PDA

View Full Version : Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Reuben
05-05-2014, 10:17 PM
This is something that's been bugging me a long time and I'm sure I'm probably not the first to raise such issues but thought I would share my thoughts here.

I am a 31 year old and have been training in Aikido since I was 9-10 years old (I think) and currently hold the rank of 3rd dan and actively teach. I am also a licensed trainer for CMD (http://www.crazymonkeydefense.com/) and also learn BJJ. muay thai and MMA on the side as a hobby. Aikido is the first martial art I picked up.

First of all this is primarily dealing with Aikido as a MARTIAL art and/or self defence form.

The way I first learnt Aikido was very traditional. We watched our Sensei perform the techniques, practiced it on our ukes (who were compliant) and hoped that somehow, with enough repetition, we would magically be able to defend ourselves.

I found that such training makes people lax and for a long time in our dojo we just did the motions and I realized it resulted in horrible Aikido. It may look pretty, fluid and etc but put it under pressure and the gaping holes just come out. I wouldn't even remotely call it self defence. If anything, it may have given false confidence which is all the more dangerous. As an instructor, and for those seeking Aikido as a self-defence form, I felt that I had failed them.

When I started cross-training and learning other martial arts. A lot of things started clicking but it also made me question as to 'What is Aikido?' A lot of the time people comment as to what is 'pure' Aikido or as 'O-Sensei' taught it or one of his uchi-deshi taught it and that any addition was an adulteration of the art. And yes there's of course the controversy that Doshu Kisshomaru watered it down and that for a more true form of Aikido, you need to go back to the uchi-deshis like Saito/Shioda etc etc.

I think such talk about what is 'pure' Aikido is pointless.

For me something is Aikido if it:
a) Doesn't rely on force/strength
b) Gives you an option to not harm an opponent and just neutralization

This is probably controversial as it would mean many techniques from other arts can be considered Aikido (for e.g. the many chokes or pins in BJJ especially those that can be performed while standing). And heck if 'koshi-nage' is considered Aikido then so should a lot of other judo throws as devastating as it can be if uke lands incorrectly.

The basic forms are there for us to build a foundation but to only limit ourselves to such a foundation I think is silly. Of course a certain degree of proficiency is required to find out what techniques work and what are just fanciful creations, but that doesn't mean we should stop innovating. The attacks that people did a long time ago are very different than let's say the attacks that ppl do on the street now and to only train in the traditional attacks and claim that it's 'street applicable' is also crazy.

A lot of the times people are looking at beautiful flowy techniques and if it fits in their idea of what Aikido is, then they can accept it as an Aikido technique. But why? Why is a standing guillotine not Aikido? Properly applied there's no neck crank and the opponent just goes to sleep waking up unharmed later...Some may argue, well it doesn't deal with multiple attackers!!! Does a finishing nikyo/sankyo grip allow you to do that as well?

If you examine many of the great Aikidoka, a vast majority of them had experience in some other form of martial arts. Shioda, Mochizuki, Tomiki and Tohei all did judo. O-Sensei himself studied many forms and his Aikido was always evolving. So why all this talk of 'pure' Aikido? Does Aikido exist in a time capsule?

I think it is necessary for one to build an understanding on basic fight mechanics and patterns one which can only be done through some form of competition or play sparring especially once you reach a certain level. I found that my Aikido improved a lot and became much more effective after I had cross trained in boxing and MMA as I could read a person's attacks better, not flinch when being attacked and understanding distancing or as Aikidoka call it (ma-ai) a lot better. This lead me to develop my own techniques while trying to keep within the two essential components of what I view as 'Aikido'.

I really think that Aikido is best learnt as a martial art to refine your understanding after learning other martial arts (especially grappling types) whereby Aikido's techniques (which require amazing timing and understanding of balance) complement and add on to your improvement. But to learn it as your first and ONLY martial art then I would say, Aikido as it is traditionally taught probably isn't effective as a self defence. Frankly I've yet to see a good video of Aikido being used in its traditional form against a real attack. I've seen some videos of people claiming certain moves in MMA are Aikido (sloppy sayu-nages or udekimenages) as justification that Aikido works but you really don't need to learn Aikido to come up with such movements...

So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be? I don't profess to be a greater master than O-Sensei or the other Aikido greats...but surely there is room for inclusion of more effective techniques that fit in the philosophy of Aikido?

Rupert Atkinson
05-06-2014, 01:59 AM
I have gone through exactly the same thought process as you. For me, now, Aikido is The Way of Aiki. It is about developing aiki, not just learning a bunch of semi-useless kata style waza. The waza will not work if you put them to the test (beyond Aikido, like, try katate-dori Ikkyo on a Judoka trying to throw you and see how far you get). And yes, you could put aiki into anything, Jujutsu, Judo, whatever. But for me, the aim of Aikido is to develop this aiki whereas Judo has turned into a system of scoring points.

Now you may think your Aikido has improved due to your other training but I would say it can only improve if you aim at developing aiki. So if it really has gotten better, maybe your other training has given you a few aiki insights you are as yet unaware of. Or perhaps you have just found a better way of wrenching Ikkyo on someone ...

I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.

Just my 2c.

kewms
05-06-2014, 02:15 AM
If you make your technique -- whatever technique you choose -- more effective by incorporating aiki, then it's still aikido.

If you don't know what "incorporating aiki" means, or if you're just adding techniques from other arts, then it isn't still aikido. But then, it may not have been aikido in the first place.

I think if your technique collapses under pressure, that's an issue with your training and may or may not have anything to do with the limitations of the art itself.

Katherine

Millsy
05-06-2014, 06:18 AM
I echo the previous two posters.

I rember a teacher when I was starting describing the progression of Aikido. First you think about techniques, then you do the techniques without thinking, finaly forget techniques. How's that relevant? I think the aim of aikido is to develop Aiki so you can apply it spontaneously without regard to technique, this mean unfortunately while we are learning through aikido techniques they often seem ineffective. The temptation is we can supliment with these percived effective techniques from other arts and still call it aikido. To me this can be a distraction from the higher goal of learning Aiki because we are not using those techniques towards developing Aiki but to fight better in the short term, and that becomes our goal
.
Don't get me wrong I don't think we shouldn't be martial, fight well, or train other arts. Just we need to know what we are aiming for and not get so side tracked that we head off on a different path. Of course we all have different goals:)

Malicat
05-06-2014, 06:55 AM
So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be? I don't profess to be a greater master than O-Sensei or the other Aikido greats...but surely there is room for inclusion of more effective techniques that fit in the philosophy of Aikido?

Reuben, I am actually with you on most of those points, but I would look to training in terms of bad technique. In the beginning, the uke has to be compliant, because nage has never done the technique, and needs to understand how it is supposed to feel to start with, and move on from there. But as students progress, compliance needs to start going away. I'll never remember the first time my uke took an actual swing at me. I performed the technique, a bit sloppy, but I did it, and after I pinned him I was in shock. "Dude! You swung at me!" "Yep, and you did it right. Good job."

If you have anyone who has achieved any kind of rank without the occasional "real" attack, that is what needs to be remedied.

--Ashley

lbb
05-06-2014, 07:32 AM
So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be?

I think that the former is unattainable and the latter doesn't make sense -- but more importantly, I think that the problem you pose is a false dichotomy.

Cliff Judge
05-06-2014, 07:46 AM
If you have the opportunity to train with the Takumakai, I would recommend it. O Sensei taught them a jujutsu system of mind-boggling intricacy and brutality.

Cliff Judge
05-06-2014, 08:41 AM
"Compliant uke" has been a fairly consistent complaint for as long as people have been arguing about Aikido on the internet. It seems to come most often from people who like wrestling. In my experience, as long as the instructors foster neither a "you must never resist technique and must always take the fall" nor a "never take a fall unless the technique works" attitude, things just work themselves out.

Beginners get on the mat, people take a fall of them so they can get the feel for what the results of the technique are supposed to be. Then when its their turn to be uke, they take the fall to learn to take the fall.

When they get more advanced, you are basically always willing to take a fall, but if they aren't giving you anything to work with, you don't. When it's their turn, you dial it up a bit if they can take it.

Then when advanced people work together, sometimes you show each other that such and such a thing doesn't work on you. Sometimes you give each other time and space to innovate.

If you look at the antecedent systems of Aikido, uke may not be "compliant" but he is certainly cooperative in general practice. To the extent that uke will allow you to apply a painful join lock or choke. There is no other safe way to train moves that are meant to cause serious injury. In regular practice you can't just decide to break someone's neck - even if you teach counters, if uke doesn't know what's coming, accidents will happen. Aikido has softer techniques that allow for practice to involve spontaneity without lots of injury.

jonreading
05-06-2014, 08:48 AM
For me, aiki do is a study of the application of aiki. The kata we find in aikido are derived from the early movements often demonstrated by O Sensei. The intention behind them was to create common vessels in which practitioners could express aiki. There is commonality to sister Japanese arts, especially those arts shared by some of the earlier students who lead the kata curriculum. The kata are a "paint by numbers," approach to helping reduce the stress of manufacturing a proper martial shape when also trying to express aiki. The curriculum of kata we have is kinda a "starter kit" of a larger set of martial movement that exists.

I think that it is difficult to express aiki. I think when you are referring to those who argue about limiting the formal kata of aikido, you are talking about an argument based on a limit of knowledge. To some extent, I can sympathize with this perspective because probably most of what we do is not expressing aiki, so the number of kata that we proclaim to comprehend does not change our inability to express aiki. The converse to that argument is that everything we do is aiki, and there is no limit of knowledge. To some extent, I can sympathize with this argument because that is the intended purpose of our training, to transcend the need for a model that solicits proper aiki movement.

Kata is a tool to help reduce the stress of remember what to do - it creates an outside shape that is reproducible and transferrable. There are some aikido people who will never really move beyond that phase of their training. For those who do, they invigorate their kata with aiki. For those who are good, they move with aiki without a need to put that movement into a outside shape.

This brings us back to shu ha ri training. Aiki is a basic body skill. You can use it for many things, but only if you learn aiki, not a shape that solicits aiki-like movement. The kata in aikido are designed to preserve the movement to express aiki, not fight. If you have built a body of knowledge that lets you expand your kata knowledge and still express aiki, great.

phitruong
05-06-2014, 11:08 AM
have been wondering of late. why is that folks getting workup when they mentioned aikido, martial arts, and self-defense all in the same sentence (maybe two)? wondering why that is. my theory is spinach.

kewms
05-06-2014, 11:18 AM
While an overly compliant uke can certainly be a problem, I think people who say that it's unique to aikido aren't paying attention.

The first time you spar with a live partner in a karate dojo, does the senior student beat you bloody? No? Then I guess he's being "compliant," huh?

And as pointed out up thread, it's kind of hard to train lethal or crippling techniques any other way: you run out of partners really fast, and local law enforcement tends to get involved.

The question is how to ramp up the intensity and the "resistance" (not really the right word, but it'll do) so that students learn to handle progressively more realistic situations, while keeping the stress level low enough to allow learning. It's a hard problem, and I don't think aikido instructors are alone in struggling with it.

Katherine

lbb
05-06-2014, 11:52 AM
have been wondering of late. why is that folks getting workup when they mentioned aikido, martial arts, and self-defense all in the same sentence (maybe two)?

I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.

Millsy
05-06-2014, 02:32 PM
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.

You sound worked up :) Only joking, was actually looking for a like button, we are all here for our own reasons.

RonRagusa
05-06-2014, 04:20 PM
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.

++1

kfa4303
05-06-2014, 04:41 PM
I have gone through exactly the same thought process as you. For me, now, Aikido is The Way of Aiki. It is about developing aiki, not just learning a bunch of semi-useless kata style waza. The waza will not work if you put them to the test (beyond Aikido, like, try katate-dori Ikkyo on a Judoka trying to throw you and see how far you get). And yes, you could put aiki into anything, Jujutsu, Judo, whatever. But for me, the aim of Aikido is to develop this aiki whereas Judo has turned into a system of scoring points.

Now you may think your Aikido has improved due to your other training but I would say it can only improve if you aim at developing aiki. So if it really has gotten better, maybe your other training has given you a few aiki insights you are as yet unaware of. Or perhaps you have just found a better way of wrenching Ikkyo on someone ...

I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.

Just my 2c.

Yeah, that's about what I'd pay for that too. So what is "aiki" exactly and how do you know if you, or anyone else is doing "it" correctly? Does your magic aiki meter go "ding" when you're in "the zone", or does a little indicator light appear? Do you have some sort of ESP which allows you to detect this invisible, non-corporeal force in others as well? Give me a break!!!
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.
Lest we forget that Osensei himself was a deeply militant man who knowingly and willingly trained and associated with known war criminals of a caliber that would make Goebbels blush. Oh yeah, the ol' Japanese military made the Nazis look like the Peace Corp. (Pearl Harbor anyone?) and Osensei was best friends with ALL the brass and proud of it too. How's that for "spiritual" awareness and enlightenment?
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved. To do otherwise is cruel farce which will leave a hapless aikidoka in for a rude awakening should they ever need to use their "spiritual" skills to protect themselves or a loved one. If there are people practicing Aikido simply as a "spiritual practice" (whatever that is), then those people should stop. Instead, they and their communities would all be better served by them volunteering at a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter in order to better fulfill their "spiritual" needs rather than rolling around on a mat in a manskirt using archaic Japanese terminology to describe said movements.
The saddest irony of all is that Aikido didn't become as popular and well respected in such a relatively short amount of time because its techniques and practitioners weren't martially effective. On the contrary, Osensei himself was an iconoclast who did away with many of the old conventions to bring forth a new approach to the MARTIAL arts and soundly handled challengers. His students also spread the word when they willingly took on any and all comers and won, thus allowing the art to speak for itself. Sadly, this aspect has been greatly diminished in favor of the "Lets all be morbidly obese senseis who can't even touch our toes (you know who you are) and/or hold hands and talk about our "spiritual feelings" and/or you can't handle a BJJ guy, so don't even bother " crowd. What a shame. Just goes to show you how precious the essence an art really is and how quickly it can disappear without proper nurturing. If Aikido is going to endure as a true and well-respected MARTIAL art it desperately needs to get off its "spiritual" high horse and get back to goodness with some HONEST demonstrations of talent and ability. Who knows, we might just like what we find.

OwlMatt
05-06-2014, 08:06 PM
I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.

I came in here to say something, and discovered that Rupert had already said it better. Listen to this guy.

kewms
05-06-2014, 08:32 PM
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved.

So. When was the last death at your dojo? The last traumatic injury?

If you think you can train with "true life or death intent" without serious injuries, you are deluding yourself.

Katherine

Shannon Frye
05-06-2014, 09:56 PM
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.

Don't know and don't care. Why bother to comment then? Bored?

Rooster
05-06-2014, 11:08 PM
Yeah, that's about what I'd pay for that too. So what is "aiki" exactly and how do you know if you, or anyone else is doing "it" correctly? Does your magic aiki meter go "ding" when you're in "the zone", or does a little indicator light appear? Do you have some sort of ESP which allows you to detect this invisible, non-corporeal force in others as well? Give me a break!!!
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.
Lest we forget that Osensei himself was a deeply militant man who knowingly and willingly trained and associated with known war criminals of a caliber that would make Goebbels blush. Oh yeah, the ol' Japanese military made the Nazis look like the Peace Corp. (Pearl Harbor anyone?) and Osensei was best friends with ALL the brass and proud of it too. How's that for "spiritual" awareness and enlightenment?
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved. To do otherwise is cruel farce which will leave a hapless aikidoka in for a rude awakening should they ever need to use their "spiritual" skills to protect themselves or a loved one. If there are people practicing Aikido simply as a "spiritual practice" (whatever that is), then those people should stop. Instead, they and their communities would all be better served by them volunteering at a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter in order to better fulfill their "spiritual" needs rather than rolling around on a mat in a manskirt using archaic Japanese terminology to describe said movements.
The saddest irony of all is that Aikido didn't become as popular and well respected in such a relatively short amount of time because its techniques and practitioners weren't martially effective. On the contrary, Osensei himself was an iconoclast who did away with many of the old conventions to bring forth a new approach to the MARTIAL arts and soundly handled challengers. His students also spread the word when they willingly took on any and all comers and won, thus allowing the art to speak for itself. Sadly, this aspect has been greatly diminished in favor of the "Lets all be morbidly obese senseis who can't even touch our toes (you know who you are) and/or hold hands and talk about our "spiritual feelings" and/or you can't handle a BJJ guy, so don't even bother " crowd. What a shame. Just goes to show you how precious the essence an art really is and how quickly it can disappear without proper nurturing. If Aikido is going to endure as a true and well-respected MARTIAL art it desperately needs to get off its "spiritual" high horse and get back to goodness with some HONEST demonstrations of talent and ability. Who knows, we might just like what we find.

Is the video on your dojo's website ("Aikido: The Path") an example of the kind of practice you are talking about? Just curious.

Rupert Atkinson
05-07-2014, 01:11 AM
About light ukemi and flying ukes. I think this kind of training is essential for your development as tori. It is one of the things that gives Aikido its edge. If your ukemi is good, your nage-waza will be good - but just training lightly is of course a huge mstake. But anyway, my point is that if you have great responsive ukemi, you will be able to move/evade/slip/counter quickly, with ease, to match the movement of your attacker. And once you learn to match the movement of your uke, so you can begin to disrupt his movement or add to it to de-stabilse him.

Rupert Atkinson
05-07-2014, 01:13 AM
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.

