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Marcoh
02-02-2012, 07:21 AM
Hi,

I am new to the forum. I have been studying BJJ for about 3 years and have just recently started an Aikido class, which i think may be helpful. I have read about, the principle of "connection" in aikido (especially in regard to your own centre and to your opponent's). What I found interesting, having studied BJJ has been reading reports of Seminars by Rickson Gracie which he calls "invisible jiu jitsu" (the invisible details which make all the difference to the technique). The main theme of these seminars is the concept of "connection", which to me sounds very similar if not identical to many akidoka's views on this subject. Here is one such seminar report:

http://jiujitsumania.com/technique/accelerated-learning/rickson-gracie-seminar-making-the-invisible-visible/

And in another one participant says:

I was at last night's Rickson seminar.. and it was AMAZING!

He did not teach any new technique, what he did teach was HOW to execute them more effectively through "CONNECTION".

These lessons are difficult to learn through watching, you have to "feeeeel" them to best appreciate what he's trying to teach.

Too help us understand this concept of "CONNECTION", he went over many basic positions with progressively resisting partners:

some of the positions included:
Standing thrusting hip lift when partner headlocks you.
Standing defense against choke from rear
Standing side clinch (just before you try a leg hook takedown)
Sprawl from double leg attack
escape from mod scarf hold
escape from standard side control
Basic arm lock from guard (2-step arm lock)

There were others, but you get the idea.

Imagine sitting in the water holding on to the rope, ready to water ski. The boat accelerates quickly, BUT! there is slack in the rope.. as you are pulled, the tug is too sudden and either the rope rips out of your hand, or you are launched forward out of balance.

Now imagine there is no slack in the rope. You "feel" when the boat accelerates, and you are able to counter your balance and pressure in order to maintain balance (base). This is CONNECTION.

The moment to touch or grab each other, standing or on the mat, you should always have this CONNECTION to your partner.

I know that Rickson also stresses the spiritual/internal side of jiu jitsu and breath work. My question is does this sound like a similar principal to "connection" (both to your own centre and to opponrent's) as that of aikido (there was another post I read where a participant who rolled with Rickson likened it more to internal martial arts and to ideas O Sensei espoused)? and can Aikido practice help develop this sensitivity? I am a neophyte so forgive my ignorance on the subject and thanks for any help and pointers.

Mark.

Michael Douglas
02-02-2012, 10:20 AM
Fascinating.
... My question is does this sound like a similar principal to "connection" (both to your own centre and to opponrent's) as that of aikido (there was another post I read where a participant who rolled with Rickson likened it more to internal martial arts and to ideas O Sensei espoused)? and can Aikido practice help develop this sensitivity?...
That sounds reasonable, but bear in mind that he's talking about connection regarding physical struggle against an opponent in close contact and while his connection ideas are probably applicable to some Aikido practice, most (probably) 'connection' ideas espoused from aikido practitioners might not be applicable the other way around.
I'm kinda saying Rickson's connection training is NOT likely to be the same as 90% of connection training espoused by aikidoka, in my opinion. However I'm absolutely sure it is useful to all aikidoka in some way, just as having a high level of Judo skills would be, with a side-effect of at least some level of 'connection' above the ordinary.

Mark Freeman
02-02-2012, 10:51 AM
Hi Mark,

thanks for posting the link, a very interesting read.

The level of 'connection' you may learn through aikido, will depend alot on your teacher and his own concept/level of skill at it. Will it be the same as being spoken about by Mr Gracie? that's a good question. As guys like him can demonstrate, it is a 'feeling' created by setting the mind/body up correctly. Which is noticable by those that come into contact him...the technique is less important than the central feeling of connection. The connection is set up in you first, only then can there be a proper connection with the partner.

