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ChrisHein
08-18-2012, 09:48 PM
Here is a live sparring practice we've been working on for the last few months. Until recently I had not realized how long it's been since I put up some videos. So I thought some of you might be interested. Also, as you can see, we've moved out of the garage, and for the last year have been enjoying our new huge mat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76GCudXcFq0&list=UUYm1xci-IqGeLiSzbAhGPKA&index=1&feature=plcp

This is a bokken sparring practice. We limit the valid strikes to head, body and wrist. You can grab, clinch, throw, disarm, thrust and strike in this practice. This is another of our exercises in trying to understand exactly how the techniques of Aikido "work". In this video you will see many classic Aikido bokken technique done at speed, full resistance, unchoreographed. You can also see many important Aikido tai sabaki movements and techniques. You also see how something like "ippon dori" has great use in this type of situation.

Thanks for watching.

ChrisHein
08-22-2012, 12:48 PM
I'm surprised to see no comments.

Russ Q
08-22-2012, 03:25 PM
I saw this on youtube yesterday when I was trolling. I really like it....out of the box training and kudos to you for keeping form and not just whacking sticks! Good stuff....sorry I don't have the expertise to be more critical and get a discussion going. I am surprised no one else has piped up.

ChrisHein
08-22-2012, 04:12 PM
Thanks Russ. This is an example of a slow build to sparring. We started off with no armor at all, this required everyone learn control. We also played with a much simpler rule set which allowed us to practice with lots of control. Then we added armor, and speed and grappling slowly. We are building to a very free practice, that should as you say "keep the form". Only when you do things real time, or as the MMA crowd like to call it "Alive" can you actually see "Aiki". Without a real, unknown interaction you are only describing Aiki and not actually experiencing it.

Josh Lerner
08-22-2012, 04:17 PM
Hi Chris,

Have you tried doing it where neither of you are acknowledging the other's strikes? It seems to be what most people do even in kendo (where the ref stops it instead of whoever is hit) and western martial arts, but when I was doing some weapons sparring we decided to do away with that and see what happened. Here are some things we noticed:

- It was interesting to practice sparring without the psychological breaks. Stopping between "points" (for lack of a better term) seemed to encourage us to relax zanshin a bit, whereas not stopping to acknowledge a hit (even if there were momentary breaks in the action) produced a much higher degree of psychological and emotional tension.

- Stopping and acknowledging when you've lost, while polite and in tune with the spirit of how most of us practice budo, seems to ingrain in the practitioner the tendency to give up when they perceive they are at a disadvantage. I noticed when I started training in submission wrestling and BJJ that I had an unconscious tendency to give up when I felt that my sparring partner got me in a clean technique, because that was what had been ingrained in me over several decades of traditional martial arts training. I would also get frustrated at first when I would get my partner in a dominant position, but they would fight it and reverse it; even though I knew intellectually that that is what happens, I was unconsciously expecting them to give up and acknowledge my superior position or my submission attempt by tapping. It took me a year or two to deprogram that tendency.

- Forcing yourself to continue sparring and either aggressively attacking or actively defending after you've been hit seems to be a more realistic and advantageous habit to develop. Although I've never been in a major altercation, let alone one involving weapons of any kind, the general wisdom I've seen from people who have either been there or studied those types of incidents is that your ability to function after being shot, stabbed, cut, etc, is largely dependent on your mindset. If we take that as an accurate assumption, it would make sense to me to train yourself more to keep going after having been hit than to train yourself to assess your own damage and stop fighting. If you've taken a bad shot and the bad guy is still coming at you, acknowledging that they got you isn't going to stop them, so if you're still breathing, why not keep fighting?

- Acknowledging when one person has "won" an exchange, while somewhat useful for feedback about the effectiveness of a technique, seems to shift the overall emphasis of the sparring session to "who is better, me or him?" Continuous action with no official breaks kind of short-circuits that type of thinking (kind of, but not completely), and the session becomes more focused on each person really getting the chance to keep on flowing through the exchanges.

