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senshincenter
05-09-2003, 03:38 AM
Lately there has been a lot of talk about the nature of Aikido's attacks as they are practiced generally among the members of the Aikido community. The argument, in brief, goes something like this: "Aikido's effectiveness, and thus it's overall integrity, suffers from a common tendency to face only weak or 'unrealistic' attacks when training."

This position would seem to make perfect sense. It is after all a variation of the idea that you "train with what you fight, and fight with what you train." But I think that somewhere in the midst of all this "common sense" we are missing something very vital to Aikido training. Namely, there aren't supposed to be "real" attacks in Aikido training - because “real” attacks can’t exist in the dojo - because any attack that exist in a training environment is a priori an ideal attack - that is to say NOT REAL.

Please bare with me. I do not mean to suggest that attacks should not be made with sincerity - with a unification of mind, body, and purpose. I only mean to point out that that is all Aikido requires of its uke for training: a unification of mind, body, and purpose. This can of course be manifested in strikes that are thrown hard and fast, but this can also be manifested in strikes that are delivered slowly. This can be manifested in right rear crosses and rear leg front thrust kicks, but this can also be manifested in movements like tsuki and yokomen-uchi.

After all, it is my opinion, that Aikido only requires a manifestation of energy. Energy by which one will learn to harmonize with, deviate from, enter into, redirect, and ultimately launch - to name a few. And for this, any ol' energy will really do - even energy generated by a non-human form - as seen in the training techniques of many traditional Chinese martial arts, for example. The point is, "real" and "unreal" don't really come into play in Aikido training. As well they shouldn't. After all, if real is determined by what one would mostly confront on the street, as the wisdom goes, then perhaps one hasn't been in too many street situations if he/she holds this position. For, as any law enforcement agent, and/or seasoned street rat would tell you, in the street anything is possible, and that alone is what make it real: its infinite nature, its never-ending and unknowable potential.

With anything possible, better to train, as Aikido does, with planes of ideal paths of action. With anything possible, better to see that you develop the skills that make "aiki" a viable tactic, than to determine whether or not you can address your buddy's haymaker in class. For one (e.g. My senpai's hardest left hook), or even 100 individual aspects (e.g. the left hooks of everyone in my dojo) of infinity (i.e. the total variations of what might actually face in the street) are in the end meaningless. But three planes of action, which mark a three dimensional existence, that stand for both everything and nothing, can and do fully provide one with the energy necessary to develop and cultivate the martial tactic of aiki. And this is done in a way that no left hook, no right cross, no spinning back kick can ever do.

When we consider the infinity which we are dealing with on the street, we can see that the specialized practices and techniques of various other arts (e.g. karate, boxing, etc.) are in themselves no less ideal than are tsuki, yokomen-uchi, or shomen-uchi. Also - when we consider the infinity which we are dealing with, we can see that even sub-branches such as slow, strong, fast, and weak are themselves but ideals and as such are things cannot exist on the street. This is because the street, or any other environment of violence, can contain no ideals. An ideal is an ideal simply because it can be duplicated and repeated and ultimately predicted and determined. The street, that is to say, the chaos of violence, lends itself to no such type of thinking or acting. What you face in the midst of violence is what you face. It is beyond judgment, distinction, and discrimination.

That being said, in training, whether a strike come slow or fast, hard or soft, is not really the issue it is cut out to be by many current thinkers on Aikido's "inefficiencies." All that mattes is whether nage was able to manifest and cultivate aiki as a tactic. Toward this end, slow, fast, hard, soft, roundhouse, tsuki, kick, strike, it matters not. Do you demonstrate and cultivate aiki? That's all that matters - that is everything. To believe otherwise is to reify an ideal into something it is not - into something it can never be: reality.

Though I have posted this amateur attempt at logic, this is not to say that I do not agree with many of the heartfelt positions offered here at AikdoJournal.com on the "problems" of Aikido. It's just that I do not see, for example, that attacking with Karate's ideal strikes over Aikido's ideal strikes will bring any great change to our art. Instead, as an alternative course of action, if we want to deal with Aikido's "problems" - let us look away from notions of fake attacks and real attack and look better at the countless examples of absent kuzushi - no loss of balance.

For example, if we are honest, if we take the time to look at tapes of ourselves, or tapes of others, we will see a preponderance of occasions where uke is launched or pinned from a base of support that has either two fully grounded contact points or at least one - which in combat would be used by uke to either counter a pin, throw, or strike, and/or launch their own pin, throw, or strike, etc. As a result of the trend to have no actual kuzushi, today, ukemi, "nice ukemi" has come to be synonymous with uke being able to post a foot, if not both feet, prior to "flying through the air". Today, generally, throughout the Aikido community, uke is standing when he/she is thrown. He/she is rarely ever falling before he/she is thrown. And yet, there can be no other way of understanding that when a foot, or feet, is or are posted, that this is a based that is engaged, that this is an absence of kuzushi, that this is a throw or a pin that would never happen in “reality.”

Hiding behind the flawed common sense of “real attacks” will do nothing to address this (I would say) dominating trend in training. And such a detour from this trend is unlikely to occur since both parties have great stakes in the current misunderstanding of kuzushi. That is to say that uke (speaking generally) is highly unlikely to pursue a type of ukemi that places him/her emotionally, spiritually, and physically in a completely vulnerable position. (I didn’t say “more vulnerable” since there is nothing vulnerable at all about being launched from a posted base of support.) And it is unlikely that nage will require such kuzushi skills of themselves since such a skill requires a much greater stability of base (which is as much physical as it is spiritual) - this is because uke’s luxury of being allowed to post up, allows nage the luxury of posting up as well. The loss of this pseudo-stability on nage’s part would mean that nage would require a dynamic stability, one capable of dealing with the reactionary forces of uke’s movement - which would certainly require higher levels of investment in training, etc. - no matter how high those levels currently are.

Perhaps we do not become more “real” by adding things (i.e. “real attacks”). We seem to become more real by taking things away (i.e. allowing uke to post up before a pin or a throw). And maybe that’s just a cute way of saying, “If I allow uke to post up before he/she falls, if I do not throw or pin uke as they are already fully falling, whether my attack was a straight cross or tsuki, even if I demonstrated aiki with it or not, I am just as “unreal” as ever. In the end, to be satisfied with the unreal, and this is where I agree with many of the commentators at AikidoJournal.com, is to have reconciled with nothing, is to have cultivated nothing - not physically, not mentally, and certainly not spiritually.

ian
05-09-2003, 04:19 AM
Is that a question?

ANY attack and ANY defence has weak points - however it is whether they can be noticed in time to react. Aikido attack and defence are radically different. Attacks are not intended to blend - they are just solid, fast, sinlge attacks of a formulaic nature. If uke and nage are equal within the encounter (i.e. competitive situaitons), you are right - the situation looses its realness because you get into a never ending spiral of response directed towards their last response.

We often specify the type of response uke makes for a particular technique, to enable nage to understand why we would e.g. move under the arm or enter rather than turn.

Sincerety in training, realisation of what we are simulating and constant directed practise is the only necessity - sometimes we get caught up in believing that the attacker knows exactly what we know.

Ian

paw
05-09-2003, 05:49 AM
David,

I'll be honest in that I didn't read your entire post. This section:
Namely, there aren't supposed to be "real" attacks in Aikido training - because “real” attacks can’t exist in the dojo - because any attack that exist in a training environment is a priori an ideal attack - that is to say NOT REAL.
caught my eye.

Payton Quinn, Tony Blauer, et al, do a great deal of scenario based training which is "real" enough to have participants experience regular adrenaline dumps. These scenarios do not involve ideal attacks but ambushes, sucker punches, verbal misdirection and the like. In short, something most people would witness and believe they were watching a real self-defense situation.

Regards,

Paul

Khalil Yousaf
05-09-2003, 06:33 AM
Being new to Aikido, I'm out of my depth here, but having practised different martial arts for a while, I would think that, if ambushed on the street, first and foremost, getting out of the way of the first attack (tai-sabaki) is more important than counterattacking - this gives you a chance to assess what is going on, how many attackers, etc. and helps you to prepare yourself for a second attack when you are truly ready to act on it (correct mindset/posture, or time for sobering up quickly, for example!). It also gives you the chance to run away too if need be :)

Khalil

cindy perkins
05-09-2003, 07:32 AM
Good call, Khalil! I'd want to know all that and not be reeling from the first attack while trying to figure it out!

Again, I'm kind of new and inexperienced. I know that I allow my uke to "re-post" all the time because I'm doing the technique so slowly. ("OK, this foot is here, I move the arm there, trap, then, um, finish the turn -- oh yeah, sink. And lead with the hips...") Also true that when equally inexperienced classmates are working me there are plenty of points where I could get my balance back. If I don't get unbalanced much at all, I just brace and stop moving, and the technique fails.

But when sensei or the senior student work a technique, I'm off balance almost immediately and I never get a chance to get it back, usually even if they're moving slowly. I had a brother about my age (which I think is about as close as you can get to regular "street fighting" and still have teeth), and I'm experienced at trying to get out of something or back on balance. So I know aikido can be taught in a way that does not encourage uke handing tori the throw from a "posted" position. There are dojos that do that? Forgive my naivete; there is much I don't know, and I haven't trained other places...

Peter Klein
05-09-2003, 08:36 AM
whats weak on a jodan tsuki? u do in early stages crappy attacks cause they make u learn the system cause taking a jodan tsuki is very hard. and shomen uchi is very good shown as a knife attack.

Charles Hill
05-09-2003, 08:57 AM
As I understand David's post, he is saying that Aikido practice is not "real" in terms of actual fighting, and that we should be conscious of this and practicing accordingly. This makes sense to me.

I believe the best thing to do is to treat practice like a math problem or science experiment. The teacher gives us a specific attack to work with and shows how he/she could deal with it. We then pair up with a partner and experiment.

Applying this to Cindy's situation, I think her uke is wrong. She takes her partner's balance and he takes advantage of the slow speed and moves his foot to the place where his balance is broken. It might help to encourage the science experiment metaphor. You can work on developing good rapport with your partners so you can say to them that he/she is only able to move that way due to the speed.

This problem doesn't affect senior students only because they have a lot of experience practicing slow and simple. I agree with David's post, but I think it would be more helpful to discuss practical things we can do to solve the problem.

sean mcdonnell
05-09-2003, 09:38 AM
That's the longest post I've ever seen.

George S. Ledyard
05-09-2003, 11:16 AM
I'll post the same repy I did on the Aikido Journal thread:

Practice of so-called "non-traditional" attacks is quite useful and has a necessary place in the practice of Aikido as a viable martial art. But that isn't the main thrust of the critics of Aikido attacks, of whom I am one. My problem is that in many dojos I see, there are NO attacks.

I was at a seminar in which visiting Ikeda Sensei called up a shodan to take ukemi. This young man was directed to do munetsuki but Ikeda Sensei didn't move when the attack was made. Six inches from his chest the young man's tsuki suddenly deflected off into space. Ikeda Sensei directed him to really hit but after five attempts, the young man was still unable to get himself to make contact.

This is a massive failure of training. This man has gotten up to Yudansha Rank and can't do a tsuki. Having this person for a partner is not just useless but actually counter productive for one's training. Repetitive parctice of technique from attacks which are energetically false imprints a whole range of associations which are wrong and will prove disastrous when a real committed attack is made.