Although you may think you are contradicting me, I actually agree with you 100%. Kinda funny if you think about it

James Sawers
05-07-2014, 02:28 AM
Is the video on your dojo's website ("Aikido: The Path") an example of the kind of practice you are talking about? Just curious.

Yes, I took a look at the same video as Roo Sensei and I have the same question......????

Thanks....

Rupert Atkinson
05-07-2014, 03:00 AM
Yes, I took a look at the same video as Roo Sensei and I have the same question......????
Thanks....

I just did a search and found a Roo Heins video - doing Ikkyo - on You Tube. I think it is excellent practice :-)

Cliff Judge
05-07-2014, 06:07 AM
Is the video on your dojo's website ("Aikido: The Path") an example of the kind of practice you are talking about? Just curious.

That dojo looks like a great place to train, very safe, with ukes who are exactly as compliant as they need to be to accommodate skill level. An excellent space to explore the spiritual and martial aspects of Aikido. :)

jonreading
05-07-2014, 12:13 PM
I happen to believe aikido is a martial art, but not because of its tactical curriculum. Rather, I think aiki is a building block for any tactical combat system you want to use, even the small curriculum we use. At some point in time, writing, swimming and strategic games like chess were "martial arts," amongst a number of skill sets that were not common amongst non-military classes. Martial arts do not necessarily mean anything other than an educational process designed to enhance combat skills of militaries.

To provide a personal elaboration about an earlier point, I think aiki is definite and detectable and I also think learning the skill is transmittable. At the risk of stereotyping a perspective, I believe there is an element in aikido that does not want aiki to be tangible. Intangibility is a tool that can be used to insulate aikido people from establishing a metric of success and holding others to that metric. By leaving aiki undefined, we have a greater range of freedom to express personal perspective without criticism or correction.

I also happen to think the claim of life and death in training is to identify the need to use more intent and intensity in our training, not necessarily claim a physical ability to kill someone. The relative risk to your body does play a factor in intent and so I can appreciate physical factors that increase your body risk as a method of increasing your focus and intent. But we are not training with the intent to injure, we are training with the intent to control ourselves. Honestly, there is a small group of people who I can touch and instantly feel concern for my safety and know they have absolutely no intention of injuring me. Anyone who has worked with the business ends of large animals knows that feeling.

Rupert said it best a couple posts back, aiki is a tool to use in your endeavors. I would say that you ability to use aiki in your endeavors is indicative of your relative success in expressing aiki. Not good, not bad, just a metric indicating your level of ability.

The elephant in the room is that eventually we are faced with this issue of evaluating our ability to use aiki. If our ability strongly ties to kata and the cooperation of our partner we are limited in our ability to venture into other aspects of application, whether your putting your knowledge into fighting systems or athletics or philosophy or whatever.

Mary made a couple of comments about "caring" for what reason we train. To that extent, I would advocate that we have chosen dojos because they are supportive environments for our learning. I would actually advocate that we should care about why each of us are training, so we can help our partners understand their metrics of success and paths to improvement. I can be a jerk and not respect why my partner is there, but that would be a poor partner.

"I am here because I cannot stand my spouse and I need to kill 2 hours."
"I am hear because I want to be more assertive."
"I am hear because I want to learn how to care of myself."
"I am hear because the court ordered therapy."

So what? I tolerate Red Sox fans, too. My training is about me, I have no obligation to inherit the reason my partner trains. I inherit the obligation to help my partner, but to help my partner I need to know what he is trying to accomplish.

kewms
05-07-2014, 01:09 PM
I also happen to think the claim of life and death in training is to identify the need to use more intent and intensity in our training, not necessarily claim a physical ability to kill someone. The relative risk to your body does play a factor in intent and so I can appreciate physical factors that increase your body risk as a method of increasing your focus and intent. But we are not training with the intent to injure, we are training with the intent to control ourselves. Honestly, there is a small group of people who I can touch and instantly feel concern for my safety and know they have absolutely no intention of injuring me. Anyone who has worked with the business ends of large animals knows that feeling.


If you say, "we need more intensity in our training" then yes, I entirely agree. The issue is that when people start talking about "life or death intensity," they don't tend to spend much time considering what that actually means.

Among other things, life or death situations are very stressful, involving lots of tension and large surges of adrenaline. It is very difficult to learn anything -- much less fine motor skills like aikido -- if your body believes your life is at risk. So this idea that we should train with that level of intensity all of the time is pedagogically ridiculous.

Rather, I would say that dealing with intensity is a separate field of study. It needs to take place in parallel with waza, not instead of it.

Katherine

Janet Rosen
05-07-2014, 02:09 PM
If you say, "we need more intensity in our training" then yes, I entirely agree. The issue is that when people start talking about "life or death intensity," they don't tend to spend much time considering what that actually means.

Among other things, life or death situations are very stressful, involving lots of tension and large surges of adrenaline. It is very difficult to learn anything -- much less fine motor skills like aikido -- if your body believes your life is at risk. So this idea that we should train with that level of intensity all of the time is pedagogically ridiculous.

Rather, I would say that dealing with intensity is a separate field of study. It needs to take place in parallel with waza, not instead of it.

Katherine

Agree.

I was probably 4th kyu when introduced to tantotori....a very likeable sempai did munetsuke, not at all in a "life or death" manner...but for this Brooklyn girl it called for an immediate response and I had never ever done a kotegaishe nearly as smoothly, quickly and efficiently as that one.

Didn't feel like fight or flight, just automatic.

And, in fact, it would be a while before it would be matched, because after that the buttons weren't being pushed the same way. However, it set my bar higher and gave me an in-the-body model for myself that I could work on learning from.

NagaBaba
05-07-2014, 09:03 PM
So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be? I don't profess to be a greater master than O-Sensei or the other Aikido greats...but surely there is room for inclusion of more effective techniques that fit in the philosophy of Aikido?

So you firmly believe that O sensei developed merely just another type of jujutsu self defense full of ineffective random techniques and he devoted for it 70 years of his life? He, who learned from and observed the finest Japaneses martial artists of the time, but he was so stupid, that he didn't see the uselessness of his heritage? Already at his time guns supplanted completely bare hand fighting on the battlefield...
He nevertheless insisted to practice and even 'teach' this nonsense to others?

And your solution is to add some other random techniques from other combat sports and PUFFF magically aikido become efficient and full of sense?

I usually don't waste my time for such trivial topics, but your choice of words draw my attention - Aikido 'pure'. This became interesting....

In reality aikido is a purification practice using martial techniques as designed by O sensei. It is not a heap of locks and throws, martial techniques are doing merely body and mind conditioning, they are not a goal in itself. So if they are done in pure form(not talking here only about external shape of techniques), they may result in proper state of mind which can lead to transcendent human condition and develop a spiritual intuition. In turn this intuition can be used to answer the questions like From where are we coming? Who are You? Why are You living?

If you distort these techniques, all your practice is useless. So yes, pure Aikido.

Reuben
05-08-2014, 05:08 AM
First of all thanks for all the replies!

Also appreciate if the replies are kept non-derogatory...some seems to be leaning in that way.

I have gone through exactly the same thought process as you. For me, now, Aikido is The Way of Aiki. It is about developing aiki, not just learning a bunch of semi-useless kata style waza. The waza will not work if you put them to the test (beyond Aikido, like, try katate-dori Ikkyo on a Judoka trying to throw you and see how far you get). And yes, you could put aiki into anything, Jujutsu, Judo, whatever. But for me, the aim of Aikido is to develop this aiki whereas Judo has turned into a system of scoring points.

Now you may think your Aikido has improved due to your other training but I would say it can only improve if you aim at developing aiki. So if it really has gotten better, maybe your other training has given you a few aiki insights you are as yet unaware of. Or perhaps you have just found a better way of wrenching Ikkyo on someone ...

I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.

Just my 2c.

I agree that to understand Aikido, you need to practice Aikido and not a mumbo jumbo of things. I am not bringing jujitsu into Aikido to improve my Aikido but sometimes it's the more efficient technique (when it presents itself).

To quote an example, from a certain position a kaiten nage and also a guillotine presents itself. I pick the guillotine because it's an 'end' position similar to a pin and arguably safer too both in a self defense situation both for me and the attacker (since a choke offers more control and is non lethal while a fall is harder to predict).

To me the most difficult and technical part of Aikido are not the throws the pins etc etc...it is those initial moments when receiving the attack and breaking the balance, what follows after is just a matter of preference.

I echo the previous two posters.

I rember a teacher when I was starting describing the progression of Aikido. First you think about techniques, then you do the techniques without thinking, finaly forget techniques. How's that relevant? I think the aim of aikido is to develop Aiki so you can apply it spontaneously without regard to technique, this mean unfortunately while we are learning through aikido techniques they often seem ineffective. The temptation is we can supliment with these percived effective techniques from other arts and still call it aikido. To me this can be a distraction from the higher goal of learning Aiki because we are not using those techniques towards developing Aiki but to fight better in the short term, and that becomes our goal
.
Don't get me wrong I don't think we shouldn't be martial, fight well, or train other arts. Just we need to know what we are aiming for and not get so side tracked that we head off on a different path. Of course we all have different goals:)

If you make your technique -- whatever technique you choose -- more effective by incorporating aiki, then it's still aikido.

If you don't know what "incorporating aiki" means, or if you're just adding techniques from other arts, then it isn't still aikido. But then, it may not have been aikido in the first place.

I think if your technique collapses under pressure, that's an issue with your training and may or may not have anything to do with the limitations of the art itself.

Katherine

Yes I believe early in development, I think trying to supplement and mix things up doesn't help things. When you do it too early on, you're just stunting your understanding and growth and going the 'easy path'. There are many techniques in which I do in Aikido now that I didn't have the technical skills 10 years ago and didn't get it. However I've been doing Aikido since I was like maybe 10 years old...and I can say that I am reasonably competent in the fundamentals of Aikido and have gone around training in different Aikido dojos to also expose myself to it. I wouldn't call myself a master but I would say I know when a technique is working and when it isn't.

My point is that rather than viewing 'pure' Aikido as the end solution to everything, what's wrong with increasing your repertoire with other techniques as long as it fits into the whole economy of movement and do no harm principles of Aikido?

I really disagree that we should only stick to training in the 'traditional attacks' like shomen, tsuki etc etc and that it would be better to have better methods/techniques while still following Aiki principles in dealing with modern attacks that involve combinations and strikes we don't see in traditional Aikido practice.

Case in point, I think tsuki kote-gaeshi is really not practical if someone is properly punching. It works if uke continues to hold his hand out, and i think it's more designed to be against something like a spear thrust as opposed to just a punch to the stomach (and that's with you anticipating it). And frankly, who attacks like that outside there?

Why is it wrong to learn and adapt techniques to deal with more common attacks like a jab/cross/hook/haymaker etc? Why aren't these incorporated into Aikido's standard repertoire?

As to collapsing under pressure, I think Aikido training does not prepare u for that. Even when you do get hit, it's going to be just one hit, it's hard to deal with a persistent attacker that's going to keep attacking you unless you can get him everytime he makes that first attack. I have NEVER seen anyone achieve this level. You need a different kind of training, some type of 'stress innoculation' which allows you to keep calm when under pressure. This I got it through sparring. I'll be very surprised to see a pure Aikidoka that has trained in nothing else deal with a determined attacker that's not going to just attack with one attack and has a genuine intention to land solid hits. How can you train for stress situations when you've never been put under stress?

I've been dealing with this by introducing more proactive randori by having an attacker come in with an attack but continue to attack in rapidly in combination if nage fails to perform a technique. Strikes of course have to be light (and open handed) but grips will be full force and with an intention to take down if possible. The Aikido then may be sloppy but it is hoped with time, more and more effective techniques can be pulled off (which still happens now and then).

Reuben, I am actually with you on most of those points, but I would look to training in terms of bad technique. In the beginning, the uke has to be compliant, because nage has never done the technique, and needs to understand how it is supposed to feel to start with, and move on from there. But as students progress, compliance needs to start going away. I'll never remember the first time my uke took an actual swing at me. I performed the technique, a bit sloppy, but I did it, and after I pinned him I was in shock. "Dude! You swung at me!" "Yep, and you did it right. Good job."

If you have anyone who has achieved any kind of rank without the occasional "real" attack, that is what needs to be remedied.

--Ashley

Totally agree. I also now incorporate a form of 'play resistance' which allows students to give a lot of resistance without bringing ego into play and keeping it playful. For example, i'll tell uke, ok go grab nage's hand and if you can establish a grip, grip as hard as you can and you can fight it, condition is that you have to hold on to the hand and do nothing else. I find that in that case nage can experiment against a fully committed grip and feel the switches and adaptation of an almost fully resisting uke but within controlled parameters. This I feel controls the gap between full on sparring and just being compliant.

"Compliant uke" has been a fairly consistent complaint for as long as people have been arguing about Aikido on the internet. It seems to come most often from people who like wrestling. In my experience, as long as the instructors foster neither a "you must never resist technique and must always take the fall" nor a "never take a fall unless the technique works" attitude, things just work themselves out.

Beginners get on the mat, people take a fall of them so they can get the feel for what the results of the technique are supposed to be. Then when its their turn to be uke, they take the fall to learn to take the fall.

When they get more advanced, you are basically always willing to take a fall, but if they aren't giving you anything to work with, you don't. When it's their turn, you dial it up a bit if they can take it.

Then when advanced people work together, sometimes you show each other that such and such a thing doesn't work on you. Sometimes you give each other time and space to innovate.

If you look at the antecedent systems of Aikido, uke may not be "compliant" but he is certainly cooperative in general practice. To the extent that uke will allow you to apply a painful join lock or choke. There is no other safe way to train moves that are meant to cause serious injury. In regular practice you can't just decide to break someone's neck - even if you teach counters, if uke doesn't know what's coming, accidents will happen. Aikido has softer techniques that allow for practice to involve spontaneity without lots of injury.

I always hear that oh in Aikido we never apply techniques full force because it may be lethal or cause serious injury. There is no move that is meant to cause serious injury cause if it is, it's not Aikido. I think that's really against what Aikido is about. The point is that Aikido should be an art that gives you the control and option to not do harm. Which is why I think incorporating other techniques that gives you that control should be in line with what Aikido is about.

Totally agree with you on advanced students being free to experiment and not afraid to look bad though. it takes a lot of experimentation to know what works.

For me, aiki do is a study of the application of aiki. The kata we find in aikido are derived from the early movements often demonstrated by O Sensei. The intention behind them was to create common vessels in which practitioners could express aiki. There is commonality to sister Japanese arts, especially those arts shared by some of the earlier students who lead the kata curriculum. The kata are a "paint by numbers," approach to helping reduce the stress of manufacturing a proper martial shape when also trying to express aiki. The curriculum of kata we have is kinda a "starter kit" of a larger set of martial movement that exists.

I think that it is difficult to express aiki. I think when you are referring to those who argue about limiting the formal kata of aikido, you are talking about an argument based on a limit of knowledge. To some extent, I can sympathize with this perspective because probably most of what we do is not expressing aiki, so the number of kata that we proclaim to comprehend does not change our inability to express aiki. The converse to that argument is that everything we do is aiki, and there is no limit of knowledge. To some extent, I can sympathize with this argument because that is the intended purpose of our training, to transcend the need for a model that solicits proper aiki movement.

Kata is a tool to help reduce the stress of remember what to do - it creates an outside shape that is reproducible and transferrable. There are some aikido people who will never really move beyond that phase of their training. For those who do, they invigorate their kata with aiki. For those who are good, they move with aiki without a need to put that movement into a outside shape.

This brings us back to shu ha ri training. Aiki is a basic body skill. You can use it for many things, but only if you learn aiki, not a shape that solicits aiki-like movement. The kata in aikido are designed to preserve the movement to express aiki, not fight. If you have built a body of knowledge that lets you expand your kata knowledge and still express aiki, great.

I guess you're saying that Aikido is a form of somatic training then?

While an overly compliant uke can certainly be a problem, I think people who say that it's unique to aikido aren't paying attention.

The first time you spar with a live partner in a karate dojo, does the senior student beat you bloody? No? Then I guess he's being "compliant," huh?

And as pointed out up thread, it's kind of hard to train lethal or crippling techniques any other way: you run out of partners really fast, and local law enforcement tends to get involved.

The question is how to ramp up the intensity and the "resistance" (not really the right word, but it'll do) so that students learn to handle progressively more realistic situations, while keeping the stress level low enough to allow learning. It's a hard problem, and I don't think aikido instructors are alone in struggling with it.

Katherine

Yup been working actively on devising on how to do this...

