View Full Version : I agree with this (warrior, engineer, archaeologist)

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Dave Gallagher
05-13-2013, 08:57 PM
I have come to admire David Valadez sensei of the Senshin Center in Santa Barbara. He recently posted the following on the Center's FB page. I have to say that I agree with him 100%.
He wrote:

"I'm using the classes as a description for the perspective taken in studying, learning, and practicing the art. In my experience, the "engineer" and the "warrior" look to study waza for different reasons and as a result come to learn and do different things. As a result of that, the art becomes as different as the artists themselves are different. Studying waza for the sake of idealizing postural force vectors, for example, as the “engineer” would, does not produce the exact same insights as studying waza for the sake of being able to return home safely at the end of watch or at the completion of a tour of duty, and this is true no matter how important postural force vectors are to the martial effectiveness of a given waza. The same holds true for those that are looking to emphasize the grace and beauty of the art, the "artists," or those that are looking to uncover the origins of dead forms, the "archeologists." Each of these dominant groups today may hold, albeit in their own way, that what they emphasize IS the doorway to martial effectiveness and/or the ultimate Truth of the art, but none of them have seen that they have remained stuck in that doorway – that they have created a secondary emphasis now held as primary, that they are not in the inner sanctum but are only on the outside looking in. This is why, and of course for other larger cultural reasons, Aikido training sessions all over the world resemble more a science class, or an art class, or a history class, than any warrior tradition from the past or present. Today, at these training sessions, you are more likely to hear, “Your vector to the attacking angle is supposed to be complimentary,” or “Relax, and feel the infinite nature of the circle being expressed,” or “This is how Osensei taught my teacher to do the technique,” than you are, “Get your f-ing face off the mat, dig deeper, and get your ass up NOW and do it again because someone else is already training harder to put you back down once and for all!” Thus, training sessions all over the world do not require strong bodies, or the self-discipline that goes with maintaining a 24/7 operational fitness that’s built upon proper diet and conditioning. Training sessions to do not generate fear and instigate survival reactions via the presence of martial intensity, so nor do they cultivate the spiritual centeredness necessary to move beyond the lack of virtue contained in our habitual and reactive states of being. Training sessions do not utilize repeated and prolonged exposure to danger as a means of fettering the mind, so nor do they cultivate authentic forms of awareness and centeredness capable of surviving beyond ideal conditions. In the past, when the Hell Dojo opened its doors up to the engineers, artists, and archeologists of that day, they were all thought of as guests, and its clear from the photo documentation of that time that there was two schools in that dojo – an inner, more real school, and an outer less authentic school. The former school was made up of warriors and they looked and thought and acted like warriors of any age and culture. The latter school, well, its members looked like and thought like and acted like the dominant practitioners of today. The guests have taken over the house, and today, the warrior is not only a stranger to the art, but he/she is an unwanted stranger.". I agree with this.

I began my training in Aikido with a teacher (Dave Lowry) who understood and taught an Aikido That worked in a real world self defence situation. Lowry's teaching was spot on as I had to use it to defend myself twice while working security at a housing complex in a very bad neighborhood.
I have known Dave Lowry for over 35 years and he has always had the warrior/samurai mind set.
Hell Dojo's are good for you.

Dave Gallagher
05-14-2013, 07:02 AM
I should have mentioned that the Shobukan Dojo was not exactly a "Hell Dojo" but practiced very effective Budo.

Cliff Judge
05-14-2013, 08:36 AM
Intensity is good, actually it is the most important aspect of good training, but fear is a particular type of intensity that is only good in small doses at a certain level of advancement. Being brutal is not very practical either.

Though I am not sure the Kobukan was actually a brutal place. In fact I don't really have a good picture of why exactly it was known as "the Hell Dojo..." I think people assume that this is because people were getting horribly injured every day, dying, and everyone was making an earnest effort to kill and eat their training partners. But I recall one of the older shihans saying that there were rarely any injuries there.

It could just be that they wiped themselves out with warm ups and then took ukemi until they couldn't stand up again, and that it was very very difficult to make techniques work properly.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-14-2013, 08:50 AM
It could just be that they wiped themselves out with warm ups and then took ukemi until they couldn't stand up again, and that it was very very difficult to make techniques work properly.

In this issue (http://books.google.es/books?id=SdYDAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=es#v=onepage&q&f=false) of Black Belt Magazine Mochizuki Minoru tells how training at the Kobukan was done.

See pp 34-35.

Chris Li
05-14-2013, 09:32 AM
There's probably an element of imitation here as well. Coincidentally, Kenkichi Sakakibara's dojo, where Sokaku Takeda trained, was also known as "hell dojo".



05-14-2013, 10:40 AM
I can identify with all those descriptions - warrior, engineer and archeologist. I want to learn a practical martial art that will enable me to protect myself, however, I don't have the desire to compete seriously in a combat sport. So while I like to think there is a warrior in me, I am not a warrior. I find satisfaction in trying to master the waza and perfect each technique as much as possible, after all they are martial arts, and I pursue budo because of its heritage and connection to the era of the Samurai. I find the history and lineage of modern Japanese budo fascinating. So I can say that my motivation for training in the martial arts is varied - I consider myself a martial artist not a fighter, but that doesn't mean I don't want to develop the necessary survival skills and instincts to defend myself in a violent confrontation. This is why I am inspired by the likes of Nishio Sensei, who sought to articulate and augment the martial integrity of Aikido. The same applies to Seagal. My current approach to training is to see the waza as vehicles through which to teach fundamental principles. The waza itself certainly contains martial application (obviously), but once the principles have been learned, they can be applied, henka style, to self-defence in a more "street" ready form.

05-14-2013, 10:40 AM
I once heard an anaology that training aikido is kinda like fishing. You go to the lake and as you look for your fishing spot, you find great spots unfishable, other fisherman in your holes, and eventually you pick a spot that you think may be good but you don't know until you stick your pole in the water. When we train, sometimes we have success and sometimes we don't. The success of our training depends on ourselves, our partners, our instructors and our environment.

It is a dojo's responsibility to raise the likelihood of successful training sessions. More students, more training times, different instructors, seminars and intensive sessions are all part of the things dojos do to maximize training potential for its students. I think it valid to question the definition of "successful" and concede that different dojos will identify different metrics for success.

As an observation, I would tend to agree that aikido dojos have moved away from a level of severity and intensity that would identify a level of competency aikin to an amateur or professional level. There are many reasons for this observation, of which I do not think it necessary to judge.

For whatever reason, I think we can draw success as a method of progress. For example, progessing a student from point A to B is a success, even if the quality of that progression is poor. For example, teaching a timid student to be more open is a kind of success even if the timid students is not "competent". I think where David was going was the observation that our metrics are slowly starting to standardize in a range that previously would have been considered "incompetent". The problem with this notion is that:
1. The metric of success is lowered.
2. The distribution of excellence marginalizes those truly excellence students to seek training elsewhere.

For me, I am trying to make sure every time I fish, it is in a spot worth fishing...

Rob Watson
05-14-2013, 01:12 PM
Hopefully ones head is no so large as to preclude the wearing of many hats.

05-14-2013, 01:21 PM
Hopefully ones head is no so large as to preclude the wearing of many hats.

if you are all three, wouldn't that make you the plumber? :)

Dave Gallagher
05-15-2013, 08:47 AM
I should like to point out that I am not a, warrior, engineer or archaeologist and I have nothing against them. My original title in starting this thread was simply, "I agree with this". This title was edited by the Admin and I knew nothing about the change until I went onto this site later. Not a big deal but it makes it look like those three added words were the focus of my post and that was not my intention.