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Paula Lydon
01-09-2003, 10:33 AM
Hi all!
~~Was wondering: Do you every train to move when you perceive uke's intention toward you (attack)in the subtlest forms? It can appeare to be offensive but to my mind is still defensive. Or do you usually wait until physical or near-physical contact is made?
I try to work this into my training, with varying degrees of success, when I have an appropriate uke.

Ron Tisdale
01-09-2003, 12:09 PM
Yes, I do train to enter with very early timing, and I also don't necessarily think of it as offensive or aggresive. But then I'm not big on defensive either. I think aikido kind of steps out of that strict realm of offensive / defensive.

I try to think in terms of sen no sen, sen sen no sen, go no sen instead. But then, not being a native speaker of japanese (or much of a non-native speaker either), I'm not sure how correct my understanding of those terms is. I guess I'm muddling through like most everyone else I know.

I do know that one of my instructors feels that the shite/uke training as practised in the yoshinkan helps to build the focus required to enhance the early timing you speak of. (please bruce, don't take it personally that I'm going to speak from my perspective...the yoshinkan method is not any better than anyone else's, I'm just talking about one perspective on one issue, from my own experience)

When we start a technique, we typically start from about 6 ft apart, perform rei (standing bow)and then go into kamae (basic stance) together. The idea is to focus on your partner so that you both move at the same time, building the ability to sense your partner's intentions. That focus should remain throughout the technique. Then shite moves to the appropriate distance for the technique (shite always sets the distance), and leads for the attack (for front strike, the lead would be to raise the front hand if in aihamni). By leading for the attack, shite gets to feel and observe uke's preparation, initiation, and their actual attack. I believe that over time, this type of formalized training builds the intuition needed to fully utilize "early timing". Of course, YMMV.

Ron Tisdale

paw
01-09-2003, 12:52 PM
Here's the thing I can't stop thinking about. In an environment that has assigned roles, isn't the sense of timing false?

If one person knows the other person will launch a physical attack in a specified manner, they can begin their response as early as they like and then explain it away as "the attacker was begining to attack" or "the attacker had the intention to attack", couldn't they?

Regards,

Paul

Ron Tisdale
01-09-2003, 01:01 PM
Well, to a certain extent, aikido training is "false" in that it is not a fight. So either you accept that or not.

That is why I think the idea of leading for the attack is important in that kind of formalized training scenario. And I personally think a more free flowing style of training (such as what you see more of in randori) is just as important in the big picture. But just in terms of the initial post and training that early timing I spoke of, the formula seems to help. But it also requires a certain amount of trust and honesty. But then, doesn't all training?

Ron Tisdale

TomE
01-09-2003, 01:20 PM
Do you every train to move when you perceive uke's intention toward you (attack)in the subtlest forms?
Always.

Mr. Tisdale has already summed it up pretty well, only difference is that in the dojo where I train (=Aikikai) we go about it in a slightly less formal way than the Yoshinkan people.
If one person knows the other person will launch a physical attack in a specified manner, they can begin their response as early as they like and then explain it away as "the attacker was begining to attack" or "the attacker had the intention to attack", couldn't they?
They won't be able to keep up appearances during jiyuwaza/randori though.

Besides, starting a certain technique even before an attack is initiated never works, unless uke is willing to play along. Where is the martial art in that?
(edit: Hm, I must learn to write faster :) )

paw
01-09-2003, 01:50 PM
Ron and Tom,

I understand that randori is different, which is why I wrote: In an environment that has assigned roles and If one person knows the other person will launch a physical attack in a specified manner I also understand that we're not talking about a fight, and all training is "false" in that sense.

I'm just wondering about the value of trying to move at the instant the "attack" begins when it's a training situation where I've been instructed to strike shomen and my partner has been instructed to respond with koshinage.

Would the method Ron mentioned be "better" than super-slow randori to develop timing?

Maybe I'm not expressing my thoughts well? (Generally tends to be true....)

Regards,

Paul

Ron Tisdale
01-09-2003, 02:12 PM
Hi Paul,

I think you are expressing yourself ok, but I'm not going to bite on the "better" part...try it for yourself and see if it yields any results.

To give you some insight into my perspective...keiko is the japanese word for training...I believe it means something like "to reflect on the past". To me, that means to look closely at the traditions that my practise comes from, and to glean as much from them as possible. In terms of the current discussion, one of my teachers has found that the training hightens the ability to use early timing. I agree. I'm sure there are other ways...they may even be better. But I do keiko...for the most part...which means that I'm using the traditions in the branch of aikido I practise. This is not to say I don't think for myself, or go outside for occational practise or even focus on other things. Or that other traditions don't foster this very thing in another way. Shodokan aikido would probably use just the sort of thing you suggest very well. Its just that my focus is on yoshinkan "keiko".

Ron (got to get me some shodokan, someday) Tisdale

TomE
01-09-2003, 03:45 PM
Hi Paul,

What I was trying to express is that IMHO the excuses you mentioned earlier ("yeah, but I saw he was beginning to attack") are *never* valid, because the result of incorrect timing will always speak for itself; this just becomes particularly clear during freestyle practice because then nage can no longer hide behind what his partner is supposed to do (according to nage) - but it's really just the same during formal practice with "preset" attacks and defenses.

