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Mario Tobias
02-04-2012, 04:31 PM
Just recently, after several decades training, I came to understand that techniques in themselves don't work. It looked so trivial and obvious when the thought came up but I guess it depends greatly on the person how fast or slow his grasp is on the art (which then means I am a slow learner :D ). Aikido is such a challenging and daunting art.

If techniques don't work, then what does?

sorokod
02-04-2012, 04:42 PM
Do you mean to say that techniques don't work in the same way that food recepies don't provide norishment?

gates
02-04-2012, 07:18 PM
Better situational awareness
Mental composure
Avoidance and preemption

Principles that make techniques work - work
(when applied in a suitable moment)

kewms
02-04-2012, 10:35 PM
Techniques work fine if you create the appropriate situation.

Which means that you will already have connection, already have kuzushi, and already have taken control of the attacker's space ... then you can do whatever technique presents itself.

Katherine

phitruong
02-04-2012, 11:10 PM
J
If techniques don't work, then what does?

of course techniques alone don't work. you must have good look and style. some of us just look good naturally in skirts, without even shaving our legs. :D

Carsten Möllering
02-05-2012, 03:07 AM
Just recently, after several decades training, I came to understand that techniques in themselves don't work. ...
What do mean with "technique in itself"?

The more I practice (it's not even 20 years) the more I experience that technique teaches me, teaches my body, i.e. it's structure, it's skill to perceive and to be - what we call her - permeable ... It is not the outer shape of technique, but the millions and millions of details lying under the surface of a technique, that teach the practioner and "transform" him over time.

(Just to take an example: Standing hanmi. You can stand in hanmi and nothing happens. It might look "correct", but it doesn't "do" anythink. It doesn't "work".
And you can learn to stand "correct" in hanmi and suddenly you are doing "sort of qi gong" without even understanding it at first. The differences are very, very small. I sometimes don't see the corrections of my teacher with my eyes, but only feel them with my body. And this has enourmous effects you come to notice. So isnt't this the technique in itself, that works?)

So in my understanding it is just and "only" technique that works. But I think we may call different "things" technique?

Mario Tobias
02-05-2012, 03:34 AM
What do mean with "technique in itself"?

So in my understanding it is just and "only" technique that works. But I think we may call different "things" technique?

It is difficult to explain but what I am trying to get across is that a person's aikido only works if it applies to ALL body morphologies he encounters: small, tall, stout, skinny, strong, limpy, hunched, straight, muscled, etc. But the thing is we don't have the opportunity to train with every kind of body shape, size and strength such that we can only wonder how good (or bad) our aikido is.

The more years or decades you train in the art, the higher the probability you can make the techniques work on a large number of people but that does not mean you understand the art. There must be more fundamental than "technique" that needs to be understood if ever one is to progress significantly.

sakumeikan
02-05-2012, 03:35 AM
Just recently, after several decades training, I came to understand that techniques in themselves don't work. It looked so trivial and obvious when the thought came up but I guess it depends greatly on the person how fast or slow his grasp is on the art (which then means I am a slow learner :D ). Aikido is such a challenging and daunting art.

If techniques don't work, then what does?

Dear Mario,
I would like to know how you arrive at your conclusion here. I find your statement to be for me somewhat confusing.A technique either works or it does not.A technique is just like a menu for baking a cake.Get the right ingredients, the right quantities , mix them up in the prescribed manner, cook the stuff at the right temp.and the result should be a cake.No magic or some mystical process.Just a matter of taking basic aikido principles , putting them into practice correctly.Result-the waza works!!If not go back to the drawing board.To answer your last point, if Aikido doesnt work use a baseball bat[Joking of course].
Cheers, Joe

Mario Tobias
02-05-2012, 05:09 AM
Dear Mario,
I would like to know how you arrive at your conclusion here. I find your statement to be for me somewhat confusing.A technique either works or it does not.A technique is just like a menu for baking a cake.Get the right ingredients, the right quantities , mix them up in the prescribed manner, cook the stuff at the right temp.and the result should be a cake.No magic or some mystical process.Just a matter of taking basic aikido principles , putting them into practice correctly.Result-the waza works!!If not go back to the drawing board.To answer your last point, if Aikido doesnt work use a baseball bat[Joking of course].
Cheers, Joe

I am not saying aikido techniques don' t work. They do, but there's much more than a technique in itself for it to work effectively.