One doesn't need to get into non-traditional attacks to find out where the problem in Aikido attacks lies. Stick with Shomenuchi, Yokomenuchi, and Munetsuki. I consistently visit dojos in which mid-level yudansha routinely deliver strikes to each other in training which one would find vaguely annoying at worst if one were struck. I have watched Randoris on Yudansha tests in which several ukes did their level best not to strike the nage but rather held their arms out for the necessary time to allow the nage to do the technique of his choice. There was no need for nage to develop proper timing and spacing as the ukes fascilitated everything for him.

If Aikido is to have any real value other than as a dance form then things need to be seen and practiced for what they are. A shomenuchi is a knife edge strike to the front of the head. Whether you do it off the front foot, off the back foot, as an extension outwards (like the Shingu folks) or as a powerful vertical downwards strike (like the ASU folks) doesn't matter. What matters is that it is a strike and that the uke is attempting to strike the nage. If nage is too junior to handle a full out attack then the attck is adjusted to make it safe. But if he makes a mistake it should still hit him; it just doesn't hit hard enough to injure. When you get to yudansha level you should be seeing committed and powerful attacks. If nage makes mistake he should get hit.

Attacks in many dojos are completely lacking in intention. You can casually move off the line of attack and the uke will dutifully strike the spot where used to be standing. No matter how slowly you make your entry somehow the uke never hits you. You attain O-sensei level of ability to move around without anyone ever hitting you (as long as the attackers are from your own dojo where this type of detrimental practice is condoned). I consistentlly encounter people at seminars who are shocked to find that they can't actually do the irimi movement they thought they could. Repeatedly my hand stiops touching their heads no matter how they try to escape. Their problem isn't that I am somehow so much faster than anyone else they train with... it's that I have a clear intention to strike when I strike. They'd been cruising along in their dojos thinking that they could actually do that irimi nage and then they find out it was all a dream.

Once again I was at a nidan test in which the person testing looked fairly competent but was not, in my opinion, being challenged in any way by the ukes who were all from his own dojo. At one point Saotome Sensei called fr a new uke and a student from outside that person's dojo stepped in. His first yokomen strike went right through this fellow's attempted deflection and bopped him upside the head. To his credit he was able to make the adjustment and handled the next few committed attacks. But you could see the shock on his face when that first "real" strike came in. It made it painfully obvious to everyone present who cared to look that none of the previous ukes were actually trying to do a strike.

I think that people need to make an attack be what it is. It is a strike and the person doing it needs to think of it that way. He should be trained to have the strongest intention to hit that safety allows. This starts with the teacher. If the teacher accepts unreal attacks from his ukes than the whole basis for training at the dojo is undermined. My teachers, Ikeda Sensei and Saotome Sensei absolutely expected you to do your level best to nail them. On those very rare occasions when one of us would succeed you'd get a smile and a "very good". We trained with each other the same way. In my early yudansha days I got hit as many times as I succeeded on my entries. But as frustrating as that was sometimes, when I pulled one off I KNEW I had pulled one off. I didn’t have to wonder if my partner had given it to me.

In many dojos there is so little intention in the attacks that when someone who can really attack does so, the students can not stand in front of it and keep their centers. You can feel their energy field collapse as you start to move forward with the strike. If you can't hold your mind steady when the attack is delivered, then no amount of training, no amount of technical acquisition, no amount of detailed understanding of how a technique works will make any difference. If your Mind goes into retreat at the instant of the attack, everything else is over before you even make physical contact. It doesn't matter that you know hundreds of techniques. They are simply hundreds of techniques which you can't do.

This is the fundamental issue with Aikido training today. You take care of this issue and adding some practice once in a while using non-traditional attacks is just a detail in the development of the students skills as martial artists.

Cyrijl
05-09-2003, 11:40 AM
you do need real attacks for real defense.

many dojo's have neither.

it is not the waekness of the aikido, but of the instructors and the students.

Jeff R.
05-09-2003, 04:56 PM
Namely, there aren't supposed to be "real" attacks in Aikido training - because “real” attacks can’t exist in the dojo - because any attack that exist in a training environment is a priori an ideal attack - that is to say NOT REAL.
I'm not quite sure what this means. Whether you're making a discretion between real intent to do harm, or applying real force in an attack.

It's true that there should be no real intent to do harm in the dojo. However, even intent to do harm in "real" out-of-dojo attacks doesn't matter either. As an Aikidoka, we aim to lose selfish perception and rise above taking an attack personally. Otherwise, it can be our demise. Therefore, with all intent being moot, inside or outside, the attacks should be the same. I have earned the right to get hit if I don't get out of the way, and Uke had better be looking for openings in my technique, and trying to use them. If not, then my the training is virtually useless, given the entire purpose of Aikido--RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT.

What I'm tired of, in fact, are the spaghetti, limp-garbage "attacks." If there is no attack with intent to make contact, then there is no technique. I don't even bother doing techniques anymore if I get a lazy attack.


Please bare with me. I do not mean to suggest that attacks should not be made with sincerity - with a unification of mind, body, and purpose. I only mean to point out that that is all Aikido requires of its uke for training: a unification of mind, body, and purpose. This can of course be manifested in strikes that are thrown hard and fast, but this can also be manifested in strikes that are delivered slowly. This can be manifested in right rear crosses and rear leg front thrust kicks, but this can also be manifested in movements like tsuki and yokomen-uchi.

After all, it is my opinion, that Aikido only requires a manifestation of energy. Energy by which one will learn to harmonize with, deviate from, enter into, redirect, and ultimately launch - to name a few. And for this, any ol' energy will really do - even energy generated by a non-human form - as seen in the training techniques of many traditional Chinese martial arts, for example.
Yes, sort of, but then you lose me. I don't understand "any ol' energy." Uke can either attack with intent to follow through and make a solid connection, or Uke can offer nothing. If Uke is not training with all-out intent and energy, then the training suffers, slow or fast.


The point is, "real" and "unreal" don't really come into play in Aikido training. As well they shouldn't. After all, if real is determined by what one would mostly confront on the street, as the wisdom goes, then perhaps one hasn't been in too many street situations if he/she holds this position. For, as any law enforcement agent, and/or seasoned street rat would tell you, in the street anything is possible, and that alone is what make it real: its infinite nature, its never-ending and unknowable potential.
That should apply in the dojo as well--variation, anything possible--Uke and Nage should be doing more than just going through the motions, always looking for an opening and using it.

:freaky: Whoa. I just dove into the rest of your post, bud, and I am thoroughly lost.

I think the philosophy trying to come through is sound, but the words are screwing it up for me.

Sorry.

Lan Powers
05-09-2003, 09:33 PM
:rolleyes: Wow Mr. Ledyard,

You sound just like my teacher!!

You start to strike, and he lowers his guard for you to illustrate the point, you had BETTER be landing your yokomen, shomen...etc. etc.

I would like to get better at my entering to deal with kicks though.:freaky:

Lan

senshincenter
05-10-2003, 01:04 AM
RE: George Ledyard's post

Hello,

Please call me Dave. Thank you for your reply. Forgive me for not replying sooner to the list, but it seems, in my opinion, that these forums are not always cut out to be what they should be. I think a lot of folks are shooting off on some wild tangents here, and truth be told, I was wondering if I should continue the discussion since it was obviously going off in a different direction - which is the right of any group anyway. Your reply however was a great exception to this, of course. So I wanted to say thank you - to show my appreciation.

If you may allow me to make one brief comment here - since I'm not sure I'll be replying to all of the wild tangents on the list: I have to say that I do agree with you entirely. I hope that isn't too surprising since I never meant to suggest that weak attacks are the way that we should train in Aikido. My only point, which was a philosophical one, is that strikes in the dojo are always ideal strikes - whether they are hard or fast, tsuki, or right cross. It is my position that if we do not understand this fact, we will be missing a great wisdom that Aikido has passed down to us, namely that it is best to train with ideal strikes that cover the three planes of motion in the face of an infinity that is the chaos of combat, RATHER THAN training with individual manifestations and/or combinations of those planes of motion IN THE ATTEMPT to have gained more of a hold on what cannot be held (i.e. the infinity of violent expression). This is why, where you would say that training against the ideal strikes of karate is "necessary", I would merely say "it can't hurt" - as long as one doesn't believe that he/she is now better prepared for what he/she may encounter in the street. In short, and for example, there is a reason why Aikido has only three strikes, it's a very good reason, and it often tends to be lost on those folks that spout a "cure-all" in the form of adopting attacks from other arts. I do not mean to suggest that this is your position, however. I am merely restating my original point on this matter.

Reifying the ideal attack is what I'm against. I'm not against strong attacks. And this is why I can totally agree with your position, since your position is a call sincere attacks. The cases you brought up were horrendous. And I have to say that I too have been in attendance at such transactions between these great teachers and their distant students - even been at one such occasion where one of these teachers had to stop a test to offer advice and admonishments over such things. Still, said teacher did go on to rank the persons (yudansha ranks) in question - so go figure.

I see what you are getting at in your comments, and I see the heart behind it all, and all of that is something I myself would very much line up behind. Where I veer however is when your comments potentially lend themselves to reifying ideal attacks. I cannot say your position does this outright, which is something I can say about some of the other posts in this thread, but to make my own point and to leave yours aside for a moment: Your sample case to me, as tragic as it is, is not a case of an unreal (as opposed to a "real") attack. It is a loss of integrity; a loss of sincerity - and this of course is only from a Budo perspective. I tried to cover this critique in my first post when I said that energy has to be provided with sincerity and with a unification of mind, body, and purpose - that this is what Aikido requires. By thinking of things in this way, one does not have to risk the danger of reifying ideal attacks, nor risk losing the wisdom that is Aikido's way of training for the infinity of the street. One is also given the more practical means of fixing this problem (discussed briefly below). After all, giving a person that lacks integrity and sincerity a left hook to deliver will only replace a tsuki that is lacking with a left hook that is lacking.

When a teacher does not move because a strike was lacking, I do not have to see a teacher asking for a 'real' strike (i.e. one he believes he is likely to face in the street). I see a teacher asking for integrity and sincerity. But the situation you describe is more than this since there is the tragedy that said person is actually donning accolades of integrity and sincerity (e.g. hakama, yudansha, etc.) That last line may be a bit of a digression, but allow me...

Integrity grows where integrity is demanded to grow. The lack of integrity is nourished where the lack of integrity is allowed to be nourished. To me this means that the solution to these kind of attacks is not found by bringing in strikes from other arts (which was my initial critique, and not necessarily your position), but by demanding integrity, by weeding out places where a lack of integrity can be nourished. Someone else on this list said that this is all the fault of the teachers - and I'd have to agree. If you want to fix this, you don't just wait till someone actually tries to hit you till you move - that seems so "band-aid-like" in its remedy. For though it makes the point to us "believers", I'm sure to others it was merely a bit humorous. Not being there, I wonder if their were chuckles in the crowd? I wonder if the uke had a smile or smirk on his face? If so, this tells me that the lesson is not enough - that more has to be done. More like not ranking folks, like demoting folks, by telling folks straight out, etc. But, truthfully, how much can one really say and do when room (we must admit) for such kind of training can be found at the very pinnacles of Aikido pedagogy. That is to say, when you say or allow folks to say, when it is said, that one can "train for all kinds of reasons;" that "Aikido is a non-violent martial art; that "some folks train for the community, for the philosophy, for the exercise;" etc., whenever one makes a distinction between what is martial and what is anything else in Aikido, be this through verb tense, narrative linearity, or word selection, etc., one has made room for attacks that are no such thing at all.