Whether you do an exercise slowly and carefully, or quickly and vigorously, you can't do it right unless you learn to "tune in" to your partner and move *together*, instead of just reacting to the other, or trying to act preemptively. Even during an exercise where you know exactly what your partner is going to do and how you should react, what really decides the result (and in a real conflict, possibly life or death) is whether you can grasp that exact moment when the attack starts and harmonize with it - it's the difference between blending with uke or blocking/trying to catch up with him. Even when you know something *will* be coming, and *how* it will be coming, you can't say exactly *when* it'll come, after all. Whether it's just practice or "for real" is irrelevant.

Well, that's more or less how sensei usually explains it - or at least that's how I interpret it; I certainly can't and won't pretend to be an authority on the matter. And I don't pretend to be making sense here either - it's something you can feel, but not analyze, so explaining it is difficult. I think... :confused:

Anyway, trying to get my train of thought back on track: IMO timing (=blending, seizing the right moment, ...) is an essential factor, always and everywhere. Which method for learning it is better is something I'll let everyone try and decide for themselves. So no, I don't think the sense of timing in an environment that has assigned roles can be said to be "false" - it's either there, or it isn't.

Unless my definition of "timing" is different from yours of course ("every discussion, if continued long enough, ends in semantics :) ") - but I don't really think so.

best,

tom

MikeE
01-09-2003, 04:00 PM
In our style we will use a pre-emptive strike if necessary. We call it shodo o seisu, or controlling the first move.

The manifestation of shodo o seisu is in no way limited to physical action. It can be any number of psychological and/or verbal avoidance tactics too.

MaylandL
01-09-2003, 07:22 PM
Hello Paula

At one of the dojos we train at we practice to sense Uke's intention or "lead" Uke into an attack. For example, moving towards and/or meeting with Uke as they start or are aboout to start their attack.

We also train awase and kumitachi timing via the use of the ken and jo.

Happy training :)

paw
01-10-2003, 06:58 AM
Tom,
What I was trying to express is that IMHO the excuses you mentioned earlier ("yeah, but I saw he was beginning to attack") are *never* valid, because the result of incorrect timing will always speak for itself; this just becomes particularly clear during freestyle practice because then nage can no longer hide behind what his partner is supposed to do (according to nage) - but it's really just the same during formal practice with "preset" attacks and defenses.

So they why worry about timing in anything other than freestyle practice?

From personal experience, from day one until now, reguardless of who my partner was, I've never been hit during kata training (kata = assigned roles, assigned attack, assigned response) Freestyle? Of course I've been hit. So I'm thinking aloud, "why the huge difference"? I'm wondering that if it's kata, even though I don't know the exact instant my partner will attack, I know enough to skew the situation so as to make timing considerations of very little consequence.

I don't mean to suggest that kata training doesn't have value. I think it does. But I find myself wondering if timing issues are better addressed in freestyle practice.

Regards,

Paul

REK
01-10-2003, 08:56 AM
Tom,



So they why worry about timing in anything other than freestyle practice?

I'm wondering that if it's kata, even though I don't know the exact instant my partner will attack, I know enough to skew the situation so as to make timing considerations of very little consequence.
This is a good point, but maybe too narrowly applied. By that I mean that my understanding of the ultimate goal of aikido training is to help relax the perception such that no matter the environment you "know enough to skew the situation so as to make timing considerations of very little consequence".
I don't mean to suggest that kata training doesn't have value. I think it does. But I find myself wondering if timing issues are better addressed in freestyle practice.
Another good point. I imagine you will get a diverse set of answers to that question. I think that it probably is better addressed in freestyle practice. But I agree (if I am inferring from your post correctly) that some formalized initial training is necessary for freestyle to be of any use. I am not aware of any fighting style that does not have some

"basic techniques".

Rob

deepsoup
01-10-2003, 12:26 PM
This is not to say I don't think for myself, or go outside for occational practise or even focus on other things. Or that other traditions don't foster this very thing in another way. Shodokan aikido would probably use just the sort of thing you suggest very well. Its just that my focus is on yoshinkan "keiko".
Hi Ron,

As it happens, one of the paired exercises in the Shodokan kihon kozo is intended to help develop that sense of timing. (The same excercise also works irimi, maai and awareness of centre, we call it sei chu sen no bogyo or 'centre line defense'.) In that sense, my ansewer to Paula's original question is "yes, every time I train".

At my dojo, we generally think in terms of 4 separate 'timing opportunities' to apply technique.

(Hopefully Peter will correct me if I'm wrong about this.. ) I believe the terminology currently used at Shodokan honbu for these four 'timing opportunities' are:

kochaku no shunkan

tsuki taru no shunkan

hite no shunkan

oujita no shunkan

When we practice a technique in kata training, we're often working with a specific timing opportunity in mind. The one we're talking about in this thread is 'kochaku no shunkan', which means the instant that Uke 'digs his heels in' in preparation to lauch an attack.

