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Michael Varin
06-28-2013, 10:48 PM
I also realised that many of the 'standard' attacks we work with in aikido are not really effective attacks at all and therefore of little real use when searching for 'true' aikido.

Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.

Janet Rosen
06-29-2013, 01:08 AM
"standard" attacks? Suppose shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, katetori, katatetori, munetsuki + attacks from the rear are those I've seen most consistently at different places I"ve trained or visited.
In terms of effective or unrealistic....Is the goal of dealing with the attacks to learn a on-the-street self-defense system or to learn to pattern the body/mind to do aikido?
The reason I am asking this question before proceeding is that an attack like shomenuchi is sometimes ridiculed as "nobody attacks like that;" however, if the principle to be learned is a strong irimi that enters under the sword, then it is eminently practical to practice it over and over.
To me, a "proper" attack is on-target and focused, does not freeze or root once "delivered," and ideally it is suited for nage's level of competence in how hard and fast it is delivered - it should provide enough energy for nage to be able to do the called-upon technique but no so much he is totally overwhelmed and fails every time.

Marc Abrams
06-29-2013, 09:12 AM
Kata vs Kumite..........

This "argument" is now like beating the blood out of a fossilized dead horse.... There have been some quirky beliefs expressed, but believes, philosophies, etc. cannot trump the fact that the proof/truth is tangible. What constitutes training that does not result in real abilities amidst real situations vs what does work is kind of obvious.

Marc Abrams

Mark Freeman
06-29-2013, 09:52 AM
This "argument" is now like beating the blood out of a fossilized dead horse....

Hi Marc,

it feels good to be back in the fray:)

My statement that Michael clipped to start this thread, was pretty inelegantly put and I probably should have qualified as my own experience, rather than sounding like a generalisation applied to everyone.

I have happily taught my own students that which I have learnt from my teacher. I have been comfortable with the fact that much of what we do in aikido is 'stylised', the attacks are there to demonstrate and practice principles. They don't have to be totally realistic, just realistic enough to understand the point. Training with beginners is completely 'unreal', it has to be, how would they learn if it wasn't so. As we improve it can get more realistic, but aikido in and of itself is a collaboration between training partners, each style having its own particular norms. We all abide by the rules that we are taught by our own teacher/dojo.
In our case the primary goal is to achieve co-ordination of mind and body, which can then be applied to daily life. My own teacher long ago gave up teaching aikido as a 'self defence', preferring the training to be geared towards living a happier more congruent life.

I've never really been interested in the question/argument of whether aikido will work in a 'real' situation as both times I have been in imminent danger of getting my head kicked in, I used communication to resolve the situation (winning without fighting, maybe?).

I'm sure that when you first touched hands with DH, you had will have had a moment of questioning all that you knew, I know I did. The same thing happened with Corky.. I agree with you that although philosophy is interesting, it is with hands on, that one really finds out what reality is.

Anyway, thanks for your input, good to see you again:)

regards,

Mark

Mark Freeman
06-29-2013, 10:30 AM
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.

Hi Michael,

Sorry I missed you when I was over in the States, I would have liked to call by your dojo and shared some mat time. Your country is so big, and my van was slow and time finite, I just couldn't get to see everyone I wanted to.

I'm not sure I can address all of the questions you pose with any form of comprehensive answer. It seems to me that everyone practices with their own level of intensity, given the particular training paradigm in each dojo/style.

The type of attack that I was 'schooled' in at my dojo is one that could be labeled soft/focussed/high intent.It is effective in that it provides the energy for nage to work with. In the case of a working with a lower grade it would be much lower intensity and could be seen from the outside as ineffective.

As I mentioned in the other thread, on my travels I was able to comfortably deal with those I practiced with, as they were all attacking with a similar feel to what I was used to, somewhat 'harder' in some cases.

However, Corky's brand of attack on nage's centre, felt altogether different, much more challenging. And the means of resolution, based more on nage's intention towards uke than on technique, I found fascinating. Not a million miles from what I had been practicing all along, but different and exciting enough to want to learn more.

I think the effective/ineffective question should be focussed on - do your training methods get you to a place where you can manifest aikido under a committed attack where harmony is restored and the attack nullified or not? If yes, then it is effective, if not then it isn't.

I like the fact that there are unanswered questions and I like the fact that there are people like Corky out there who are prepared to ask the awkward questions that challenge the status quo.

L.A. is relatively not that far from you, if you find yourself down that way, why not look him up, I'm sure you would be made very welcome and I'd love to hear about your own take on what he is doing.

regards,

Mark

Michael Varin
06-30-2013, 12:39 AM
I like the fact that there are unanswered questions and I like the fact that there are people like Corky out there who are prepared to ask the awkward questions that challenge the status quo.

L.A. is relatively not that far from you, if you find yourself down that way, why not look him up, I'm sure you would be made very welcome and I'd love to hear about your own take on what he is doing.

It looks and sounds very intriguing. I most certainly will look to train with him if I find myself in Southern California.

But...

No one has really addressed the topic of THIS thread.

Michael Varin
06-30-2013, 12:55 AM
Kata vs Kumite..........

This "argument" is now like beating the blood out of a fossilized dead horse.... There have been some quirky beliefs expressed, but believes, philosophies, etc. cannot trump the fact that the proof/truth is tangible. What constitutes training that does not result in real abilities amidst real situations vs what does work is kind of obvious.

Marc Abrams

OK... So you contributed next to nothing to this thread. You didn't even address one of the questions in the initial post.

Kata vs Kumite?

If one were limited to the "standard" attacks of aikido, but practiced in a way that was more like kumite than kata, would those attacks be effective?

What is "kind of obvious," Marc? I think overlooking the obvious is where most of us get ourselves into trouble.

phitruong
06-30-2013, 06:00 AM
What are effective and realistic attacks?


the ones that connected and did what it was intended or even unintended. could be a wildly haymaker, straight punch to the kisser, hair jerk from behind, spit in the eye, bump to the rump, kidney shot with the thumb, kicks to the knees, sweep to achilles, hot coffee in the laps, fingers sticking with honey saps, ....

aikido attacks are just reprentation of force vectors to a cylindrical object.

Marc Abrams
06-30-2013, 08:12 AM
OK... So you contributed next to nothing to this thread. You didn't even address one of the questions in the initial post.

Kata vs Kumite?

If one were limited to the "standard" attacks of aikido, but practiced in a way that was more like kumite than kata, would those attacks be effective?

What is "kind of obvious," Marc? I think overlooking the obvious is where most of us get ourselves into trouble.

Michael:

I am assuming that your response to me was rhetorical. Life is kind of like driving by Braille. If you are moving in one direction and hit a wall, the smart thing to do is to turn. If a person chooses to overlook the obvious, then do you really think that pointing out the obvious is going to accomplish anything? There is a big, big world out there. If a person chooses to remain within a very limited environment and assume that this accurately represents the larger world, then that is simply their choice and their right to make that choice. The outcome of that choice will reflect the accuracy of the assumption/choice.

Marc Abrams

CorkyQ
06-30-2013, 10:33 AM
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.

Hi Michael,

I am pleased to make your acquaintance on the board and I am so happy to receive your questions.

The questions you pose have informed my practice since around 2004.

I have found through extensive inquiry that the traditional technique emulation model of teaching aikido, while teaching the movements inherent in the art, inadvertently tends to instill a rigidity of response which requires uke to be in collusion with nage or requires nage to apply force to get uke's attack to fit the path of the technique.

From its inception, aikido has been taught using a technique emulation process that is natural to martial arts. Most martial arts have sets of movements called kata, which represent the physical forms by which the respective art derives it effectiveness.

In most martial arts the defining purpose of the art is to limit or destroy the ability of the opposing conflict participants to damage or control the martial artist. In almost all martial arts, damaging or controlling the opposing participants is how the purpose is met. Thus, the operating principle of most martial arts is that the participant who outperforms the other(s) wins the fight, and most likely through damaging or controlling the adversary(ies).