For me, in my training now, I don't focus on the technique itself but rather the underlying fundamentals that make up that technique. The pursuit for me now is not how techniques will work but rather seeking those fundamentals that work that make a technique work. I only know a handful that are tried and proven.

A technique's external form maybe similar when done by different people but its effectiveness varies.

Mario Tobias
02-05-2012, 05:57 AM
continuing from my post above, consider a very simple example

Tai no henko is the most basic exercise we have yet it is the most often unused and misunderstood IMHO. Tai no henko is one of the underlying principles to initiate connection, break uke's kuzushi, initiate wrist escapes or draw uke towards nage. Not only is it an exercise but it is also used for techniques but this is not known to many I practiced with. I think not many people know how tai no henko is properly used. We only think of it as the first exercise we do after completing warm-up yet it is one of the most important fundamentals when doing a lot of techniques. Leave out this aspect and you won't be able to do the technique properly.

Carsten Möllering
02-05-2012, 09:33 AM
... a person's aikido only works if it applies to ALL body morphologies he encounters: ...
I have to admit I don't understand. Because, what I call "technique" is exactly the tool one needs to deal with this: The details of every technique are "designed" to provide the skills to use it against any given body.
In my understanding and also my experience this is just, what technique is about. That's why learning technique is so very difficult and has to be so precise.
It is due to "correct" technique that you can handle people who are stronger or bigger. And that you can rely on the technique whoever is your partner.

This video points in the direction I am thinking of. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LZ3AQWvkeNY)

...the higher the probability you can make the techniques work on a large number of people but that does not mean you understand the art. There must be more fundamental than "technique" that needs to be understood if ever one is to progress significantly.
In my undersanding Technique is not only the outer movement. That outer movement just is a sort of the shape of the technique, that part of the technique you can see. And that shape has a lot of very specific small details you nearly don't see. Finally: Most of what I call technique happens within your own body and can not be seen from the outside. And enables you to deal with alls sorts of other bodies.
Technique means to organize one's own body (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dTJSYId003c) in a certain way, I think.

This are just my thoughts. With not having decades of practice in me, but only few years.

Abasan
02-05-2012, 10:09 AM
Agreed. Techniques on its own doesn't work. Generally it does of course, but it's not the end you are looking for.

I would hazard... You seek power of Aikido. Behind it is the principles that operate in and out of a technique. Understanding that and applying it is what works... Until of course you reach another level.

Of course my decade to your several means little...

Kevin Leavitt
02-05-2012, 10:40 AM
I agree with you that techniques in and of themselves don't work. Controlling the body and core of the person is what allows techniques to work. I think that you are also correct in your observations that different body shapes, sizes, age, abilities plays into things. The more we practice the more we gain in our intuitive understanding of how these things affect the situation. How I deal with a small person differs from how I deal with a large person.

Keith Larman
02-05-2012, 10:49 AM
The best analogy I've ever been able to come up with is to compare it to learning to dance. You can put the little cut-out footprint things on the floor and work out the choreography. And you can train and train on those particular steps and movements. But at some point the choreography needs to "go away" leaving behind someone who is "dancing" and not just doing the movements.

Same for me in playing music. I have a classical piano background. And there is a difference between playing the notes to the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata, and *really* playing the third movement... One is a performance of the notes Beethoven wrote. The latter is creating music through the notes Beethoven wrote.

So I see techniques as being like choreography or notes on a piece of paper. They are ways to get ourselves in to a place where we can begin to really express the art. The technique itself as a teaching device that hopefully allows us to periodically glimpse that which transcends the choreography.

Chris Li
02-05-2012, 11:03 AM
Basically speaking, nothing works well without Aiki.
-Yukiyoshi Sagawa

Which makes sense to me, you can do a paint by the numbers picture (are those around anymore?), but that doesn't make you a painter - not even a good one. And painting by the numbers seems unlikely, IMO, to ever teach you much of anything about painting.

Shioda would say that even if you do a technique perfectly once, if you do it the same way a second time it won't work.

So what needs to link the first and the second time?

Best,

Chris

graham christian
02-05-2012, 01:02 PM
Basically speaking, nothing works well without Aiki.
-Yukiyoshi Sagawa

Which makes sense to me, you can do a paint by the numbers picture (are those around anymore?), but that doesn't make you a painter - not even a good one. And painting by the numbers seems unlikely, IMO, to ever teach you much of anything about painting.

