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senshincenter
06-04-2017, 03:49 PM
Hello All,

My experience has led me to hold that the true problem of "practicality" or "effectiveness," etc., is not architectural in nature. It is, and always has been, a problem of mind. Contemporary views of martial arts have over the last several decades now sought to address the problem of application through architecture, or, more accurately, through a discourse touting the simplification of architecture. As such, generic kickboxing and wrestling moves have see a greater appreciation among the martial arts. This is especially true when such tactical architectures are used under what has come to be seen as live conditions. This is turn is always considered an advancement or an evolution of the martial arts. As a result, arts like Aikido, which does not typically make use of kickboxing strategies or wrestling moves, have either become fodder for the aforementioned discourse and its proponents, or have become populated by practitioners that want to bring in kickboxing and wrestling moves into the art. Either way, people are still working with the mistruth that live application is an architectural problem.

I see a big problem with this: The apparent effectiveness of the aforementioned architectures do not stem from any sort of structural simplification. Meaning, they are not easier to do and thus more effective to do in live or "real" environments because they are less complicated. Rather, the apparent applicability of these architectures stem from a radical manipulation of the environment that is being used. This radically manipulated environment is by historical standards completely delusional from a combative point of view. That is to say that the applicability and effectiveness of these architectures would appear equally difficult to apply as those architectures that are commonly denounced when you expand the given environment to include, for example, weapons, multiple attackers, and to exclude, for example, dueling mentalities, and weight categories - elements obviously a part of a combat environment. I am proposing that it is this radical manipulation of the training environment that artificially reduces the need for a mind capable of producing spontaneous application. This is why the results of the given environment are so match-driven and stylistic determinable.

Yes, there are those within said training environments employing said architectures spontaneously, those that have developed the mind for spontaneous application, but they are few and far between, and we designate them as "artists" or "masters" even within the accompanying pseudo-science rhetoric that goes with this type of thinking. Outside of these rare individuals, you have folks simply applying form against form in an arena where the radical manipulation of the "testing" environment has made it possible for a favored right cross or takedown to work (vs habitually throwing a right cross to a person that has 50 or 75 pounds on you, or that is armed with a knife or could be, etc.).

A simple experiment to run for gaining some insight into this position, for those not in Aikido but perhaps practicing one of the arts that favor Ne-Waza, is to film two equally sized and skilled practitioners rolling. Note how smooth and consistent the exercise is with the art's given understanding of application and the combative environment. Next, film them again but given one player a training knife. Note the differences - as their will be many: breath holding, muscling, fear, mental fixation, loss of fluidity, etc. Next, try the same players but do not let one player know whether or not the second player is armed - have the training knife either concealed or not present at all but have it known that it could be concealed. Again, note the difference from the first roll. A next experiment is to now do the roll but having the player wielding the knife be significantly stronger and heavier than the other player. Again, note the differences from the control observation.

That said, I don't want to say that architectures don't count - they do. I also am not saying that environmental manipulation is the whole of the problem. Environmental manipulation is a part of every training. There is no way to get around it. However, I am saying that architectures alone do not bring about spontaneous application. I am also saying that neither will kokyu or aiki, etc. There is a gap between form, the things of form, and the reconciliation of form, and right in the middle of that gap, we can say, is the mind.

For example, we can run the same experiment mentioned above in Aikido, using a Jiyu Waza format. Like in the dueling arts, we see a radical manipulation of the testing environment when it comes to Jiyu Waza as it is commonly practiced today. However, Jiyu Waza is our Aikido environment, I would propose, for cultivating the right mind for spontaneous application. While "Jiyu" can be translated as "free," most of our Jiyu Waza training actually comes with great restrictions and predeterminations and as a result actually favors forms and styles over the abandonment and freeing of oneself from form and style. Usually, in Aikido Jiyu Waza the attack is prescribed (two-hand shoulder grab, shomenuchi, one-attacker-at-a-time, no countering, etc.) and known, and the response itself is also predetermined: Kokyu Nage, strike the chin, shikko under the knees, etc. So, try and change it up. Run your control group: Have two Aikidoka of equal size and skill do Jiyu Waza. Provide no other instructions than that. Note your observations. You will again see an apparently smooth application of the arts techniques and concepts. Next, tell the Uke he/she can do any attack, since, after all, it is Jiyu Waza. If you want, you can make it a third experiment or add it in here and have the Uke also encouraged to counter and to continue attacks. Note your observations. You will start to see departures from the art's ideals, both architecturally and conceptually. Like above, you will see fear, breath holding, hesitation, muscling, forcing technique, resisting, fixation, fear, etc. Now, add the knife. (Side note: Most uke will themselves become fixated on the knife and forget all their other weapons and their availability. You will likely have to remind them that they are doing Jiyu Waza.) Note your observations. Here, while Aikidoka may fair generally better than someone trying for the first time to ground-fight a knife wielding attacker, you are still going to see large departures from the conceptual consistency see in the first observation. The degree to which you see these things will be heavily dependent upon the training capacity of you chose uke. Meaning, the uke that simply steps in with tsuki and goes right into kote-gaeshi ukemi out of habit or cultural appropriation will simply produce a form-favored training environment and thus not reveal the issue the mind plays. Therefore, be sure to repeatedly reply your uke that they are doing Jiyu Waza. For all of these experiments, I recommend you go slow. Going slow reveals, I find, even more the issue of mind, as it adds the problem of timing to the problem of mind in more obvious ways than going fast does.

This experiment shows that while the control observation demonstrated artistic conceptual consistency, the following observations moved one further and further from that consistency. The difference, I am proposing, is not in the architectures themselves, otherwise why would they have succeeded under more controlled conditions? Rather, the difference, and the difficulty of application is in the mind's incapacity (negatively speaking) to move beyond and outside of form. Weird: Shu, Ha, Ri.

Respectfully: For those of you that trained with the Founder's students in the early days, how much mind training, and/or Jiyu Waza training and application did you do under their guidance? Is it the same as now, where Kihon Waza plays such a dominant role? Did you ever hear from that last generation of Osensei's students how much time their own training dedicated to the mind (i.e. reconciling form, etc.) and to Jiyu Waza Osensei? Did they divide their training up like now, having the same huge priority given to Kihon Waza? I'm asking because this is what is on Wikipedia now for Takemusu Aiki: "Takemusu (武産?) was the concept developed by Morihei Ueshiba of how the ultimate martial art should be, how his aikido should be, an art which may harmonize all living beings and free techniques could be spontaneously executed. In his latest years, Ueshiba developed the more spiritual aspects of his art and even adopted the name Takemusu Tsunemori, under which he left many paintings and poems."

If anyone wants to film and show their observations with the above experiments, that would be greatly appreciated. Or just sharing them - all good too. In good faith, here is some of this training that we do regularly:

https://youtu.be/t5o0kA94vOA

Hilary
06-05-2017, 03:17 PM
Hi David, you make some excellent points here. I don’t have time for detailed response, but I have to fully support the idea that most people are not adaptable enough. One of the core precepts in Seishin Aikido is spontaneous adaptability. Our Jiyu Waza (not sure how everyone else does it) rarely has any fixed attack or defense. Often there will be an underling principle to focus on, accepting the attack (what others call blending), a specific type of parry (then slip to whatever works), find the defect in structure, let uke enter etc. Attacks are rarely single strikes or grabs, not typically any faster.