Even my own teacher, a student of the Founder, and a practitioner reputed to be quite severe in his training and teaching, will at one time leave little room for attacks that lack integrity when he says things like Aikido is a technique by which the keen edge of martial arts is used to cultivate the spirit, etc., BUT THEN go on to talk about roots, and trunks, and branches - where all things martial are the roots and something like exercise and fun are the branches, and all of them have their place, and some folks come just to do the branches, etc. This kind of thinking goes all the way up the Aikido echelon and historically can probably be attributed to Kisshomaru Ueshiba himself. For as we can all only be men of our times, and such was the popular discourse at his time, the first Doshu almost had to speak like this. And so, anyone can find a "legitimate" basis in Aikido pedagogy for what I call a lack of integrity and you would call a weak attack and others would call an unrealistic attack. The fact that said uke in your example was donning a hakama and a dan rank is testament to this fact. In that, he is both tragedy and legitimate.

How many teachers out there today don't just follow suit along with these kind of "allowances," even if it's just in terms of their discourse on what the art is and isn't? How many teachers today expect and demand that every positive form of cultivation in Aikido come through the "bu" of Budo only? I can say in my own dojo, I am quite comfortable saying, "If you want to cultivate your spirit, in Budo you do it through the martial. If you just want to cultivate your spirit - go to a temple, go to a church. If you want to learn to be intimate with friends, in Budo you do it through the martial. If you just want to make friends, join a club. If you want to get in shape, in Budo you do it through the martial. If you just want to look good in a suit, join a gym. Etc." Saying this as the law of the land in my own dojo, I know that most folks today do not train in Aikido like this, and I also know that they have clear lee-ways not to train like this - lee-ways paved in the writings and talks, and even through the promotions, of some of Aikido's giants.

Let's face it, Aikido first left the poverty of potential extinction, something other arts of the time didn't not suffer through so well, by adopting the rhetoric that was being successfully used by physical education programs in Europe at the time (around the first half of the 20th century). As a result, in a way, there became at least two kinds of Aikido that were fully given the legitimacy of the establishment - one grounded in history, and one grounded in the practicality of modern adaptation. And yet, these two types of Aikido were at odds - completely at odds. And this is why what I see as a lack of integrity, can easily be seen by others as "an evolution in the modern repulsion toward violence." I just can't see this changing on any kind of grand scale, since those of us that would like to have it change would in one way or another have to subvert some of the most potent elements and figures in Aikido history. I think this can only change at an individual level - from person to person. You attack me with integrity. I make you attack me with integrity. I attack you with integrity. You make me attack you with integrity. And we pass this along to our students. That's how this is dealt with. But even at the personal level, this may not be an easy thing to change, since there still remains all of the small-self issues that have always been a part of Budo training. In particular, I'm referring to that silent agreement that tends to happen between nage and uke: "You don't make me too vulnerable and I won't make you too vulnerable." And this is very much related to my critique of "kuzushi" where uke is allowed to post either one foot or both feet prior to any throw, pin, or strike, etc.

Thank you,

dmv

George S. Ledyard
05-10-2003, 03:34 AM
RE: George Ledyard's post

Hello,

Please call me Dave. Thank you for your reply. Forgive me for not replying sooner to the list, but it seems, in my opinion, that these forums are not always cut out to be what they should be. I think a lot of folks are shooting off on some wild tangents here, and truth be told, I was wondering if I should continue the discussion since it was obviously going off in a different direction - which is the right of any group anyway. Your reply however was a great exception to this, of course. So I wanted to say thank you - to show my appreciation.

If you may allow me to make one brief comment here - since I'm not sure I'll be replying to all of the wild tangents on the list: I have to say that I do agree with you entirely. I hope that isn't too surprising since I never meant to suggest that weak attacks are the way that we should train in Aikido. My only point, which was a philosophical one, is that strikes in the dojo are always ideal strikes - whether they are hard or fast, tsuki, or right cross. It is my position that if we do not understand this fact, we will be missing a great wisdom that Aikido has passed down to us, namely that it is best to train with ideal strikes that cover the three planes of motion in the face of an infinity that is the chaos of combat, RATHER THAN training with individual manifestations and/or combinations of those planes of motion IN THE ATTEMPT to have gained more of a hold on what cannot be held (i.e. the infinity of violent expression). This is why, where you would say that training against the ideal strikes of karate is "necessary", I would merely say "it can't hurt" - as long as one doesn't believe that he/she is now better prepared for what he/she may encounter in the street. In short, and for example, there is a reason why Aikido has only three strikes, it's a very good reason, and it often tends to be lost on those folks that spout a "cure-all" in the form of adopting attacks from other arts. I do not mean to suggest that this is your position, however. I am merely restating my original point on this matter.

Reifying the ideal attack is what I'm against. I'm not against strong attacks. And this is why I can totally agree with your position, since your position is a call sincere attacks. The cases you brought up were horrendous. And I have to say that I too have been in attendance at such transactions between these great teachers and their distant students - even been at one such occasion where one of these teachers had to stop a test to offer advice and admonishments over such things. Still, said teacher did go on to rank the persons (yudansha ranks) in question - so go figure.

I see what you are getting at in your comments, and I see the heart behind it all, and all of that is something I myself would very much line up behind. Where I veer however is when your comments potentially lend themselves to reifying ideal attacks. I cannot say your position does this outright, which is something I can say about some of the other posts in this thread, but to make my own point and to leave yours aside for a moment: Your sample case to me, as tragic as it is, is not a case of an unreal (as opposed to a "real") attack. It is a loss of integrity; a loss of sincerity - and this of course is only from a Budo perspective. I tried to cover this critique in my first post when I said that energy has to be provided with sincerity and with a unification of mind, body, and purpose - that this is what Aikido requires. By thinking of things in this way, one does not have to risk the danger of reifying ideal attacks, nor risk losing the wisdom that is Aikido's way of training for the infinity of the street. One is also given the more practical means of fixing this problem (discussed briefly below). After all, giving a person that lacks integrity and sincerity a left hook to deliver will only replace a tsuki that is lacking with a left hook that is lacking.

When a teacher does not move because a strike was lacking, I do not have to see a teacher asking for a 'real' strike (i.e. one he believes he is likely to face in the street). I see a teacher asking for integrity and sincerity. But the situation you describe is more than this since there is the tragedy that said person is actually donning accolades of integrity and sincerity (e.g. hakama, yudansha, etc.) That last line may be a bit of a digression, but allow me...

Integrity grows where integrity is demanded to grow. The lack of integrity is nourished where the lack of integrity is allowed to be nourished. To me this means that the solution to these kind of attacks is not found by bringing in strikes from other arts (which was my initial critique, and not necessarily your position), but by demanding integrity, by weeding out places where a lack of integrity can be nourished. Someone else on this list said that this is all the fault of the teachers - and I'd have to agree. If you want to fix this, you don't just wait till someone actually tries to hit you till you move - that seems so "band-aid-like" in its remedy. For though it makes the point to us "believers", I'm sure to others it was merely a bit humorous. Not being there, I wonder if their were chuckles in the crowd? I wonder if the uke had a smile or smirk on his face? If so, this tells me that the lesson is not enough - that more has to be done. More like not ranking folks, like demoting folks, by telling folks straight out, etc. But, truthfully, how much can one really say and do when room (we must admit) for such kind of training can be found at the very pinnacles of Aikido pedagogy. That is to say, when you say or allow folks to say, when it is said, that one can "train for all kinds of reasons;" that "Aikido is a non-violent martial art; that "some folks train for the community, for the philosophy, for the exercise;" etc., whenever one makes a distinction between what is martial and what is anything else in Aikido, be this through verb tense, narrative linearity, or word selection, etc., one has made room for attacks that are no such thing at all.

Even my own teacher, a student of the Founder, and a practitioner reputed to be quite severe in his training and teaching, will at one time leave little room for attacks that lack integrity when he says things like Aikido is a technique by which the keen edge of martial arts is used to cultivate the spirit, etc., BUT THEN go on to talk about roots, and trunks, and branches - where all things martial are the roots and something like exercise and fun are the branches, and all of them have their place, and some folks come just to do the branches, etc. This kind of thinking goes all the way up the Aikido echelon and historically can probably be attributed to Kisshomaru Ueshiba himself. For as we can all only be men of our times, and such was the popular discourse at his time, the first Doshu almost had to speak like this. And so, anyone can find a "legitimate" basis in Aikido pedagogy for what I call a lack of integrity and you would call a weak attack and others would call an unrealistic attack. The fact that said uke in your example was donning a hakama and a dan rank is testament to this fact. In that, he is both tragedy and legitimate.

How many teachers out there today don't just follow suit along with these kind of "allowances," even if it's just in terms of their discourse on what the art is and isn't? How many teachers today expect and demand that every positive form of cultivation in Aikido come through the "bu" of Budo only? I can say in my own dojo, I am quite comfortable saying, "If you want to cultivate your spirit, in Budo you do it through the martial. If you just want to cultivate your spirit - go to a temple, go to a church. If you want to learn to be intimate with friends, in Budo you do it through the martial. If you just want to make friends, join a club. If you want to get in shape, in Budo you do it through the martial. If you just want to look good in a suit, join a gym. Etc." Saying this as the law of the land in my own dojo, I know that most folks today do not train in Aikido like this, and I also know that they have clear lee-ways not to train like this - lee-ways paved in the writings and talks, and even through the promotions, of some of Aikido's giants.

Let's face it, Aikido first left the poverty of potential extinction, something other arts of the time didn't not suffer through so well, by adopting the rhetoric that was being successfully used by physical education programs in Europe at the time (around the first half of the 20th century). As a result, in a way, there became at least two kinds of Aikido that were fully given the legitimacy of the establishment - one grounded in history, and one grounded in the practicality of modern adaptation. And yet, these two types of Aikido were at odds - completely at odds. And this is why what I see as a lack of integrity, can easily be seen by others as "an evolution in the modern repulsion toward violence." I just can't see this changing on any kind of grand scale, since those of us that would like to have it change would in one way or another have to subvert some of the most potent elements and figures in Aikido history. I think this can only change at an individual level - from person to person. You attack me with integrity. I make you attack me with integrity. I attack you with integrity. You make me attack you with integrity. And we pass this along to our students. That's how this is dealt with. But even at the personal level, this may not be an easy thing to change, since there still remains all of the small-self issues that have always been a part of Budo training. In particular, I'm referring to that silent agreement that tends to happen between nage and uke: "You don't make me too vulnerable and I won't make you too vulnerable." And this is very much related to my critique of "kuzushi" where uke is allowed to post either one foot or both feet prior to any throw, pin, or strike, etc.

Thank you,

dmv
Ah, we are on the same page I can see. I wasn't sure from your first post but thought I'd use it as a spring board to further illustrate the problem as I see it.

I agree that the attacks we have in Aikido are pretty much enough to develop the eessential elements of a true budo practice. I was trained by Saotome Sensei and generally we stayed fairly traditional in this area. When I was later called upon to develop a program of police defensive tactics for some Seattle police officers I didn't find that I had any problem taking what I knew and adapting it for them. I had the essential principles down so all I did was adapt them for a certain purpose based on what htey told me they needed to be able to do. I had developed that ability through standard training methods, not by doing some sort of "street" Aikido.

I am somewhat more eclecticin this area than my own teacher because I simply enjoy playing around with training methods. It's as much for my own training as it is for any stratgey in teching my students.