Shioda would say that even if you do a technique perfectly once, if you do it the same way a second time it won't work.

So what needs to link the first and the second time?

Best,

Chris

I like this one. Whenever someone does a 'great' technique and thereafter get's stuck I tell them to take a break and enjoy the good one.

If duruing a drill, and I want them to carry on then I point out they are stuck in the past and have them carry on. Fear can take you out of now but so can 'that perfect one'. Hence every moment is new.

Regards.G.

Mario Tobias
02-05-2012, 01:05 PM
So what needs to link the first and the second time?

Best,

Chris

Exactly.

Endo shihan also said "From chaos, we deal with each individual shape. Then return to chaos. If not, then you are trapped in the forms."

It is only now that I began to understand this. Aikido is a challenging and daunting art in the sense that when you deal with different shapes and sizes, your technique doesn't work all the time. How do you make it work all the time?

In training, you basically deal with chaos. But underneath all this seemingly chaotic environment, there are basic underlying systematic and common principles that apply to every individual. Over time they will get revealed to us one by one. You may have understood the external form of the technique but you really havn't understood the principles that govern the technique as to why it works. These common threads in techniques are what we should be searching for IMO, much more important than how to make the technique work. But the challenge is the search for these and how to prove them. Focusing just on technique, you will get trapped in the forms.

Carsten Möllering
02-05-2012, 01:07 PM
Basically speaking, nothing works well without Aiki.
-Yukiyoshi Sagawa
And he states that aiki is a technique ... ;)

It is my experience that every technique, every waza has an essence, a certain substance. If you find this essence of a waza and adapt it to your own body, feelings, character, you can bring the waza to life. But still the waza is independent of you. It still exists without you.

I don't like the term "principle". Because I think what waza teaches is much more concrete and detailed than what I think, a principle is.

DH
02-05-2012, 01:38 PM
And he states that aiki is a technique ... ;)
He states that aiki is both body conditioning and applied application. He is discussing a rather deep subject. He is correct. Unfortunately I have never seen this demonstrated "in its fullness" much less taught or discussed by anyone in Aikido or Daito ryu.

..every waza has an essence, a certain substance. If you find this essence of a waza and adapt it to your own body, feelings, character, you can bring the waza to life. But still the waza is independent of you. It still exists without you.
I think this is foundational error. It is the essence of what is happening in the body that makes all waza happen and is universal. The rest is window dressing. Your entire art is based on being techniqueless.
Dan

Carsten Möllering
02-05-2012, 03:40 PM
... the essence of what is happening in the body ...
If this is can not be called "technique" what is it?
I'm just starting to search, to look for it. But I am deeply convinced that this can be learned, can be taught, can be explained? It is not arbitrary, it's not magic, it's not fake. It must be something down to earth.
Even it is something very deep.

Thank you for answering. While I'm trying to find words to answer you, I note that I contradict myself.

You are right: A waza like shiho nage or something like that doesn't exist in itself. Question: Are those waza more "typical situations" than "techniques"?
You are right: The essence is what is happening in the body. Question: Isn't this also "technique"?

Ah, and there are not some different techniques in the body, but only one? And this one thing does it all?

questions questions

Rupert Atkinson
02-11-2012, 04:44 PM
I just posted my thoughts here - post #5:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20839

kewms
02-11-2012, 06:41 PM
How much time did Ueshiba Sensei spend teaching waza?

For that matter, how much time do most shihan-level instructors spend on it?

Waza is not aikido any more than memorizing the dictionary is English.

Katherine

Carsten Möllering
02-12-2012, 05:20 AM
For that matter, how much time do most shihan-level instructors spend on it?
As I said in the other thread: When we practice with Endo sensei we usually practice very few waza. This exactly was the reason I at first didn't like his seminars, actually. Was so different to what I knew until then.

And even when we practice a certain waza, it's not the waza itself, we focus on, but allways some detail that can be found everywhere and doesn't point in the direction of this certain waza, but is important universally. Not easy to describe. But the nameable waza are more kind of "occasion" to study something deeper, than the aim of the study.

SeiserL
02-12-2012, 07:36 AM
Yes agreed.

People and principles work.

The technique is only their expression.

Mario Tobias
02-12-2012, 11:48 AM
As I said in the other thread: When we practice with Endo sensei we usually practice very few waza. This exactly was the reason I at first didn't like his seminars, actually. Was so different to what I knew until then.

