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Cady Goldfield
12-08-2015, 08:36 PM
Here's an "old" (2009) but interesting demo of small-movement aiki by Salahuddin Muhammad of Hontai Hakkei Ryu Aikijujutsu. The minute internal spirals, rotations and manipulations of his own body create much larger mirror-image movements in uke's body. Fun to watch.

https://www.facebook.com/cady.goldfield/videos/749843731815806/

Cady Goldfield
12-08-2015, 09:53 PM
Another short clip.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01z7OgYioxY

The power comes from internal connectivity. Most of the movements are smaller internal motions, but he intentionally uses larger scapular rotation at :22 so students can observe the process; normally, this rotation is nearly imperceptible.

Mark Raugas
01-22-2016, 08:08 AM
Watching clips of Hakkei-ryu, I don't like how static the uke are during his teaching and demonstrations.

It would be better if Mohammed lectured without an uke grabbing him passively (I am thinking of the video you posted to e-budo recently) and then just did his kata or waza at a medium speed. I think that would do much better to convey whether his training approach is reality based versus the product of compliant uke. I also don't understand the assumptions of the weapons kata where he is using a tanto against an unarmed man or a jo against an unarmed man. Sophisticated aiki is not required in those circumstances. It is always dangerous when uke get in the unconscious habit of standing passively instead of defaulting to a more dynamic form of ukemi with counters, such as what Ellis Amdur advocates, and what is more commonly found in judo or jujutsu.

With all due respect, I'd be more interested in hearing how you think he compares against other people you have trained with, such as members of I Li Quan. I'd also be interested to hear responses to the challenges made that he is teaching a version of Hakko-ryu versus an art from Kotaro Yoshida, and how his art is different from Daito-ryu or Aikido.

Cady Goldfield
01-24-2016, 10:00 AM
Those are valid points, Mark.

I have met Mr. Muhammad only once, but when I did it was at a workshop last August at the Bond Street Aikido Dojo in NYC, and at that event I got to watch him take on experienced boxers and other skilled fighters who pulled no punches and attacked at speed.

Personally, I would love to see some of that on video, too, and then compared side-by-side with his breakdown of what he is doing. In my observation, it is easier to see the effects of kuzushi in slow, measured movements than at speed. Also, to be fair, a lot of this stuff is incredibly compressing and crushing -- "scary," as his students and workshop participants say -- and a little bit goes a long way. You need flawless ukemi to handle this stuff at speed. :P But to see it at speed, and then with the breakdown, would be instructive. Mr. Muhammad worked for many years in executive protection, and street application of his art's methods played a critical role in his work, which was often in some very nasty environments.

As for the static stances of Mr. Muhammad's uke, one thing I do know is that they are not entirely static. They have been instructed to use good internal structural resistance; if you engage in any internal training, you know that this means being able to use the ground both to receive and to return force at the point of contact. When Mr. Muhammad is working with an uke's punch, grab or strike, however slow or static it looks, he has to employ subtle manipulations of structure in order to neutralize his uke's resistance. It's not visible to the eye, but anyone pushing or pulling on those uke would feel it instantly.

The weapons work he does with his students in their regular classes involve weapon-on-weapon as well as weapon-vs-empty hand and fully empty-hand work. Most of these videos are seminars or special workshops with specific, narrow focuses, given to participants of varying levels of experience and interest... they do not reflect the actual curriculum of the system, but, rather, are concepts and ideas drawn from it. What Mr. Muhammad is trying to convey, are concepts and principles of movement. In the yonshakubo work, he is showing angles, vectors and leverage to student who may or may not have any aiki (internals). Without aiki, there is some usefulness, but in truth, these methods were meant to be used with an internal driver, and are far more effective when it is there.
The staff work comes largely from Kukishin-ryu, a koryu that his teacher, Okazaki Shuji, studied and integrated with the aiki methods he had learned from Yoshida Kotaro.

As an aside, I suspect that there likely are not any koryu or koryu-based-gendai arts that will demonstrate their weapons work, at speed, in a fully accurate depiction of the method. Rather, they will change the techniques -- even make them subtly... or blatantly... incorrect -- so as not to "give away any secrets." I have watched a number of videos of a of which I have a bit of familiarity, and saw that in each version of the same kata they demonstrated, it was never done quite the same way...even though these were some of the most senior, experienced practitioners. Also certain critical body "tells" were not there, making it evident that the internal method inherent in the art was being withheld for the demo. So, while an observer might get a general feel of how an art looks at speed and under duress, he or she will not be getting the full picture. Just saying.

For myself - how I believe Mr. Muhammad's skills compare to what I have experienced - I have not yet touched hands with him, and can't provide a firsthand sense of how he feels. I have only watched him in person and on video, and seen the effect he has on others he touches with, including the fighters I was able to briefly observe at Bond Street. From those "tells" it looks to me that he is on a par with several highly skilled people whom I have met, trained with, and felt, over the years. As circumstances permit, I will video any future opportunities and that will provide more of the applications, at speed and under duress.