I checked your profile and it didn't mention particulars on who your techer is and what your background is. I am curious if you feel like sahring. Feel free to e-mail me privately if this isn't something you want to post. aikigeorge@aikieast.com

Thor's Hammer
05-10-2003, 12:53 PM
Thank you for pointing this lack of integrity out... I will do my best to stop this in my own practice, and insist uke attacks me honestly!

Peter Goldsbury
05-10-2003, 08:42 PM
Mr Ledyard,

I have been following the thread here and in aikidojournal.com (interesting how the responses are quite different) and I have a pretty good idea about the identity of Mr Valadez's teacher. Concepts like integrity, honesty, commitment, even the tree analogy, immediately struck a chord and reminded me of conversations I had years ago with the same teacher.

I have some reservations about the validity of the general distinction being made between 'real' attacks and something else. I suppose the opposite could be either 'unreal', or 'ideal', but these are not the same.

In his second post, Mr Valadez claims to be making a philosophical distinction and I wonder about the basis for the distinction. Plato, for example, who pretty well established the distinction between an ideal and its ‘real’ instantiation, would have had a major problem in explaining the relationship between 'ideal' attacks and the other sort, which we would actually do in the dojo.

Mr Valadez suggests that in the dojo the attack is ideal because it is not the kind of attack that would happen in the street: to me this seems more like saying the attacks are unreal, because they do not come anywhere near to achieving their aim (the latter understood in a wide sense—and your own remarks are very relevant here). An attack could be said to be ideal if it embodies a certain absolute form and is executed with a certain absolute intention. The better the form and the purer the intention (I suppose), the closer to the ideal. I do not see why street fighters cannot use these paradigms, in the same way as practitioners in a dojo.

My aim here is not to make mere verbal distinctions. I think the way aikido was conceptualized after the war is a crucial factor in its success and this was done by the second Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. In fact, Mr Valadez’s first post pretty well sums up what Doshu wrote in “The Spirit of Aikido”: the importance of KI and the spiritual value of training. The point is that he abandoned his father’s prewar blend of Shinto/Omoto mysticism, but I am less convinced that postwar attacks became any more ‘ideal’ than the prewar variety in the Kobukan ‘hell’ dojo.

Alas, this is all I have time for. I am preparing a longer response, but the thread might well die before I have time to finish it.

Best regards,

senshincenter
05-10-2003, 09:33 PM
Dear Mr. Goldsbury,

In attempts to "inspire" you to please provide your longer post, which I look forward to reading, I'd like to be a little more specific about how I was using the terms "real", real, and "ideal" in my initial post. Undoubtedly we will, if we push this semantics far enough (and one may have to), indeed have to get into Plato, or at least make firmer distinctions between the subjective and objective experiences of "reality" ala your favorite philosopher, but I'm hoping/wondering if some working definitions won't do the trick.

Specifically, I was using the term "real" to denote how most folks seem to be using this word when they are talking about the inclusion of attacks from various/other arts - as a kind of statement that, for example, tsuki, yokomen-uchi, and shomen-uchi, are somehow deficient and/or incomplete. That is to say that I was trying to capture that part of the "real attack" position that states that "real attacks" are what one is most likely to experience in the street; that tsuki/yokomen-uchi/shomen-uchi are not attacks one is most likely to experience on the street; and that holds that dojo training is about a "one to one" relationship between the street and the dojo or about substitutionary scenarios (e.g. "The experience of the right cross in the dojo is meant to and can correspond directly with the experience of the right cross in the street." OR "The experience of tsuki in the dojo only prepares you for when folks attack you with tsuki on the street.")

I was using the term real (without quotation marks) to make a distinction between the knowable (the "ideal") and the unknowable, the unrepeatable, and the undeterminable and which manifests itself only in the immediate present (i.e the irruption of the infinite into the manifest) - that which philosophically represents that infinite potential of what one may actually face within any given moment (in the street or in the dojo - though in this case I leaned more to the environment of the street since this is the side the "real attack" position tends to lean on in their rejection or partial rejection of tsuki, yokomen-uchi, or shomen-uchi).

This section of my original post perhaps sums it up:

"After all, if "real" is determined by what one would mostly confront on the street, as the wisdom goes, then perhaps one hasn't been in too many street situations if he/she holds this position. For, as any law enforcement agent, and/or seasoned street rat would tell you, in the street anything is possible, and that alone is what make it real: its infinite nature, its never-ending and unknowable potential."



As for "ideal" - I am using it to denote that which is not real, not of the "street" - that is to say - that which is without the full infinite potential of reality - that which can manifested at will in the dojo.

I think this passage from the original post re-states that position:

"An ideal is an ideal simply because it can be duplicated and repeated and ultimately predicted and determined. The street, that is to say, the chaos of violence, lends itself to no such type of thinking or acting. What you face in the midst of violence is what you face. It is beyond judgment, distinction, and discrimination."

It was my intent with these working definitions to show that tsuki/yokomen-uchi/shomen-uchi could not so easily be dismissed as either inefficient, incomplete, or unrealistic. In short, and perhaps I should have said this up front, "tsuki is both as unrealistic/ideal/"realistic" as is the right cross when it comes to kihon waza.

Hope that helps with your coming post.

Thank you,

dmv

George S. Ledyard
05-12-2003, 02:18 AM
My friends, I am reminded of that old story about the Indian Holy man who proclaimed that all was Maya "illusion" in the face of an elephant stampede. Of course the "illusion" flattened him.

Whether "real" or realistic, ideal or representative, if I hit someone with my yokomen they will know it. It will have sufficient power that no one will want to stand in front of it and take the hit. People will have to execute their techniques with some degree of correctness in order to not be crushed by the strike.

For me the point is that whatever we do in our Aikido practice, we must do it well, with power, speed, and intention. This is true of the attacks and it true of the defenses. If you train this way, constantly push the envelope, never stop trying to take what you are doing to the next level, then you are doing Budo. You will become more centered, you will develop some personal power, you will have some ability to defend yourself but will probably be less likely to have to. If street fighting is your goal then some attention to that issue would be advisable but the main components of being able to fight will be there already.

I remember Shioda Sensei's description of his encounter with the members of a Chinese gang in Shanghai. The first guy through the front door coming after Shioda sensei got a broken bottle in his face. One suspects that no where in the Daito Ryu or Aiki Budo repertoire is a form in which one takes a bottle and shoves it into someones face. Obviously Shioda Sensei was generalizing from specific principles of openings, lines of attack, and atemi waza to spontaneously deal with a life and death martial encounter. Clearly though he had the intention necessary to do what was needed. That came from training.

I think that training in the dojo is and should be largely about training in principles. To do this properly and safely the principles should be made as clear as possible. They should be isolated by various attacks / techniques so that they can be understood and internalized by the practitioner.

If you want to go beyond that and do scenario training, which is the state of the art in training technology these days, then feel free. One can get an armored assailant as in model mugging and pound on him, although joint techniques are a bit dangereous since the pads won't protect against that.

But then the armored assailant is so armored that he can't actually fight realistically. So this type of scenbario training isn't "real" either.

In fact the only way I can see to really work on your street fighting skills is to street fight. It's the only thing that has all of the reality and none of the limitations of other ways of practicing. So you do the dojo thing to imprint skills and develop your strength and intention in a controlled environment and then you go out to bars and get in fights and see if your stuff works. A number of the uchi deshi did just that.

But then street fights are with street people. These are possibly dangerous but largely untrained folks. As Ellis Amdur pointed out "martial arts are about training to fight another professional." So to be realy sure that your training is addressing the issue of non-traditional attacks etc. one should go to the local boxing gym and challenge an experienced fighter. One should go dojo busting, visiting every style of art and challenging their seniors to fight for the honor of the school. That's the only way I can see to test what you are doing against every possible attack and response.

Larry Bieri Sensei said that Budo isn't about dying, we all die sooner or later no matter what we do. It is really about what you do with the time you are alotted when you are alive. Training should be about developing those characteristics which will contribute to having a great life in which you basically "serve and protect". To do this one needs to train hard and with realism but it doesn't mean that we have to make the training in to some kind of urban survival scenario based comabt course. That may make you better able to survive on the street if that is your requirement but it probably won't serve to improve your life much.

Peter Goldsbury
05-12-2003, 07:52 AM
David and George,

Please do not misunderstand my talk the real and the ideal. Plato is not at all my favourite philosopher: he is too much in his ideal world and not sufficiently rooted in everyday life. Aristotle is more down to earth and his ideas have been the spur for much interesting contemporary thinking about actions, intentions, motives, and the ethical dimensions thereof.

In my opinion, attacks in the street and attacks in the dojo are equally real, or ideal, depending on one's "working definition", as Dave put it.

Thus a gang member who specializes in street fighting or assassinations might well have a very sophisticated concept of an 'ideal' attack, as a pattern which is constantly being tested and refined (providing he/she survives the odds to fight another day). Of course, there is a randomness and clarity of intention to kill or maim which is not seen in a dojo, but this random element does not nullify the real/ideal paradigm, nor the viability of training for such attacks.

I myself would not say this form of training is humanly enriching (because of the wider dimensions involved than simply trying to match the pattern), but some of the literature on the Japanese yakuza presents a different opinion. However, I think no one would deny that attacks in the street, even though they might fall short of some ideal, are very real indeed, especially for the victim. Thus, it is very dangerous, in my opinion, to make overly sharp distinctions between training, as applied to the dojo, and training, as applied to the street.

Equally, someone training in a dojo can execute very real attacks, but they are also attacks which conform more or less to an ideal pattern or form, which they are trying to match (which, incidentally, is at root a Platonic/Aristotelian concept).

In a dojo, however, there is an essential element of 'artificiality', drama even, which is an essential component of the concept of training. I think this concept of artificiality overrides the distinction between real vs. ideal attacks.

In one of my university classes I am using the movie "Gladiator". The historical bases of the movie have been attacked by scholars, but what is not in any doubt is the existence of gladiatorial schools in the Roman Empire, usually organized round a ex-gladiator turned 'Master', who taught his deshi the skills he had learned of attacking and defending.

There was, however, a dimension which probably was not reflected even in the most rigorous training of the Japane samurai in the pre-Tokugawa era: (1) being a gladiator was not a voluntary activity and (2) the line drawn between the training ring and the 'real' result (i.e, death or survival in the arena) was much more finely drawn than in a dojo, even a Muromachi-era dojo, if there were such.

Note also that the master of the gladiator schools had to teach real skills, otherwise he would lose too many of his deshis in the arena. Thus, the training would be artificial, in the sense that it was never a fight to the death in the school, but had to be realistic: to come as close as possible to that potential life/death situation—or to come as close as possible to the Master's ideal patterns of training, whichever was closer, in order to ensure that in a fight to the death, his deshis had the best possible chances of emerging victorious.

Note that a point made by Dave Valadez is covered here. Attacks in the arena were 'in(de)finite' or unpredictable, in the sense that they were conditioned only by the weapons the attackers happened to be using (if I have a trident, I would be unlikely to attack by kicking, but the fact that I attack with a trident channels the unpredictability somewhat, wide though it still is). But the gladiators had little idea beforehand of which of attacks they would actually face, so they had to be prepared for anything—and had to cover this possibility in their training.

The point I want to make here is best made by introducing another concept: authenticity. To what extent can an essentially artificial training situation be authentic?

There are at least two possibilities: (1) How close does the training situation have to match the 'real' situation, for which the training is intended? This is a huge question. (2) How close does the training situation have to reflect the original skills, or blueprint for success, of the master of the school.