I know you've done some fighting with the Dog Brothers, so it would be interesting to hear your opinion on the similarities/differences between what you are doing in the dojo and what you do with the Dog Brothers.

Josh

ChrisHein
08-22-2012, 05:39 PM
Hey Josh,
Thanks for your comments/thoughts. Most of the sparring practices and drills we do at our Dojo do not stop after a strike is achieved. And I believe overall that is the most beneficial way to practice, for many of the reasons you describe. There tends to be a mental break that happens when you stop after a "successful" strike, and you feel as if the bout should end. In a "real fight" this is a bad mindset to have.

The other side to that coin is how much do you accept the fact that the other guy hits you. For example at a Dog Brothers meeting, I was talking to one of the guys who fought at the pack meetings quite a bit. He was saying how as time went on, there seemed to be more injuries. His guess was because people were less scared of being hit. I thought that was a pretty astute observation. As your "fear factor" goes down, you are willing to try more and more radical things. With a blade, you can't really afford to get hit even once, because of the damage a blade will do. Training like this encourages you to be more careful, and try very hard not to get hit.

There are good parts to both training methods. As time goes on I become more and more an advocate of constantly changing your sparring dynamic. This keeps the practitioners from getting too comfortable with any one give rule set, and forces them to adapt to new situations and new demands.

Thanks!

Rob Watson
08-22-2012, 07:22 PM
Try putting lipstick along the 'cutting edge' and notice how many cuts appear after one too many instances of a grapple. Notice how many cuts are marked that were not actually even noticed at the time.

ChrisHein
08-22-2012, 10:41 PM
I've done that with carpenters chalk, it is surprising. The problem with that is how many of those "cuts" were soft touches? It's also hard to assess how many of those may have been fight stoppers, or mere flesh wounds. Or how many of those "wounds" may have been life threatening, but not for another 15 minutes, long after the fight was over. It's too hard to try an replicate "reality".

When making a sparring practice I think it's important to try to figure out the "main goal" of that particular practice and not try to make any one practice all inclusive.

The main goal in this practice is to learn to move in time with your partner, avoiding any serious blows to vital spots, while trying to make a good hit yourself. Failing that, can you control, and disarm or submit.

Chris Evans
09-10-2012, 01:25 PM
Here is a live sparring practice we've been working on for the last few months. Until recently I had not realized how long it's been since I put up some videos. So I thought some of you might be interested. Also, as you can see, we've moved out of the garage, and for the last year have been enjoying our new huge mat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76GCudXcFq0&list=UUYm1xci-IqGeLiSzbAhGPKA&index=1&feature=plcp

This is a bokken sparring practice. We limit the valid strikes to head, body and wrist. You can grab, clinch, throw, disarm, thrust and strike in this practice. This is another of our exercises in trying to understand exactly how the techniques of Aikido "work". In this video you will see many classic Aikido bokken technique done at speed, full resistance, unchoreographed. You can also see many important Aikido tai sabaki movements and techniques. You also see how something like "ippon dori" has great use in this type of situation.

Thanks for watching.

wow that sounds fun.

Lyle Laizure
09-11-2012, 05:38 AM
Just my two cents....Try removing the protective gear. What is being done in the video is fun and will be great for upbeat exercise but isn't realistic.

NagaBaba
09-11-2012, 04:06 PM
Are you allowing to attack any point of the body?

ChrisHein
09-15-2012, 12:39 PM
Just my two cents....Try removing the protective gear. What is being done in the video is fun and will be great for upbeat exercise but isn't realistic.

When creating any kind of sparring practice there is lots to take into consideration. First what are you trying to accomplish, second how are you going to accomplish that goal in a reasonable/sustainable way.