We also embrace the reality of nonstandard spontaneous technique. “well it was something in between Shio Nage and Kote Gaishe, but that is where the Kuzushi and relative body mechanics flowed”. The benefit I have seen from this, is the spontaneous eruption of things not specifically practiced. A sacrifice throw in the wild, body throws that some art may have a name for but I don’t, Sankyo taken off the bicep and an expansion in the domain of the atemi-verse (knees, elbows, and hip checks oh my).

An Aiki body integrates well with this approach, but let’s leave that can of worms for another time.

bothhandsclapping
06-11-2017, 10:29 AM
In our school, we often talk of putting the round peg in the round hole. (The reason that you have so many throws and pins in Aikido is that there are so many different sizes and shapes of holes that each attack provides - based on all the many variables present.)

During normal practice, the role of uke is to then attack (and continue attacking) in a manner that generates the proper 'hole' for the 'peg' (technique) that we agree to practice inserting.

And in jiyu waza and randori, there is simply no longer this agreement. After an initial evasion (with uke continuing to pursue), nage must 'see' (or sense) the hole that was inevitably created and 'insert the proper peg'.

The ultimate lesson, of course, is that nage can't simply decide in advance what peg she wishes to insert, because it is guaranteed that uke cannot read her mind to create the corresponding hole.

ninjedi
06-12-2017, 03:04 PM
I feel like I am offering the same thought to every other post on this forum, but it cannot be stressed enough: the only way to become adept at spontaneous application is through proper training. Go train, then train again, then train some more. It won't happen by reading books or articles or watching videos or watching other more skilled aikidoka in class.

rugwithlegs
06-12-2017, 05:36 PM
In other art forms, part of learning to be able to perform spontaneously is to train the skills expected. Everyone who plays music plays scales. All writers know their ABCs, grammar, and spelling. Chefs all learn basic knife work, ingredients, and techniques. Painters know what colors to mix to obtain a color. Fashion designers know how to sew.

When I do teach jiyuwaza skills, it drives me nuts to have a student who wants to go freestyle but doesn't get their hands up in a good ikkyo-undo, doesn't get off the line, and doesn't keep good whole body alignment. Most of the time, the issue seems to be that core exercises for developing these skills were seen as silly garbage. So, I try to communicate what makes exercises meaningful.

I did come from a group where we started with one attacker jiyuwaza on tests, then two. I see some tests where people are given four attackers, but everyone in the room can clearly tell the student couldn't handle two. Again, building up and embracing more basic work to grow into senior skills.

bothhandsclapping
06-12-2017, 06:12 PM
I feel like I am offering the same thought to every other post on this forum, but it cannot be stressed enough: the only way to become adept at spontaneous application is through proper training. Go train, then train again, then train some more. It won't happen by reading books or articles or watching videos or watching other more skilled aikidoka in class.

Spontaneity: "yes" to proper training and "yes" that it can't come from books and videos, but "not enough" when it comes to mere repetition.

We've all seen plenty of 2nd, 3rd and 4th dans who are constantly bogged down by the need to scheme and plan. They may scheme and plan faster than a 1st kyu, and they look somewhat spontaneous, but any astute observer can see the wheels grinding away. And from my experience, if you haven't reconciled the nature and limitations of scheming and planning by 3rd dan, it just ain't gonna happen.

And so, the purpose of jiyu waza and randori should not be the simple development of faster scheming and faster planning, but it should be to make the experience 'painful' enough (stressful enough?) to convince students to just let go.

Rupert Atkinson
06-12-2017, 11:04 PM
I consider myself to be lucky having done Judo at the start, and then Tomiki Aikido for ten years (alongside Aikikai). The randomness of Randori is key. The thing I cringe at the most is when people in Aikido are expected to do Jyuwaza like they do the kata. It is quite common, yet totally ridiculous. People do not seem to be able to escape from kata, even in so called ' free-style'. Judo is too far the freestyle -- Aikido is too far the kata-style. But at the end of the day - kata is not the purpose and neither is freestyle. The purpose is to learn aiki. Kata / freestyle ... whatever you do ... the purpose of it is to learn aiki. If you don't have the correct aim you will just walk around the mountain in a circle and not ascend even the slightest.

Erick Mead
06-14-2017, 09:03 PM
We've all seen plenty of 2nd, 3rd and 4th dans who are constantly bogged down by the need to scheme and plan. They may scheme and plan faster than a 1st kyu, and they look somewhat spontaneous, but any astute observer can see the wheels grinding away. And from my experience, if you haven't reconciled the nature and limitations of scheming and planning by 3rd dan, it just ain't gonna happen.

And so, the purpose of jiyu waza and randori should not be the simple development of faster scheming and faster planning, but it should be to make the experience 'painful' enough (stressful enough?) to convince students to just let go.

The randomness of Randori is key. The thing I cringe at the most is when people in Aikido are expected to do Jyuwaza like they do the kata. It is quite common, yet totally ridiculous.
So, what I have taught and seen to work even for rank beginners.

First, "monkey see-monkey do" is not just a nursery phrase. In the primate brain there is a powerful system of unconscious mirroring in the motor cortex of movements that are seen being done by another. The subsystems that cause one to do the action seen are activated as though you are doing it -- but the action is usually inhibited from triggering the motor cascade.

This is actually built in to the canonical waza -- though it is little recognized. So, for example, ikkyo commences by basically doing exactly what the attacker is doing. Ditto many of the waza to a tsuki. etc. Yokomenuchi etc. It is prominent in the usual curriculum.

Training should emphasize fundamental body movement (Aiki Taiso) -- and deploy that in various waza configurations --once the action is commenced with imitative engagement. In working on sente, the teacher should initially seek to enhance the initiation of imitative movement rather than planning. Then the application of irimi-tenkan movement in aiki causes the action to flow into a path that generally frames a set of related waza.

So in beginning action in imitation, the student is allowing to happen what is already happening in their brain, though they were unaware of it. The latency of the resulting action is reduced to the shortest time possible. The student should be told that beginning in strict imitation is protective, and be shown this (it is relatively straightforward), and that simply committing to move in imitation without trying to "think" about what is being imitated will work-- if they let it happen. Then the application of that can be refined in the uses of aiki as this is developed in the aiki taiso.

With some time in this mode of training the strictly imitative response gets shorter and shorter, and the"off ramp" into creative action (vice planned technique) becomes ever more immediate. It also impresses the student sooner that the canonical waza (and the many, many variant forms between them) are merely the results of engaged action with the correct disposition of body and mind in aiki-- and not plans of action by which they ought to engage.

MRoh
06-15-2017, 05:24 AM
This is actually built in to the canonical waza -- though it is little recognized. So, for example, ikkyo commences by basically doing exactly what the attacker is doing. Ditto many of the waza to a tsuki. etc. Yokomenuchi etc. It is prominent in the usual curriculum.



This is not the way ikkyo whas done originally .
Shomen uchi ikkyo is initiated by tori, who applicates atemi to ukes face.

PeterR
06-15-2017, 07:15 AM
This is not the way ikkyo whas done originally .
Shomen uchi ikkyo is initiated by tori, who applicates atemi to ukes face.

Well not really although yes that is how it is shown in Budo Renshu AND how I do it about half the time since it is the first technique of Shodokan's Goshin no kata BUT I don't ever think it was restricted to that version enjoyable though it may be.