Yeah, that's about what I'd pay for that too. So what is "aiki" exactly and how do you know if you, or anyone else is doing "it" correctly? Does your magic aiki meter go "ding" when you're in "the zone", or does a little indicator light appear? Do you have some sort of ESP which allows you to detect this invisible, non-corporeal force in others as well? Give me a break!!!
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.
Lest we forget that Osensei himself was a deeply militant man who knowingly and willingly trained and associated with known war criminals of a caliber that would make Goebbels blush. Oh yeah, the ol' Japanese military made the Nazis look like the Peace Corp. (Pearl Harbor anyone?) and Osensei was best friends with ALL the brass and proud of it too. How's that for "spiritual" awareness and enlightenment?
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved. To do otherwise is cruel farce which will leave a hapless aikidoka in for a rude awakening should they ever need to use their "spiritual" skills to protect themselves or a loved one. If there are people practicing Aikido simply as a "spiritual practice" (whatever that is), then those people should stop. Instead, they and their communities would all be better served by them volunteering at a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter in order to better fulfill their "spiritual" needs rather than rolling around on a mat in a manskirt using archaic Japanese terminology to describe said movements.
The saddest irony of all is that Aikido didn't become as popular and well respected in such a relatively short amount of time because its techniques and practitioners weren't martially effective. On the contrary, Osensei himself was an iconoclast who did away with many of the old conventions to bring forth a new approach to the MARTIAL arts and soundly handled challengers. His students also spread the word when they willingly took on any and all comers and won, thus allowing the art to speak for itself. Sadly, this aspect has been greatly diminished in favor of the "Lets all be morbidly obese senseis who can't even touch our toes (you know who you are) and/or hold hands and talk about our "spiritual feelings" and/or you can't handle a BJJ guy, so don't even bother " crowd. What a shame. Just goes to show you how precious the essence an art really is and how quickly it can disappear without proper nurturing. If Aikido is going to endure as a true and well-respected MARTIAL art it desperately needs to get off its "spiritual" high horse and get back to goodness with some HONEST demonstrations of talent and ability. Who knows, we might just like what we find.

Yes we really need those real masters now who are willing to put their reputation on the line. If we're talking about Aikido as just a spiritual movement or an exercise that promotes harmony fine. But if it's going to be called a martial art, then challengers are to be expected and Aikidoka often go proudly "O-Sensei defeated all who challenged him", "Gozo Shioda took on etc etc" and all these legendary stories to show how awesome Aikido is. But when we talk about challenges now it's all frowned upon and not in the spirit of Aiki. I have not seen a single demonstration which is convincing in showing a proper attempt to nullify an attacker (even untrained). If Aikido is all it's panned out to be we should be able to neutralize an attacker as hard as he is trying to defeat us all the while without having to injure him or resort to violence.

I worry that without these, we lose sight that Aikido is a martial art (or if it isn't then let's not pretend). If accepting challenges is not "Aiki" then why did O-Sensei engage in them? He was confident enough of his martial ability in showing them that it worked and that there was another path besides destruction and converted many of these challengers into his students. Why is this wrong today? Is it because we lack the confidence? Also note that O-Sensei was dealing with a very different breed of challengers and therefore his techniques may be catered towards the arts of the day. Why has there been no innovation to update these techniques to modern attacks? I wondered what techniques would O-Sensei have created if faced with a modern challenger.

Reuben
05-08-2014, 05:20 AM
So you firmly believe that O sensei developed merely just another type of jujutsu self defense full of ineffective random techniques and he devoted for it 70 years of his life? He, who learned from and observed the finest Japaneses martial artists of the time, but he was so stupid, that he didn't see the uselessness of his heritage? Already at his time guns supplanted completely bare hand fighting on the battlefield...
He nevertheless insisted to practice and even 'teach' this nonsense to others?

And your solution is to add some other random techniques from other combat sports and PUFFF magically aikido become efficient and full of sense?

I usually don't waste my time for such trivial topics, but your choice of words draw my attention - Aikido 'pure'. This became interesting....

In reality aikido is a purification practice using martial techniques as designed by O sensei. It is not a heap of locks and throws, martial techniques are doing merely body and mind conditioning, they are not a goal in itself. So if they are done in pure form(not talking here only about external shape of techniques), they may result in proper state of mind which can lead to transcendent human condition and develop a spiritual intuition. In turn this intuition can be used to answer the questions like From where are we coming? Who are You? Why are You living?

If you distort these techniques, all your practice is useless. So yes, pure Aikido.

No I believe O-Sensei was just that good. He went through enough hard training, went through many different martial arts and gained his own understanding and mastery. Aikido was his creation. He showed us there was another path to martial arts without requiring destruction of your opponent. But this came from his various experiences and hard training. Now we are learning the 'end bit' of his teachings. It's kinda like learning how to do acrobatics before we even learn how to walk.

Without the hard training, without the martial elements he put himself through, i don't believe O-Sensei would have achieved the heights he had. I don't believe anyone who just practised in Aikido in a traditional environment JUST doing Aikido techniques can gain that sort of mastery without any form of sparring or training in a stress situation. if that is possible, then why hasn't there been a video on Youtube of it? I haven't seen ANYTHING convincing. Or is it because we are so high up that we don't want to share our knowledge to the world and we shouldn't put videos on Youtube etc etc. We have to show the world that Aikido works and yet remain compassionate and not surround ourselves in some isolated coccoon where we are undefeatable within our own small circle. That's the beginning of a McDojo. O-Sensei did the challenges, Shioda did the challenges as did many great Aikido masters of late why can't the masters of this generation do so?

O-Sensei was VERY good. So good that he was devising techniques that worked because of his ability which was honed. Even Shioda said that to do Aikido, we need to achieve exceptional speed. He also regularly tested out his techniques (and sometimes even in questionable scenarios). Our training does not provide that physical element as much anymore or the stress element, so how can we hope to achieve mastery by just the techniques?

You're assuming that O-Sensei has devised a system that can defeat all types of attackers. He was dealing with a different type of attacker and my point is that the world has evolved. Perhaps it's time for the Aikido masters of today to come up with new novel ways to deal with modern attacks and perhaps some of these ways have already been discovered from other martial arts while keeping in the spirit of Aiki. There will always be masters of a generation, and other martial arts are evolving (especially those with a sparring element), why can't Aikido evolve too?

jonreading
05-08-2014, 08:06 AM
First of all thanks for all the replies!

I guess you're saying that Aikido is a form of somatic training then?
...

I am not familiar enough with that term as it relates to conditioning. But, yes, I would say aikido is largely body conditioning. Even our kata is conditioning.

NagaBaba
05-08-2014, 09:52 AM
There will always be masters of a generation, and other martial arts are evolving (especially those with a sparring element), why can't Aikido evolve too?[/B]
Evolve to become what? Something similar to MMA with sparrings, modern scientific training methods, supplements etc? Why? we have already MMA....

I'm not against difficult physical training; in fact I'm doing it every day. However it must be clear for you – what is a final goal of these "‘improvements”?

Cliff Judge
05-08-2014, 10:02 AM
I always hear that oh in Aikido we never apply techniques full force because it may be lethal or cause serious injury. There is no move that is meant to cause serious injury cause if it is, it's not Aikido. I think that's really against what Aikido is about. The point is that Aikido should be an art that gives you the control and option to not do harm. Which is why I think incorporating other techniques that gives you that control should be in line with what Aikido is about.

More specifically, I was saying that the reason why Aikido sticks to less dangerous techniques is so that you can train spontaneously. Formal kata is the only way to train techniques where, for example, you smash the back of your use's head directly into the ground, or break their backs over your knee, for example. Aikido is an alternative to that kind of training, and it seems to work better for most modern people. You get people moving right, and give the general sense of how the techniques work, and then, rather than drilling down to the physical details of perfect form, you say "if your technique doesn't seem to be working, switch into something that does." Can't do that if everybody is trying to work on breaking necks. Over time this should provide the ability to generally flow and change with moving stresses and such in life. That should include being able to evade and escape a dangerous situation, and perhaps take control of it. That may sound fluffy or new-agish to some but it is a very real and valuable thing for me, and it seems to be the primary thing that attracts new people to the art these days. People who want to fight or submit have plenty of Muay Thai and BJJ options.

I don't think working with different attacks or demonstrating more complex submissions is at all against the spirit of Aikido, actually. We already have pins and some strike combinations. I think the problem you are likely to have is that, unless your students all cross-train in the same sport combatives you do, they won't really be able to deliver the kinds of attacks you are looking for and you may wind up spending more time teaching them to fight than teaching them Aikido. Might not be a bad thing, or maybe you might want to hold a separate class where you require that people cross-train in a fighting system.

And since I didn't mention it above, I don't think that would introduce any "impurities" into your Aikido teaching by any means.

OwlMatt
05-08-2014, 10:05 AM
Evolve to become what? Something similar to MMA with sparrings, modern scientific training methods, supplements etc? Why? we have already MMA....

I'm not against difficult physical training; in fact I'm doing it every day. However it must be clear for you -- what is a final goal of these "‘improvements"?

I have to agree with this. My problem with OP's premise is that he seems to want to make aikido into something more like other martial arts. But we already have other martial arts; why not just train them?

kewms
05-08-2014, 10:42 AM
Yes I believe early in development, I think trying to supplement and mix things up doesn't help things. When you do it too early on, you're just stunting your understanding and growth and going the 'easy path'. There are many techniques in which I do in Aikido now that I didn't have the technical skills 10 years ago and didn't get it. However I've been doing Aikido since I was like maybe 10 years old...and I can say that I am reasonably competent in the fundamentals of Aikido and have gone around training in different Aikido dojos to also expose myself to it. I wouldn't call myself a master but I would say I know when a technique is working and when it isn't.

My point is that rather than viewing 'pure' Aikido as the end solution to everything, what's wrong with increasing your repertoire with other techniques as long as it fits into the whole economy of movement and do no harm principles of Aikido?

I really disagree that we should only stick to training in the 'traditional attacks' like shomen, tsuki etc etc and that it would be better to have better methods/techniques while still following Aiki principles in dealing with modern attacks that involve combinations and strikes we don't see in traditional Aikido practice.

Case in point, I think tsuki kote-gaeshi is really not practical if someone is properly punching. It works if uke continues to hold his hand out, and i think it's more designed to be against something like a spear thrust as opposed to just a punch to the stomach (and that's with you anticipating it). And frankly, who attacks like that outside there?

Why is it wrong to learn and adapt techniques to deal with more common attacks like a jab/cross/hook/haymaker etc? Why aren't these incorporated into Aikido's standard repertoire?

As to collapsing under pressure, I think Aikido training does not prepare u for that. Even when you do get hit, it's going to be just one hit, it's hard to deal with a persistent attacker that's going to keep attacking you unless you can get him everytime he makes that first attack. I have NEVER seen anyone achieve this level. You need a different kind of training, some type of 'stress innoculation' which allows you to keep calm when under pressure. This I got it through sparring. I'll be very surprised to see a pure Aikidoka that has trained in nothing else deal with a determined attacker that's not going to just attack with one attack and has a genuine intention to land solid hits. How can you train for stress situations when you've never been put under stress?

I've been dealing with this by introducing more proactive randori by having an attacker come in with an attack but continue to attack in rapidly in combination if nage fails to perform a technique. Strikes of course have to be light (and open handed) but grips will be full force and with an intention to take down if possible. The Aikido then may be sloppy but it is hoped with time, more and more effective techniques can be pulled off (which still happens now and then).


I'm not sure why you don't believe these things are "pure" aikido. I've certainly seen all of these kinds of training in fairly traditional aikido dojos.

Which is the rock on which all of these discussions founder: One person says "Aikido training should do X," and others come back and say "My dojo already does X. What's the problem?"

Point being that I think it's more productive to talk about what training methods are appropriate for which skills, rather than launching an attack on "aikido" as a whole.

Katherine

kewms
05-08-2014, 11:10 AM
Evolve to become what? Something similar to MMA with sparrings, modern scientific training methods, supplements etc? Why? we have already MMA....

I'm not against difficult physical training; in fact I'm doing it every day. However it must be clear for you -- what is a final goal of these "‘improvements"?

This topic came up in class last night.

A lot of the more subtle aspects of aikido just won't work on MMA people. Why? Because they've deliberately trained themselves to ignore it: be very strong, be able to take a lot of punishment, and just wade in and impose your will.

Which is fine, but let's not pretend it has anything more to do with "real" fighting than aikido dojo training does.

What happens if you give either person a knife? Heck, what happens if you simply introduce the possibility that either person *might* have a knife?

Suddenly taking punishment becomes much less important, and being attuned to your partner's most subtle movements becomes much more important. Suddenly this whole business of very dynamic, connected ukemi makes a lot more sense.

Which is not to say that aikidoka are good knife fighters, but rather to suggest that "beating MMA guys" is not necessarily the right goal, either for "self-defense" (whatever that means) or for studying the aspects of aikido that make the art unique.

Katherine

lbb
05-08-2014, 12:43 PM
Suddenly taking punishment becomes much less important

...or much less possible. "Wade in and take it" sounds impressive, but it's a bit like those bombastic people who say, "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!" When you stop for a minute and think of the implications, you can see why there's a conspicuous absence of those who have actually mounted such a defense, and why those that have aren't talking about it :D

Keith Larman
05-08-2014, 01:01 PM
Was sitting in on a class and heard someone say something to the effect of "you can take a few punches and still function". I was really quite tempted to offer to deliver just one punch to see how well that worked... Gettin' hit by someone who means harm and can deliver the goods is a profoundly awakening experience. That is, once you wake up...

Yeah, I have continued to function after missing something and getting tagged. And frankly it is a good experience to realize that you can take *some* abuse. But those who tend to say you just wade in I would imagine haven't just "waded in" for real. Ever. Especially if a weapon is involved.

Just rambling...

Cliff Judge
05-08-2014, 01:11 PM
This topic came up in class last night.

A lot of the more subtle aspects of aikido just won't work on MMA people. Why? Because they've deliberately trained themselves to ignore it: be very strong, be able to take a lot of punishment, and just wade in and impose your will.


Another issue is how committed attacks are in sport fighting - they generally aren't. Fighters understand even better than we do about how you leave yourself vulnerable when you commit to an attack, so just about any combat sport is largely a game of how much can you hold back while getting the other fighter to commit a little more, giving you an opening.

lbb
05-08-2014, 03:25 PM
Was sitting in on a class and heard someone say something to the effect of "you can take a few punches and still function". I was really quite tempted to offer to deliver just one punch to see how well that worked... Gettin' hit by someone who means harm and can deliver the goods is a profoundly awakening experience. That is, once you wake up...

Indeed. Show of hands, anyone who's actually taken that dirt nap?

*raises hand*

It's a bit like that "Oh you can just catch the leg/grab the punch" line...

Carl Thompson
05-08-2014, 04:05 PM
Although the OP said it was pointless, I think it is necessary to talk about what "pure" aikido is in order to answer the question: In order to be able to "keep" (or "not keep") something pure, it has to be pure in the first place. All this talk of adding stuff (especially compensatory stuff) or changing the goal might be meaningless if what you’re working on is already missing ingredients, watered down or contaminated.

Regards

Carl

James Sawers
05-08-2014, 05:58 PM
There are currently quite a few different styles of aikido being practiced all over the world. Which one is the pure one?

allowedcloud
05-08-2014, 07:21 PM
There are currently quite a few different styles of aikido being practiced all over the world. Which one is the pure one?

The one I'm doing, of course.

Reuben
05-08-2014, 09:20 PM
Let me rephrase the question for clarity:

I never claimed there was a true 'pure' Aikido. Hence the inverted commas and also the reference to many people claiming to be more 'pure' than the other. Usually "pure" as commonly seen is such as it is the Aikido that O-Sensei taught, some see it as the official Aikikai syllabus ala Doshu style and some see it as the formalization of techniques that happened under Saito with his Iwama school being the best preservation of O-Sensei's art. List goes on and on with the main one being lineage. Let's not get into a discussion of what is pure, my point is that the point of 'purity' is subjective.

Hence given that there's so many different interpretations of Aikido, there is no point in talking what is 'pure' but as other posters have said, it is more about maintaining Aiki.

Maintaining Aiki or What is Aikido

Now I'm told that Aiki is something intangible and cannot be explained...though personally (and I may be wrong) Aiki is about

a) Not harming your opponent and loving them; and
b) Not using force but not just submitting to threats

If a technique can meet these requirements then I would say, why isn't it Aikido?

Being willing to put Aikido to the Test

I really like the quote for this:
"Only a warrior chooses pacifism; others are condemned to it."

This is what O-Sensei was. An amazing warrior but one who chose pacifism and had the skill to back up his beliefs (and he was willing to be tested on it to also spread his art). Aikido today arguably doesn't have that and if it does, I would be very happy to see an example (hence one of the reasons I bring this up).

There's all sorts of other McDojo schools that go,
"We don't test our techniques or else it will be lethal"
"We are above that"
"You don't have the right sensitivity"
and this is very common in Aikido circles as well, the first one especially which is total rubbish since the whole aim of Aikido is not to be brutal/lethal.

Evolution of Aikido

Don't get me wrong. I'm not proposing we tack on other martial art techniques to Aikido but why isn't there
a) A standard training method for dealing with modern attacks
b) A training mechanism for true free randori whereby an attacker will come at you with whatever attack he feels like rather than be limited by the standard Aikido attacks. Why isn't there more demos of this?

Now sure, some dojos may practice this but I don't see it much either in the dojos I go to (and I have been to many dojos in Malaysia, UK and Hombu) and if so, why isn't this more publicized. Why aren't there more discussions on this sort of practice? The way I see it being taught is instructor teaches, students do and perhaps a controlled randori session. I feel that without the above elements, there's a great danger that Aikido will become nothing more than just a elaborate dance or exercise.

Also why I mention other martial arts is that there are other techniques that come naturally from Aikido positions and I wonder why there isn't any discussion on incorporating these as alternatives which according to an individual, may be more efficient/effective?

Well some others would say, well why don't you cross train then? I do but many people don't have the opportunity to do so and I believe that every martial art system that claims to be applicable to self defence should be decently complete enough to deal with self defence situations. If not then don't claim to be self defence.