For example, if your goal is very simple and general like, " I want to get good at sword fighting". You do this by practicing sword fighting- you fight with swords. How are you going to accomplish that in a reasonable/sustainable way? You're not- sword fighting is inherently dangerous, if you fight with swords, someone is going to get cut/maimed rather quickly. So you make your first concession, ok we'll use dulled swords. Then you find out that even dulled swords can maim. Then you make your next concession, we'll strike more slowly, not full force. Then you realize that it's hard to actually recreate the kinds of things that will happen full force full impact. So you need another solution. Then you make your next concession, armor or bokken or both. This goes on and on until you arrive at a sparring practice that is reasonable and sustainable that accomplishes your goal. If your goal is actual sword fighting itself, this cannot be done. I would guess this is what you are talking about when you say "realistic". You are NEVER going to realistically recreate sword fighting by doing a sparring practice in a Dojo; unless you're using real swords, fighting each other with the intent to kill. That is not sustainable, so we have to make concessions.

Our goal is not to actually learn how to fight with a sword. We are simply recreating many of the types of situations that might happen in a sword fight, and learning how Aiki might appear in these situations. We are interested in learning how to do this dynamically, so we need to move fast, hitting with some force. We could (and sometimes do) use padded/foam swords. But padded swords don't offer the kind of "sword on sword" feel that hard solid objects do. We have also worked with dulled steel, this gets rather hairy rather fast, and is hard to stay safe with with moving at higher speeds. We started without any armor, but our attempts not to hurt each other slowed our motions, and didn't allow for more violent attacks. So we added the armor to speed up the practice while maintaining safety.

This sparring practice is an example of one of the dozens of types of sparring practices we do at the Chushin Tani Dojo. None of them completely/perfectly emulates any kind of actual fight, they can't by their nature (we're in a dojo, we like each other. etc). However in each different exercise/practice we can get at one or two parts of the whole. This is the best I feel we can do.

ChrisHein
09-15-2012, 12:40 PM
Are you allowing to attack any point of the body?

Here we are only striking the head, body and wrists.

NagaBaba
09-17-2012, 08:56 PM
Here we are only striking the head, body and wrists.
So how is your practice different from Kendo?

ChrisHein
09-18-2012, 01:44 AM
So how is your practice different from Kendo?

Not to be rude, but have you done Kendo?

I have, it's worlds different. Not in a bad way, it's just apples and oranges. Here are a few very quick differences:

Bokken instead of Shinai
The addition of grappling (modern Kendo doesn't include this)
The person being hit decides what hits were valid or not, there are no refs or judges
We all study Aikido and not Kendo (well some of us do both)

So there are a few quick differences, there are many more. So I guess my return question is, why do you ask?

MM
09-18-2012, 08:08 AM
For example, if your goal is very simple and general like, " I want to get good at sword fighting". You do this by practicing sword fighting- you fight with swords. How are you going to accomplish that in a reasonable/sustainable way? You're not- sword fighting is inherently dangerous


and


If your goal is actual sword fighting itself, this cannot be done. I would guess this is what you are talking about when you say "realistic". You are NEVER going to realistically recreate sword fighting by doing a sparring practice in a Dojo; unless you're using real swords, fighting each other with the intent to kill. That is not sustainable, so we have to make concessions.


Then


Our goal is not to actually learn how to fight with a sword. We are simply recreating many of the types of situations that might happen in a sword fight


So, let me get this straight. You're stating unequivocably that you can't recreate sword fighting. Yet, you turn around and state that you are recreating the types of situations that might happen in a sword fight ... of which, you don't know what that's like, at all, because you cannot recreate it.

And then, state that some train in kendo, which, from what I understand, is not the same as kenjutsu. In essence, the recreation is done based upon something not like kenjutsu (something which would be closer to a "sword fight") and which you agree that a "sword fight" can't be recreated but yet you are recreating types of situations in a sword fight ... of which you can't recreate. Do I have that right? Sorry, that just made my head spin.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for sparring/randori/etc. I think it's a necessary training requirement. It's just that your logic completely escapes me.


and learning how Aiki might appear in these situations.


IMO, I'd have said, how Modern Aikido principles might appear in these situations. When high ranking kendoka appear wanting to learn "tai sabaki" from an aikido person, then I might say, how aiki might appear in these situations.