In all the previous examples, the training is parasitic on a 'real' stituation which tests the skills acquired by the training. But another interesting question: can you have an authentic training situation in which skills are taught which will hardly ever be put to use in a situation for which the training is intended, which I think is the case in aikido? Obviously you can, but what is the factor which makes the training authentic?

Thus, to generalize, the question arises: what is the ideal form of an attack, understood generally? Well, of course, it depends on the context. No one would really want to compare an infantry battalion in Baghdad with a kitten and a ball of wool, or a gladiator school with a contemporary martial arts dojo.

A better question perhaps would be: what is the most authentic form of attack in an essentially artificial situation. I am with George here: it is as close to edge as possible, but given a very clear sense of the very different capabilities in the dojo and outside the dojo.

Finally, earlier I mentioned the element of drama in a dojo situation. If I were an aikido master training uchi-deshi, I would require them to read the classic works of tragedy, especially Sophocles and Shakespeare. Aristotle has much to say about catharsis in tragic drama. An audience watches—actually participates in—a stage performance which re-enacts a certain sequence of events. As such it is artificial, in the sense I suggested earlier, but the audience experiences a process of catharsis by going through a similar process as the characters which the actors are portraying. To my mind training in a dojo is a cathartic experience: to the extent to which it brings the participants closest to the edge.

I learned this, as I learned how to attack, from a very famous Japanese shihan, now residing in San Diego, USA, and from his father-in-law, who gave a differnet view, equally authentic, in my opinion.

Best regards,

happysod
05-12-2003, 08:22 AM
First, let me compliment the erudite entries which I've read with interest (and the occasional twinge of envy), my own contribution I fear is much more minimal.

The real problem as I see it, which has been touched on many times, is not so much the attack, type of attack or even the type or number of attackers, but rather endgendering the correct feelings in the person attacked. That wonderful, mind-numbing "oh s**t I'm going to die" trip which can make a stunned bunny look positively proactive.

With relative beginners, it's reasonably easy to get the andrenalin response - real weapons practice an obvious answer. However, how do you maintain that edge of fear and "authenticity" (nice word, I'm borrowing it) with people who've practiced together for years, even assuming the attacks are committed?

Without adding a "death by misadventure clause" to the dojo rules, I don't think it's possible and the only thing I've found helps in a "real" situation is practice until the brain isn't involved. The attack shouldn't matter, the weapon used shouldn't matter, you should have moved before you've had a chance of thinking, which of course means practice until you're too tired to think then try the "hard" stuff and practice some more.

(One of these days I must take my own advice on this)

David Yap
07-16-2003, 02:58 AM
I'll post the same repy I did on the Aikido Journal thread:

Practice of so-called "non-traditional" attacks is quite useful and has a necessary place in the practice of Aikido as a viable martial art. But that isn't the main thrust of the critics of Aikido attacks, of whom I am one. My problem is that in many dojos I see, there are NO attacks....
George,

I understand where you coming from. Many years ago, a couple of us students questioned our teacher about the authenticity and realistic of the aikido attacks – lack of commitment and honesty and the telegraphy of the attacks miles away - plus some of the unrealistic moves contradictory to self-defence principles. We asked, “Isn’t Aikido a martial art as O sensei talked about Budo and related stuff?” The reply was “Aikido can be anything for any individual. For you, it is a martial art – self-defence, for others, it is an exercise, to sweat, to socialize, etc. ” Twice I was asked to grade for Shodan, as I took a look at my otagani who were about to grade with me, I asked myself, “So, which Shodan am I grading for - Aikido, aerobics or socialite?” Twice I declined amongst other reasons I best not pen here. I was already a Yudansha in other martial arts discipline and I don’t really need another, I told myself.

Today I found a new class and a new teacher. Things are still the same but answers are more straight to the point – “David, not everyone trains the way you do. As per O sensei, Aikido is for everyone. I can't conduct the class according to the way you preferred to train, it is too hard, my other students may not like it and will go away.” Aaah!! Now I am beginning to understand real (istic) Aikido.

Will catch up with you later, right now I’m preparing to go help my teacher in a demonstration to a ladies’ club interested in taking up Aikido for self-defence. It is an expressive opportunity. It's never too late to learn.

Bye!!

David

;)

happysod
07-16-2003, 04:01 AM
David, I'm intrigued. Your replies to recent threads have been forthright and indicate not only a long-time relationship with martial arts in general, but a sort of "in spite of yourself" one with aikido. So using, this thread as a bounce off, I'd like to ask the following:

1. How would you make the training "more realistic", with particular reference to the attacks etc. ?

2. Where do you feel aikido is lacking in that martial feeling in general. If it has not been your intention to intimate this, apologies.

I'm honestly just curious as you indicate you've spent many a year pondering these areas and you're too damn far to get you drunk and ask direct.:)

I'd also love you to ask what keeps you coming back to aikido (oh yes and why you haven't started your own dojo using your principals). But as these come under the heading of "too personal" I'll probably have to just keep guessing...(?)

ronmar
07-16-2003, 01:41 PM
Where do you feel aikido is lacking in that martial feeling in general. If it has not been your intention to intimate this, apologies.

I'm not David but I want to answer this anyway. Aikido lacks pressure, simple as that. Realistic attacks are a first step on the road to achieving under pressure, but are only a first step since all that is being practiced is 1 attack/1 response, end. The pressure ends for the defender after the first attack has been received. Pressure needs to be continuous for reality.

shihonage
07-16-2003, 02:22 PM
When we consider the infinity which we are dealing with on the street, we can see that the specialized practices and techniques of various other arts (e.g. karate, boxing, etc.) are in themselves no less ideal than are tsuki, yokomen-uchi, or shomen-uchi.

The above statement just completely discredited the validity of anything you may write on the subject.

I stopped reading your post at this point.

Btw, I myself of the opinion that Aikido attacks should be practiced as they are, but with sincerity and speed.

I'm going to do my best to give you a shomen uchi or mune tsuki as if I am actually striving to hurt you with it.

The slow motion slaps that a lot of people do for yokomen attack, or the gentle caressing of the forehead that some people think is shomen uchi, are what invalidates the training for both uke and nage.

shihonage
07-16-2003, 02:56 PM
P.S. I have taken great pleasure in reading Mr. Ledyard's post.

Few things are more upsetting than a non-beginner uke that is twice as large than me, who

a) Gives a yokomen attack with power which would barely squish a fly on the wall. In fact, it may not.

b) "Dutifully" strikes the spot I was initially seen in 24 hours ago.

c) Seems noticeably upset at my committed attacks (where I actually follow his movement), which he probably interprets as some sort of abuse.
Aikido is an art of peace and harmony, after all. (/sarcasm)

d) Does not realize that if I start giving him the same type of attack as he is giving me, he will have to start muscling his way through; also doesn't realize that the reason I'm not doing this is because I don't want this to become some sort of antagonism or competition.

Russ Qureshi
07-16-2003, 04:23 PM
Aleksey! You are priceless! Keep it coming! If you're ever on the west coast (Vancouver) email me (russ&april@telus.net) and we'll practise together.

We will host Suganuma Sensei in early April 2004 so save your money and vacation time!

In gratitude,

Russ

senshincenter
07-16-2003, 08:13 PM
Hi All,

Yes, I agree, after that passage that Aleksey quoted, there's no real need to read anything more of my post. It is the center of the whole issue - for me at least.

I would answer this last question this way: Aikido is not lacking. The art, as a system, is alive and well and fully participating in the Shu-Ha-Ri methodology of training all over the world. That said, the lack or the negative side of which we are all hinting at in one form or another, is present. It's only that I believe this lack to be present at an individual level (great as that may be). I remember a quote by (I think) Ikeda Hiroshi Sensei that went something like this - it was a response to the question or the doubt over whether Aikido "works" or not: "Aikido works. It's just your Aikido that does not work."

I like the spirit of this quote. Why? Because it keeps both blame and responsibility in the tangible arena of the self (the pesonal self). If Aikido is broke - then it is your (our individual) Aikido that is broke. So get to work, and fix it. One by one, every art lives or dies.

I have trained in other arts over the years, and been exposed to countless others, and I have to say that this "dilemma" is something that truly abounds in every system - whether one divides that into a martial art or a self-defense system or not. And most likely this has always been the case all along, particulary because he/she that is able to transcend both Shu and Ha, and actually reconcile with Ri, is rare indeed. Outside of that, prior to that, everything is fake and weak by one standard or another. The positive side of this, is that on the other side of Ri, everything is legit and powerful. All of this is an individual thing. So let's keep it that way - in my opinion. :-)

yours,

dmv

David Yap
07-17-2003, 02:09 AM
Hi Ian,

How would you make the training "more realistic", with particular reference to the attacks etc. ?
Primary reference to Budo at all times – short & sweet.
Where do you feel aikido is lacking in that martial feeling in general. If it has not been your intention to intimate this, apologies.
Aikido the art is not lacking in martial feeling. It just lacks teachers who have Budo feelings and principles. In the old days the teachers chose the students, these days, the students choose the teachers. Realistically, a number of them take the business route and teach accordingly.
I'm honestly just curious as you indicate you've spent many a year pondering these areas and you're too damn far to get you drunk and ask direct.:)
I will gladly have some drinks with you the next time I’m in London but you need not get me drunk for answers. FYI, I have stopped pondering on these areas sometime ago.
I'd also love you to ask what keeps you coming back to aikido (oh yes and why you haven't started your own dojo using your principals). But as these come under the heading of "too personal" I'll probably have to just keep guessing...(?)
I liken Aikido to golf (or even pool). You keep on going for it for no apparent reason; every game you played was different. As on the golf courses or in the poolrooms you are bound to come across some hustlers, similarly you would too in Aikido and other martial arts. (In MA, we term such hustlers as “Grasshopper Sensei” or “Medicine Man” or in the Malay language “Cari Makan” or “Cari Reseki” literary mean “to search for food”). Some in the martial art disciplines (more so in Aikido – I noticed) would go for their yudansha and then choose either to disassociate from their teachers or start a new dojo or stop training all together. I took a different route, I chose not to grade. You can say I chose not to grade because of association.:rolleyes: My thought on this may have changed as many of my peers have convinced me that I should grade for myself and not for others.

On the subject of golf and Aikido, You would notice that when you hit the “soft-spot” of the ball, you felt as if you have hit a sponge as the ball compressed and flied off with such tremendous force and speed. This is something that you look forward to dreaming of each time you tee-off. In Aikido, you enjoy every moment when your objective is met successfully with minimal effort utilised on your part. Your Uke goes down, then gets up and say, “Wow, I didn’t feel that coming”. When you train with the knowledge and discipline of Aikido principles and fundaments you never miss this feeling. This is the feeling that I wish my fellow otagani can have. I hate it when people are so expressive with their techniques that use full body/physical power to bring down their Uke, then apologise to their Uke and have the cheeks to say that’s Aikido. IMHO, that’s the problem when a teacher makes a weak statement – AIKIDO CAN MEAN DIFFERENT THING TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

Still searching ...

David

David Yap
07-17-2003, 02:47 AM
Hi David V

I read your post with great interest and agreed wholeheartedly. The reality is that there are not many people like you or me who are intuitive and exposed ourselves to other martial arts forms. Some don't even have the interest or inquisiveness to research into Aikido let alone these other arts. They are only interested in chasing after belts and dan grades. Not surprisingly, some of them have never heard of the terms Sen-no-sen, Go-no-sen, Tai-no-sen, Tai-tai-no-sen let alone the precept of Shu-Ha-Ri. Ironically, some of them even went on to open their own dojo. They do not understand the teaching concept and hence, have no clarity on the what/why/how to teach and they cannot hold on to good students who had acquired more knowledge and skill than them.

