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Peter Boylan
12-16-2015, 12:26 PM
When you train, do you just do techniques, or do you train more than that? If you only train techniques, you're probably missing out on the most important part of the training. My blog thoughts this time around are about all the things you should be training.
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/12/what-are-you-training.html

How do you work on the aspects beyond the techniques?

Garth Jones
12-17-2015, 12:11 AM
Nice post. A friend likes to say that technique is the laboratory in which we work on principles. For instance, a new student trying to do cross hand ikkyo omote might think, okay, when uke grabs me I swing up, then I move in, then I cut down, and then go on tot the pin, or whatever. They are trying to learn the basic mechanics, the shape, of the technique. And that's fine.

For me, some of the questions I'm asking now are:

Where and when do I want to be when uke actually touches me (not waiting around for the grab)?
What direction do I want to be moving when the get to me?
How can I link the spiral in their movement to the spiral in my movement?
How can I be at the edge of their power just at the point that they are weak when they reach me but not so much that they just give up the attack?
How do I get better at remaining calm and focused no matter how hard their attack gets?
Or, to sum up all the above into one question - how can I arrange everything such that uke is finished before they start?

I'm not saying I have answers to these questions, but they are, for me, in every technique I do. All aikido principle is in each technique but your blog post is spot on - without the words and sentences, without learning the basic structure, we can't effectively study the deeper stuff.

So, how do I work on aspects beyond the techniques? Well, primarily by being mindful of all of this while training. Then it doesn't matter (or shouldn't) who you are training with or what technique you are working on. It has taken me a long, long time to get to this point, though, and I'm not always there. Another good solution is to work on Ikeda Sensei's many connection/balance taking exercises that remove much of the complexity of techniques. I do both.

Cheers,
Garth

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
12-18-2015, 02:36 AM
I mean, a lot of the time, I'm just doing my best to make sure I'm not training less.

Rupert Atkinson
12-18-2015, 06:15 PM
Budo is more of a worldly view in many respects, for sure. But for me, the real nitty gritty of the problem is not philosophy, it is the waza. How are we supposed to get there - to Takemusu, for example? That is the real quest. The path. For me, the waza or the forms are what we see, but you cannot expect to arrive at your destination by just practicing the waza that you expect to see at the destination. There is so much more to be learned on the way there. What we need are principles of movement, the result of which lead us to the waza we seek without the waza being waza. Almost all Aikidoka practise just the forms with a few basic exercises thrown in. Those that become skilled do so typically only after many years of learning. To me, that is crazy but no one questions it. There has to be a better way.

Garth Jones
12-18-2015, 07:08 PM
Rupert,

I'm not sure that there is a shortcut to the true mastery of anything. When I started aikido the model in my first dojo was pretty much just practice the forms. Aiki, connection, etc. etc. were just all supposed to come with time. And they will, I guess, given enough time. However, I think it's important to explicitly think about and work towards those deeper principles. Waza is part of it, as can be connection and movement exercises. Anybody who has taken a seminar with Mary Heiny Sensei or Ikeda Sensei, for example, will have some taste of that.

However, the movements, posture, timing, hand changes, positions, etc. have to become so ingrained that they seem totally natural, and happen without much conscious thought, and that requires putting in the time.

I turn spindles and bowls from wood on a lathe. It's all hand, and eye, and touch. I am much better now than I was a few years ago. Some of that is certainly due to conscious learning - practicing various cuts with the different tools. But some of it is just hours at the lathe. Things I used to do that ended in disaster now just work, and I'm not sure I can articulate exactly whats different, except that I have a lighter, more sophisticated touch. And I also know that I have a long, long way to go before any kind of true mastery!

Cheers,
Garth

rugwithlegs
12-19-2015, 11:20 PM
An excellent post. The one pitfall I don't see touched on is the person who does not distinguish between 1). learning self development AS WELL as technique and 2). working on self development INSTEAD of technique.