Aikido techniques can be used for the same purpose. Those of us who have felt the potential for damage or control in the aikido-world wristlocks we call sankyo, nikkyo, or kotegaeshi or who have been thrown across the room or driven into the mat understand how powerful aikido can be if used for typical martial purposes.

However, if used with a different purpose, a different intention, aikido operates on the principle that the participants are "in it together" for an outcome that beneficially resolves the conflict for all participants. Perhaps this fundamental difference in purpose requires a fundamental difference in the way the art is taught.

Kata (or technique) training can build a habitual response and doesn't take into consideration the natural variations in the expression of any attack in direction, intention, intensity, or level of commitment.

But aikido training in which the path of aiki is determined by the energetic interaction of participants instead of a pre-set movement takes into account all the variants, because the path is being created as a unified harmonious flow of ki. When approached this way, the aikido may effortlessly manifest in a path that doesn't fit what nage might have executed as his go-to technique for that attack, whereas unwanted side effects may be created by forcing an attacker to follow the path of nage's go-to technique.

At the beginning of seminars I facilitate I am uke for every participant. Even beginners will usually have trained enough to competently complete a throw from my attack. Everyone does wonderful beautiful youtube worthy aikido. Then I go through the group again, but this time I embody real attack intention. Suddenly a new dynamic comes into play and the outcome is very different.

Please understand that my intention is not to stop anyone from doing a technique. With the energy I am giving them I should be on the mat instantly. Instead there is almost always a struggle before they either disengage from me or try to throw me hard, at which point I have to cease my attack or risk injury.

So where is the disconnect? I can relate to the idea of aikido as nothing more than a practice of self-purification as Janet suggested, if that is the way you want to see it -- I certainly adhere to that philosophy myself. I am not expecting a deadly attack and I would die happy if I am never called upon to deal with another one.

But I also believe that if I am really getting what the old man was blathering on about, my aikido will be martially effective as well. Surely Osensei, this master of deadly arts who had killed in combat and been the target of deadly attacks would not give his students something that would sound really nice in theory, but leave them sitting ducks to anyone with a real intention to destroy them.

In traditional emulation based teaching there are problems from the start with an art dedicated to harmonizing instead of overcoming. When a student enters the dojo and lines up in seiza to watch his instructors demonstrate a technique, there is an understanding that he is here to learn what the guy in the fancy pants is doing, not the guy who is being flipped around the mat.

Unconsciously, whether stated or not, the student will understand the point of aikido to be throwing the partner. When he is practicing, he will be praised the more readily his partner gets to the ground and if he is ineffective in his technique the sensei will refine his instruction with the goal of getting the result of grounding his uke more efficiently. It naturally becomes, immediately, a result oriented practice rather than a process oriented one.

The subliminal or not so subliminal message is that despite all the jabber about aikido not being about winning or losing, one's aikido is said to be "working" when the result of uke going to the ground is achieved.

You can tell if this is the focus in your instruction (on either end) if the instructor's corrections are geared toward overcoming resistance with leverage or positioning or to making it impossible for uke not to go to the ground. In real life attacks, if I am embracing the idea of "loving protection of all things," the last thing I want is for my attacker to go to the ground. That's where he is most likely to be negatively impacted. But if he does go all the way through his attack, I want to be protecting him from the danger when he falls, not adding to his danger. I want us both to benefit from our interaction.

Usually, since all the focus is on the technique, most aikidoka tend to think of their attack as something to kill time and to provide their partner with an "attack dummy" while waiting for their turn to practice the throw, that is unless instructed specifically as to what they are supposed to be doing to facilitate the throw. Unfortunately it has been my experience that most teachers instruct their students "not to resist the throw," but to "keep up the attack."

Unfortunately this ambiguous approach is usually misinterpreted because most classes on ukemi are about staying safe, not about giving an attack with authentic attack intention. The main result of this as far as I can see is that to avoid getting hurt or scolded, students learn to perform ukemi in a vacuum that just happens to be moving next to a nage in a vacuum. No real connection, no real intention except that every aspect of the technique be realized whether appropriate to the attack or not.

The attack then becomes meaningless except making uke something for nage to drag around the mat, or else the effortless in the technique comes from uke's performance of harmony with it instead of the other way around. The latter is fantastic for learning the movements of aikido, but not so good for learning what to do when the attack comes in the natural variants of an off-the-mat attacker who has the intention of sending nage to the hospital or morgue, not the intentionof wanting to help nage learn so the attacker can learn when it's his turn.

For the past nine and one-half years, I have been developing a system of teaching aikido from a base of ukemi -- not ukemi as in how to roll to protect yourself from your loving protector, but as in how to meaningfully, continuously extend a flow of authentic attack energy to the partner's central core so that he or she may find aiki all the way to the conclusion without a pre-learned technique.

How I define authentic attack energy is, of course, crucial to the validity of my approach, so if you don't see it the same way as I you may not see the value in the approach. Authentic attack energy is energy transmitted from the central core of the attacker with the intention of impacting the central core of the target by either destroying it or controlling it.

This is where it gets tricky, because authentic attack energy never kindly stops an inch from your throat. Nor do we want each encounter on the mat to be truly life or death.

The study in our dojo is largely about maintaining authentic attack energy at safe levels of intensity. When my uke maintains an intention to impact my center I can then start to see how that intention is actually creating the aikido and how much of what I erroneously do in the name of aikido is either forcing my partner into my technique or withdrawing in my vague hope that uke will somehow find his way to the mat without my help. I never get those benefits of seeing where my understanding of aikido falls short if I don't have that kind of authentic attack energy to show me where I am screwing it up. (Mark Freeman has spoken about that.)

Please understand I am not suggesting aikidoka permit the attacker to set the course of events, I am saying that when aiki manifests purely from the energetic connection of uke and nage, the attacker does the most wonderful job of placing himself on the ground though a path that injures no one, yet may be through a "technique" one never learned.

CorkyQ
06-30-2013, 10:57 AM
the ones that connected and did what it was intended or even unintended. could be a wildly haymaker, straight punch to the kisser, hair jerk from behind, spit in the eye, bump to the rump, kidney shot with the thumb, kicks to the knees, sweep to achilles, hot coffee in the laps, fingers sticking with honey saps, ....

aikido attacks are just reprentation of force vectors to a cylindrical object.

Yes - all those things, but when the intentions of those attacks are "pulled" to avoid injury to nage, the authenticity of the attack is lost.

If you want to see if your uke is maintaining authentic attack energy, stop your aiki in the middle of the action and see if your uke just hangs there in space in some weird awkward position on the verge of being off balance - - or if he immediately regains balance, and his wild haymaker continues through your skull, he punches all the way through your kisser, he jerks your hair until you can feel it coming out of your scalp, he continues to bump your rump, you can feel his thumb pushing into your kidney, you can feel his foot impacting your knee without quitting, he goes all the way through the sweep of the ankle, etc. all of which can be done safely with a lowered intensity.

If he doesn't go down from his own attack, then he will reach and impact his target or feel resistance to the attack. If he does go through the attack to its final conclusion, then I rely on my attacking partner to give me honest, informed feedback as to whether he felt forced to fall or whether he felt supported and protected through it. But for me, the most important part of making real progress in this art of harmony is uke's authentic attack intention maintained all the way through the attack, whether I am in the role of nage or uke.

Janet Rosen
06-30-2013, 11:04 AM
Corky, interesting post and I hope to meet you some day - just for the record, you say "the idea of aikido as nothing more than a practice of self-purification as Janet suggested, if that is the way you want to see it..."
I apologize for this as it is tangential but cannot leave this unaddressed: I do not read anything in my words to come up with such an interpretation, and it is certainly not how I view aikido as my worldview specifically rejects a concept of sin or soiling that requires purification.
I do believe that my post specifically addresses the desirability of attacks that are martially meaningful, as in shomenuchi that induces nage to practice strong irimi.