I hope none of this comes across as "horn tooting", by the way, just trying to describe the way its done in the dojo I train at.
Ron (got to get me some shodokan, someday) Tisdale
Regards,

Sean (funny you should say that, one of these days I'm going to get me some yoshinkan :)) Orchard

ps: Tom E. raised some valid & interesting points, I think. But I dont have time to address those now - its time to throw a gi in a bag and go out to play! Maybe later. :)

Ron Tisdale
01-10-2003, 12:43 PM
Hey Sean,

You the same guy on alt.martial-arts.aikido? If so, good to read ya!

As far as I'm concerned, Shodokan needs to toot its horn more often! From what I hear, they are one of the few styles of aikido with a "true" randori, if you know what I mean.

RT

deepsoup
01-10-2003, 05:19 PM
Hey Sean,

You the same guy on alt.martial-arts.aikido? If so, good to read ya!

As far as I'm concerned, Shodokan needs to toot its horn more often! From what I hear, they are one of the few styles of aikido with a "true" randori, if you know what I mean.

RT
Hi Ron,

Yes, thats me, and thankyou kind sir. :)

Nice to read you too.
Whether you do an exercise slowly and carefully, or quickly and vigorously, you can't do it right unless you learn to "tune in" to your partner and move *together*, instead of just reacting to the other, or trying to act preemptively. Even during an exercise where you know exactly what your partner is going to do and how you should react, what really decides the result (and in a real conflict, possibly life or death) is whether you can grasp that exact moment when the attack starts and harmonize with it - it's the difference between blending with uke or blocking/trying to catch up with him. Even when you know something *will* be coming, and *how* it will be coming, you can't say exactly *when* it'll come, after all. Whether it's just practice or "for real" is irrelevant.
Hi Tom,

Re-reading your post, actually 'good point' is almost all I have to say.

Except I would like to go off at a slight tangent, and add that there are other opportunities to harmonize with an attack besides that first one. (Like I was explaining before, I train in a dojo where we like to give those opportunities names.)

So if you can't grasp that moment when the attack starts - actually pretty likely for most of us - all is not lost. As long as you can avoid the attack and maintain a reasonable posture, there'll be another chance to harmonize along shortly afterwards.

Sean

x

TomE
01-10-2003, 07:29 PM
So they why worry about timing in anything other than freestyle practice?
Um, forgive me, but I think I already answered that question in the part you quoted. This sounds to me like the equivalent of asking "Why worry about safety precautions with firearms when you're just practicing with an empty gun?" And my answer would be "Because empty guns just ain't." Start learning things right as soon as your begin practicing, because you may not get the chance anymore when things get serious.

OTOH, I've heard it said that you only begin to practice true budo when you can forget about yourself and no longer worry about getting hit, period. But since I'm nowhere near that level yet, I can't comment on that.
From personal experience, from day one until now, reguardless of who my partner was, I've never been hit during kata training (kata = assigned roles, assigned attack, assigned response)
I have, on several occasions, and so have most of my fellow students. We don't try to crack each other's skulls during practice or make a point of punishing the slightest error by making people writhe in pain for a while, we don't kick the new people all the way around the dojo, and we never take something beyond our partner's ability to receive it (at least not intentionally - mistakes are sometimes made, of course) - in fact, people rarely even get hurt - but they do get shaken around a little when they neglect to "expect the unexpected", and it helps. I learned to leave no openings for incoming atemi by getting smacked in the face by a twelve year old kid (and how happy he was, being able to teach that smug sempai a lesson for once :) ). Giving a committed attack is as much part of the exercise as being able to handle one.

This is not intended as criticism on your style of practice BTW (I realize it may sound as such), perhaps you just tend to focus more on other things during kata, or perhaps we're just trying to communicate the same things in different ways (most likely, language being the uncooperative ass (=donkey, to avoid transatlantic confusion) that it is at times) but this is my personal view & experience...
I don't mean to suggest that kata training doesn't have value. I think it does. But I find myself wondering if timing issues are better addressed in freestyle practice.
I totally agree, and I also concur with you and Rob that it can be good practice to occasionally forget about the timing issue (or any other factor) during kata, and focus exclusively on certain aspects - but in the end, it all comes together again and you can't rule anything out if you want to do things right.

Everything that applies during freestyle also applies during kata. Formal practice gives one the opportunity to make mistakes with impunity and learn from them, and there's nothing wrong with that - but, to get back to my the point I was trying to make a couple of posts ago, there's never an *excuse* for making a mistake in the dojo (if only because you can't learn from your mistakes if you refuse to acknowledge them).

Whether certain issues are better addressed in one form of practice or another depends on one's personal preference/philosophy/ability/whatever, IMO.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, there's nothing wrong keeping one eye on the road beneath your feet, as long as you keep the other eye on your destination, as far away as it may be. So yes, timing or blending or whatever you choose to call it is always one of the essential factors, even if you choose not to concentrate on it in certain situations.

