewiring IS stuff back into an ongoing class situation. Since moving to WNY, I've had the forced luxury of trying a number of things out in my solo practice, while working out occasionally with visitors, dojo hopping (though I've mostly been going to MMA gyms with some sidebars in western fencing), etc.

It's come to a point where I want to flesh out MY practice, though, so in the interest of seeing who's interested in working on stuff I want to work on, I'm starting an Introduction to Taikyoku Aikido class through one of the community ed groups (still working on which one - will depend who signs up as there's a couple options currently being advertised). To start, it will be minimal "aikido" stuff - plainclothes, working on aikido taiso and IS fundamentals with a very slow start into "waza" and other applications. Any partner drills will emphasize the center-to-center connection and build out from there. This will be very much a work in progress effort - independent of dojo/organizational affiliations or rank.

But a basic foundation of the practice is that everything will be subservient to IS/body fundamentals. Especially at the beginning, it will be much less a practice of martial arts, but more one of body cultivation - with applications, sparring and methodology growing out from there. First, let's see if we get anyone that wants to train this way ;) Otherwise, I'll keep doing my own thing.

Nice Budd, you should blog it!

Budd
11-23-2011, 12:17 PM
Nice Budd, you should blog it!

Hah, unlikely :)

1. I suck at regularly maintaining blogs.

2. It's too easy to write for the sake of saying something in a blog rather than posting meaningfully as time allows.

3. I have a short attention span with these things.

4. What were we talking about?

5. Oh right . . we'll see, I want to capture some things regarding progress stages but am unsure of the best mechanism other than addressing individual practitioners case by case.

Beyond that, we'll see . . .

woudew
11-23-2011, 04:00 PM
I consider myself to be a lucky one and that for several reasons.

All the people in our dojo have attended Dan's latest seminar in the Netherlands and everyone is just as enthusiastic about it as i m am.

Our teacher (Allen Beebe) also trains with Dan and give his full support to it (and more than that).

Shirata Sensei (the teacher of Allen) has laid down a set of exercises, called tan doku dosa, which is very suitable to train IS/aiki (see for instance also http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=284693&postcount=188). We had the exercises all along, we lacked a good description of what was going on within the exercises.

Further more Dan has showed us a lot of solo exercises. The fun part of solo exercises is that you can do them by yourself :D . It had increase my training hours a lot as you don't have to wait anymore for a training partner to show up.

jzimba
11-28-2011, 12:21 PM
Hi Pauliina, (been a long time)

Care to discuss opening the body as it relates to your Alexander experience. ?? Center in general, and what might be similar or different?

Cheers,

Joel

asiawide
11-28-2011, 07:11 PM
1) Aunkai drills made me more stable and heavy during practice. I try to move according to the basic movements from Sigman's video. (up/down/in/out) It helps me to use less shoulders and muscle powers to apply -kyo techniques. However, I don't think about too much while doing techniques. Otherwise I become a cat knows 108 ways of escaping and other non IS/IP guys notice I'm a weirdo.

2) It takes some time to feel the necessity of IS/IP training. Only a few ppl belive it without feeling&seeing. So I guess it's best to mix solo exercises with warm-up. No need to mention IS/IP but it'll make beginners strong and stable. Shiko, Tenchijin, Ashiage, and Sigman's exercises.

Pauliina Lievonen
12-01-2011, 06:55 PM
Hi Pauliina, (been a long time)

Care to discuss opening the body as it relates to your Alexander experience. ?? Center in general, and what might be similar or different?

Cheers,

JoelHi Joel, it sure has!

The interwebs ate my first attempt a couple days ago, possibly Jun was still fixing the forums or something...sorry for the delay in answering!

I'm not sure what you mean by opening the body? Though one of the effects of the kind of training we did at the recent seminar with Dan could be described as opening the body so maybe that's what you mean.

There are two things I like to separate, one is the way of going about the work one's doing, and the other is the results one's aiming at.