CorkyQ
06-30-2013, 02:25 PM
Corky, interesting post and I hope to meet you some day - just for the record, you say "the idea of aikido as nothing more than a practice of self-purification as Janet suggested, if that is the way you want to see it..."
I apologize for this as it is tangential but cannot leave this unaddressed: I do not read anything in my words to come up with such an interpretation, and it is certainly not how I view aikido as my worldview specifically rejects a concept of sin or soiling that requires purification.
I do believe that my post specifically addresses the desirability of attacks that are martially meaningful, as in shomenuchi that induces nage to practice strong irimi.

My humble apologies for my misinterpretation of your words, Janet! I hope to meet you too some day. Mark Freeman speaks so very highly of you and I love your perspective (hopefully accurately understood!) that I see in your posts.

Sincerely,

Corky

graham christian
06-30-2013, 04:05 PM
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.

1) What are the standard attacks? Strikes which represent the motions of weapons. Holds which represent the other having a weapon.

2) They are very effective.

3) Very realistic.

4) They are effective because they are designed to handle motion.or immobilize.

5) As in anything lack of effectiveness is only due to lack of skill or ability.

6) As they are all effective then degree of effectiveness depends only on level of ability.

My 2 pence.

Peace.G.

ryback
07-01-2013, 02:43 AM
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.

Each human being is a unique personality with unique choices and paths in life. Yet, in most civilized countries, there is a common ground that everyone has to cross regardless of his future choices, that of education and training.
For example, a boy goes to school and starts learning his alphabet one letter at a time, sometimes it gets hard to learn how to "draw" each letter and some of them are more difficult than others but eventually he learns. The same goes for grammar and spelling. He learns to read or write using a set of rules in very simple sentences that have nothing to do with the way we speak or write in our daily routine and they look "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
When the time comes for the boy to write a composition the topic is speciffic and he has pre given directions about the way to develop it, something that never happens when someone wants to write an essay as part of his research. Once again the path to knowledge looks "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
Now the boy wants to learn the guitar so he goes to a teacher and he starts doing finger exercises. And then he plays simple scales. And then he plays the scales faster and the teacher adds more complex scales. Then he learns to combine them. Still, nothing that the teacher makes him play has anything to do with what a rock band plays in a live show. Again the path to learning looks "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
Now the boy has grown up, he has become an astronomer and has written two books on his research and one science-fiction novel. On his free time he likes to play with his rock band mates in an old garage. They play rock songs that were hits when they were young and lately he has written a couple of tunes on his own.
Where would he be without all of his "stylized", "unrelistic" and "ineffective education and training?
Each and everyone of us has had similar kinds of training during his life. Yet, when it comes to martial arts, we get confused and start asking questions about the bleeding obvious.
The attacks in aikido are realistic and effective and so are aikido's techniques. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can start with realistic approach from a begginer's level. It would be as stupid as asking a 6 year old boy to write an analysis about Wagner's operas. He doesn't know how to write, he doesn't know how to develop a subject and he doesn't know Wagner. Yet, he may be a future Wagner analyst.
Aikido supply us with the tools of martial knowledge and esoteric self discovery. The part of it that looks stylized and unrealistic is one step of the way but it is not what it looks like. It may look ineffective from the outside but it is the most effective that the student is capable at the moment, so it is realistic for his level. And he must use it to go to the next level and go on step by step until one day he becomes a warrior.
When a person is a capable aikido warrior, is something that cannot be defined or set in the timeline of his training and it cannot be trully tested by exams or contests just as you can't tell the exact date when the little boy became a scientist and an author. There is no date, only the sum of one's training.
I agree with Graham's comment about effectiveness. The lack of it, is only sign of incompetence on the side of the person who fails to be effective. You can't put the blame on the art in order to get an excuse for it. The attacks and the techniques of aikido have their roots in the samurai martial training to be used in the battlefield. It can't get any more realistic and effective than that...

JP3
07-01-2013, 04:59 PM
I'll swing at this, below, but I do want to ask about the term "Aikido Warrior." Isn't that non sequitur? Aikijutsu "warrior" would be more correct, the way I understand the meanings behind the Japanese suffix of "Do" vs. that of "Jutsu." But, I may be off there, that just "rang wrong" in my ear, the warrior part. If you are training for a warrior's psychological standpoint of reacting to aggression, that would be bujutsu in one of it's forms, would it not. OK, enough on that.

I very much enjoyed Corky's initial post, he said, in a much more literate way than I typically do, what I've been telling people for years. "The bad guy ain't gonna quit that easy, so stay on top of him." Very much less impressive use of language on my part.

On to the Q&A:

Q1: "What are aikido's standard attacks?"

A1. IMO, Aikido doesn't have attacks. Aikido training simulates attacks, by borrowing other martial ways' attack forms to be performed by uke. That's my way of explaining part of the weird dichotomy inherent in practice. Maybe a poor one, but it works to transmit a concept to beginners. Still, the attacks I arm ukes with are more similar to PhiTruong's list than a very traditional school might, as nobody I know, or have ever met anywhere, including overseas, has ever been attacked by a guy with a bo staff, a sword, edged, blunt, or wooden. Knife? Certainly. Gun? Unfortunately, yes. Bat, club or stick, you bet. Fists, slaps, elbows, kicks, etc? Absolutely. (No we don't chase our beginners with batons, but we have dealt with attackers wielding them in upper-belt practice.)

Q2: "Are they ineffective?"

A2: I hate semantics, but you need to define "effective" in order to get good answers to this question. Effective for what? Training proficient people? If that is the goal, read the posts above and I'd say yes. If effective means that every attack could effectively end a confrontation, because the attacker gained a dominant outcome by using it, I'd say no, not in the beginning stages. The attacks which we use in class, especially in the begging stages, particularly with kyu grades, are very stylized, though it explained how the stylized form is derived from, but does not simulate/emulate an actual overhand right, good left hook, or a Thai leg kick. Still, one must have a place to begin which reduces risk ... and fright on the part of the beginner.

Q3: "Are they unrealistic?"

A3: In the beginning, I would say a definite "sorta." Standard beginner showmen "can" be delivered as a technically-correct palm-heel strike from certain traditions, so... that can be realistic. Are they being delivered in a realistic, tactically-effective manner? Probably not, not with beginners. But, one must learn to stand before one can compete in the Olympic 110m high hurdles, right? So, in this sense, the "unrealism" has a purpose, as long as it is understiood that this period is akin to training wheels on a child's bicycle... they'll come off eventually, if you really want to Ride the bike.

Q4: "If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?"

A4: It can be any one, or any combination of two or more of the above, or all of them.

Q5: "If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?"

A5: If we didn't start out learning against the other, "unrealistic" types, there would be MANY more injuries in class. Students would be broken before they can learn how to deal with such, dojos would close up, the art would die out, and everyone would stand around bored talking about the good old days.

Q6: "If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?"

A6: I think I covered this in the above.

Q7: "What are effective and realistic attacks?"

A7: PhiTruong's list is a good, rhythmic start. One could say that anything which steals uke's body control, balance or posture is an "effective" attack, e.g. gently nudging someone hip-to-hip out into traffic in front of a bus. Quite effective, very realistic ... and sneaky. Still satisfies the point.

I think it boils down to learning curves, and how steep the curve the dojo's main instructor(s) wish it to be. Gentler learning curves will keep "real" out of the class for a longer period, and probably enjoy a higher-retention rate than steeper curves. However, there is a certain point one must reach, on the way up, before a full-speed lower gut fighting knife slash, designed to make one bleed to death rather than a traditional tanto stab" could be competently handled.

And, the only way to find that out is to have some dude or chick try to take your belly and open it like a ziplock baggie. I'm not going to personally get in that line yet. You?

Gary David
07-01-2013, 05:45 PM
I agree with Graham's comment about effectiveness. The lack of it, is only sign of incompetence on the side of the person who fails to be effective. You can't put the blame on the art in order to get an excuse for it. The attacks and the techniques of aikido have their roots in the samurai martial training to be used in the battlefield. It can't get any more realistic and effective than that...

