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ChrisHein
02-18-2012, 01:38 PM
I recently overheard a conversation between an Aikido student of a few years, and a very experienced martial arts teacher who had never studied or learned much about Aikido. The conversation was quite amusing. It was filled with contradictory statements that were also true, depending on the style of Aikido you studied and what your view of martial arts is. This conversation really got me thinking about Aikido, and how it is a very hodgepodge system.

Hodgepodge means a mishmash of different strange often contradictory things, mushed together. As much as we may not what to admit it, Aikido is a hodgepodge. It is based on many elements of Koryu martial arts, but is so absolutly not a Koryu martial art. It was was really coming into it's own in the 50's, 60's and 70's, when the martial arts world was obsessed with "Karate", and the idea of unarmed martial artists squaring up and duking it out. Yet it's founder, and his predecessor where very interested in multiple attackers, armed conflict and surprise situations. We say that our movements come from the sword, but no two Aikido styles have the same kind of sword work. Our system has many allusions to being very old and "traditional" yet, we are VERY young and unorganized. These are just a few quick examples of the mishmash of ideas and strangeness that surrounds our art. Yet we like to believe our system epitomizes refined martial arts systems.

So my real question is, how can our system continue to survive? Considering how easy it is to find very confusing and contradictory information about our system, it seems to me that we could go the way of the "dodo" quite easily. Most Aikido teachers, while well meaning, good hearted individuals, are just as confused as the general public. Who wouldn't be, our martial art is a confusing subject. In a very short time Aikido has had quite a rich life, which even a true scholar would have a difficult time tracking down.

What do I think we need to do? I've spent the last few years groping my way through this mess, and I've come up with no solid answers for Aikido as a whole. It seems to me, more and more, that it is the responsibility of each Aikido student to be clear with themselves first, they can intern find schools with Dojo heads who have similar goals, and slowly we can work our way back together. Looking only to "tradition" in a system that hasn't had enough time to develop tradition is not going to fix our problems.

Aikido- How can we make it clear.

1. Create a clear context as to what it is we are training for. What kind of martial engagement are we preparing for? When training is complete will we know how to sword fight, or wrestle, of drive a fighter jet? We need clear areas that we are going to be working within. Simply saying you are learning to "fight" or "not fight" is not a suitable answer.

2. Clear definitions of what students should expect to get from our training. Saying things like, " you will gain the power of Aiki" and then only be able to give an intangible answer as to what Aiki is, isn't cutting it. Or saying that Aikido will keep you "fit" when a good number of Aikido teachers are very out of shape, at an early age isn't being honest about what we are doing.

3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable. Without this we are all just wearing old style clothes and dancing about (which actually might be perfectly acceptable, but if it is that should be made clear in 1. and 2.)

Just some thoughts.

graham christian
02-18-2012, 04:56 PM
Seems quite straightforward to me. In the world of kung fu, tai chi, etc. they tend to admit something. They admit they are a 'style of.'

Quite simply you should define your style. Quit worrying about others and know how to define your own.

Thereafter, acknowledge the various other styles.

Regards.G.

kewms
02-18-2012, 07:08 PM
Who is "we?"

Yes, *you* can certainly answer those questions for your practice. So can I for mine. But producing one answer for all of aikido seems to me a hopeless task as it would require a strong central organization that does not currently exist.

Katherine

NekVTAikido
02-18-2012, 08:52 PM
Before we ask "how to survive", ask "why survive?". Do we offer something unique and relevant tithe world? I think we do: aikido forms can be a way for a human being to experience a particular kInd of confidence, to be able to embody that in a physical way; and that confidence can help individuals in addressing the many issues that our society must face. People who know confidence can better lead and inspire it in others. We don't need to survive because the world needs more accomplished in the physical art that Uesiba family has given us; we need to survive because the world needs more genuine Budoka - warriors who are willing to put themselves on the line to protect the best that their society has to offer. The techniques we learn on the mat are only relevant in that they help us discover and remind us of a state of mind (state of being) that we can bring to bear on the real "battle fields" that we all must face in a world that is increasingly overpopulated and overheated.

(Ok, I see this should probably be a different thread - and I'm typing it on the wrong device to do it justice. I'll come back when I have a real keyboard)

Dave Gallagher
02-18-2012, 09:12 PM
I think Aikido has evolved exactly the way it should have. Your Aikido and answers to questions will depend on whose Aikido you are doing. Only O'Sensei did his Aikido. As each student develops into a very advanced level his/her Aikido will be different than the teachers they had.
This is quite natural. Body sizes, weight, shape and mental outlook will make Aikido different from one person to another with basic elements in common.
Trying to make everyone and every technique,style and movement the same would be completely out of harmony with our human nature.
It would also make Aikido less interesting or even to the point of being boring.
Just my opinion. Yours may be different.

I came back to add one thought. Aikido does not need to be accountable to other arts or to anyone else outside of budo or martial arts in general. Aikido can only be accountable to the person who is training. An experienced Aikidoka will not feel the need for any accountability.

Chris Li
02-18-2012, 10:21 PM
I came back to add one thought. Aikido does not need to be accountable to other arts or to anyone else outside of budo or martial arts in general. Aikido can only be accountable to the person who is training. An experienced Aikidoka will not feel the need for any accountability.

Reminded me of a quote from Shoji Nishio - who was pretty experienced :) :

That's why most people's practice today is empty. They don't look at other types of Budo. Right from the start, the value of a Budo is determined by comparisons with other Budo.

Best,

Chris

Dave Gallagher
02-18-2012, 11:22 PM
Compairison is one thing accountability is something else. Anything including flower arranging or making tea can be a budo if practiced correctly. You will note that my comment is talking about "those outside of budo or martial arts in general". Do forms will always be compaired to each other and that is natural and good,but accountability is a different animal.

Chris Li
02-19-2012, 12:02 AM
Compairison is one thing accountability is something else. Anything including flower arranging or making tea can be a budo if practiced correctly. You will note that my comment is talking about "those outside of budo or martial arts in general". Do forms will always be compaired to each other and that is natural and good,but accountability is a different animal.

He really wasn't talking about comparing technical details, he was talking about accountability. It was a common theme with him.

Best,

Chris

Dave Gallagher
02-19-2012, 07:54 AM
I was refering to this quote from him:

"3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable"

....Accountability.....To whom? Experienced aikidoka should be beyond needing it and a novice should be able to feel it when working with their seniors. In the last 35 years I have been involved with Aikido, Kendo, Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo and Shotokan Karate. I never felt the need to campare the effectiveness of the others or saw any reason one should be accountable to anyone outside or within of those arts. It's something you sense while training and that is where the proof is.

Chris Li
02-19-2012, 10:17 AM
I was refering to this quote from him:

"3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable"

....Accountability.....To whom? Experienced aikidoka should be beyond needing it and a novice should be able to feel it when working with their seniors. In the last 35 years I have been involved with Aikido, Kendo, Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo and Shotokan Karate. I never felt the need to campare the effectiveness of the others or saw any reason one should be accountable to anyone outside or within of those arts. It's something you sense while training and that is where the proof is.

Sure, and that's exactly what Nishio was talking about, and talked about quite often. That Aikido ought to be comparing the effectiveness of what they do to people doing other arts.

Here's a little more from the same interview:

For the most part, if you set up Kokyu-ho between two Aikido people it's just useless. That will only be effective in the dojo. I guess that those people say things like "Even though you do Aikido you're also doing Karate and sword. If you want to do Karate then go to Karate. If you want to do the sword then go to Kendo. If you're doing Aikido you don't need to do other things.". Even in other Budo, everybody is working hard, you know. When we see that we should make an effort to surpass them with our Aiki. That is the mission of Aikido as a Budo. Unfortunately, the senior students who had that as a goal are gradually dying away, and the loss of substance just progresses.