The way Dan works was something I was absolutely delighted about, because it fitted so well with Alexander work. Everything beginning with intent. The difference would be that the intensity of that intent and the effects of it on movement aren't usually taken that far in AT. It's usually not necessary either since most people aren't learning AT looking to become crazy powerful, just more coordinated and relaxed and able to move without or with less pain. So the goals are different.

One idea in the Alexander technique is that use, function and structure all influence each other. So if you use yourself differently, how you function will change and that may in time affect your structure as well. But the thing we always work on is use, and trying to change a students structure in any way directly or forcefully is a no no.

The exercises Dan taught I feel adress structure more directly, so that's another difference. I'm especially happy with a couple of them that give me a new tool to work on some slight tightness in connective tissue on one side of my spine and hip. Thing about connective tissue seems to be that it (unlike muscle) doesn't really respond much to intent, it really needs to be streched and worked over a longer period of time before it begings to change. And it seems to me the connectedness that one can feel in people's bodies who have done "internal stuff" for a while comes from connective tissue that has gotten stronger.

I remember someone writing here about theories about fascia contracting but I don't think that's quite the case, rather if your musculature works in really efficient way, and your bones are organized to carry and transmit weight as directly as possible, then the next weak link to strengthen is connective tissue that has to transmit the power the muscles generate. To put things very simply.

Talking about intent, whenever Dan asked us to think intent in some direction or another, not once did those instructions contradict anything I've learned in AT. It was funny really. Ok there was one minor thing I disagreed about, that's all.

Center - you know, I hardly ever think about "center". I prefer to think of the whole spine, or even better, my whole body, or on a really good day, the space I'm in, with me as a part of that three dimensional space. Wonder if that makes any sense to anyone else. :P

I'll be happy to write more, but it's 1:54 am here and I probably should go to bed sometime soon...

Pauliina

phitruong
12-02-2011, 07:37 AM
this is a really interesting topic. from working with folks at my dojo, they are not that interested in the whole IS/Aiki thing. so i would introduce some of the IS practices (which i got from Sigman, Ikeda, Saotome and Howie) disguise as body movement and stabilization practices. some of the folks got pretty stable and much harder to throw now. it's hard to introduce the whole IS program, since most folks are not really interested in it. so you just kinda feed them a piece here and a piece there, disguised as something else. I wondered if this was what happened with O Sensei and his students.

woudew
12-02-2011, 07:45 AM
this is a really interesting topic. from working with folks at my dojo, they are not that interested in the whole IS/Aiki thing. so i would introduce some of the IS practices (which i got from Sigman, Ikeda, Saotome and Howie) disguise as body movement and stabilization practices. some of the folks got pretty stable and much harder to throw now. it's hard to introduce the whole IS program, since most folks are not really interested in it. so you just kinda feed them a piece here and a piece there, disguised as something else. I wondered if this was what happened with O Sensei and his students.

Hi Phi,

at one point in time i do think you have to adress it as being IS/aiki otherwise it will get lost again.

If you train the solo exercises, you have to be aware of where to put the emphasis. Otherwise the exercises will be become some useless body exercises

phitruong
12-02-2011, 09:01 AM
at one point in time i do think you have to adress it as being IS/aiki otherwise it will get lost again.


yup, that's the rub. it's very hard here to get folks to even interested in aikido when we have the mass sport programs, and mma and mcdojo karate. aikido just isn't sexy enough to attract folks (although i looked pretty good myself in the skirt :) ). the ones that want to do aikido mostly interested in those fancy throws. lets face it. IS stuffs are just dull and boring and tedious. with the fast food, short attention span culture here in the U.S. it's a wonder that folks even want to do IS stuffs at all.


If you train the solo exercises, you have to be aware of where to put the emphasis. Otherwise the exercises will be become some useless body exercises

i used various push/pull tests to make sure the focus of the exercises done correctly. it's a feedback and control mechanism. worked well so far.