To the topic at hand the main problem shifting jiyu waza from stilted to the spontaneous (where you want to be) is the mind set of tori. It is very easy to fall into the trap of with the next attack I will do x. This is not completely a bad thing but eventually tori must make it a given that there is no pre-conception or pre-condition. At Shodokan Honbu there is a huge calligraphy of mushin mugamae, literally no mind no stance. This is not just something that magically appears with experience but must be cultivated.

lbb
06-15-2017, 10:38 AM
In other art forms, part of learning to be able to perform spontaneously is to train the skills expected. Everyone who plays music plays scales. All writers know their ABCs, grammar, and spelling. Chefs all learn basic knife work, ingredients, and techniques. Painters know what colors to mix to obtain a color. Fashion designers know how to sew.

When I do teach jiyuwaza skills, it drives me nuts to have a student who wants to go freestyle but doesn't get their hands up in a good ikkyo-undo, doesn't get off the line, and doesn't keep good whole body alignment. Most of the time, the issue seems to be that core exercises for developing these skills were seen as silly garbage. So, I try to communicate what makes exercises meaningful.

Couldn't agree more. The problem is, how do you communicate this? How do you communicate it with a beginner in any field? You can't understand differential equations without fluency in basic mathematics; the difference is that a math newbie doesn't look at diff eq and say, "Cool, I wanna do THAT!", but they can look at a randori vid on youtube and decide that that's what they want to do. So how do you get them to understand the necessity for becoming fluent in the basics?

senshincenter
06-15-2017, 01:53 PM
Philosophically, all sound points, but what do you actually do to cultivate and/or transmit this skill within yourself or another? How often do you do such practices? Yes, Kihon is integral, but Kihon alone is more a hinderance to such cultivations than it is an aid - as others have said or hinted. Can anyone else share any video of the practices they use outside of kihon development with an explanation of what we are to focus in on?

Rupert Atkinson
06-15-2017, 02:07 PM
How to train spontaneity:
Example - Jo
For me - kata is just a library of stuff to draw on and not an end unto itself.
For Jo training, by myself, my ultimate is free-fighting. That is my aim and has been for a long time. No one has that aim (that I have ever seen).
There are three ways to hold the jo (not counting one-handed). Both hands fingers down, then one up one down & the reverse. We never do both hands fingers up (except for bowing). No one breaks it down like this. Rationally. No one.
Then - imagine an attack from say, 11 O'clock. Like Yokomen. What can I do from each of those hand positions - which is best? We have 8 directions - try them all, within practicality. Then, try 12 O'clock. Go all the way around the clock. Try all the 8 directions - avoidance and attack. Start with defence. Start with attack. No more than 1; 1-2; or 1-2-3 moves - then finish. Try different moves stolen from kata. That is the essence of my own personal system. Nothing to remember. Just lots to think about and practice. If you find a like-minded partner - you can have a lot of fun. It is random, yet, it is not. Rules develop - intuitively. And anyone can start it right now. Once you start - kata is instantly redundant.

RonRagusa
06-15-2017, 02:38 PM
So how do you get them to understand the necessity for becoming fluent in the basics?

Logical resistance which, once the basics are mastered, can be easily overcome, is a good starting point.Some students catch on quickly, some never make the connection (even when it's verbally reinforced).

Ron

Erick Mead
06-15-2017, 08:07 PM
Philosophically, all sound points, but what do you actually do to cultivate and/or transmit this skill within yourself or another? How often do you do such practices? Yes, Kihon is integral, but Kihon alone is more a hinderance to such cultivations than it is an aid - as others have said or hinted. Can anyone else share any video of the practices they use outside of kihon development with an explanation of what we are to focus in on? No video, but I have a quasi-program that seems to be received well. In most classes I start with a single tai sabaki -- often with an initial aiki taiso exercise that dwells on the structural fundamentals of that movement. Then I carry the students through numerous variations of various kihon to grabs, building to strikes but which all use the same exact taisabaki. I emphasize each time that the underlying taiso movement is identical in each case.

This, to build confidence in "act first, think later" with fundamental structure and movement and not anticipated "technique." It is in building that structural competence and confidence that jiyu waza seem to improve.

I focus and correct structure and movement in each student's kihon, relating back to the initial aiki taiso or others as the structural and dynamic template to train off the mat. Once introduced and explained, aiki taiso are primarily for the student to work on in their own time, other than the one that may form as basis for a given class progression.

From my perspective it makes each class fairly easy to plan and play out. even when pressed for time in arriving. Mostly, it is simply playing variations on the theme.

Hope it helps.

MRoh
06-16-2017, 04:37 AM
[QUOTE=Peter Rehse;351554] don't ever think it was restricted to that version enjoyable though it may be.

To be the one who is acting is totally different from being the one who reacts, the possibilities to create movements spontaneous increase strongly.
Indeed it requires a different mindset.

PeterR
06-16-2017, 04:58 AM
[QUOTE=Peter Rehse;351554] don't ever think it was restricted to that version enjoyable though it may be.

To be the one who is acting is totally different from being the one who reacts, the possibilities to create movements spontaneous increase strongly.
Indeed it requires a different mindset.

All well and good but Ikkyo is not (or ever was) defined by the timing which was the point I was making (you mentioned the original form).

Agree though - if you are going to restrict your options to reactive timing you will restrict your spontaneity.

rugwithlegs
06-17-2017, 06:27 PM
Couldn't agree more. The problem is, how do you communicate this?...how do you get them to understand the necessity for becoming fluent in the basics?

I try to make the basic exercises meaningful. One example is swinging both arms up in ikkyo-undo - it is often a throw away exercise that is still a part of every class.

I show it as a way to receive shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, tsuki (both rising and falling). Make a point of showing the same movement is ushiro ryotedori, part of morote dori kokyuho, suwari waza. Pick a strike, and strike dozens of times with them doing the same movement. Shomenate/shomenuchi strikes. Unbendable arm stuff gets introduced.

I'm trying - I'm a nurse, and I find patients invest more time and trouble shoot their symptoms better when I get them to understand why they are doing something. I'll let y'all know if I figure out a way to make this more successful for Aikido teaching than it frankly is. Student doesn't see the point to what they are doing, they don't do it or at least never do it mindfully or with intent, then no reflex or utilization.

I also like having students work on kata in groups of three if their footwork is suffering. I try to make a point that the different footwork is often useful to avoid the second attacker. It is good to neutralize attacks, but I don't see how to teach that without giving a solid hard attack on someone who is not moving enough. Work in progress.

Derek
06-20-2017, 08:44 AM
I most like the language analogy. You learn letters, you learn words, you write sentences then poetry.

Or music, learn notes, learn scales, play cords, learn songs, play jazz.

In Aikido I do feel that there is less emphasis on the transition for words to poetry perhaps. One connection is randori certainly, but jiyu waza can be learned in a structured way.

We try to transition from a basic technique to jiyu waza by keeping the attack and the initial portion of the defense consistent. Then go through as many variation as we can.

How much can you vary ikkyo and still call it ikkyo? How much can you vary ikkyo irimi and still be true to the spirit of the technique. Do that for each technique from each attack with the same intention of defense. Soon you find many options. This helps to make that transition, but again back to language. How do you become fluent? You immerse.