Best,

Chris

Lee Salzman
02-19-2012, 10:57 AM
Sure, and that's exactly what Nishio was talking about, and talked about quite often. That Aikido ought to be comparing the effectiveness of what they do to people doing other arts.

Here's a little more from the same interview:

Best,

Chris

I almost wonder if, in light of what Mr. Nishio is saying there, that the problem may be exasperated by any attempts to consolidate aikido. Rather, what if you went the other direction? Get rid of the umbrella term, get rid of the Hombu, let the art radically splinter into countless nameless lineages, that it really is at this point, where each lineage gets by on what it can actually do on its own, now, not who it came from in the past.

Ineffective budo should no longer stand on the shoulders of the ghost of Morihei Ueshiba. By doing effective budo, and calling it aikido, you end up making a conscious choice to subsidize the efforts of those who do ineffective budo, because they can rely on the goodwill engendered by the term aikido to attract and mislead students that they too will get to be like those leading lights by doing something other than what made those illustrious few.

Maybe it is really time for aikido to die, so that the skill may live on?

Dave Gallagher
02-19-2012, 11:38 AM
Christopher, ok, now I see what you mean.

Chris Li
02-19-2012, 12:12 PM
I almost wonder if, in light of what Mr. Nishio is saying there, that the problem may be exasperated by any attempts to consolidate aikido. Rather, what if you went the other direction? Get rid of the umbrella term, get rid of the Hombu, let the art radically splinter into countless nameless lineages, that it really is at this point, where each lineage gets by on what it can actually do on its own, now, not who it came from in the past.

Ineffective budo should no longer stand on the shoulders of the ghost of Morihei Ueshiba. By doing effective budo, and calling it aikido, you end up making a conscious choice to subsidize the efforts of those who do ineffective budo, because they can rely on the goodwill engendered by the term aikido to attract and mislead students that they too will get to be like those leading lights by doing something other than what made those illustrious few.

Maybe it is really time for aikido to die, so that the skill may live on?

Nishio, for all his griping, was always a stalwart Aikikai guy.

Personally, I like the idea of a general umbrella organization. I'm not sure, however, that the current umbrella organizations are the right ones for the future - at least, not as they are currently organized.

I would like to see a loosely organized peer group that provides actual, valuable services to its members. Facilitating networking between groups and members, for example - this is something that is very hard to come by in the arts that have really gone down the splinter path.

Just a thought...

Best,

Chris

Lee Salzman
02-19-2012, 12:42 PM
Nishio, for all his griping, was always a stalwart Aikikai guy.

Personally, I like the idea of a general umbrella organization. I'm not sure, however, that the current umbrella organizations are the right ones for the future - at least, not as they are currently organized.

I would like to see a loosely organized peer group that provides actual, valuable services to its members. Facilitating networking between groups and members, for example - this is something that is very hard to come by in the arts that have really gone down the splinter path.

Just a thought...

Best,

Chris

Could you not provide those same services and networking as part of a larger, style agnostic, martial arts association? Wouldn't you want networking amongst people doing different "arts" help each other improve, rather than just the echo chamber that arises where people believe they're really all doing the same thing? I think that is some of what Nishio is getting at, no? And it seems very relevant to what Chris Hein is discussing: we can't even admit we're all on really different tracks with really different results, let alone discern what makes one track better than another. Really, we can't even figure out what a track is, it's really, really sad.

You could look at CMA as an example of something that splintered in the past, and that due to recent political/government forces has consolidated, but what has that consolidation done for it? Just turned it into a mess of mass market new age tai chi yoga fusion mcdojos. Whereas if you look at the past couple hundred years, there were countless significant different martial disciplines flowering. Most of them are probably dead, in name, but if you look past the idea of passing on some notion of a system or an organization or a complete organized system of whatever, the skills all do survive, taken apart, recombined into new things, sometimes just only partially passed on and then salvaged together with other parts to make new and interesting things that are still relevant facsimiles of those things early in their lineages that spawned them. You have to chase down people with skill, you can't just be lazy and seek out Joe Random Tai Chi Master, but there are people in the CMA with valuable things to teach, but those things are not within the neatly painted lines modern CMA has drawn.

If this were physicists, and we set out to build a fixed organization in the service of Newtonian kinematics above all other tools of physics, what good would that do? It's just a tool, a model, that we find useful to approximate certain problems in certain contexts, but we can pass it on in isolation and without attaching great importance to it on an organization level. Sure, you can go to certain universities who have certain specialties in terms of acquired faculty and research, but they're dedicated to research and advancement of the field. If that means ditching Newtonian kinematics, when, say, relativity comes into the picture, they'll do it, and if good results come from another university, as determined by a peer review, they'll riff on it futher with more research, because the results are more important than the incidental tools or personalities or universities.

Dave Gallagher
02-19-2012, 02:15 PM
After the death of Masatoshi Nakayama in 1987 the Japan Karate Association broke off into a number of groups, each headed by excellent karate men. Many hold that the break up was because no one as
charismatic and strong as Nakayama could or was appointed to succed him. Everyone saw themselves as the rightfull leader.
Only those who stayed with the JKA showed their strong, loyal and true spirit.
The problem of leadership and right of succesion will always cause problem when any leader or founder dies. A single large governing body for Aikido may not be workable idea.
As for myself I remained loyal to the JKA. My sensei wanted to break away years before Nakayama's sudden death. When he did, I resigned and went to train elsewhere. Having various organisations to choose from is in my opinion a good thing. You can choose the one you like best.
I chose the JKA for Karate and Aikikai for Aikido.

hughrbeyer
02-19-2012, 05:53 PM
Frankly, I think loyalty to an institution is a bit daft. Loyalty to people, sure. But if the person you were loyal to dies, I think it's completely appropriate to reassess your institutional ties.

ChrisHein
02-19-2012, 06:12 PM
I was refering to this quote from him:

"3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable"

....Accountability.....To whom? Experienced aikidoka should be beyond needing it and a novice should be able to feel it when working with their seniors. In the last 35 years I have been involved with Aikido, Kendo, Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo and Shotokan Karate. I never felt the need to campare the effectiveness of the others or saw any reason one should be accountable to anyone outside or within of those arts. It's something you sense while training and that is where the proof is.

We must hold our selves highly accountable"

Accountability starts with self.

Kevin Leavitt
02-19-2012, 06:31 PM
All very good questions Chris...same ones I use for myself and the people I train. I personally have no issues with the criteria. It took me some years, but as you state in your last post, it begins with you. Once I realized this, it gave me the responsibility and freedom to train where ever and with who ever I wanted to. I don't care what the organizations do, I have my criteria and I train to accomplish my end states. Same with the folks that train under me.

Dave Gallagher
02-19-2012, 06:50 PM
Chris, accountable to whom? and why? This concept is beyond me. In the old days all koryu were closed and private. It was very difficult to be admitted as a student even with a letter of introduction from a highly respected person. It was the headmaster's way or you were not a member. The ryu was accountable to no one. This is still a good way for modern budo. For me the idea of being accountable to a second or third party is outside of my understanding.
To hold thoughts of being accountable can really be a negative thing on your training. The over used statement "just do it" fits here.
I had a long layoff due to a serious knee injury. When I first came back I had a fear of ukemi. It really held me back. I kept thinking I would injure my knee again. When I decided to stop thinking and just do it I was shocked at how easy it came back to me. The thinking was holding me back. If I had to think about accountabality I would just give up.But thats just me. I have been lucky to have received great instruction and thus never had any doubt about the art or teacher.
Chris, do have have these thoughts because you are in doubt about the instruction that you are getting?

MM
02-19-2012, 07:28 PM
I recently overheard a conversation between an Aikido student of a few years, and a very experienced martial arts teacher who had never studied or learned much about Aikido. The conversation was quite amusing. It was filled with contradictory statements that were also true, depending on the style of Aikido you studied and what your view of martial arts is. This conversation really got me thinking about Aikido, and how it is a very hodgepodge system.