Aikido is a one step art and it is practiced that way. We are talking about being 6 feet apart. Anything closer than that the standard Aikido techniques break down. At what is called intimate distance, say 2 feet or less, you can't react fast enough to be very effective against attacks that likely are not what is being presented in the dojo and your responses are not likely to be anything like the standard Aikido techniques......hard for me to see that not being first time effective at this distance is a sign of incompetence for failing to train effectively at the 6 foot distance.....so maybe we don't do Aikido here...

Just a comment....
Gary

graham christian
07-01-2013, 06:07 PM
Aikido is a one step art and it is practiced that way. We are talking about being 6 feet apart. Anything closer than that the standard Aikido techniques break down. At what is called intimate distance, say 2 feet or less, you can't react fast enough to be very effective against attacks that likely are not what is being presented in the dojo and your responses are not likely to be anything like the standard Aikido techniques......hard for me to see that not being first time effective at this distance is a sign of incompetence for failing to train effectively at the 6 foot distance.....so maybe we don't do Aikido here...

Just a comment....
Gary

Really? I'm surprised you think that.

Peace.G.

Brett Charvat
07-01-2013, 06:53 PM
"Surely Osensei, this master of deadly arts who had killed in combat....."

-- Really? Apologies for the tangent, but who did O Sensei kill in combat?

jamie yugawa
07-01-2013, 07:39 PM
"Surely Osensei, this master of deadly arts who had killed in combat....."

-- Really? Apologies for the tangent, but who did O Sensei kill in combat?

From my interview with Nonaka Sensei on my blog-“O-Sensei told me personally, that that was the time (The Japanese-Russo war) of his life he is most ashamed of. You know why? He killed Russians. Batto-dai. you know sword? (He) Crept up nighttime Pitch darkness. In the foxhole. You cut with the sword, (its) silent, you fire with the gun make noise. Japan was running out of metal and bullets. He never told me how many he cut …but he cut (them down).”

Brett Charvat
07-01-2013, 07:46 PM
From my interview with Nonaka Sensei on my blog-"O-Sensei told me personally, that that was the time (The Japanese-Russo war) of his life he is most ashamed of. You know why? He killed Russians. Batto-dai. you know sword? (He) Crept up nighttime Pitch darkness. In the foxhole. You cut with the sword, (its) silent, you fire with the gun make noise. Japan was running out of metal and bullets. He never told me how many he cut …but he cut (them down)."

-- Thanks for that; it's the first report I've heard of Ueshiba Morihei killing anyone. I learn something new every day.

Michael Varin
07-01-2013, 09:03 PM
Wow!

This must be an extremely challenging thread.

I welcome any on topic posts.

Is it really that difficult?

Aikibu
07-01-2013, 11:40 PM
Having met and worked briefly with Sensei Quackenbush when He dropped by our old dojo years ago I can say from both his ukemi with me and mine with him that he is a very thoughtful Aikido practitioner with serious intent. So Sensei Quackenbush I found your posts very insightful.

In short I agree with your Aikido is only as good as your "intention" as Uke. :)

At least that is my experiance.

William Hazen

Aikibu
07-01-2013, 11:45 PM
Aikido is a one step art and it is practiced that way. We are talking about being 6 feet apart. Anything closer than that the standard Aikido techniques break down. At what is called intimate distance, say 2 feet or less, you can't react fast enough to be very effective against attacks that likely are not what is being presented in the dojo and your responses are not likely to be anything like the standard Aikido techniques......hard for me to see that not being first time effective at this distance is a sign of incompetence for failing to train effectively at the 6 foot distance.....so maybe we don't do Aikido here...

Just a comment....
Gary

Sounds reasonable. In your experience Gary can you name an art that emphasizes the 2 foot distance?

William

CorkyQ
07-02-2013, 02:09 AM
Wow!

This must be an extremely challenging thread.

I welcome any on topic posts.

Is it really that difficult?

I was thinking about this thread and I think a different kind of answer to your questions can be found in looking at the context in which Mark Freeman's declaration was made.

Mark Freeman: I also realised that many of the 'standard' attacks we work with in aikido are not really effective attacks at all and therefore of little real use when searching for 'true' aikido.

If I may be so bold as to explain what I think Mark meant, when he practiced at my dojo he encountered a different kind of attack than he is used to. His reference to ‘standard' attacks was from encountering the same technique emulation teaching model throughout his travels visiting numerous dojos in various parts of the world. Commonly, an instructor demonstrates a technique and the students pair up to practice the form. But often the form is learned at the expense of the formless.

In my dojo, I had no technique for him to copy, I only had authentic intention and a few simple fundamental movements. When confronted by an uke with the intention not of following his technique but of continuously impacting his center, Mark for the first time felt what it was like to really be under attack in a practice situation.

The energy I would give Mark to work with should have brought me to the mat instantly (and subsequently would as he practiced), but because I triggered his limbic system, he reflexively went into his default defense mode and tried to throw me instead of harmonizing. Even though he knew he was safe in the dojo, his state of defense kept him from allowing the aiki to become. That is, until he was able to transcend it and offer some form of love (compassion, welcoming, acceptance, forgiveness, benevolence), then boom, on the mat I'd be, feeling satisfied instead of thrown, from nothing other than a shift in consciousness on his part.

It is important to understand that I was not trying to stop Mark from doing a technique. Defending against a technique is the opposite of maintaining attack intention.

Also, it was not my intention to merely rattle Mark for effect. I am sure he will confirm that the ukemi I gave him was impacting his center continuously from a sincere place. Mark learned that the only way he was going to see me on the mat was to transcend his limbic system response and embody an intention that was in harmony with mine. In this way he made his own discoveries about that intention that were similar to mine, that the spiritual truths of aikido are literally what make the physical principles work when aikido spontaneously manifests beyond technique.

I will go out on a limb here and say that what Mark meant by using the words "true aikido" is aikido that is both martially sound and simultaneously holds true to its highest ideals. I hoped to show Mark that the embodiment of those ideals is at the very heart of aikido's effectiveness, and I wanted him to feel it on both ends of the stick.

When you experience aikido in this way, what you may have thought of before as the Founder's idealistic metaphors are revealed to be literal, practical truths. Only Mark can tell you whether he found "true aikido" on my mat, but I hope he was able to perceive some of the truths of aikido I have found working this way.

CorkyQ
07-02-2013, 02:16 AM
Having met and worked briefly with Sensei Quackenbush when He dropped by our old dojo years ago I can say from both his ukemi with me and mine with him that he is a very thoughtful Aikido practitioner with serious intent. So Sensei Quackenbush I found your posts very insightful.

In short I agree with your Aikido is only as good as your "intention" as Uke. :)

At least that is my experiance.

William Hazen

Thank you, Mr. Hazen for your kind words and compliments. I still sometimes refer to things I learned from Sensei Fowler during my training at West Wind Dojo which I remember fondly. I'm happy that my posts gave you food for thought.

Best,

CQ

Mark Freeman
07-02-2013, 11:34 AM
Wow!

This must be an extremely challenging thread.

I welcome any on topic posts.

Is it really that difficult?

Hi Michael,

this is aikiweb, thread drift is inherent in the practice ;)

IMO your OP has generated some interesting reading,

regards,

Mark

Aikibu
07-02-2013, 01:34 PM
Well without all the detail Aikido (at least with our Aikido as expressed by Shoji Nishio and a few others) must be effective against other Martial Arts/Artists/Fighters in order to be considered a Martial Art.

My teachers have always taken this approach and so have I, but it is still just a tool... like for example... a pistol.

Folks mostly buy pistols for protection but very few know how to handle a pistol under duress and still hit what they are aiming at. Some take pistol shooting a bit more seriously.

You can find a school that will teach you basic gun safety and how to shoot and thats how far you'll take it. And a some will venture further. Perhaps join a Combat Pistol Team, Go to Matches and Compete, Learn how to fire under duress and practice advanced techniques for hours on their own dime/time.

The more advanced the shooter the easier to control the escalation of conflict within yourself and remain in control.

Martial Arts including Aikido are no different. And with any of those skills Professor Murphy will still have a say in any potential "real world" outcome no matter how highly skilled you've become..

