View Full Version : Too many variations, interpretation or inventions?

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aries admin
08-07-2002, 12:04 AM
Been around several dojo's aside from the one I regularly train with watching and practicing. I have observed the that techniques vary from one dojo to another. In a way the application of the techniques that varies. On ikkyo when the uke is already kneeling, one dojo will pull the uke in another dojo the uke will be pushed.

I asked my Sensei and he simply said there are variations, different interpretation of the techniques and lastly some are inventions.

Has anyone observed the same?

My point, how do you know if the teaching is the same as that of O'Sensei?

08-07-2002, 12:20 AM
I have been taught and seen a fair few variations on most techniques over the years. Some dojo`s teach variations, others teach "this is the right way" and only focus on one variation.

The difference between push and pull can be likened to omote and ura, i.e. they are both sides of the same coin. In your ikkyo example, I think (without having seen them) that the initial irimi uses the same principal to initiate kuzushi and turn/ roll the arm over, it is the final movement after kuzushi where the push/ pull comes into play. It really depends on how well you have unbalanced your uke, or where you have put them and their weight. I was always taught to go for the point of least resistance, by default I might start to push in one direction, but if uke resists, I may switch that into a draw. Not all uke`s behave as you would expect them to so it`s useful to be able to do a technique in a number of different ways.

Just a few thoughts on a boring afternoon at work.

08-07-2002, 12:24 AM
To tell you the truth, you probably won't ;)

It's my understanding that every Sensei contributes their own style and/or techniques to what they teach. (Please correct me if I'm wrong) Thus, I doubt you will be able to find anyone who is teaching exactly the same "stuff" that O'Sensei taught.

Plus, it's good to have some variation in your diet ;)

08-07-2002, 12:25 AM
Has anyone observed the same?

My point, how do you know if the teaching is the same as that of O'Sensei?
I know lots of people have.

I've thought about this a lot too. My current answer: does it matter if something is the same as that of O-Sensei? Didn't he say something like do each technique as if it were the first time you did it, and the last?

Point being he probably did everything with millions of variations each time he did it. I think what matters is not if you are practicing what O-sensei taught on any particular day but rather: are you practicing good budo? The best thing I've found is that for any pair of different variations there are 2 people who have something good and bad to say about each, so you can listen to what they have to say. So if you understand what is smart or good under one set of conditions and what is ineffective or detrimental, you can then understand how each variation, and any possible new variation, is still good aikido, depending on what's going on.


08-07-2002, 12:35 AM
Variations will be found for a wide variety of reasons. Some of it will depend on when, in Ueshiba's career, the technique being praticed was learned by your teacher or that teacher's teacher.

Influence by other teachers, personal tastes and perferences, changes due to experience or physical restrictions creep in, too.

Only -- maybe -- in Yoshinkan aikido and perhaps, to a lesser extent, the Tomiki aikido lineages, and their derivatives, will you likely find less drift in technical execution; though you will see some there as well. Yosh folks have carefully cultivated a very precise teaching methodology that preserves sets of techinques carefully.

Other styles of aikido will vary more, I think, but still, some of the shihans are pretty good at keeping the transmission clutter-free.

However, even within the Aikikai itself, you'll find lots of variety when you compare how the senior folks do the same waza ...


08-07-2002, 11:20 AM
Hello Everyone,

Aikido is essentially formless. We learn the techniques to give us a better understanding of the the PRINCIPLES of budo, how our bodies can work as well as how our opponents bodies work. Any particular technique can look a multitude of ways dependent upon the attack and the nage's intentions.

As you trek down the Aikido path (Ueshiba called it the path of no-path,) look for the similarities and not the differences. Even Masters cannont exaclty replicate their techniques, each one is individual and cannont be reclaimed. Masters will often show the "same" technique, which may or may not look different externally, but have the same intrinsic qualities (ie. they follow the priciples.)

Here is a brief list of the priciples of budo as I have encountered them:

Tai sabaki- correct body movement, back straight, hands in front, feet underneath

Softness- Learning not to use muscle, this is a mind accomplishment

Extension - Work with the weapons to increase your projection

Focus Power/Dissapate Power- Put all of your power into one point, dissapate an opponents force to an infinate number of points

Circles- Utilize the power of a circle

Sensitivity- Disern the power and intention of an attacker

Blending- blending/sticky hands

Anticipation- "See" the actions of an attacker prior to attack

These are just some of the priciples and is not an authoratative list. You may see many names and aliases for the points mentioned here, but they are universal.Also,you will find that all of priciples are inherent in each technique. Again look for what is the same, and not what is different.