Hodgepodge means a mishmash of different strange often contradictory things, mushed together. As much as we may not what to admit it, Aikido is a hodgepodge. It is based on many elements of Koryu martial arts, but is so absolutly not a Koryu martial art.


So many things wrong ...

First, aikido is *not* a hodgepodge art or system. If you consider what you are training is a hodgepodge system and you're calling it aikido, I would strongly suggest you find a qualified teacher of aikido to help guide you in the right direction. Or quit calling what you do, aikido.

Second, please list your bona fides in the koryu community so that we can better understand how you *know* that aikido is "absolutly" *not* a koryu. Do you have enough qualified years in a koryu to make that statement? Are all koryu the same?

Understandably, if we look back to Japan in the mid 40s (ish), we find that a Japanese Organization was trying to categorize aikido and it did not fit their views of koryu or judo or etc, so they named it aikido. But, you didn't mention any of that. So, back to koryu ... how do *you* know?

Third, Morihei Ueshiba's main, primary martial influence in the creation of his aikido is Sokaku Takeda, Daito ryu and Daito ryu aiki. You failed to mention any aspect of the spiritual part of aikido, do you even wish to go there? How about giving us your research and experiences in Omoto kyo, Deguchi, Reiki Monogatari, the Japanese version of Takemusu Aiki, etc. Are you fluent in Japanese, new and old?

Please don't look to me for answers. I am not the one who posted false statements.


So my real question is, how can our system continue to survive? Considering how easy it is to find very confusing and contradictory information about our system, it seems to me that we could go the way of the "dodo" quite easily. Most Aikido teachers, while well meaning, good hearted individuals, are just as confused as the general public. Who wouldn't be, our martial art is a confusing subject. In a very short time Aikido has had quite a rich life, which even a true scholar would have a difficult time tracking down.

What do I think we need to do? I've spent the last few years groping my way through this mess, and I've come up with no solid answers for Aikido as a whole.


In my travels and short stints at training, I have found exceptional teachers who have a solid direction and path in front of them. George Ledyard, Bill Gleason, Marc Abrams, etc, etc, etc. Not to mention those I haven't met, like Chris Li. And these people have a core group around them that are all looking ahead, understanding where to go, how to get there, and seeing a bright future for aikido.

I would strongly suggest that you do quite a bit more research, quite a bit more training with qualified teachers, and re-assess what you are doing. The answers are there for those open enough to empty their cup. The aiki of Morihei Ueshiba can be found, can be trained, and can be attained.

Do you really not understand who some of these people are and what qualifications they have *earned* through hard work, long years of training, and sometimes great sacrifices?

George Ledyard has posted about his training with Saotome. Start attending his seminars.
Bill Gleason trained in Japan with Yamaguchi at his private dojo. Start attending his seminars.
Marc Abrams has trained with Imaizumi since 1988. Where were you in 1988? If Marc had seminars, I'd suggest you attend them.
Etc

To post information that categorically goes against what these (and other) fine teachers have stated is bordering on lunacy, unless you have the experiences, years in training, and abilities that they have. Do you? You want to know the future of aikido, how about putting yourself out there and finding out in person? Go train with these highly qualified teachers. You want to know what aiki is beyond it being spoon fed to you via pixels on a screen? Seek it out and train. Morihei Ueshiba didn't sit at home when Sokaku Takeda came to Engaru. Morihei Ueshiba did *not* demand that Sokaku Takeda come to *him*. Had he done so, there would never have been aikido.

And history loves to repeat itself. Because all those who demand that this "aiki" come to them are going to be left with ... nothing. Those, like Morihei Ueshiba, who went to train have found aiki, have found what made Ueshiba, Takeda, Sagawa, Kodo, etc great. Have had their eyes opened to true budo. And all those sitting on the fence? Time is ticking away. I have lost count of the number of people who have said, I wish I'd have found this (aiki) when I was younger. And those standing in the way? hahaha. In the very apt story about Ueshiba having men push on him and the men slid backwards, taking tatami with them ... Who is Ueshiba? Who were the men?

Your training is in your hands, but at least have the decency to do the research before posting false information. The only hodgepodge is in the mind of those who truly do not understand aikido. Empty the cup. Find the qualified teacher. Train.

kewms
02-19-2012, 09:07 PM
Frankly, I think loyalty to an institution is a bit daft. Loyalty to people, sure. But if the person you were loyal to dies, I think it's completely appropriate to reassess your institutional ties.

I think it's also reasonable to ask what the institution has done to deserve such loyalty.

Katherine

Chris Li
02-19-2012, 09:24 PM
I think it's also reasonable to ask what the institution has done to deserve such loyalty.

Katherine

It's a two way street - but honestly, I'm not sure that the Japanese entirely understand that what they're providing is not what the kind of two way street that is expected from an organization outside of Japan.

Best,

Chris

Dave Gallagher
02-19-2012, 10:13 PM
Quote from Chris:
"I'm not sure that the Japanese entirely understand that what they're providing is not what the kind of two way street that is expected from an organization outside of Japan."

.....I think you are right. The way see it though is that if you join a Japanese organisation you have to be prepared to live with it. I have never had a problem belonging to any of them. With enough experience you know what your getting into.

Chris Li
02-19-2012, 10:24 PM
Quote from Chris:
"I'm not sure that the Japanese entirely understand that what they're providing is not what the kind of two way street that is expected from an organization outside of Japan."

.....I think you are right. The way see it though is that if you join a Japanese organisation you have to be prepared to live with it. I have never had a problem belonging to any of them. With enough experience you know what your getting into.

The problem is, these are no longer purely Japanese organizations.

The bulk of people have no real contact or relationship with anybody in Japan, and there are more senior people outside of Japan than in.

If they don't recognize that people will just walk - and with good reason.

I don't know about you, but I, for one, see no reason to sit in the back of the bus just because the organization happens to come from Japan.

Best,

Chris

kewms
02-20-2012, 12:50 AM
The way see it though is that if you join a Japanese organisation you have to be prepared to live with it. I have never had a problem belonging to any of them. With enough experience you know what your getting into.

And how many new students have that experience?

Unless someone actually goes to Japan to train, they are likely to have *zero* contact with the Japanese organization that signs their certificates. Their shihan is probably Japanese -- although at this point many shihans have spent more of their lives overseas than in Japan -- but the average student sees that person a handful of times a year, with at most a few minutes of actual hands-on training time. For most American students, their immediate teachers are American, that teacher's peers are American, and so are most of their friends and training partners. On what grounds does the Japanese organization expect any loyalty whatsoever from such students?

Katherine

robin_jet_alt
02-20-2012, 05:28 AM
I think this has strayed a bit off the topic, but I have to say that I have ZERO loyalty to any organization, and as such, I have belonged to 3. 4, if you count Nishio aikido as separate from Aikikai. When I move (which I do frequently), I always look for the best teacher in my area, regardless of the organization. I don't think I am alone in this approach.

chillzATL
02-20-2012, 01:49 PM
What happened to good, hard, honest training? Training with consequences and pushing each other to our limits so that we grow in some meaningful way as as a result? That hardly exists anymore and if that were what aikido still was globally, there'd be about 60% fewer people doing it, but it'd be a hell of a lot better for it. The standards of most aikido are watered down both in the martial sense and also in the sense that nobody is expected to give anymore than they want to give. They never have their limits tested in a way that they have to dig down and find something inside themselves to keep going. They're never put in a situation where they grow in some meaningful way as a result of the training. Good, hard, honest training with consequences. These days we have shodan tests that last 15-20 minutes, sometimes with a chunk of that demonstrating basic ukemi, nobody breaks a sweat, nobody gets pushed or has their limits tested. That's all probably by design. If you expect people to really strive to reach a high standard and you plan on paying your bills from this stuff, well.. good luck. When you set the standard high and require people to really put part of themselves into the training and you push them to get there, really make them work, they come out with an appreciation and love for the training and for what they went through to reach that standard. They know they earned something worth having. When the standards represent a level that's easy enough that most people can do it, well... you get what we see these days.

