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carpeviam
08-26-2015, 01:49 PM
I've been training a few years and am coming up on my first kyu test, though a date hasn't been scheduled yet. Though my teachers say I'm doing fine, I'm starting to feel more and more like there's nothing in my aikido, like I don't have anything to bring to the table. Like, I could never achieve making something work outside of a dojo environment with a cooperative uke, that my successes are just due to the charity of my partners not stopping me, that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work. Of course, it's self-reinforcing: the more I doubt, the less things work, and the more I conclude I should be doubting.

I've heard that a lot of people go through a similar crisis at some point in their training. If you've had an experience like that, please share. What was it like? Was there anything that helped get you out of it? Or make it work for you? Do you have any advice you can give?

Thanks!

Cliff Judge
08-26-2015, 01:58 PM
I've been training a few years and am coming up on my first kyu test, though a date hasn't been scheduled yet. Though my teachers say I'm doing fine, I'm starting to feel more and more like there's nothing in my aikido, like I don't have anything to bring to the table. Like, I could never achieve making something work outside of a dojo environment with a cooperative uke, that my successes are just due to the charity of my partners not stopping me, that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work. Of course, it's self-reinforcing: the more I doubt, the less things work, and the more I conclude I should be doubting.

I've heard that a lot of people go through a similar crisis at some point in their training. If you've had an experience like that, please share. What was it like? Was there anything that helped get you out of it? Or make it work for you? Do you have any advice you can give?

Thanks!

First kyu test? You sound ready for shodan!

If you still feel this way in twenty years, you are doing the right thing.

Mary Eastland
08-26-2015, 02:18 PM
Hi Julia:

I can relate. I have gone though a few times where training seems pointless and hard.

This is my experience: I have stayed anyway and I am grateful that I did. My teacher told me when I felt that way that I was plateauing and that plateauing was a good thing because it meant that I was getting ready to go to a new level of training. He meant that my training would get more meaningful and that I would get stronger.

I have stayed and training diligently for 29 years now and find that he was right.

Best wishes in your training.

kewms
08-26-2015, 02:34 PM
Imposter syndrome: the more you know, the more you know how much is still out there.

Happens to everyone, in every field. I'd be more concerned if, at first kyu, you thought you'd already mastered the art.

I've found that working with beginners helps give perspective, as you probably do know a lot more than they do. Be careful, though, as beginners offer their own challenges because they haven't yet learned how they're "supposed" to respond.

Beyond that, trust your teachers. Keep training.

Good luck on your test,

Katherine

lbb
08-26-2015, 02:37 PM
Julia, have you told your sensei about this? Seems like he/she would have the most useful perspective on it.

At a wild guess, what you're experiencing is a symptom of what I call "touching more of the elephant". The blind man touches the elephant's tusk, says "the elephant is like a spear!", and in the way of human beings, makes up a lot of stories about the elephant's spear-like nature, puts a lot of mental energy into it, becomes very invested in the idea of the elephant as like-a-spear. Then one day the elephant happens to touch more of the elephant. Omigod, the elephant is NOT like a spear! But I don't know what it is, all I know is that it's NOT A SPEAR! Oh no, the foundations of my world are crumbling, etc.

Our understanding is never perfect, and the more we become invested in our narratives at any point in our development, the harder it is to come to new understandings (because they contradict our narrative, they're not spear-like, ya know?), and the more jarring it is when new knowledge is basically forced upon us. It doesn't fit with the old story we told ourselves. The cure is to let go of the story line. See things as they are. Allow yourself to say "don't know", and not just as an exercise in ostentatious false modesty -- allow yourself to say it sincerely. don't-know has acres and acres of room for knowledge to come in; is-spear-like has none.

Every time I see a new aikido student who claims to understand or to get it, with reference to any of the deeper, mushier aikido concepts, I think, "yeah, that elephant sure is like a spear, isn't it?" Until it isn't. Or until they refuse to touch parts of the elephant that don't conform to the spear-like narrative. it's a choice.

You'll always be touching new parts of the elephant, and they'll always be contradicting your current story line. Drop the story line. The first time is unsettling and scary. After a while, it becomes natural, never exactly pleasant, but doable.

oisin bourke
08-26-2015, 02:37 PM
I've been training a few years and am coming up on my first kyu test, though a date hasn't been scheduled yet. Though my teachers say I'm doing fine, I'm starting to feel more and more like there's nothing in my aikido, like I don't have anything to bring to the table. Like, I could never achieve making something work outside of a dojo environment with a cooperative uke, that my successes are just due to the charity of my partners not stopping me, that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work. Of course, it's self-reinforcing: the more I doubt, the less things work, and the more I conclude I should be doubting.

I've heard that a lot of people go through a similar crisis at some point in their training. If you've had an experience like that, please share. What was it like? Was there anything that helped get you out of it? Or make it work for you? Do you have any advice you can give?

Thanks!

My advice is look at your seniors and teachers. Can they move you effortlessly? Even without your cooperation? Can they move others effortlessly? Even without their overt cooperation? If the answer is "yes", then there's value in what they are training and teaching, if the answer is "no", then you need to look at your training IMO.

Janet Rosen
08-26-2015, 03:19 PM
Katherine and Mary M. pretty much nail it.
I'm subject to Imposter Syndrome in pretty much everything I'm actually competent at. I just hide it better than most.
Your doubts are real and as such are valid. Reality checking can include observing how sempai and instructors handle more challenging student ukes, checking how you are with juniors...and as part of test prep your sempai SHOULD be challenging you just enough for you to grow. Not by rooting and locking you out, but by pointing out holes in your technique.

Sojourner
08-26-2015, 07:31 PM
The observation I would make is that of course you can not be 'compliant' as a partner in Aikido and prevent someone from doing the technique, Yet the reason for having a compliant partner is so that your partner does not get injured. Over the years there have been serious injuries in Aikido training - broken arms, dislocated shoulders and so forth. If you make Aikido a battle of force then this is an outcome that can easilly occur and not neccessaraly to the weakest person in the contest.

rugwithlegs
08-26-2015, 07:35 PM
I agree with most of the comments here. Being more aware of holes in your technique is actually a sign of progress, and the anxiety is the impetus to search and find corrections. This attitude can give you a new level of mini-enlightenment if you push through to the other side. Don't focus on everything wrong - I usually pick one thing prior to my testing (or at whatever random interval takes my fancy) and work on that for a few months or so. Something properly explored, dissected and understood can cascade all throughout everything you do.

I had a 6'8" student who wanted to learn koshinage. Of course, it required a great deal of charity on the part of his Uke as he had bad knees and his hips were very high. One teacher was willing to test him with no koshinage at a low rank on the grounds he was very unlikely to ever do the technique for real. Another teacher was asking him to do the technique dropping to his knees. To do it for real, he was never going to imitate someone like me who was nearly a full foot shorter. He wasn't going to imitate Aikiotoshi or Shihonage the way I did it to him either. Techniques like Iriminage required a little less leading movement for very tall people, but shorter people tend to do less direct and more circular variations IME.

Respect your body type. This might mean letting go of what you have come to accept as correct technique. As people find what works for them, different techniques and different variations become easier to do than others. Testing can create a "one-size fits all" mentality. I actively discourage the five footers at my dojo from doing *exactly* what I am doing. Just guessing, but most women I have trained with have been significantly shorter and had less strength to rely on than some of their fellow students - maybe that is you? Find someone on YouTube who resembles your dimensions or has your self perceived weaknesses and see what you can learn from what they had to learn.

You seemed to indicate you feel overpowered? Play with your timing, keep your Ma ai, don't let people get a solid firm grab on you. Explore Atemi - again, I'm guessing, but if you are shorter don't direct every Atemi to the face, take was is easy to reach. Kawahara Sensei often showed some friends to do Sankyo or Nikyo just grabbing the pinky and ring fingers, find out about weak points. Hanmi Handachi is all about learning to deal with people who have a longer reach, longer stride, and are taller. Some dojo are more strict about how kata should look, some are all about finding your own way so ask your teacher.

Training, preparing for tests, testing - it's all about learning. Enjoy the process.

If you are worried about how you would handle an untrained Uke, go find a beginner. These are the people you really should be comparing yourself to, or to your Kohei. Don't compare yourself to senior Dan people. If you are worried about the dreaded real world, some day you might have to find out and hopefully it will be a good experience. But, I hope you are spared the experience.

Rupert Atkinson
08-26-2015, 09:21 PM
The plateau is where we spend most of out time. Only those that can accept that will progress. Life just ain't always so easy.

jurasketu
08-28-2015, 08:30 AM
You'll always be touching new parts of the elephant, and they'll always be contradicting your current story line. Drop the story line. The first time is unsettling and scary. After a while, it becomes natural, never exactly pleasant, but doable.

I definitely liked and agree with your comment.

PS But I always hate when I slip in the darned Elephant Poo.

lbb
08-28-2015, 12:08 PM
PS But I always hate when I slip in the darned Elephant Poo.

So perhaps we should just refer to all the unpleasant, uncomfortable feelings you get when reality contradicts what you've "known" in the past as Elephant Poo? :D

G Sinclair
08-28-2015, 12:37 PM
I've been training a few years and am coming up on my first kyu test, though a date hasn't been scheduled yet. Though my teachers say I'm doing fine, I'm starting to feel more and more like there's nothing in my aikido, like I don't have anything to bring to the table. Like, I could never achieve making something work outside of a dojo environment with a cooperative uke, that my successes are just due to the charity of my partners not stopping me, that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work. Of course, it's self-reinforcing: the more I doubt, the less things work, and the more I conclude I should be doubting.

I've heard that a lot of people go through a similar crisis at some point in their training. If you've had an experience like that, please share. What was it like? Was there anything that helped get you out of it? Or make it work for you? Do you have any advice you can give?

Thanks!

I had those same concerns. And they haunted me.

For me, I could not just accept the philosophical answers "you will always feel that way" or "just keep training, you will get it". I came from a vicious striking art which embedded into me a painful sense of what would work for me and what would get me killed.

Here was the thing about Aikido: I found myself thinking a lot "I can almost see how this could work... But not how we are doing it"

For me, a change of Aikido style put this question to rest.

Good luck on your test!

rugwithlegs
08-28-2015, 03:27 PM
I really like what Greg's dojo's site shows.

Another dojo isn't always the answer - I know several people with multiple black belts and experience in several associations, a constant cycle of disillusionment and burning bridges and then regret or second thoughts.

As Julia noted, doubt makes her technique less likely to succeed.

1. Test yourself and get the honest answer to the situation. "I can't do anything right!" is likely not true. There really should be some deficit though; no one is perfect yet. Make a plan. I had to test many things out.
2. It is not the plan of a real life attacker to make me feel more confident. My teachers can't help me with this type of crisis in the context of regular classes. It was hard for me to accept this and gut wrenching to learn it.

I ended up deciding this is what O Sensei meant by "The spirit is the true shield." No spirit, or a spirit that can be broken easily, no amount of training will save me. I needed to learn a little about inner strength and inner quiet and solidity which helped me in many other places in life. I needed to be pushed harder.

kewms
08-28-2015, 04:24 PM
I ended up deciding this is what O Sensei meant by "The spirit is the true shield." No spirit, or a spirit that can be broken easily, no amount of training will save me. I needed to learn a little about inner strength and inner quiet and solidity which helped me in many other places in life. I needed to be pushed harder.

Quoted for truth.

Katherine

Janet Rosen
08-28-2015, 10:11 PM
Quoted for truth.

Katherine

Yep.

jdm4life
08-31-2015, 06:23 PM
http://cdn.meme.am/instances/50061753.jpg

I've been training a few years and am coming up on my first kyu test, though a date hasn't been scheduled yet. Though my teachers say I'm doing fine, I'm starting to feel more and more like there's nothing in my aikido, like I don't have anything to bring to the table. Like, I could never achieve making something work outside of a dojo environment with a cooperative uke, that my successes are just due to the charity of my partners not stopping me, that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work. Of course, it's self-reinforcing: the more I doubt, the less things work, and the more I conclude I should be doubting.

I've heard that a lot of people go through a similar crisis at some point in their training. If you've had an experience like that, please share. What was it like? Was there anything that helped get you out of it? Or make it work for you? Do you have any advice you can give?

Thanks!

I saw this and it only strengthened the doubts........i watched part 1 and part 2.

AIKIDO THE WAY THAT DOESNT WORK PART 1
www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4sB7KLx_bs

Ive gone through phases where I question why am I practicing aikido? What use is it besides fitness and something to do? Is it luring me into a false sense of security.....some of them questions I struggled with...............but the last one is easy.....yes it does give a false sense of security and I don't think anything I have learned would make ANY difference if I was attacked in the street.

The more I think about it the more a lot if the techniques actually annoy me...wrist grabs for instance......I could be wrong but I don't think anybody these days walk around drawing swords on people so its irrelevant. Yes its a method to learn but I just cant seem to get past the fact that, every time my wrist is grabbed......I think.....arh here we go again, this it pointless. I think that something that fiddly to apply wont be of any use in a threatening situation.

The more I practice the more I see aikido as the japanese version of tai chi.........and oh tai chi is a martial art if you speed it up.....the important word there is "if".

Oh if somebody was to grab my wrist, I would do this.............really?

What it somebody tries to knock your head off repeatedly?

If your a 6th dan then perhaps you may be able to use something learned to help the situation....if your 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd kyu then what? Learn how to run fast maybe.

Its far too technical to be of any practical use other than fitness.

I saw them aikido the way that doesnt work videos and they got my back up at first.....and then I had to actually admit that the guy echoed a lot of things I had concluded myself and Ive only practiced a few years on and off. There are many videos on youtube with people having a pop at aikido, perhaps its an easy target because watching it, its difficult to understand, but for that reason it sets off an alarm bell............I know its not a fighting art, I have no interest in fighting but I dont think it should be labelled a self defense system either, its very misleading.

I think it is a huge elephant in the room...one that many just refuse to address....even teachers wont let themselves question it......why not? There must be a lot of higher ranked people out the with this niggling feeling deep down that....as the videos say....it doesnt work.

I love it and at the same time hate it...why do I bother? Why do I go and get constantly frustrated at my progress, or lack if week after week? I could still walk out the dojo and get jumped in the car park which would only strengthen my frustration.

I still come back to this fact that many people who have done it for longer still struggle to do even basic techniques some of the time...the fact only highlights a big problem. If it doesnt work when you need it then you are in trouble. What value does a basic technique that takes years to be proficient in truly have?

Many times I think....ok...uke went to the ground.....they are playing their role....I okay mine...theres no threat or hint of danger.....so how can that possibly create anything remotely like self defense? We are just acting.......like characters in a musical, dancing around. I want them to be ore fierce and make it hard for me and stop parping around with soft grabs and attacks that wouldn't knock the top off a rice pudding. I also dont want to get injured. ? So......whats the solution?

Ive actually made some good progress lately too......which Im glad about.......I doubted if Id ever get anywhere and still do.........Im riddled with contradictions.