So how do you develop fluency in aikido instead of simply being able to ask where the train station is in a foreign land? You immerse. Train, train, train.

tarik
06-22-2017, 12:16 AM
Nice thread with actual discussions for once (instead of insults). Maybe it's time to start reading the forums more avidly again. :)

rugwithlegs
06-23-2017, 02:41 PM
I hope we do get some additional viewpoints. To follow the language metaphor, in English we have 5 vowels, 26 letters, and 42 sounds. This forms the base for Shakespeare, Dick and Jane, the Bible, Fifty Shades of Grey and the Twilight saga. There are identifiable items that we can break most art into.

We all seem to agree on what would be anologous to poetry or a literary masterpiece. But, Aikido is very different for different schools. The A, B, Cs and foundational material in Yoshinkan or Shodokan or Ki Aikido is not the same as Aikikai.

So, we don't agree on the alphabet?

**********************

I like looking at what other systems teach beginners. The first few movements in the Shodokan Tandoku form are all about shifitng off the line with whole body movement near as I can tell.

I was never taught an Aikikai analogue. My wife will introduce jiyuwaza with a couple of attackers and the "nage" just keeping their hands down. A couple of attackers come repeatedly and the "nage" just responds by getting safe. Students are encouraged to discover a vector where an uke cannot continue easily (blind spots, or blocking an uke with another instead of straight back).

senshincenter
06-23-2017, 06:30 PM
I would wager we don't all mean the same thing either when it comes to being spontaneous with the art.

rugwithlegs
06-25-2017, 12:22 PM
I would wager we don't all mean the same thing either when it comes to being spontaneous with the art.

Maybe true. We have little enough language in common in any other aspect of Aikido, so why would our abstract analogies be any different? So how to move forward from there?

Because we have little to no language in common, we can't share discoveries or specialties readily and certainly not online. It also means sharing across generations is very difficult.

senshincenter
06-25-2017, 02:01 PM
A proposed first step is accompanying video. But alas, in the day of smart phones I am the only one that contributed such a first step. :-(

bothhandsclapping
06-25-2017, 06:17 PM
It seems to me that it would be more meaningful to talk of spontaneity if we could come to a fundamental consensus. Is it:

1.) A muscle to be exercised? or a
2.) A switch to be flipped?

In nearly 30 years of both formal Zen and Aikido practice (not to mention 30 years as a professional skeptic, aka electrical engineer), it is absolutely clear to me that true spontaneity is not the former. That while jiyu waza may provide insight into spontaneity, it will never, on its own, actually develop spontaneity. Sorry.

Spontaneity is not the equivalent of a muscle. Jiyu waza can only ever develop familiarity, which, actually, is a 'muscle to be exercised'. And, unfortunately, many unsophisticated practitioners and observers will inevitably be seduced by advanced familiarity, which they will mistake for spontaneity.

lbb
06-26-2017, 08:16 AM
Maybe true. We have little enough language in common in any other aspect of Aikido, so why would our abstract analogies be any different? So how to move forward from there?

Common experience. This is nothing new; it's how it's been ever since humans developed language and moved out of the Rift Valley.

rugwithlegs
06-26-2017, 10:41 AM
A proposed first step is accompanying video. But alas, in the day of smart phones I am the only one that contributed such a first step. :-(

This is a good idea, and something that was not available until recently.

I can't find it now, but Christopher Li had a piece on many of the uchideschi of Ueshiba unable to understand the oral transmission and so only acted on what they saw. It seems to be a common theme.

Say, a student is entering and their hands are connecting in a variety of ways and all these catches are going on, and lots of effective blocking. Well, the hypothetical student has only been told, "just get your hands up and cut." This movement can lead to many techniques "spontaneously" because we usually define a technique as involving two people. If you saw a specific movement that you tried to imitate, you wouldn't be likely to achieve the same outcome, and you would have many specific things to memorize that mentally the student was never actually planning to do.

Watching is valuable, but spontaneous action would have to spill into the mental.

rugwithlegs
06-26-2017, 11:03 AM
It seems to me that it would be more meaningful to talk of spontaneity if we could come to a fundamental consensus. Is it:

1.) A muscle to be exercised? or a
2.) A switch to be flipped?

In nearly 30 years of both formal Zen and Aikido practice (not to mention 30 years as a professional skeptic, aka electrical engineer), it is absolutely clear to me that true spontaneity is not the former. That while jiyu waza may provide insight into spontaneity, it will never, on its own, actually develop spontaneity. Sorry.

Spontaneity is not the equivalent of a muscle. Jiyu waza can only ever develop familiarity, which, actually, is a 'muscle to be exercised'. And, unfortunately, many unsophisticated practitioners and observers will inevitably be seduced by advanced familiarity, which they will mistake for spontaneity.

Familiarity and advanced familiarity are perhaps difficult enough to train for some and a worthy endeavor. If a student learns to walk with better stability and balance, and more effective biomechanical structure, options open up for combat but also life in general. Reflexive movement that happens beneath conscious thought or planning can be trained, and it is not truly spontaneous. Ideas like spiraling to neutralize resistance while attacking the center are not truly spontaneous but can lead to two people moving together in a way that they never planned or intended to. The spontaneous creation of technique I think means the interplay of at least two people, but these people might be moving in explicitly trained ways.

For combat, moving from the center while attacking their center is not an unlimited set of variables; we would want to weed out spontaneous falling in the fetal position, or fainting, or stiffening up, or any number of other things.

If I understand you, Not breaking the flow might look spontaneous but is an understanding of the options available at a specific moment and feeling for uke's balance and movement and it is a quick decision. I still like it. I do not want a desire for spontaneous technique to mean training to be brainless.

Hilary
06-26-2017, 02:59 PM
For spontaneity to occur, several things to have been learned and present. Embodiment of technique, fudotai and fudoshin are a must. Some manifestation of a connected aiki body takes it to the next level.

Embody the techniques. If you have to think about them then you are too late and in trouble. Sensei uses the example of running down stairs. If you start to think about the placement of each foot, you are going to mess up, either a hitch or a full-blown dive. With time dependent physical skills, the expression must be felt rather than thought, hence the term embodiment. Advanced athletes may visualize beforehand, but in movement they are feeling their way through.

Fudotai undisturbable body. If your physicality can be derailed by the unexpected, or you are really worried about getting hit, then you have no confidence in your body doing the right thing to protect you. If your parrying skills are not up to par, you cannot deflect an attack with confidence. If your shoulders come up and you tense with an unexpected change in attack, then you are not yet equipped to be spontaneous.

Fusdoshin undisturbable mind. Your mind cannot be calm unless you intrinsically trust your body, so one is mostly a precursor to the other. The presence of fudotai and fudoshin allows one to stay in the active present and feel one’s way to the correct solution de jour, or more properly take advantage of the opportunity provided by kuzushi on contact. IP folk will tell you that uke makes no difference, but that is a more advanced and separate discussion. A much preferable state of affairs, but not absolutely required for adaptive spontaneity.

Training, training, training is a good start, but you also have to train the right things. When I see a room full of yudansha start every session with Tai No Henko I think “hmm would have thought these folks should have this movement by now”. We start almost every class with slow any and continuous attack drills that start with simple evasion/slipping, then soft parry, then parry to pin a foot/kuzushi, no techniques applied. Getting comfortable with deflecting continuous attack without a response reduces mental urgency; not getting hit is it’s own class of techniques.