I find folks who trip over this Art/Technique or that one are only halfway down the road to understanding "why" they do "what" they do. They are easy to spot on the Mat.

The folks who have trudged a fair piece further down the road just show it, and you can feel in any encounter with them.

My key to understanding this path is allow folks to approach Aikido and obtain any level they wish...without judgement.

I only give a frack about my practice which due to time constraints and life events... sucks right now quite frankly. But that will pass and the rare few times I get to work with folks My intentions must be serious and my Ukemi and techniques done with full focus.

The most important thing Shoji Nishio tried to impart on his students with Aikido is that must be practiced sincerely with an "austere heart" in order for it to be considered Budo. Otherwise you might just as well do something else if you're trying to walk the path of "Martial Awareness."

Practice Hard. :)

William Hazen

CorkyQ
07-02-2013, 01:56 PM
Well without all the detail Aikido (at least with our Aikido as expressed by Shoji Nishio and a few others) must be effective against other Martial Arts/Artists/Fighters in order to be considered a Martial Art.

(truncated)

Practice Hard. :)

William Hazen

I hear you, brother - add the requirement "and must effectively produce a healing" and you see where I am coming from... from my point of view, merely "insuring no one is hurt" falls short of aikido's highest potential.

Aikibu
07-02-2013, 02:38 PM
I hear you, brother - add the requirement "and must effectively produce a healing" and you see where I am coming from... from my point of view, merely "insuring no one is hurt" falls short of aikido's highest potential.

True that. :)

William Hazen

Mario Tobias
07-03-2013, 05:10 AM
yes, aikido attacks look unrealistic and ineffective during normal practice but IMHO they are only that for nage and uke to understand the forms, techniques and principles of aikido. Most important are timing, entry and intent.

Initially, the focus is on uke's external manifestation of intent of an attack until a point that nage reaches a higher plane that he already would anticipate uke's intention even before the attack has begun (internal intent).

So I think we should worry about the intent and not the attack per se. I think as beginners we focus too much on the external forms of an attack but as we go higher we need to focus on uke's internal intent.

This progression from external to internal focus holds true for both nage and uke.

CorkyQ
07-03-2013, 03:29 PM
yes, aikido attacks look unrealistic and ineffective during normal practice but IMHO they are only that for nage and uke to understand the forms, techniques and principles of aikido. Most important are timing, entry and intent.

Initially, the focus is on uke's external manifestation of intent of an attack until a point that nage reaches a higher plane that he already would anticipate uke's intention even before the attack has begun (internal intent).

So I think we should worry about the intent and not the attack per se. I think as beginners we focus too much on the external forms of an attack but as we go higher we need to focus on uke's internal intent.

This progression from external to internal focus holds true for both nage and uke.

Mr. Tobias, this was well said, and I could not agree with you more.

It is because of this phenomenon that I have developed a way to teach both established aikidoka and beginners from their first time on the mat how intention produces form.

However, in my teaching model, it is not a progression, as I understood the term from your message. The shift of focus takes place as soon as the relatively few physical elements of movement inherent in aikido are learned.

Instead of learning techniques to throw, our beginners start by learning pairs of movement sets which I call "stretches" and "spots." The reason I called them that instead of "attacks" and "techniques" is because the words have different effects on a neurolinguistic level. An attack is something to defend against, and the idea of an attack stimulates the lower brain to take over with a reflexive response to threat. A technique, in the common use of the word in aikido, often means a fixed set of movements with no gross variance from a preconceived path ending with uke on the ground no matter what uke does or doesn't do.

When most aikidoka trained in the traditional technique-emulation model visit our dojo for the first time and feel authentic attack energy from uke with no defined technique to execute, they usually try initially to force uke into the first technique that comes to mind or emerges out of their training. No matter how effortlessly they have executed the technique they have chosen thousands of times before, when their nervous system picks up the authenticity of the attack intention, no matter how low the intensity, they react with their default reflexive response somewhere on a spectrum between fight (defense resistance or counter attack), flight (escape or withdrawal) or freeze (withdrawing inside of resistance).

A stretch, on the other hand, is something a person can quite naturally "spot" (as in weightlifting or gymnastics), because the idea of someone stretching with your help does not trigger defense reflexes, but in the context of our definition of spot: With the intention to protect, to be involved in your partner's action without interfering with it, it actually begins to train the student's neurology to respond to the movements of attack with beneficent intention. For instance, when working on a balance beam, the "spotter" insures that the gymnast is moving through the routine with support so that he or she is not harmed.

The two-fold purpose of these movement sets are to set up a beneficent intention in nage while training both partners to understand the physical dynamics of attack, where the aikidoist has to be physically in space to lend support to the attacker, how to get there, and when.

Thus, while uke learns how to give genuine committed attack energy, nage learns the relatively short list of movements that make up even the longest, most convoluted techniques. When you look at the list of movement pairs in the beginner curriculum you will see what you would refer to, aikidoka readers, as techniques you learned as techniques, but where we go from there makes all the difference.

After beginners learn to call up and perform the first group of stretches in their "cookie-cutter" form and have also learned how to spot their partners doing the same stretches, we begin to incorporate variations in the stretch. There are several specific points in each stretch in which uke can fundamentally change the stretch into a different stretch. Since we do not pre-orchestrate at which point the stretch may change or to what stretch it may turn into, for aiki to manifest in this situation, nage can't be committed to a technique but must be committed to an outcome beneficial to all.

With the introduction of variables, it becomes clear why one would not want to be committed to a specific technique and why in the context of Patrick Auge's interview with Minoru Mochizuki, M. Mochizuki recounted "Uyeshiba Sensei's teaching pushed me a lot to think. He could never show again what he did in randori. I would say "What was that?" and he would reply "I got that from God suddenly. I don't remember." To Uyeshiba Sensei, ki (internal energy) was inspiration from God."

(http://books.google.es/books?id=SdYDAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=es#v=onepage&q=mochizuki&f=false) (Thanks to Demetrio Cereijo)

If you operate under the notion that God is Love (to me, an idea supported by Osensei's spiritual teachings) then you can see directly from this kind of practice why beneficent intention toward one's attacker can provide all that is necessary for aikido to manifest in un-repeatable ways as long as a few basic trained movements are there as a framework for the takemusu aiki to become aikido.

When uke, in this method, offers authentic attack energy instead of collusion with a technique, we are instantly made aware of the truth in ourselves, because uke will not fall until we transcend our illusion and become authentic in our state of being. In our dojo, unless we can be victorious over our reflexive responses of defend or withdraw, and transcend our lower brain to access the higher consciousness that allows us to embody the qualities of selflessness each time, we will see no one on the mat. In this way Masakatsu Agatsu becomes the literal operating principle of our aikido.

JP3
07-04-2013, 10:55 AM
Wow!
This must be an extremely challenging thread.
I welcome any on topic posts.
Is it really that difficult?

Michael, I thought that Corky had done so, and so did I in my redneck way. What exactly are you looking for? Denigration of traditional aikido kata practice as fundamentally unsound? You might get that, from the people who wave that flag all the time saying that aikido isn't an effective martial art, but I doubt that you'll get it here from people who may know better. I think you[re probably going to get the above comparisons between types of practice, stepping stones to student competency, like that.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
07-04-2013, 12:45 PM
Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.[/QUOTE]

Addressing these questions in my response and answering them one by one does not make me feel comfortable to formulate my opinion, so I did not do that. It's just that my english is not my mother language, I apologize for that, and I hope that you will understand what I'm trying to say.

My first commentary is: our instructor always repeat to us that Aikido is not a compilation of techniques, but a compilation of principles. Any technique that puts to good use the principles of Aikido is Aikido, even if you won't find it in any Aikido book.

As a result, he often teaches us some techniques of his invention that can help us deal with the thugs roaming our streets. Those techniques are not in any book, but the footwork is here and so are the mahai, the methods for unbalancing our opponent, etc... (my english is failing me a bit here, but I hope that you get the idea).