I will add I am yet to grade. I had all of last year off and many of the students have kw jumoed 3 or 4 or mkre grades ahead of me......whixh is fine, they still seem to struggle with the same basics I do so ehat difference does a belt make??? Good question. If I was 4th ir 3rd kyu, Id feel silly like people would expect Id be of a certain standard. In reality I prefer to stay ungraded which to some, may sound like a strange attitude.

kewms
08-31-2015, 06:30 PM
"Real" aikido doesn't look much like basic technique. It's going to be smaller, faster, have more emphasis on atemi.

OTOH, a "real" attacker isn't going to stand there like a tree while you try to make your technique work, either. He'll be attempting to proceed with his attack, and therefore supplying energy to the situation. What you do with that energy, well... that's what you should be trying to learn.

Katherine

jdm4life
08-31-2015, 06:41 PM
I understand a lot about what aikido is about.......the philosophy, the harnessing energy, redirecting, circular movements etc etc etc..............and from my comments in the post above you could say that I don't know the first thing about aikido.......but many aspects stand out to me and many questions merely present themselves.....IF I asked some of them to my sensei I think he would be annoyed, perhaps he wouldn't but I wont be finding out....which presents another question, why should I need to tip toe around the issues? Dont have a pop at aikido! I practice and have for some time and have a lot of unanswered questions.

It is maybe this that draws me back. I chose aikido in favour of other things I had practiced for many reasons. I am very keen on eastern philosophy so it seemed like an obvious choice.

lbb
08-31-2015, 08:20 PM
It's ok to not like things...

earnest aikidoka
09-01-2015, 02:58 AM
You're going to first kyu. Congratulations. You can now start training :)

Seriously though, you are going to have these crisis more often now as you go up from kyu to dans. This is natural. After all, the only way to know if your technique works, is to fight. Go on the street and pick fights in bars, challenge anyone who is willing to fight, and basically get bloodied up. That was how the old guard did it, back in the day. Go out, pick fights, laugh at the injuries, rinse and repeat. That's kinda what I did. Except it was with friends and other fighters.

I don't suppose you would do that.

In any case, now is the time to change the way you train. Before, your focus was on rote learning. Doing the techniques called by the sensei, as many times as you could, before the next move. Now, instead of completing the technique, focus on doing the technique.

Don't rush through whatever technique you are doing, for the sake of it. Instead, take the time to identify the elements that make the technique. How it works, why it works, what it works. And from there, experimenting with your partner, until something clicks.

For example;

Say you are asked to do katate dori ikkyo omote. Normally you would just, do the movement, again and again, until sensei said hajime.

Now however, focus on things like, 'stepping off the line of attack', having uke put varying levels of strength and rigidity on the hold, take note of where you are tensing up or relaxing when you move, your posture when you step in or move, ma ai to your uke etc...

Basically, focus on actually pulling off the technique against a non-complying uke, instead of simply doing the technique.

Don't try to be 'hard' or 'fast'. These techniques are not meant for the street, they are training tools meant to impart lessons to your body and to train your physical movements so as not to rely on pure physical strength. Instead, try to distill the principles that the technique is trying to teach, it is the principles after all, that is most important.

For me, all aikido techniques are teaching one of three main points. Structure, leading and atemi. So in my own training, I am looking at what each technique is trying to train or teach, and therefore study accordingly. Of course, this is my own method and you may have your own.

In summary. As a first kyu, your training is your responsibility, you have mastered the basics, the sensei has taught you all that he could teach. It is up to you to make all that work for yourself. Study other aikidoka, sensei and student like. Read, ask questions, test yourself against others. That is the only way to work past your crisis in an efficient and effective manner and to dispel the doubts that you have. Doubts are dangerous, it is doubt that would kill you in the moments when it counts.

It is better to be sure of one's weakness, than to be indecisive regarding one's strength.

earnest aikidoka
09-01-2015, 03:11 AM
http://cdn.meme.am/instances/50061753.jpg

I saw this and it only strengthened the doubts........i watched part 1 and part 2.

AIKIDO THE WAY THAT DOESNT WORK PART 1
www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4sB7KLx_bs

Ive gone through phases where I question why am I practicing aikido? What use is it besides fitness and something to do? Is it luring me into a false sense of security.....some of them questions I struggled with...............but the last one is easy.....yes it does give a false sense of security and I don't think anything I have learned would make ANY difference if I was attacked in the street.

The more I think about it the more a lot if the techniques actually annoy me...wrist grabs for instance......I could be wrong but I don't think anybody these days walk around drawing swords on people so its irrelevant. Yes its a method to learn but I just cant seem to get past the fact that, every time my wrist is grabbed......I think.....arh here we go again, this it pointless. I think that something that fiddly to apply wont be of any use in a threatening situation.

The more I practice the more I see aikido as the japanese version of tai chi.........and oh tai chi is a martial art if you speed it up.....the important word there is "if".

Oh if somebody was to grab my wrist, I would do this.............really?

What it somebody tries to knock your head off repeatedly?

If your a 6th dan then perhaps you may be able to use something learned to help the situation....if your 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd kyu then what? Learn how to run fast maybe.

Its far too technical to be of any practical use other than fitness.

I saw them aikido the way that doesnt work videos and they got my back up at first.....and then I had to actually admit that the guy echoed a lot of things I had concluded myself and Ive only practiced a few years on and off. There are many videos on youtube with people having a pop at aikido, perhaps its an easy target because watching it, its difficult to understand, but for that reason it sets off an alarm bell............I know its not a fighting art, I have no interest in fighting but I dont think it should be labelled a self defense system either, its very misleading.

I think it is a huge elephant in the room...one that many just refuse to address....even teachers wont let themselves question it......why not? There must be a lot of higher ranked people out the with this niggling feeling deep down that....as the videos say....it doesnt work.

I love it and at the same time hate it...why do I bother? Why do I go and get constantly frustrated at my progress, or lack if week after week? I could still walk out the dojo and get jumped in the car park which would only strengthen my frustration.

I still come back to this fact that many people who have done it for longer still struggle to do even basic techniques some of the time...the fact only highlights a big problem. If it doesnt work when you need it then you are in trouble. What value does a basic technique that takes years to be proficient in truly have?

Many times I think....ok...uke went to the ground.....they are playing their role....I okay mine...theres no threat or hint of danger.....so how can that possibly create anything remotely like self defense? We are just acting.......like characters in a musical, dancing around. I want them to be ore fierce and make it hard for me and stop parping around with soft grabs and attacks that wouldn't knock the top off a rice pudding. I also dont want to get injured. ? So......whats the solution?

Ive actually made some good progress lately too......which Im glad about.......I doubted if Id ever get anywhere and still do.........Im riddled with contradictions.

I will add I am yet to grade. I had all of last year off and many of the students have kw jumoed 3 or 4 or mkre grades ahead of me......whixh is fine, they still seem to struggle with the same basics I do so ehat difference does a belt make??? Good question. If I was 4th ir 3rd kyu, Id feel silly like people would expect Id be of a certain standard. In reality I prefer to stay ungraded which to some, may sound like a strange attitude.

First things first. That sensei in the video is flawed in his ideas.

He claims that aikido does not work, or at least the way that aikido is being taught does not work.

The thing is, he is teaching the same things to his students. The same movements and techniques. just sped up and with a gun perhaps for the 'ooo' factor.

It does not matter how hard or fast he does the technique, the technique is still fundamentally flawed. All he is doing is reinforcing the mistakes and covering it with size and strength.

Furthermore, 16 years of aikido training. O'sensei had about 90 plus, and he was still a beginner.

Secondly. Aikido techniques are meant to teach principles. They are not combatives.

Combatives are things like punches and kicks.

Aikido techniques are kata. You don't use kata to fight, you use kata to learn.

The issue becomes, what do katas teach?

They teach you how to move your body and condition your physical responses, in the method espoused by the martial art. While the katas have some applications, they do not teach you how to fight. The only way to learn that? Fight.

In any case I would recommend Aikido videos by Stanley Pranin and Johnathan Hay. The sensei in the video you shared is not a good aikido instructor, and honestly, one of those people who do just as much harm to aikido's martiality, as those who do not acknowledge the practical aspects of Aikid.

Amir Krause
09-01-2015, 08:24 AM
If you look in these forums, you will find the question of does "aikido work" and having faith in own Aikido ability has been discussed lots of times, for thousands of pages.

It seems the short answer set goes like:
1) to Stephen Irving: Your Aikido might not work, others are able to use Aikido for actual fighting.
2) to Stephen Irving: Almost all Aikido techniques are not unique to aikido, rather same techniques exist in many other Ju-Jutsu styles (and , with slightly larger variation - almost all martial arts) . Those styles are mostly reputed to be "fighting styles", hence you shouldn't doubt the technique, they are as good as punches and kicks (those too have limitations).
3) to Stephen Irving and Julia Campbell: You may question the specific technical variations you are being taught (I have seen places were the sting was taken out of some leverage techniques to "make them safe" or worse, through lack of understanding) .
3) to Stephen Irving and Julia Campbell: You can also question the learning process, are you given enough challenges to your level in your dojo: Uke behavior (another issue thoroughly discussed here over so many posts and threads), the situations (I practice Aikido Vs strikes and punchs most of the time for the last 20+ years), the existence and nature of "free play drills" (Randori / sparring etc.).

And last, personally I keep the belief my knowledge of Aikido is inadequate for a fight, andlower than the level expected of a person two ranks below me, and inadequate. It's very simple, every time I get close to a some expectation, I immediately raise the bar.e.g. "OK, so can face a punch to the face, but how about it starting from half a step distance instead of full step?", or "Can face a mid speed free play attacker, how about one who knows what he is doing - has a level similar to own or higher in other M.A. and knows some Aikido too?"
I have kept this mind set for a long time, until I had to lower my practice attendance so now I keep a safe distance from my expectation bar. ;-)

Amir

G Sinclair
09-01-2015, 09:29 AM
First things first. That sensei in the video is flawed in his ideas.

He claims that aikido does not work, or at least the way that aikido is being taught does not work.

The thing is, he is teaching the same things to his students. The same movements and techniques. just sped up and with a gun perhaps for the 'ooo' factor.

It does not matter how hard or fast he does the technique, the technique is still fundamentally flawed. All he is doing is reinforcing the mistakes and covering it with size and strength.

Furthermore, 16 years of aikido training. O'sensei had about 90 plus, and he was still a beginner.

Secondly. Aikido techniques are meant to teach principles. They are not combatives.

Combatives are things like punches and kicks.

Aikido techniques are kata. You don't use kata to fight, you use kata to learn.

The issue becomes, what do katas teach?

They teach you how to move your body and condition your physical responses, in the method espoused by the martial art. While the katas have some applications, they do not teach you how to fight. The only way to learn that? Fight.

In any case I would recommend Aikido videos by Stanley Pranin and Johnathan Hay. The sensei in the video you shared is not a good aikido instructor, and honestly, one of those people who do just as much harm to aikido's martiality, as those who do not acknowledge the practical aspects of Aikid.

This is the crux of the problem. Right here. These statements are made although it is clear they have not been on the mat with Lenny Sly, any competent Tenshin Aikido instructor, or if they have, they misunderstood the teachings.

However, they are stating loudly and clearly everything that he is doing is wrong.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not attacking anyone. But there was a time when the wisest minds on the planet were convinced the earth was flat. It was not until someone got out there and set sail that a new way of thinking was achieved.

Try it out. For real, give it an honest run. Then return and read what you have written. I'm confident your opinion will differ.

There are forms of Aikido that are more functional than others. Even if it seems unimaginable.

ken king
09-01-2015, 11:17 AM
This is the crux of the problem. Right here. These statements are made although it is clear they have not been on the mat with Lenny Sly, any competent Tenshin Aikido instructor, or if they have, they misunderstood the teachings.

However, they are stating loudly and clearly everything that he is doing is wrong.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not attacking anyone. But there was a time when the wisest minds on the planet were convinced the earth was flat. It was not until someone got out there and set sail that a new way of thinking was achieved.

Try it out. For real, give it an honest run. Then return and read what you have written. I'm confident your opinion will differ.

There are forms of Aikido that are more functional than others. Even if it seems unimaginable.
I trained with a tenshin guy for a year or so, when I first moved to st Louis. It's different in some ways like thier deflections and randori, but I wouldn't say that thier yudansha are any better than the aikikai guys I currently train with. However, there was ALOT of "this is the only aikido that works" talk just like in Sly's video.

kewms
09-01-2015, 11:50 AM
I understand a lot about what aikido is about.......the philosophy, the harnessing energy, redirecting, circular movements etc etc etc..............and from my comments in the post above you could say that I don't know the first thing about aikido.......but many aspects stand out to me and many questions merely present themselves.....IF I asked some of them to my sensei I think he would be annoyed, perhaps he wouldn't but I wont be finding out....which presents another question, why should I need to tip toe around the issues?

You shouldn't. If your teacher isn't open to sincere questions, then you need to find another teacher.

OTOH, sometimes the answer will be "keep training." Sometimes the answer will be "well, if you do X, then I can do Y and Z, but if I did that in class people would run away and not come back," or "we don't train for X, because that's really dumb for Y and Z reasons."

Katherine

kewms
09-01-2015, 12:00 PM
2) to Stephen Irving: Almost all Aikido techniques are not unique to aikido, rather same techniques exist in many other Ju-Jutsu styles (and , with slightly larger variation - almost all martial arts) . Those styles are mostly reputed to be "fighting styles", hence you shouldn't doubt the technique, they are as good as punches and kicks (those too have limitations).

Indeed. Rhonda Rousey said in an interview recently that MMA is easier on her body than judo was. Something along the lines of (paraphrasing): with striking, someone gets a little cut and there's blood everywhere so it looks impressive, but grappling can really do a number on the joints.

(Now, when you decimate opponents in 30 seconds or less, that's probably pretty easy for your body, too, but that's a different topic.)

Katherine

G Sinclair
09-01-2015, 12:57 PM
I trained with a tenshin guy for a year or so, when I first moved to st Louis. It's different in some ways like thier deflections and randori, but I wouldn't say that thier yudansha are any better than the aikikai guys I currently train with. However, there was ALOT of "this is the only aikido that works" talk just like in Sly's video.

Oh yes. I forgot about him. I shared the mat with him once. Just once. And I understand exactly what you are talking about.

jdm4life
09-01-2015, 02:18 PM
Before I started to practice aikido, I didnt realise how much flack it is subjected to., off people who have an interest in MA and people that don't. I decided it was the one for me and began to try and find a club.

I read a lot of stuff on this blog and it gives many clues as to how and why it ended up that way.....

http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.co.uk/

All this lovvey dovvey 'now lets not hurt anybody' stuff gets really annoying. What happens to the lets all hug and be at peace when somebody decides theyd like to try and take your head off?

Perhaps its due to too much of this lets all hug and care for each other nonsense that sticks aikido head above the parapets....