(upon rereading this, I'd like to add one thing: forgive me if I sound a bit overbearing here, I'm well aware that my lecturing abilities far exceed my aikido skills at the moment and I'm just sharing my own thoughts, not trying to present universal truths. Though of course I don't dismiss the possibility that I am, indeed, already spouting universal truths :D )
there are other opportunities to harmonize with an attack besides that first one (...)
True. Perhaps this time I was focusing a bit too much on the issue at hand myself, and losing sight of the greater picture :)

best,

Tom

paw
01-11-2003, 07:22 PM
Tom,

I don't know what things are like in Belgium, but how is driving a car taught?

Do young kids sit in a car and wonder about when they should turn the wheel of the car to navigate a turn when the car is completely stopped? I'm certain they don't. Instead, I'm willing to bet that they drive slowly and turn when they think they should and learn that way (with coaching from a licensed driving instructor while they are doing so).

Because of your posts, I'm now convinced that talking about timing during kata training is much like talking about when to turn the car when the car is stopped. You can do so, but I believe the value is minimal, because during kata training everything is defined --- the attack, the response, the roles --- everything. So forget worrying about timing in the same way we don't worry about yokomen strikes when the technique to be trained is shomen <insert name of throw here>.

I would now say kata is where we do instruction, where the technique is broken down into simple steps so that people can do it --- in the same way that we would tell a new driver, here is the turn signal, here is the gear shift, lights, window wipers, etc.... Let people walk through the technique with no (zero, zip, nill) resistance (try the lights, adjust the car seat). And after that, move into free practice, or drills (start the car up and drive around slowly).

Regards,

Paul

jimvance
01-11-2003, 11:23 PM
I'm now convinced that talking about timing during kata training is much like talking about when to turn the car when the car is stopped. You can do so, but I believe the value is minimal, because during kata training everything is defined --- the attack, the response, the roles --- everything. Here's some food for thought Paul. Basically what you are saying is that uke is wired to fail from the beginning, not as a result of successfully completing the equation of the kata, but because they don't hit you, they are not a threat in any way. Change that relationship and see if the emphasis on timing in kata changes. I practice in a system where uke can knock your butt on the matt if your timing isn't very good, or at the very least, your kata will not work. At the yudansha level, missed timing can result in counters. They are not trying to keep you from doing the kata, they are actually promoting proper understanding of the kata, trying to keep you DOING the kata. Alive, functional, and motivated uke are an integral part of a dynamic kata practice, and it sounds like that is what you are missing more than anything. I can see why you feel the way you do.

Jim Vance

paw
01-12-2003, 09:50 AM
Jim,
Basically what you are saying is that uke is wired to fail from the beginning, not as a result of successfully completing the equation of the kata, but because they don't hit you, they are not a threat in any way.

If that's what you think I said then I clearly didn't express myself well. I'm saying, in an environment where nearly everything is defined (who attacks, who defends, what the attack is, what the target of the attack will be, what the response to the attack will be) is a kata environment (which may not be the best word to use.....) I submit that such an environment is not the place to worry about timing. If you know that I'm going to strike shomen to the top of your head, it's very, very easy for you not to get hit by a shomen strike on the top of your head, regardless of our respective skill levels. This training environment, as Ron noted earlier, is a set up. It ain't real. I'm convinced it's a waste of time to try and make it real by taking about "what if?". What this environment (kata) is ideal for is instruction. It's perfect for that. It may even be vital for instruction. So let's work cooperatively there for however long it takes (probably 5 - 15 mintues).

After that, let's take this technique that we've been instructed on and put it in a dynamic environment or a drill or a scenario and work on timing there (the majority of the class). Here we can create an environment where it's ok not to succeed, where people can play and see what works for them. In this dynamic environment it's ok to reverse your partner, it's ok to change to a different technique, it's ok to get thwared and all those other things that happen and cause the "is this person a jerk because when we train they...." posts that appear here on a regular basis.

In short, I believe that:
Alive, functional, and motivated uke
cannot exist in an environment where they are: 1. "uke" 2. have a specific attack 3. with a specific target .... because those things define a kata, and kata ain't dynamic.

Regards,

Paul

jimvance
01-12-2003, 01:01 PM
Okay, let's dissect this a bit, because I want to know a bit of where Paul is coming from. I am not trying to wholesale refute what you are saying, maybe just come to a consensus by offering my thoughts on your premise....In an environment where nearly everything is defined (who attacks, who defends, what the attack is, what the target of the attack will be, what the response to the attack will be) is a kata environment (which may not be the best word to use.....)So far so good, that is a good, loose definition of the kata method.... I submit that such an environment is not the place to worry about timing. If you know that I'm going to strike shomen to the top of your head, it's very, very easy for you not to get hit by a shomen strike on the top of your head, regardless of our respective skill levels.Stop. I agree, I think shomen strikes are a waste of time, but that is just my opinion, no disrespect meant to anyone. Yes, it is easy to see and avoid a shomen strike, especially if it is slow. And if you simply want to avoid the "slow" strike, timing is not that important. But not getting hit is pretty easy, just don't be there. That is not really Aikido training, that is just common sense. We learn that in kindergarten when they tell us to look both ways before crossing the street.