A few students training with us have reported fending off unexpected attacks on the street. They did not always use the traditional techniques that we need to learn for the exams, but they used footwork, mahai, unbalancing techniques, etc...

Ok, nowadays, nobody will attack you by grabbing your hands from behind, but we still enjoy practicing defenses from those attacks, not only because we need them for the exam, but just because of the fun. Same thing for suware waza, it's fun and it's good workout for your legs.

And finally, concerning the good old shomen uchi, in my country, people still like to come at you with the intent of breaking a bottle on top of your head. The weapon may not be a sword, but the movement and the momentum are the same, and can be dealt with the same way.

If my explanation is missing something, tell me, I will try to formulate better.

tlk52
07-14-2013, 11:16 AM
a friend of mine at our dojo had an interesting observation. he's practiced grappling and striking arts for his whole life (mid 40s) and aikido for @ 15 years

he said 2 interesting (to me) things:

1. that the open hand striking techniques like shomen and yokomen, were not dangerous if you got hit, therefore you could practice moving in very close to them without fear of injury. and that this was a good thing in training

2. that he had many times used aikido grabbing attacks, especially ushiro attacks, against non aikido martial artists in sparring because they were looking to defend from the front and he'd go right by them to their back which they weren't protecting, confusing them momentarily, and then choke them from behind.

odudog
07-14-2013, 05:58 PM
a friend of mine at our dojo had an interesting observation. he's practiced grappling and striking arts for his whole life (mid 40s) and aikido for @ 15 years

he said 2 interesting (to me) things:

1. that the open hand striking techniques like shomen and yokomen, were not dangerous if you got hit,

That's almost like saying being hit by a boxer isn't going to hurt because they wear boxing gloves. You need to be hit by the right person in the right spot to find out the hard way that this is incorrect.

Krystal Locke
07-20-2013, 12:47 AM
a friend of mine at our dojo had an interesting observation. he's practiced grappling and striking arts for his whole life (mid 40s) and aikido for @ 15 years

he said 2 interesting (to me) things:

1. that the open hand striking techniques like shomen and yokomen, were not dangerous if you got hit, therefore you could practice moving in very close to them without fear of injury. and that this was a good thing in training

2. that he had many times used aikido grabbing attacks, especially ushiro attacks, against non aikido martial artists in sparring because they were looking to defend from the front and he'd go right by them to their back which they weren't protecting, confusing them momentarily, and then choke them from behind.

1. Really? I got knocked the hell out from a yokomen, in practice. I've been hit pretty dang hard in the head to no real effect, but Dave got a yokomen in on me that made me drop to a knee, pop up, apparently say the word "nothing", swing weakly at him and wake up twenty seconds later tits down and drooling on the mat.

Seems to me lots of hard striking styles have their share of shuto and shote strikes.

2. Taking someone's back in a fight is most always a fine idea. But will hard stylists really fall for a typical ushiro ryotedori? Sweet if they do.....

jonreading
07-22-2013, 10:54 AM
If I play baseball and I want to practice hitting baseballs, I may set up a pitching machine to throw a consistent pitch that I will practice hitting. I may also ask a pitcher to throw pitches that are difficult to hit so I may practice hitting against a variable pitch. Pitching machines are not realistic, yet for the purpose of hitting practice they are consistent and effective solutions. Likewise, throwing to a live batter provides a more realistic scenario in which I will hit. Both are everyday resources for hitters to improve their swing.

I believe the majority of aikido styliszed attacks are intended to provide a consistent, obvious and uniform force on which nage can practice kata. For the purpose of learning kata, I believe these attacks to be effective because the purpose of these attacks is to give nage something with which to practice so they may learn what they are doing.

I think there are many dojos that will use an "applied" version of uke waza as a specialized training that increases the realism of an attack. For these modified exercises, I think many dojos with solid fighting skills can incorporate a realistic attack with effect. These exerceise deal more with expression of aikido, not learning of aikido.

Comparatively, I think most aikido dojos are not prepared or equipped to accomodate realistic attacks with effect. For that to happen, we would need protective gear. To effectively apply realistic attacks would imply a large percentage of success through grappling, striking or submitting. Since our training model is to provide 4 opportunities for nage to successfully apply waza... we would need 4 opportunities to successsfully attack our partner.

So unless we're coming home with with a less-than-perfect success ratio as nage, we're not really focusing on "realistic" attacks. This is fine, we have to learn somehow. I think as long as we recognize "realism" and "effect" are sliding scales with opposite correlation for uke and nage, we can be honest with our assessment of the quality of our uke waza.

phitruong
07-23-2013, 07:15 AM
the reality is that aikido just not effective against fruit attacks. John Cleese shihan had demonstrated time and time again that aikido just would not work. :D

Michael Varin
07-24-2013, 03:07 AM
Thanks, Phi.

Always a quality contribution...

Jon,

The pitching machine, while predictable, still throws you the pitch you are going to hit. If you are expecting to "hit" a right cross or a double leg, why is the pitching machine throwing yokomen uchi and katate dori?

You used a great analogy, but I still feel like we haven't gone to an adequate depth in this thread.

graham christian
07-24-2013, 03:43 AM
Thanks, Phi.

Always a quality contribution...

Jon,

The pitching machine, while predictable, still throws you the pitch you are going to hit. If you are expecting to "hit" a right cross or a double leg, why is the pitching machine throwing yokomen uchi and katate dori?

You used a great analogy, but I still feel like we haven't gone to an adequate depth in this thread.

Depends what you mean by depth.

Effective striking in Aikido is also down to movement. Aikido is fundamentally an art of harmonious motion so even technically following that you should be through movement in a position to make the perfect strike. So that's factor number one.

I don't know how many train or are taught how I was but our teacher used to show us and emphasize perfect harmonious movement but at the same time, usually using us painfully, show us why imperfection leads to getting hit.

Then there is the point of effectiveness of strike on it's own. Well if you listen to any really good Master of his art you will learn something about this. I think it was Suzuki, the Karate man who said that even if his martial art was practicing one punch then it would as a martial art still take a lifetime to perfect.

Now also any 'deluded' notions on effectiveness can easily be corrected in my experience and more than that can be done in slow motion at which point the person has all doubt removed.

Another thing we do and did was practice of strikes alone, drills. Have you ever done them? You practice until the strike is unstoppable.

Peace.G.

CorkyQ
07-24-2013, 10:19 AM
If I play baseball and I want to practice hitting baseballs, I may set up a pitching machine to throw a consistent pitch that I will practice hitting. I may also ask a pitcher to throw pitches that are difficult to hit so I may practice hitting against a variable pitch. Pitching machines are not realistic, yet for the purpose of hitting practice they are consistent and effective solutions. Likewise, throwing to a live batter provides a more realistic scenario in which I will hit. Both are everyday resources for hitters to improve their swing.

I believe the majority of aikido styliszed attacks are intended to provide a consistent, obvious and uniform force on which nage can practice kata. For the purpose of learning kata, I believe these attacks to be effective because the purpose of these attacks is to give nage something with which to practice so they may learn what they are doing.

I think there are many dojos that will use an "applied" version of uke waza as a specialized training that increases the realism of an attack. For these modified exercises, I think many dojos with solid fighting skills can incorporate a realistic attack with effect. These exerceise deal more with expression of aikido, not learning of aikido.

Comparatively, I think most aikido dojos are not prepared or equipped to accomodate realistic attacks with effect. For that to happen, we would need protective gear. To effectively apply realistic attacks would imply a large percentage of success through grappling, striking or submitting. Since our training model is to provide 4 opportunities for nage to successfully apply waza... we would need 4 opportunities to successsfully attack our partner.

So unless we're coming home with with a less-than-perfect success ratio as nage, we're not really focusing on "realistic" attacks. This is fine, we have to learn somehow. I think as long as we recognize "realism" and "effect" are sliding scales with opposite correlation for uke and nage, we can be honest with our assessment of the quality of our uke waza.

First, in our dojo, no techniques are demonstrated. We work from authentic interaction, not from technique emulation. No nage ever sees their uke on the mat unless aiki has manifested spontaneously from their interaction.