Allen Beebe
12-02-2011, 09:05 AM
Hi Phi,

at one point in time i do think you have to adress it as being IS/aiki otherwise it will get lost again.

If you train the solo exercises, you have to be aware of where to put the emphasis. Otherwise the exercises will be become some useless body exercises

Addressing it as IS/Aiki in juxtaposition to everything else can, of course, be controversial if others identify the "everything else" with IS and/or Aiki. Then there is the problem of the non-homogeneity of identification, conception, and vocabulary among IS/Aiki proponents. (There is commonality, but the differences emphasized and debated can obfuscate that for newcomers.)

Some teachers, I think rightly, meet a student "where they are at" and attempt to lead them "where they wish to go.". These teachers almost always begin by teaching some form of gross phisical movement leading into finer detail with larger emphasis on mental aspects as the student demonstrates understanding and readiness. This is far too similar to ordinary training modality for some to differentiate. Therefore hey can only differentiate by result, but some results overlap further confusing matters. Some teachers, probably out of kindness, try to transmit their knowledge straight from the heart of the matter. To them it is simple, why bother with intermediary steps? Unfortunately this kind of teaching doesn't often produce results equal to the teacher. In fact, a teachers explicite admonitions can seem esoteric at best, and deceiving at worst. Why not train with sensei X? At least his/her students are producing tangible, invent if, mundane results?

One last thing, if one trains properly, but isolated, one can remain ignorant of the degree of progress (or lack) one is making, which can further confuse matters.

Alec Corper
12-02-2011, 09:23 AM
Solo exercises done with a partner are no longer solo exercises. if the partner understands the goal and shares it aikido training begins to look more like Tui Shou (push hands) and less like formalized waza. The dominant mindset of the uke/tori training dynamic always leads to predetermined winner/loser energy patterns;stiff, dominant and driven or floppy, submissive and acquiescent on the other. In order to really work IS/IP you either work alone or with someone who understand the purpose. Part of the problem with Aikido lies in such meaningless terminology as "sincere attack", meaning a pre-arranged, hard fast attack with an equally meaningless "victory" hailed as a sign of accomplished martial art. Finding good people to train with is vital to developing IS, people who know how and where and when to give correctly applied pressure, in the case of push testing, how to mount a freewheeling attack without stiffness or hormonal, adrenalized force in the case of beginning to spar with IS.
What is the point of making oneself "unthrowable" and going to a dojo where the training, correctly or incorrectly, emphasizes the "taking turns" form of practice ?
Even practising kaeshiwaza requires the right kind of compliance.
By the way having successfully removed atemi from modern Aikido, apart from the obviously ineffective hand waving that goes on, it is easy to talk about maintaining structure, throw feet, knees and elbows, let alone shoulders and head into the mix, and internal structure, receiving and issuing force suddenly become paramount.
I understand that it is important to walk before you run, and that you need to internalize before you externalize but for me the sanity test of IP is in contact with another body. It does not have to be "fighting", but it has to be pressure tested. there is no way to do in a standard dojo.
I am experimenting with my students in soft free flowing kaeshiwaza to build upon the feelings of the IS exercises since aikido is the vehicle of training they are familiar with, but it is very difficult to keep speeds matched, keep structure, acknowledge openings, feel your own energy paths, etc., all at the same time, something always gets lost.
So, no clear training model yet! (within aikido as we know it;-))