O sensei said this.......o sensei said that......who knows what he said....and even if you do know what he said, who knows what he meant by it. The Oh O Sensei said such and such shouldn't be used as a defense for a genuine discussion about aikido. It should be martial, it shouldn't be used to purposely hurt people for the sake of it....but it should be used to hurt people if they decide they hate your guts and want to attack you.

Its not about fighting and thats why it appeals to me partly but it should be about protecting yourself from violent people, its a very violent world and its a good tool to have. I also am very keen on philosophy etc but that will only go so far. Working the body and mknd togetheris what aikido means to me but to compliment that, id like to think Im learning something practical that might get me out of a scrape if that unfortunate situation ever presents itself, which is quite likely given the number of dickheads around.

mathewjgano
09-01-2015, 02:39 PM
Before I started to practice, I didnt realise how much flack aikido gets off people who have an interest in MA and people that don't.

I read a lot of stuff on here and it gives many clues as to how and why it ended up that way.....

http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.co.uk/

All this lovvey dovvey 'now lets not hurt anybody' stuff gets annoying. What happens to the lets all hug and be at peace when somebody decides theyd like to try and take your head off?

Because Aikido is about a lot more than self defense, if that's what you're interested in, you have to find a place that focuses on it...and that may well be somwhat rare. That said, when someone tries to take your head off, you stop them. How you stop them will depend on everything from your attitude to how your body is trained.
In my opinion, the loveydovey is generally more practical, which is a big part of why I think it's so valuable, but it certainly isn't the whole story. Different practices will have different emphasis; it's as simple as that, and it's up to the students to investigate and figure out what's best for themselves and their goals. Maybe some people hide behind the peaceful side of things, I don't know. The people I've trained with, "traditional" Aikidoists, have no problem hurting an attacker to protect loved ones, and some of them take their self defense training (one small aspect of Aikido, as little as I may understand it) very seriously...LEO's, and military and whatnot.
We get out of our practice that which we put into it, and how we frame our own learning makes a big difference from how others frame theirs.
...and no it's not about fighting; in my limited opinion it's about everything, of which fighting is but one slice.

rugwithlegs
09-01-2015, 06:16 PM
"I trained with a tenshin guy for a year or so, when I first moved to st Louis. It's different in some ways like thier deflections and randori, but I wouldn't say that thier yudansha are any better than the aikikai guys I currently train with. However, there was ALOT of "this is the only aikido that works" talk just like in Sly's video."

I had the same experience going to a different Tohei lineage offshoot. Really, I have yet to attend the martial arts school that says, "we're weaker than someone else in _________."

kewms
09-01-2015, 09:14 PM
It should be martial, it shouldn't be used to purposely hurt people for the sake of it....but it should be used to hurt people if they decide they hate your guts and want to attack you.

I think that if you think of aikido as something you do TO another person, you are missing the point and your aikido probably won't work very well.

Which is not to say that an attacker's encounter with gravity and/or my integrated structure won't be unpleasant and possibly damaging for him. Just that he's encountering the natural consequences of his own actions, rather than me trying to "punish" him for his unwise behavior.

There's also the question of *why* this person hates your guts and wants to attack you. People who are randomly hateful toward strangers for no reason do exist, but they are actually pretty rare. If you encounter people who hate you and want to attack you with any regularity, the problem may not lie with them.

Katherine

lbb
09-02-2015, 07:04 AM
There's also the question of *why* this person hates your guts and wants to attack you. People who are randomly hateful toward strangers for no reason do exist, but they are actually pretty rare. If you encounter people who hate you and want to attack you with any regularity, the problem may not lie with them.

Or it may. Human history has a long list of groups (ethnic, religious, political, what have you) that were targeted by others for no damn good reason whatsoever. We have plenty of them, and we also have a lengthy history of telling people in those groups that the reason they're being attacked is their own fault. So, while there's no specific indication that that's the case here, I have considerable qualms about your statement as written.

earnest aikidoka
09-02-2015, 07:46 AM
This is the crux of the problem. Right here. These statements are made although it is clear they have not been on the mat with Lenny Sly, any competent Tenshin Aikido instructor, or if they have, they misunderstood the teachings.

However, they are stating loudly and clearly everything that he is doing is wrong.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not attacking anyone. But there was a time when the wisest minds on the planet were convinced the earth was flat. It was not until someone got out there and set sail that a new way of thinking was achieved.

Try it out. For real, give it an honest run. Then return and read what you have written. I'm confident your opinion will differ.

There are forms of Aikido that are more functional than others. Even if it seems unimaginable.

If I was younger, I would have called Sensei Sly a god. I believed that was how to train, harder, faster, with modern weapons. I pissed off partners and my instructors trying to to be harder and faster, thinking that that was how to get better.

After getting smacked around a bit more, I noticed something, I was small.

Sensei Sly, Steven Seagal, they were large. Muscular, hard men. Their size was an advantage, therefore a more direct style, more straight forward style, was something they would develop to suit their size.

But what about for the smaller guy? I am short, I am small. If I were to try and do what Sensei Sly did, I would just be rolled over. I gone up against a guy that was a head taller and heavier then me by a couple of pounds, light sparring, rolled over. Just got my face turned into a target.

Here is the thing, O sensei, Gozo Shioda Sensei, they were small, used aikido techniques, the same techniques we are training and using today, and they won. They won over people and showed that Aikido was a real martial art. It wasn't strength, or brute strength anyway, but superior technique that they had used to triumph, and that is what Aikido aims to teach, not fighting, but a superior way of fighting.

Sensei Sly has had only 16 years of Aikido training and size and strength. All this equates to an instructor with limited understanding of Aikido, but no one will see that, because he will win fights based on size and strength, not aikido. And when people who are smaller and weaker try to do what Sensei Sly does, the technique would likely not work. Is that good for aikido then?

Is everything Sensei Sly doing wrong? No, his basics are sound and the techniques are executed with immense grace. However, the techniques themselves are flawed, because they are not combative. They were meant to teach people the principles of aikido. Leading, form and atemi. In short, these moves are kata, and one does not learn how to fight by kata alone.

What Sensei Sly is doing then, is simply teaching kata. Again and again, with variations and additions. But he is not delving into the ideas of the kata, the principles of the form, and applying these principles to combat. He is just repeating the movements. It is no issue for him, Sensei Sly is strong, if aikido fails, he has other training to fall back on. But what about the guy who has only aikido to depend on when shit hits the fan?

These are functional forms of Aikido. Stanley Pranin's aikido has something called the 'zone theory' which talks about position in relation to an attacking opponent. Johnathan Hay sensei breaks down the form, and teaches how to use the derived elements against an attacker. This video;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q89PMSAwbE8&list=PL60CCE9089467F69A&index=64

People believed that the earth was flat because they did not know better. But we have the direct teachings from O sensei in the form of books and videos. Gozo Shioda sensei's yoshinkan has embodied the pure basics of aikido in their style, and the techniques we have now are what O'sensei and his direct students used to train with. We know better, and while we may not know what Aikido's future is, we should at least know what Aikido is fundamentally.

There is a difference between functionality, and brute force. No one is better than the other, but as Aikidoka, we owe it to our juniors and students to be able, and to differentiate one from the other.

Sensei Sly is not wrong. It's just that he isn't doing anything better.

kewms
09-02-2015, 10:52 AM
Or it may. Human history has a long list of groups (ethnic, religious, political, what have you) that were targeted by others for no damn good reason whatsoever. We have plenty of them, and we also have a lengthy history of telling people in those groups that the reason they're being attacked is their own fault. So, while there's no specific indication that that's the case here, I have considerable qualms about your statement as written.

Human history also contains enormous numbers of young men with nothing better to do than get in fights. Typically, when the police show up, both sides in a fight will claim that they were just defending themselves.

We don't have enough information to conclude anything one way or another about the poster.

But it does seem to me that the number of people who express a need to protect themselves against random assaults is vastly out of proportion to the number of random assaults that actually occur. The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by someone known to the victim. Hence my observation that for most people the "random assault" scenario is probably not all that relevant to questions of practical self defense.

Katherine

phitruong
09-02-2015, 11:15 AM
I've been training a few years and am coming up on my first kyu test, though a date hasn't been scheduled yet. Though my teachers say I'm doing fine, I'm starting to feel more and more like there's nothing in my aikido, like I don't have anything to bring to the table. Like, I could never achieve making something work outside of a dojo environment with a cooperative uke, that my successes are just due to the charity of my partners not stopping me, that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work. Of course, it's self-reinforcing: the more I doubt, the less things work, and the more I conclude I should be doubting.

I've heard that a lot of people go through a similar crisis at some point in their training. If you've had an experience like that, please share. What was it like? Was there anything that helped get you out of it? Or make it work for you? Do you have any advice you can give?

Thanks!

Saw the heading as "Crisis of Faith" and i thought "hey! aikido is a religion!"
methink, the problem might be that you practice the catholics aikido. maybe you want to switch to episcopal aikido. it's the same as catholics aikido, but with half the guilt. :)

whenever i have problem like that, i usually focus on the hardest technique, which happens to be the secret technique, which written in the secret scroll of martial arts (which the NSA has multiple copies somewhere their vaults) - show up.

you have problems, solve them. crisis of faith, go see a priest or a guru (although this might involved climbing some mountain in search for a cave where most guru hangout after work friday night and shooting the breeze and discussing problem about folks who keep asking the same stupid question - what is the meaning of life! which most guru would yell at you "get a life already!" and get out of my cave so i can drink this awful concoction that i brew up the other day with some strange mushroom i found at the back of the cave!" come to think of it, O Sensei did a lot of mushroom in his days).

btw, if you run into a southern baptist aikido, please let me know so i can check them out to see what it's like. i wonder if it involves iriminage people in the middle of the river. :D

jonreading
09-02-2015, 11:49 AM
The aikido curriculum is very similar to common jujutsu techniques. I think as a core critical evaluation, we want to consider how our techniques apply at a basic jujutsu level. I think a legitimate argument exists that there is aikido out there does not function at even a basic level. I think focusing an argument at this level makes for a pretty easy claim that is difficult to defend.

At some point, aiki differentiates us from our jujutsu curriculum. At some point in time we change the way we do things and that wrist twist should feel different. I think as a critical evaluation, we should ask ourselves if we feel the same as we did two or three years ago. We shouldn't. One of the best compliments I believe you can receive is when you train with a partner who can identify that you feel different than your previous training experience. I do not think everyone who trains in aikido transcends their jujutsu education. As a point of commentary, I am not sure everyone is capable of that change.

I believe that one of aikido's broken promises is that you can throw anyone... if you just train long enough. Aiki is not for everyone and I think we need to be OK with that. But I can appreciate the argument that aikido people spend a lot of time defending why their stuff doesn't work and why the inquiry is misplaced. A critical evaluation question you should ask yourself is, "can I do what i want to do?" If that answer is "no," then change your training. If the answer is "yes," then defend your perspective and scope of knowledge.

Aikido is fighting with control and creativity. You can do other things with that knowledge, but its core training is fighting. Self-defense is justified assault. It's a legal term that gives us permission to beat up someone because of mitigating circumstances. If you cannot beat up someone under any circumstance, then it is almost impossible to use your body for "self-defense." Yes, I understand that something magical might happen if your life was on the line. Or the lives of your family. Yes, throwing out the rule book might get you somewhere if you gouge out an eye or bite off an ear. Good martial artists are generally unconditionally good - that is, you can appreciate their skill in a variety of circumstances. I think a critical question to ask yourself is, "am I a more capable fighting than I was before?" I understand some people don't prioritize fighting, but knowing and not doing is not the same as not knowing.

There are good arguments and bad arguments concerning the efficacy of any art. I try to keep my eyes on my own paper to figure out how I can play nice with others.

kewms
09-02-2015, 12:01 PM
At some point, aiki differentiates us from our jujutsu curriculum. At some point in time we change the way we do things and that wrist twist should feel different. I think as a critical evaluation, we should ask ourselves if we feel the same as we did two or three years ago. We shouldn't. One of the best compliments I believe you can receive is when you train with a partner who can identify that you feel different than your previous training experience. I do not think everyone who trains in aikido transcends their jujutsu education. As a point of commentary, I am not sure everyone is capable of that change.


I think there are quite a few people who would object to the claim that "aiki" is unique to aikido.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
09-02-2015, 12:35 PM
I think there are quite a few people who would object to the claim that "aiki" is unique to aikido.

Katherine

Its more like, the so-called Aiki arts are the jujutsu arts that are defined by an apparently rigid distinction between the "aiki" and the "ju".

Krystal Locke
09-02-2015, 01:02 PM
I found that taking an event security job went a long way toward removing my doubt in aikido's effectiveness. Aikido is just right for what I do.

I also watch Sly's videos. They're hype. He disses his own art, then he demonstrates it. He's right that different schools train in different ways, and he's wrong that only his aikido experience works. That said, I do like the aikido he demonstrates.

Try some of Roy Dean's videos. Interesting bridge between aikido and bjj.

mathewjgano
09-02-2015, 01:03 PM
...whenever i have problem like that, i usually focus on the hardest technique, which happens to be the secret technique...show up.

you have problems, solve them.
Funny, but I was having a related experience last night at keiko. This isn't to say showing up anywhere will always yield the same results, but with the proper mindset I think showing up anywhere can yield positive results from which to grow.
I would guess the Golden Mean Phi (or the Golden Mean Matt) starts with 1+1 before you can get to 144 or 233? :D

Try some of Roy Dean's videos. Interesting bridge between aikido and bjj.
I like his videos a lot. Also, speaking of bridging a gap, I have found that playing with a Wing Chun practicioner has been useful for showing how what I already do can work, and how it might feel different under different circumstances. When everything happens in the "sweet spot" it looks and feels like Aikido; it's how to adjust outside that "sweet spot" that feels clunky and helps me to pinpoint where I should be within my own structure. It's a process, full of slop and beauty.

jonreading
09-02-2015, 01:13 PM
I think there are quite a few people who would object to the claim that "aiki" is unique to aikido.

Katherine

I would hope so. And for the record, I am not of the mind "aiki" is unique to aikido. But, I think that is a higher level of application and most of the function arguments against aikido people will start to run into problems when applied against people actually using aiki. If that makes sense...

jdm4life
09-02-2015, 02:35 PM
Or it may. Human history has a long list of groups (ethnic, religious, political, what have you) that were targeted by others for no damn good reason whatsoever. We have plenty of them, and we also have a lengthy history of telling people in those groups that the reason they're being attacked is their own fault. So, while there's no specific indication that that's the case here, I have considerable qualms about your statement as written.

Agreed..........a little presumptuous perhaps.

I've had...............2 or 3 scuffles in 32 years which is pretty good going. The worlds a f##ked up place and people can attack you just because you happened to look at them. My brother had a guy get out of a car in front of him at a roundabout and start shouting and balling in his face because he claimed my brother was calling him names and he could see him in the rear view mirror............my brother had music on and was singing. Just one example. He showed him his warrant badge and they guy got back in the car.