Assorted flow drills provide the context for what to do when plan A does not work and how to move to plan B, C, or D, seamlessly, mindlessly. Don’t worry all the best shihans do it, and make it look intentional. More free form practice, stepping away from simple kata and having the time and freedom to explore. Sticking drills, absorbing and redirecting drills, close movement drills…connected body drills.

I interpret the notes and letter analogies, presented above, as saying you have to walk before you run. You have to embody the principle as manifested by technique before you can forget it and have it spontaneously erupt. Each technique is merely a way point in the continuum of locking and throwing principles expressed by the adaptive body mind.

The thing that really cemented it with me, was the shift from looking for technique, to looking for kuzushi. Exploiting a defect in structure exposed by a small kuzushi, or chaining small kuzushis until something naturally presents itself allows you to steal the time clock. If uke is continually unbalanced and/or their structure degraded then you have all the time in the world to do something that is situationally appropriate, yet still organic in its evolution.

tarik
06-26-2017, 03:14 PM
The thing that really cemented it with me, was the shift from looking for technique, to looking for kuzushi. Exploiting a defect in structure exposed by a small kuzushi, or chaining small kuzushis until something naturally presents itself allows you to steal the time clock. If uke is continually unbalanced and/or their structure degraded then you have all the time in the world to do something that is situationally appropriate, yet still organic in its evolution.

When I finally gave up trying for techniques and merely working on making this occur is also when much became freed up for me.

Hilary
06-26-2017, 03:59 PM
When I finally gave up trying for techniques and merely working on making this occur is also when much became freed up for me.

Is suspect this is a required transition. The next question is what else did you have to have to get there?

And to others did you experience this transition as well?

Peter Goldsbury
06-26-2017, 06:31 PM
Some time ago, perhaps here or in another forum, the analogy between learning aikido and another language was explored. (The analogy breaks down because there are no native speakers of aikido, but I wonder whether this matters: I am not sure.)

I have been living here for nearly 40 years and can function in the Japanese language reasonably well, certainly to the satisfaction of my Japanese neighbours, with whom I sometimes pass the time of day. (A recurring topic is the close relationship between crows and garbage.) But this proficiency requires constant care and effort: There is still a major difference with a bilingual native speaker.

One breakthrough came when I began to think in Japanese, without having to go through the process of translation. This seemed to occur naturally, in the sense that I did not consciously practice how to do it. Of course, there are various theories about how one learns a language and when I was acquiring a teaching diploma, Chomsky's theories of child language learning were popular. They have not stood the test of time.

I have been doing aikido for nearly 50 years and the later training has mainly consisted of examining carefully what the Japanese experts have been doing, the major experts here in Japan being / having been Chiba, Tada, Arikawa, Yamaguchi, Saito, and my own teacher here in Hiroshima. The training also involves learning how to see / perceive, which is perhaps similar to what St Ignatius called the 'discernment of spirits.'

A major preoccupation has been how to maintain effectiveness in the face of advancing age -- and I am happy to have the chance to test this with the teens and twenty-year-olds in the dojo.

rugwithlegs
06-27-2017, 02:10 AM
Thank you for that story and example Prof Goldsbury. After all the hard work on related skills, learning of the technical aspects, and just getting through and immersed in a second language something just happened that was not specifically trained for. Maybe Aikido skills do have to be the same.

Hilary, I really liked your post. One point you touched on, I have also heard from some that I should move like no one is there, that Aiki body is something separate and distinct from a relationship, and that the uke should be irrelevant. I cannot reconcile this idea with finding kuzushi, which is definitely my preference. I am a nurse; my work life is very much about paying attention to the other person. I approach a number of techniques as though I am half of the equation, or that I am the artist and uke is the clay.

I assume uke not mattering is the undisturbable body idea. A posture with few openings and well conserved momentum in the direction I chose? Because this idea is the most foreign to me I assume if there is a step past kuzushi it probably involves more of this.

phitruong
06-27-2017, 07:30 AM
Hilary, I really liked your post. One point you touched on, I have also heard from some that I should move like no one is there, that Aiki body is something separate and distinct from a relationship, and that the uke should be irrelevant. I cannot reconcile this idea with finding kuzushi, which is definitely my preference.

to quote an IS personality he-who-must-not-be-named, "aiki in me before aiki in thee"

an analogy, the old top loading washing machine with the column agitator. when it's on, it moves back and forth whether there are water, clothes and/or you. However, when it's on, and you try to grab the agitator, you get pull along. it doesn't need you, but if you get into contact with it then you get yank into its orbit.

it's a bit different mindset from the standard aikido where we were taught to connect center-to-center. the above mindset is why would i want to connect to your center? like the above agitator, i don't need to connect to your center, but if you come into contact with me you will be pulled into my orbit and you are now mine. like a nice juicy steak, if you come into contact with it, you have to eat it. and you might even have to eat the cake too afterward.

sorry for went off the topic of this thread.

Hilary
06-27-2017, 10:44 AM
Professor Goldsbury, I find the analogy fascinating, “embodiment” of a purely mental task. As an aside how was the transformation manifest? A binary clicking of the switch into a new modality, or was it more of a convex combination where both modalities were present for a period of time (I suspect the latter but that would be an assumption on my part)?

As to the observation of the masters, you have clearly enjoyed extensive hands on experience; are you referring to this or observation and mental analysis of live and/or recorded practice. Embodiment from the former being an understood methodology, whereas embodiment via visualization is something I find intriguing.

John, I am still working a lot of this through. And the one thing that seems to keep occurring, is that what I think I am talking about keep evolving as my understanding increases (and occasionally veers way off course), knowledge and understanding is a moving target. To continue a little more off thread.

Phi’s “aiki in me before aiki in thee” applies but I think there is more to the description than this. Not a correction but an inclusion. By the time one starts down the IP road (whether intrinsic or extrinsic) you typically have embodied some/most of your repertoire. Your ability to follow and move with uke would be reasonably well established and embodied.

“that I should move like no one is there,” to me, really means that focusing on the proper comportment of your body, utilizing this new movement/body paradigm, is what best facilitates embodiment of the skill. Stickiness is accomplished via body translation and internal opposing spiraling, articulated externally, and not limb flailing. One still has to at least vaguely move in the right direction, but if you do, uke is dragged along if one is doing it right. The point being “vaguely in the right direction” is governed by embodied waza experience, and at this point, is on autopilot and thus should not be a consciously monitored function, when the new movement paradigm is the actual focus. Thus, focus on what you are doing and not the interaction with uke.

Another way I am currently thinking of it is, if I am manifesting movement in all directions (or at least all the directions a human body moves in (I am not yet a sphere)) within my body (movement in stillness), then once in contact with uke my body “fills” in the direction of uke’s least resistance, automatically. Peripheral stiffness in nage overshadows auto-filling in the direction of least resistance.

bothhandsclapping
06-27-2017, 03:15 PM
Isn't it more likely that true spontaneity (when realized) is a fundamental understanding of oneself that transcends all aspects of one's life - and that proper execution of Aikido techniques is just one manifestation of it? That in this case, jiyu waza and randori would not be seen as developing spontaneity, but rather as reliable validators. That from a practical standpoint, do we really need to focus on and practice everything 10,000 times in order to perform it spontaneously? (Our lives aren't that long.)

And if so, shouldn't we be trying to find the source this universal spontaneity in everything we do, using jiyu waza and randori to simply test our current understanding?

PeterR
06-27-2017, 05:31 PM
Spontaneity can't be over thought.

rugwithlegs
06-27-2017, 07:14 PM
Spontaneity can't be over thought.