What we offer in our dojo as ukes is energy from authentic attack intention without the intensity. It is meant to penetrate the central core of our partner like a spear, and the intention it arises from is the same. This provides a meaningful connection for nage to work with and also challenges nage's limbic system.

With a surprisingly low intensity, energy from authentic attack intention will easily show where nage is not being harmonious. Since there is no technique to perform, the aikido, when it does manifest, will sometimes look like an "aikido technique" that is familiar to most aikidoka, but usually it is a much simpler path to the mat.

Because all action arises from intention, the intention of the attack is of paramount importance, not the amount of force in foot pounds.

Giving authentic attack energy, or spear energy, as we often call it is not necessarily easy to do and/or maintain through the unfolding of the aiki resolution, so ukemi is as much, if not more, of our learning than nage's part.

For instance, when most visitors to our dojo from other aikido dojos are asked to hold me meaningfully, what they do is try to stop me from doing a technique. Because of this, the energy is arising out the intention to defend, not attack. Aikido will not manifest under these specific circumstances because harmonizing with defense in order to reconcile conflict is to simply refrain from imposing a throw, which we refuse to do anyway in our dojo. So our practice includes a consciousness of what we as ukes are providing to our partner, and it is not just being a practice dummy for throws. Nor is it to be an obstacle to the manifestation of aiki.

The purpose of our practice is to bypass the rote repetition of techniques which can train habitual response that may really be inharmonious with uke's energy, and instead find takemusu aiki (spontaneously manifesting) from a transcendence of lower brain responses to a consciousness of beneficent intention. In this way, the operating principle in our dojo literally is masakatsu agatsu (our recognized translation: "True victory is victory over oneself."). Without the literal victory of nage over his or her automatic defense responses, uke will not be able "to complete his mission."

So we don't need protective gear although we deliver realistic attacks, because there is just a reduction in intensity.

In regards to training the movements of aikido, elementally they are quite simple and can be learned and trained into the system very quickly and easily. Many techniques we see in aikido are complex chains of these elements. As in chemistry, where 103 elements can make tens of millions of compounds, the handful of elemental movements of aikido are a tiny fraction of the number of "techniques" that may be formed from them. One can never know all the variations that an aiki path can take, but one can know all the elements that make up those paths so that they are created spontaneously from the interaction rather than as what Mark Freeman described as techniques preserved like a "fly in amber." Osensei has been quoted as saying he had no idea what "techniques" he had used in a randori, some of them assumably never seen before or after, and he gave it all over to divine guidance.

In our dojo we prove daily that this "divine guidance" comes from our beneficent intention toward our partner. There is no faking it either. Even the smallest amount of authentic attack energy will require a harmonious response for aikido to manifest.

jonreading
07-25-2013, 11:25 AM
First, in our dojo, no techniques are demonstrated. We work from authentic interaction, not from technique emulation. No nage ever sees their uke on the mat unless aiki has manifested spontaneously from their interaction.

What we offer in our dojo as ukes is energy from authentic attack intention without the intensity. It is meant to penetrate the central core of our partner like a spear, and the intention it arises from is the same. This provides a meaningful connection for nage to work with and also challenges nage's limbic system.

With a surprisingly low intensity, energy from authentic attack intention will easily show where nage is not being harmonious. Since there is no technique to perform, the aikido, when it does manifest, will sometimes look like an "aikido technique" that is familiar to most aikidoka, but usually it is a much simpler path to the mat.

Because all action arises from intention, the intention of the attack is of paramount importance, not the amount of force in foot pounds.

Giving authentic attack energy, or spear energy, as we often call it is not necessarily easy to do and/or maintain through the unfolding of the aiki resolution, so ukemi is as much, if not more, of our learning than nage's part.

For instance, when most visitors to our dojo from other aikido dojos are asked to hold me meaningfully, what they do is try to stop me from doing a technique. Because of this, the energy is arising out the intention to defend, not attack. Aikido will not manifest under these specific circumstances because harmonizing with defense in order to reconcile conflict is to simply refrain from imposing a throw, which we refuse to do anyway in our dojo. So our practice includes a consciousness of what we as ukes are providing to our partner, and it is not just being a practice dummy for throws. Nor is it to be an obstacle to the manifestation of aiki.

The purpose of our practice is to bypass the rote repetition of techniques which can train habitual response that may really be inharmonious with uke's energy, and instead find takemusu aiki (spontaneously manifesting) from a transcendence of lower brain responses to a consciousness of beneficent intention. In this way, the operating principle in our dojo literally is masakatsu agatsu (our recognized translation: "True victory is victory over oneself."). Without the literal victory of nage over his or her automatic defense responses, uke will not be able "to complete his mission."

So we don't need protective gear although we deliver realistic attacks, because there is just a reduction in intensity.

In regards to training the movements of aikido, elementally they are quite simple and can be learned and trained into the system very quickly and easily. Many techniques we see in aikido are complex chains of these elements. As in chemistry, where 103 elements can make tens of millions of compounds, the handful of elemental movements of aikido are a tiny fraction of the number of "techniques" that may be formed from them. One can never know all the variations that an aiki path can take, but one can know all the elements that make up those paths so that they are created spontaneously from the interaction rather than as what Mark Freeman described as techniques preserved like a "fly in amber." Osensei has been quoted as saying he had no idea what "techniques" he had used in a randori, some of them assumably never seen before or after, and he gave it all over to divine guidance.

In our dojo we prove daily that this "divine guidance" comes from our beneficent intention toward our partner. There is no faking it either. Even the smallest amount of authentic attack energy will require a harmonious response for aikido to manifest.

Ummm. I was talking aiki-do, not aiki. Damn internal people. Seriously, this is a great post and I do not disagree with any of it. I think the emergence of people with aiki is going to show us alot of what we can (and cannot) do. George sensei's post on ukemi that is currently live is an indication of the monumental shift in perception going on within aikido. That said,

Kata is emulation. I can "look" like I am doing something, even if it is wrong. Instruction through emulation is a lower bar of entry for dojos and students. Not bad, just lower. I think there is value in kata and I do not want to imply that I think kata is bad. However, I would argue kata is the standard of advancement for most dojos. When you grab a hunk of aiki, or she grabs you, there is no emulation - her center directly affects your center. This relation is consolidating into what I am now calling "connected" as to have a concrete metric of success (i.e. I move, you move). This is eye-opening and humbling all at once. It is also not what I see in most of my dojo visits.

I think explaining this concept to someone who have not experienced it is almost unrelateable. I dub this the shihan effect because while to the instructor the concept is simple, to the recipient the concept is so foreign as to be uncreditable, if not unbeliveable. I think the aiki peeps have their tasks cut out for them over the next several years to just bring the population into an understanding of what is going on at that level, let alone getting into trying that s%$# on someone else.

I think takemusu aiki is almost impossible for most of us simply because we can't get it through our head that we can be uke AND nage. Nage=good; uke=bad. Screw the expression of waza. In our dojo, we are starting to view our "attacks" as expansion of pressure seeking the weakness. This is something both uke and nage can do simultaneously without either side really "pushing". In this sense, I agree that good attacks can be executed at a level of intensity that minimizes injury while still maintaining a level of effect.

Bringing that back to the thread, I think many dojos are looking into this stuff and getting an eye-opening experience that does a better job of addressing a functional role for nage AND uke that does not require sacrifice from either role in the expression of waza. I view this discsussion to be one of priority. Nage advoccates attack styles designed to maximize "learning". Uke advocates attack styles designed to maximize effect. As the role of uke and nage become more aligned, the advocacy of each role will also align. We will be left with attack styles that have a balanced effect in both education and application.

G Sinclair
07-25-2013, 01:08 PM
Alright, against every gut instinct in my body I am going to add my two cents...

I am going to do this because for over a decade of toiling through the Aikido dojos in my area I struggled to find a form I thought would not get me killed in a fight. It was a very lonely and discouraging journey that I had begged, in vain, for help on.