There are many individuals out there that are that highly strung that they will become aggressive at even the slightest thing and you could be targeted by any of them, one doesnt have to be paranoid to believe thats true.

Some folk just attack because they are in a shitty mood.....stranger things have happened. I think I am perhaps more likely to be targeted by such ludacrous behaviour due to being quiet natured and am an easy target because I keep to myself....its happened before and due to that I feel a little vunerable. , you dont have to be the type who looks for trouble for it to find you.. The worlds full of mentalists.

Conrad Gus
09-02-2015, 07:49 PM
Funny this should come up today. I was sent a video of the Lenny Sly and had a good time watching it.

What he and other people don't realize is that there are "outside" and "inside" techniques. My Japanese Sensei called these "omote" and "ura". This is not "moving to the front" and "moving to the back" like we usually use the words. "Omote" is "shown" and "ura" is "hidden".

If you are a kyu-ranked person, you are likely doing "omote" techniques. Keep going, get to black belt and beyond, then start testing and refining and bugging good teachers about the other stuff.

Why do we do almost no atemi in practice?
Why do we have only softball attacks in practice?
Are all kokyunage bullshit?

More and more you will realize that there is a huge ocean of really practical stuff hidden inside all of these nice friendly aikido kata.

Some people like to only train the "omote" for ever, refining it to a higher and higher level. Other people don't know that the "ura" even exists. You don't magically become a capable fighter by practicing kata -- you have to go to the next level. My feeling is that Lenny Sly went looking for it and is very pissed off that he spent all that time (12 years, apparently) studying traditional aikido when what he really wanted to do was fighting aikido (jiu-jutsu).

Personally, I think that if you really want to learn aikido, you should learn the basics very well before you go looking for applicability. If you just want to learn unarmed combat, there is nothing wrong with finding a great teacher and going for that directly, but you will miss out on some of the stuff that aikido has that direct fighting styles do not.

Just my opinion.

Conrad Gus
09-02-2015, 08:09 PM
Re-reading my own post I realize that I fell into the trap of equating "traditional" aikido with "unrealistic" aikido. In reality, the more traditional the teacher, the more realistic their aikido probably is. Look at Shioda Sensei and other pre-war teachers - they are more likely to be practicing a "harder" style. When Lenny Sly refers to "traditional", he is really talking about "modern" (like the last 50 years or so), but it seems traditional to him. Ever heard of Bansen Tanaka? Yikes.

jdm4life
09-02-2015, 08:28 PM
Depending on my mood, I can get very ticked off with aikido and think I may as well just quit.......again......I think why subject myself to this immense frustration every week? It would cause less stress if I didnt bother going.............I still think that even as I notice some progression. Not sure what it stems from...ive been a perfectionist since I was 5 years old so its a hard habit to shake. I figure aikido practice probably does me more good than bad..even with a back issue which meant I missed all of last year...it shattered my confidence in my body and my belief I could physically do aikido again..........so the activity may help with that physical aspect as well as the mental challenges..so thats my reasons for training I guess....but I get very frustrated with it at some point most weeks........to the point where I don't enjoy it and I go home in a stinking mood......im sure I am not alone in feeling like that but it seems like flawed logic to continue putting myself in a position for that feeling to reoccur. Why cant I just lighten up and enjoy the process?

It took me so long to feel comfortable with the mae ukemi that I just hit a wall and did t want to even try to climb over it. Slowly as my confidence increased, the ukemi has become more and more natural and then I started to move forward....but I can still go some weeks and feel like a complete beginner with basic techniques I have done many many times.......its soul destroying.....Ive thought...well maybe I just suck, who knows but Id like to know the reason why this happens.

G Sinclair
09-03-2015, 07:15 AM
If I was younger, I would have called Sensei Sly a god. I believed that was how to train, harder, faster, with modern weapons. I pissed off partners and my instructors trying to to be harder and faster, thinking that that was how to get better.

After getting smacked around a bit more, I noticed something, I was small.

Sensei Sly, Steven Seagal, they were large. Muscular, hard men. Their size was an advantage, therefore a more direct style, more straight forward style, was something they would develop to suit their size.

But what about for the smaller guy? I am short, I am small. If I were to try and do what Sensei Sly did, I would just be rolled over. I gone up against a guy that was a head taller and heavier then me by a couple of pounds, light sparring, rolled over. Just got my face turned into a target.

Here is the thing, O sensei, Gozo Shioda Sensei, they were small, used aikido techniques, the same techniques we are training and using today, and they won. They won over people and showed that Aikido was a real martial art. It wasn't strength, or brute strength anyway, but superior technique that they had used to triumph, and that is what Aikido aims to teach, not fighting, but a superior way of fighting.

Sensei Sly has had only 16 years of Aikido training and size and strength. All this equates to an instructor with limited understanding of Aikido, but no one will see that, because he will win fights based on size and strength, not aikido. And when people who are smaller and weaker try to do what Sensei Sly does, the technique would likely not work. Is that good for aikido then?

Is everything Sensei Sly doing wrong? No, his basics are sound and the techniques are executed with immense grace. However, the techniques themselves are flawed, because they are not combative. They were meant to teach people the principles of aikido. Leading, form and atemi. In short, these moves are kata, and one does not learn how to fight by kata alone.

What Sensei Sly is doing then, is simply teaching kata. Again and again, with variations and additions. But he is not delving into the ideas of the kata, the principles of the form, and applying these principles to combat. He is just repeating the movements. It is no issue for him, Sensei Sly is strong, if aikido fails, he has other training to fall back on. But what about the guy who has only aikido to depend on when shit hits the fan?

These are functional forms of Aikido. Stanley Pranin's aikido has something called the 'zone theory' which talks about position in relation to an attacking opponent. Johnathan Hay sensei breaks down the form, and teaches how to use the derived elements against an attacker. This video;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q89PMSAwbE8&list=PL60CCE9089467F69A&index=64

People believed that the earth was flat because they did not know better. But we have the direct teachings from O sensei in the form of books and videos. Gozo Shioda sensei's yoshinkan has embodied the pure basics of aikido in their style, and the techniques we have now are what O'sensei and his direct students used to train with. We know better, and while we may not know what Aikido's future is, we should at least know what Aikido is fundamentally.

There is a difference between functionality, and brute force. No one is better than the other, but as Aikidoka, we owe it to our juniors and students to be able, and to differentiate one from the other.

Sensei Sly is not wrong. It's just that he isn't doing anything better.

Once again, you are missing the point.

Get on the mat with them and open your mind. You might be pleasantly surprised.

There is so much in your statement that is inaccurate. So much you are missing out on. I will just leave you with this: One of the greatest Tenshin Aikidoka on the planet was a man of small physical stature.

Get outside your comfort zone and learn something new. You might find out the Aikido world is not flat.

rugwithlegs
09-03-2015, 01:02 PM
Well...If I have the chance to study with him, I would enjoy the technical work and consider his insights. I am not above listening to anyone and debating the merits. I agree that tall people (ie Tomiki) developed different variations than short (ie Akira Tohei). Usually the force vector is a little shallower when you have better reach or more height, and shorter people tend to circle more or lead out. At 5'11" I am not able to count on being consistently taller or shorter.

Some wise man a long time ago said, "not all who cry Lord! Lord! will make it in to the kingdom of heaven. Likewise, I am not a member of this Flat Earth Society but not everyone who claims to have a solidly better method for training as Sly claims, no one has yet to prove to me that they have the "truth." The advice I see in the Dokka is don't bother fiddling with this variation or that variation, don't rely on secret variations, have an unlimited set of responses and act decisively without reserve. So, one man claiming to have one always correct algorithm for every possible thing that can happen in every possible form of combat - yes, I don't have the faith. The lack of an open mind - easier to think that applies to Sensei Sly than the other respondents here.

G Sinclair
09-03-2015, 02:36 PM
Well...If I have the chance to study with him, I would enjoy the technical work and consider his insights. I am not above listening to anyone and debating the merits. I agree that tall people (ie Tomiki) developed different variations than short (ie Akira Tohei). Usually the force vector is a little shallower when you have better reach or more height, and shorter people tend to circle more or lead out. At 5'11" I am not able to count on being consistently taller or shorter.

Some wise man a long time ago said, "not all who cry Lord! Lord! will make it in to the kingdom of heaven. Likewise, I am not a member of this Flat Earth Society but not everyone who claims to have a solidly better method for training as Sly claims, no one has yet to prove to me that they have the "truth." The advice I see in the Dokka is don't bother fiddling with this variation or that variation, don't rely on secret variations, have an unlimited set of responses and act decisively without reserve. So, one man claiming to have one always correct algorithm for every possible thing that can happen in every possible form of combat - yes, I don't have the faith. The lack of an open mind - easier to think that applies to Sensei Sly than the other respondents here.

Just for full disclosure I want to make it clear that I do not know, train with, ever met, nor ever spoke a word with Sly Sensei. And just to be crystal clear, I am not qualified to comment on his technique, teaching style or approach to the art.

Does he have the secret algorithm you are seeking? I do not know. But I applaud your willingness to share the mat with him and take in what he has to offer.

The first time I trained in Tenshin Aikido I was frightened. Seriously frightened. Then, forty-five minutes later I walked away with a broad new perspective and a completely different approach to Aikido.

It was unexpectedly enlightening.

An experience I watch many people talk themselves out of. Then try to convince others to talk themselves out of too.

I hope to meet you on the mat someday!

rugwithlegs
09-03-2015, 04:11 PM
Well, I am not so much seeking any short cut algorithm as commenting on the "that group's Aikido doesn't work, my Aikido works" comments that were, well, not in short supply in that video. He's not the first one nor the only one to claim to be/know/teach/study the real deal nor the first or only to claim others are a waste of time.

RonRagusa
09-03-2015, 06:57 PM
He's not the first one nor the only one to claim to be/know/teach/study the real deal nor the first or only to claim others are a waste of time.

It amazes me that anyone could make that claim in light of the fact that Aikido offers the practitioner such a broad range of study options. Aikido is more like a university than a vocational school; and I say that without judgement as to the relative merits or drawbacks of either.

Ron

earnest aikidoka
09-04-2015, 01:27 AM
Once again, you are missing the point.

Get on the mat with them and open your mind. You might be pleasantly surprised.

There is so much in your statement that is inaccurate. So much you are missing out on. I will just leave you with this: One of the greatest Tenshin Aikidoka on the planet was a man of small physical stature.

Get outside your comfort zone and learn something new. You might find out the Aikido world is not flat.

Your point is that I am not open-minded enough and that I should just go on the mat with him and try his style out.

My point is this; I don't think that Sensei Sly is doing anything that would really 'broaden my horizon' as it were. It would be an experience, but nothing major. Just 'ok, he has some skill'. Not to 'oh my god he is a genius levels'.

honestly I would say you are less open-minded then me.

I have brought up a legitimate concern regarding instruction of aikido in the present, critical comments regarding what Sensei Sly teaches, not his skill mind, just what he teaches. and also recommended other instructors and resources who have developed deeper insight to the practice of aikido. Sure they are not badass, commando, gun strippers. But they do bring a different perspective in regards to practice and the nature of aikido. I have never said Sensei Sly was wrong, I have never said that he was not skilled, I propose however, that his teachings are no different from any other sensei or instructor. Just a tad more boot camp and stuff.

Your responses so far have been to say, 'go on the mat with him'. You have had first hand experience with Sensei Sly's teachings, and my points are also easily rebutted. All you have to do is tell me one example of his teachings contributing to a new, and deeper insight into aikido. And saying that the traditional way does not work? Does not count. Any aikidoka with sense can point that out. So far you haven't, which admittedly is implicit, but sometimes, the implications say all there is to say. Basically, you are so sure of Sensei Sly's awesomeness that any supported and reasonable comments and critique is an assault on his legitimacy and that I am saying that Sensei Sly is not a proper aikido teacher.

Well he is not a good one, or anything spectacular. But if I am ever in his class, I will afford all respect to him as he deserves. I don't wanna get my arm popped off, thanks.

You are not wrong as well. Yes, sometimes you need to get out and about, out of your comfort zone and experience new things. And I admit I do have problems with that, shyness and resources lacking being among them. However, you, as a student of Sensei Sly's, should be able to at least explain something of Sensei Sly's teachings through your own words, on a forum comment no less. It's not just for arguing's sake alone mind, but it is also good for your juniors, should they ever need clarification on certain matters.
(Of course here you might say that 'explanation is best left to Sensei Sly and once again recommend me to go on the mat and 'experience things for myself. I don't mind, but then there is no need to reply. You have made your point there.)

Basically, be a bit more willing to put some thought into an answer. Stock answers are good, but only if you are an 80 year old founder of martial forms. Its not for the sake of debate and defense of aikido once again, After all, as you like to say, 'go on the mat'. But its good practice for when you have to explain things to juniors and kohai, you know how they are, inquisitive at the least.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-04-2015, 07:08 AM
Who is this Sensei Sly you're talking about?

G Sinclair
09-04-2015, 07:09 AM
Your point is that I am not open-minded enough and that I should just go on the mat with him and try his style out.

My point is this; I don't think that Sensei Sly is doing anything that would really 'broaden my horizon' as it were. It would be an experience, but nothing major. Just 'ok, he has some skill'. Not to 'oh my god he is a genius levels'.

honestly I would say you are less open-minded then me.

I have brought up a legitimate concern regarding instruction of aikido in the present, critical comments regarding what Sensei Sly teaches, not his skill mind, just what he teaches. and also recommended other instructors and resources who have developed deeper insight to the practice of aikido. Sure they are not badass, commando, gun strippers. But they do bring a different perspective in regards to practice and the nature of aikido. I have never said Sensei Sly was wrong, I have never said that he was not skilled, I propose however, that his teachings are no different from any other sensei or instructor. Just a tad more boot camp and stuff.

Your responses so far have been to say, 'go on the mat with him'. You have had first hand experience with Sensei Sly's teachings, and my points are also easily rebutted. All you have to do is tell me one example of his teachings contributing to a new, and deeper insight into aikido. And saying that the traditional way does not work? Does not count. Any aikidoka with sense can point that out. So far you haven't, which admittedly is implicit, but sometimes, the implications say all there is to say. Basically, you are so sure of Sensei Sly's awesomeness that any supported and reasonable comments and critique is an assault on his legitimacy and that I am saying that Sensei Sly is not a proper aikido teacher.

Well he is not a good one, or anything spectacular. But if I am ever in his class, I will afford all respect to him as he deserves. I don't wanna get my arm popped off, thanks.