Very true.

We are really talking about something more than mere spontaneity. We're talking a little more on the spontaneous creation of technique, and spontaneous useful movement. Really, more than spontaneous that probably means reflexive patterns and muscle memory.

I'm now third dan, how do I move forward and develop better movement?

Now that I teach, how do I best help to create the circumstances for development of apparently spontaneous useful movement in a student? It is a focus of study by militaries and athletes, but I don't see that being applied to Aikido so much.

IMO, there is some benefit to planning out training, and discussing training methods. Repeating kata is necessary, but something needs to happen next.

RonRagusa
06-27-2017, 10:00 PM
Isn't it more likely that true spontaneity (when realized) is a fundamental understanding of oneself that transcends all aspects of one's life - and that proper execution of Aikido techniques is just one manifestation of it? That in this case, jiyu waza and randori would not be seen as developing spontaneity, but rather as reliable validators. That from a practical standpoint, do we really need to focus on and practice everything 10,000 times in order to perform it spontaneously? (Our lives aren't that long.)

And if so, shouldn't we be trying to find the source this universal spontaneity in everything we do, using jiyu waza and randori to simply test our current understanding?

Spontaneity of technique is manifest when one is in the moment, looking neither forward or backward. Aikido training fosters unification of mind and body in the moment. Technique emerges naturally as a function of the interaction between uke and nage and is not imposed by one upon the other.

Ron

rugwithlegs
06-28-2017, 01:06 AM
Isn't it more likely that true spontaneity (when realized) is a fundamental understanding of oneself that transcends all aspects of one's life - and that proper execution of Aikido techniques is just one manifestation of it? That in this case, jiyu waza and randori would not be seen as developing spontaneity, but rather as reliable validators. That from a practical standpoint, do we really need to focus on and practice everything 10,000 times in order to perform it spontaneously? (Our lives aren't that long.)

And if so, shouldn't we be trying to find the source this universal spontaneity in everything we do, using jiyu waza and randori to simply test our current understanding?

Agree that the jiyuwaza and randori display rather than develop abilities, especially if it is not done often as a practice.

All aspects of my life - well, a calm state of mind and a well coordinated strong and flexible body certainly carry into many aspects of my life. It does create options and reduces vulnerabilities. Emotional freedom of expression, probably spills over.

I submit this is not just about spontaneity but useful action. As I enter my 30th year as a nurse, there are abilities that do come very naturally. Some mechanical skills like giving an injection, I am comfortable enough that I can be talking and assessing while doing the majority of the procedure. All good.

But, "All areas" implies competance and comfort with skills I haven't developed or displaying knowledge that was never acquired. Every year, I need to learn new skills, new software, new procedures. I am in a better place to acquire the new, and I might have fewer total skills than a new nursing student,and it can feel more natural more quickly. There is still a different quality.

On the other hand, when my self-employed wife has several life challenges and projects on the go, she does call it "randori." Maybe that is what you mean?

Peter Goldsbury
06-28-2017, 02:35 AM
As to the observation of the masters, you have clearly enjoyed extensive hands on experience; are you referring to this or observation and mental analysis of live and/or recorded practice. Embodiment from the former being an understood methodology, whereas embodiment via visualization is something I find intriguing.

Hello,

When I lived in London, I used to train every class (an uchi-deshi, without the uchi), and took uke very often. I was one of the default ukes and so got to know how the instructors executed the waza (their take on the 'architecture', if you like) and also what the instructors expected -- and did not expect -- from me, as uke. A large part of this is something like what G E M Anscombe calls 'knowledge without observation.'

In Japan I was also uke for visiting shihans, but as I rose though the dan ranks this happened less often, probably due to increasing age and seniority. However I was always uke for Seigo Yamaguchi and our local shihan regarded him as the Aikikai's master technician. His seminars were always videotaped and we went through the tapes afterwards and did the waza again, with the regular yudansha brainstorming as we went along. I remember a memorable session where we spent the whole class -- three hours -- analyzing his take on just one waza, namely, irimi-nage.

sorokod
06-28-2017, 07:49 AM
....
One breakthrough came when I began to think in Japanese, without having to go through the process of translation. This seemed to occur naturally, in the sense that I did not consciously practice how to do it. Of course, there are various theories about how one learns a language and when I was acquiring a teaching diploma, Chomsky's theories of child language learning were popular. They have not stood the test of time.
...


Sounds like the idea of interpreted vs. compiled mode cognitive scientists borrowed from computer scientists. E.g :https://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/skills-cogsci-81.pdf

bothhandsclapping
06-28-2017, 01:40 PM
Spontaneity of technique is manifest when one is in the moment, looking neither forward or backward. Aikido training fosters unification of mind and body in the moment. Technique emerges naturally as a function of the interaction between uke and nage and is not imposed by one upon the other.

Ron
Very well said, and I think we can perhaps add some quantifiable terms -

Spontaneity of technique are those that demonstrate:

Immediacy
Appropriateness, and
Naturalness


That if any one of these elements is missing, we are not, in fact, observing spontaneity.

And this is my biggest beef in associating jiyu waza with spontaneity. In jiyu waza it is (nearly) impossible to make the argument for true immediacy. While attacks are understandably done at less than full speed (heck, we've all got day jobs and families), the mind is still working at full tilt. And you can never prove that nage's response is truly due to uke's action and not to nage's notion of the proper response.

These are entirely different animals, and because thinking is so pervasive, most of us don't fully appreciate that it is indeed still happening - even in jiyu waza. And where there is thinking, there is no immediacy. No immediacy, no spontaneity.

Peter Goldsbury
06-28-2017, 04:03 PM
Sounds like the idea of interpreted vs. compiled mode cognitive scientists borrowed from computer scientists. E.g :https://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/skills-cogsci-81.pdf

Aaron S. was one of my teachers at Sussex, back in the sixties. I did philosophy and he was at the behaviourist end of the spectrum exhibited by philosophy teachers there. This was also the time when Chomsky's child-language-learning theories enjoyed some sort of vogue. When I was doing a course for a diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (important for poor Ph.D. students seeking part-time jobs), theories of how acquiring a native language differed from learning a foreign language were popular and my tutor for the EFL course thought that Chomsky's theories could be applied to EFL. I did not think so.

Best wishes,

Erick Mead
06-28-2017, 06:40 PM
And this is my biggest beef in associating jiyu waza with spontaneity. In jiyu waza it is (nearly) impossible to make the argument for true immediacy. While attacks are understandably done at less than full speed (heck, we've all got day jobs and families), the mind is still working at full tilt. And you can never prove that nage's response is truly due to uke's action and not to nage's notion of the proper response.

These are entirely different animals, and because thinking is so pervasive, most of us don't fully appreciate that it is indeed still happening - even in jiyu waza. And where there is thinking, there is no immediacy. No immediacy, no spontaneity.

I have tried for some years now to emphasizie "act first, then think," The guidance for initiating movement is left to the monkey-brain to initiate in pure imitation-- as it does so well -- and so quickly, and then follow with some manner of conformed waza.