To clear up one error: What Salahuddin Muhammad practices and teaches is NOT Hakko Ryu and is in no way related to it. He calls his art Hontai Hakkei Ryu. "Hakkei" is the Japanese translation of the Chinese word "fajin" -- explosive expulsion of force. This is in reference to the internally driven power method of Okazaki Shuji's art (which he originally called Hokushin Aiki Bujutsu). If you would be interested in Okazaki Sensei's biography, there is one that has been available on the 'net for some time, and I will find it.

Here's another clip that goes into some of the technical aspects of striking, in his art.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXgfg9996NI&feature=youtu.be

Watching clips of Hakkei-ryu, I don't like how static the uke are during his teaching and demonstrations.

It would be better if Mohammed lectured without an uke grabbing him passively (I am thinking of the video you posted to e-budo recently) and then just did his kata or waza at a medium speed. I think that would do much better to convey whether his training approach is reality based versus the product of compliant uke. I also don't understand the assumptions of the weapons kata where he is using a tanto against an unarmed man or a jo against an unarmed man. Sophisticated aiki is not required in those circumstances. It is always dangerous when uke get in the unconscious habit of standing passively instead of defaulting to a more dynamic form of ukemi with counters, such as what Ellis Amdur advocates, and what is more commonly found in judo or jujutsu.

With all due respect, I'd be more interested in hearing how you think he compares against other people you have trained with, such as members of I Li Quan. I'd also be interested to hear responses to the challenges made that he is teaching a version of Hakko-ryu versus an art from Kotaro Yoshida, and how his art is different from Daito-ryu or Aikido.

Cady Goldfield
01-24-2016, 11:33 AM
Here is a dojo class snippet of Salahuddin Muhammad showing some basic yonshakubo...Followed by a shorter snip of a more overt (for outside individuals) yonshakubo method -- more overt applications for seminar attendees, though he is making reference to the need for internal structure and processes to make the techniques most effective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1Z_u9UMVyY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5aVxRtTHdg

Mark Raugas
01-25-2016, 07:19 AM
Cady,

Thank you for the additional information!

If you do wind up getting hands on time with him, please let us know what you thought of the experience. My gut feeling (and I want to be clear, no disrespect to you is intended) is that you are giving him too much benefit of the doubt -- I appreciate the details you are providing, but as you have only seen a single demonstration by him, and have not trained with him, I have to maintain a healthy level of skepticism. Since you have had experience with well-regarded teachers, I will be very curious to hear what you feel once you put hands on him.

My criticism of the weapons was not about gokui or hidden elements of kata, but instead that he tries to thrust at the face against jodan and times it wrong so he winds up on top of uchi's hands instead of thrusting into the eye from below. It might be because he is talking and teaching. Still, I did not like the casualness of the demonstration, compared to the zanshin I have seen in other weapons arts.

Your mileage may vary, caveat emptor, etc.

Best,
Mark

Mark Raugas
01-25-2016, 07:40 AM
FWIW, the sequence I am talking about is at 13:22 and 13:27 or so in the first clip, when he first moves at speed.

Cady Goldfield
01-25-2016, 09:41 AM
Thanks for your comments, Mark.
You are seeing only a very small piece of this art and how it is taught. The video you are commenting on was just a casual demonstration of concepts being shown for the benefit of a visitor to the dojo, that day, and does not represent the formal execution of the kata in which they are formally embodied. I have seen Mr. Muhammad and some of his students engaged in a number of those kata, and they are about the best example of zanshin that one could imagine.

While I have not yet physically trained hands-on with Mr. Muhammad, I have corresponded and spoken with him extensively for nearly a year, now, have viewed many of his video clips, have met and trained with many of his direct students, and have my own internal training (going on 18 years now) to draw from in making observations. I also had the benefit of watching him up-close at his seminar at the Bond Street Aikido Dojo, last summer, in which experienced boxers and fighters took their turn with Mr. Muhammad, and came out swinging. He dispatched them with ease without injuring anyone. Reminded me of one or two other people I have known over the years who could use internals to handle fighters. They are few and far between, so when I meet one who has the goods, that person will stand out to me.

There really is no doubt for which I am giving him any benefit. :)
Somewhere down the road, I will be in a position to post some of my own video, and we can have a lively discussion.

Mark Raugas
01-27-2016, 06:55 AM
Sometimes it is good to judge a teacher by his students. I was taken aback by this video of his long time student Falcone being examined for the position of "soke" [as the camera pans to the right you can see Mohammed watching].

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVbqMptA72A

I am particularly distressed by the attempts at Daito-ryu inspired joint tangles. Whereas demonstrations I have seen from Takumakai and others have been executed smoothly and crisply, and the uke released without undue harm, you can tell by the huffing and puffing just how much energy it takes to both tank for and take unnecessary abuse from a teacher while waiting statically for them to hurt you.

Please notice how static uke is and how un-aiki like it is, how abusive the teacher is to a completely compliant uke, how uke is completely tanking give the lack of maintained kuzushi, and how Mohammed is sitting on the sideline silently approving of such bad technique and moral character

So, even if he has some level of Aiki, I am not interested in his approach to martial arts.