And even when we practice a certain waza, it's not the waza itself, we focus on, but allways some detail that can be found everywhere and doesn't point in the direction of this certain waza, but is important universally. Not easy to describe. But the nameable waza are more kind of "occasion" to study something deeper, than the aim of the study.

Principles behind waza are rarely or not taught in my observation. It is for the student to discover themselves. Even if you teach it this way, the students will not understand if they are not ready to receive. It may also be that the teacher doesn't know how to teach it properly for the students to understand.

Also, the teacher maybe teaching the principles in class, but the student is focusing on something else. It is for the student to discern what the teacher is ACTUALLY teaching. There's always this type of "miscommunication" happening during classes that the gist of the lesson is entirely missed. So you always have to ask yourself "What is he actually teaching?" It's easy to get distracted trying to mimic the technique or criticizing it, like I do myself.

Marc Abrams
02-12-2012, 12:17 PM
Principles behind waza are rarely or not taught in my observation. It is for the student to discover themselves. Even if you teach it this way, the students will not understand if they are not ready to receive. It may also be that the teacher doesn't know how to teach it properly for the students to understand.

Also, the teacher maybe teaching the principles in class, but the student is focusing on something else. It is for the student to discern what the teacher is ACTUALLY teaching. There's always this type of "miscommunication" happening during classes that the gist of the lesson is entirely missed. So you always have to ask yourself "What is he actually teaching?" It's easy to get distracted trying to mimic the technique or criticizing it, like I do myself.

Mario:

Myself and a number of other teachers have been teaching in that manner for a number of years now. We openly say that the foundation of our teaching is based around the teaching of principles and we explore the end point of the expression of those principles as waza. This experiment in progress has been very positive and beginning students to advanced students all understand this process and benefit from it. My experience has been that it is a more efficient and effective teaching paradigm.

Marc Abrams

Mario Tobias
02-12-2012, 12:53 PM
Sorry marc, maybe I spoke too soon. It's not a generalization for all the teachers but just my observations having been a member of a dozen dojos in my career. Some only teach waza. Some of them do teach principles but there's something lacking that the message is not conveyed properly and the students dont get it. Teachers maybe great in aikido but something lacking in the teaching methods. Its difficult for the student since they dont know what they're searching for in a teacher. Even if they find one, its discerning what lessons to be taken away from the teacher. my apologies.

graham christian
02-12-2012, 01:48 PM
Yes agreed.

People and principles work.

The technique is only their expression.

Agree. But they (the techniques) being an expression have a uniform shape and that's the form seen and recognised with the eyes.

Regards.G.

SeiserL
02-12-2012, 03:31 PM
Agree. But they (the techniques) being an expression have a uniform shape and that's the form seen and recognised with the eyes.
That's one of the things I love about Aikido, it is not what it appears to be.

graham christian
02-12-2012, 03:39 PM
That's one of the things I love about Aikido, it is not what it appears to be.

100%. Well put.

Regards.G.

Marc Abrams
02-12-2012, 04:56 PM
Sorry marc, maybe I spoke too soon. It's not a generalization for all the teachers but just my observations having been a member of a dozen dojos in my career. Some only teach waza. Some of them do teach principles but there's something lacking that the message is not conveyed properly and the students dont get it. Teachers maybe great in aikido but something lacking in the teaching methods. Its difficult for the student since they dont know what they're searching for in a teacher. Even if they find one, its discerning what lessons to be taken away from the teacher. my apologies.

Mario:

No apologies are needed. Your generalization is accurate in my estimation as well. A number of us Aikidoka have been discussing this situation for quite some time now. Our concerns about the teaching paradigms have lead us to pursue a number of approaches in hopes of finding a better formula for teaching in a more effective and efficient manner. I always apologize to my students who are exposed to my experimenting with them as I learn more and learn how to become a more effective and efficient teacher. I sincerely believe that the path of focusing on the execution of principles is proving to be a better approach than the ones that I have been used on me as a student. At the end of the day, I recognize that I may be wrong, but like my teachers, we all are trying the best we can with what we have, can do and know to pass on this art.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

puma
04-24-2012, 02:53 AM
As a beginner of Aikido I have a question concerning your discussion. I have attended two introductory courses on Aikido with different teachers. The first one held the opinion that only the perfection of the technique can make you practice it well and appreciate the value altogether. Of course as a beginner you believe that initially. My second course made me understand that it is the art which should be put into the foreground. I can in some way understand both ways, yet I have noticed that the second teacher does not pay much attention to technique at all and I feel I forget things and do not learn them properly. but I think that's important too - especially as a starter. Can anyone give some advice? Thanks!!!!