DH
12-02-2011, 10:28 AM
Solo exercises done with a partner are no longer solo exercises. if the partner understands the goal and shares it aikido training begins to look more like Tui Shou (push hands) and less like formalized waza. The dominant mindset of the uke/tori training dynamic always leads to predetermined winner/loser energy patterns;stiff, dominant and driven or floppy, submissive and acquiescent on the other. In order to really work IS/IP you either work alone or with someone who understand the purpose. Part of the problem with Aikido lies in such meaningless terminology as "sincere attack", meaning a pre-arranged, hard fast attack with an equally meaningless "victory" hailed as a sign of accomplished martial art. Finding good people to train with is vital to developing IS, people who know how and where and when to give correctly applied pressure, in the case of push testing, how to mount a freewheeling attack without stiffness or hormonal, adrenalized force in the case of beginning to spar with IS.
What is the point of making oneself "unthrowable" and going to a dojo where the training, correctly or incorrectly, emphasizes the "taking turns" form of practice ?
Even practising kaeshiwaza requires the right kind of compliance.
By the way having successfully removed atemi from modern Aikido, apart from the obviously ineffective hand waving that goes on, it is easy to talk about maintaining structure, throw feet, knees and elbows, let alone shoulders and head into the mix, and internal structure, receiving and issuing force suddenly become paramount.
I understand that it is important to walk before you run, and that you need to internalize before you externalize but for me the sanity test of IP is in contact with another body. It does not have to be "fighting", but it has to be pressure tested. there is no way to do in a standard dojo.
I am experimenting with my students in soft free flowing kaeshiwaza to build upon the feelings of the IS exercises since aikido is the vehicle of training they are familiar with, but it is very difficult to keep speeds matched, keep structure, acknowledge openings, feel your own energy paths, etc., all at the same time, something always gets lost.
So, no clear training model yet! (within aikido as we know it;-))
+1 ;)
Dan

Erick Mead
12-02-2011, 11:15 AM
Solo exercises done with a partner are no longer solo exercises. if the partner understands the goal and shares it aikido training begins to look more like Tui Shou (push hands) and less like formalized waza. The dominant mindset of the uke/tori training dynamic always leads to predetermined winner/loser energy patterns;stiff, dominant and driven or floppy, submissive and acquiescent on the other. In order to really work IS/IP you either work alone or with someone who understand the purpose. Part of the problem with Aikido lies in such meaningless terminology as "sincere attack", meaning a pre-arranged, hard fast attack with an equally meaningless "victory" hailed as a sign of accomplished martial art.
...
By the way having successfully removed atemi from modern Aikido, apart from the obviously ineffective hand waving that goes on, it is easy to talk about maintaining structure, throw feet, knees and elbows, let alone shoulders and head into the mix, and internal structure, receiving and issuing force suddenly become paramount. As far as my experience goes, your description is what we lawyers call a "strawman" argument. Since you may not be an idiomatic English speaker I will explain that a "strawman" is an argument against a premise that is itself a fanciful construct (or "strawman") that is easily demolished -- but essentially demonstrates nothing of a consequence.
If this summarizes your prior experience with aikido -- I am immensely sorry for you. In my experience, atemi is ever present in aikido training -- expressly or implicit -- and the implication is explained and shown at every point in the course of training wherever it is appears or is possible. (Maybe that's just cause we're unreconstructed, knuckle-dragging crackers.)

The first thing we do with people new to training is to assure that they begin with effective striking and address that if it is not. Bottom line-- if they cannot strike me so as to make me distinctly uncomfortable -- they will not likely learn much in aikido training. Second thing we typically do is correct postural defects, and dynamic defects like committting weight to either an atemi or throw -- which also involves a better comprehension of maai for striking -- which, together with inadequate structure -- is what underlies that problem. Lastly, we define "waza" as arbitrary examples along a continuum of action responding to openings exploited by proper structure.

What is the point of making oneself "unthrowable" and going to a dojo where the training, correctly or incorrectly, emphasizes the "taking turns" form of practice ?
Even practising kaeshiwaza requires the right kind of compliance.Done right it is a slightly structured game (so is push--hands, for that matter).

The rules of the game are:

1) Uke enters the encounter intending to create or allow one -- and only one opening or path of action from the attack to conclude in nage's favor
2) Nage must start with the the defined entry, but thereafter feel, find and follow any opening that presents itself;
3) Uke's must hold nage to the defined "exit" path or technique, close all other openings and enforce the excluded paths of action by any opening for reversal that uke finds in nage.