Unless you belong to the school of thought of "get off line and clobber the guy", the technique requires you to take advantage of some portion of the attacker's (let's call him "uke") posture, balance, and energy. I think everyone in Aikido will agree with that, regardless of my views of "shomen strikes". It's like running a relay race. You can run really slow when you are passing the baton, and it doesn't take too much focus, but timing the handoff is still a factor. Uke is trying to give you something. If you ignore the gift and just clobber them, you aren't doing Aikido.....This training environment, as Ron noted earlier, is a set up. It ain't real. I'm convinced it's a waste of time to try and make it real by taking about "what if?".Exactly. For that matter philosophers are still trying to figure out what is "real". But in kata, there is not room for "what if", if everything is set up. The people who created the kata saw to that, or at least the good ones did. I think this is probably where your definition of kata blurs, but I don't know you or your instructor, I am just going out on a limb.

Kata isn't just a diagram you lay on the floor like when someone is trying to learn some dance moves. They are typically designed by people who spent many years studying what worked and why it worked and used kata to factor out the dangerous elements in favor of learning the things that worked. I feel like this element (or elements) is missing more and more, much in the same way things get lost when passing information through the grapevine.

When people depart from what is dictated through kata, the "what if" phenomena occurs. It is both participants' responsibility to ensure adherance to the kata; in koryu practice, this is predominantly uke's (uchi tachi) role. That has been lost in the world of Aikido, and uke is the throw dummy most of the time. People only get to do Aikido 50 percent of the time, then they switch and become uke for the other 50 percent. That is really too bad, uke has a very important role to play in keeping the kata dynamic....What this environment (kata) is ideal for is instruction. It's perfect for that. It may even be vital for instruction. So let's work cooperatively there for however long it takes (probably 5 - 15 mintues).It is also ideal for creating neuromuscular memory that combines elements of spatial and temporal awareness....After that, let's take this technique that we've been instructed on and put it in a dynamic environment or a drill or a scenario and work on timing there (the majority of the class).This is just my definition of kata. Your definition is just smaller, less inclusive. I am not sure if it would actually be called kata. I think you are just talking about instruction and modeling. Modeling someone a few times is not what I would consider definitive kata practice, although it is part of the kata method....Here we can create an environment where it's ok not to succeed, where people can play and see what works for them. In this dynamic environment it's ok to reverse your partner, it's ok to change to a different technique, it's ok to get thwared and all those other things that happen and cause the "is this person a jerk because when we train they...." posts that appear here on a regular basis.This is where I spend most of my time in kata practice, although the line gets blurred into randori a bit. The emphasis is more on doing something correctly as much as I can. I work in a restaurant, and any good cook or server will agree with me. The food is never the same (in reality, you can't serve the same food twice, now could you), but each plate should look consistent with what the menu and the recipe dictate. A BLT is just another form of kata; would you like fries or a salad?...(alive, functional, and motivated uke) cannot exist in an environment where they are: 1. "uke" 2. have a specific attack 3. with a specific target .... because those things define a kata, and kata ain't dynamic.If I told you to put an apple on your head and hold still while I hit the apple with a throwing knife, even though you are "static", your activity would be pretty dynamic, wouldn't you agree? Why? Because there are always the factors of human error and random happenstance involved, and you just might get hit between the eyes. That is kind of like kata. Real kata takes the idea of timing into account and adjusting it to the above circumstance would be more like: Put the apple on your head and walk across the room and I will use the knife to knock it off your head while you are moving. That is "real kata". And maybe I am again going out on a limb, so I don't mean to offend you, but I just don't think you have ever been exposed to it.

Jim Vance

paw
01-12-2003, 03:24 PM
Jim,
Stop. I agree, I think shomen strikes are a waste of time.....

I guess I didn't express myself well. Replace shomen with any techique in my original statment and that will always be true in the kata environment (my definition, previously given). I can deny ikkyo in a kata environment to anyone, regardless of how skilled they are, how excellent their timing is, etc.... That's not because I'm a good aikidoka or whatever ... that's the nature of kata. I can keep the prescribed attack to the presribed target and move in such a way as to make ikkyo a virtually impossible response. That's easy. Anybody can do that. So what is this environment good for? Instruction.
This is just my definition of kata. Your definition is just smaller, less inclusive.

Then we have different definitions. Call it what you like. I still submit that in the environment I call "kata", it is a poor use of resources to worry about timing for the reasons that I've tried to explain.

The bulk of your post, as I understand it, is that you submit a different definition of "kata" wherein working on timing (among other things) is good use of resources. Whatever you want to call it. If there aren't prescribed roles, specific attacks and specific targets, then I could see how working on timing may have value, provided the environment is truly alive and dynamic.



Regards,

Paul

opherdonchin
01-12-2003, 05:52 PM
This is a fascinating discussion. I basically find myself agreeing with Jim Vance's perspective and most of the thoughts I've had have been brought up by him at one pont or another. However, there was one thing that I thought I might add.

There are people in my dojo whom I can peg with a shomen (or munetski or whatever) in standard 'kata' training every single time if I want. My timing is just that much better than theirs. There are also people who seem to be able to peg me any time they choose because their timing is so much better than mine. Similarly, there are people who couldn't 'deny me ikkyo' no matter how motivated they were and hoy much information they had, and other people who seeem to be able to turn me into a rag doll any time they choose.