You are not wrong as well. Yes, sometimes you need to get out and about, out of your comfort zone and experience new things. And I admit I do have problems with that, shyness and resources lacking being among them. However, you, as a student of Sensei Sly's, should be able to at least explain something of Sensei Sly's teachings through your own words, on a forum comment no less. It's not just for arguing's sake alone mind, but it is also good for your juniors, should they ever need clarification on certain matters.
(Of course here you might say that 'explanation is best left to Sensei Sly and once again recommend me to go on the mat and 'experience things for myself. I don't mind, but then there is no need to reply. You have made your point there.)

Basically, be a bit more willing to put some thought into an answer. Stock answers are good, but only if you are an 80 year old founder of martial forms. Its not for the sake of debate and defense of aikido once again, After all, as you like to say, 'go on the mat'. But its good practice for when you have to explain things to juniors and kohai, you know how they are, inquisitive at the least.

Sigh... Once again, you are missing my point. Out of respect I try not to be so blunt, so please hear me out and excuse the directness of the following statement:

Stop talking about things you know nothing about.

It is that simple. Go try it out, form an opinion of your own and then feel free to praise or disparage. I am tempted to stop typing here as it is very clear you have not really read what I have written previously (See my reply to John Hillson), but as this part involves me, I really must correct you.

I am NOT a student, NOR have I ever met Sly Sensei. To be clear: I am NOT a student, NOR have I ever met Sly Sensei. This is why I have withheld any opinion as to his skill, approach or teaching methods. But I was trained in Tenshin Aikido by the man who developed it. And from what I see from Sly Sensei's form, it looks clean and well executed. However, that is an opinion based on nothing but a video, and so much of Tenshin Aikido is not at all what it looks like.

With that said, let me share a story with you as an example of what I am talking about. In the 1990's I wore out two VHS tapes of "Above the Law" trying to understand the technique I was seeing. Both tapes actually stretched from rewinding and slow motioning through a few select fight scenes. I had been in Aikido for a couple years and after spending months with the videos I had determined that there was NO WAY the iriminage being performed was anything more than a full force clothesline. I had spent hours going frame by frame looking for any clue to unlock his speed and power. This combined with my Aikido knowledge (limited as it was) had me completely convinced it was just a clothesline and no one could talk me out of it. In fact I had convinced several fellow students he was just clothes-lining uke.
Fast forward a decade and a half. There I was standing before the man from the movie and ready to take ukemi for the iriminage I had studied for so long. I snapped my punch forward. Instantly I felt the deflection and I bulled my neck awaiting the powerful impact that was going to clothesline me off my feet. But that is not what happened. He never even touched my throat or the front of my neck. The force come from just over my shoulder and my lower back. It was not a clothesline. At all. Instead, what I felt was a circle. A throw. Albeit a tiny circle, one so small and tight like nothing I had ever felt before. During the next two to three repetitions, I quickly learned that if I just relaxed and "absorbed" the throw, the ukemi happened naturally and was not nearly as violent as it looks. It was a circle, a throw. My head went down, my feet went up. After a few more repetitions, I recall thinking
"I was so wrong." and "Fifteen wasted years."

This is my point and what I am talking about. I had spouted my clothesline theory for years and had video evidence to back it up. I could take you through it frame by frame as proof.

And it was all incorrect.

This was only one example of how so much of Tenshin Aikido is not what it looks like. And it is also why I now will give something a fair shake before forming or spouting any opinion. My whole point is to urge you to do the same. In addition, along the way, you just might learn something amazing.

mathewjgano
09-04-2015, 01:36 PM
Who is this Sensei Sly you're talking about?
This is the man in question. He has a two-part commentary on "traditional" Aikido, linked earlier in the thread.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY_0KRiSJWk

Hilary
09-04-2015, 02:03 PM
Holey crap Sly like to talk more than I do.

mathewjgano
09-04-2015, 02:39 PM
I would like to add that I think Sly illustrates some key points to this issue of having a crisis of faith in what we're doing. We are all individuals taking part in a group, and that group is part of larger groups, etc. There are necessarily going to be some differences, but more to the point, we as individuals have to define for ourselves what the purpose of our training is and reflect on what we like and dislike about what we're doing. I think a big part of why Aikido has such a wide range of approaches has to do with this; I presume O Sensei was, first and foremost, a student who attracted other students.
Sly isn't the first one to do what he's doing (not that anyone is claiming this). Many other students have spent some given time studying some given art and felt it wasn't enough of what they were looking for. I think his mistake is in treating the varieties of Aikido as a homogeny...and in light of conversations here on Aikiweb, I think it's somewhat ironic that he calls what he does "Modern Aikido" and calls what he dislikes "traditional." Just goes to show the slippery nature of language.
It is impossible to see all sides of the "aikido mountain" at once...and really, the mountain is too big for any lifetime to traverse completely. So I go back to the idea that each of us has to find/determine our purpose for climbing in the first place, which will undoubtedly change over time, and simply do our best. In considering what we like and dislike, I think it is important to remember the limitations of our perception and not project them onto others. At the end of the day we're all just working on awareness and trying to determine the best veins of applying that awareness for our own purposes.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-04-2015, 04:06 PM
This is the man in question. He has a two-part commentary on "traditional" Aikido, linked earlier in the thread.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY_0KRiSJWk

Thanks Matt, I missed that post.

Now, after watching the clip you linked and his 'aikido doesn't work' ones I'd say he makes some good points and some not so good but what really intrigues me is his protein shakes recipe.

jdm4life
09-04-2015, 04:15 PM
I would like to add that I think Sly illustrates some key points to this issue of having a crisis of faith in what we're doing. We are all individuals taking part in a group, and that group is part of larger groups, etc. There are necessarily going to be some differences, but more to the point, we as individuals have to define for ourselves what the purpose of our training is and reflect on what we like and dislike about what we're doing. I think a big part of why Aikido has such a wide range of approaches has to do with this; I presume O Sensei was, first and foremost, a student who attracted other students.
Sly isn't the first one to do what he's doing (not that anyone is claiming this). Many other students have spent some given time studying some given art and felt it wasn't enough of what they were looking for. I think his mistake is in treating the varieties of Aikido as a homogeny...and in light of conversations here on Aikiweb, I think it's somewhat ironic that he calls what he does "Modern Aikido" and calls what he dislikes "traditional." Just goes to show the slippery nature of language.
It is impossible to see all sides of the "aikido mountain" at once...and really, the mountain is too big for any lifetime to traverse completely. So I go back to the idea that each of us has to find/determine our purpose for climbing in the first place, which will undoubtedly change over time, and simply do our best. In considering what we like and dislike, I think it is important to remember the limitations of our perception and not project them onto others. At the end of the day we're all just working on awareness and trying to determine the best veins of applying that awareness for our own purposes.

What I find fascinating is that, regardless of what the forum happens specialise in, whether it be aikido, guitars.....cars........ humans will bitch and fight at the difference between what one thinks verses the next........its hillarious, exhausting, interesting and entertaining all at the same time...it can start off perfectly innocent and lighthearted but it often goes south as if by design. People trying to force or support their own perspective (all this I only a perspective and my contribution is so pointless, it almost makes it valid) I dont know where people who want to argue get their energy from, seriously I don't.

Anyway.......

I watched the sly videos and some strange things happened. I had an almost instant and automatic response to fight it......I took it as an attack, an attack on something that I identify with.....the practice of aikido....basically, ego....it felt threatened because it identifies with aikido......"I must defend" it said.......something in me wanted to comment, why I thought? Then another part of me witnessed that urge and then I started to question it. I then realised that I both disagreed and agreed with him within the 30 or 40 minutes I spent watching the videos. Cognitive dissonance.

I then was reminded of the important aiki principle to not fight, to not resist, not lose my centre and waste energy trying to get it back. Taking what the other is offering and together creating something. I learned about aikido so I was glad to come to that conclusion.

I got a lot from watching the videos and regardless of whether I agree with someone or not, I derive great interest in what people have to say. Value can be gained from listening to anyone

Demetrio Cereijo
09-04-2015, 04:25 PM
I got a lot from watching the videos and regardless of whether I agree with someone or not, I derive great interest in what people have to say. Value can be gained from listening to anyone

Well, watching this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw_k5Jq0tzo) what I got was an epic facepalm.

rugwithlegs
09-04-2015, 10:19 PM
Well, the OP asked about ways to deal with losing faith in her Aikido, and Mr Sinclair gave a good answer in that there can be more to Aikido as an art than what we might experience within our usual training. I certainly have benefitted from lurking around Mokuren Dojo's website, and I try to get my hands on as much as possible by Gozo Shioda, Shirata Rinjiro, Morihiro Saito, and Koichi Tohei. The art of Aikido does seem to be much larger than any one organization has been able to fully represent. I also nearly destroyed my copies of Above the Law with constant rewinding. Sometimes to break through a barrier in training, I have had to go in another direction for a time.

The critiques of Sensei Sly are probably off topic and not really addressing any of the questions this thread was started for. Hopefully the OP is on her way to a great test!

mathewjgano
09-05-2015, 04:21 PM
What I find fascinating is that, regardless of what the forum happens specialise in, whether it be aikido, guitars.....cars........ humans will bitch and fight at the difference between what one thinks verses the next........its hillarious, exhausting, interesting and entertaining all at the same time...it can start off perfectly innocent and lighthearted but it often goes south as if by design. People trying to force or support their own perspective (all this I only a perspective and my contribution is so pointless, it almost makes it valid) I dont know where people who want to argue get their energy from, seriously I don't.
My take is that, like you mentioned, cognitive dissonance can be a touch too uncomfortable for people, so they are often compelled to squash the contrary point of view. I love ideas; I love debating over them (more or less) and the process of understanding different points of view, which I think is harder than many people seem to think, but I get the same reaction plenty. Debates (online especially) often remind me of the kids' class I used to teach. I'd show the same technique we did the previous week and one or two kids would often say, "we already know that one." We can always know them better and doing something over and over again can get frustrating when it seems like new ground isn't being made, but then sometimes something clicks and you see it somewhat new...and sometimes it happens far removed, like driving down the street (which everyone knows is done correctly on the right side of the road :p ) or taking a shower. Some of the kids would get bored, and lose faith that they were even learning anything new...and once they determined that they weren't learning anything new, they only saw what they already did know, and it was harder to find the new bits in the old form.

I watched the sly videos and some strange things happened. I had an almost instant and automatic response to fight it......I took it as an attack, an attack on something that I identify with.....the practice of aikido....basically, ego....it felt threatened because it identifies with aikido......"I must defend" it said.......something in me wanted to comment, why I thought? Then another part of me witnessed that urge and then I started to question it. I then realised that I both disagreed and agreed with him within the 30 or 40 minutes I spent watching the videos. Cognitive dissonance.

I then was reminded of the important aiki principle to not fight, to not resist, not lose my centre and waste energy trying to get it back. Taking what the other is offering and together creating something. I learned about aikido so I was glad to come to that conclusion.

I got a lot from watching the videos and regardless of whether I agree with someone or not, I derive great interest in what people have to say. Value can be gained from listening to anyone
I like that! Thank you for sharing your impressions! I had a similar reaction...and then I saw one or two of his techniques, I thought, "but that's just regular ol' Aikido!" But you're right, he's just sharing his impressions and based on what he learned (not necessarily what he was taught for all we know), he's changed some things and good on him for making the effort to grow. We're all missing something, more or less. Take what's offered, do what you can with it; make yoursrelf better from the process; rinse and repeat. There's always going to be stuff we don't understand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrFO702T7Sg :D
Take care!

JP3
09-06-2015, 12:33 PM
Early on, non-aikido time, I was in Taekwondo and learning that... thought I was doing OK, learning how to move, evade, block, punch, kick, combo things up, etc. So, I had sort of thought I was getting somewhere.

Then a friend of mine invited me to train at his Muay Thai school, and, being the immature idiot I was, I went thinking to merely add to my stuff. I got handed my... ahh.... bottom by a guy who was 53, who moved like his legs didn't work right, slowly, etc. Guy knocked me out the one time in my life that I've been unconscious in any engagement, real-world or training with like-minded partners, save only judo shimewaza (judoka know...).

The way I dealt with my illusions being shattered was to dive into the new thing, training 5-6 days a week, doing anything and everything there was to do at that school/gym, including taking on full-contact thai matches and winning. I did that until I again figured I'd gotten what I could out of the Muay Thai.... but this time, instead of thinking that I knew what was what, I asked the main instructor (he wasn't the 53 y/o guy, if you were wondering), and he told me that I had indeed, explored and learned what he had to teach, and ther rest of my time would either be for physical fitness, mental toughness, teaching experience or move on to more actual fights (i.e. go pro, which I had no interest in).
So, off I went, ending up at law school and met a guy named Frank Yoon, in Tulsa, and as martial artists all around do, especially when beers are involved, we started talking about training, etc. Long story short, he invited me to his judo school and the cycle started over again.
However, this time I had no illusions that I knew everything, far from it.
With relation to the O/P, I think everyone goes through that phase of training, in whatever art they have been in -- or they are dumb like I was and didn't think that I had any holes in my game (knobhead). Both positions are illusory. In your case, remember that "You can't feel learning, but it is there." Also remember that getting past the phase of learning on cooperative training partners to totally random chaos of the street isn't like taking a single step, that's one end of the continuum vs. the other end. Train with cooperative uke flowing with, as if they know the steps of the dance, which they do. Then, ask them (if your instructor is in favor of this type of practice) to start being uncooperative, merely by not being so smoothly flowing with you, then next actively trying to halt the movement, then perhaps next trying to move in other directions or actively trying to do techniques back against you. I personally call this "Sliding into Reality" training. It's a LOT less difficult on both partners than jumping straight from cooperativeness to trying to take each other's heads off.
My $0.02.

mathewjgano
09-06-2015, 01:22 PM
...Then, ask them (if your instructor is in favor of this type of practice) to start being uncooperative, merely by not being so smoothly flowing with you, then next actively trying to halt the movement, then perhaps next trying to move in other directions or actively trying to do techniques back against you. I personally call this "Sliding into Reality" training. It's a LOT less difficult on both partners than jumping straight from cooperativeness to trying to take each other's heads off.
My $0.02.

I like that (all of it, not just the above portion)! Thank you for sharing your experiences, John!
I just wanted to add that I really value the interactions that fit the above description. One of the biggest steps forward in my understanding of what we're trying for at my dojo was the idea that uke should always have a sense of looking for kaeshi. I get the sense that my sempai's job is to gently show openings, and sometimes this mean simply reversing or otherwise stopping me, and sometimes it means just telling me about the point in the flow where they perceive something collapsing (e.g. "focus more on what's happening at this point in the movement").
I mention this because, for me, this is what solidified my faith in what we're doing on a technical level. I have faith that I am working on the more intangible things like fortitude and sincerity and humility because that's largely what I bring to the table, but the ability to "play" a little is where I first began to appreciate an aliveness to the physical side of training. There's something unavoidably instructive when you suddenly see a fist inches from your face, or a light tap to the ribs, or what have you.
Thanks again! Take care.

jurasketu
09-07-2015, 12:13 PM
From Matthew Gano's earlier post...