Chris Knight
04-24-2012, 05:16 AM
As a beginner of Aikido I have a question concerning your discussion. I have attended two introductory courses on Aikido with different teachers. The first one held the opinion that only the perfection of the technique can make you practice it well and appreciate the value altogether. Of course as a beginner you believe that initially. My second course made me understand that it is the art which should be put into the foreground. I can in some way understand both ways, yet I have noticed that the second teacher does not pay much attention to technique at all and I feel I forget things and do not learn them properly. but I think that's important too - especially as a starter. Can anyone give some advice? Thanks!!!

Coming from another newbie ( 2 1/2 years into aikido), I would suggest the following advice

Research aikido, reserch Daito Ryu, look at O Sensei's training history, what/how he was taught by Takeda, how these martial artistes were predominantly untouchable, why this has hardly ever been replicated, ask yourself why, and then research again - technique has very little to do with it. Dont fall into the possible trap of following the traditional japanese teaching system, only to become stuck in an empty art with no body skills

my 3 pence worth

puma
04-24-2012, 07:48 AM
thank you very much for your advice, I will do some research on that!

lbb
04-24-2012, 08:11 AM
My advice would be the opposite of Chris's -- not that I think it's bad advice, but it's not the only way to understand this dilemma, and I think it might be counterproductive for you. With the caveat that different people learn things different ways, I question whether reading about aikido can produce understanding unless you've got a fair bit of practice behind you to provide a framework for the theory. As a beginner, your goal should be to practice, not to seek to understand the art. Training with two different teachers who take two very different approaches is difficult, and probably counterproductive for a beginner, so choose one -- not necessarily the one whose approach seems to make sense to you now (chances are good that whatever you think you understand now, is at least partly wrong) -- and stick with him/her for a while. Set aside your need to get it, to figure out what aikido is, to find the answers. Just train. If you don't like the training, then don't do it. But I think that ultimately, the harmony in your aikido (for lack of a better way of saying it) comes from your training, your practice -- not from some abstracted ideal that you like the sound of. The sense of it comes within your practice, if it comes at all.

Maarten De Queecker
05-01-2012, 07:24 AM
My advice would be the opposite of Chris's -- not that I think it's bad advice, but it's not the only way to understand this dilemma, and I think it might be counterproductive for you. With the caveat that different people learn things different ways, I question whether reading about aikido can produce understanding unless you've got a fair bit of practice behind you to provide a framework for the theory. As a beginner, your goal should be to practice, not to seek to understand the art. Training with two different teachers who take two very different approaches is difficult, and probably counterproductive for a beginner, so choose one -- not necessarily the one whose approach seems to make sense to you now (chances are good that whatever you think you understand now, is at least partly wrong) -- and stick with him/her for a while. Set aside your need to get it, to figure out what aikido is, to find the answers. Just train. If you don't like the training, then don't do it. But I think that ultimately, the harmony in your aikido (for lack of a better way of saying it) comes from your training, your practice -- not from some abstracted ideal that you like the sound of. The sense of it comes within your practice, if it comes at all.

I have been taking the "two different teachers" approach since I started training five years ago, and it took me quite a while to fuse their teachings into something coherent. It wasn't counterproductive though. Having two different teachers basically forced me to keep an open mind, both in terms of different aikido styles as well as other martial arts (I followed a single lesson of Wing Tsun but I was taught a very valuable lesson there: keep your elbows low at all times). I find that a lot of aikidoka that strictly follow one teacher get the annoying mentality of "this is the only correct way to do it" and disregard all other possible ways of doing stuff (and the possibilities in aikido are endless and incredibly dependent on your own body and who you're training with).

Rupert Atkinson
05-21-2012, 12:56 AM
Sounds like you are onto something. Took me half an age too.

Just recently, after several decades training, I came to understand that techniques in themselves don't work. It looked so trivial and obvious when the thought came up but I guess it depends greatly on the person how fast or slow his grasp is on the art (which then means I am a slow learner :D ). Aikido is such a challenging and daunting art.