One can structure entire classes along these lines. This is the purpose of defined waza, as a jumping off point for such a game. Within one attack there can be an arbitrarily large number of possible openings allowed for application.

The instructor's job is to illustrate as clearly as possible the one and only one route of action that is to be allowed for the immediate training. Uke's job is to allow that and only that opening to be acted on by nage for a throw. Nage's job is to enter by an initially defined route but throw uke by whatever opening he finds thereafter.

Uke and nage stalemate if uke holds nage to the defined opening, and if nage finds no other opening. This is a stalemate -- but with training rigor.

Uke wins and nage loses if nage opens himself to reversal in the course of pursuing the defined opening. Uke is allowed to throw if and only if nage presents the opening -- and uke must show the opening to him by holding him in kuzushi, briefly, but enough to make the point that he is had.

Nage wins and uke loses if uke opens himself to throw by any path other than the one defined. Nage may throw by any opening he finds after the defined entry, but must also show the opening to uke in the same manner.

In other words, it is not enough to just thrown down and get lucky -- and not know why -- you only "win" in either case if you recognize and can show the opening to your partner as it occurs. Not unlike calling targets in kendo, but not as formal or predefined. This requires mindfulness and instant exploitation at the same time -- like fencing.

It looks a lot like aikido training as we have done it for a very long time. Somebody once called fencing "physical chess," and this is a fair description of the game above also.

The manner of aikido training you describe in your prior experience is more like taking chess pieces and moving them on the board according to the the "rules" of each piece -- but willy-nilly on the board without any understanding or strategy. Whatever that may be, in terms of complying with the nominal rules of the pieces -- it is not playing chess. The same goes for that kind of aikido training.

Alec Corper
12-02-2011, 11:24 AM
Mr. Mead, Thank you for your sympathy towards me and your kind attempt to explain what you obviously deeply understand, but I am afraid it is too difficult for me as an Englishman to follow your vaunted and superior intellect.
iI bow to you Sir.

Nicholas Eschenbruch
12-04-2011, 06:19 AM
1) So if you have either done or are doing solo IS training, how are you putting it into actual practice in the dojo, especially with other people who may not be on the same page? How is it improving your practice of aikido?

2) If you are teaching aikido, or just have ideas about how it needs to be taught, how then do you think the dynamic of the actual training environment itself must change to support IS/Aiki development? Yeah, yeah, I know there has to be solo training in there now, but you've got a room full of live bodies rather than imaginary friends, so what do you do with them now?

Hi Lee,

Interesting thread! Being far from the sources of this material, I have made it a rule for myself to do things that are extremely simple, and do them in a way that they are benefitial even if I get them wrong from a stricter „IS/IP“ point of view. Same applies to teaching: I have identified a few principles, all related to each other, that seem to make a lot of sense to me. In order of their relevance to me when I teach occasionally, these are:

(1) Maintain a „ground path“ during technique, as uke and nage. Learn to establish that path with more and more relaxed and subtle means. I realised the importance of this through Dan and Mike, but have found it present in both the Yamaguchi lineages and parts of the Iwama lineage.

(2a) Place your awareness in your body as much as possible. Then learn to put it in several places at the same time, then in as many places as possible. Learn to „activate“ the body through intent without moving it yet. Learn to preceed movement with awareness. Do that in opposing directions.

(2b) Different take on the same thing: Inhabit your body fully and feel it „from the inside out“ through breathing, including breathing as a kind of „awareness leading“ in the body.

(3) Connect your body using all of the above. In very simple exercises.