So anyone seeking a more practical Aikido, this post is intended for you. I have nothing against the spiritual side of Aikido and do not mean to offend if I accidently do so.

Now, let me start off by saying I don't have all the answers. However, I would like to share what I have learned so far:

The first thing learned when seeking a more practical Aikido was different attacks. So yes, IF you are seeking a more practical Aikido, in my experience, the attacks need to change.

In our dojo, kicks, combos and quick punches to the face are far more prevalent than grabs, and performed like you would punch a real opponent (especially the recoil after the strike).

Deflections are used to control the line and keep from eating an attack when the opponent's strikes are faster than your feet can move you off the line.

We still use the standard Shomen, Yokomen, and all the grabs (it is afterall still aikido), but the strikes are executed a bit differently. In fact, Shomen and Yokomen are performed in our dojo as deflections and counterstrikes. This does not matter whether attacking or defending. The motion is the same, so Uke should not be just throwing his arm out there, he should be practicing a very tight and precise strike that can also be a counter attack.

Hard to explain, but at about the 10 second mark on this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb_lU4AC9vg) is a demonstration of a Yokomen counter strike used in defense of a roundhouse punch.

Good striking opens other doors as well, like learning to use your opponent's defenses against them. The first 3:50 of this video demonstrates that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuTHn_gIiGo

This is just my take on Aikido and the importance of attacks.

Aikibu
07-26-2013, 01:25 PM
Alright, against every gut instinct in my body I am going to add my two cents...

I am going to do this because for over a decade of toiling through the Aikido dojos in my area I struggled to find a form I thought would not get me killed in a fight. It was a very lonely and discouraging journey that I had begged, in vain, for help on.

So anyone seeking a more practical Aikido, this post is intended for you. I have nothing against the spiritual side of Aikido and do not mean to offend if I accidently do so.

Now, let me start off by saying I don't have all the answers. However, I would like to share what I have learned so far:

The first thing learned when seeking a more practical Aikido was different attacks. So yes, IF you are seeking a more practical Aikido, in my experience, the attacks need to change.

In our dojo, kicks, combos and quick punches to the face are far more prevalent than grabs, and performed like you would punch a real opponent (especially the recoil after the strike).

Deflections are used to control the line and keep from eating an attack when the opponent's strikes are faster than your feet can move you off the line.

We still use the standard Shomen, Yokomen, and all the grabs (it is afterall still aikido), but the strikes are executed a bit differently. In fact, Shomen and Yokomen are performed in our dojo as deflections and counterstrikes. This does not matter whether attacking or defending. The motion is the same, so Uke should not be just throwing his arm out there, he should be practicing a very tight and precise strike that can also be a counter attack.

Hard to explain, but at about the 10 second mark on this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb_lU4AC9vg) is a demonstration of a Yokomen counter strike used in defense of a roundhouse punch.

Good striking opens other doors as well, like learning to use your opponent's defenses against them. The first 3:50 of this video demonstrates that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuTHn_gIiGo

This is just my take on Aikido and the importance of attacks.

Very Good.:) Thanks for sharing the videos. I feel you're exploring an interesting technical path...I hope in the future you explore and refine your MAAI and Irimi. It looks like it works against inexperienced Martial Artists but in my experience with Aikido any kind of "Martial Stance" is a "tell" to an experienced attacker about how to approach you and disrupt your center. Shoji Nishio, Bruce Lee, and many others thought that kind of rigidity could be dangerous.

As a caveat I am no expert either but in my 40+ years of mistakes I've gotten better at the "stance of no stance" (Thank you Nishio Shihan!) and not giving anything to my Uke/Opponent that they can use against me. The best folks I've seen are very relaxed and fluid...

Very Respectfully,

William Hazen

Michael Varin
07-26-2013, 06:49 PM
Greg,

I appreciate your contribution, and hope it will help move the thread forward as it was a little more in line with the discussion I had in mind... Of course some other interesting things have also been put on the table.

I'd like to comment on your post a bit more later when I have more time. You must have been influenced by someone from Steven Seagal's line, because many of those movements and patterns are quite distinctive.

Bernd Lehnen
07-27-2013, 05:59 AM
Alright, against every gut instinct in my body I am going to add my two cents...

I am going to do this because for over a decade of toiling through the Aikido dojos in my area I struggled to find a form I thought would not get me killed in a fight. It was a very lonely and discouraging journey that I had begged, in vain, for help on.

So anyone seeking a more practical Aikido, this post is intended for you. I have nothing against the spiritual side of Aikido and do not mean to offend if I accidently do so.

Now, let me start off by saying I don't have all the answers. However, I would like to share what I have learned so far:

The first thing learned when seeking a more practical Aikido was different attacks. So yes, IF you are seeking a more practical Aikido, in my experience, the attacks need to change.

In our dojo, kicks, combos and quick punches to the face are far more prevalent than grabs, and performed like you would punch a real opponent (especially the recoil after the strike).

Deflections are used to control the line and keep from eating an attack when the opponent's strikes are faster than your feet can move you off the line.

We still use the standard Shomen, Yokomen, and all the grabs (it is afterall still aikido), but the strikes are executed a bit differently. In fact, Shomen and Yokomen are performed in our dojo as deflections and counterstrikes. This does not matter whether attacking or defending. The motion is the same, so Uke should not be just throwing his arm out there, he should be practicing a very tight and precise strike that can also be a counter attack.

Hard to explain, but at about the 10 second mark on this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb_lU4AC9vg) is a demonstration of a Yokomen counter strike used in defense of a roundhouse punch.

Good striking opens other doors as well, like learning to use your opponent's defenses against them. The first 3:50 of this video demonstrates that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuTHn_gIiGo

This is just my take on Aikido and the importance of attacks.

Great start.:)
The only question I have is, why do the uke still take their final ukemi the usual way aikido is demonstrated? Do they still try to make the whole ensemble look good or is it already ingrained in them as a dojo habit? Of course, this is a common way to attract people to aikido and it shows how beauty and aesthetic was brought into budo after the fundamental need for effectivity was historically lost, but when it's about adaption to reality …..

So, I'd be happier to see them react with a little more counterattacking intent and only go down when they have to, that is on their back or their stomach after they really have lost their balance and can't withstand any longer. Actually, more like a beginner, who is very often a more accomplished challenge to any longtime nage. Who on earth would want to take those free wheeling falls on concrete.

So to my mind, for more practical aikido, changing attacks is a very good start but the ukemi ought to change accordingly, too.

Perhaps, this is what Tomiki may have had in mind with his approach to randori? And, to a certain measure, wouldn't that also be in line with Corky' s approach?

Best,

Bernd

Michael Varin
07-27-2013, 11:47 PM
Eventually dealing with the counterattacking intent is very important.

JP3
07-28-2013, 05:06 PM
Eventually dealing with the counterattacking intent is very important.

Quite! I take it that your meaning is (may be) that uke's original intent to attack does not cease until such time as he is rendered unmoving? Submission, pin & lock, unconscious or just broken?

I would agree that, once students get to a certain point, then free-flow practice should involve the consistently attacking uke, who does not stop at the first foiling off-balance kuzushi touch, but reorients and keeps on coming, trying to keep things going until tori/nage deals with it to onclusion.

If that's not what you meant, then I'm lost.

Michael Varin
07-28-2013, 05:47 PM
Quite! I take it that your meaning is (may be) that uke's original intent to attack does not cease until such time as he is rendered unmoving? Submission, pin & lock, unconscious or just broken?

I would agree that, once students get to a certain point, then free-flow practice should involve the consistently attacking uke, who does not stop at the first foiling off-balance kuzushi touch, but reorients and keeps on coming, trying to keep things going until tori/nage deals with it to onclusion.

If that's not what you meant, then I'm lost.

No. You're pretty right on, John.

I wasn't totally comfortable with the term "counter attacking" because to me that is not exactly the role uke is ever embodying. In that sense uke is purely offensive and nage is the counter "fighter." But uke must continually attack nage and if nage's response become offensive or readable than uke should counter.