Until then, I think Meik Skoss said it best about weapons and aikido ...

Cliff Judge
09-18-2012, 10:43 AM
I have, it's worlds different. Not in a bad way, it's just apples and oranges. Here are a few very quick differences:

Bokken instead of Shinai

Incidentally, what is the point of using bokken instead of shinai anyway? You could probably go at it harder with shinai. You've got full bogu on so you wouldn't even need to spring for fukoro shinai.


The addition of grappling (modern Kendo doesn't include this)

FWIW, not true in all cases.Certainly not if you use the word kendo as the Japanese do.

It looks like a lot of fun, what you are doing. Personally I would try to modify the training to discourage jerking your hands out of the way / evading / etc because I see that as a terribly bad habit.

ChrisHein
09-18-2012, 12:15 PM
Hey Mark,

The logic is simple.
I haven't, and most likely never will fight with a sword. By fight with a sword I mean, use a large, live blade to try and kill someone, while they are using a large live blade to try and kill me.

However I am aware that the roots of Aikido (coming from Ueshiba's study of Koryu) come from people who fought with swords regularly. Sword fighting being a key interest in the ancestry of Aikido.

So while I cannot really practice sword fighting, (because it's too dangerous to engage in) I am interested in studying it. So we attempt to create situations that "might appear" and see how Aikido theory may apply to those situations. This is contrived, but is the lessor of two evils (in my opinion).

ChrisHein
09-18-2012, 12:27 PM
Incidentally, what is the point of using bokken instead of shinai anyway? You could probably go at it harder with shinai. You've got full bogu on so you wouldn't even need to spring for fukoro shinai.


The way the "swords" feel against each other is amazingly different. With steel it's different still. Techniques like harai feel very different. there is also a difference when when you lock up and move in for grappling. Steel would be better still, and as I've said we've worked on a limited basis with steel, and may go there more in the future.


FWIW, not true in all cases.Certainly not if you use the word kendo as the Japanese do.


Modern sport Kendo, which is what I just assumed we were talking about, no longer allows grappling. If you use the word as older Japanese do, then I guess you could even say, in this video we are practicing "Kendo"- but I usually just assume people mean modern sport Kendo when they speak of "Kendo".

NagaBaba
09-18-2012, 01:37 PM
Not to be rude, but have you done Kendo?

I have, it's worlds different. Not in a bad way, it's just apples and oranges. Here are a few very quick differences:

Bokken instead of Shinai
The addition of grappling (modern Kendo doesn't include this)
The person being hit decides what hits were valid or not, there are no refs or judges
We all study Aikido and not Kendo (well some of us do both)

So there are a few quick differences, there are many more. So I guess my return question is, why do you ask?

Hi Chris,
I've been doing a lot of weapons last 20 years, also outside of aikido, so I'm always curious of new forms of weapons training. For the moment I can't find anything that I can use to fully develop weapons work in my dojo, for many reasons (some compromises you mentioned already..) (However Dog Brothers metodology looks interesting, isn't it?)

My question was in the context of your goals and relation to the methodology you are using. You are using the same protection zones as Kendo is using, also the same type of attacks are allowed. What your method can develop that can't be done with Kendo training?

Regarding grappling, I propose not to discuss it here; my remarks may easily offend you :)

ChrisHein
09-18-2012, 02:38 PM
When doing Kendo (modern sport Kendo) I felt very restricted, there is an etiquette, there are special ideas about what is good and what is not. Kendo has itself very well figured out. So when doing Kendo, I felt no room for exploration. In this practice, in our Dojo, I have room for this exploration. Things like:

Different weapons (types and styles)
Multiple attackers
Different scenario's that involve hidden weapons, or undrawn weapons
grappling and striking
Etc.

Exploring these things would be out of the question in most modern Kendo Dojo- for good reason, Kendo has itself figured out. But I like to explore, so I guess that is the main difference between what we are doing and what Kendo is doing.