I attached herewith my understanding of the concept of Shu Ha Ri. It was a thesis written for for san dan grading in karate but I am sure it has relevance to Aikido.



Still searching ..

David Y

happysod
07-17-2003, 03:46 AM
Ron:"I'm not David but I want to answer this anyway. Aikido lacks pressure, simple as that... Pressure needs to be continuous for reality"

I have to disagree with this answer Ron - the 1 vs 1 stop start is for training only. Randori and free-form attacks etc. are where the true pressure comes. We also experiment with grappling, ground work and the famous "ok, you've lost, what do you do now?" scenarios - aikido isn't just technical drill, just like judo isn't just trying to remove each others clothing :D

David, thanks for your reply, it's good to know that we agree on why we keep coming back to aikido. However, I can't totally agree with you regarding teaching and the necessary "approach" to martial arts.

Firstly, as a teacher I don't expect my students to have an instant empathy or intuitive knowledge of what I'm trying to teach. My "job" (for want of a better term) is help them develop as fast and safely as possible and hopefully end up being able to (gently) push my face firmly through the tatami and show me up in technique. My problem with the "chosen students" route is too often this just turns into cliques who's own arrogance can mask bad technique. Fostering an "esprit de corps" (spelling?) is good and I do believe in rewarding dedication (more training), but this is different to the streaming I felt you were implying.

Secondly, the emphasis on needing to know the traditional terms to describe combat awareness etc. I'm always divided in myself over this one. I agree, re-inventing the wheel is dumb and slows you down. However, knowledge of the correct definitions for specific technical areas (which is all these actually are) is not always an aid in training. I've met (and I'm sure you have) martial artists who can quote chapter and verse who still fall over while trying to standing upright. How a person uses what they know is more important to me than how they describe it.

Glad to hear you may manage to disassociate yourself enough to grade and feel free to drop in for a beer if your passing. I have no doubt your budo's bigger than mine but I can manage a reasonable ukemi from time to time so I'll be happy to be bounced around if you turn up (and there's always some of Chiba's loons down the road if you want hard training ;) )

ronmar
07-17-2003, 10:00 AM
and there's always some of Chiba's loons down the road if you want hard training

Who, where? Where is the hardest uk dojo?

senshincenter
07-17-2003, 11:39 AM
David Y, and others,

Not to keep patting ourselves on the back, but...

I do agree with your position on Shu-Ha-Ri. Thank you for the attachment. I am forwarding it to our dojo email list for my students to read as well.

I also think some of the "doubting" in some of these other posts, regarding your position, does not really address the issues you have raised. Obviously, it's not what a person calls it, as much as the process being present or not that is important. We are talking about substance here after all - so don't fret. I get your point.

And, one should realize, call it what you will but without a process that takes one from form to a reconcilation between form and non-form, and without some great deal of insight into traditions of thought like Confucianism, etc., Budo would be non-recognizable. Why?

To be simple, perhaps overly simple here, Budo delineates a deep process of trasnforming the self. In a way, it is the Shu-Ha-Ri pedagogy that marks this path of pentration. Another way of looking at it might be: It's the means by which you bring something from the outside to the inside - such that in the end no distinction between the outside and inside can be clearly drawn. Without this process, what is outside remains outside, and what remains outside can only ever be called "superficial". Superficiality is the very antithesis of Budo training. For example, please note above that those of us pushing this post along have used words like "real", "authentic", "sincere", etc. - and all of these words are nothing more than an attempt to deepin (be less superficial in) our Aikido.

Thank you again,

dmv

Here I've pasted some of the text from our training video. I think it's relevant to what we are saying here and hope you all might find it interesting.

Text starts here:

By what means am I subject to form and spontaneity? What is the nature by which the greater Self is both trapped in bondage and potentially set free? Wherein lies the bridge between theory and practice, thought and action? By what praxis is the mind unfettered so that it can at all times remain compassionate and wise - even in the midst of violence? These are some of the questions at the heart of Budo. These are the questions that are to be addressed in this video, “The Shu of Ri, Drill #1.”

For centuries now the Budo traditions have entered this realm of apparent paradoxes via the training model of “Shu, Ha, Ri.” It is through the codependent stages of Shu, Ha, and Ri that the martial artist matures from the novice to skilled. “Shu”, or the construction of form, is the first step, Primary and mandatory is Shu. In Shu the budoka shapes the mind and body according to the Way of his/her tradition. It is followed by “Ha,” or the deconstruction of form. It is in Ha, through Ha, and with Ha, that the budoka tweaks, twists, and warps his/her tradition, such that its borders come to be known, and all for the sole purpose of having its interior reach a sublime level of penetrability. The end of Ha is marked by a clarity. It is through this clarity that the distinction between the artist and his/her art, between the aikidoka and Aikido, between the subject and the object, begins to blur and fade into meaninglessness. This is “Ri”. This s the space/time of spontaneity. This is the reconciliation of Form and Non-Form. And this is the first real time that the budoka has gained access to true Budo.

At Senshin Center, this ten thousand mile journey begins with this first step: Drill #1.

Drill #1 is in line with the ancient spiritual mystery of “Peace through Violence.” For at the heart of a human being who is sublimely compassionate and loving stands a warrior who’s mind is unfettered by Fear, Pride, and Ignorance. How this mystery comes to be solved is ultimately a matter of each practitioner’s level of commitment and discipline toward the training, but solved it must be. We must realize that when dealing with the “spiritual” and the “martial” we are not to understand one as a metaphor for the other, nor one as a choice amongst another.

The division between the spiritual and the martial that today pervades the world of Budo is nothing more than a modern invention. It is a reduction born first out of the rarity of those people that were actually able to attain “shinbu,” or “divine martialness,” that is to say, “the harmonizing of the physical, ethical, and spiritual elements of the human being via martial arts training with the Way of God, or Nature.” This division is a perversion reared in the absence of those who could actually both epitomize and yet transcend the problematic of human violence. Later, weaned on fascism and imperialism, the false division in the end matured in the prejudice the elite always make in the name of “mass consumption”: “Things need to be simplified.”

When we as aikidoka accept this division without the slightest protest, even when we use one side to critique the shortcomings of the other side, rather than being reflective, we remain dangerously passive - the opposite of any martial virtue if ever there was one. In our passivity we are only left to understand Aikido as metaphor, or as symbol. And as such, Aikido, Budo, the Way, has no potency for transformation. In this way, Aikido has become like the map we have mistaken for the territory. It becomes like the picture of food that offers us no nourishment. Here, Aikido is superficial as a transformative process and impotent as a technology of the Self. Our quest, each of us, every aikidoka, must be then to not merely train, but to reflect upon this history, to question it, to struggle with it, and in the end to deepen our Aikido.

Drill #1, as basic as it may be, or even as slow as it may be practiced, will nonetheless put one in a face to face position with the highest ideal of the art itself, namely, with the martial tactic of “aiki.” This occurs because, in one way, access to the tactic of aiki can take place only when one begins a process of reconciliation with Fear, Pride, and Ignorance. Drill #1, when carried out properly, is a matter of facing our fears, our pride, and our ignorance. Try to win, and you will lose. Try to do a technique, and you will fail. Try to do Aikido, and you will fail. Try at all, and you will fail.

Here, instead, one will either face the tactic of aiki as a fulfillment of that principle, and thus one will learn to be the embodiment of calmness, grace, and awareness, or one will face the tactic of aiki as an absence of that principle, and thus one will be that which is void of harmony, presence, and power. In the former case, one will come to embrace the attack and the attacker; one will be void of mistakes, showing only a constant flow of adaptation; and one will have entered that paradox that is everywhere and nowhere. In the latter case, one is only intimidated, manipulated, and, ultimately, one is dominated.

As aiki is a psycho-physical principle, so too are the obstacles that keep us from cultivating it. One of the most common obstacles we come to face in our training is the obstacle of Resistance (or forcing, or muscling, etc.). For this reason, this video includes a section on Resistance. For we must realize that Drill #1, being a beginner drill, is one of the earliest times that the aikidoka comes to face some of the more spiritually and physically potent elements of the combative experience, namely: the impermanent and the unknowable. Now, in a sea of the ever-changing, rather than seeking to swim freely, the aikidoka often feels a great need to “not let go of the boat” - to instead cling to the delusions of the predictable, the knowable, and the constant. As a consequence then, resistance is both the resultant and that which is being further cultivated in the drill. This means, as Drill #1 has the potential to bring us into contact with the cultivation of aiki, it equally has the potential to forever keep it beyond our grasp if we are not mindful of what we are doing and/or not doing. In the end then, it is not enough to do the drill over and over.

No mirror comes from the polished brick.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
07-17-2003, 01:06 PM
I notice one criticism is that, say, people don't just curve their mune-tsuki to hit the person who's moved to the side.

I'm not sure it would be appropriate to do this, at least not when the practice style being used (as it often is, for beginners) is a very step-by-step one.

Could someone more knowledgeable please elaborate on this subject?

I.e., "Not 'dutifully' striking where they were standing 24 hours ago".

Thanks.

shihonage
07-17-2003, 01:13 PM
David Y, and others,

Not to keep patting ourselves on the back, but...

[ ... ]

No mirror comes from the polished brick.
Bruce, you're back !

We missed* you !

_____________________________________

* will aim more carefully next time


I notice one criticism is that, say, people don't just curve their mune-tsuki to hit the person who's moved to the side.

I'm not sure it would be appropriate to do this, at least not when the practice style being used (as it often is, for beginners) is a very step-by-step one.

Could someone more knowledgeable please elaborate on this subject?

I.e., "Not 'dutifully' striking where they were standing 24 hours ago".

Thanks.

I am not more knowledgeable, but I will elaborate on the way how I understand it.

When the attack is done at close-to-realtime speed, you are physically not capable of "curving" much.

However if the nage moves too early, you can still adjust the direction of the punch before it becomes unchangeable.

If both practitioners choose to practice slowly, then they both need to simulate the energy and behavior of the encounter as if it was done at fast speed.

At that point, the uke may INDEED strike the point at which nage was "24 hours ago", as long as neither is cheating the "virtual laws" of this "slow-motion simulation".

And constantly adjusting the direction of the punch in such a "simulation" would be indeed breaking the laws of physics that this "simulation" aims to imitate.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
07-17-2003, 01:20 PM
In addition to a question, I may have a partial answer to offer.

In my home dojo, we do a lot of grasps - wrist grasps, chest grasps, etc - as beginners, as I'm lead to believe is common in other dojos.

It seems that grasps are useful in that they can be done committedly without causing harm. You can still do drills like "If I get my hand out of the way, I'll do this; else, I'll do this".

I remember one exercise that pointed out a weakness in our practice, at least amongst beginners. Often, if uke knew that it was going to be a technique where shite (nage) pivoted his/her wrist out of the way, if shite stood still, uke would end up reaching waaaay past shite's hand, sometimes even bending over a bit, and looking confused. Good reminder that uke's going for the wrist, not trying to lean over so he/she can be thrown. ^_-

Of course, it doesn't have that same 'intimidation' factor that a punch does, so it can't really serve to rewire that instinct in the face of imminent harm. Nor is it a 'real attack' in the direct sense.