So, I guess I'm saying that my experience of learning proper timing through kata is that it certainly has taught me skills that I notice, and that I still feel that there is a lot that it has to teach me.

I think the turning in a stopped car analogy, by the way, is probably not reasonable. The stopped car is more like making the claim that there is no timing if you are practicing static technique (first uke grabs and only after uke has grabbed does nage start moving). I think kata is more like practicing turns in the parking lot before you go out into traffic.

jimvance
01-12-2003, 08:26 PM
:confused:

Well, you got me stumped.

Either Paul is light years ahead of the rest of us, or I just don't plain "get" what he is talking about.

I can deny ikkyo or any other technique to anybody, I don't care if they are an Aiki-GOD. It's called not showing up, not bowing in, not participating. Bad stuff can happen to you if you walk out of the house, and there are those people who stay in their closets for that very reason. I like training in kata and Aikido for that very reason, I get to go into dangerous places with people who love me and take care of me.

I was hoping to maybe have some sort of intelligent discourse on what is kata and how timing affects it, thinking maybe we would get back to the original question (which I didn't really understand, sorry, kinda slow-witted, got to spell it out to this guy). I really didn't have the intent of getting this far off the topic, I apologize.

Still confused.

:confused:

Jim Vance

PeterR
01-12-2003, 10:01 PM
Hi Sean;

Truth be told the different levels of timing I know about but the names and what they mean I really haven't studied. I should, I will, thanks for the push. What you wrote, I can't improve on.

Paul

Kata training has a wide range of levels. Kata performed at the highest level is very very close to the edge. What you do depends on the level of your partner and also what you are trying to accomplish. As you know Shodokan randori can be quite intense but the last time I injured someone (or he injured himself) was actually during kata. Sean it is the first technique of the Koryu Goshin no kata tanto dori. In that situation I was uke and tori (unarmed) cut too close, my shoulder smashed into his face (his face smashed into my shoulder) and well it wasn't pretty. It was an accident but it illustrates a couple of points.

You can get hit in kata.

Kata has the potential to be as dangerous as randori.

Of course both go hand in hand and compliment each other.

paw
01-13-2003, 07:06 AM
Ok, I'll try once more to explain what I mean. I honestly think this is the sort of thing where we would all understand each other's points of view if we were on a mat for 5-10 minutes.

I think some of the problem is the word "kata". So I'll use a different word, "introduction phase" instead (stealing language from Matt Thornton).

In the introduction phase, everything is defined. We arbitrarily assign the role of uke to one person, and the role of nage to another. We instruct uke to launch a specific attack, say yokomen, to a specific target, say nage's side of the head. We instruct nage to respond to this attack with the technique ikkyo.

Now, it's very easy for nage to not get hit in the side of the head. Nage can take both hands, cup the back of their head just above the ears, interlock their fingers and point their elbows straight in front of their face. Nage's forearms now protect the side of their head, so any attack will hit their forearm and not their head. .... (Yes, this creates other problems, but just a second)

Now, uke can very easily deny ikkyo to nage. As soon as uke strikes they can deliberately fall on their back before nage can even respond to the strike (action is faster than reaction). No ikkyo there.

Both of these behaviors are easy to do, take virtually no training, and make the exercise completely pointless. Of course if nage covers up uke could attack in another method to another target. Of course if uke is lying on their back nage has other options. All 100% true. But by exercising any of those "what ifs" we leave the introduction phase and we are now training in another manner (no value judgements, it's just a different training atmosphere).

In the introduction phase, I believe it is a poor use of resources to talk about timing (or resistance, or counters, etc....) because of the nature of the introduction phase. (I'm not saying timing doesn't exist in the introduction phase. I would say timing is present, but greatly skewed.) I believe the introduction phase is good for (probably vital for) introducing a new technique or skill. That's it. That's my point. Does that make sense?

Regards,

Paul

Ron Tisdale
01-13-2003, 09:06 AM
Hi Paul,

You're right, a few minutes on the mat would probably do wonders. Perhaps you are just not familiar with the way some of us perform "kata". I'm not sure that it always translates to the "introduction" phase. If that's the way you use it though, nothing wrong with that.

I've been hit in kata, I've hit my partner...its sure not something to brag about in either case, but it happens. Especially when pushing the envelope. Kondo Sensei refers to something called "promise training" which I think describes well the upper limits of what is possible by kata training. Its the kind of thing you do only with someone you know and trust really well. I've seen an entire dojo with two different groups of MAists go absolutely stone cold silent watching a partner and I do "kata" training. And I'm not even that good.