You will get to meet Dan Harden on these forums, he will be coming to the UK and the Netherlands this year, if you can make it to one of his seminars, I believe you will improve your BJJ as well as your aikido, even though he doesn't teach either.

regards,

Mark

Marc Abrams
02-02-2012, 11:02 AM
Mark:

Rickson Gracie is talking about the same connection that we use in Aikido. Very few people inside the BJJ world and fewer outside of this world know that there is the internal training aspect of their art. If you look at Helio Gracie videos, you will see it in action. My understanding was that the teaching of it is mostly done privately and is sometimes referred to as "anaconda style". What is so great about what you learned is that you were able to learn to experience maintaining a connection under increasingly combative manners. This really pushes you to learn how to maintain connection (once you learned how to establish it of course).

Thank you for sharing that valuable nugget with us!

Marc Abrams

Marcoh
02-02-2012, 11:06 AM
Thanks for your kind answers guys. Yes anything I have read about Rickson tends to agree with the idea that he creates a connection within himself first (I have heard participants of his seminars referring to this as proper posture, body structure/alignment - he himself used the analogy of how an egg in a certain position produces a very strong structure), and then uses this connection to connect to and with the intention of his opponent's. I have also read a post by Mike Sigman where he described connecting to your opponent by taking out any slack between you, kind of like the waterski analogy. Also read a lotof Dan's posts, he seems very knowlegable on the subject to say the least. It just seems like aikido, jiu jitsu and judo are all cousin arts and that surely some universal principles carry over and that Rickson seems to acknowledge this. Thanks again guys.

Mark.

Michael Hackett
02-02-2012, 03:23 PM
My son is a Rickson Gracie student and teaches BJJ in his own school. Additionally he teaches police DT based on the Koga Method of Aikido. I've heard him say many times that BJJ is Aikido on the ground and it makes sense to me from the limited practice I've had grappling with he and his students.

Demetrio Cereijo
02-02-2012, 03:46 PM
My question is does this sound like a similar principal to "connection" (both to your own centre and to opponrent's) as that of aikido (there was another post I read where a participant who rolled with Rickson likened it more to internal martial arts and to ideas O Sensei espoused)? and can Aikido practice help develop this sensitivity? I am a neophyte so forgive my ignorance on the subject and thanks for any help and pointers.

Mark.

Regarding your question "can Aikido practice help develop this sensibility?" IME it goes on the other direction: BJJ training is what helps to develop the sensibility required for Aikido.

Marcoh
02-02-2012, 04:20 PM
Yeah i've heard that Rickson Gracie has developed his sensitivity to a very high level and under pressure, but then i have no doubt that,ighly skilled aikidoka have done the same. It would seem that he views "connection" in the same manner, and has had the developed the skill and/or willingness to follow a more soft/internal element to his practice.

Kevin Leavitt
02-02-2012, 04:34 PM
I am a brown belt in BJJ under Rigan Machado. Just returned from competing in the Europeans in Lisbon. Never got on the mat with Rickson, but want to. Also been doing the Aikido thing for about 17 years now. Had some hands on with various guys in internal training and have trained with my friend Marc Abrams above as well.

Done properly there should be no difference in Aikido and BJJ as far as the concepts of internal training and or connection. I see no difference in my training in BJJ from Aikido. Based on listening to Rickson speak, watching him move and knowing a fair amount about BJJ....I believe he is operating at a higher level in jiu jitsu than most folks and "gets it".

Upyu
02-02-2012, 06:19 PM
I am a brown belt in BJJ under Rigan Machado. Just returned from competing in the Europeans in Lisbon. Never got on the mat with Rickson, but want to. Also been doing the Aikido thing for about 17 years now. Had some hands on with various guys in internal training and have trained with my friend Marc Abrams above as well.

Done properly there should be no difference in Aikido and BJJ as far as the concepts of internal training and or connection. I see no difference in my training in BJJ from Aikido. Based on listening to Rickson speak, watching him move and knowing a fair amount about BJJ....I believe he is operating at a higher level in jiu jitsu than most folks and "gets it".