Cady Goldfield
01-27-2016, 10:15 AM
Yes, unfortunately there are sometimes "bad pennies" that keep coming back into circulation, and this story appears to be one of them. David Falcaro is a former student of Salahuddin Muhammad who left in very bad graces and started his own system -- a mix of jujutsu waza from Muhammad's system and a bunch of ninjutsu-sourced material that Falcaro pursued elsewhere. He appears to me to have left Mr. Muhammad before acquiring anything more than a very rudimentary stage of "aiki" development.

The demonstration you see was the result of Falcaro's pressure on his former teacher for some kind of formal acknowledgement that he (Falcaro) was now "Soke" of his own new system. I believe that Mr. Muhammad accommodated him in large part because he found it necessary to make a very distinct separation between what he (Muhammad) does and what Falcaro was creating and claiming for himself. David Falcaro went on to do some unethical things -- some of which were in response to Muhammad's conversion to Islam -- that were both a betrayal and damaging to Mr. Muhammad's reputation and life. Falcaro now runs a martial arts school which some have reported to be "cult-like." It is not representative of what Muhammad himself does, or represents.

I have been around the block a few times, myself, in the martial arts world, and have encountered every manner of martial arts master and "master," from pathological narcissists to exemplary, true teachers. I find Mr. Muhammad to be a person of good character, good intentions, kindness and dedication to the legacy his teacher, Okazaki Shuji (who also went by the name Tanemura Katsumi), left to him.

I recommend watching the more recent videos of Mr. Muhammad teaching, and of his students/uke, because that is representative of who he is. You will note that his uke/teki all trust him implicitly, there is great care taken in execution of all techniques, and there is even humor and feedback from the uke themselves. Most of his recent clips are from workshops and seminars, a few are casual, unedited footage from classes (such as the one I posted previously).

You can get a good sense of his intent and nature from these clips, but the one you posted of Falcaro (and which was put up by Falcaro himself as his "proof of soke-ship") is not representative of Muhammad as his former teacher. To anyone who is not inside the system, it will always viewed without the true context.

By the way, what you are seeing is not Daito-ryu waza. Falcaro is mainly using material he had gotten from outside Muhammad's art (which is why he was demonstrating as the soke of his own new system). And, Muhammad's jujutsu is not Daito-ryu either. It mainly comes from koryu systems, primarily Takeuchi Ryu (Takenouchi Ryu); but also Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, Takagi ryu and Shin No Shindo Ryu.

Mark Raugas
01-28-2016, 08:15 AM
Hi Cady,

I really like what Salahuddin says in this promotion video -- he talks very strongly about perseverance, training, hard work. I was moved by his words.

https://youtu.be/umcv9a8tQ_0

He however doesn't seem to be distancing himself from his student or under duress. So, I have to wind up feeling that while Salahuddin could very well be a good teacher, the waza in Falconis demo are indicative of his broader curriculum.

I'm wondering why there is a disconnect between what you are saying and what is posted. Was there a falling out after this event? I don't want to change subjects -- I am not interested in Falconi except as how what he does relates to the Hakkei-ryu curriculum.

At 7 min in, he awards Falcone a menkyo in Tanemura's Aiki Budo.

Best,
Mark

Mark Raugas
01-28-2016, 08:34 AM
Apologies for misspelling Falcaro's name. I must be watching too much Gotham.

Cady Goldfield
01-28-2016, 09:54 AM
Hi Mark,
There is no relationship between Mr. Falcaro's system and Mr. Muhammad's, except for some of the jujutsu waza from Muhammad's art which Falcaro has mixed with a far larger amount of material from elsewhere.

What you see in the "soke demo" video is not what it seems, and there is no disconnect between what I am saying and what was taking place there; what is lacking, is context. Without getting into business that is none of ours, I can only say -- as I said previously -- that Mr. Muhammad had very specific reasons for attending and appearing to support this event. And, again, to anyone viewing that video without any "inside" context of what was being transacted, this looks like an amicable transaction, which, in reality, it was not. People have their reasons for dealing with situations as they do. 'Nuff said.

If anyone has further questions regarding Mr. Muhammad and his art, I encourage you to make your own queries to him, and perhaps to attend one of his workshops. I am happy to address any questions or comments about Hontai Hakkei Ryu, its provenance and content, within my realm of exposure to it. While it is a gendai art, its weapons-based foundation, kata and manners are deeply embedded in koryu. I find the neo-classical arts to be a refreshing combination of contemporary applications and old-school ways, so happening upon Salahuddin Muhammad and his system has been a very pleasant surprise and discovery. Anyone curious about or seeking an authentic aikijujutsu system might want to look into this one.

Cady Goldfield
01-28-2016, 10:12 AM
Here's a short clip that draws a connection between the kenjutsu origins of AJJ movement, and taijutsu, with aiki as the driver.

https://www.facebook.com/sal.jaber1/videos/10152261370697133/

Mark Raugas
01-28-2016, 04:24 PM
Hi Cady,

Thank you for the link. I enjoyed watching that clip.

Cady Goldfield
01-29-2016, 08:21 PM
Glad you liked it, Mark. I'll put up some other interesting clips as time permits.