Lee Salzman
02-20-2012, 08:43 PM
What happened to good, hard, honest training? Training with consequences and pushing each other to our limits so that we grow in some meaningful way as as a result? That hardly exists anymore and if that were what aikido still was globally, there'd be about 60% fewer people doing it, but it'd be a hell of a lot better for it. The standards of most aikido are watered down both in the martial sense and also in the sense that nobody is expected to give anymore than they want to give. They never have their limits tested in a way that they have to dig down and find something inside themselves to keep going. They're never put in a situation where they grow in some meaningful way as a result of the training. Good, hard, honest training with consequences. These days we have shodan tests that last 15-20 minutes, sometimes with a chunk of that demonstrating basic ukemi, nobody breaks a sweat, nobody gets pushed or has their limits tested. That's all probably by design. If you expect people to really strive to reach a high standard and you plan on paying your bills from this stuff, well.. good luck. When you set the standard high and require people to really put part of themselves into the training and you push them to get there, really make them work, they come out with an appreciation and love for the training and for what they went through to reach that standard. They know they earned something worth having. When the standards represent a level that's easy enough that most people can do it, well... you get what we see these days.

I think the question Chris Hein brings up, relative to this point, may be the question of: did we ever actually have any standards to begin with? Maybe there has never been a decline in standards, and that, if anything, they have been on a slow increase since conception of the art... just that, maybe they, as standards, are stuck at a certain plateau because no one knows what is worth standardizing on? It's fine to say people maybe should work harder, but if they're working harder at what is effectively a mediocre goal, the result is still mediocrity.

Kevin Leavitt
02-21-2012, 10:04 AM
Chris, accountable to whom? and why? This concept is beyond me. In the old days all koryu were closed and private. It was very difficult to be admitted as a student even with a letter of introduction from a highly respected person. It was the headmaster's way or you were not a member. The ryu was accountable to no one. This is still a good way for modern budo. For me the idea of being accountable to a second or third party is outside of my understanding.
To hold thoughts of being accountable can really be a negative thing on your training. The over used statement "just do it" fits here.
I had a long layoff due to a serious knee injury. When I first came back I had a fear of ukemi. It really held me back. I kept thinking I would injure my knee again. When I decided to stop thinking and just do it I was shocked at how easy it came back to me. The thinking was holding me back. If I had to think about accountabality I would just give up.But thats just me. I have been lucky to have received great instruction and thus never had any doubt about the art or teacher.
Chris, do have have these thoughts because you are in doubt about the instruction that you are getting?

I am not a scholar, but I believe in the old days, ryus were held accountable. Accountable to the results they produced in a society that trained these guys for practical purposes. In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world. There are very few that are qualified to interpret these tactics and methodologies of days gone by.

So I think that probably has a lot to do with Chris' point.

Cliff Judge
02-21-2012, 10:24 AM
I don't think it is accurate to describe Aikido as a "hodgepodge system," because I don't believe it is fair to look at Aikido as a system. It is a set of systems that were founded, commissioned, or inspired by Osensei at various points during and after his life. The only thing that really binds differing styles of Aikido together is a shared awe of Osensei and a shared lack of understanding of what he actually wanted Aikido to do for the practitioner and the world.

The fact that this is the information age is honestly the real problem - it is too easy for people working in one Aikido system to communicate with people in other systems, and thus have a birds-eye view of the chaos.

Aikido- How can we make it clear.

1. Create a clear context as to what it is we are training for. What kind of martial engagement are we preparing for? When training is complete will we know how to sword fight, or wrestle, of drive a fighter jet? We need clear areas that we are going to be working within. Simply saying you are learning to "fight" or "not fight" is not a suitable answer.

2. Clear definitions of what students should expect to get from our training. Saying things like, " you will gain the power of Aiki" and then only be able to give an intangible answer as to what Aiki is, isn't cutting it. Or saying that Aikido will keep you "fit" when a good number of Aikido teachers are very out of shape, at an early age isn't being honest about what we are doing.

3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable. Without this we are all just wearing old style clothes and dancing about (which actually might be perfectly acceptable, but if it is that should be made clear in 1. and 2.)

I found this three-step program to clarify Aikido interesting, because I asked myself whether these were present in koryu as I understand those systems.

While accountability certainly was - there were duels and dojo breaking - clear context and clear definitions certainly were not; both what a trainee learned and in what domain it was meant to be applied were carefully modulated according to the student's level of experience. A young man might be sent to a dojo to become a good swordsman only to find, ten years later, that he was learning a generalized strategy for getting things done in a stifling, entrenched bureaucracy.

I think it is interesting to note this stuff, because Aikido is a descendant of that educational culture. These issues were never intended to be observed from the perspective that you get with Wikipedia, Aikido Journal, and years of archived posts on this and other forums at your fingertips.

It may be time to work these issues out with some framework or another. But whenever I think about this, I always feel like we risk losing something important that we don't pay much attention to, for example the slow and imperceptible changes and improvements that we get just by going to the dojo every day and grappling with the things we can't yet do, and don't yet understand, not the least of which are WHAT we are trying to do with this stuff and how we can get there for ourselves.

chillzATL
02-21-2012, 10:51 AM
I think the question Chris Hein brings up, relative to this point, may be the question of: did we ever actually have any standards to begin with? Maybe there has never been a decline in standards, and that, if anything, they have been on a slow increase since conception of the art... just that, maybe they, as standards, are stuck at a certain plateau because no one knows what is worth standardizing on? It's fine to say people maybe should work harder, but if they're working harder at what is effectively a mediocre goal, the result is still mediocrity.

I can only speak for myself and of the style I practice, but yes, we have a standard and considering what I've seen it seems to be a fairly uninque one in the aikido world. It's certainly not about simply working hard. I really don't know how better to describe it than good, hard, honest practice. Our instructor trained with O'sensei, Tohei and a list of others across a variety of arts. The way we train is how he trained with them and is a representation of how he has trained his entire life, whether it was boxing, karate, judo or aikido. There is a physicality to the practice that leaves you knowing that you've accomplished something. You're not just going through the motions and people aren't just falling because you're making some arbitrary movement. They won't move if you aren't moving them. They'll reverse techniques on you when you leave holes in them. If you don't maintain kuzushi they'll just stand up. It's a mindset that people are expected to adopt as soon as they start becoming comfortable with the movements of the techniques. IMO it's the type of training one should expect and associate with martial arts, period. I also believe it's the very type of training that went on in "the old days", good, hard, honest training. You're having fun, you're actually working, doing something and you're honest with yourself about what you can do, why you're doing it and about helping other people get where they want to be. The notion of "hard" training, especially in aikido, has been bastardized to mean brutal training or people intentionally hurting others, but I think that's just a copout becuase most people don't want to be pushed and that's the easiest way to deflect the feelings they have when they're reminded that what they're doing is watered down.

There's more to it than just physical training though. There's a sense of accountability to ones self and ownership of the training. The syllabus isn't cut down to be fit conveniently into everyones single serving life without some kind of devotion to it. You're expected to know and learn a lot of stuff and you'll be tested on all of it. If you're not putting in the time and taking ownership of your training, which is obvious BTW, you won't be invited to test. When you do test you will be pushed to your physical limit every time. At the end you will know that you were tested and that when your mind and body wanted to quit your classmates, your friends, picked you up and pushed you just a little bit further and you dug down and responded. You feel like you earned something and probably learned a little something about yourself in the process. That's why I laugh at people who think a shodan shouldn't be able to do "something" with his aikido after 5-6 years of training.