In a class, once we have worked out the kinks on a basic body movement and then a set of techniques that can go with it (depending on the happenstance of the point of engagement), then I strongly emphasize to simply move with the movement we have worked with, and to think nothing at the initiation except to let yourself copy what is being seen. There is sound reason for this. (http://gocognitive.net/interviews/inhibition-action-frontal-cortex)

Basically, the deep imitative motor response has to be actively inhibited by the "higher" brain motor centers -- so if one simply focuses thought on NOT inhibiting the imitative motor cascade that is already ongoing-- then the ready response is already "processed and loaded" so to speak, and voluntary motor delays are minimized and held off until the action has already begun. Then like a surfer you ride the shape of the break.

The prevalence of imitative or complementary action elements in the commencement of canonical waza is quite striking -- and the Doka and interviews in which O Sensei' speaks to his subjective state in his "aiki enlightenment" episodes are certainly consistent with it.

Erick Mead
06-28-2017, 06:47 PM
... and for those who share my obsessive study tendencies, enjoy; and for those who do not - my apologies:

Neurons in primary motor cortex engaged during action observation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20074212/

The role of inhibition in action observation treatment http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2012.04356.x/pdf

Brain regions with mirror properties: a meta-analysis of 125 human fMRI studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21782846/

M1 Corticospinal Mirror Neurons and Their Role in Movement Suppression during Action Observation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3566480/

tarik
06-29-2017, 01:27 PM
Is suspect this is a required transition. The next question is what else did you have to have to get there?

Consistent, specific practice working to fix specific things largely in myself, my posture, my movement, my 'innate' (and incorrect) assumptions about what works or how stuff works and working by replacing the recognition of what NOT to do with something very specific TO do.

It doesn't work well to tell yourself NOT to do something.. Like with target fixation, your body executes the images of what it fixates on, so you have to replace that image.


Hilary, I really liked your post. One point you touched on, I have also heard from some that I should move like no one is there, that Aiki body is something separate and distinct from a relationship, and that the uke should be irrelevant. I cannot reconcile this idea with finding kuzushi, which is definitely my preference. I am a nurse; my work life is very much about paying attention to the other person. I approach a number of techniques as though I am half of the equation, or that I am the artist and uke is the clay.

They are not unrelated. Kuzushi in your partner is a natural consequence of moving like no one is there.

Another way to think about it, IME, is that what most people do when they are grabbed (or pushed or whatever) is engage responses that are not always ideal for dealing with being grabbed.

If one was paying attention to operating their body an an imperturbable manner until it became the natural way to move, they might encounter unusual, but daily situations such as that often used image of pushing open a door right when someone pulls from the other side and not losing your balance at all, or someone bumping into you losing their balance and falling or nearly falling while your posture is completely undisturbed.

So it's not that uke is irrelevant, it's that what they do should be irrelevant.. until it's not because you are connected. It's more that the relevance is usually something that people aren't accustomed to doing or feeling and the reaction they usually have when guided into correct movement is that it doesn't "feel" like they are doing anything to uke (but uke does not have that same feeling). I think it's why it's so easy to miss, because until you've been doing it for a while, that is exactly what it feels like.

I think I digress, but it's working on specific things like this for long enough that the desire to 'win' goes away that I become able to be more successful. One of the more amusing koan's I've encountered in life.

tarik
06-29-2017, 01:36 PM
In Japan I was also uke for visiting shihans, but as I rose though the dan ranks this happened less often, probably due to increasing age and seniority. However I was always uke for Seigo Yamaguchi and our local shihan regarded him as the Aikikai's master technician. His seminars were always videotaped and we went through the tapes afterwards and did the waza again, with the regular yudansha brainstorming as we went along. I remember a memorable session where we spent the whole class -- three hours -- analyzing his take on just one waza, namely, irimi-nage.

Oh, to get to see those tapes.

Anyway, this is my favorite way to train. To record sessions, especially with senior teachers, and revisit them again and again, especially while they are fresh, but even over time and years later.

Lovely.

rugwithlegs
07-04-2017, 01:20 PM
Basically, the deep imitative motor response has to be actively inhibited by the "higher" brain motor centers -- so if one simply focuses thought on NOT inhibiting the imitative motor cascade that is already ongoing-- then the ready response is already "processed and loaded" so to speak, and voluntary motor delays are minimized and held off until the action has already begun. Then like a surfer you ride the shape of the break.

I like the act first, then think. It all comes down to how to learn to train to act usefully without thought.

"If one simply focuses thought on NOT inhibiting..." - is this a distractive exercise, or something trained with meditation? Embracing and indulging reflexive activity like Krav talks about doing?

You describe the focus as an active process? What is going on in your mind then in the middle of a jiyuwaza? How does the biology get on the mat?

Lots to unpack, I enjoyed the readings.

nikyu62
07-04-2017, 02:23 PM
I used to surf a lot....especially on the bigger days, once you paddle for the wave and drop in, the process of riding the wave is instinctual (subconscious) and afterwards the recall of action is not readily retrievable. Jiyu waza, to me, would be on the same order......37 years ago, in my karate days, my sensei called it mushin no shin, mind without mind. many hours spent on the waves or the mat develop this "muscle memory", though i actually think it is subconscious self programming.

Erick Mead
07-05-2017, 02:54 PM
I like the act first, then think. It all comes down to how to learn to train to act usefully without thought.

"If one simply focuses thought on NOT inhibiting..." - is this a distractive exercise, or something trained with meditation? Embracing and indulging reflexive activity like Krav talks about doing?

You describe the focus as an active process? What is going on in your mind then in the middle of a jiyuwaza? How does the biology get on the mat?

Lots to unpack, I enjoyed the readings.

"Do not think of the blue camel." Yeah, I know.

Though this is somewhat the reverse of that problem -- which is a lack of inhibition on image suggestion -- whereas we want to overcome an inhibition.

But the great fondness for Zen and the somewhat similar mikkyo religious traditions among the warrior set, seems to indicate a broad appreciation of paradoxical perceptual "trick(s)" in the art of killing and not getting killed.

I put it this way. Since there is a basis to say that the imitative perception/motor process "hangs" at the point of acting -- the "trick" is very much similar to the old "faces/goblet" ambiguous image. You SEE just precisely what is there, no more no less -- but you can only consciously recognize one at a time. Some people seems to have strong difficulty with this -- while others get very good at "switching" back and forth. For me, and those I've shared that image experience with, it really can;t be done consciously, but you can "work at it" until it shifts pretty much at will -- but it still has very "indirect" feel to it.

The pattern-recognition cascade part seems somewhat similar (to me) to the motor cascade part. The active semi--conscious recognition/action process part gets "hung up" until you figure out how to "switch" your brain with whatever "passive" subconscious cues there are that make the "switch" work in background.

I suspect sensitizing to implied rhythm has a lot to do with it-- and music and/or dance have ALWAYS been closely associated with martiality -- in almost every culture -- and Japan foremost if not superlatively in the case of dance. Maai in the sense of rhythm or musical interval or beat has been talked of in these terms over the years. I think that the conduct of group aiki-taiso and collectively vocalized (e.g. --"Ei!" and "Sa!" on funetori -- or the "Ei!" "Yah!" and "Toh!" in the sword schools and similar variations) are not far wrong for this purpose, and so seem to help, in my experience.

For years I puzzled at WHY these kinds of verbalized exercises were so strongly emphasized by Dennis Hooker, and at least to me he received and passed them on -- and kept any suppositions to himself. (I'm not as smart as he was -- I am entirely (too) willing to speak and remove all doubt of my possible foolishness - in the hope of learning more immediately what is or is not actually foolish).