Debates (online especially) often remind me of the kids' class I used to teach. I'd show the same technique we did the previous week and one or two kids would often say, "we already know that one." We can always know them better and doing something over and over again can get frustrating when it seems like new ground isn't being made, but then sometimes something clicks and you see it somewhat new...and sometimes it happens far removed, like driving down the street (which everyone knows is done correctly on the right side of the road ) or taking a shower. Some of the kids would get bored, and lose faith that they were even learning anything new...and once they determined that they weren't learning anything new, they only saw what they already did know, and it was harder to find the new bits in the old form.

"We already know that one."

That is my experience as well. And easily the funniest thing I discovered about teaching children...

I try to counter that by talking about soccer, basketball and baseball practice. The fundamental stuff has to be done over and over again. If you can't make it work consistently in practice, it'll never work in a "game/real" situation. Sometimes it won't work even then, that is why many folks want people to have "game" experience. I cannot counter that belief except by saying that is hard to do without risking serious injury. It makes no sense to risk a serious injury if your purpose is to make sure you can defend yourself against a real but very unlikely attack. It seems that the only thing to do as folks increase their skill is provide (a) post technique feedback (b) carefully calibrated resistance.

earnest aikidoka
09-09-2015, 08:48 AM
Sigh... Once again, you are missing my point. Out of respect I try not to be so blunt, so please hear me out and excuse the directness of the following statement:

Stop talking about things you know nothing about.

It is that simple. Go try it out, form an opinion of your own and then feel free to praise or disparage. I am tempted to stop typing here as it is very clear you have not really read what I have written previously (See my reply to John Hillson), but as this part involves me, I really must correct you.

I am NOT a student, NOR have I ever met Sly Sensei. To be clear: I am NOT a student, NOR have I ever met Sly Sensei. This is why I have withheld any opinion as to his skill, approach or teaching methods. But I was trained in Tenshin Aikido by the man who developed it. And from what I see from Sly Sensei's form, it looks clean and well executed. However, that is an opinion based on nothing but a video, and so much of Tenshin Aikido is not at all what it looks like.

With that said, let me share a story with you as an example of what I am talking about. In the 1990's I wore out two VHS tapes of "Above the Law" trying to understand the technique I was seeing. Both tapes actually stretched from rewinding and slow motioning through a few select fight scenes. I had been in Aikido for a couple years and after spending months with the videos I had determined that there was NO WAY the iriminage being performed was anything more than a full force clothesline. I had spent hours going frame by frame looking for any clue to unlock his speed and power. This combined with my Aikido knowledge (limited as it was) had me completely convinced it was just a clothesline and no one could talk me out of it. In fact I had convinced several fellow students he was just clothes-lining uke.
Fast forward a decade and a half. There I was standing before the man from the movie and ready to take ukemi for the iriminage I had studied for so long. I snapped my punch forward. Instantly I felt the deflection and I bulled my neck awaiting the powerful impact that was going to clothesline me off my feet. But that is not what happened. He never even touched my throat or the front of my neck. The force come from just over my shoulder and my lower back. It was not a clothesline. At all. Instead, what I felt was a circle. A throw. Albeit a tiny circle, one so small and tight like nothing I had ever felt before. During the next two to three repetitions, I quickly learned that if I just relaxed and "absorbed" the throw, the ukemi happened naturally and was not nearly as violent as it looks. It was a circle, a throw. My head went down, my feet went up. After a few more repetitions, I recall thinking
"I was so wrong." and "Fifteen wasted years."

This is my point and what I am talking about. I had spouted my clothesline theory for years and had video evidence to back it up. I could take you through it frame by frame as proof.

And it was all incorrect.

This was only one example of how so much of Tenshin Aikido is not what it looks like. And it is also why I now will give something a fair shake before forming or spouting any opinion. My whole point is to urge you to do the same. In addition, along the way, you just might learn something amazing.

I never said anything about Tenshin aikido. Only about Sensei Sly's knowledge and teaching regarding aikido. He teaches good form and technique, but that's all it is. As much as he would like to say otherwise.

In all your point is that I should try Tenshin Aikido. But add it now with, 'before I spout my mouth off.' Which I got the past three times you said it, thus illustrating my point about your close-mindedness etc. But I will concede that Tenshin Aikido is worth trying. However, not under Sensei Sly.

carpeviam
09-10-2015, 12:41 PM
Julia, have you told your sensei about this? Seems like he/she would have the most useful perspective on it.

At a wild guess, what you're experiencing is a symptom of what I call "touching more of the elephant". The blind man touches the elephant's tusk, says "the elephant is like a spear!", and in the way of human beings, makes up a lot of stories about the elephant's spear-like nature, puts a lot of mental energy into it, becomes very invested in the idea of the elephant as like-a-spear. Then one day the elephant happens to touch more of the elephant. Omigod, the elephant is NOT like a spear! But I don't know what it is, all I know is that it's NOT A SPEAR! Oh no, the foundations of my world are crumbling, etc.

Our understanding is never perfect, and the more we become invested in our narratives at any point in our development, the harder it is to come to new understandings (because they contradict our narrative, they're not spear-like, ya know?), and the more jarring it is when new knowledge is basically forced upon us. It doesn't fit with the old story we told ourselves. The cure is to let go of the story line. See things as they are. Allow yourself to say "don't know", and not just as an exercise in ostentatious false modesty -- allow yourself to say it sincerely. don't-know has acres and acres of room for knowledge to come in; is-spear-like has none.

Every time I see a new aikido student who claims to understand or to get it, with reference to any of the deeper, mushier aikido concepts, I think, "yeah, that elephant sure is like a spear, isn't it?" Until it isn't. Or until they refuse to touch parts of the elephant that don't conform to the spear-like narrative. it's a choice.

You'll always be touching new parts of the elephant, and they'll always be contradicting your current story line. Drop the story line. The first time is unsettling and scary. After a while, it becomes natural, never exactly pleasant, but doable.

To follow up with your metaphor, I've been thinking a bit about what new parts of the elephant I've been touching recently and why they're so startling to me--so startling that I'd like to shove them back into the multidimentional interelephant void from which they came:

Nothing is 100%. For a decade, I had put off studying a martial art at all because I didn't want to deal with the question of whether I needed to be able to defend myself--part of me knew the answer was "yes, possibly," because prior experience had seen situations where it was necessary, but part of me didn't want to have seen said situations, and that part really wanted to answer "no." It's similar now. I *am* studying, but I think I'm also getting better at seeing that things do not always work--even outside of the dojo, where one is not limited by considerations for uke's safety, the attacker may just be too strong or too fast or I may just be unlucky in that situation. Nothing is 100%, except maybe a neutron bomb, and it's been hard to mentally enter the arena where I'm trying and I have to accept that I could possibly fail. Of course my chances of succeeding are higher than ever before. But the possibility of failure exists. In the back of my mind, "failure" means being raped, being mutilated, being unable to help someone I love. Obviously these aren't the things at stake when I'm on the mat. But when I am on the mat, and I try to look at "nothing is 100%" in the face, they sort of leer up from the other side. It's requiring a kind of mental fortitude from me that I have yet to develop. But I think it's growing.

phitruong
09-10-2015, 01:07 PM
don't know if you have read these two articles or not, might want to give it a read over.

http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2005_03.html
http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2005_09.html

G Sinclair
09-11-2015, 10:01 AM
I never said anything about Tenshin aikido. Only about Sensei Sly's knowledge and teaching regarding aikido. He teaches good form and technique, but that's all it is. As much as he would like to say otherwise.

In all your point is that I should try Tenshin Aikido. But add it now with, 'before I spout my mouth off.' Which I got the past three times you said it, thus illustrating my point about your close-mindedness etc. But I will concede that Tenshin Aikido is worth trying. However, not under Sensei Sly.

I give up.

rugwithlegs
09-12-2015, 05:27 PM
To follow up with your metaphor, I've been thinking a bit about what new parts of the elephant I've been touching recently and why they're so startling to me--so startling that I'd like to shove them back into the multidimentional interelephant void from which they came:

Nothing is 100%. For a decade, I had put off studying a martial art at all because I didn't want to deal with the question of whether I needed to be able to defend myself--part of me knew the answer was "yes, possibly," because prior experience had seen situations where it was necessary, but part of me didn't want to have seen said situations, and that part really wanted to answer "no." It's similar now. I *am* studying, but I think I'm also getting better at seeing that things do not always work--even outside of the dojo, where one is not limited by considerations for uke's safety, the attacker may just be too strong or too fast or I may just be unlucky in that situation. Nothing is 100%, except maybe a neutron bomb, and it's been hard to mentally enter the arena where I'm trying and I have to accept that I could possibly fail. Of course my chances of succeeding are higher than ever before. But the possibility of failure exists. In the back of my mind, "failure" means being raped, being mutilated, being unable to help someone I love. Obviously these aren't the things at stake when I'm on the mat. But when I am on the mat, and I try to look at "nothing is 100%" in the face, they sort of leer up from the other side. It's requiring a kind of mental fortitude from me that I have yet to develop. But I think it's growing.

Glad you're back in the conversation Julia. I hope your training is going well.

I don't know the association you are in, but in the one I train in now Ikkyu is a different animal than the testing prior. Freestyle is a requirement, not a suggestion. Koshinage five different ways is required, so there is much more work on that. Tanto Dori is a deeply flawed and questionable practice that is also a required element. Maybe your association has some of these in common?

A few years ago, we had a very talented young woman who made it to Nikyu, but was very uncomfortable with koshinage practice. She was a quiet reserved young woman who I think was weirded out by pushing her buttocks into her training partner's crotch, and she was very sweet so knowing someone was taking a more forceful fall from her was distressing to her. It's stuff that is easily avoided in practice for years prior to this test.

Much as I enjoy Tanto work, I certainly never associate it with a knife attack but just another exercise in avoiding Uke's hands and a more stressful element in maintaining control. Movements have to change and gentle techniques now can clearly result in one getting cut or killed. Beginning Tanto Dori as I learned and teach it involves Atemi and broken arms - stuff that is also easy to avoid prior to this test. I approach it as control, and I move slowly.

Freestyle is something I like to introduce piecemeal - there are dozens of separate skills like getting off the line that are necessary to work on for worthwhile skill. Nervous attackers move slowly with no momentum, which makes my techniques feel awkward - unless I step in and blast through their face. I got in trouble on several tests for holding back.

Maybe with some specifics about what you want to shove in back the elephant this venue could offer you some very concrete assistance? Many people did come to the conversation. Do you have one specific example of a technique or movement that you don't like/trust or take issue with?

carpeviam
09-14-2015, 11:27 AM
I've had some problems with koshis specifically for the reasons you mentioned; tanto dori usually doesn't phase me so much, maybe because it's more impersonal, though I still don't enjoy getting "cut." But my problem isn't one specific technique or area; it's having proper irimi spirit in any or all techniques. Take munetski kotegaeshi, a technique that was introduced in my first day of class. By now my partner and I can step through it at brisk speed with continuous balance-breaking from the first connection of hand to arm, like the mechanical dolls that shoot out of a cuckoo clock when an hour chimes. But there are two destabilizing factors I am aware of to lead us out of cuckoo clock territory (I know there are going to end up being more, but there are two that I can articulate right now).

One, there are many different physical trajectories kotegaeshi can go in: for example, the throw can go toward the third leg or it can be a strong-line throw through the near leg, or it can be other places in between. The throw can go through the elbow, leaving the wrist unaffected, or it can wind up the rubber bands inside the wrist, or it can do things in between. Nage can move in close through uke's space (perhaps adapting the technique with an atemi to keep uke from striking her in the face as she throws, if necessary), or nage can move far out through the outer limits of uke's arm. Different types work with different ukes, and with different entrances, and I find all this confusing and overwhelming. Sometimes I can make the trajectory that sensei has demonstrated work for my partner, and sometimes I can't, and I don't know why.

Two, there are very different attacks uke uses when we're playing around sparring together before class vs. when we're practicing a technique together. In unstructured play, uke maintains his base while attempting to strike me, he circles and changes direction, and he almost always has follow-up strikes; there are no single strikes in isolation. It's like listening to a static-filled French radio broadcast with difficult-to-understand regional accents, when one has always been used to the crisp, careful Parisian accent of one's teacher. Uke's momentum is hidden from me, I can't catch his structure when he moves it so constantly, and I can't make sense of his telegraphs quickly enough. All I can do is keep moving and keep hitting back, and I feel so much smaller and less powerful than my partner.

The result of all this is the overwhelming feeling I complained about earlier. It makes me feel like I don't have any game, which plays into my secret conviction that I can't ultimately defend myself, which is compounded by the fact that it's actually partially true; I can't ever eliminate the uncertainty in all of this. My natural reaction is to pull back, stay out of striking range, and in fact that was one of my sensei's foremost comments from my nikyu test: "Julia, you need to enter more." "More aggression." "More irimi spirit." "More entering." "Move in right away." "Move in, move in, move in." I have been trying to address his comment in my practice, but entering means taking on the risk of getting eaten which is the risk I came here in the first place to avoid. Sensei started to tell me to enter more at the exact time when I started to realize, for a fact, that I have no idea what I'm doing. Ultimately I plan on having the part of me that is trying to follow sensei's advice dissolve and disassemble the part of me that is trying to hide, but I am not clear on how this is going to happen or if I am making any progress on it, and in the meantime it has been useful to try articulating the problem here and to read so much solidarity, advice and support in the comments to my original post.

ken king
09-14-2015, 12:01 PM
Aikido outside of waza training will likely never look like it does during training. It's almost always a eye opener, too bad many waste years without experiencing it. Aikido should not be about wrist twists and high falls but how to organize and move your body effectively and efficiently. Your teacher is correct about irimi spirit, when given the opportunity always be entering. Force your opponent to respond to you because if you are always reacting eventually you will be too slow. You have a fear of being hit, which is natural, but no amount of martial training will make you untouchable. It's best to learn how to mitigate damage and become famliar with fists flying at your face. Finally, it's good to not have complete faith in your teacher and question everything. Respect is obviously important but blindly following thier teachings is foolish.

lbb
09-14-2015, 12:19 PM
To follow up with your metaphor, I've been thinking a bit about what new parts of the elephant I've been touching recently and why they're so startling to me--so startling that I'd like to shove them back into the multidimentional interelephant void from which they came:

Nothing is 100%. For a decade, I had put off studying a martial art at all because I didn't want to deal with the question of whether I needed to be able to defend myself--part of me knew the answer was "yes, possibly," because prior experience had seen situations where it was necessary, but part of me didn't want to have seen said situations, and that part really wanted to answer "no." It's similar now. I *am* studying, but I think I'm also getting better at seeing that things do not always work--even outside of the dojo, where one is not limited by considerations for uke's safety, the attacker may just be too strong or too fast or I may just be unlucky in that situation. Nothing is 100%, except maybe a neutron bomb, and it's been hard to mentally enter the arena where I'm trying and I have to accept that I could possibly fail. Of course my chances of succeeding are higher than ever before. But the possibility of failure exists. In the back of my mind, "failure" means being raped, being mutilated, being unable to help someone I love. Obviously these aren't the things at stake when I'm on the mat. But when I am on the mat, and I try to look at "nothing is 100%" in the face, they sort of leer up from the other side. It's requiring a kind of mental fortitude from me that I have yet to develop. But I think it's growing.