08-08-2002, 02:18 AM
Thats why its a 'do' and not a 'jutsu' ain't it?

Do a dear... opps. ;P

08-08-2002, 02:39 AM
Of course then there is the disturbing trend seen in a few dojos where collection of variations seem to be the driving force without any consideration to effect.

Look how complicated I can get. :mad:

A little bit of play and imagination is good and not everything has to be brutally effective but sheesh.

08-08-2002, 03:24 AM
So if you understand what is smart or good under one set of conditions and what is ineffective or detrimental, you can then understand how each variation, and any possible new variation, is still good aikido, depending on what's going on.
That's the hard part for a lot of folks, myself included. Usually, simpler is better...


08-08-2002, 06:45 AM
If you look at the number of techniques in daito ryu you'll be amazed. Ueshiba didn't use most of these in aikido, and as he got older he tended to foucs on ikkyo and irimi-nage. A student of Ueshiba told me that they'd start learning ikkyo, and then just about get on to irimi-nage when someone new would join - so then they would go back to ikkyo.


Bruce Baker
08-08-2002, 06:48 AM
"Do that throw you did before again," the reporter said to O'Sensei, "It was spectacular."

To which, O'Sensei did a different throw to uke, then a differenent throw, and yet another variation.

"No, no. Can you do the first throw, that was really great!"

To which O'Sensei did a different throw, and yet a variation, and another variation.

"What happened to the first throw?" the reporter questioned.

O'Sensei replied," Even if I was to try to duplicate the throw you have asked me to duplicate, it would be different. All life is a variation upon the moment of its arrival makeing it different and irriplacable because that moment has past."

Obviously, I have taken this from memory and not quoted from the exact text, but the variations of each and every technique become variations because you cannot occupy a moment that has passed. So, even if you should manage to closely duplicate a set of movements to the finest detail, they are a variation of movements from another time that has passed.

Let the past go. Learn from it, and move on.

The exact duplication of what has passed is the learning experience of what can be. Sometimes they are variations, and sometimes they are old friends that have returned to visit. In either case, if the practice is within the tenents of Aikido, and the spirit of Aikido remains in the practice, they are not variations, they are the movements of Aikido.

So if Yoshikan believes that duplicating the moments that have passed are the correct way, so long as they practice within Aikido's guidelines it is Aikido.

If what you call variations are practiced within the guidelines of Aikido, then it too is Aikido.

You can practice with a blythe spirit or that of malice. When the spirit of malice us undertaken, it darkens the heart and draws away from the spirit of Aikido to make it something else ... the old dark path of a warrior seeking redemption.

O'Sensei gave us a path that leads us around the dark path into a enlightened practice.

You can choose the path of malice, which will take you years out of your way, or you can study the enlightened way with light heart and good spirit.

Variations are the way of evolution, the way of nature, and the understanding of harmony in the universe .... even if it is understanding the moments in time are not replaceable as recreating the exact same movements.

08-08-2002, 06:55 AM
I think the basic techniques do need to be taught (i.e. ikkyo, nikkyo etc), but I believe this entering and turning concept is missleading. Ueshiba (apparently) used to say 3+7 = 10 and 1 + 9 = 10. i.e. you only enter when you can enter and only turn when you can turn. I think much of aikido (and many martial arts) are taught initially in a regimented way so that people understand the 'techniques'. However it is a mistake to believe this is aikido, since we are blending with our partners. Thus there are no such things as 'counter techniques' in reality 'cos if your uke tries to do something, you go with what they are doing, not try to force the same technique on. The difficulty then becomes becoming 'aware' i.e. living in the present. (but without the basics you can't see how the form develops from nothingness into something).


P.S. there is no intention to sound esoteric here

08-08-2002, 08:40 AM
IMHO, yes thinks change consistently. That's something that doesn't change. If you look at the physical technique you will see the differences. If you look at the principles you will see the similiarities.

Until again,