For e.g.:
I highly doubt our tanto-dori training reflects in anyway how a real knife attacks is like in this day and age. (I personally like http://centerlinegym.com/red-zone-knife-defense/)
Similarly the same goes with our standard strikes (yokomen, tsuki, shomen). Some would argue that learning these would prepare you for all manner of attacks but I beg to differ. They are far from how someone would attack in a real situation.

My biggest beef is that why isn't there any movement for the big guys in Aikido to agree on some techniques that would work against modern attacks? Lesser people like us are left to experiment and trawl Youtube and there's so much crap out there that it's not always easy to sift out.

Now I don't agree with all of this guy's techniques but I believe it's a great step in the right direction: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpRWDh_MSnLROlsO4E0oYOg

At least he's trying! Why can't some of the key influencers in Aikido try this out and put a video out for us to see and learn from?

Reuben
05-08-2014, 09:31 PM
Point being that I think it's more productive to talk about what training methods are appropriate for which skills, rather than launching an attack on "aikido" as a whole.

Katherine

Fair enough point!

I did at one point long ago try to ask about Aikido Against Hooks and instead of a simple discussion it turned into a very very long discussion which resulted in nothing that concrete but general ideas.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1492

It was a interesting discussion but I can't help but be frustrated that such a simple question would take so long to answer.

Btw I've seen the expertvillage videos :/ don't think they work. I don't mind taking a video of me attempting them and getting smacked in the face...a lot.

Reuben
05-08-2014, 09:36 PM
On a side note, this is what happens when you don't keep it real:

Nobuyuki Watanabe Shihan teaches at Hombu btw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPET7KCQmDk

See on the 8:30 mark. I'll be willing to go full on on whoever who claims to be able to do a no-touch throw (even if it's some 8th dan master).

kewms
05-08-2014, 11:05 PM
Maintaining Aiki or What is Aikido

Now I'm told that Aiki is something intangible and cannot be explained...though personally (and I may be wrong) Aiki is about

a) Not harming your opponent and loving them; and
b) Not using force but not just submitting to threats


These are philosophical goals.

Aiki, as I understand it, and as pre-aikido arts used the term, describes a collection of specific physical phenomena. As such, it is value-neutral. For further discussion, see the "Internal Training in Aikido" forum.

Katherine

kewms
05-08-2014, 11:07 PM
I did at one point long ago try to ask about Aikido Against Hooks and instead of a simple discussion it turned into a very very long discussion which resulted in nothing that concrete but general ideas.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1492

It was a interesting discussion but I can't help but be frustrated that such a simple question would take so long to answer.

Any specific technical question is going to take a long time to answer, because the answer is always going to be some variation of "it depends" on exactly what uke does.

Katherine

Rupert Atkinson
05-09-2014, 01:21 AM
Maintaining Aiki or What is Aikido

Now I'm told that Aiki is something intangible and cannot be explained...though personally (and I may be wrong) Aiki is about

a) Not harming your opponent and loving them; and
b) Not using force but not just submitting to threats

If a technique can meet these requirements then I would say, why isn't it Aikido?


Hmm. Not wanting to start a new thread but I think you could kill people with aiki and that you could also use aiki with maximum force - if you wanted to. Your idea of aiki seems more philosophical. I look at the practical.

For me, aiki has nothing to do with philosophy anymore than say shiho-nage is philosophical. Aiki is a skill - the skill we should be aiming to get. The skill to be able to manipulate your uke with minimum force to maximum effect. The skill to be able to use his own energy against him. Good wrestlers use it, Sumo use it etc. - but they don`t name it so if they are good at it they won`t quite know just what that `it` is or how to get more of it. We name it - aiki - and so we should be aiming to develop it ... should we not? Can`t see any philospohy in there. Except, if you attain it, don`t use it for bad purposes. Which means, the philosophy comes later - if / after you attain it. Certainly not before.

Reuben
05-09-2014, 02:29 AM
Any specific technical question is going to take a long time to answer, because the answer is always going to be some variation of "it depends" on exactly what uke does.

Katherine

Fair enough but there isn't THAT much variation to a standard loose hook (executed properly of course). As there is not that much variation to a standard yokomenuchi attack or shomen uchi attack.

Hmm. Not wanting to start a new thread but I think you could kill people with aiki and that you could also use aiki with maximum force - if you wanted to. Your idea of aiki seems more philosophical. I look at the practical.

For me, aiki has nothing to do with philosophy anymore than say shiho-nage is philosophical. Aiki is a skill - the skill we should be aiming to get. The skill to be able to manipulate your uke with minimum force to maximum effect. The skill to be able to use his own energy against him. Good wrestlers use it, Sumo use it etc. - but they don`t name it so if they are good at it they won`t quite know just what that `it` is or how to get more of it. We name it - aiki - and so we should be aiming to develop it ... should we not? Can`t see any philospohy in there. Except, if you attain it, don`t use it for bad purposes. Which means, the philosophy comes later - if / after you attain it. Certainly not before.

Ahh...well my thought of Aikido is what separates Aikido from martial arts is its non destructive philosophy rather than just its form. The form that we know is an expression of that intent and philosophy in the techniques as O-Sensei interpreted them. I guess here you're separating the concept of Aiki to a more general term that is applicable to other martial arts as well thought when i meant Aiki I meant it as it is expressed in Aikido.

Any sort of grappling ar then uses 'Aiki' and I don't think just because they lack that terminology it means they can't develop it. In fact I believe at all higher levels of training in grappling arts at least I know it with wrestling and jujitsu, we are taught that we to strive to use minimum effort to achieve maximum effect through a combination of leverage, timing, direction of uke's attention, going with the flow and using physics to help achieve this. In fact, I think many Aikidoka despite training in Aikido like to attribute all these elements to 'ki' which really doesn't help in understanding what it is.

A bit off topic so let's get back on track :D

Alex Megann
05-09-2014, 03:21 AM
Hmm. Not wanting to start a new thread but I think you could kill people with aiki and that you could also use aiki with maximum force - if you wanted to. Your idea of aiki seems more philosophical. I look at the practical.

For me, aiki has nothing to do with philosophy anymore than say shiho-nage is philosophical. Aiki is a skill - the skill we should be aiming to get. The skill to be able to manipulate your uke with minimum force to maximum effect. The skill to be able to use his own energy against him. Good wrestlers use it, Sumo use it etc. - but they don`t name it so if they are good at it they won`t quite know just what that `it` is or how to get more of it. We name it - aiki - and so we should be aiming to develop it ... should we not? Can`t see any philospohy in there. Except, if you attain it, don`t use it for bad purposes. Which means, the philosophy comes later - if / after you attain it. Certainly not before.

Having received a "no-inch punch" from someone who explicitly teaches "aiki", I agree with Rupert that these skills can be incredibly powerful - even though the talk is constantly of softness and not muscling. On that occasion I felt as if I had been hit by a train, and the teacher concerned was obviously holding back (a lot).

Alex

Carsten Möllering
05-09-2014, 04:44 AM
Ahh...well my thought of Aikido is what separates Aikido from martial arts is its non destructive philosophy ... When I am talking about "keeping aikidō 'pure' " I don't refer to a certain philosophy. But to a certain form of body work. (Which I think by now is rooted deeply in daoist forms of cultivating one's body ... but that's another story ...) This way of using one's body and mind can only be learned using certain methods. Which have to be kept "pure" for that reason.
aiki as a technical method can be found in other budō and - what's more interesting, I think - in Chinese internal arts. There are even budō that explicetly use the term aiki like the KSR.

jonreading
05-09-2014, 09:02 AM
...
Ahh...well my thought of Aikido is what separates Aikido from martial arts is its non destructive philosophy rather than just its form. The form that we know is an expression of that intent and philosophy in the techniques as O-Sensei interpreted them. I guess here you're separating the concept of Aiki to a more general term that is applicable to other martial arts as well thought when i meant Aiki I meant it as it is expressed in Aikido.

Any sort of grappling ar then uses 'Aiki' and I don't think just because they lack that terminology it means they can't develop it. In fact I believe at all higher levels of training in grappling arts at least I know it with wrestling and jujitsu, we are taught that we to strive to use minimum effort to achieve maximum effect through a combination of leverage, timing, direction of uke's attention, going with the flow and using physics to help achieve this. In fact, I think many Aikidoka despite training in Aikido like to attribute all these elements to 'ki' which really doesn't help in understanding what it is.

A bit off topic so let's get back on track :D

I would turn this paragraph on its head. "Aiki" as practiced by the founder was in other arts. Research strongly indicates Daito Ryu and Takeda being the largest influence on the founder's learning. "Aikido" made a decision to align with a philosophy that was appealing to disseminate aikido, not to teach aiki. Eventually, if you saddle aiki to a philosophy you are going to run into some conflicts and limitations of what it can do.

To your point, it is not difficult to mistake athleticism with aiki unless you look for it. My physical ability to use a combination of strength and mechanics to gain power is not the same as the ability to use aiki. This is inherently the external v. internal argument. We do external conditioning skills all the time: running, working out, stretching, etc. Aiki is internal conditioning. Back to the issue of purity... one could argue that relates to relieving aikido of its dependence on external bodywork and returning to internal body work. As you as demonstrated, aikido people practicing quasi-jujutsu is not going to produce good aikido.

I keep getting the feeling you are defining aiki in such a way as that it will not meet your expectation. You can either resolve that limit or redefine what is aiki for you. I went with the redefine path and understand that not everyone is doing what I am doing. I happen to believe what I am doing will improve my application of aiki in whatever form I want to express it.

Cliff Judge
05-09-2014, 09:14 AM
Oh, just go see Dan Harden already. :yuck:

Carl Thompson
05-09-2014, 09:29 AM
Let's not get into a discussion of what is pure, my point is that the point of 'purity' is subjective.

Hence given that there's so many different interpretations of Aikido, there is no point in talking what is 'pure' but as other posters have said, it is more about maintaining Aiki.

I agree, we all have different experiences of aikido and ideas of what it is, or should be.

That doesn't necessarily derail your discussion point. Let's just say for the sake of argument that someone does Yoshinkan aikido and regards Gozo Shioda as the purest paragon of aikido, surpassing even the founder by refining what he was given into the finest, clearest mineral-water-aiki along with the best quality delivery system to contain it.

Or it could be a student of Saito Shihan, Doshu etc. thinking the same thing.

That person can ask themselves if they should bother keeping their aikido pure.

I'd say keep refining it, keep the beginner's mind, keep examining it from within the art as well as from outside... and pollute it and experiment with it. But in the bottle labelled "aikido" I would try to keep the best example of aikido. In the bottles for experiments, I would mark them as such and be more careful about ingraining them. Things like the attacks argument start early on from what I've seen. How many people expect to get mugged by someone doing shomen-uchi in hanmi? Why do it? Why change it? How about doing hooks and keeping aiki with push-hands? Does that happen on the streets? You'll at least be ready for that aggressive mime and his invisible pane of glass.

Just a few thoughts in the night...

Carl

kewms
05-09-2014, 10:41 AM
Fair enough but there isn't THAT much variation to a standard loose hook (executed properly of course). As there is not that much variation to a standard yokomenuchi attack or shomen uchi attack.

I think if you posted a thread asking "how do I deal with a blade strike to the side of the head?" you would discover an enormous amount of variation, and the thread might very well end up looking like the one on dealing with hooks.

Which is why I don't usually pay much attention to those threads. My preferred answer is always "let's get on the mat and see what happens."


Ahh...well my thought of Aikido is what separates Aikido from martial arts is its non destructive philosophy rather than just its form. The form that we know is an expression of that intent and philosophy in the techniques as O-Sensei interpreted them. I guess here you're separating the concept of Aiki to a more general term that is applicable to other martial arts as well thought when i meant Aiki I meant it as it is expressed in Aikido.


I think that's a fundamental disagreement, and probably not relevant to the discussion. OTOH, I think your quest to make aikido "relevant" might be more successful if you had a larger toolbox of skills at your disposal, including the body skills that fall under the heading of "aiki."

Katherine

OwlMatt
05-09-2014, 10:46 AM
Now I'm told that Aiki is something intangible and cannot be explained...though personally (and I may be wrong) Aiki is about

a) Not harming your opponent and loving them; and
b) Not using force but not just submitting to threats

If a technique can meet these requirements then I would say, why isn't it Aikido?
Do you believe that either A or B are or -- or have ever been -- exclusive to aikido? I don't. And since they are not exclusive to aikido, they cannot differentiate aikido from other martial arts and therefore do not produce a useful definition of aikido by themselves.

Aikido is a specific martial arts tradition, technically rooted in Takeda's Daito ryu and transmitted through Morihei Ueshiba. If we decide to ignore this and instead call anything aikido that fits a couple of vague philosophical principles, aikido as we know it will cease to exist.

For my part, I happen to like aikdo as we know it; that's why I train it.

Jonathan
05-09-2014, 01:15 PM
Don't get me wrong. I'm not proposing we tack on other martial art techniques to Aikido but why isn't there
a) A standard training method for dealing with modern attacks

I don't know for sure, though I do have some suspicions about why such a thing hasn't been developed. Regardless, I have gone ahead and on my own worked out a basic set of techniques, adapted from the classical syllabus of Aikido technique, that deal with more modern attacks (straights, hooks, crosses, chest shoves, etc). If I had not, I think I would have abandoned Aikido training by now. THe longer I train in classical Aikido, the more I see that my martial goals are not well answered by it.

b) A training mechanism for true free randori whereby an attacker will come at you with whatever attack he feels like rather than be limited by the standard Aikido attacks. Why isn't there more demos of this?

Well, because few Aikidoka are doing this sort of training. I agree with you that such training should be more commonplace among Aikido dojos but this kind of training is...uncomfortable, or more martially honest, than what many Aikidoka prefer. There is no hiding behind rank in this kind of training, which is off-putting to more senior practitioners who are typically the ones deciding what sort of training will go on in Aikido dojos.

Now sure, some dojos may practice this but I don't see it much either in the dojos I go to (and I have been to many dojos in Malaysia, UK and Hombu) and if so, why isn't this more publicized. Why aren't there more discussions on this sort of practice? The way I see it being taught is instructor teaches, students do and perhaps a controlled randori session. I feel that without the above elements, there's a great danger that Aikido will become nothing more than just a elaborate dance or exercise.

And this danger has, unfortunately, been realized in many dojos.

Also why I mention other martial arts is that there are other techniques that come naturally from Aikido positions and I wonder why there isn't any discussion on incorporating these as alternatives which according to an individual, may be more efficient/effective?

Of course, in a fight, do whatever works to neutralize your attacker. But in the practice of Aikido there are some maneuvers that are clearly not part of the classical syllabus of technique and when you incorporate them into the Aikido repertoire of technique, you start to "blur the outline" of Aikido. Importing techniques from Judo, or Chin Na, or whatever into Aikido may make it more immediately martially effective but I think the identity of Aikido, its distinguishing characteristics as a particular martial art, will likely dissolve. I much prefer to work with what I've got in Aikido and adapt it rather than start borrowing heavily from other martial arts.

Jon.

phitruong
05-09-2014, 01:31 PM
My biggest beef is that why isn't there any movement for the big guys in Aikido to agree on some techniques that would work against modern attacks? Lesser people like us are left to experiment and trawl Youtube and there's so much crap out there that it's not always easy to sift out.


lots of beef and not enough vegetables. don't know your aikido practice, so i was wondering, how much does your aikido practice emphasis on irimi and atemi?

dps
05-10-2014, 11:40 AM
Techniques and philosophies are two different things.

dps

James Sawers
05-10-2014, 03:44 PM
Per the above discussion, I came across this quote of Saito Sensei recently in an article by Chris Li. Based on my understanding of this, it appears that O'Sensei thought that Aikido was still evolving and even that, based on the situation, new techniques can appear spontaneously. So, "pure evolution"??

“In Iwama, O-Sensei explored Aikido by worshipping the Budo Guardian Spirits and praying every morning and evening. And so Takemusu Aikido was created. He said the former aikido was not the “true” aikido. It may not be incorrect aikido, but this is what O-Sensei said. In Takemusu Aikido, bit by bit, new techniques appear spontaneously. This never stops, it is infinite like a spring. This is Takemusu.”

kewms
05-10-2014, 05:42 PM
But in the practice of Aikido there are some maneuvers that are clearly not part of the classical syllabus of technique and when you incorporate them into the Aikido repertoire of technique, you start to "blur the outline" of Aikido.

Probably, but I think it would be pretty hard to develop a universal agreement about what those "non-aikido" maneuvers are. Certainly I've seen some very senior teachers uncork stuff that you'll never see on a kyu test or in a written syllabus. I've also seen plenty of variations that resemble kihon waza but have a decidedly more assertive flavor.

When senior instructors talk about technique "arising spontaneously" to meet the needs of the moment, I don't think they're referring to letter-perfect, put the pictures in your next book, kihon-style shihonage, either. Real situations are messy; real technique won't necessarily look like something you would want to see or demonstrate on a test. But I think considering how aikido's underlying principles apply in "non-standard" situations is likely to be more productive than simply abandoning aikido in favor of a "more applicable" technique from some other art.

Katherine

Jonathan
05-10-2014, 06:02 PM
Probably, but I think it would be pretty hard to develop a universal agreement about what those "non-aikido" maneuvers are.

Perhaps, then, in deciding what techniques properly constitute Aikido it would be easier to work from techniques that are universally (or near-universally) agreed upon as distinctive to Aikido: shihonage, iriminage, kotegaeshi, ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, kaitenage, etc. Rather than defining what isn't Aikido, it might be better to define what is.