Just a note of caution ( and let me preface that by stating that I am a huge fan of Rickson's approach...simply look up the Chicago seminar 1999 in youtube), I'd say that not all "connection" training is going to be the same. There is likely a part where the baseline skillset/conditioning overlaps... but just like Karate doesn't equal Aikido which doesn't equal Taiji etc, the same applies to Rickson's BJJ when it comes to internals.
Of course there's going to be overlap, but I wouldn't go about painting them with the broad brush of "they're all doing the same thing."

Marcoh
02-02-2012, 07:55 PM
I think that there is no doubt that he definately practices the"Art" of jiu jitsu and is more interested in spreading it now (that his fighting career is done), and as kevin said, he "gets it". There was another post I read where he referenced taiji as an influence (as Robert mentioned there is bound to be overlaps with IMAs). As a point of interest check out this video of his son Kron from a Seminar a few years back where he echos some of his fathers philosophies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFiR3-nDKww

Mark.

Kevin Leavitt
02-03-2012, 01:13 AM
Just a note of caution ( and let me preface that by stating that I am a huge fan of Rickson's approach...simply look up the Chicago seminar 1999 in youtube), I'd say that not all "connection" training is going to be the same. There is likely a part where the baseline skillset/conditioning overlaps... but just like Karate doesn't equal Aikido which doesn't equal Taiji etc, the same applies to Rickson's BJJ when it comes to internals.
Of course there's going to be overlap, but I wouldn't go about painting them with the broad brush of "they're all doing the same thing."

Hey Rob, good point, agreed!

Marcoh
02-03-2012, 07:37 AM
I definately agree, I just think there is a closer link between jiu (ju) jitsu, aikido and judo than other arts and that Rickson has explored that connection (pun intended!) more fully than most BJJ practioners.

Kevin Leavitt
02-03-2012, 10:03 PM
There is a connection. As I mentioned before, I just go back from the European BJJ Championships. Watching the fights you see alot of different styles and strategies. Of note, watching white belts fight is different than black belts. Watching old guys fight is different than young guys....watching old experienced guys is different than young experienced guys.

Younger guys tend to use athleticism, speed, and strength as favored methods for winning. Older experienced guys tend to move slower and are more successful and using technical abilities and "connection".

Which is better? A combination of the two I think. I would have a hard time beating a younger guy that is faster, in better shape, and more agile. Not impossible, but these things count for alot.

I suppose my point is, that while they are related and the ability to use connection and internal skills are present in the presented conditions of BJJ, Judo, Tai Chi, etc.....there are alot of other things going on as well, so it can be difficult to determine relative value and to also separate what is going on.

In internal training or aiki training, the methodologies (good ones) have created conditions whereas you isolate out the things you want to DISCOURAGE over those that you want to ENCOURAGE. Basically you create the problem set such that you can enhance the development of desirable traits.

hence Rob John's comments above.

Michael Hackett
02-03-2012, 10:43 PM
I noticed something similar about a year ago at a big tournament in San Diego. Unlike previous tournaments I've watched, this last one was remarkable for the amount of strength being used in the brown and black belt matches. Previously I've watched competitors working with technique and pure skill, but recently I've seen much more athleticism and muscle being used. As sort of a shorthand, it was much more MMA and much less pure Gracie BJJ. The top flight people were still very skilled in terms of technique, but they were also doing a lot of muscle work without the finesse. Not a criticism, but rather an observation. Not my game and I'm not qualified to be a timekeeper at a grappling tourney.

Kevin Leavitt
02-03-2012, 11:19 PM
I noticed something similar about a year ago at a big tournament in San Diego. Unlike previous tournaments I've watched, this last one was remarkable for the amount of strength being used in the brown and black belt matches. Previously I've watched competitors working with technique and pure skill, but recently I've seen much more athleticism and muscle being used. As sort of a shorthand, it was much more MMA and much less pure Gracie BJJ. The top flight people were still very skilled in terms of technique, but they were also doing a lot of muscle work without the finesse. Not a criticism, but rather an observation. Not my game and I'm not qualified to be a timekeeper at a grappling tourney.