Brava, Julia! Of course it's growing. When I was a little kid, if I had an injury, I could not stand to look at it. It wasn't a "hate the sight of blood" thing, it was just looking at MY injury and seeing that, yup, wow, it really IS an injury. I gradually taught myself not to have this aversion...and also, not to have it about injuries, or problems, or feared injuries that weren't physical ones. It is still hard, but every time I look them in the face, it gets a tiny bit easier -- and usually, not always, I find that the "injury" isn't as bad as I thought -- and even when it is, it's somehow manageable once I look at it.

Becoming comfortable with discomfort, becoming comfortable with uncertainty. For me that's the key to aikido. There's a quote from the book "Snow Crash":

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Hiro used to feel this way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this was liberating. He no longer has to worry about being the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken.

Or, as Yamada Sensei once put it, no matter how strong you are, there's always gonna be someone stronger (my paraphrase). The certainty of being the strongest? Never gonna happen. The certainty of knowing exactly what every threat will be and having the perfect unanswerable counter to it? Not gonna happen. You just keep getting to know your elephant more and more, and keep in mind that there's always something you don't know, and that that's OK. Because even if you discover new parts of the elephant that you're really not comfortable with now...it's OK. It's still your elephant.

kewms
09-14-2015, 12:40 PM
One, there are many different physical trajectories kotegaeshi can go in: for example, the throw can go toward the third leg or it can be a strong-line throw through the near leg, or it can be other places in between. The throw can go through the elbow, leaving the wrist unaffected, or it can wind up the rubber bands inside the wrist, or it can do things in between. Nage can move in close through uke's space (perhaps adapting the technique with an atemi to keep uke from striking her in the face as she throws, if necessary), or nage can move far out through the outer limits of uke's arm. Different types work with different ukes, and with different entrances, and I find all this confusing and overwhelming. Sometimes I can make the trajectory that sensei has demonstrated work for my partner, and sometimes I can't, and I don't know why.

What's the common thread among the variations of kotegaeshi? Why do such different versions all have the same name? Find the underlying kotegaeshi principle that they all share, and you'll be on the way to making it work more consistently.

Two, there are very different attacks uke uses when we're playing around sparring together before class vs. when we're practicing a technique together. In unstructured play, uke maintains his base while attempting to strike me, he circles and changes direction, and he almost always has follow-up strikes; there are no single strikes in isolation. It's like listening to a static-filled French radio broadcast with difficult-to-understand regional accents, when one has always been used to the crisp, careful Parisian accent of one's teacher. Uke's momentum is hidden from me, I can't catch his structure when he moves it so constantly, and I can't make sense of his telegraphs quickly enough. All I can do is keep moving and keep hitting back, and I feel so much smaller and less powerful than my partner.

This is excellent practice. Ask uke to go more slowly, slow enough that you *can* find his structure.

The result of all this is the overwhelming feeling I complained about earlier. It makes me feel like I don't have any game, which plays into my secret conviction that I can't ultimately defend myself, which is compounded by the fact that it's actually partially true; I can't ever eliminate the uncertainty in all of this. My natural reaction is to pull back, stay out of striking range, and in fact that was one of my sensei's foremost comments from my nikyu test: "Julia, you need to enter more." "More aggression." "More irimi spirit." "More entering." "Move in right away." "Move in, move in, move in." I have been trying to address his comment in my practice, but entering means taking on the risk of getting eaten which is the risk I came here in the first place to avoid.

Yup. This is one reason why budo is hard. Retreating does not make you safe: the attacker will follow. The center is the only safe place, but to get there you have to be willing to pass through the point of maximum danger, and there are no guarantees. (This is one of the reasons why more experienced martial artists tend to be less enthusiastic about "winning real fights" than less experienced martial artists.)

Katherine

phitruong
09-15-2015, 08:48 AM
The result of all this is the overwhelming feeling I complained about earlier. It makes me feel like I don't have any game, which plays into my secret conviction that I can't ultimately defend myself, which is compounded by the fact that it's actually partially true; I can't ever eliminate the uncertainty in all of this. My natural reaction is to pull back, stay out of striking range, and in fact that was one of my sensei's foremost comments from my nikyu test: "Julia, you need to enter more." "More aggression." "More irimi spirit." "More entering." "Move in right away." "Move in, move in, move in." I have been trying to address his comment in my practice, but entering means taking on the risk of getting eaten which is the risk I came here in the first place to avoid. Sensei started to tell me to enter more at the exact time when I started to realize, for a fact, that I have no idea what I'm doing. Ultimately I plan on having the part of me that is trying to follow sensei's advice dissolve and disassemble the part of me that is trying to hide, but I am not clear on how this is going to happen or if I am making any progress on it, and in the meantime it has been useful to try articulating the problem here and to read so much solidarity, advice and support in the comments to my original post.

Julia, I have two questions. "This is for posterity so be honest."
1. are you afraid of getting hit?
2. are you afraid of hitting people?

I ran into both cases before. the first, most folks. the second, mostly women. I have exercises that can deal with the first. the second, don't know of any that would be of value.

carpeviam
09-15-2015, 10:04 AM
Julia, I have two questions. "This is for posterity so be honest."
1. are you afraid of getting hit?
2. are you afraid of hitting people?


I'm afraid of getting dominated by men. This involves getting hit by men. Getting hit by women is fine; it's different. It hurts, but it's just physical pain. When I hit other people when sparring I do try not to damage them, and I do hold back a little, but not more than is normal for friends, I think.

The worst thing is getting pinned by men off-script. Each technique has its assigned pin: that's on-script and it's okay. But if my partner and I mess up a technique and suddenly nage comes up with a new pin that I didn't anticipate happening because it wasn't what the instructor had demonstrated--that's the worst. I hate everything, want to burn everything, know that I can't do anything. It's awful. Not very aiki at all.

If you do want to share your exercises I'd be very interested in hearing them. Even if they're not specifically for my situation they might provide me with some benefit.

phitruong
09-15-2015, 12:36 PM
I'm afraid of getting dominated by men. This involves getting hit by men. Getting hit by women is fine; it's different. It hurts, but it's just physical pain. When I hit other people when sparring I do try not to damage them, and I do hold back a little, but not more than is normal for friends, I think.

Julia, I do not know your history, and it's none of my business. Your fears are out of my depth to deal with; perhaps, with a psychiatrist to work out those things.

The worst thing is getting pinned by men off-script. Each technique has its assigned pin: that's on-script and it's okay. But if my partner and I mess up a technique and suddenly nage comes up with a new pin that I didn't anticipate happening because it wasn't what the instructor had demonstrated--that's the worst. I hate everything, want to burn everything, know that I can't do anything. It's awful. Not very aiki at all.

to do aikido is to be in chaos, to ride the whirlwind. multiple attacker randori demonstrates that how little you have in control of things around you. those who thrive in this enjoy riding the whirlwind and laughing at the wind. sometimes it's good to laugh at the wind.

If you do want to share your exercises I'd be very interested in hearing them. Even if they're not specifically for my situation they might provide me with some benefit.

I have a friend who did aikido. whenever there were striking types of attack, he would flinch and it messed up his flow and timing. he told me that he was bullied at a kid so he would flinch whenever strikes coming at him. so i pulled an exercise from systema playbook. those systema buggers are crazy, but they have great teaching methodology. they could teach aikido folks a thing or two about relaxation.

i got him to stand still and only focus on breathing. in for 3 counts, out for 3 counts, slowly. i would walk around him and put my fists on his body at various places, including the face/head. no power on my fists, just place them on his body. i took my time here to make sure he still breathing regularly and relax. i then increased the power on my fists and pressed harder on his body. i did this slow. when i felt he started to tense up, i would back off the power. when he got his breathing and relaxation back, i would increase the power back. this pattern repeat over and over until i started to punch him lightly. when he can relax and focus on his breathing, then i increased the speed and intensity of my punches. when he could take a good amount of striking power from me, but still keeping his breathing pattern and relaxation, then i got him to move around. i moved around with him and peppered him with my punches. after a time, he looked at me and laughed. i laughed with him. now, he occasionally flinched but he caught himself and relaxed.

another exercise, i also used, basing on the above exercise where i kept punching the other person, and i had them reaching out with their hands to touch my forearm, my striking forearm. once they can do that consistently, then i asked them to touch my biceps. they would still let me hit them, but their focus were on touching me at the location i specified. then i would ask them to touch my chest. then my face. then any place they feel like it. the main thing is that they can't move up until they can do the previous step with relaxation and same breathing pattern.

i practice with quite a few women in aikido at various seminars and i noticed that they weren't comfortable with hitting people. aikido has two sides: attacker and defender, uke and nage. if attacker doesn't perform his/her/it job, then defender can't perform his/her/it job. what i am saying is when you are doing the part of attacker, you need to be as comfortable as when you are a defender. at advance level, the concept of attacker and defender disappears to replace with a conversation between two or more persons.

last advice (maybe), don't take things too seriously, because you won't get out of life alive.

Janet Rosen
09-15-2015, 12:44 PM
The worst thing is getting pinned by men off-script. Each technique has its assigned pin: that's on-script and it's okay. But if my partner and I mess up a technique and suddenly nage comes up with a new pin that I didn't anticipate happening because it wasn't what the instructor had demonstrated--that's the worst. I hate everything, want to burn everything, know that I can't do anything. It's awful. Not very aiki at all.

If you do want to share your exercises I'd be very interested in hearing them. Even if they're not specifically for my situation they might provide me with some benefit.

Julia, what I'm going to write may sound dismissive but I absolutely don't mean it that way: you have found the key issue in your own training, the thing that really really pushes your buttons, and how you respond will determine whether you stick with aikido or leave.
Most of us who train end up having buttons pushed. It is how we respond that matters.
Some people simply cannot look at the issue and find other "acceptable" reasons to quit training. Others cannot look at it but keep training by spackling over it and a lot of them become skilled at the outer forms but end up being poor training partners because of the tension, fear, or anger that lurks under the surface each time they bow in.
You seem to be on a better track: you have not only identified the issue but are willing to articulate it to others. Being willing to go through some of "the awful" in the safe training environment of the dojo will give you a chance to experiment with how to change yourself (assuming you are in a good, safe training environment, which some folks are not, sadly)
The dojo is not a therapy center, but the nature of the training DOES give each of us a chance to confront and work on whatever our issues are. For me, I consider it my misogi.

Exercises for getting over fear of hitting......I suggest using weapons and you need a willing partner who can accept and absorb your strong strikes with his or her own weapon...start slow and soft as you need to, focusing on being as on-target at you can and on coordination of slow breathing with your movement. Don't strike faster or harder until you are able to be relaxed at the pace you started with. Accept small incremental improvement each time and don't try to do it in each and every aikido class - then it's a chore....and let's face it, we really do this because we enjoy it much of the time!
And yes, you can with a good partner also use this approach to fear of being hit, via practicing receiving slow, soft strikes from a good partner with your weapon, focusing on breathing and sinking each time you want to flinch....building new habits.

Janet Rosen
09-15-2015, 12:46 PM
I have a friend who did aikido. whenever there were striking types of attack, he would flinch and it messed up his flow and timing. he told me that he was bullied at a kid so he would flinch whenever strikes coming at him. so i pulled an exercise from systema playbook. those systema buggers are crazy, but they have great teaching methodology. they could teach aikido folks a thing or two about relaxation. [snip]
last advice (maybe), don't take things too seriously, because you won't get out of life alive.

GREAT stuff in there, Phi. Thanks! :)

kewms
09-15-2015, 12:58 PM
I definitely agree with Phi about the Systema teaching methodology. In particular, whether you're using a Systema-specific exercise or not, make sure your practice isn't reinforcing fear or tension. If you notice that you or your partner is becoming "amped up" or flinching, back off to a level where you can both stay calm.

Since you have an issue with men specifically, I'd recommend seeking out men in the dojo who you find relatively non-threatening for whatever reason. Make sure they are senior enough to have good control and have gotten past their own issues about hitting women. (I would NOT recommend working with a significant other on this kind of exercise, though.) Work with them on exercises like the ones Janet and Phi suggested.

Katherine

rugwithlegs
09-15-2015, 10:40 PM
Lots to chew on. As before, I think you may be more aware of the nuances of your Kotegaeshi, so this increased awareness feels horrible but really is the root of improvement.

I don't mind someone reversing me every now and then, but when someone breaks with the kata, I think I get worse by trying to hold to a kata. An extreme example would be a partner who pulls their hands in to their center when I am supposed to do Shihonage. Iriminage or atemiwaza is much easier when someone pulls their hands close to their body but Shihonage would need much more force. I needed to develop a sense of what was actually offered.

Some insights that helped me, take or leave them,
We don't have wrist locks. All of our movements are to lock the body. For Kotegaeshi, when I am moving slowly for accuracy, I want to see the shoulders rotate bringing the one arm towards me and the other away. I want to see the one shoulder dip down. I want to see the knees start to cave away from me. Much easier to practice with on a compliant partner, but when I had a feel for it I could pick my moments.

We don't do techniques in isolation, each partner is piece of a whole. Uke is my paint brush or clay. Tenchinage is not me lifting my arms up and down, but me making Uke twist up and down. Every difference in Uke's flexibility, stiffness, length of arms, injuries, length of stride, height in relation to me is a new set of variables. Every single Kotegaeshi attempt eventually becomes something new - I hope that isn't too weird sounding. Some specific variations will not fit you and your partner.

I have read that Irimi is actually supposed to be really soft. I try to enter but always just a little off the line so that I am not colliding. Receiving Yokomenuchi at the peak of the strike is a hard impact, but catching the Yokomenuchi when Uke is pulling backward takes much less effort. I also get to engage on my terms and timing, which is much easier to do than waiting and reacting. Not all techniques work by closing the gap, sometimes the technique works better with more distance. I like the one phrase I heard years ago - Avoid a falling rock

I remembered reading that O Sensei had to bathe Takeda Sensei as part of his training. Through massage and nursing, I got a much better sense of how a human body actually felt and moved, and I got over having to touch people. It doesn't have to be a big start - there are usually foot or hand massage classes available where you practice on strangers in the class.

Going off script - there is a time and place, and you're not there so neither should they be. If they do something different, If I go force on force or chase the sense of effort or force a specific technique that they are blocking, I will get worse. I think Uke's ability to receive a technique gets worse too because this is anticipating.

Find some partners you trust and explore.