- Standard Truong’ian disclaimer about my own abilities –

All this seems to fit into parts of a standard aikido lesson (warm-ups or techniques) without making a great explicit IS/IP fuss about it – on one precondition: My teaching goal is not to produce students who are great at „IS/IP within aikido“, or even „put stuff back into aikido“, but students who have some familiarity with this approach and who, were they to meet Dan, Mike, Ikeda Sensei, or another one on that imaginary list, would be able to start working immediately, probably find some concepts familiar, and possibly get a pat on the back for getting it rather quickly. To do anything else is beyond my capabilties at the moment.

My experience is that it makes sense to the students, and they quite like the effects it has on the body and the practice. The main obstacle on their part is a certain fixation, which has to be overcome, on isolated aikido technique as an immediate means to a naively perceived martial end, but I think that needs to be overcome anyway.

It is of course my assumption here - apparently not shared by some others involved in IS/IP - that "modern" aikido is something very legitimate and deeply worth while, that it has many benefits apart from IS/IP, that I have teachers to whom I am much indebted for teaching me about those, and who, while maybe not being specialists, are not quite as ignorant about/ or uninterested in IS/IP as it is often suggested here for "mainstream aikido"

Erick Mead
12-04-2011, 09:27 AM
Mr. Mead, Thank you for your sympathy towards me and your kind attempt to explain what you obviously deeply understand, but I am afraid it is too difficult for me as an Englishman to follow your vaunted and superior intellect.
iI bow to you Sir.Ah, you are English. Well, that does makes our language problem doubly difficult, doesn't it? Consider it Dutch treat. ;)

Tatsushin
12-10-2011, 03:10 AM
Hi Joel, it sure has!

The interwebs ate my first attempt a couple days ago, possibly Jun was still fixing the forums or something...sorry for the delay in answering!

I'm not sure what you mean by opening the body? Though one of the effects of the kind of training we did at the recent seminar with Dan could be described as opening the body so maybe that's what you mean.

There are two things I like to separate, one is the way of going about the work one's doing, and the other is the results one's aiming at.

The way Dan works was something I was absolutely delighted about, because it fitted so well with Alexander work. Everything beginning with intent. The difference would be that the intensity of that intent and the effects of it on movement aren't usually taken that far in AT. It's usually not necessary either since most people aren't learning AT looking to become crazy powerful, just more coordinated and relaxed and able to move without or with less pain. So the goals are different.

One idea in the Alexander technique is that use, function and structure all influence each other. So if you use yourself differently, how you function will change and that may in time affect your structure as well. But the thing we always work on is use, and trying to change a students structure in any way directly or forcefully is a no no.

The exercises Dan taught I feel adress structure more directly, so that's another difference. I'm especially happy with a couple of them that give me a new tool to work on some slight tightness in connective tissue on one side of my spine and hip. Thing about connective tissue seems to be that it (unlike muscle) doesn't really respond much to intent, it really needs to be streched and worked over a longer period of time before it begings to change. And it seems to me the connectedness that one can feel in people's bodies who have done "internal stuff" for a while comes from connective tissue that has gotten stronger.

I remember someone writing here about theories about fascia contracting but I don't think that's quite the case, rather if your musculature works in really efficient way, and your bones are organized to carry and transmit weight as directly as possible, then the next weak link to strengthen is connective tissue that has to transmit the power the muscles generate. To put things very simply.

Talking about intent, whenever Dan asked us to think intent in some direction or another, not once did those instructions contradict anything I've learned in AT. It was funny really. Ok there was one minor thing I disagreed about, that's all.

Center - you know, I hardly ever think about "center". I prefer to think of the whole spine, or even better, my whole body, or on a really good day, the space I'm in, with me as a part of that three dimensional space. Wonder if that makes any sense to anyone else. :P

I'll be happy to write more, but it's 1:54 am here and I probably should go to bed sometime soon...

Pauliina

Hi Pauliina,

You said that there was one minor thing you disagreed with,may i ask what that thing was?:)

woudew
12-10-2011, 04:06 AM
Hi Pauliina,

You said that there was one minor thing you disagreed with,may i ask what that thing was?:)

MAybe you can ask her tomorrow ;)