It is interesting to watch the trends. I cannot put a finger on anything specifically really, but you see alot of different strategies. It is interesting when you have two disparate fight strategies meet up and what ensues.

I really emphasized to my new guys to watch at what was going on. I'd point out to them guys that used my strategy to show them that what they receive from me in training is based on my size, body type, age, and training DNA. I'd then have them watch guys that looked different than I did, younger, smaller, quicker, etc. The point was that they needed to eventually find there own way of doing things as they grow. That and what they experienced from me was not the only way, nor the correct way for them.

I can tell you from what I saw, the competition has gotten tougher over all and the matches much more closer. I did not see the blow outs of years past, or the guys that walked through everyone like it was nothing.

Based on your observations, I would guess that what you are seeing is the fact that there has been alot of crossover from wrestling and other MMA styles vice pure BJJ or GJJ. I have also noticed that things tend to be somewhat regional as well, but becoming less so. 6 years ago in Europe, the competition was not all that great, however, it has matured alot. Same with East Coast US vice West Coast US....a blue belt on the east coast is not necessarily the same as a blue belt on the West Coast, however that too is narrowing as BJJ on the East Coast improves and closes the gap.

Do not mean to get the topic off subject, but I think there is alot in the observations concerning knowledge and wisdom gained in various systems and methodologies. There is alot going on that we need to be aware of when making assessments concerning methodologies, effectiveness, and what is going on at various points in time and mechanics.

Michael Hackett
02-04-2012, 01:32 AM
Moving back on track a little, what I've experienced rolling with some of these guys is quite similar to what I experience with really good (in my opinion) aikidoka. Very relaxed, effective use of space or maai, connected at least physically. By connected physically, I mean some of them seem to know exactly what I'm doing with every part of my body as I move. And like being thrown by someone good, I end up submitted or in a position of disadvantage without knowing how it happened. Hard to adequately explain in words, but my sense suggests that the two arts have much more in common than would be expected.

Kevin Leavitt
02-04-2012, 01:38 AM
For the way I train....I see no distinction between the two. in the guard for example, I work on off balancing and uprooting the center of my opponent, from there it is about the spine and controlling it. Movement is the exact same principle as irimi. No difference...just closer and you have your back on the ground.

Marcoh
02-04-2012, 08:15 PM
Just on another side note just had a two day seminar with Braulio Estima and rolled with him andhe definately gets it. some of the concepts he mentioned were: creating a tension in your partner and using this to gague their reaction and moving with or ahead of them. This sounds alot like connection to your partner and using the sensitivity to blend and move with them. He mentioned when you get to a control point/connection with your opponent you become like the rudder of the boat and steer with the opponent's energy. And of course becoming like an anaconda taking away opponent's space. It was a great seminar and my instructor received his Black Belt from Braulio,the first home grown from Northern Ireland.

Kevin Leavitt
02-05-2012, 10:42 AM
awesome and congrats to your instructor!

Marcoh
02-05-2012, 11:17 AM
Thanks Kevin, appreciate that.

DonMagee
02-10-2012, 07:38 AM
Just on another side note just had a two day seminar with Braulio Estima and rolled with him andhe definately gets it. some of the concepts he mentioned were: creating a tension in your partner and using this to gague their reaction and moving with or ahead of them. This sounds alot like connection to your partner and using the sensitivity to blend and move with them. He mentioned when you get to a control point/connection with your opponent you become like the rudder of the boat and steer with the opponent's energy. And of course becoming like an anaconda taking away opponent's space. It was a great seminar and my instructor received his Black Belt from Braulio,the first home grown from Northern Ireland.

I've been to a few Braulio seminars and I have to say he is very impressive and did a lot to change how I looked at bjj, especially in terms of "connection".