Amir Krause
09-16-2015, 05:26 AM
I like that (all of it, not just the above portion)! Thank you for sharing your experiences, John!
I just wanted to add that I really value the interactions that fit the above description. One of the biggest steps forward in my understanding of what we're trying for at my dojo was the idea that uke should always have a sense of looking for kaeshi. I get the sense that my sempai's job is to gently show openings, and sometimes this mean simply reversing or otherwise stopping me, and sometimes it means just telling me about the point in the flow where they perceive something collapsing (e.g. "focus more on what's happening at this point in the movement").
I mention this because, for me, this is what solidified my faith in what we're doing on a technical level. I have faith that I am working on the more intangible things like fortitude and sincerity and humility because that's largely what I bring to the table, but the ability to "play" a little is where I first began to appreciate an aliveness to the physical side of training. There's something unavoidably instructive when you suddenly see a fist inches from your face, or a light tap to the ribs, or what have you.
Thanks again! Take care.

Few messages make me wish the +1 button to make a comeback, your's is one of those.

Especially the part of slowly and methodically getting "aliveness" / free play / Randori /sparring into the practice and not jumping into full fight mind-set. Coming from a system in which Randori is a form of light learning sparring and is integrated into the learning process in a methodical process. I think this comment is important for those who decide to introduce themselves to such elements and need to "re-invent" how to introduce it.
One comment though - at least in our way, resisting Tori movement is normally considered bad move for Uke, should be practiced, but only in a very limited manner. In a live practice, Uke movement should also be sound and practical. He should move out from your technique, and reverse it too ( a strike of all types is also a reversal technique if one is in a position to give one).

Thanks
Amir

P.S.
The concept of "showing openings\flaws" is not sufficient in my opinion, as it is based on your partners imagination\knowledge base rather than real ability and experience. Ideally all should have a great partner, with real experience from other sparring arts and deep understanding of the technique. But what of the realistic case, a partner who's experience was mostly accumulated in same dojo from others who practiced before him, none of whom ever really tried to do this technique in a "live" manner

phitruong
09-16-2015, 09:29 AM
Exercises for getting over fear of hitting......I suggest using weapons and you need a willing partner who can accept and absorb your strong strikes with his or her own weapon...start slow and soft as you need to, focusing on being as on-target at you can and on coordination of slow breathing with your movement. Don't strike faster or harder until you are able to be relaxed at the pace you started with. Accept small incremental improvement each time and don't try to do it in each and every aikido class - then it's a chore....and let's face it, we really do this because we enjoy it much of the time!
And yes, you can with a good partner also use this approach to fear of being hit, via practicing receiving slow, soft strikes from a good partner with your weapon, focusing on breathing and sinking each time you want to flinch....building new habits.

Good idea Janet. Your idea triggered an old memory of an article on women and weapon practice. Did some searching and ran across this article from Diane Skoss which I read years ago. http://www.aikiweb.com/weapons/skoss3.html

jdm4life
09-19-2015, 12:10 PM
It doesnt work, joe rogan says so.

Watch "Joe Rogan vs Aikido Guy on Effectiveness of Aikido" on YouTube https://youtu.be/yXIBi_lszsg

earnest aikidoka
09-29-2015, 09:09 AM
I give up.

I do not understand. Have I not conceded to your point regarding Tenshin aikido's potential? And that I should make the effort to train with tenshin aikido in order to understand it better? Before spouting my mouth off as it were?

jonreading
09-29-2015, 12:20 PM
It doesnt work, joe rogan says so.

Watch "Joe Rogan vs Aikido Guy on Effectiveness of Aikido" on YouTube https://youtu.be/yXIBi_lszsg

I think I commented on this podcast in another post, but this is maybe a better location for additional comments.

Joe brings up many good points in his podcast that are general perspectives held by a number of sister arts as critiques of aikido. While giving voice to the comments, I don't think Joe is saying anything new. While maybe better remembered for stand-up comedy or hosting Fear Factor, Joe Rogan has been around sport fighting for a while and holds a black belt or two himself. Second, I think most of what the martial arts community sees is jujutsu, not aikido.

There are points in this interview that are almost cringe-worthy, especially the dogmatic aikido response. Part of my crisis is finding the best way to honestly answer good questions from serious people, understanding that right now many of my answers are, "I can't do that." I try to be conscious of respecting what other people consider important in their training. Part of my training is guided by what I consider to be important, why should I dismiss what other people train?

I think part of Joe's comments are directed at the dismissal of what he considers important in his training. At one point, the discussion turns to the classic aikido uke - the enraged, drunk, offensive bar fly. Joe flat-out calls out the presumption the guy picking a fight at the bar [is in the wrong]. At another point, there is an exchange concerning the defense against a leg shoot. Leg shoots are the bread and butter of good wrestling, yet we dismiss that with a "I won't be there."

I think saying what we can (and can't do) and backing up what we say is important. I find myself defending other arts because I have a lot of friends who train in other things they feel are important and I respect what they do. Most of us can't stop a good harai goshi or defend an arm-bar. We don't practice it enough because we focus on those things we value.

kewms
09-29-2015, 01:53 PM
I think saying what we can (and can't do) and backing up what we say is important. I find myself defending other arts because I have a lot of friends who train in other things they feel are important and I respect what they do. Most of us can't stop a good harai goshi or defend an arm-bar. We don't practice it enough because we focus on those things we value.

I think that's an excellent point.

I think a lot of defenders of aikido should be more willing to say, "No, we don't practice that. Our focus is on [whatever] instead. Enjoy your training."

A key principle of strategy is to not let your opponent define the terms of engagement. People study the arts they study because they think the goals and strategies of those arts are important. That doesn't mean that anyone else has to agree with them, or participate in a debate which takes those goals as given.

If my goal as an aikidoka is to resolve conflict without resorting to physical technique, it's completely ridiculous to get into an argument with a BJJ student about whether he's a more successful grappler than I am. *Of course* he is: he spends more time grappling in a week than I have in years of aikido. And that's ok.

Katherine

observer
09-30-2015, 01:46 AM
I think a lot of defenders of aikido should be more willing to say, "No, we don't practice that. Our focus is on [whatever] instead. Enjoy your training."
.......
If my goal as an aikidoka is to resolve conflict without resorting to physical technique, ....

I do not agree. As we both know aikido today focuses on dancing without music with a cooperative partner or wooden sticks. No mention knees and wrists devastation with no reason. It is caused by a total misunderstanding of Morihei Ueshiba's new Martial Art concept. I wrote about it a couple weeks ago. The idea is not to prevent nor provoke, but to react only if necessary. To react doesn't mean starting a fight. Simply means to kill or to spare an opponent's life. Till we will not get it (understanding is not enough) our training is useless and creates a very dangerous illusion. We still are taking a lot of common family time giving back false expectations. Our spouse and children definitely can't count on our ability to defend them in case of facing a real threat.

Hilary
09-30-2015, 08:51 AM
I do not agree. As we both know aikido today focuses on dancing without music with a cooperative partner or wooden sticks. No mention knees and wrists devastation with no reason. It is caused by a total misunderstanding of Morihei Ueshiba's new Martial Art concept. I wrote about it a couple weeks ago. The idea is not to prevent nor provoke, but to react only if necessary. To react doesn't mean starting a fight. Simply means to kill or to spare an opponent's life. Till we will not get it (understanding is not enough) our training is useless and creates a very dangerous illusion. We still are taking a lot of common family time giving back false expectations. Our spouse and children definitely can't count on our ability to defend them in case of facing a real threat.

Well maybe you dance, and your training is useless, and your family is in immanent danger from real threats because your training sucks...congratulations, go you, excellent use of time! You seem to have it all figured out, well done! Now please go off and capture all this profound knowledge so we all may benefit and learn. I recommend stone tablets, they really stand the test of millennia in the digital dark ages; we'll be out here waiting for you to finish carving them, I promise.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-30-2015, 09:41 AM
I do not agree. As we both know aikido today focuses on dancing without music with a cooperative partner or wooden sticks.

Or even a robot.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=217633&postcount=103

BTW, your 'reverse intimidation' (http://www.myvideo.ge/?CI=1&ci_c=video&video_id=447972) video is still around. Worth watching.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-30-2015, 10:10 AM
If my goal as an aikidoka is to resolve conflict without resorting to physical technique, it's completely ridiculous to get into an argument with a BJJ student about whether he's a more successful grappler than I am.

Well, maybe this BJJ student is also a well trained negotiator.

rugwithlegs
09-30-2015, 11:11 AM
We're off topic and not helping the OP. But, the comparison does bring up some interesting points. What do we do that others don't?

We work from a variety of disadvantages - sitting against someone standing to find out what it is like to be against someone more mobile with a longer stride, bokken or jo to represent someone with longer reach, and O Sensei's rules for practice say be ready in any direction at any time. We say we are ready for multiple attackers, which can also mean a crowded environment that we can exploit. Can we do this?

That's a more valid question for me than whether or not I can do a jumping spinning kick as well as a Tae Kwon Do student, or whether my lack of newaza practice makes me the equivalent of a martial artist who always practices newaza.

jonreading
09-30-2015, 11:33 AM
First, I think if the aikido you train is "over-soft," I think you need to have a legitimate conversation about whether your practice qualifies to be part of the conversation. There are people who train in a manner that arguably disqualifies the practice from being considered a fighting art. I think you need to understand your practice and where it sits within the martial world. Qualifying bad aikido as martial art just to trash it as an ineffective art is just setting up an argument. Part of my earlier comments qualified basic aikido as a variation of jujutsu and I think that is important - you need to qualify with some basic fighting skills to start a dialog about aikido's contribution to fighting arts.

Second, I think anytime I hear "react" that implies there must be something to react [to]. If you need something to react to, then you are dependent on someone to "aikido"... whole other argument, but relative to our conversation about aikido's position in the fighting arts...

Third, I think its important to distinguish ourselves by presenting the "aiki" solution to common problems in fighting arts, rather than changing the presumptions of the problem. To Demetrio's comment, Joe Rogan calls out Dr. Hill during the interview for making such a presumption - that the trained fighter in the bar is in a uncontrolled state, while the aikido person (also in the bar) is in a controlled state. This is a false presumption designed to grant moral authority to the aikido person (and therefore "righteousness"). This is (at best) a moral argument, not a physical one. Rather, we should be distinguishing our aiki solution as different from the BJJ solution or the karate solution, while realizing the other solutions are arguably as correct as the aikido solution. I think it's a real problem if we (as aikido people) can't do that. For example, if our "aiki" solution is really just bad jujutsu, how can we distinguish a jujutsu wrist-twist from an aikido wrist-twist? Especially when the jujutsu wrist-twist works under a greater variety of situations... "because we're better than you" is not the answer that is going to win over critics... Nor change the success rate of our wrist-twists.

kewms
09-30-2015, 12:04 PM
I do not agree. As we both know aikido today focuses on dancing without music with a cooperative partner or wooden sticks.

Who is "we?" My aikido doesn't focus on any such thing.

Katherine

observer
09-30-2015, 02:32 PM
I recommend stone tablets, they really stand the test of millennia in the digital dark ages; we'll be out here waiting for you to finish carving them, I promise.
I am sorry Hilary. You have got a wrong idea about my post. We are talking about 'Crisis of Faith' and carpeviam started it with a statement:" .. that the skills I've worked on building aren't skills at all, just illusions coming from the fact that my partner intends things to work rather than intending things not to work." This feeling is very common in our aikido society and belive me, I know what I'm saying. I am yudansha with almost 30 years of practice. If it is a question of words I have used to express my thoughts, please feel free to ask, instead judging.

Demetrio Cereijo
09-30-2015, 03:08 PM
We're off topic and not helping the OP. But, the comparison does bring up some interesting points. What do we do that others don't?

Avoid evidence-based training methods, that's what we do better than almost anyone.

lbb
09-30-2015, 03:34 PM
We're off topic and not helping the OP.

Wow, is that ever true.

As a point of etiquette, when someone posts asking for help, at the point where what you're doing is not helping, it's time to stop pretending that that's what you're doing, and go down the hall to have a different conversation with those who want to have it with you. Derailing of this sort is pure ego-aggrandizement.

Cliff Judge
09-30-2015, 03:53 PM
Who is "we?" My aikido doesn't focus on any such thing.

Katherine

You guys have music???

joking...but seriously...life itself is a dance, and the only possible martial arts training without cooperative partners is to go out on the streets and roll drunks (like Shioda and other early Aikido people did, and also prominent early Judoka).

Even if you step into an MMA ring with someone - he's there for the same reason, right? the only way your opponent could be truly uncooperative is to not be there.

So, the the OP: don't worry about the part where your technique only seems to work on helpful partners. You are just learning the outlines of the techniques - through diligent practice you will get more effective. PARTICULARLY if you remain critical of yourself.

dps
12-26-2015, 05:36 PM
Indeed. Rhonda Rousey said in an interview recently that MMA is easier on her body than judo was. Something along the lines of (paraphrasing): with striking, someone gets a little cut and there's blood everywhere so it looks impressive, but grappling can really do a number on the joints.

(Now, when you decimate opponents in 30 seconds or less, that's probably pretty easy for your body, too, but that's a different topic.)

Katherine

I wonder if Ronda stills feels that way now..

dps

lbb
12-28-2015, 08:48 AM
I wonder if Ronda stills feels that way now..

dps

Having a boring Boxing Day, are we?

dps
12-28-2015, 03:21 PM
Having a boring Boxing Day, are we?

No.

dps

kewms
12-29-2015, 12:39 PM
I wonder if Ronda stills feels that way now..

dps

She's looking for a rematch with Holm, not switching back to judo.

Katherine

Star Dragon
01-07-2016, 03:42 AM
I confess I haven't read the whole thread. Just replying to the OP, I would say there is only one way to find out how effective you really are: Ask some ukes not to cooperate. Also, have them attack in a more realistic way - from short distance, without exaggerated movements etc.

Whatever the outcome, take it for granted that you will look awkward compared to the nice choreographies that you are used to. But you will start seeing what is and what is not truly effective - and what it takes to make it so. Thus giving you the chance to develop confidence. And there can be positive surprises, too.

Aikido is a way that never ends. Good luck on it! :)

Star Dragon
01-07-2016, 06:54 AM
As it happens, I just commented on Aikido and self-defence here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=346568&posted=1#post346568

Feel free to reply. I may well elaborate on my post, if the interest warrants it. :)

nikyu62
01-07-2016, 02:42 PM
In my dojo we train with resistance once the student reaches an appropriate level, just after having learned the shape of the form. This allows them to find where kuzushi is obtained and helps them to refine their application of their art.

SlowLerner
09-15-2016, 01:46 AM
In response to OP, I feel this is where randori is important. Static technique requires some level of compliance from uke because they know what you are going to do. Static training has its place though, it teaches you the principles. You have to start somewhere.
I don't believe in the whole 20 yr technique statement. Some people have only done 1 year 20 times. Like the previous posters comment about touching the elephant. Your perception fits what you experience. There are some parts of the elephant I'd prefer not to touch though..:)