When senior instructors talk about technique "arising spontaneously" to meet the needs of the moment, I don't think they're referring to letter-perfect, put the pictures in your next book, kihon-style shihonage, either. Real situations are messy; real technique won't necessarily look like something you would want to see or demonstrate on a test. But I think considering how aikido's underlying principles apply in "non-standard" situations is likely to be more productive than simply abandoning aikido in favor of a "more applicable" technique from some other art.

Sure. I've been studying this very thing for the last half-dozen years or so. I'm too heavily invested (25 years in now) in Aikido to simply abandon it in favor of something less archaic in its forms or more immediately martially effective. So, I've been "updating" things and the results are quite satisfying to me. :)

Riai Maori
05-10-2014, 07:30 PM
lots of beef and not enough vegetables. don't know your aikido practice, so i was wondering, how much does your aikido practice emphasis on irimi and atemi?

I reckon, get out the way and good night Irene.:D

Riai Maori
05-10-2014, 07:46 PM
I reckon, get out the way and good night Irene.:D

Retraction "Irene" is being used as a figure of speech and in no way refers to any person with that name...Phew:sorry:

Peter Goldsbury
05-10-2014, 07:50 PM
Perhaps, then, in deciding what techniques properly constitute Aikido it would be easier to work from techniques that are universally (or near-universally) agreed upon as distinctive to Aikido: shihonage, iriminage, kotegaeshi, ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, kaitenage, etc. Rather than defining what isn't Aikido, it might be better to define what is.

Sure. I've been studying this very thing for the last half-dozen years or so. I'm too heavily invested (25 years in now) in Aikido to simply abandon it in favor of something less archaic in its forms or more immediately martially effective. So, I've been "updating" things and the results are quite satisfying to me. :)

Hello Jonathan,

I have discussed this matter occasionally with the present Doshu, the main issue being what kind of things should be included in a demonstration of aikido at general sporting events. Doshu is always very concerned that what is demonstrated at such events is 'pure' aikido, but there is no accepted definition of 'pure' other than what was taught by the founder of the art. Who, when asked in an interview how many aikido waza there were, gave a huge figure. When this discussion is conducted in Japanese, the term kihon is inevitably used and Doshu always relies on the ambiguity that lies in this term. 'Basic' also captures the ambiguity: what is fundamental and what is usually studied first.

In this connection, I once participated in a demonstration to mark an anniversary in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Yamaguchi was the base of the late Murashige Aritoshi and the present chief instructor for Yamaguchi Prefecture was his student. I think I was about 3rd or 4th dan and I had a good uke. I had been practicing the kata guruma waza favoured by Hiroshi Isoyama and so this and koshi waza featured prominently in the demonstration. This boisterous demonstration seemed to go down well with the audience, but later I heard from my own teacher that Kisshomaru Doshu, who always attends such events, was not so happy: I did not demonstrate kihon waza, as I should have done.

So I believe that Kisshomaru Ueshiba also taught and demonstrated 'kihon waza', but he was well aware, and the present Doshu is also well aware, that such waza constitute only a small part of the total art. It seems to me that there is a broad division between what is 'officially' taught at the Hombu and what is taught elsewhere, including Iwama and local dojos like the one here in Hiroshima. When I came here, I was surprised to encounter very interesting waza that I had not seen before and sometimes discussed this with the senior yudansha here: at some point the discussion usually mentioned Daito-ryu, the Takumakai, and what Morihei Ueshiba taught in Osaka.

I have asked Doshu and other Hombu teachers whether Morihei Ueshiba did IP training and the answer was yes, but with the rider that he never taught it: he left this type of training to students who perceived it and wanted to do it. The corollary was (is) that this type of training should be a complement to one's 'kihon' training, but not a substitute for it.

In Hidden in Plain Sight, Ellis Amdur discusses the matter of reducing the vast number of waza found in Daito-ryu. The accepted tradition is that Kisshomaru did this, but Ellis makes a strong case that Morihei himself did it (I do not have the book in front of me, but I think it is discussed in Chapter 4: the 'religious' chapter). So one might conclude that Morihei Ueshiba did this as part of his religious mission to bring the three worlds into harmony, but that Kisshomaru, who set little store by such religious theories, accepted the reduction because it made aikido far more accessible to a large number of people and so ensured its survival.

The problem of keeping aikido 'pure' is that it automatically sets up a dialectical conflict between the 'pure' and everything else and I have spent some effort arguing elsewhere that neither Morihei Ueshiba nor his spiritual teacher Onisaburo Deguchi saw the world in such terms.

Best wishes,

PAG

NagaBaba
05-10-2014, 09:31 PM
The problem of keeping aikido 'pure' is that it automatically sets up a dialectical conflict between the 'pure' and everything else and I have spent some effort arguing elsewhere that neither Morihei Ueshiba nor his spiritual teacher Onisaburo Deguchi saw the world in such terms.

Best wishes,

PAG
May be because whatever M.Ueshiba was doing it was 'by definition' aikido, so there was not any such dualism? In the other hand he was not happy when uchideshi used judo techniques...may be not to 'contaminate' his purification practice?

Gonzalo
05-11-2014, 01:51 PM
C'mom guys!! It´s supposed for all of us to learn with the practice of Aikido!
If someone is unhappy about "how Aikido seems not suited to today's fights" , why are you practicing it??

Each Aikido technique is a kata! It means it is supposed to teach something that is impossible to teach with words!! One must practice and learn the concepts hidden in each Kata. Any modern attack ( apart from guns and missiles and lasers and drones ) can be "translated " into Aikido attacks!!
Don't forget that every single Kata in Aikido has countless variations (henka waza). If you do Yokomen uchi with the hand closed it becomes mawashi tsuki ( gangsta style attack).

Aikido is a gigantic gift of knowledge for all of us, and we are insisting on just doing movements and not using our brains!!

I don't understand so much complain!! Please find something modern to do , or start training Aikido seriously!

About the free randori, imagine how fighters think about choosing proper training five centuries ago!! Maybe they had forgot to start training real fighting against each others,!! Maybe they reached the conclusion ( -this type of training is useless in our times when everybody is peaceful and all the forests are free of bandits ready to assault anyone with rusty blades of all types and lenghts! This randori thing must be something for the future, a far more dangerous world to live on!!)

Our ancestors have done all the work yet, thank you all dead guys!! If you are not a great master of the art of fighting please don't think in modernizing this and that!! That kind of thinking will ruin the work others have done and many over great time have perfected!!
Our body is the same gun that existed 2000 years ago!! If we grew another pair of legs... maibe its time to modernize something! Until... Train correctly and help yourself in the process of learning, and stop complaining!
You all can join the army and throw grenades( modern attacks)!

Or the problem is where and with who are you learning....

JP3
05-11-2014, 02:26 PM
Since O-Sensei's Aikido was evolving from something else into the art/thing he called Aikido his entire life....

... and it seems that each of his principal students as listed in O/T also evolved some aspect or other in their own tradition...

... shouldn't we all do likewise?

More learning is always better. I liken it to that statement about 20 years experience. Is it really 20 year's experience, or is it the same old year of practice, experienced 20 times? I prefer to think and hope mine is the former.

Gonzalo
05-11-2014, 03:01 PM
Since O-Sensei's Aikido was evolving from something else into the art/thing he called Aikido his entire life....

... and it seems that each of his principal students as listed in O/T also evolved some aspect or other in their own tradition...

... shouldn't we all do likewise?


Is there other way? I never noticed ! To not, in the process of learning Aikido, get a form of Aikido for yourself and copy someone instead, i think the laws of phisics make that impossible!!

Obviously all principal Ueashiba students have their own form of Aikido ! I allways have mine!
The problem is , if Ueshiba students said ( - this old guy teaches something outdatted lets find other way ) , then they would not come to the days of today as great Aikido masters! They have their own form of Aikido not because they searched for it!! It is because it's impossible to do it other way!

Sorry the writing( spell check not working)

jonreading
05-12-2014, 12:03 PM
I think demonstrations are an incredible opportunity to experience the pressure of taking an art, embodying it in 5 minutes of demonstration that is relevant and inspirational. I think the exercise itself gives us a great perspective, especially when someone approaches us after the demo and says, "great interpretive dance!" Or, "Wow, I have never seen karate." I think it is telling what people can and cannot observe about the aikido we demonstrate.

Aikido is largely recycled curriculum - that is, it shares its curriculum with a predecessor. Our ability to demonstrate aiki in our waza is what sets us apart from good jujutsu or good judo or good karate or any number of other arts. The hard part is showing others what that is in an inspirational and relevant manner.

Purity may well be best defined as something you can show and the audience says, "Ohhhh!!!. Thanks aikido." But seriously, no ribbons and no bongo drums.

Cliff Judge
05-12-2014, 12:34 PM
Aikido is largely recycled curriculum - that is, it shares its curriculum with a predecessor. Our ability to demonstrate aiki in our waza is what sets us apart from good jujutsu or good judo or good karate or any number of other arts. The hard part is showing others what that is in an inspirational and relevant manner.

Honestly, the kihon waza of Aikido are pretty generic and have analogues in all sorts of different systems. I have lately begun to wonder if it is as important as people think that the techniques were part of Daito ryu. They have certainly diverged in their development over the intervening generations.

Gonzalo
05-12-2014, 01:28 PM
Honestly, the kihon waza of Aikido are pretty generic and have analogues in all sorts of different systems.

We all have similar bodies!! Any good martial art have a form of kotegaeshi because everybody have wrists. But with the training each one have, and the evolving knowledge about the martial way that comes from training and watching and thinking and trying, at some point we all can watch a demonstration and see if the kotegaeshi is good or not!!
There are millions of aikido demonstrations on youtube and 99% are terrible!!
I never found a bad Daito Ryu demo! Why?

PeterR
05-12-2014, 01:47 PM
There are millions of aikido demonstrations on youtube and 99% are terrible!!
I never found a bad Daito Ryu demo! Why?
Perhaps you haven't looked hard enough.

sakumeikan
05-12-2014, 02:00 PM
I think demonstrations are an incredible opportunity to experience the pressure of taking an art, embodying it in 5 minutes of demonstration that is relevant and inspirational. I think the exercise itself gives us a great perspective, especially when someone approaches us after the demo and says, "great interpretive dance!" Or, "Wow, I have never seen karate." I think it is telling what people can and cannot observe about the aikido we demonstrate.

Aikido is largely recycled curriculum - that is, it shares its curriculum with a predecessor. Our ability to demonstrate aiki in our waza is what sets us apart from good jujutsu or good judo or good karate or any number of other arts. The hard part is showing others what that is in an inspirational and relevant manner.

Purity may well be best defined as something you can show and the audience says, "Ohhhh!!!. Thanks aikido." But seriously, no ribbons and no bongo drums.
Hi Jon,
No ribbons or bongo drums?Life without these two things aint worth living.Nothing beats a ribbon and the infectious beat of a bongo. Instead of watching Aikido on You tube, watch a bit of Carmen Miranda or try Ki Ribbons [on youtube ]. Cheers, Joe.

Gonzalo
05-12-2014, 02:18 PM
Perhaps you haven't looked hard enough.

Hi Peter!

Perhaps!! Can you show me one?

PeterR
05-12-2014, 02:36 PM
Hi Peter!

Perhaps!! Can you show me one?

I rarely watch videos - but live demonstrations I have seen no particular leaning one way or the other.

Gonzalo
05-12-2014, 03:40 PM
I rarely watch videos - but live demonstrations I have seen no particular leaning one way or the other.

Ok! I watch videos of Aikido and other martial arts almost everyday and i've never seen a bad Daito ryu demo!


"Why bother keeping Aikido pure" - Why bother walk the Do of Aiki?

Cliff Judge
05-12-2014, 04:22 PM
Ok! I watch videos of Aikido and other martial arts almost everyday and i've never seen a bad Daito ryu demo!

"Why bother keeping Aikido pure" - Why bother walk the Do of Aiki?

There is a surprising diversity of Daito ryu groups, some of them are so strange that they induce cringing.

Among the reputable ones which you most likely saw videos of, they tend to be very formal. Meaning they have kata, and students spend a huge amount of time studying the kata and trying to get them exactly right to the critical eye of an authorized instructor. (The Takumakai doesn't use the term kata for this type of practice but it is what it is.)

That right there is probably why you think Daito ryu looks "better." I presume you mean crisper, cleaner technique, that "looks like it really works." There is just more attention to details that we would consider to be jujutsu or "external" in Aikido. Much less attention is paid to improvisation, spontaneity, protecting your partner, etc.

PeterR
05-12-2014, 05:47 PM
There is a surprising diversity of Daito ryu groups, some of them are so strange that they induce cringing.

Among the reputable ones which you most likely saw videos of, they tend to be very formal. Meaning they have kata, and students spend a huge amount of time studying the kata and trying to get them exactly right to the critical eye of an authorized instructor. (The Takumakai doesn't use the term kata for this type of practice but it is what it is.)

That right there is probably why you think Daito ryu looks "better." I presume you mean crisper, cleaner technique, that "looks like it really works." There is just more attention to details that we would consider to be jujutsu or "external" in Aikido. Much less attention is paid to improvisation, spontaneity, protecting your partner, etc.

Basically what Cliff said.

The problem with video is one often sees what they want to see and our discernment falls by the wayside. I personally get a much better feel of what's going on in a live setting - the closer to the action the better.

I train primarily in well developed kata and am looking for precise powerful technique with good posture and body positioning - I am an Ido rokyo kind of guy. When I see uke doing lots of work my hackles rise and frankly I've seen that both in aikido and daito-ryu. What one calls good or bad often depends on your benchmarks.

kewms
05-12-2014, 06:48 PM
There's an old adage in the tech world:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."

The quality (or lack of it) of any demo you see online is primarily a measure of the video production and editing skills of the person posting it. It says very little about the practical martial skills of the person demonstrating -- it's a demo, by definition it's not a real situation -- and absolutely nothing about the particular art as a whole.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
05-12-2014, 09:43 PM
There's an old adage in the tech world:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."

The quality (or lack of it) of any demo you see online is primarily a measure of the video production and editing skills of the person posting it. It says very little about the practical martial skills of the person demonstrating -- it's a demo, by definition it's not a real situation -- and absolutely nothing about the particular art as a whole.

Katherine

I think we are talking about embu here - at least I am, and I am pretty sure Peter is. And those are by definition an offering of the true essence of the art to the kami. Mortals are sometimes allowed to watch.

Mert Gambito
05-12-2014, 11:35 PM
I have asked Doshu and other Hombu teachers whether Morihei Ueshiba did IP training and the answer was yes, but with the rider that he never taught it: he left this type of training to students who perceived it and wanted to do it. The corollary was (is) that this type of training should be a complement to one's 'kihon' training, but not a substitute for it.
Hi Peter,

I suppose if Morihei Ueshiba did not teach his IP method, then that could account for the eclectic sources for IP training, e.g. yoga, other branches of Daito-ryu, among prominent historical aikidoka -- i.e. it doesn't seem that those prominent folks "who perceived it" simply adopted Morihei Ueshiba's empty-hand and weapon-based aiki-taiso one for one (though why there isn't a single well known case of an IP adept within aikido doing so piques my curiosity, given that Ueshiba openly demonstrated if not expressly taught his method; but perhaps you and others who are well versed in aikido history can address that).

In any case, did Doshu and the other Hombu teachers indicate an acceptance that extant IP training continues via sources outside of the Aikikai (and/or has such a thing as sanctioned IP training expressly designed as a complement to kihon training internal to the Aikikai evolved, even if relatively clandestine and limited to individuals vs. being system wide)?

kewms
05-13-2014, 02:12 AM
I think we are talking about embu here - at least I am, and I am pretty sure Peter is. And those are by definition an offering of the true essence of the art to the kami. Mortals are sometimes allowed to watch.

I don't think that description can be applied to most of the videos one finds on YouTube, though.

And even when it does apply, the kami can see things that mortals not involved in the art cannot.

Katherine

kewms
05-13-2014, 02:21 AM
In any case, did Doshu and the other Hombu teachers indicate an acceptance that extant IP training continues via sources outside of the Aikikai (and/or has such a thing as sanctioned IP training expressly designed as a complement to kihon training internal to the Aikikai evolved, even if relatively clandestine and limited to individuals vs. being system wide)?

I think IP training within aikido got tangled up with the politics associated with the Koichi Tohei split. In fact, differences in opinion about how both aikido and ki/IP should be taught were the stated *reason* for the split.

The level of IP skills that Tohei Sensei did or did not have has been debated, but in the context of this discussion I'm not sure it matters. When he left the Aikikai, whatever skills he had went with him, *and* those who remained had a strong political incentive to discount everything he did.

Certainly it didn't help that Ueshiba Sensei himself never formalized this instruction, and so there wasn't an O Sensei-approved methodology to fall back on after he died.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
05-13-2014, 06:05 AM
I don't think that description can be applied to most of the videos one finds on YouTube, though.

And even when it does apply, the kami can see things that mortals not involved in the art cannot.

Katherine

Oh, right. Yeah I see what type of video you are talking about. I avoid those. :)

Peter Goldsbury
05-13-2014, 06:15 AM
Hi Peter,

I suppose if Morihei Ueshiba did not teach his IP method, then that could account for the eclectic sources for IP training, e.g. yoga, other branches of Daito-ryu, among prominent historical aikidoka -- i.e. it doesn't seem that those prominent folks "who perceived it" simply adopted Morihei Ueshiba's empty-hand and weapon-based aiki-taiso one for one (though why there isn't a single well known case of an IP adept within aikido doing so piques my curiosity, given that Ueshiba openly demonstrated if not expressly taught his method; but perhaps you and others who are well versed in aikido history can address that).