Ron Tisdale

jimvance
01-13-2003, 01:50 PM
I guess I am still willing to discuss this idea with Paul. (Please excuse my digression.)Now, it's very easy for nage to not get hit in the side of the head. Nage can take both hands, cup the back of their head just above the ears, interlock their fingers and point their elbows straight in front of their face. Nage's forearms now protect the side of their head, so any attack will hit their forearm and not their head.What if the uke is holding a sharp implement? The kata teaches what to do in a variety of situations, not just how to deny uke the opportunity to whack him upside the head.Now, uke can very easily deny ikkyo to nage. As soon as uke strikes they can deliberately fall on their back before nage can even respond to the strike (action is faster than reaction). No ikkyo there.Then uke's real attack was to touch nage and then fall down. No yokomen there. And I know that if you fall onto your back while I have contact with your arm, you might be minus an elbow due to your own body weight. That is a skill that is developed through kata, not a result of big muscles, a natural inclination to scrap, or a tough demeanor (of which I have zero).Both of these behaviors are easy to do, take virtually no training, and make the exercise completely pointless.I don't want to sound disrespectful of the people who are teaching you Aikido, but I would venture a guess that you've just never been challenged by someone who could stand you on your head with ikkyo or any other technique at will, regardless of how fast you attack or what counters you try to perform. You probably won't without having someone hurt you.

That's okay, it shows a strong spirit, and I admire that. My first martial arts teacher was the same way, had both of his wrists sprained by Kisshomaru Ueshiba from kotegaeshi. If you want to start your own training philosophy, then all the more power to you, but please don't say the method doesn't work if you have never defeated it in principle and application against world class people.

Jim Vance

paw
01-13-2003, 02:49 PM
Jim,

I'm not saying kata is bad or worthless. (read that a couple times, please) I've never said kata is worthless on this thread (read that a couple of times too) I'm saying that there is an environment (one that I'm going to call the "introduction stage" because the k-word is causing trouble) where I believe talking and examining: "what if", counters, timing, and the like is not a good use of time. That's all. <==== that last character is a period.

Think about the name of the stage "introduction". I'm thinking this is the stage we (as aikidoka) should be in when we show someone ikkyo for the first time, or koshi for the first time, etc.... If students are familiar with ikkyo or koshi or whatever, then there's no reason to be in the introduction stage that I can think of.

Does that clarify things?

As for the rest of your post, I'm going to write it off as our continued misunderstanding. Does that seem fair to you?

TomE
01-13-2003, 04:41 PM
I see I've missed a bit while I was away. Other people have already brought forward some of the points i was going to make, so I'm not going to repeat them.

Paul, I have to say that your "learning to drive a car comparison" seemed a bit off... according to the definition you give here, nobody above 5th kyu would be doing any more kata.

But let me just recycle the "car" analogy to clarify my own point of view...

First, you go sit behind the wheel, and your instructor will point out what everything is, what it's for and how you use it. This is the wheel, it turns like this, this is how you change gears, this pedal is the brake, etc. In a car, that takes about ten minutes. In aikido, we start by explaining and showing a newbie some of the basics: this is kamae, this is tenkan, here's how you do shomen uchi, etc. The main difference is that in aikido we don't explain everything before moving on to the next level - instead, we explain every new technique as it comes along. This is the intoductory stage you describe, but it's not yet kata as I would define it.

Then comes the next step - and this is where, IMO, kata begins: integrating all these elements into a process that is more than the sum of it's parts.

In the car, this is where you start it up and begin using your new knowledge to drive the thing. And I can tell you, a driver who sits behind the wheel and tries to analyze everything as he goes along will be a crappy driver - much like the caterpillar who could no longer walk as soon as he started wondering which foot he had to move first. In a car, you'll now start driving around (at the end of my first two-hour driving lesson, I'd already spent one hour on the road, although at a leisurely pace and in only moderate traffic), see what you can and can't do (estimating distances, taking turns at the right speed, moving between obstacles...). In short, this is where you start applying your new knowledge to interact with your environment. Just like in aikido practice, kata are where you have to extend awareness of your actions beyond what you're doing, to also include your partner - and eventually, your whole environment. Without that, you're just mimicking things without doing anything that "works", and while that may be a form of practice, it doesn't fall under my definition (or many others', apparently) of "kata".

In short, what I'd call "kata" is the process where you integrate everything you've learned so far, and where you will practice this until you begin to grasp the principles that lie behind the form - eventually, ideally, entering a stage where you go beyond the formal restrictions and can act spontaneously, applying what you've learned without even having to consciously think about it - which would be jiyu-waza/randori in its highest, purest form.

I see all this as one long, organic process, and the boundaries between the three stages I described here are vague at best - as you gradually move away from one, you'll slowly move more into the next, except that you never really leave or enter one because they're not really separate (this is where the concept of "beginner's mind" becomes so much more important, I guess). I just wonder if you're not limiting yourself too much when you hold on to your definition of practicing kata as merely an "introduction stage".

Other analogy: I'm a graphic designer, and I've discovered the same similarities between aikido practice and free-hand drawing (=martial art & graphical art) - start by learning what your tools are and what you can do with them (=intro), then learn to look and analyze, and let your hand draw what your eyes see (=coordination, integration = form = kata), and eventually just draw what you see without hesitation, stop thinking about things like perspective or anatomy, or how to hold your piece of charcoal - and it'll work, because these things have become a natural part of the process and they'll happen naturally without you having to "control" them. The same principles apply to everything, really. Drawing from an analytical point of view and trying to focus on the many technical details will get you nowhere (trust me, I learned that the hard way), just begin without worrying about the result (or whether there should even be a result) and do it. If you fail, do it again, without holding anything back - eventually all the pieces will click into place.