Gerardo Torres
09-18-2012, 05:35 PM
When doing Kendo (modern sport Kendo) I felt very restricted, there is an etiquette, there are special ideas about what is good and what is not. Kendo has itself very well figured out. So when doing Kendo, I felt no room for exploration. In this practice, in our Dojo, I have room for this exploration. Things like:

Different weapons (types and styles)
Multiple attackers
Different scenario's that involve hidden weapons, or undrawn weapons
grappling and striking
Etc.

Exploring these things would be out of the question in most modern Kendo Dojo- for good reason, Kendo has itself figured out. But I like to explore, so I guess that is the main difference between what we are doing and what Kendo is doing.
Some teachers would say the above exemplifies the difference between modern budo and bujutsu. :)
Kendo = one (singular) way
Bujutsu = infinite possibilities

By exploring and playing with the material is how one keeps arts alive. Even kata needs to be explored and experimented with to keep it relevant. Only by trying different ways of doing things can we find out what works and what doesn't work in different situations and contexts.

NagaBaba
09-18-2012, 10:19 PM
I understand. The thing is, the restrictions you decided to use, form the way of practice. I.e. because one can’t cut lower body and the legs, in body-to-body situation weapons are suddenly abandoned, in fact I can’t see the intent of the players, they treat swords like a wooden sticks, not a sharp weapons…

And because the rules you are using are very similar to kendo rules, the use of sword will evolve to the same direction like in kendo – I think. I can already see it in the way the attacks are done – very similar to attack in kendo. Another example – normally there are 8 directions to cut with sword, players use 2, max 3. So the richness of swordplay is somehow lost. The same applies to the tactics and strategy.

Gerardo - infinite possibilities are possible if there are no rules. It is not a case here.

ChrisHein
09-19-2012, 12:14 AM
Who knows where this practice will go, I certainly don't. This represents one of the practices we use.

Lyle Laizure
09-19-2012, 05:33 AM
So while I cannot really practice sword fighting, (because it's too dangerous to engage in) I am interested in studying it. So we attempt to create situations that "might appear" and see how Aikido theory may apply to those situations. This is contrived, but is the lessor of two evils (in my opinion).

But you can really practice sword fighting, if that is what your goal was to do. Based on your other comments "sword fighting" isn't really your goal. And that is fine.

HL1978
09-19-2012, 07:40 AM
The mugai-ryu/nakamura-ryu guys in our dojo use foam covered bokkens and helmets and have all areas open as targets. They even have a 1 a year meeting where they don a different set of armor and use blunted blades.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INB1odZkZo0&list=PL5726D206D2CDD092&index=10&feature=plpp_video

Our kendo group regularly does isshu-jiai with our naginata group too. There are some places that will allow for tankendo too. Grappling still does exist in some dojos both in and outside japan, even if it is frowned upon by the AUSKF.

Chris, are you trying to connect and manipulate to your opponents center via the bokken? Like most kendoka, most of the cuts I see are strikes, which is fine depending on what exactly you are working on.

HL1978
09-19-2012, 07:57 AM
search toyama-ryu gekken and you can see some of the other equipment they use. I think it costs around $2,000 for a set so its not really feasible.

ChrisHein
09-19-2012, 12:51 PM
But you can really practice sword fighting, if that is what your goal was to do.

I really don't think you can. You could practice sword sparring, there are guys in the western martial arts community who do regular full contact steel sword sparring. But sword fighting doesn't really fit into our world now.

First off, no nonmilitary personnel living in a civilized country could sword fight for very long. The authorities would put them behind bars before they got much "practice" in. And while theoretically a modern soldier could possibly carry around his sword, and "practice" with it, it probably wouldn't go over too well. Sword fighting was something one could get good at (practice) only when using swords was a reasonable way to get something done- Keep the villages in line, collect taxes, storm the bad guys castle. Those days are over.