PAG. There are many subjective accounts of how Morihei Ueshiba trained and what he taught, but I do not think that these accounts allow us to state categorically that this or that was how Ueshiba taught or trained. Apart from Doshu, who I think is in a special category, the Hombu instructor with whom I have discussed these issues the most is Hiroshi Tada. Like Tohei, H Tada was a student of Tempu Nakamura, but he seems to have been very careful as to what he taught in the Hombu and what he taught in his own dojo and in Italy. In other words, he seems to have accepted the idea that only certain things were to be taught or practiced in the Hombu, but also that the other things were to be practiced elsewhere. He teaches weapons in Italy, but never in the Hombu, and when I mentioned some details of a certain jo kata that I practiced in Italy to another Hombu instructor, he was very curious and wondered where Tada had learned it. Like other older Hombu instructors, Tada sets great store by solo training exercises and these seem to consist mainly of kokyu exercises of increasing sophistication and complexity. But he has never taught anything like pushing hands etc and I suspect that the occasion for seeing the results of all this kokyu training would be in basic aikido waza, like shoumen-uchi 1-kyou. This issue for me is which bit of Tada’s training comes from Nakamura and which bit from Ueshiba – and whether he could make such a distinction. Add to this Ellis Amdur’s theory of Ueshiba’s use of his students as ‘crash-test dummies’ and you also have to entertain the possibility that he showed different things to different students – and he showed this by having them take ukemi. You also have to entertain the possibility that the skills that Ueshiba possessed which could be interpreted as IP skills could be acquired by Ueshiba’s students in various ways, but not necessarily from Ueshiba himself by a direct transmission.

In any case, did Doshu and the other Hombu teachers indicate an acceptance that extant IP training continues via sources outside of the Aikikai (and/or has such a thing as sanctioned IP training expressly designed as a complement to kihon training internal to the Aikikai evolved, even if relatively clandestine and limited to individuals vs. being system wide)?

PAG. I am not sure that acceptance is the right word here. Sufferance might be more appropriate. One of the yudansha who trains with the group I look after in the Netherlands attends the workshops of Dan Harden and Minoru Akuzawa when they come to Europe. His aikido comes from another source, of course, but on one occasion a senior Hombu instructor stopped and asked him, “Why are you so strong?” The question was not meant in a negative sense at all and he was not talking about physical strength. The instructor knew exactly what he was seeing and I believe the older generation of instructors in Japan also know this. But, as you say, this knowledge is clandestine and limited to individuals. These individuals are in the Aikikai, but are dwindling in number. Yamaguchi, Tada and Arikawa used to visit our dojo regularly and I once asked an instructor why Doshu (the present Doshu, not Kisshomaru) was never invited. This was a few years ago and the answer was quite blunt: “He’s too young and does not know enough.”

I think Doshu is an active exponent of a certain interpretation of iemoto, but the great danger here is that aikido is not a koryu and does not have kata in the sense understood in a koryu. There is a sense that the waza can be seen as vehicles for the expression of creativity and this, to my mind, is what Morihei Ueshiba meant by Takemusu Aiki. He always showed waza, as did Takeda Sokaku, but seems to have presented them slightly differently to different deshi. So creativity can be understood in many ways. Unlike the present generation of Japanese martial arts exponents, Morihei Ueshiba also read the Chinese classics and was familiar with all the texts that are the foundation of Chinese internal arts. Recently I came across a scholarly work on yin-yang and its place in Chinese thought and culture. Even a quick read was enough to show that this is a complex and multi-faceted concept. We all know the question that a student asked Morihei Ueshiba and his answer, citing the knowledge of yin and yang. Ueshiba did not give any further explanation and left it to the students to grasp what he meant. The point is that he was probably familiar with the whole breadth and depth of the concept, but his students did not share this familiarity.

Sorry, Mert. The post has become much longer and more diffuse than I intended.

PAG

Alex Megann
05-13-2014, 06:22 AM
There is a surprising diversity of Daito ryu groups, some of them are so strange that they induce cringing.

Among the reputable ones which you most likely saw videos of, they tend to be very formal. Meaning they have kata, and students spend a huge amount of time studying the kata and trying to get them exactly right to the critical eye of an authorized instructor. (The Takumakai doesn't use the term kata for this type of practice but it is what it is.)

That right there is probably why you think Daito ryu looks "better." I presume you mean crisper, cleaner technique, that "looks like it really works." There is just more attention to details that we would consider to be jujutsu or "external" in Aikido. Much less attention is paid to improvisation, spontaneity, protecting your partner, etc.

As an example of this diversity, this video of Shogo Okamoto (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joaYFa_sRr4) is VERY different from anything you will have seen Katsuyuki Kondo do. I should stress that this certainly isn't supposed to be an illustration of "bad" Daito-Ryu - it just shows a different focus on (high-level) internal skills in this branch of DR.

By the way, I have seen MUCH fluffier Daito Ryu demonstrations which can compete on a level playing field with anything you could pull out on aikido...

Alex

Cliff Judge
05-13-2014, 09:50 AM
There are many subjective accounts of how Morihei Ueshiba trained and what he taught, but I do not think that these accounts allow us to state categorically that this or that was how Ueshiba taught or trained.

I am so angry at this guy right now! Why didn't he bother to actually leave a martial art behind?

Hilary
05-13-2014, 11:37 AM
It is my understanding that Ueshiba did not teach IP because he believed it was a spiritually derived gift and not a learned skill. He admonished Tohei for drinking because the spirit of aiki would not come into him if he did. My statements are not exact, I am sure the scholars here can probably provide ample correction. I believe the first statement is from the forward of Tohei’s This is Aikido (I don’t have a copy and can’t find a reprint of the forward, 2nd edition apparently), I could be conflating this with information gleaned elsewhere; I’ll check with sensei and provide follow up. Sorry for the lack of scholarly precision and erudition.

Gonzalo
05-13-2014, 12:28 PM
Sorry, what means IP training?

About youtube, i know that technology cannot replace experiencing, but unfortunately i'm not living on a particular important country so Aikido demos here are almost inexistent, the only two since start training were the ones i was involved! For me, Youtube, is an awesome tool for research and i learn a lot watching videos!
I practice the so called "iwama traditional style" wich focus mainly in kihon and with a lot of technical detail, so for me watching demos on youtube of lots of Aikidokas doing something i consider to be advanced practices , without a strong basis in the rudiments!! Some Daito ryu videos seem fluffy but even in that case i can see the fundamentals ( similar to all martial arts ). Not the fluffyness issue :)
This happens not only on Aikido! For me good Karate videos are even harder to find!! It happens when martial arts are highly spread and become trendy!

kewms
05-13-2014, 12:29 PM
Ueshiba did not give any further explanation and left it to the students to grasp what he meant. The point is that he was probably familiar with the whole breadth and depth of the concept, but his students did not share this familiarity.

There are also accounts of students basically politely ignoring the "crazy old man," either because they couldn't understand him or because they wanted to skip the philosophy and get back to bashing each other around. Or both. So even among his direct students, it's not a given that they were interested in pursuing what was being offered.

Katherine

Gonzalo
05-13-2014, 12:54 PM
Katherine posted a good example of Aikido being like a big tent that accommodates all sort of practices. Kinda hurts me people inside the tent saying things like " why bother keeping Aikido pure?". Keeping Aikido pure is the same as keeping Aikido!

The state of Pure, is something almost impossible to reach! Like perfection!! Everything has a natural level of impureness!! let's call it individuality!! So there's no need for more impurity!! If we hardly can understand all aikido curriculum in a lifetime, why bother bring more new things? For me thats an excuse of someone who from some reason stopped is learning process and now is trying to substitute something he cannot learn, with modern things!

An example: A japanese Sword! The process of making it by tradition looks like something religious!!
Today we have science? Why bother keeping japanese swordmaking pure? Because nobody yet found a way of doing it better!

Chris Li
05-13-2014, 01:09 PM
Sorry, what means IP training?

About youtube, i know that technology cannot replace experiencing, but unfortunately i'm not living on a particular important country so Aikido demos here are almost inexistent, the only two since start training were the ones i was involved! For me, Youtube, is an awesome tool for research and i learn a lot watching videos!
I practice the so called "iwama traditional style" wich focus mainly in kihon and with a lot of technical detail, so for me watching demos on youtube of lots of Aikidokas doing something i consider to be advanced practices , without a strong basis in the rudiments!! Some Daito ryu videos seem fluffy but even in that case i can see the fundamentals ( similar to all martial arts ). Not the fluffyness issue :)
This happens not only on Aikido! For me good Karate videos are even harder to find!! It happens when martial arts are highly spread and become trendy!

IP = Internal Power

Since you're an Iwama guy you may enjoy this review (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/finding-aiki-aikido-hawaii/) (the second one) of an IP workshop in Hawaii from another "Iwamaniac".

Best,

Chris

Gonzalo
05-13-2014, 01:46 PM
IP = Internal Power

Since you're an Iwama guy you may enjoy this review (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/finding-aiki-aikido-hawaii/) (the second one) of an IP workshop in Hawaii from another "Iwamaniac".

Best,

Chris

A giant thank you Chris, wow that review:eek: !!.. I wanna try that UFO !!! It explains a LOT!

the very best,
Gonēalo

Mert Gambito
05-13-2014, 06:18 PM
There are many subjective accounts of how Morihei Ueshiba trained and what he taught, but I do not think that these accounts allow us to state categorically that this or that was how Ueshiba taught or trained. . . .You also have to entertain the possibility that the skills that Ueshiba possessed which could be interpreted as IP skills could be acquired by Ueshiba's students in various ways, but not necessarily from Ueshiba himself by a direct transmission.
. . .
But, as you say, this knowledge is clandestine and limited to individuals. These individuals are in the Aikikai, but are dwindling in number. . . .
Sorry, Mert. The post has become much longer and more diffuse than I intended.
Peter,

No apologies necessary, given that the topic at hand is quite a deep rabbit hole.

I should have a follow-up or two for you when I'm not constrained by the length of a lunch break. (In the event that doesn't happen [busy week], feel free to expound regarding Michio Hikitsuchi, who reportedly codified the "Rites of Spring", which includes IP exercises that are somewhat well known in the aikido world, e.g. torifune and furitama (though moreso as "use these as warm up because the founder did 'em so we do 'em" exercises); and whose Shingu Bojutsu solo kata, for which Morihei Ueshiba reportedly provided Hikitsuchi formal documentation, bears resemblance to Ueshiba's documented personal jo solo work, based on video available online (http://youtu.be/6Ul0D-2vmU0).

There are also accounts of students basically politely ignoring the "crazy old man," either because they couldn't understand him or because they wanted to skip the philosophy and get back to bashing each other around. Or both. So even among his direct students, it's not a given that they were interested in pursuing what was being offered.
This has certainly been the conventional, general consensus take. All the more it's appreciated that Peter G. has made the effort to ask the questions of Doshu, Tada and others within Aikikai leadership to add necessary shades of gray to what has, unfortunately, often been a black-or-white discussion regarding the existence and acknowledgment of IP within, and influencing from the outside, the primary lineage of aikido.

Speaking of shades of gray, the more I hang out with the historian types among aikidoka in Hawaii, the more the realization has set in that the "split" between Koichi Tohei and the Aikikai wasn't as black and white as discussions today often paint it. There remains a continuum of influence from Tohei, to the point that there are, for example, non-Ki Society schools that faithfully adhere to Tohei's IP training methodologies and philosophies. What Peter, in part, seems to have brought to light is that such an oddity isn't necessarily wholly anathema in the minds of the current Aikikai leadership.

Now, "sufferance" may be the mean among these leaders, but closer to home there are a handful of folks who are reportedly on the same fringe of the bell curve as Tada, and are enthusiastic about whatever flavor of IP training they've undertaken for several decades because it has led them to the power that characterized aikido prior to the hippy movement. Or perhaps, the current generation of bright-eyed Hawaii IP enthusiasts is coloring such folks as similarly "enthusiastic", when to these members of the old guard (some of these guys have been around so long, the hippies call them "uncle"s), it has simply been faithful and successful yeoman's work, which has included some flavor of the oddball tanren that differentiated the disseminators of aikido here from the other quality budoka who tested but couldn't handle the aikido ambassadors when they were all younger men.

In any case, it's interesting that the old guard in Hawaii, and by Peter's account also the Hombu, are recently weighing in: a small sample size of young bucks, representative of a larger contingent who are pursuing modern non-aikido variants of IP training in different parts of the world, are on the right track -- and they're getting "strong".

So, the "pure" tradition of mitori-geiko, whether, for example in the Iwama vein or the IP vein, on which aikido and before it Daito-ryu was founded continues. Thank goodness for the internet and airplanes, regardless of your preferred flavor.

kewms
05-13-2014, 09:55 PM
This has certainly been the conventional, general consensus take. All the more it's appreciated that Peter G. has made the effort to ask the questions of Doshu, Tada and others within Aikikai leadership to add necessary shades of gray to what has, unfortunately, often been a black-or-white discussion regarding the existence and acknowledgment of IP within, and influencing from the outside, the primary lineage of aikido.


Oh, sure. Nothing is ever going to be black and white in an organization as large and diverse as the Aikikai. Inside Japan, you have a large number of people with direct experience of O Sensei, who one might assume are going to prioritize (their interpretation of) what he taught over any guidance from the organization. Outside Japan, you have the practical impossibility of enforcing pretty much any central directive, combined with cultures that value direct experience over received wisdom.

Katherine

Peter Goldsbury
05-14-2014, 07:02 AM
Peter,

I should have a follow-up or two for you when I'm not constrained by the length of a lunch break. (In the event that doesn't happen [busy week], feel free to expound regarding Michio Hikitsuchi, who reportedly codified the "Rites of Spring", which includes IP exercises that are somewhat well known in the aikido world, e.g. torifune and furitama (though moreso as "use these as warm up because the founder did 'em so we do 'em" exercises); and whose Shingu Bojutsu solo kata, for which Morihei Ueshiba reportedly provided Hikitsuchi formal documentation, bears resemblance to Ueshiba's documented personal jo solo work, based on video available online (http://youtu.be/6Ul0D-2vmU0).


Hello Mert,

I think it would be profitable to make a timeline of Morihei Ueshiba’s personal training regime (assuming he had one), the other martial artists he met, and also the students whom he taught and when he started teaching them. This would also provide a useful context for discussions concerning the ‘purity’ of aikido.

I think we can make a few rough divisions to begin with:

1. The period from his youth and early dabbling in bujutsu until the time he went to Hokkaido, including his early training in fishing, possibly farming, sumo and other bujutsu, and also including his time in the military and his participation in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 [1883 – 1912].

2. The period in Hokkaido until he returned to Tanabe to see his sick father [1912 – 1920]. Takeda Sokaku is the crucial figure here, beginning a relationship that lasted at least until 1936.

3. The period from the first meeting with Onisaburo Deguchi and his move to Ayabe to join the Omoto religion and to train Omoto followers, including his early encounters with Isamu Takeshita and the military officers from the naval base at Maizuru, until his move to Tokyo. This would also include the early chinkon and kamigakari training and the trip to Mongolia [1920 – 1926].

4. The period from his final settling in Tokyo until he retired to Iwama [1926 – 1931]. Kenji Tomiki became a student at this time, as did Kanemoto Sunadomari.

5. The period of the Kobukan Dojo and the uchi-deshi [1931 – 1942]. This period saw his involvement with ultranationalists, his supposed ‘break’ with Takeda Sokaku and also Onisaburo Deguchi (c. 1935 – 36), and his career as a military teacher at Japan’s army and naval academies. Apart from Tomiki, his students included Shirata, Iwata, Mochizuki, Murashige, Sugino, and, later, Shioda, Kisaburo Osawa, and Koichi Tohei.

6. The period of seclusion in Iwama [1942 – 1950 / 1955]. Senior postwar students like Arikawa, Yamaguchi and Tada joined the Tokyo Dojo, while Saito and, later, Isoyama trained in Iwama. Michio Hikitsuchi and Hirokazu Kobayashi also began regular training in this period.

7. The period from his emergence from Iwama until his death, including his trips around Japan and to Hawaii [1950 / 1955 – 1969]. In this period, we know that he travelled round Japan quite regularly, stopping off especially at Osaka (Abe Seiseki, Kobayashi Hirokazu), Shingu (Hikitsuchi Michio), and Kumamoto (the Sunadomari brothers), and with occasional visits to Wakayama and Tanabe. In this period the postwar deshi joined the Tokyo dojo, such as Tamura, Yamada, Saotome and Chiba.

The point of this chronology is to suggest (1) that the spiritualization of his training would probably begin in Period 3, with Omoto and his chinkon / kishin and misogi training, (2) that it might be possible to map some sort of IP training right from Period 2, if not before, and that (3) the ‘Rites of Spring’ taught to Hikitsuchi in Periods 6 and 7 would be the distillation of intensive personal training of some sort (including what we would call IP), right from the beginning. This training might also include plenty of trial and error, and also include Ueshiba progressively becoming aware of the strengths, weaknesses and pitfalls of this training. Did he ever have a teaching plan?

Best wishes,

Peter Goldsbury
05-14-2014, 07:29 AM
EDIT.

I revised the dates and split the period from 1926 to 1942 into two. So Period 4 would be from the move to Tokyo to the opening of the Kobukan in 1931. I split it because 1931 marks the period when he accepted uchi-deshi in earnest and began to think of choosing a successor.