Corey
08-11-2003, 03:11 PM
I know that the ukemi in my dojo is lacking and I am glad this subject is being discussed. The reason I know it needs improvement is that I witnessed a street fight a few days ago. Just through observation, I could see that my training is not sufficient at all for the preparation of dealing with real commited attacks one will encounter in these situations. I study aikido for self-defense. I don't want to waste my time dancing around with people and fooling myself into believing I can actually defend myself. I want to know that when I do my technique I actually DID it. If there is a weakness in my technique and the uke has a chance to recover then by all means they should counter. That is a more realistic reaction. I realize that the dojo is not ever going to be the same as fighting in a street, but I want people to actually try to hit me with real commitment and force. If they do this then I can become more accustomed to an attack of this nature, rather than getting scared and losing my center. I myself have been trying to be a better uke. Weak attacks as uke translate into weak atemi as nage. Maybe we should all try to think of being uke and being nage as two great opportunites to strengthen all aspects of our own techniques. As a woman, I want strong, commited attacks by my uke. I don't want a watered-down attack as it does me more of a disservice than anything. This is a MARTIAL art--not the Ice Capades. That's my two cents worth. :p

shihonage
08-11-2003, 04:21 PM
As a woman, I want strong, commited attacks by my uke. I don't want a watered-down attack as it does me more of a disservice than anything. This is a MARTIAL art--not the Ice Capades.
Do you accept marriage proposals ?

Pretoriano
08-11-2003, 11:12 PM
Mr. Valadez, how you can come up with all that words in a single topic with that ease?

Apart from the renowned expert, you got the tread for yourself.

Do you have room for a lost soul? (my list rarely changes)

You doesnt look Japanese to me... Good Blend!

Praetorian

Manuel Chiquito Anderson

Caracas, Venezuela

senshincenter
08-13-2003, 12:59 AM
Well, I'd like to comment if need be, but truthfully, I'm not at all sure what a couple of the replies meant - e.g. "bruce we missed you" and "lost soul, my list hardly changes" - etc. So please don't consider the silence rude, it comes more from a lack of understanding on my part than from anything else.

thank you,

dmv

Abasan
08-13-2003, 03:20 AM
I've been reading the posts here, and I still have trouble understanding what's the whole thing about.

I've been thinking somewhat about the reality of attacks and have almost come to the conclusion that there cannot be a real attack in the dojo. Because IMHO a strike is not an attack in itself. Attacks I believe is the whole being, spirit, attitude, intention and all... culminating towards the attack. Therefore, a real attack will end with a strike with which i want to hurt you, badly.

This i feel cannot be fostered in a dojo.

David Y, if you come back to class... we can address this type of attack if you wish. Not everyone agrees with senseis nowdays, especially when sensei has to teach classes on a commercial venture. But, to say sensei has nothing to teach you is very arrogant indeed. You haven't tried it, but you can always ask fellow students to train after class on a particular slant, including forceful and 'realistic' attacks. I've done that sometimes, with sensei helping out when it gets sticky.

However, if our objective to go through the Shu or forms part whatever... I would hazard that a follow through attack with enough energy should suffice. Gradually increasing in intensity as nage gets more accomplished.

I am just reading this new book by Dave Lowry, Reflections, which I feel maynot be as good as his ealier moving in stillness. However, one story of his reminds me very much of this post. The... oh i'm sorry, are you ok one.

PhilJ
08-13-2003, 06:29 AM
Does an attaacker go through all this in his/her mind before the attack? Or do they just attack? And do attacks always hit their mark?

*Phil

Alec Corper
08-13-2003, 07:40 AM
There are so many problems with semantics in such a discussion. People say "combat" when referring t

Alec Corper
08-13-2003, 07:45 AM
There are so many problems with semantics in such a discussion. People say "combat" when referring to "real" training. I don't care how real your dojo training is, it is not combat. Combat is not win or lose, it is live or die, the only rule is survival and there is no technique except the spontaneous response.

A "street fight" is not the same as a "street ambush". Most MA, including Aikido, will prepare a person, if they train with intent, for an argument that goes physical. No MA, IMHO, can prepare you to be blindsided and stomped by 3 or 4 people at once.

By all means let's make practise more intense, accurate, focussed, conscious, and a host of other words that can be used in a dojo, but don't tell me it's "real". As one Aikijutsu teacher once said referring to Aikido randori, "its fall down and stand up again practise. In a randori we should begin with 4 or 5 and end up with none if our techique works and the attacks are "real", but we would soon run out of ukes.

Eric Joyce
08-13-2003, 12:35 PM
Alec quote:

By all means let's make practise more intense, accurate, focussed, conscious, and a host of other words that can be used in a dojo, but don't tell me it's "real". As one Aikijutsu teacher once said referring to Aikido randori, "its fall down and stand up again practise. In a randori we should begin with 4 or 5 and end up with none if our techique works and the attacks are "real", but we would soon run out of ukes.

Amen brother. Good post.

Derek_W
08-13-2003, 02:54 PM
I attached herewith my understanding of the concept of Shu Ha Ri. It was a thesis written for for san dan grading in karate but I am sure it has relevance to Aikido.{excellent essay by David Yap snipped}

Hi, all... my first post here. I just HAD to sign in and add my two cents because although I know nothing about aikido, I *am* a teacher. Specifically, I'm a flight instructor. And I thought it might be interesting for you all to know that "shu-ra-hi" training style is taught to American flight instructors when teaching them to fly airplanes... we just refer to it differently.

As flight instructors, we are taught that there are "four levels of learning:"

1. ROTE: the ability to repeat back an answer. For example, that "Vso is 55 knots" in a particular airplane.

2. UNDERSTANDING: a deeper level of learning in which one knows what has been taught, and when it might be applied. For example, that "Vso represent the lowest speed at which the airplane will fly, and that one wishes to land at this speed in order to have a smooth landing."

3. APPLICATION: The skill to apply the knowledge in the appropriate situations. For example, the ability to perform a successful low-speed landing.

4. CORRELATION: The ability to COMBINE AND ASSOCIATE this knowledge with other factors and skills in a given situation. For example, given a scenario in which the pilot may be landing with a crosswind, what would the pilot do in order to ensure a safe and comfortable landing? The Vso knowledge might be combined with knowledge of wind flow patterns over terrain, low-speed flight procedures and skills, altitude-related performance factors, etc. to safely and smoothly put the plane down.

In this case, it seems that "Shu" corresponds to "rote;" "Ha" corresponds to "understanding / application;" and "Ri" corresponds to "correlation." The match between the discipline of aikido training and flight training is (of course) not one-to-one, but there are similarities, and I thought you might be interested.

TheFallGuy
08-13-2003, 03:25 PM
I've been following this thread, and one thing I see is that there is a lot of confusion on what you really mean David Valadez. You tend to obfuscate what you're asking and saying with a lot of philosophical rhetoric.

This may or may not apply, but from what I see and understand you are referring to the sincerity in the strikes. I believe in being sincere in all of my strikes, but since most of the people that I work with are all below yudansha (myself included, we only have 3 black belts in our dojo), I have to adapt my sincerity so I don't hurt the person I work with. In all honesty -- who wants to work with the jerk hurting everybody. But when you find the limits of your training partner and help them push those limits, then it becomes really fun for both of you. Sometimes you throw harder than they are used to and they find out "Hey! I can actually do this!!!" which then moves them to another level. OR they go kersplatt, and you feel like a jerk. But most of the times it's "Hey!!! Excellent."

I think Ahmad and Alec make a good point too. But then it may just be semantics. If your goal is to actually hurt your partner, then you are in the wrong place. NO respectable MA appreciates or wants that type of behavior or attitude. I tend to agree with other masters of other arts (Wing Tsun, Pa Kua, etc) that the dojo is a place of learning and we are all "family". We all have different skills, and abilities, and reasons why we are there. Can't we work together? Become unified?

What is your point to this thread? That we should all strive to develop a sincerity in what we do? I agree. Aikido is a Martial Art. There is a martial side to it and an art side. Without the art it is only self-defense, without the martial it is not effective in self-defense.

As mentioned earlier, some people are in the dojo for many different reasons. Socializing, health, self-defense, whatever. In my book, that's all fine and dandy. Hopefully, we can work hard and have fun, learn tons, and get along, get healthy, etc.

Thanks Derek! Your post clarified some things for me on the Shu-Ha-Ri text. Great way to learn things. And then you can add on applications, derivations, expansions -- making the technique unique and your own.

Hope I haven't offended I'm just seeking clarification.

Alec Corper
08-14-2003, 04:47 AM
Frank, I totally agree. I don't practise to hurt people and would not train in a dojo where people did. I'm just fed up with the underlying critique that seems to abound in the Aikido world. I started martial arts when I was 16 did 2 years Shotokan and Kyukushinkai. then 8 years of Chuen Shu Kwan full contact fighting. Even there we were not really trying to hurt each other, but we sure as hell were trying to hit each other hard. Looking back (I'm now 51) it was agreat experience for a young buck and it definitely teaches you to accept impact and keep going, which is an experience which, IMHO, many Aikideshi are missing. However, in every other way, I wish I had started Aikido then and not when I was 39.

Aikido is a superb MA, it's only shortfall lies in it's practioners, not the art. If these dicussions are about how we can improve our practise, fine, if they are a venting of people's personal doubts why not say so.

There is no such thing as a "real" attack in a dojo, thats an oxymoron. You do not suddenly introduce feints, deception, mob attack, unless it's agreed before hand, in which case it's not real. You do not mercilessly punish uke (or tori) for suki, you try to indicate them with a level of intensity that your partner can safely handle.

O Sensei's teaching is reconciliation of opposing forces, which is impossible if we are personally in conflict with what we are trying to practise.

Let's all drop the macho posturing and practise with love, joy, and serious intent, but we are practising a DO, not preparing for combat. Those of you who really want "real" attacks try a few bars or street corners and try not to get hurt too badly, or anyone else for that matter.

No rudeness intended, Alec Corper

PhilJ
08-14-2003, 06:56 AM
So, does this imply there's more than one reason to practice aikido? I'm just finding this out now? ;)

*Phil

SeiserL
08-14-2003, 09:31 AM
IMHO, I have to agree with others that there is no way to actually practice with "real" attacks in the dojo. Just not pratcical. Very few tori's could defend and very few uke have the intent to deliver. The closer we can get to the applied situation, the easier it is to generalize and apply the training. Lower belts need to start slow and build up as their ability progress. Higher belts need to be more committed.

Please remember that training is not sparring, sparring is not fighting, fighting is not combat.

There are many other reasons besides the strict martial applications to study Aikido. It is easier to gain martial ability through other arts.

Relax, breath, and enjoy yourself. Now, lets get back on the mat.

TheFallGuy
08-14-2003, 11:50 AM
Alec wroteO Sensei's teaching is reconciliation of opposing forces, which is impossible if we are personally in conflict with what we are trying to practiseI agree, and I also feel that O Sensei's teaching was resolution of conflict. So another aspect could be resolving the conflict within ourselves. Ahhh applications. :)

Phillip wroteSo, does this imply there's more than one reason to practice aikido? I'm just finding this out now?Let me respond to that question with another question -- Why did you start Aikido? And then ask, why did anyone else start aikido? I'm almost sure that my reason is different from yours. I'm a 150 pound weakling who needed to learn how to defend himself. :D :p :rolleyes: How 'bout you?