IMO that is the ideal of what the martial arts were supposed to be about, at least in the modern age where the meaning and purpose of martial arts changed. Self improvement, personal growth and ability gained through good, hard, honest practice. I"m fully in the internal training boat too and even with that ,the above still holds true to me. If you're not pushing yourself in your training, internal or external, you're never going to be able to do anything with it. Many of the people who were discussing how to fix aikido when I came here back in 2000 are still trying to fix it, only now they're looking at IT as a way to do that. Many of them still can't see how the IT fits in with the aikido training, that they have to be completely separate or something. IT training is a lot of things, but it's still a very physical process, it has to be felt. If your aikido training has no feel, no weight, no pressure, then it's no wonder that you can't see how the two fit together.

Dave Gallagher
02-21-2012, 01:40 PM
Quote from Kevin:

"I am not a scholar, but I believe in the old days, ryus were held accountable. Accountable to the results they produced in a society that trained these guys for practical purposes. In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world. There are very few that are qualified to interpret these tactics and methodologies of days gone by.

So I think that probably has a lot to do with Chris' point."

.....I would say that the defininition of accountable you use is not what the original poster was thinking. Any ryu that was not effective died out if it's practitioners were killed.No Ryu was held accountable by anything and their practice is anything but esoteric in today's world. Having practiced Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo I can tell you it has a real application in the modern world that can only be felt by those who train in it. To say that " In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world" Shows little experience in the Koryu.

Garth
02-21-2012, 03:37 PM
All arguements about what the founder was doing and what he intended aside.
The name of this thread should be, "If you build it, they will come".
If, lets say you trained in a dojo where it smelled and looked like there was dryed blood everywhere, it kind of attracted those people. People who wanted to rock and roll and train for "real".
And people who were not ready to rock and roll were weeded out pretty quickly in that type of environment.
Conversely, you were training for movement or for a cardio workout or spiritual enlightment , then you attracted another set of people and a different atmosphere was present.
Todays' Aikido embodies both, as long as people are clear with themselves with what they are entering the dojo for , these two groups of people can intermingle once everyone gets to know everyone and a certain skill level attained. Or they end up gravitating towards each other(opposites dont attract in this case) to practice with the people who they know are looking for the same things out of Aikido.
Thinking about what you are bringing yourself to the table for and what I am bringing to the table is almost a yin and yang thing going on ? And very necessary. Needs to be honest at all costs also.
so you are the hodgepole and/or the information source at the same time.
Receiving and giving. a reinvented wheel again with yin and yang with some new spokes and folks added in
;)
As long as you know you are seeking serious accountablilty from your aikido and who is not in your place of training doesnt mean the people who are seeking something different than me should be excluded or me conversely, and I can learn somethings from those "other" people and have.

ChrisHein
02-21-2012, 11:03 PM
After going through the posts, I once again see how hard communication can be. First I'd like to say, my post wasn't pointed in any one direction. It was meant simply as a reflection of what our system looks like to those outside of it.

I hear lot's of "well I know what I am" or "what we do works just fine for me". That's all good and well. I think you should practice Aikido how ever you'd like. But For me, I think it would be nice if we could all be a little more clear about what it is that we think is important in training, and see where it is we (the Aikido community) meet.

I don't think it's a matter of justifying what you are doing to someone else. I think it's a matter of understanding what you are doing, and being able to express that clearly to others. I feel that often times we don't understand our own practice as clearly as we might think we do, so when others ask us what it is that we do, we just give them the same old lines- and it confuses everyone.

I'm not trying to make a pointed argument, even though my tone often comes off as such. I just wish we could all be a little more clear about talking about what we think is important in training. By doing this, we might start to more clearly see the different camps of Aikido, making it easier to explain to the uninitiated what it is we are up to. This will help our art grow, and make the new students of Aikido better able to decide what kind of training they want to do.

Oh real quick:
accountable
Adjective:
1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
2. Explicable; understandable.

I'm not saying that anyone is right or wrong when I use accountable, I'm not saying that there should be any kind of "authority" who checks on you. I'm just saying that we should be clear about what it is we expect from our training, and keep ourselves accountable to our expressed ideals/goals.

Kevin Leavitt
02-22-2012, 03:19 AM
Quote from Kevin:

"I am not a scholar, but I believe in the old days, ryus were held accountable. Accountable to the results they produced in a society that trained these guys for practical purposes. In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world. There are very few that are qualified to interpret these tactics and methodologies of days gone by.

So I think that probably has a lot to do with Chris' point."

.....I would say that the defininition of accountable you use is not what the original poster was thinking. Any ryu that was not effective died out if it's practitioners were killed.No Ryu was held accountable by anything and their practice is anything but esoteric in today's world. Having practiced Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo I can tell you it has a real application in the modern world that can only be felt by those who train in it. To say that " In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world" Shows little experience in the Koryu.

In effect Darwinism held it accountable. Of this that survived, how many are really preserved intact? In the west especially, even if one aligns themselves with a ryu, or establishes at best what could be described as an affinity, what in their/our background gives us the ability to judge quality or to synthesize or intepret the system as a whole?

I did not mean to imply that all ryus in the west are a waste, but to only ask the question, how do you know? How does a culture that is really devoid of folks with a background in fighting hold accountability?

I think a lot of ryus are just that...costumes and trappings and not much else. I use the word ryu very loosely, as a true ryu would not be that...only the ones that call themselves ryus, but have very little depth or synthesis of a complete system.

It is also possible to have a sound ryu, preserved intact and u still have so called members that are completely lost in this sauce.

As u know. Preserving and practicing a old system that is essentially frozen in time is a great deal of work to do. It is a lot more work to interpret that system to modern practices and provide people insight on application. The are very few and rare individuals that can do this well. I value them.

Overall though, I like Chris think there are a lot of things going on out there that are a hodgepodge of whatever.

Garth
02-22-2012, 07:33 AM
"But For me, I think it would be nice if we could all be a little more clear about what it is that we think is important in training, and see where it is we (the Aikido community) meet.""

I think, (opinion, which is all you are going to get and then maybe a consensus) that the majority of the people here, are serious practitioners looking for an effective martial art that will hold up under scrutiny.(me)
Real , truth , pushing the training envelope, etc, application in the street , in the ring and so on
I also think we live in the USA of entertainment and a lot of us have ADD and do not like holding the mirror up on ourselves, happy to view someone else's reflection. This non reflection keeps a lot of people from asking those very questions you ask.:confused:

chillzATL
02-22-2012, 07:40 AM
After going through the posts, I once again see how hard communication can be. First I'd like to say, my post wasn't pointed in any one direction. It was meant simply as a reflection of what our system looks like to those outside of it.

I hear lot's of "well I know what I am" or "what we do works just fine for me". That's all good and well. I think you should practice Aikido how ever you'd like. But For me, I think it would be nice if we could all be a little more clear about what it is that we think is important in training, and see where it is we (the Aikido community) meet.

I don't think it's a matter of justifying what you are doing to someone else. I think it's a matter of understanding what you are doing, and being able to express that clearly to others. I feel that often times we don't understand our own practice as clearly as we might think we do, so when others ask us what it is that we do, we just give them the same old lines- and it confuses everyone.

I'm not trying to make a pointed argument, even though my tone often comes off as such. I just wish we could all be a little more clear about talking about what we think is important in training. By doing this, we might start to more clearly see the different camps of Aikido, making it easier to explain to the uninitiated what it is we are up to. This will help our art grow, and make the new students of Aikido better able to decide what kind of training they want to do.

Oh real quick:
accountable
Adjective:
1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
2. Explicable; understandable.