Mert Gambito
05-16-2014, 03:06 AM
The point of this chronology is to suggest (1) that the spiritualization of his training would probably begin in Period 3, with Omoto and his chinkon / kishin and misogi training, (2) that it might be possible to map some sort of IP training right from Period 2, if not before, and that (3) the ‘Rites of Spring' taught to Hikitsuchi in Periods 6 and 7 would be the distillation of intensive personal training of some sort (including what we would call IP), right from the beginning. This training might also include plenty of trial and error, and also include Ueshiba progressively becoming aware of the strengths, weaknesses and pitfalls of this training. Did he ever have a teaching plan?
Peter,

This is helpful. For example, the chronology helps Illustrate how some but not all elements of what would become the Rites of Spring ended up in Tohei's documented and preserved aiki-taiso.

Would you consider mitori-geiko a teaching plan? I suppose even within that question, it depends on whether or not he primarily intended to teach by example vs. viewed students first and foremost as personal practice tools (I have no idea within that continuum where he placed his intentions -- fortunately, there are still people alive we can ask for input). History shows that the power was profound and distinctive enough that it compelled the "perceiving" group to go all out (and literally "out" of the art, if needed) to develop their respective tanren to unlock that power within themselves. Ellis, for example, provides in Hidden in Plain Sight wonderful details about Ueshiba's shugyo. Ueshiba wouldn't be the first or last Asian teacher who would expect a student to similarly find his/her own way and get immersed in it.

You've pointed out that aikido is not like koryu bujutsu, to which the question of maintaining what's "pure" might better fit. (I study Hakkoryu, which has a decidedly more koryu flavor, despite being a gendai budo contemporary to aikido with many common characteristics.)

So if finding something "pure" within aikido is difficult because of its progressive, eclectic nature (spelled out in your timeline), is there something that's a constant? Of course, that should be aiki. When all of the discussion (i.e. debate) regarding IP as aiki began to simmer toward boiling over during the latter half of the past decade, I never thought I'd view folks like Dan and Ark as part of a pattern of outside influence that has been instrumental to preserving a key aspect of what is central to what makes aikido, and individual aikidoka, "strong" in the general, non-abstract sense. Again, we have hombu and non-hombu senior aikidoka who know this is an inner-door quality inherent to the art, and are acknowledging its presence in the students of these modern teachers -- often times without having encountered the teachers themselves. But what you've laid out in this thread, along with the historical stones others have turned over, point to just such a pattern.

The difference during this historical cycle? This time there are express teaching plans, and there are codified pedagogies via which the power perceived in aikido can be systematically achieved.

Peter Goldsbury
05-19-2014, 07:06 PM
Peter,

You've pointed out that aikido is not like koryu bujutsu, to which the question of maintaining what's "pure" might better fit. (I study Hakkoryu, which has a decidedly more koryu flavor, despite being a gendai budo contemporary to aikido with many common characteristics.)

So if finding something "pure" within aikido is difficult because of its progressive, eclectic nature (spelled out in your timeline), is there something that's a constant? Of course, that should be aiki. When all of the discussion (i.e. debate) regarding IP as aiki began to simmer toward boiling over during the latter half of the past decade, I never thought I'd view folks like Dan and Ark as part of a pattern of outside influence that has been instrumental to preserving a key aspect of what is central to what makes aikido, and individual aikidoka, "strong" in the general, non-abstract sense. Again, we have hombu and non-hombu senior aikidoka who know this is an inner-door quality inherent to the art, and are acknowledging its presence in the students of these modern teachers -- often times without having encountered the teachers themselves. But what you've laid out in this thread, along with the historical stones others have turned over, point to just such a pattern.

The difference during this historical cycle? This time there are express teaching plans, and there are codified pedagogies via which the power perceived in aikido can be systematically achieved.

Hello Mert,

I am aware of the attractiveness of your observations here, but it leads to a question that cannot be avoided and which the opening poster perhaps did not intend. This is "Why bother keeping aiki 'pure'?" and also takes up a few assumptions of the opening post. Some believe that aikido lost its purity because it lost sight of aiki as its essential component, but we should not beg any questions here and simply assume that aiki has a purity that is self-evident.

Best wishes,

PAG

Mert Gambito
05-20-2014, 10:47 AM
Hello Mert,

I am aware of the attractiveness of your observations here, but it leads to a question that cannot be avoided and which the opening poster perhaps did not intend. This is "Why bother keeping aiki 'pure'?" and also takes up a few assumptions of the opening post. Some believe that aikido lost its purity because it lost sight of aiki as its essential component, but we should not beg any questions here and simply assume that aiki has a purity that is self-evident.
I agree, Peter. The art has evolved, and today can be many things to many people, and they seek to fill the perceived gaps in its efficacy in various ways.

So, for context for a corollary to the OP, Reuben Yap wrote:

. . . We watched our Sensei perform the techniques, practiced it on our ukes (who were compliant) and hoped that somehow, with enough repetition, we would magically be able to defend ourselves.

I found that such training makes people lax and for a long time in our dojo we just did the motions and I realized it resulted in horrible Aikido. It may look pretty, fluid and etc but put it under pressure and the gaping holes just come out. I wouldn't even remotely call it self defence. If anything, it may have given false confidence which is all the more dangerous. As an instructor, and for those seeking Aikido as a self-defence form, I felt that I had failed them.

When I started cross-training and learning other martial arts. A lot of things started clicking but it also made me question as to 'What is Aikido?' A lot of the time people comment as to what is 'pure' Aikido or as 'O-Sensei' taught it or one of his uchi-deshi taught it and that any addition was an adulteration of the art. And yes there's of course the controversy that Doshu Kisshomaru watered it down and that for a more true form of Aikido, you need to go back to the uchi-deshis like Saito/Shioda etc etc.

I think such talk about what is 'pure' Aikido is pointless.
Reuben goes on to posit that a number of key historical figures in aikido had experience in other martial arts as part of his rationale for suggesting effective "impurities", so to speak, from other arts are helpful to making aikido an effective "martial" art. Key subjects of your and my discussion, Tada and Tohei, respectively trained in karate and judo prior to taking up aikido, though they eschewed those paths in favor of internal bodywork to seek the power of their teacher. Like Reuben today, they looked for solutions, but had the benefit of Ueshiba as a reference point, and so chose a different path to seek solutions based on that input.

For me something is Aikido if it:
a) Doesn't rely on force/strength
b) Gives you an option to not harm an opponent and just neutralization
The old guard in Hawaii don't speak of "pure" aikido either. But they do lament modern aikido's lack of attention and understanding of what's needed to develop the power that Ueshiba and Tohei used to lay low some very tough men and plant the seeds of the art here and beyond over half a century ago. Meyer Goo, for example, tells us that Morihei Ueshiba did not pin Meyer to the tatami using Kesa Gatami, Juji Gatame or Omoplata. Ueshiba simply used a single, relaxed hand, and Meyer felt essentially welded to the ground and could not move. Now, that's one sublime ippon, and meets Reuben's "a" and "b" criteria cited above.[/quote]

Hilary
05-20-2014, 11:40 AM
A couple of years ago someone posted an interview with a known MMA guy (an online grappling e-magazine) who had formally cross trained in aikido and he had a very interesting perspective. He thought that effective aikido (which we believe to require IP/Aiki/special sauce) was something that had to be felt to be learned and that very few senseis really ever got it right. Once the chain of transmission was broken, whole branches of the art were being taught as technique only and none of the aiki/effective stuff remained.

He further posited that is was up to the seekers within the wayward branches to rediscover the heart of the art. That real, effective aikido, was fated to be lost and rediscovered on generational basis. After years of lurking and observing the whirlwind of discussions around this issue, I believe his observations were spot on. So IMHO true effective aikido is indeed a phoenix perpetually rising from the ashes, rediscovered, refreshed and re-contextualized by new innovators both inside and peripheral to the art. Thus it is not really an issue of purity as retention. Does this fit with your experience or observation?

dps
05-20-2014, 09:59 PM
He further posited that is was up to the seekers within the wayward branches to rediscover the heart of the art. That real, effective aikido, was fated to be lost and rediscovered on generational basis. After years of lurking and observing the whirlwind of discussions around this issue, I believe his observations were spot on. So IMHO true effective aikido is indeed a phoenix perpetually rising from the ashes, rediscovered, refreshed and re-contextualized by new innovators both inside and peripheral to the art. Tmber the past are comdemned to repehus it is not really an issue of purity as retention. Does this fit with your experience or observation?

''Those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.''
George Santayana

dps

Rupert Atkinson
05-20-2014, 11:41 PM
A couple of years ago someone ....

He further posited that is was up to the seekers within the wayward branches to rediscover the heart of the art. That real, effective aikido, was fated to be lost and rediscovered on generational basis. After years of lurking and observing the whirlwind of discussions around this issue, I believe his observations were spot on. .... Does this fit with your experience or observation?

I would say that this is spot on. I agree 100%. So, you have to search, think, search some more, and think a lot more. But you will not get far unless you find something useful. So, searching is key. But that doesn`t mean searching, finding Judo, and sticking Judo in your Aikido because you think Judo waza to be more efective.

Cliff Judge
05-21-2014, 09:05 AM
I would say that this is spot on. I agree 100%. So, you have to search, think, search some more, and think a lot more. But you will not get far unless you find something useful. So, searching is key. But that doesn`t mean searching, finding Judo, and sticking Judo in your Aikido because you think Judo waza to be more efective.

Or taiji for that matter.

PeterR
05-21-2014, 09:29 AM
I've always put those huge inverted commas in the air whenever someone mentions pure. It always smells like code for my way not your way.

Ueshiba's aikido changed all the time and not necessarily for the better. Every single one of his students took what they wanted and made it their own (some freely admitting it, others pretending a deeper insight). For me it is impossible to define what pure is and really a futile exercise.

Chris Li
05-21-2014, 10:28 AM
I would say that this is spot on. I agree 100%. So, you have to search, think, search some more, and think a lot more. But you will not get far unless you find something useful. So, searching is key. But that doesn`t mean searching, finding Judo, and sticking Judo in your Aikido because you think Judo waza to be more efective.

Or taiji for that matter.

You mean, like Tetsutaka Sugawara (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/tetsutaka-sugawara-aikido-taiji/)?

The whole "pure" thing seems quite odd, considering that it was the Aikikai's assertion for many years that Aikido was anything but pure - that it was an amalgam created by Morihei Ueshiba. We now know that to be less than the complete truth, but when considering the question people should consider that their many (most?) of their teachers didn't quibble about purity.

Ueshiba was certainly open to experimentation, and sword that he brought in from Kashima Shinto-ryu is now a standard part of many Aikido people's training.

Most of the koshi-nage that folks do today was brought in by Shoji Nishio and Yoshio Kuroiwa - not Morihei Ueshiba.

I've seen Mitsugi Saotome bring in things from any number of sources - anywhere from Seitai Iai to Karate to his own imagination (not a bad thing, IMO, but it wasn't Morihei Ueshiba).

Morihei Ueshiba hated what Minoru Mochizuki, probably one of the least "pure" Aikido folks ever, was doing so much that --- he wanted to adopt him as his successor before the war and make him the head instructor at hombu after the war (Mochizuki declined both offers). Kisshomaru later endorsed Mochizuki's tenth dan promotion. Wait a minute - wasn't he one of those guys who stuck Judo in Aikido? :)

Best,

Chris

PeterR
05-21-2014, 10:32 AM
Wait a minute - wasn't he one of those guys who stuck Judo in Aikido? :)

A true barbarian.

Chris Li
05-21-2014, 10:44 AM
A true barbarian.

Of course, the other guy who did that was so barbaric that Morihei Ueshiba made him Aikido's first 8th Dan. :D

Best,

Chris

dps
05-21-2014, 10:59 AM
I've always put those huge inverted commas in the air whenever someone mentions pure. It always smells like code for my way not your way.

Ueshiba's aikido changed all the time and not necessarily for the better. Every single one of his students took what they wanted and made it their own (some freely admitting it, others pretending a deeper insight). For me it is impossible to define what pure is and really a futile exercise.

The same goes for Aikido ''philosophy''.

dps

NagaBaba
05-21-2014, 05:19 PM
Of course, the other guy who did that was so barbaric that Morihei Ueshiba made him Aikido's first 8th Dan. :D

Best,

Chris
Oh, suddenly now the ranks are sure indication of the "purity" of aikido :O

NagaBaba
05-21-2014, 05:24 PM
I've always put those huge inverted commas in the air whenever someone mentions pure. It always smells like code for my way not your way.

Ueshiba's aikido changed all the time and not necessarily for the better. Every single one of his students took what they wanted and made it their own (some freely admitting it, others pretending a deeper insight). For me it is impossible to define what pure is and really a futile exercise.

Don't mix a goal of the practice and the method to achieve a goal. If you clearly understand what M.Ueshiba created (and he left a lot of clear pointers) your method will be perfectly adapted to achieve it.

Chris Li
05-21-2014, 05:25 PM
Oh, suddenly now the ranks are sure indication of the "purity" of aikido :O

No, but I think that it shows that Morihei Ueshiba had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki.

Best,

Chris

NagaBaba
05-21-2014, 05:34 PM
No, but I think that it shows that Morihei Ueshiba had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki.

Best,

Chris
Or may be it was for purely political reasons? How can we know now for sure? IMO it has nothing to do with the essence of art...

kewms
05-21-2014, 05:45 PM
Of course, the other guy who did that was so barbaric that Morihei Ueshiba made him Aikido's first 8th Dan. :D


OTOH, there are stories of Ueshiba Sensei handing out ranks to all sorts of people. Which I see as an indication that he thought "mastery" had more to do with being an enlightened human being than with martial prowess as such. Something to keep in mind when one is inclined to scoff at the less martially-inclined branches of the aikido family tree.

Katherine

Chris Li
05-21-2014, 06:14 PM
OTOH, there are stories of Ueshiba Sensei handing out ranks to all sorts of people. Which I see as an indication that he thought "mastery" had more to do with being an enlightened human being than with martial prowess as such. Something to keep in mind when one is inclined to scoff at the less martially-inclined branches of the aikido family tree.

Katherine

That's true, but those stories are mainly from later on, when he was much less involved in things. My point was that he certainly had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki - the promotion was just an illustration of that.

Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
05-21-2014, 06:41 PM
Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.


How could that be, though? If Osensei was the Founder of Aikido, then everything he did and approved of [I]was[I] pure.

Mert Gambito
05-22-2014, 01:21 AM
Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.
How could that be, though? If Osensei was the Founder of Aikido, then everything he did and approved of [I]was[I] pure.
Good points, gents.

Either way of looking at this should set the OP author's mind at ease.

sakumeikan
05-22-2014, 04:05 AM
That's true, but those stories are mainly from later on, when he was much less involved in things. My point was that he certainly had some measure of respect for Kenji Tomiki - the promotion was just an illustration of that.

Anyway, we're drifting off topic, my goal was simply to point out that there is an undisputed record of Morihei Ueshiba approving of folks who weren't "pure" in what they were doing.

Best,

Chris

Dear Chris,
Let us not forget that Tomiki Sensei was a high ranked judoka,I think if a person in another art eg judo , karate etc has a fairly high grade one must have respect for the person holding the rank. Cheers, Joe.

Michael Neal
07-01-2014, 08:11 AM
Ueshiba did sumo and other hard styles of martial arts and tons of physical conditioning including strength training with railway ties. He also got into a lot of physical encounters to practice his arts.

This is something that is lacking in the vast majority of Aikido practitioners. To say all of this had nothing to do with the effectiveness he demonstrated and that it was his spiritual awaking later on that made him effective is quite absurd.

I remember a video being posted here many years ago of a 300lb+ person going into a rampage in a store and everyone here was wondering how they could possibly deal with someone like that with their Aikido. The answer is quite clear, get strong! If you can squat 400+ pounds and deadlift 500+ pounds, doing a single leg takedown, or a variation of koshinage, of a guy that big would be pretty easy actually.

Aikido does not focus on using strength but being strong is still a large part of the puzzle. It is much easier to put someone down on the ground if you are stronger than them, even using Aikido.

100% pure Aikido is not enough, it wasn't for the founder, he was freakishly strong and studied a variety of style including wrestling.

kewms
07-01-2014, 11:23 AM
I remember a video being posted here many years ago of a 300lb+ person going into a rampage in a store and everyone here was wondering how they could possibly deal with someone like that with their Aikido. The answer is quite clear, get strong! If you can squat 400+ pounds and deadlift 500+ pounds, doing a single leg takedown, or a variation of koshinage, of a guy that big would be pretty easy actually.


Two problems with this.

One is that, for a woman my size, 400# is north of the world record squat. Not happening in this lifetime. It's more achievable for men, but still is going to require a good amount of gym time. And, unless you also weigh 300 pounds, you're still not going to be as strong as Mr. Berserker. (Who, it's safe to assume, is also under some kind of chemical influence.)

Which brings us to problem number two, which is that training like a powerlifter is not really compatible with the flexibility and sensitivity that aikido requires.

Certainly it doesn't hurt to be strong. But saying that strength is the answer to whatever might be wrong with your aikido is simply missing the point of how aikido techniques are supposed to work.

For the record, I've successfully koshi-ed some pretty big guys. If your koshinage depends on strength, you're doing it wrong.

Katherine

Rupert Atkinson
07-01-2014, 11:35 PM
Christopher Li wrote: Wait a minute - wasn't he one of those guys who stuck Judo in Aikido?
A true barbarian.