There are many paths to self development in the world, but I think Budo is different because of the expectation of skill and utility. Without technique or insight into the utility of a technique we're just doing Yoga or dance.

mathewjgano
12-20-2015, 12:27 PM
For me the main point to training is in the process of approaching the techniques. In a nutshell I'm trying to constantly ask myself to pay more attention to everything, and through the flow/process of practice, different things arise grabbing my attention...some of which I want to stay so I can focus more on them, and some of which I want to look past so I can work on what seems more important. So while the direct object of my focus might be something like how to do the parts of irimi nage and string them together into a whole, I am also working on my mental state. Mustering as much attention to the technique as possible develops mental focus (depth and breadth) and awareness of space and timing, things which readily apply to anything else I can think of. Then add the more "human" elements of personality and body differences, and for me it starts to really become an analog for the rest of my life.
I like the utility of martial arts, but I also see plenty of utility in martial arts, and for me the latter gets used while the former really has yet to (knock on wood)...apart from rough housing with my sons.
...So like John, for me it's not technique "or" something more, but rather technique "and" something more, but the something more applies much more readily to daily life.

rugwithlegs
12-20-2015, 03:54 PM
You did a better job of wording it than I did Mr Gano. I teach Tai Chi to a group of patients at a cancer center. When I am teaching alignment, balance, and integration, I am quick to say, "This came from how to hit someone harder but this is also how you open a heavy door or carry groceries or pick up your grandchild with less fatigue and strain."

Some of the books out there like "Giving in to get your way" talk about using Aikido off the mat in an interpersonal relations theory format. I respect the work, but I don't always bring this aspect off the dojo floor into other aspects of my life. The comparison felt a little forced to me, and I never had a sensei discuss this with me. But, most of us have little to no training in how to relate to others and any framework is likely an improvement over no framework.

kewms
12-21-2015, 01:35 AM
I'm a lot more comfortable with the idea that the physical aspects of aikido are applicable in non-martial situations (fall prevention/survival, general fitness, more efficient movement) than I am with the explicit application of aikido to interpersonal relationships. In part because I see so many dysfunctional relationships within the art, in part because many people talking about interpersonal applications do not seem to have much actual aikido experience.

On the other hand, a friend of mine who is an executive coach says that I present myself well, and many of the things she talks about are things I learned on the mat. Go figure...

Katherine

Peter Boylan
12-30-2015, 09:51 AM
I'm a lot more comfortable with the idea that the physical aspects of aikido are applicable in non-martial situations (fall prevention/survival, general fitness, more efficient movement) than I am with the explicit application of aikido to interpersonal relationships. In part because I see so many dysfunctional relationships within the art, in part because many people talking about interpersonal applications do not seem to have much actual aikido experience.
Katherine

It's much easier to apply the the principles to physical activities than to inter-personal relationships, I think, because the physical are relatively cut and dried. It's clear what all the parameters are. Human relationships on the other hand have so many more parameters, many hidden, that clear application of principles can be difficult.

On the other hand, application to ourselves shouldn't be a problem. Learning to stand and move well, how we hold ourselves during verbal interactions, how we choose to express reactions with our bodies, these we can figure out. It's when we have to direct our actions outward that things get dicey.

Erick Mead
12-30-2015, 02:42 PM
I'm a lot more comfortable with the idea that the physical aspects of aikido are applicable ... I see so many dysfunctional relationships within the art, in part because many people talking about interpersonal applications do not seem to have much actual aikido experience.
KatherineIt's much easier to apply the the principles to physical activities than to inter-personal relationships, I think, because the physical are relatively cut and dried.... It's when we have to direct our actions outward that things get dicey.I think that if training does not constantly seek to find the cusp between feeling threat and feeling joy in response to an attack -- and to moving that cusp steadily away from feeling threat at ever higher stages of physically uncomfortable objective threat -- then the training is failing in its essential purpose of seeking "loving protection" as the primary driver in violent encounter.

When feeling mortally threatened, even weak and incapable animals will become uncomfortably vicious -- even for the worst predator. That alone can turn an engagement radically around -- as my untrained 11 year old self quite clearly recalls. But at a price -- the stoking of fearful vigilance and lowering of thresholds to viciousness is an unhealthy and sad way to live -- as my 18 year-old self later decided.

Sure, there are arts that hone that viciousness to a fine -- and perhaps eventually imperceptible -- edge. But its nature remains.

With that also comes a grim set of assumed conditions and a bleak set of acceptable outcomes.
( (WIN!) ??) :freaky: :straightf :yuck:

Budo in its best modes seeks something else, not just stoking that fire. Aikido in its best modes makes solid progress along those lines -- and cannot help but alter our perception and responses to the more metaphysical and relational senses of threat - to bring gentleness and genuine care in tow with the necessarily capability and fierceness. Anything that fails to do both in some measure is not Aikido. IMO.