Budd
02-10-2012, 12:09 PM
I felt this with Royler Gracie (when he "got under" me with minimal movement) and a bit with Rosendo Diaz (when he offset my gross power in an usual way, then removed my sense of balance to reverse me) at seminars, and both would speak about making someone "light" in order to move them, or reverse position. I'm not going to speak to the level of sophistication in which it was "making someone's power zero, or offsetting their strength via mind-directed force manipulation" from a pure IS perspective - as it was before my chasing of IS stuffs - but I do feel comfortable in saying that there was overlap in both the tactical application sense as well as the notion of "making a connection between yourself and another's center and moving them with your intent" paralleling the approach that might be taken in a purer IS training paradigm.

Marcoh
02-10-2012, 01:22 PM
Yeah Don I totally got that at Braulio's Seminar, and Budd that sounds alot like the concepts braulio was showing also.

Marcoh
02-15-2012, 10:45 AM
Just on a side note is there always a forward extending pressure (like a coiled spring, willow branch tension), when connecting to your partner, partner's centre? As someone else at a Rickson seminar described it like this.

Budd
02-15-2012, 11:31 AM
I would say there's utility in using that as a training device to feel the connection between yourself and another - and it's one tactic for making a solid connection between you and someone else (center on center). But with someone that has some level of baseline skills, it will be harder to plug into their center that way - some you won't be able to find, others will use your attempt to reflect it back on you (aiki, baby).

FWIW

Marcoh
02-15-2012, 12:58 PM
Thanks Budd that make sense to me!!

Josh Lerner
02-16-2012, 02:10 AM
I would say there's utility in using that as a training device to feel the connection between yourself and another - and it's one tactic for making a solid connection between you and someone else (center on center). But with someone that has some level of baseline skills, it will be harder to plug into their center that way - some you won't be able to find, others will use your attempt to reflect it back on you (aiki, baby).

FWIW

Or your attempts will be successfull on someone without any internal baseline skills, yet still backfire. I was training in BJJ a few weeks ago, on my back, with my left leg up in the air. My training partner was on his knees grasping my leg from the underside of it, kneeling with his left knee on the inside of my right thigh. He was trying to straighten my leg and do a knee bar, but it was relatively simple for me to transfer the force he was applying to my leg back through his frame and back into the ground. So in terms of my left leg, I felt totally safe.

The problem was that, due to our relative positions, the force that I was so skillfully sending back through him into the ground was getting redirected down into the ground through the knee (and it was a very pointy knee) that was on my inner thigh. I couldn't squirm out of it without damaging something, so I tapped. I think that is called winning the battle but losing the war.

Come to think of it, that seems to be a running theme in my attempts at using internal skills in grappling.

Josh

Lee Salzman
02-16-2012, 10:07 AM
Or your attempts will be successfull on someone without any internal baseline skills, yet still backfire. I was training in BJJ a few weeks ago, on my back, with my left leg up in the air. My training partner was on his knees grasping my leg from the underside of it, kneeling with his left knee on the inside of my right thigh. He was trying to straighten my leg and do a knee bar, but it was relatively simple for me to transfer the force he was applying to my leg back through his frame and back into the ground. So in terms of my left leg, I felt totally safe.

The problem was that, due to our relative positions, the force that I was so skillfully sending back through him into the ground was getting redirected down into the ground through the knee (and it was a very pointy knee) that was on my inner thigh. I couldn't squirm out of it without damaging something, so I tapped. I think that is called winning the battle but losing the war.

Come to think of it, that seems to be a running theme in my attempts at using internal skills in grappling.

Josh

It's more than a running theme, I think. You lost the war because you tried to win the battle.

I seem to regularly lose against training partners who are both less practiced grapplers and less practiced at jin and other qualities, if only because while I am wasting what little concentration I've got during a grappling session on trying to practice those qualities AND submit the other guy, they're just more worrying about how to submit me. By that, I mean, they're doing the same training as me, just less of it, and with less supervision. And sadly, about 7 times out of 10, I lose. So much for seniority.