I'd like to rant on, but it's getting late and I need sleep now. And anwyay, I think it's getting clear that we're just bickering over the meaning of a little four-letter word, not the process of aikido study itself ("any discussion, if continued long enough..."), and i've been talking way too much about aikido and doing far too little of it. Later, when we're both 8th dan, we'll laugh about this :)

best,

Tom

paw
01-13-2003, 05:18 PM
Tom,

I appreciate your post. I honestly, sincerely, appreciate your post. Much of it is again, "what Paul says is kata isn't what kata is", as I understand your post --- and I don't necessarily disagree with that. I regret using the k-word and should have begun with Thorton's terminology, which is "introduction stage".

I'll conceed that the car example wasn't a good one and let it go at that. In the past, I've often used sporting examples or examples from other martial arts/styles and tend to receive 3 or 4 posts about aikido not being a sport (can't win for losing....). And I agree that at this point were talking about definitions, not processes.

As for 8th dan, well, when you get there, let me know and I'll buy you a pint (or two).

Warm Regards,

Paul

PeterR
01-13-2003, 07:32 PM
I'm not saying kata is bad or worthless. (read that a couple times, please) I've never said kata is worthless on this thread (read that a couple of times too) I'm saying that there is an environment (one that I'm going to call the "introduction stage" because the k-word is causing trouble) where I believe talking and examining: "what if", counters, timing, and the like is not a good use of time. That's all. <==== that last character is a period.
Hi Paul;

I guess kata is one of those words. Kata done at/as the "introduction stage" is quite different than it's full potential.

Let's discuss the use of "what ifs" at any stage.

Of course for a beginner this has as much reality (to use the car analogy) what would you do if a huge massive big truck decided to rear end you on purpose when (experience wise) you haven't even got out of the parking lot. However, as your driving skill increases three things probably happen. Firstly, you don't think of the "what ifs" as much; secondly, your solutions diverge from fantasy (360 degree spin, rev and play chicken) to reality (find twisty road quick); thirdly your what ifs probably run to more likely scenerios (kids leaping out between parked cars).

The what ifs in an Aikido setting, at any stage, do have a purpose in that they allow the student to feel relevance. The danger of course is that they begin to fool themselves - that of course is why we have advanced students.

Even at kyu grades we have free embu. In this situation you get to make up kata. For a kyu grade student to watch both free and fixed embu of higher levels the power and speed make their early attempts look down right silly.

As a side note I have seen certain jujutsu schools that teach literally hundreds of scenerios as kata. What ifs gone mad so to speak. I've also seen Aikido dojos that seem to bask in variations. Kata training done right can bring everything to a very high level.

opherdonchin
01-14-2003, 12:39 PM
Paul, I think one of the difficulties with 'what you call kata is not what I'm talking about' is that you were pretty specific in your definition.

Kata, you say, is when the attack and the technique are proscribed. That is also kata for me. I find that, within that structure, there is much room for work on timing. For a student on their first day, that might not be the place to focus, although working with a beginner that is often a great place for me to focus.

So, I guess I'm not sure I understand what it is that you are referring to. Whether you call it an 'introductory stage' or 'kata' or whatever. If all you mean by it is 'proscribed techniques' then I don't think I agree with you. If you mean 'before the student is ready to understand timing,' then I might agree with you but I would say that you are speaking tautologically. We could also discuss whether there is such a stage, which is a different question.

paw
01-14-2003, 04:02 PM
Peter,

et tu?

Opher,

As I posted earlier I regret using the k-word. Forget I ever said it. Instead, I should have used Thronton's language, which would be introduction stage.

If you still don't understand, the only thing I can do is let Thornton speak for himself.

Namely:
In anticipation of the various questions that will follow, let me re-post a previous section on what we call, for lack of a better word, 'I' method.

As an example, I will use a footlock (achilles lock). But you could use any *thing* or any combination of *things*

Step #1 = INTRODUCTION:

All the fine points of the basic footlock are taught. Grip, position, and WHY it works. The WHY is important. Again we want to teach people to think for

themselves. So teaching an athlete why a joint must be immobilized first, prior to

breaking it, explains the position first principle. Why you pinch your knees

together. Why you are on your side and never on your butt, etc.

This should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, per position.

--- from Matt Thornton
There is no resistance in this stage it is completely cooperative and therefore, timing is skewed so much so that this isn't an effective use of time to worry about timing issues.

In case you are wondering, there are two following stages that Thornton then progresses to, where timing would be a worthwhile topic of study. If you think it helpful, I'll add them.

Regards,

Paul

opherdonchin
01-14-2003, 05:21 PM
Actually, that helps a lot. I'm not sure we 'see' this stage you are talking about very much in AiKiDo (at least not the AiKiDo I've experienced), although there are occasional students for whom it is a necessary first stage and occasional exercises that sound sort of similar to it.

In general, the AiKiDo I've experienced has not used 'no resistance' or 'comnpletely cooperative' as an introductory stage or a training tool for beginners. Rather, it tends to be more of an aspiration of the advanced students, never quite reached.