I'm not saying that anyone is right or wrong when I use accountable, I'm not saying that there should be any kind of "authority" who checks on you. I'm just saying that we should be clear about what it is we expect from our training, and keep ourselves accountable to our expressed ideals/goals.

Thanks for the follow-up.

I think my post makes clear what I believe is important. The only thing I would like to add is that I think hard, honest practice should be backed up by a clear focus on the underlying principles of the art, the IS/IT stuff that gets talked about around here so much. I think every style should have a set of taiso of some sort that can be used to explain, test and build the core body usage/skills of the art separate from the waza. Exercises, partner drills, breathing practice, etc, all bound together by hard, honest practice. I think that type of environment can support anyone who might come to aikido, all under one roof.

Lee Salzman
02-22-2012, 12:57 PM
Thanks for the follow-up.

I think my post makes clear what I believe is important. The only thing I would like to add is that I think hard, honest practice should be backed up by a clear focus on the underlying principles of the art, the IS/IT stuff that gets talked about around here so much. I think every style should have a set of taiso of some sort that can be used to explain, test and build the core body usage/skills of the art separate from the waza. Exercises, partner drills, breathing practice, etc, all bound together by hard, honest practice. I think that type of environment can support anyone who might come to aikido, all under one roof.

Putting on my Devil's Advocate Hat (or dunce cap, as it might be), and in view of Chris Hein's questions again...

While you have defined hard work in a way that is probably understood immediately by most, I still find your definition of what IS is doing here really vague.

To put this in context, I work on stuff in my solitary practice that could be IS or could be the farthest thing from it, nor could I ever tell if it was based on any discussion that has taken place here on AikiWeb amongst any people - I leave nobody spared, not even the usual suspects, some of whom I have worked with in person and did the whole IHTBF thing. I literally have no idea whatsoever whether it is.

However, what I do currently work on in my solo practice is 100% conceptually clear to me what I am working toward, not an ounce of doubt or misunderstanding, and yet making sure my body throughout its entirety adheres to that concept is the most difficult physical-learning undertaking I have ever encountered in my life. I more often than not walk out of training sessions with my teacher, having done nothing but practice on my own body, without even resistance (not to imply there are sessions without resistance, but counterintuitively they hide flaws better than solitary work), yet having completely and utterly failed at getting some little part to express what it needs to. There's always something wrong, no real opportunity to ever get self-satisfied about progress, because the progression is so damned merciless, there is definitely nothing mentally fun about it. My ego gets crushed into a bloody, mutilated pulp, and I question my worth as a human being and why the hell am I doing this because my teacher must loathe how retarded I am or any number of mental bludgeons I beat myself over the mind with from a session like that...

But I still go back, every time, and for some reason I don't get turned away either. And yet if I didn't have a 100% clear conception of what it was I was trying to achieve? I would have quit almost from the start because there is no way in hell I would keep going back, it would be utter self-destructive lunacy.

So, yeah, how do you thus define exactly what IS, conceptually, and what aiki is, and how aikido expresses it? Not in terms of, oh, do these exercises, or feel that guy, but where even a novice can hear an explanation and go, yes, yes, I understand, I'd have to be an idiot to not understand. It's okay if the difficulty of the training makes them feel like an idiot, but the explanations never should. But as far as IS and aiki goes, I've never seen clear explanations, not even in person, from proponents of them... So I think there's a massive problem there.

chillzATL
02-22-2012, 04:16 PM
Putting on my Devil's Advocate Hat (or dunce cap, as it might be), and in view of Chris Hein's questions again...

While you have defined hard work in a way that is probably understood immediately by most, I still find your definition of what IS is doing here really vague.

To put this in context, I work on stuff in my solitary practice that could be IS or could be the farthest thing from it, nor could I ever tell if it was based on any discussion that has taken place here on AikiWeb amongst any people - I leave nobody spared, not even the usual suspects, some of whom I have worked with in person and did the whole IHTBF thing. I literally have no idea whatsoever whether it is.

However, what I do currently work on in my solo practice is 100% conceptually clear to me what I am working toward, not an ounce of doubt or misunderstanding, and yet making sure my body throughout its entirety adheres to that concept is the most difficult physical-learning undertaking I have ever encountered in my life. I more often than not walk out of training sessions with my teacher, having done nothing but practice on my own body, without even resistance (not to imply there are sessions without resistance, but counterintuitively they hide flaws better than solitary work), yet having completely and utterly failed at getting some little part to express what it needs to. There's always something wrong, no real opportunity to ever get self-satisfied about progress, because the progression is so damned merciless, there is definitely nothing mentally fun about it. My ego gets crushed into a bloody, mutilated pulp, and I question my worth as a human being and why the hell am I doing this because my teacher must loathe how retarded I am or any number of mental bludgeons I beat myself over the mind with from a session like that...

But I still go back, every time, and for some reason I don't get turned away either. And yet if I didn't have a 100% clear conception of what it was I was trying to achieve? I would have quit almost from the start because there is no way in hell I would keep going back, it would be utter self-destructive lunacy.

So, yeah, how do you thus define exactly what IS, conceptually, and what aiki is, and how aikido expresses it? Not in terms of, oh, do these exercises, or feel that guy, but where even a novice can hear an explanation and go, yes, yes, I understand, I'd have to be an idiot to not understand. It's okay if the difficulty of the training makes them feel like an idiot, but the explanations never should. But as far as IS and aiki goes, I've never seen clear explanations, not even in person, from proponents of them... So I think there's a massive problem there.

I'm a big fan of those who play devils advocate! To be completely honest, I wasn't seeking to define it in the same way I did the hard practice stuff, but I'll give it a shot with the caveat that I DO NOT teach anyone IS/IT. What I do is try to relate what I've learned, what I've felt and what of it I can physically demonstrate in a way that hopefully makes sense and that usually means relating it to things they are already familiar with in their training, mainly Tohei's methods. Now, we could spawn a whole discussion about whether or not Tohei was like Ueshiba, how much if it he got or didn't get and how good overall his stuff is for learning this, but that'll be another thread.

IMO, as it relates to aikido practice as we all know it, I think his methods provide a more than ample framework for people to explore and develop IS provided that you take the time to explain those things in the more modern, easy to understand way that people like Dan and Mike are doing. It's probably best if I just give you some examples of some of the things I talk about when I have an opportunity to lead class and how i personally do things myself now.

Ibuki no ho: This is one that I think most people see as some sort of relaxation technique to start class, get your mind right and all that. I used to see it that way, but not anymore. What I explain is that you should inhale into your lower abodomen/hara/whatever and you should feel the pressure of that breath pushing into the ground and that in turn pushing your hands up. You're not raising your arms, they're being pushed up. As the hands go up, and open the front of the body opens, the back closes and as they exhale the hara sinks, pulling the arms down, closing the front of the body and opening the back. Rinse and repeat. I'll talk about initially making sure your body, arms, hands fingers are all slightly stretched/full and that the inhale should increase that feeling. you might even feel a slight tingle in the hands/arms, I did and do. Eventually it should create this cycle that just goes back and forth and at some point some of that pressurized feeling you get on the inhale should remain even through the exhale and into the next cycle. Some of this I really haven't gotten into much because I don't think you can really feel a lot of it until you develop some sensitivity to that ball of pressure in the dantien. Once you start feeling that then the flow of that cycle becomes more clear, as does that weird sensation in the body. IMO this exercise alone covers quite a few layers of the IS onion. A relaxed, connected body, using breath to further connect it and center initiated movement.