The submissions themselves just get harder the 'better' you try to do them. You can do a guillotine choke, or you can do a guillotine choke with jin. A standard issue guillotine choke is easier, but ultimately more limited, due to being isolated movement. A guillotine choke with jin is damned near impossible to pull off without getting right pathways of connection through the upper body... and therefor, I rarely ever pull it off during sparring yet. :D

It seems in the short run adding more complexity to it just makes us suck all that much worse, and take that much longer to improve, at the actual end product, grappling skill.

Budd
02-16-2012, 11:14 AM
So, I think from a BJJ perspective, if you're thinking position before submission - optimizing your Jin and connecting from the other guy's center, I find it's a HUGE aid in always being ahead of the other guy's "loop". Now, if their technique is much better, then it evens out or I'm still stuck (and that's a different problem when you lose control of the engagement, it's tempting to lose control of things that aren't burned into your "way of being" and you're working towards) behind their loop (for different reasons). Also playing a big part are my respective levels in IS development and grappling.

All that being said, when I go for submissions, I'm in the same conundrum - the way I learned to execute those techniques was "wrong" from a pure "ideal" movement perspective. So, while I retrain how I fundamentally move and "be", I also have to rework the techniques from the ground up, so to speak, to be consistent with IS principles. Depending on the caliber of the BJJ school, there are fewer "conflicts" in how the techniques are taught, but more on the assumptions I bring when I try to execute them with my old understanding as it bumps up against what I'm working towards.

So, to simplify, if I focus on the basic things of "connecting center to center", "mentally manage the support of the ground and gravity between us in an optimal manner that will allow me to maintain an optimal position" and then how I receive additional external forces that the other person brings in their efforts to impose their will . .. ALL of this before even worrying about going for a submission . . . I then tend to be in a much better place to apply a submission, or frustrate the other guy into making a mistake, OR (most important to my overall training) be in the best place to escape, deploy a weapon, hit them with knees, hands, elbows, feet, head, shoulder, etc.

Basically, sticking to the basics, working within the specific form, but training a lot of things at once - regardless of whether I get tapped or tap the other person. Of course, it's also not a big focus for me right now, but probably in another 6 months to a year, I'll be getting back into the mix more regularly from a pressure testing perspective.

notdrock
02-16-2012, 10:33 PM
And guess what? In years to come I bet you Gracie goes "We've developed a connection training exercise called Pushing Hands" lol

Seriously, the West is one of two things: too arrogant to think, observe and study true Asian arts; or just miles behind.

For the last 30 years I've been studying, the amount of criticism Aisan arts gets makes me laugh as I watch Western fighters develop "new" and "unique" exercises to help fighters that have already been used in Asian arts for centuries.

Marcoh
02-17-2012, 07:38 AM
I hear what you are saying Luke and agree. I think this is what Rickson Gracie is doing now when talking about connection, sensitivity etc. I can't find the link but in an interview he does give credit to Tai Chi, and he is very in tune with the ideas of Budo and the Eastern arts, as far as exercises like push hands BJJ do have drills like Flow and Slow rolling designed to develop sensitivity, flow and connection.

AikidoDog
02-17-2012, 07:57 AM
Conection is connection with all arts if we can get out of the way.:)

Demetrio Cereijo
02-17-2012, 09:08 AM
I hear what you are saying Luke and agree. I think this is what Rickson Gracie is doing now when talking about connection, sensitivity etc. I can't find the link but in an interview he does give credit to Tai Chi, and he is very in tune with the ideas of Budo and the Eastern arts, as far as exercises like push hands BJJ do have drills like Flow and Slow rolling designed to develop sensitivity, flow and connection.

See: http://www.global-training-report.com/orlando.htm

Marcoh
02-17-2012, 02:05 PM
Cheers Demetrio, that's what I was talking about, nice find!