Far better to try to stick aiki in Judo than to stick Judo in Aikido.

JP3
07-02-2014, 08:37 PM
I personally like to put Tobasco (tm) on everything, so I have no driving impetus to keep anything pure, much less my aikido. It's really impure, if that's what people want to know. I might apologize for that, but it's hella-effective, and I don't have to hurt people (defined as actually cause damage that lasts beyond the pain flare), so I am happy with it.

For my inspiration in training, I look to the old masters, who literally all seemed to go out and learn from a broad range of instructors and styles and even modes of thought to come up with what they taught. Ueshiba, Kano, Oyama, Lee, Geis, and now my own folks who I respect, Lowry, Williams, etc. All go out and seek, and take what works for them and which they can understand, and "fit" those thoughts and principles and techniques into their "world view" of aikido and it's all good. My $0.02.

Carl Thompson
07-03-2014, 08:04 AM
I personally like to put Tobasco (tm) on everything, so I have no driving impetus to keep anything pure, much less my aikido.

Don't you just hate that guy who comes to dinner and, without even trying the cuisine you lovingly slaved over (including the recipe tried and tested over generations, handed down by your great grandma), grabs the salt, the pepper, the Tabasco sauce or whatever, rather than just give it a go as intended?

I'm not adverse to Tabasco myself, but wouldn't you like to know what your aikido tastes like without Tabasco, just for reference? They say there are all kinds of flavours of aikido, some stronger than others. You could still mix them with Tabasco, but, informed by how they taste without. Maybe you would find other more exciting combinations. Maybe you'd end up adding a particular vintage of aikido neat to everything, instead of Tabasco? Or even adding a unique combination of aikido and Tabasco to everything.

Just my half a Euro.

Carl

PeterR
07-03-2014, 08:28 AM
Don't you just hate that guy who comes to dinner and, without even trying the cuisine you lovingly slaved over (including the recipe tried and tested over generations, handed down by your great grandma), grabs the salt, the pepper, the Tabasco sauce or whatever, rather than just give it a go as intended?

I'm not adverse to Tabasco myself, but wouldn't you like to know what your aikido tastes like without Tabasco, just for reference? They say there are all kinds of flavours of aikido, some stronger than others. You could still mix them with Tabasco, but, informed by how they taste without. Maybe you would find other more exciting combinations. Maybe you'd end up adding a particular vintage of aikido neat to everything, instead of Tabasco? Or even adding a unique combination of aikido and Tabasco to everything.

Just my half a Euro.

Carl
Sure - except that back in the day Tabasco was added by the chef.

fjh
07-03-2014, 12:04 PM
Two problems with this.
Certainly it doesn't hurt to be strong. But saying that strength is the answer to whatever might be wrong with your aikido is simply missing the point of how aikido techniques are supposed to work.

This is true.


Which brings us to problem number two, which is that training like a powerlifter is not really compatible with the flexibility and sensitivity that aikido requires.

But this is not, and I'd really like to see this myth go away. There's a lot to be learned from strength training. The benefits of strength training on general health are well studied and very well documented.

When it comes to Aikido, my experience with powerlifting is that it enhanced my body's resilience, enhanced my ability to recover from injuries, taught me about leverage and body structure, taught me about intense mental focus, showed me how hard human beings can push themselves, and all sorts of other good stuff. There's nothing like exerting such a maximal effort that you fry your nervous system.

The flexibility thing is just another misconception. There are plenty of strong and flexible people, it goes hand in hand. Go to youtube and check out how sumo wrestlers, power lifters, olympic lifters, and the old school circus strength guys train. You'll be amazed. I doubt most people here have the flexibility to do a legal power squat without any weight, let alone any of the olympic lifts or sumo warm ups.

Strength training has never had a negative effect on my Aikido training, it's only enhanced it. A lot of Aikido students would do well to pick up something heavy and actually learn what physical power is, how it works, and why they can't rely on it in a martial art. They might even stop missing classes or taking half-assed ukemi because their (insert body part here) hurts.

kewms
07-03-2014, 12:13 PM
The flexibility thing is just another misconception. There are plenty of strong and flexible people, it goes hand in hand. Go to youtube and check out how sumo wrestlers, power lifters, olympic lifters, and the old school circus strength guys train. You'll be amazed. I doubt most people here have the flexibility to do a legal power squat without any weight, let alone any of the olympic lifts or sumo warm ups.

Strength training has never had a negative effect on my Aikido training, it's only enhanced it. A lot of Aikido students would do well to pick up something heavy and actually learn what physical power is, how it works, and why they can't rely on it in a martial art. They might even stop missing classes or taking half-assed ukemi because their (insert body part here) hurts.

A friend of mine is a massage therapist who works on powerlifters. I think she might disagree with you. While it's *possible* to be both strong and flexible, it requires paying extra attention to mobility and flexibility and a lot of people simply don't bother.

I actually agree with you that strength training can be valuable for aikidoka. Having a strong, stable squat makes a world of difference in koshinage, for instance. I just disagree with the claim I was responding to, that getting stronger is the way to "fix" your aikido.

Katherine

Dan Rubin
07-03-2014, 12:57 PM
Don't you just hate that guy who comes to dinner and, without even trying the cuisine you lovingly slaved over (including the recipe tried and tested over generations, handed down by your great grandma), grabs the salt, the pepper, the Tabasco sauce or whatever, rather than just give it a go as intended?

A great analogy. Thanks.

Michael Neal
07-18-2014, 01:52 PM
Being strong makes a world of difference in any martial art, including Aikido. I never argued it was a substitute for technique, when combined with technique it is a force multiplier, so to speak.

Koshinage is absolutely dependent on strength if you want to throw someone who is not an uke and weighs a lot. Go try to throw around a 250lb judoka who is not playing a nice uke without having much strength. They are not going to charge at you and give your the momentum you need as a smaller person, you have to generate that momentum through strength/force. The same with any heavy attacker, they are just not going to give you much momentum.

Cliff Judge
07-18-2014, 01:57 PM
Being strong makes a world of difference in any martial art, including Aikido. I never argued it was a substitute for technique, when combined with technique it is a force multiplier, so to speak.

Koshinage is absolutely dependent on strength if you want to throw someone who is not an uke and weighs a lot. Go try to throw around a 250lb judoka who is not playing a nice uke without having much strength. They are not going to charge at you and give your the momentum you need as a smaller person, you have to generate that momentum through strength/force. The same with any heavy attacker, they are just not going to give you much momentum.

I think the point you are trying to make is that without strength it will be difficult to throw a 250lb person who is actually trying to let you throw him.

Strength is not going to be what gives you the ability to throw a 250lb judoka who is resisting, unless you suck at judo.

Michael Neal
07-18-2014, 02:19 PM
Strength is absolutely one of the factors that gives you that ability, again I never said it replaced technique. Just about every competitive judoka lifts weights for that reason.

In Judo you often need to generate movement through force with pushing and pulling, people don't charge at you. In order to effectively push and pull big people you need to be strong.

Michael Neal
07-18-2014, 02:37 PM
the same goes for 300+lb people going on rampages, the more strength you have to go along with your technique the better your odds

kewms
07-18-2014, 03:21 PM
As a 125# woman, getting into contests of strength with people twice my size is never going to be a winning strategy, no matter how much time I spend in the gym.

Which takes me back to my original point. It never hurts to be strong, but good technique is not about strength.

Katherine

Janet Rosen
07-18-2014, 08:21 PM
As a 125# woman, getting into contests of strength with people twice my size is never going to be a winning strategy, no matter how much time I spend in the gym.

Which takes me back to my original point. It never hurts to be strong, but good technique is not about strength.

Katherine

Seconded by another woman in that weight class :)

phitruong
07-18-2014, 09:30 PM
In Judo you often need to generate movement through force with pushing and pulling, people don't charge at you. In order to effectively push and pull big people you need to be strong.

you mean like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epfWXEuEgYI ? you think Ikeda sensei strong compare to the two big guys? or even out muscle them?

Michael Neal
07-21-2014, 07:05 AM
I never suggested that getting in a battle of strength with someone is a good strategy, I wouldn't either even if I was stronger than my opponent. But I would use it to apply more force to my technique at the right moment. If my opponent is bigger and stronger than me, me being as strong as I possibly can would mitigate his advantage.

This woman is stronger than most average guys, she would be pretty fierce if she added martial arts to her training

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85fAMHWa530

jonreading
07-21-2014, 08:50 AM
All of this stuff is percentages. Improving your physical fitness lifts you above number of potential adversaries. Improving your technical skill lifts you above some number of potential adversaries. Improving your ability to project your relative abilities places you above some number of potential adversaries. Improving your proficiency using weapons (and carrying them) lifts you above some number of potential adversaries. Ultimately, (from a "fighting" perspective) we are working to elevate our entire collection of advantages above the largest percentage of potential adversaries. Aikido is just one set of skills among a larger collection.

Fidelity to a system means that you allow the training methodology to run its course. One of the odd things about O Sensei's early teaching is that he wold often cut students loose. He would teach a student for a period of time, then say, "Okay, you've got it. Bye. Stay in touch." Stepping back to O Sensei's relationship with Takeda, it seems that he would have intense periods of training followed by lapses, where O Sensei presumably continued to train. It does give the impression that his aiki instruction was a limited instruction followed by commitment to training.

First, I think we become distracted with other arts. Not that this is a bad thing because we want to be able to work with other groups and I believe a working knowledge of those groups is important. It is very difficult to work with people who train in other arts - aikido is not judo (for example). Give credit where credit is due and don't assume our cross-training partner is doing anything but playing nice with our aikido rules. We tease one of our judo players because I swear if you go to South America, he is what's in the cage that wrestles all-comers in the seedy bar.

Second, I think our current methodology is having difficulty showing results. I think part of problem one is that our current methodology does not produce the results we want within the time frame we want. I think arguing whether its the process or the expectations that are at fault is another thread. In either case, there is a lure of success through other arts that many creates a sense of insecurity of aikido's success as a martial education.

As a bit o' heresay... In Phi's clip, Ikeda sensei is stronger than his partners... stronger through ki/aiki. It may not be the "strength" that we typically consider, but it is a skill that is elevating sensei above his partners... That is the strength sensei trains, not the kind that looks good on the beach.

lifestylemanoz
10-07-2014, 04:28 AM
Train many arts and have many teacher.

I agree with your thoughts!

petebreeland
09-01-2016, 06:37 PM
I would say that Aikido in its essence is pure. Anyone can teach principles of Aikido, techniques of Aikido, and/or the philosophy of Aikido. However, unless the complete system is practiced as O'Sensei intended it to be practiced, whatever it is that you are doing is not Aikido. One can see many videos or hear discussions about Aikido vs "fill in the blank". That by O'Sensei's definition is no longer Aikido. Period.
One can easily read what O'Sensei said on the subject. Argue it out with him. In the mean time have fun with what you are doing, whatever that might be. To quote Bangor Maine Police Dept.'s Facebook page, "In the meantime, keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone and be kind to one another."

rugwithlegs
09-01-2016, 07:49 PM
From the Art Of Peace, translated by John Stevens:
"Even though our path is completely different from the warrior paths of the past, it is not necessary to abandon totally the old ways. Absorb venerable traditions into this new art by clothing them with fresh garments, and build on the classic styles to create better forms."

Pete, I don't know what this rigid definition of O Sensei's way is. I suspect most students probably don't - I think that is why so many dojo are so different from each other. We know our teachers.

Alex Megann
09-02-2016, 05:52 AM
I would say that Aikido in its essence is pure. Anyone can teach principles of Aikido, techniques of Aikido, and/or the philosophy of Aikido. However, unless the complete system is practiced as O'Sensei intended it to be practiced, whatever it is that you are doing is not Aikido. One can see many videos or hear discussions about Aikido vs "fill in the blank". That by O'Sensei's definition is no longer Aikido. Period.
One can easily read what O'Sensei said on the subject. Argue it out with him. In the mean time have fun with what you are doing, whatever that might be. To quote Bangor Maine Police Dept.'s Facebook page, "In the meantime, keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone and be kind to one another."

Some would say this is a can of worms...

How many people these days are really practising the "complete system ... as O'Sensei intended it to be practiced"? Do you do daily solo training as he did? Misogi? Kotodama?

The researches of Stanley Pranin and Chris Li (see Chris's excellent set of interviews here (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/)) have shown that the message of O'Sensei's teaching is not quite what is generally assumed, particularly in the mainstream Aikikai tradition. He was fond of using esoteric code words referring back to the Shinto Classics that can be unambiguously linked to themes in Chinese internal martial arts, but most of his direct students disregarded this as the crazy talk of a cranky old man. Also, "what O-Sensei said on the subject" is heavily dependent on the biases of the translator.

As an example, it seems that O-Sensei used the phrase "standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven" more frequently (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-floating-bridge-heaven/) than "Aiki is love", but how often do you hear your teacher use the former phrase?

Alex

lbb
09-02-2016, 08:26 AM
Ah yes, the thread that will never die as long as there's an academician who insists that any human endeavor can be "pure".

As an example, it seems that O-Sensei used the phrase "standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven" more frequently than "Aiki is love", but how often do you hear your teacher use the former phrase?

Honestly? I've never heard any sensei say either of these. They say things like "Top of the HEAD, dammit, this isn't the Three Stooges!"

Alex Megann
09-02-2016, 09:09 AM
Honestly? I've never heard any sensei say either of these. They say things like "Top of the HEAD, dammit, this isn't the Three Stooges!"

Yeah, I don't expect you come across many teachers in the Chiba lineage talking about "Aiki is Love"... :)

Alex

Peter Goldsbury
09-03-2016, 01:16 AM
Alex,

You have surely heard of 愛の鞭 [ai no muchi]. Muchi is a whip, rod, or cane.

Best wishes,

Alex Megann
09-03-2016, 03:25 AM
Alex,

You have surely heard of 愛の鞭 [ai no muchi]. Muchi is a whip, rod, or cane.

Best wishes,

Is this what we call "tough love", or is it something more intimate?

Alex

Peter Goldsbury
09-03-2016, 07:07 PM
Is this what we call "tough love", or is it something more intimate?

Alex

Probably both. You would need to read some other stuff if you want to study these aspects. I would recommend Gregory Plugfelder's Cartographies of Desire, Mikiso Hane's Peasants, Rebels, Women and Outcasts, The Love of the Samurai, by Tsuneo Watanabe and Jun'ichi Iwata, and a collection of essays with the title of Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
09-03-2016, 07:12 PM
Is this what we call "tough love", or is it something more intimate?

Alex

Incidentally, K Chiba was the only deshi I know who returned home from the country he had been sent to before he was supposed to, and the reasons he gave to me had some relevance to the title of this thread. He felt that the Aikikai were losing theiir mission to keep aikido 'pure' and I think he meant something like how he learned the art from Morihei Ueshiba himself.

PAG

Ethan Weisgard
09-04-2016, 05:33 AM
One of my close students from Malaysia, who had grown up training martial arts, once made a very good point. He said "It's not that the technique doesn't work, it's just that I can't get it to work yet."
This is of course based on the fundamental martial soundness of the given technique. The techniques you are training need to be applicable in martial situations: your tai sabaki needs to bring you not only off the line of attack, but also to the safest place in a given situation. Tai sabaki, kuzushi, atemi - all these aspects must be there. In the Iwama lineage the practitioners in the old days had actual experience in .. how should I say this nicely.. non-dojo based applications of the waza :-) Others from other lineages have also tried their techniques in aforementioned environments. It's not that Iwama has a patent on this type of extracurricular training. It's just that it seems that there was a strong tradition for this kind of experimentation in the Iwama dojo back in the day. The techniques and principles we are training in this lineage are the same. But the deciding factor, in my opinion, is what you actually do in a given situation. What are you ready to unleash? Can you unleash it? Are you mentally prepared to go there? In my opinion it is very individual, whether you can or can't. In actuality you really don't know until you've been there. But you can mentally prepare yourself to a certain extent.
The dojo training gives you some very strong basic body programming - but when push comes to shove it's really a question of how the individual can and is willing to respond that will be a strong influence on the outcome of a given defence situation. IMHO.

In aiki,
Ethan

dps
09-04-2016, 01:46 PM
One of my close students from Malaysia, who had grown up training martial arts, once made a very good point. He said "It's not that the technique doesn't work, it's just that I can't get it to work yet."
This is of course based on the fundamental martial soundness of the given technique. The techniques you are training need to be applicable in martial situations: your tai sabaki needs to bring you not only off the line of attack, but also to the safest place in a given situation. Tai sabaki, kuzushi, atemi - all these aspects must be there. In the Iwama lineage the practitioners in the old days had actual experience in .. how should I say this nicely.. non-dojo based applications of the waza :-) Others from other lineages have also tried their techniques in aforementioned environments. It's not that Iwama has a patent on this type of extracurricular training. It's just that it seems that there was a strong tradition for this kind of experimentation in the Iwama dojo back in the day. The techniques and principles we are training in this lineage are the same. But the deciding factor, in my opinion, is what you actually do in a given situation. What are you ready to unleash? Can you unleash it? Are you mentally prepared to go there? In my opinion it is very individual, whether you can or can't. In actuality you really don't know until you've been there. But you can mentally prepare yourself to a certain extent.
The dojo training gives you some very strong basic body programming - but when push comes to shove it's really a question of how the individual can and is willing to respond that will be a strong influence on the outcome of a given defence situation. IMHO.

In aiki,
Ethan

Amen
dps