Taiso: Just doing taiso I try to get people to think of that same stretched and full feeling as mentioned in ibuki. Not a hard, physical stretch, but just a slight tug at the skin. I also focus on the same center initiated movement as mentioned above and getting that same breathing cycle going, opening and closing, etc. We'll also pause at various points in the taiso and do push tests. Ikkyo-undo for example, we'll stop with the hands extended and push from the front into the hands, chest and shoulders and to the hips from behind. Sayu-undo we'll pull the arm on the extended side and push into the hip on the weak side. You can do that on almost all of the taiso and it helps people feel what "complete relaxation" is really supposed to be and after a little practice you can start feeling the ground supporting you and letting those pushes just pass through you and expand into other aras involving breath, intent, etc.

waza: I try to find ways in every technique to impart all of the above and more. One of my favorites and one that I think the other people in class were able to feel immediately was doing shomenuchi ikkyo, irimi. Normally we move in as uke moves to strike and try to catch the strike at its apex and then drive into uke to do the ikkyo. In this case I had them catch the arm in the extended ikkyo undo position and let the uke's weight settle on them. They should relax and let that weight pass thorugh them to the ground, but use that weight to connect to uke's center and then find a way around that force. One neat thing that I found is that if you set your intent in the direction you want them to go before contact, they tend to go that way on contact, pretty neat stuff. I've done that same sort of intent stuff in a few other exercises and people felt it. I am not ashamed to admit that I stole a good example of ki and intent that Mike Sigman used when talking about that stuff that people really seem to get.

So yah, that's basically it, there's a lot more that I could drone on about and I've skipped over a lot of things that I personally do and think about and talk about, but I'm at work and I have a hard time writing about this stuff and not getting up and grabbing my bands so that I can better put those feelings it into words, which just makes it take even longer. What I'm doing is just a hodgepodge anyway, things I learned from Mike and from local guys who have worked with him, Ark and others and are just flat out better and stronger than me. Then practicing those things until I can feel them and then thinking about how they relate to what I'm doing and how they feel in application, what it does to uke, etc. Once you feel it, it aint so hard, but boy it sure isn't easy..

I'm convinced that if the general aikido world actually worked on developing a relaxed, well connected body that moves from the center and gets support from breath, the ground and gravity and then worked at applying those same body principles in good, hard, honest practice, the martial arts world would have some real respect for the art and that's not even factoring in all of the other layers of the IS onion that I didn't bother mentioning here. Hopefully I've answered your question well enough, but if not, grill me again and I'll try again when I have more time later this evening. I certainly did not cover everything I think about or attempt to do as it relates to aikido and IS.

hughrbeyer
02-22-2012, 08:09 PM
... It's okay if the difficulty of the training makes them feel like an idiot, but the explanations never should. But as far as IS and aiki goes, I've never seen clear explanations, not even in person, from proponents of them... So I think there's a massive problem there.

Erm, get out much? This stuff is being spoon-fed to us these days. The guys do everything but chew it up and spit it into our mouths. And not just from the people who are re-creating it, but from the ones they're teaching and even the next-level teachers as well. We've never had it so good.

Lee Salzman
02-23-2012, 12:28 AM
I'm convinced that if the general aikido world actually worked on developing a relaxed, well connected body that moves from the center and gets support from breath, the ground and gravity and then worked at applying those same body principles in good, hard, honest practice, the martial arts world would have some real respect for the art and that's not even factoring in all of the other layers of the IS onion that I didn't bother mentioning here. Hopefully I've answered your question well enough, but if not, grill me again and I'll try again when I have more time later this evening. I certainly did not cover everything I think about or attempt to do as it relates to aikido and IS.

You've defined somewhat what IS is to you in terms of exercises, but, why do you need to do it? Why is it integral to aikido for you? Without the why, you can only blindly flail from what you are doing to why you are doing it. If you have a why as well, it helps you to work backwards and structure the what to make more sense - both ways. So... why?

Erm, get out much? This stuff is being spoon-fed to us these days. The guys do everything but chew it up and spit it into our mouths. And not just from the people who are re-creating it, but from the ones they're teaching and even the next-level teachers as well. We've never had it so good.

You're welcome to take a shot at my question then if you feel it is so trivial. Let's do less boasting and more answering.

phitruong
02-23-2012, 07:34 AM
You've defined somewhat what IS is to you in terms of exercises, but, why do you need to do it? Why is it integral to aikido for you? Without the why, you can only blindly flail from what you are doing to why you are doing it. If you have a why as well, it helps you to work backwards and structure the what to make more sense - both ways. So... why?


don't know what Jason's answer but i can answer from my point of view. IS is the engine of aiki and since I am doing aikido, i.e. the way of aiki. personally, trying to fit IS into aikido is silly, since it's the foundation of aikido in the first place, i.e. there isn't a separation to put it back.

as for the question on hodgepodge, i thought martial arts by definition is a hodgepodge of things that helped us to win, and before someone threw a fit on the winning thing, try masakatsu agatsu (i hate losing to the phi dude). in the old days, the things that made you lose, you won't see it again. now a day, it's the opposite, because we can console ourselves that we are building our characters by losing. me, i hate losing in a food fight or wet t-shirt contest since i got a pretty sizable upper. :D

Dave Gallagher
02-23-2012, 08:11 AM
One thing I wanted to mention, Please don't mistake real Koryu for any art that has ryu in the title. I would guess that 95% of arts with ryu as part of the title are modern and fake. They are based on something but only go back a few years when the arts founder made up the name and claimed a title like "Grand Master" or "head Master".etc.
True Koryu like Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo is at least 600 years old and its linage and students can be traced back for generations.

chillzATL
02-23-2012, 08:24 AM
You've defined somewhat what IS is to you in terms of exercises, but, why do you need to do it? Why is it integral to aikido for you? Without the why, you can only blindly flail from what you are doing to why you are doing it. If you have a why as well, it helps you to work backwards and structure the what to make more sense - both ways. So... why?

Like I said, I wasn't trying to write a thesis on what IS is, that's another thread too, but I thought I kind of covered the why. You let people feel what you're doing and you show and explain why this way is better than that way. That's why I try to only touch on things that I can actually demonstrate to a degree that someone can feel and also explain in a clear manner. If someone feels it and doesn't care, not my problem, but when what you're doing fails to work on me or move me, don't fall back on the ole bad uke bit. That's one of the aspects of that whole "honest training" thing. If you feel something better and you're too dishonest with yourself to care, again, not my problem. All I can do is make the best of what I've got and do everything I can to improve myself and the people I practice with. I don't call myself a teacher of anything and I know that what I'm doing isn't high level. It's little more than a sample of some of the core skills and conditioning that make up IS. I don't even consider it aiki, but again, it's definitely some of things you need to make aiki and that's a step in the right direction. Especially when it's so easy to feel the difference.

Lee Salzman
02-23-2012, 09:36 AM
Like I said, I wasn't trying to write a thesis on what IS is, that's another thread too, but I thought I kind of covered the why. You let people feel what you're doing and you show and explain why this way is better than that way. That's why I try to only touch on things that I can actually demonstrate to a degree that someone can feel and also explain in a clear manner. If someone feels it and doesn't care, not my problem, but when what you're doing fails to work on me or move me, don't fall back on the ole bad uke bit. That's one of the aspects of that whole "honest training" thing. If you feel something better and you're too dishonest with yourself to care, again, not my problem. All I can do is make the best of what I've got and do everything I can to improve myself and the people I practice with. I don't call myself a teacher of anything and I know that what I'm doing isn't high level. It's little more than a sample of some of the core skills and conditioning that make up IS. I don't even consider it aiki, but again, it's definitely some of things you need to make aiki and that's a step in the right direction. Especially when it's so easy to feel the difference.

Keep in mind I still have my dunce cap on as I type this...

This is, to paraphase, just IHTBF, and it was a cop-out, is a cop-out, and will always be a cop-out. It puts the subject on no better a level than an STD that requires close, sustained contact of a mysterious nature to transfer between individuals. But, hell, at least we know at a rough level how HIV works, or others that shall remain nameless, and the consequences of catching it, even though few of us may claim to be disease researchers or MDs. I'd say, HIV has a huge edge on aikido there.

You could tell a man who has never seen modern boxing that the modern sport of boxing is two men hitting each other with closed fists until one guy gets knocked out and loses. That would tell him nothing of how to train boxing, or the frightening totality of it, but it is a clear seed of an idea that encapsulates the essence of it, and why certain things are essential. He might be able to reason that being able to hit hard and fast, and not get hit, are core skills, whether or not that is the case. So if someone showed him the mechanics of striking, he would at least know he must learn the mechanics of striking so that he can hit harder and hit faster and deflect better. But if no one told him why, he would most likely just mimic the form of striking, without progressing towards a clearly defined end.

Now, luckily, he could probably just watch a single boxing match and reason out the why himself to some extent, but aiki does not work this simply. You can see it, you can feel it, you can be shown how to train it, but without a clear conception of why you must do that, your training is just going to be going through the motions. We have the undeniable anecdotal evidence of this situation. Having a teacher who knows what they are doing, even if they can't explain it, who can poke you when you're doing something not right can only go so far, even ignoring that such people are in short supply. Again, we have the anecdotal evidence of that.

This matters even when this stuff is transmitted in person. Again, I've seen the stuff in person, felt the stuff in person, and the justification usually is only ever implied, not explained, that they can do powerful things with this and they got it by doing such and such things. But yet, I always walk away still not knowing what I am trying to get out of these such and such things, especially after many moons pass since the initial IHTBF experience, and the mirage of what was imparted has dissolved. This is simply because it is rarely ever explained what I am supposed to be getting out of it, again, just implied, do this and you too can have my superpowers.

And you know what? It totally does not have to be this way. We just keep making excuses for it - oh, they'll never understand, or, oh, they'll just misinterpret it, so why bother. We can't even somehow be bothered to give a this-is-how-I'd-explain-it-to-a-Martian-why-I-do-this executive summary. It's just a big old IHBTF club, and we're all so smug and satisfied when we're in it, because we can all feel like we're on exactly the same page or working to the same end because we can never even explain what we do enough to realize none of us really are. It's a big club, and we're not in it, we're not in the big club (RIP: George Carlin).

chillzATL
02-23-2012, 10:25 AM
Keep in mind I still have my dunce cap on as I type this...

This is, to paraphase, just IHTBF, and it was a cop-out, is a cop-out, and will always be a cop-out. It puts the subject on no better a level than an STD that requires close, sustained contact of a mysterious nature to transfer between individuals. But, hell, at least we know at a rough level how HIV works, or others that shall remain nameless, and the consequences of catching it, even though few of us may claim to be disease researchers or MDs. I'd say, HIV has a huge edge on aikido there.

You could tell a man who has never seen modern boxing that the modern sport of boxing is two men hitting each other with closed fists until one guy gets knocked out and loses. That would tell him nothing of how to train boxing, or the frightening totality of it, but it is a clear seed of an idea that encapsulates the essence of it, and why certain things are essential. He might be able to reason that being able to hit hard and fast, and not get hit, are core skills, whether or not that is the case. So if someone showed him the mechanics of striking, he would at least know he must learn the mechanics of striking so that he can hit harder and hit faster and deflect better. But if no one told him why, he would most likely just mimic the form of striking, without progressing towards a clearly defined end.

Now, luckily, he could probably just watch a single boxing match and reason out the why himself to some extent, but aiki does not work this simply. You can see it, you can feel it, you can be shown how to train it, but without a clear conception of why you must do that, your training is just going to be going through the motions. We have the undeniable anecdotal evidence of this situation. Having a teacher who knows what they are doing, even if they can't explain it, who can poke you when you're doing something not right can only go so far, even ignoring that such people are in short supply. Again, we have the anecdotal evidence of that.

This matters even when this stuff is transmitted in person. Again, I've seen the stuff in person, felt the stuff in person, and the justification usually is only ever implied, not explained, that they can do powerful things with this and they got it by doing such and such things. But yet, I always walk away still not knowing what I am trying to get out of these such and such things, especially after many moons pass since the initial IHTBF experience, and the mirage of what was imparted has dissolved. This is simply because it is rarely ever explained what I am supposed to be getting out of it, again, just implied, do this and you too can have my superpowers.

And you know what? It totally does not have to be this way. We just keep making excuses for it - oh, they'll never understand, or, oh, they'll just misinterpret it, so why bother. We can't even somehow be bothered to give a this-is-how-I'd-explain-it-to-a-Martian-why-I-do-this executive summary. It's just a big old IHBTF club, and we're all so smug and satisfied when we're in it, because we can all feel like we're on exactly the same page or working to the same end because we can never even explain what we do enough to realize none of us really are. It's a big club, and we're not in it, we're not in the big club (RIP: George Carlin).

I don't know Lee, I think I see the point you're getting at, but I don't know if I agree that it's all that important to know at first. I mean I can explain that there is this fascial network that covers the body and that I believe that what we're doing is conditioning and strengthening that network in a way that allows us to use that, rather than traditional muscle, to provide strength and support for our body. I can explain that this same network, when conditioned, has an elasticity to it that can be used to absorb and express forces and the more conditioned it is the more elasticity we have to work with. I can explain that all this relaxing and pushing is designed to condition the muscles under the muscles so that they can provide enough support at the joints so that the big muscles aren't compelled to kick in, which effectively raises our center of gravity making us light. I can explain that as you condition this network across the body you "connect" it so that it's an integrated unit and that when you move that unit from the center it's stronger than a non-integrated one and that you start combining that with the other things and it just gets stronger and stronger and you can do things like direct forces through it in interesting ways, such as getting under someone from a wrist grab. I can explain all those things, but I don't really think it matters because you're discussing long term results and the end result of this stuff is a LONG WAY OFF. You start wtih these very basic feelings and sensations and you work towards being able to replicate them on a more consistent basis and then against a higher degree of force or another skilled person. Knowing what should eventually be happening isn't going to help you get there faster. It's the small, boring, incremental work that really translates into understanding, for you. That's how it was for me. I personally enjoy discussing this stuff on that sort of level, but that's the kind of thing I want to do after a few good hours of training, over beers because it is, IMO, the doing and trying to do that ends up making more sense out of it than anything.

hughrbeyer
02-23-2012, 02:21 PM
... I can explain all those things, but I don't really think it matters because you're discussing long term results and the end result of this stuff is a LONG WAY OFF.


Y'know, I've read this kind of stuff before and of course, at one level, it's true--takes years to really develop these skills--like any skills worth having.

But at another level, hell no, the end result isn't a long way off. I am very much in my only-an-egg phase of IS training, but it's already making a huge difference on the mat. Yes, someone with a well-connected body and decent IS skills can still take me apart in minute but let's face it... even in my dojo, there aren't that many of those people. :D The rest of them are going, "What? What did you just do? Why am I off balance?" If you're doing it right, you should be feeling the difference from very early on.

chillzATL
02-23-2012, 02:33 PM
Y'know, I've read this kind of stuff before and of course, at one level, it's true--takes years to really develop these skills--like any skills worth having.

But at another level, hell no, the end result isn't a long way off. I am very much in my only-an-egg phase of IS training, but it's already making a huge difference on the mat. Yes, someone with a well-connected body and decent IS skills can still take me apart in minute but let's face it... even in my dojo, there aren't that many of those people. :D The rest of them are going, "What? What did you just do? Why am I off balance?" If you're doing it right, you should be feeling the difference from very early on.

Oh I agree completely Hugh. We're likely in a very similar boat in that regard. I was simply refering to going into in-depth discussion of the mechanics and physiology behind a lot of this stuff before someone is even feeling the basics. I'm not sure that it's going to amount to much, but yes, I totally agree that when in a dojo of non-IS people, a little sure goes a long way and the difference should be noticable after a short time of committed practice. If not, one should probably evaluate what they're doing.