I can't remember who said it or if I imagined it, but someone once posted that even changing your attack while nage/tori is going through the technique is insincere. I'm going to have to call "that depends". If you are new to the art, and learning the techniques -- then yes it is unfair. If nage/tori has been doing the art for years then it might be good to change direction a little for him. My sensei recently successfully demonstrated for yondan. And one of the things that a visiting sensei asked me and the others in our dojo was to stop somewhere in the middle of the technique. The reason for this was to get our sensei to open his mind to other techniques. He was specifically doing this for Oyowaza and Henkowaza (sp?). It was really hard to do. Especially when your balance is gone and you're trying to get it back while following through with the technique.

Alec wroteAikido is a superb MA, it's only shortfall lies in it's practioners, not the art. If these dicussions are about how we can improve our practise, fine, if they are a venting of people's personal doubts why not say so.I agree, that's why I am asking David Valadez for clarification on what he means and what he is trying to get across.

Some people get into the mode of expecting everyone to live up to "their standard". In the process they forget that everyone is unique, and the standard is really lame. I like the buddhist thought on expectations. Get rid of your expectations. It makes life more interesting, and can be a lot of fun. It also allows you to be more adaptable.

Lynn wroteRelax, breath, and enjoy yourself. Now, lets get back on the mat Amen to that.

Budd
08-14-2003, 12:01 PM
I think we're talking about two different things -- one being; should practice in the dojo equate that of street combat? I think the general consensus has been a comfortable 'no', unless some folks are training in alleys and grabbing trash can lids or car attenas to strike with as uke ;)

The other one, which brings us back to the original issue, is; do you attack with intention? I think another worthy question is; do you comply with the technique? And not because someone's legitimately taken your kuzushi, but because it's polite to do so.

I believe uke's attacks should be measured to the skill level of nage, but should always have intention, meaning nage is going to get struck/grabbed/shoved/etc. if they don't perform the technique. The actual impact can be as light as a tap for a beginner, or at the very least, sufficient to cause pain if it's a yudansha. The point being, nage must give sufficiently honest 'attention' to uke's honest 'intention' to honestly develop in their aiki training.

Going along with this, when nage is a beginner, I think it's helpful for a skilled uke to move through the technique with them so that they can find its shape. On the other hand, by yudansha level, such compliance takes away from the integrity, I believe, of the aikido training. I'm a former wrestler/judo player and have to fight to not use muscular power in the application of technique. If someone's going along with my application without my having taken their balance, then my learning is impeded twofold. First, I'm not learning how to redirect their center. At the same time, I'm relying on brute strength for my aiki, which I think is a bit of a contradiction.

Just my opinions, of course.

Budd

Abasan
08-18-2003, 04:13 AM
Does an attaacker go through all this in his/her mind before the attack? Or do they just attack? And do attacks always hit their mark?

*Phil
I don't know how to answer that Phillip. If i was a 'realistic' attacker myself, I would have to have the real intention of hitting the guy, no matter what he did.

Maybe some people have unpredictable mood swings that allows them to spontaneously attack at will, but I don't.

As for always hitting the mark. If my defender is good enough, he won't get hit. At least not where it was intended to hit.

Corey
08-18-2003, 05:05 PM
Alec wrote:

"Let's all drop the macho posturing and practise with love, joy, and serious intent, but we are practising a DO, not preparing for combat. Those of you who really want "real" attacks try a few bars or street corners and try not to get hurt too badly, or anyone else for that matter."

I am not trying to be "macho." The whole philosophy of Aikido is what drew me into martial arts in the first place. I was simply stating that I want something a little closer to reality in my own practice. Everyone has their own aspirations and reasons for getting involved in Aikido. Each person should find his or her own way. I just want to be able to apply my techniques if the need arises. That is the point I was trying to make. Thanks.

Eric Joyce
08-18-2003, 05:12 PM
Hey all, 2 good reads that I think would add to this convo:

(REALIZING AIKIDO'S POTENTIAL)

http://www.aikidojournal.com/new/article.asp?ArticleID=112

(MARTIAL INTEGRITY IN AIKIDO)

http://www.aikidojournal.com/new/article.asp?ArticleID=322

Enjoy!!

paw
08-18-2003, 07:38 PM
With respect to the above authors,

this rings more true to me (http://www.aikiweb.com/training/ledyard3.html)

Regards,

Paul

David Yap
08-19-2003, 04:53 AM
(snipped)...

I think Ahmad and Alec make a good point too. But then it may just be semantics. If your goal is to actually hurt your partner, then you are in the wrong place. NO respectable MA appreciates or wants that type of behavior or attitude. I tend to agree with other masters of other arts (Wing Tsun, Pa Kua, etc) that the dojo is a place of learning and we are all "family". We all have different skills, and abilities, and reasons why we are there...(snipped)...
Frank, I agree wholeheartedly.
David Y, if you come back to class... we can address this type of attack if you wish…(snipped)… But, to say sensei has nothing to teach you is very arrogant indeed… (snipped)
Abas, I think you may have misunderstood my definition of a sincere/honest strike. Last time in class, when I said that there should kime in an attack – kime actually mean focus NOT a forceful violent attack. VIOLENCE has no place in a dojo (aikido, karate or any MA for that matter). A sincere attack with focus means taking aim at the target (top of the neck, side of the neck or at abdomen) and striking at the target WITHOUT any second thought (or mischievous thought like maiming your nage or stopping s/he from carrying out the intended technique). All kata in Aikido are in the form of a two-persons drills – the nage knows before hand how the attack is coming and the Uke knows before hand how his/her attack is going to be received and neutralized by the Nage. Take the drill Yokomenuchi Shihonage Ura for example (I am sure you remember this particular one ;)), here I assume the role of a Uke and I know before hand that the Nage is going step forward to my side to jam/cut my strike to off balance me and then take control of the attack. As a Uke, I don’t think about all that, my immediate role is to strike at the intended target , the side of the Nage’s neck, and I would also consider varying the speed of my strike based on the Nage’s level of skill/ability. I DON’T stop (or think about stopping) my strike half way – that is mischievous – to do so would be unfair to the Nage and dishonourable to oneself. Bear in mind, the target is the Nage’s neck NOT the Nage’s extended arm. While we are on the subject of this drill, let’s talk about Awase (blending), it is the Nage’s initiative to blend with the attacker, off-balance the attacker and then take control. The Uke once knowing that s/he has lost his/her balance should THEN blend with the Nage (and NOT BEFORE) to avoid any injury to him/herself – there is no point fighting/resisting to the very end. There is a line between stupidity and egoism.

What then is a “REALISTIC” attack? There are no definite answers. They all depend on the intensions of the attacker or the defender in different situations below:

In a dojo drill – a sincere attack described above would suffice

In a sports competition

In a bar fight or street fight

In shiai – fight till death or till the last man standing

It depends what goes on in your mind, the last three situations definitely would have no place in an Aikido dojo or any dojo for the last two. If you are looking for these, then, sorry to say you are in the wrong place as O’ sensei would have say, “You got evil intentions”.

Finally, I don’t understand your statement “to say sensei has nothing to teach you is very arrogant indeed”. I have gone through my earlier posts and checked that I have not specifically mentioned that which and which sensei has nothing to teach me. Learning is a continuing process and I do learn something new (+ve or –ve) any other day from anyone at work or at play, including from my own children. I think it has come to the stage of my life that what I seek from martial arts is not so much on techniques but more on spiritual development (finding myself so to speak). I am not looking for a teacher who can/will show me & the class 20 techniques in one session and then another 20 techniques in next session and so on. But if you are, I can recommend one to you and, boy, you will be awed by his collections of video tapes from every shihan in the world. My criteria of a teacher goes beyond that...one day you will understand.:)

You do agree that teaching Aikido on a commercial venture and for the love of art is tough balancing art. BTW, I guess it is all about finding students with the right attitude or having a teacher with BUDO attitude to lead them there. Thus, I end this post with a quote from Kisshomaru Ueshiba, 2nd Doshu of Aikikai.



“Again, it is true that there are a number of poorly informed people who mistakenly view Aikido as some kind of health promoting exercise, a kind of dance, a form of martial mesmerism, or some such thing, and, as we mentioned earlier, even reference works confuse Aikido and Aikijutsu. Let it be clear, however, that Aikido is Budo, a martial art. Aikido is a refinement of traditional martial techniques combined with an exalted philosophy of the spirit. It is a method of forging mind and body.”

David Yap
08-19-2003, 06:14 AM
While we are on the subject of this drill, let’s talk about Awase (blending), it is the Nage’s initiative to blend with the attacker, off-balance the attacker and then take control. The Uke once knowing that s/he has lost his/her balance should THEN blend with the Nage (and NOT BEFORE) to avoid any injury to him/herself
Oops, I forgot to add that blending together from point zero as demonstrated in one of our class is totally against the essence of aikido. Why? many reasons.

The intended target (side of neck) has now changed to the nage's extended arm. Upon contact of the uke's strike arm with the nage's extended, the uke is told to hold back the attack, turned and faced the nage who was now at the same side of the striking arm - 1)there is no energy behind the attack anymore. As a nage, there is no longer a perceived threat of attack and there is no longer a need to defend. 2) By turning to face the nage, the uke intentionally "blend" with nage by off-balancing him/herself voluntarily even when the nage's arm to jam the blow was not fully extended. 3)In eyes of an experienced martial artist, this performance is so unrealistic and the chereography is par excellent. Sometime, it is good to sit with the crowd and hear their comments about an aikido demonstration.

David Yap
08-20-2003, 09:41 PM
Hey all, 2 good reads that I think would add to this convo:

(REALIZING AIKIDO'S POTENTIAL)

http://www.aikidojournal.com/new/article.asp?ArticleID=112

(MARTIAL INTEGRITY IN AIKIDO)

http://www.aikidojournal.com/new/article.asp?ArticleID=322

Enjoy!!
Thank you very much, Eric, for the reference to these beautiful crafted articles. I enjoyed them very much. They address very much the issues posted on this thread as well as those on other threads.

Comprehensive and to the point.

David Y

Chris Raeger
08-21-2003, 02:37 AM
I would respectively suggest that you are over thinking this. The Dojo is a place where you can die over and over again and is therefore safer for us when learning or practicing our art. It is understandable that we would consider carefully why we lived and why we died in training. But it is best to keep the model and phylosophy simple, yes? As such, the forms we learn are a model that we can use to provide ourselves with options so that when faced with real life situations we are equiped with some idea of what is possible. From this point our creative and itelligent minds, bodies and spirit can achieve a solution to a problem that exisits. They (the techniques)are not the answer themselves only the form of what the answer could be. Your listing was long and I am dyslexic so hope I have got the ghist of what you said and have understood it.

PeterPhilippson
08-21-2003, 05:49 AM
I think there needs to be a range of practice at all levels: practice where nage knows what attack is coming; practice where nage doesn't know what attack is coming (either randori or giving uke a choice of maybe two attacks); practice where uke knows what defence is coming; and practice where uke doesn't know what defence is coming.

I don't want the dojo to become a street brawl, yet what we learn must be usable on the street, or we are developing dangerous responses which will get students hurt if they get involved in a street situation. This isn't about going round looking for a fight, but about being attacked, or stepping in if someone else is being attacked.

So we must be able to defend against a roundhouse punch, not just yokomen uchi; against a punch that is pulled back or in combination rather than a single tsuki that stays out. We must be able to develop reflexes if someone attacks unexpectedly, so we do some of that (not just for students: last week I was practicing with two attackers, and a third decided to join in from behind me!).

Best wishes,