That leaves you with sword sparring. This either leads us to a sport practice, that is mostly only interested in itself. Or a contrived practice that may hopefully give us some small insight into what sword fighting was.

Based on your other comments "sword fighting" isn't really your goal. And that is fine.

Yes, becoming a sword fighter isn't my goal, learning about Aikido is. So hopefully a sword sparring practice might give me some small insight into those aspects of Aikido.

Cliff Judge
09-19-2012, 01:58 PM
Sword fighting was something one could get good at (practice) only when using swords was a reasonable way to get something done- Keep the villages in line, collect taxes, storm the bad guys castle. Those days are over.

That leaves you with sword sparring. This either leads us to a sport practice, that is mostly only interested in itself. Or a contrived practice that may hopefully give us some small insight into what sword fighting was.


No human being ever tried to kill another armed man with a sword and considered it practice. No, not even Musashi,

ChrisHein
09-19-2012, 02:01 PM
No human being ever tried to kill another armed man with a sword and considered it practice. No, not even Musashi,

Yet another reason you can't practice sword fighting...

Lyle Laizure
09-19-2012, 04:01 PM
But sword fighting doesn't really fit into our world now.
Sword fighting in and of itself may not "fit" into the world now but the skills it teaches, IMO, does.

[ First off, no nonmilitary personnel living in a civilized country could sword fight for very long. The authorities would put them behind bars before they got much "practice" in. And while theoretically a modern soldier could possibly carry around his sword, and "practice" with it, it probably wouldn't go over too well.
If done on the street in a non-structured venue absolutely. No different than a person taking their pistol and having target practice in their back yard or some random parking lot.

That leaves you with sword sparring. This either leads us to a sport practice, that is mostly only interested in itself. Or a contrived practice that may hopefully give us some small insight into what sword fighting was.
I could be off mistaken so someone with more knowledge please feel free to correct me. I would think that back when "sword fighting" was the preferred method of combat those combatants didn't just pick up their shiken and "practice" fighting with one another. I would imagine that they used bokken without armor. Just a guess on my part, I could be wrong.

becoming a sword fighter isn't my goal, learning about Aikido is. So hopefully a sword sparring practice might give me some small insight into those aspects of Aikido. I agree that sword training will give some insight into aspects of Aikido, if it is trained properly.

ChrisHein
09-19-2012, 09:35 PM
I understand where you are going. But I am very careful about confusing training and doing. I did lot's of training, believing I was learning to "do" something. Turns out that I still had to "do" it in order to be good at it.

I wouldn't delude myself into believing I was becoming a good sword fighter by simply training in a sword system. Lot's of people who have done extensive firearms training will tell you that the first time they got in a gunfight everything was different. And While it's true, some will say that their training kept them cooler under pressure- you just don't know until you've done it. I've never been in a sword fight.

Lyle Laizure
09-21-2012, 05:30 AM
I understand where you are going. But I am very careful about confusing training and doing. I did lot's of training, believing I was learning to "do" something. Turns out that I still had to "do" it in order to be good at it.

I wouldn't delude myself into believing I was becoming a good sword fighter by simply training in a sword system. Lot's of people who have done extensive firearms training will tell you that the first time they got in a gunfight everything was different. And While it's true, some will say that their training kept them cooler under pressure- you just don't know until you've done it. I've never been in a sword fight.

I have no dilusions as you have described. I agree there is a major difference between training and doing.

Cliff Judge
09-21-2012, 10:01 AM
I understand where you are going. But I am very careful about confusing training and doing. I did lot's of training, believing I was learning to "do" something. Turns out that I still had to "do" it in order to be good at it.

I wouldn't delude myself into believing I was becoming a good sword fighter by simply training in a sword system. Lot's of people who have done extensive firearms training will tell you that the first time they got in a gunfight everything was different. And While it's true, some will say that their training kept them cooler under pressure- you just don't know until you've done it. I've never been in a sword fight.

Training in a sword system is not supposed to make someone a "good sword fighter," it is meant to give someone a better than even chance of surviving a sword fight. :)