For our training on the mat in light of my thoughts on these points, I emphasise training with a frame of mind consciously biased in this way -- to just act. If you think of anything, I urge, think of nothing but doing exactly what you see being done as you see it. Pattern-recognize after the act.

I would analogize it as trying to get the monkey-brain conditioned to just keep pushing the button, until, when the treat finally comes -- a clear behavioral association is made to whatever the heck is going on in the subliminal process to better predispose the stubborn primate to lift the pre-conscious inhibitions on the imitative motor cascade.

That said, this view of matters lends a sneaking suspicion that this capacity is not uniformly distributed in the population. The history of warrior classes suggests that it may well not even be a majority trait. That's speculative, but also kinda hard to disregard from my experience in watching the differences in progress that people of otherwise on-par mental and physical abilities -- still seem to show such a difference.

YMMV.

phitruong
07-07-2017, 07:47 AM
That said, this view of matters lends a sneaking suspicion that this capacity is not uniformly distributed in the population. The history of warrior classes suggests that it may well not even be a majority trait. That's speculative, but also kinda hard to disregard from my experience in watching the differences in progress that people of otherwise on-par mental and physical abilities -- still seem to show such a difference.

YMMV.

in most endeavors, you deal with three factors: training, experience and natural talent. You need appropriate training for the subject. After that you need experience. then last if you have natural talent, i.e. born with. You can be good with training and experience. natural talent takes it a notch up. not many have natural talent, but can still be good. it is perhaps one of the differences between soldier and warrior. soldier can be made with training and experience.

RonRagusa
07-08-2017, 11:06 PM
Spontaneity of technique are those that demonstrate:
Immediacy
Appropriateness, and
NaturalnessInterestingly, technique that demonstrates immediacy, appropriateness and naturalness rarely resembles... well... technique.

And this is my biggest beef in associating jiyu waza with spontaneity. In jiyu waza it is (nearly) impossible to make the argument for true immediacy.

The forms we all practice provide us a framework for learning to let our technique appear as a natural consequence of the interaction between uke and nage. This is most evident during randori practice. It can also be demonstrated in jiyu waza practice if nage isn't wedded to demonstrating a catalogue of different "techniques" against the same attack and instead steps out of the box and just plays with the interaction in a let's see what happens manner.

Ron

Erick Mead
07-10-2017, 04:58 PM
in most endeavors, you deal with three factors: training, experience and natural talent. You need appropriate training for the subject. After that you need experience. then last if you have natural talent, i.e. born with. You can be good with training and experience. natural talent takes it a notch up. not many have natural talent, but can still be good. it is perhaps one of the differences between soldier and warrior. soldier can be made with training and experience.All good points. I would say that a soldier v. warrior gap certainly holds true -- the Special Forces distinction probably marks this most clearly in our times, along with the pilot = cavalry observation. But I would also say that the potential soldier vs. untrainable civilian divide is probably a good bit wider than you seem to assume.

Even in WWII, arguably the most broadly levied war ever fought, Americans under arms were only about 10% of the American population. Very interesting differences exist between us and the other combatants, though. Japan -- arguably still moved by a strong warrior-class ethos -- men at arms were only about 5%: a relatively refined, and fierce, minority. Nazi Germany however, was mobilized to the tune of over 30% -- arguably the most thoroughly militarized society that has ever been. The Soviets started with a post-WWI mobilized Russian Imperial Army of 23%, but between immediate mass desertions, their Red-White civil war and Stalin's 1930's purges -- the Red Army of WWII was probably equivalent to the U.S. at about 10%.

If we took modern liberal prejudices into account and deemed women equally combat-capable (an historically and physiologically live debate), we might theoretically come close doubling those percentages. The Soviets did liberalize female military participation to an unprecedented degree in WWII, but still only managed 3% women out of the total Red Army, about 3-4 times the proportion of the other combatants. Still, only Germany could have - in theory- surpassed a majority of people capable of being militarized. Whether such percentages were or could have been meaningfully capable in the sense we mean -- I highly doubt it.

bothhandsclapping
07-11-2017, 04:55 PM
Interestingly, technique that demonstrates immediacy, appropriateness and naturalness rarely resembles... well... technique.
Ron

Maybe it's semantics, but one could argue that techniques that are not immediate, appropriate and natural do not, in fact, truly represent Aikido. So, here are a couple possible definitions that we might agree on ...

Immediate: without hesitation
Appropriate: the right technique at the right time - e.g. doing ikkyo when ikkyo is called for
Natural: corresponding to one's nature - one of my teachers was a slender, Japanese man, probably 5'7" or so. In working against taller, beefier Americans, he developed a bit of a hop to compensate. For one of his taller, beefier students to hop in the same manner would just not be natural.

The Aikido as a bike metaphor is sometimes handy - one wheel is for steering, one wheel provides drive - technique is the steering, spontaneity is the drive. A technique without spontaneity never goes anywhere.

RonRagusa
07-11-2017, 10:55 PM
...here are a couple possible definitions that we might agree on ...

Immediate: without hesitation
Appropriate: the right technique at the right time - e.g. doing ikkyo when ikkyo is called for
Natural: corresponding to one's nature - one of my teachers was a slender, Japanese man, probably 5'7" or so. In working against taller, beefier Americans, he developed a bit of a hop to compensate. For one of his taller, beefier students to hop in the same manner would just not be natural.

Keeping within the Jiyu waza/randori framework, I see "technique" as the totality of the interaction between nage and uke from start to finish. Within that context, what we normally refer to as techniques (individual throws or joint locks) are forms that arise naturally and appropriately from the dynamic relationship of the participants; as opposed to being imposed by nage upon uke. Immediacy is a consequence of the unbroken connection between nage and uke, neither participant is waiting around for the other to do something. The demonstration takes on the characteristics of a gestalt.

I would refer to that type of demonstration, be it jiyu waza or randori, as spontaneous.

Ron

Mary Eastland
07-12-2017, 06:57 AM
Sometimes the Tohei hop is appropriate just because it feels so fun......just sayin. :)

Erick Mead
07-19-2017, 07:50 PM
Keeping within the Jiyu waza/randori framework, I see "technique" as the totality of the interaction between nage and uke from start to finish. Within that context, what we normally refer to as techniques (individual throws or joint locks) are forms that arise naturally and appropriately from the dynamic relationship of the participants; as opposed to being imposed by nage upon uke. Immediacy is a consequence of the unbroken connection between nage and uke, neither participant is waiting around for the other to do something. The demonstration takes on the characteristics of a gestalt.

I would refer to that type of demonstration, be it jiyu waza or randori, as spontaneous.

RonI like to analogize canonical (or other) waza as cross-sections of a continuous spectrum -- slices of the Aikido salami, if you will -- and depending on the angle and location of the cut the apparent difference of techniques is in fact in a continuum along the length of the body of the art.

Apparently different associations of components in a given event, are in fact inherently connected to the many unseen others that just did quite happen in that instance.

The grasp of the art lies in getting the body to reflect in itself the continuum of the action, so it doesn't really matter what happens in any instance -- they are basically all in the same cohesive form longitudinally - even though they appear in cross-section in one moment as very different.

bothhandsclapping
09-09-2017, 02:48 PM
Sometimes the Tohei hop is appropriate just because it feels so fun......just sayin. :)

Quite true ... until someone 6'3" and 220 does it and you're glad the kids weren't here to see what you do in class. :blush: