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Paula Lydon
06-19-2003, 11:18 AM
~~Most of you can start laughing now, because it's taken me 16 years of MA training to really get this: I was watching a movie last night and it showed a knife fight. Yeah, yeah, seen them before...and then it hit me. It had nothing to do with the knife, that was simply a tool of expediency once the appropriate opening was established, and could be employed or not. It really was about the movement of these two men, their violent union. There could be no superior knife fighter or swordsman, only superiority of timing, placement, sentsitivity to the movement of the other.
~~To use any tool, yes, one must work with it to understand it's unique properties and functions, but in the end it doesn't really matter. All that suburi practice, those kata...it IS to train my body and any extention of my body.
~~So the knife, the sword, the bat...even the bullet, don't matter. To extapolate, I guess ultimately even the attacker is of no consiquence, or is somehow no longer viewed as an attacker. Just wanted to share an obvservation as it was the first time, for all the times I've thought about such things, that it hit me in the gut.
:D :ai: :ki:

Charles Hill
06-19-2003, 12:58 PM
Paula,

How will the realization you had affect your training?

Charles

Darren Raleigh
06-19-2003, 02:29 PM
Congratulations! :D As someone once said, "You've taken your first step into a larger world."

Nearly everybody here outranks me in aikido, but I've got many, many years with sword and I can tell you it's a great day when you realize that your enemy's sword is irrelevant.
To extapolate, I guess ultimately even the attacker is of no consiquence, or is somehow no longer viewed as an attacker.Attacker? What attacker? Again, congratulations. :D

Mel Barker
06-19-2003, 05:57 PM
~~So the knife, the sword, the bat...even the bullet, don't matter. To extapolate, I guess ultimately even the attacker is of no consiquence, or is somehow no longer viewed as an attacker. Just wanted to share an obvservation as it was the first time, for all the times I've thought about such things, that it hit me in the gut.

:D :ai: :ki:
Paula, I just love those moments of satori. I only wish they lasted into next weeks training. LOL:D

Mel Barker

Kevin Wilbanks
06-19-2003, 08:32 PM
I must've missed that revelation, because it seems to me that the knife is extremely important, and changes everything. A sharp blade allows an opponent to do serious damage with the application of almost no force, the committment of almost no forward extension of balance/bodyweight. As the blade gets longer, your odds of surviving against the opponent without a weapon of your own dwindle to almost nothing. If the opponent has a razor sharp long sword, the only sensible strategy probably becomes something like throwing the nearest object at them and running like hell, which doesn't look much like anything practiced in a dojo. To me, this revelation sounds like something that might enable one to have a beatific attitude before and during getting killed, but at this point in my life I think I'd rather survive.

PeterR
06-19-2003, 08:41 PM
I must've missed that revelation, because it seems to me that the knife is extremely important, and changes everything.
Then I suggest you re-read what Paula wrote. No where does she say that the knife is to be ignored or dealt with in a way that does not consider its unique properties (her words).

It seems as if she understands that principles are the key - learnt first, understood last. Waza are just filler.

Nice post Paula - please answer Charles' question.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-19-2003, 09:10 PM
Then I suggest you re-read what Paula wrote. No where does she say that the knife is to be ignored or dealt with in a way that does not consider its unique properties (her words).

It seems as if she understands that principles are the key - learnt first, understood last. Waza are just filler.

Nice post Paula - please answer Charles' question.
I re-read it before I posted. First item of note is that the revelation came while watching a movie. Next, where it gets specific, it doesn't seem to address the unique properties of a very long sharp knife at all, as I've posited:

"It really was about the movement of these two men, their violent union. There could be no superior knife fighter or swordsman, only superiority of timing, placement, sentsitivity to the movement of the other."

If the opponent has a sword and you don't, this stuff all sounds like fantasyland to me. Assuming there's an escape route, you throw a chair at them and run. There's no violent union, only staying as far away from the blade as you can. In my mind, this would apply even in the case of a small knife, provided there's no overriding reason to stick around. Hell, I'd say the same about a situation in which you have an equivalent blade to the opponent... at best you may end up in prison wishing you were the one who got stabbed. I've seen a lot of people profess a lot of what seems to me unrealistic confidence about a real-life knife altercation based upon playing with wooden sticks in kata in a dojo, and to me this sounds like more of the same. I'm not an experienced knife fighter either, so it's just my speculative opinion. If you disagree, good luck to you.

PeterR
06-19-2003, 09:33 PM
I've seen a lot of people profess a lot of what seems to me unrealistic confidence about a real-life knife altercation based upon playing with wooden sticks in kata in a dojo, and to me this sounds like more of the same.
Seen that too but I don't think that was what she was getting at.

We get our inspirations in the stangest places - the movie probably only provided the kick - she was probably ready to make connection.

Now the big question still remains - will this affect the way she trains.

Charles Hill
06-19-2003, 10:55 PM
A lot of people post things about various facts they know and think everyone else should know, too. Aikido is this, martial arts are that, etc. Paula, however, has had some kind of personal experience/realization. This then led her to write the sentence, "I guess, ultimately, even the attacker is of no consequence or is somehow no longer viewed as an attacker." This, to me, is quite profound and totally cool. I want to hear more.

Charles

shadow
06-20-2003, 12:53 AM
I must've missed that revelation
exactly!

Kevin Wilbanks
06-20-2003, 01:20 AM
It's all well and good for y'all to profess Krishnamurti-isms and pat each other on the back about it. Unless any of you have experience in real knife and sword fights, I have to classify it as idle and possibly delusional fantasy. Haughtiness, in this context, looks a little silly.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-20-2003, 02:19 AM
Just to add, I've read more than one account of a soldier getting a glazed, distant look on his face, murmuring something cosmic or vaguely Taoist in character, then crawling intrepidly out of the trench or bunker only to be unceremoniously slaughtered. Without reality testing, the apparent content/substance of such an epiphany may be suspect. I've had plenty of epiphanic experiences - some drug-induced and some not - and the only durable conclusion I have been able to draw from them is that the feeling was very intense and convincing, but almost invariably, all the words, statements, beliefs, etc... associated with that state became questionable later. I'm all for ecstatic experiences, but I am skeptical that the associated thought-content is necessarily of interest. If the content is something relatively self-defining, like general worldview, emotional disposition, or approach to relationships, the experience plus continued belief in it may be sufficient. However, if the content is about dodging bullets or evading sword blades, caution may be in order, especially if such circumstances are part of one's actual life. However, if such cicumstances are almost certainly not about to be part of one's reality, it may be quite easy and harmless to imagine oneself proof against blades or bullets... if that's your bag, be my guest.

PeterR
06-20-2003, 02:22 AM
So Kevin - take the knife out of the equation. She was just observing two men fighting (I assumed both were armed)- well not really since it was a movie.

Actually I find her statement a little bit circular in that the one with the superior principles in that situation WAS the superior fighter.
There could be no superior knife fighter or swordsman, only superiority of timing, placement, sentsitivity to the movement of the other.
However, just because you can't paint worth a darn doesn't mean you can't appreciate a painting or even mull over how it effects you. She observed something (fantasy or not) that may or may not impact on how she relates to her own training. She didn't say that now she knows how to fight with knives - still waiting for her to describe how it does impact her training.

gasman
06-20-2003, 03:28 AM
You seem to know an awful lot for a chap with no fighting experience, Kevin.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-20-2003, 06:12 AM
You seem to know an awful lot for a chap with no fighting experience, Kevin.
I think if you'll review what I read, you'll see I made very few claims, most of which would be found non-controversial outside of internet Aikido circles. These claims were about risk assessment, and did not rest or purport to rest on experiential fighting knowledge. Presumably you do have such knowledge... does this mean you feel comfortable with fighting someone with a razor-sharp longsword open-handed? You'd jump in there and try a takeaway technique because "the blade is only in your mind" or somesuch? You feel comfortable with the legal ramifications of injuring or killing someone in a knife or sword altercation, which the law will most likely see as an equal challenge/fight?

(As an aside, where I live, any non-criminal is entitled to a concealed weapon carry permit by law. For the most part this means handguns. You don't hear about a lot of knife attacks in Florida...)

To me the idea that the knife or sword doesn't matter sounds as silly as saying that introducing a powerful handgun into a defense situation doesn't matter. Would I have to have experience with gun fights to make the same arguments regarding handguns?

Kevin Wilbanks
06-20-2003, 06:27 AM
However, just because you can't paint worth a darn doesn't mean you can't appreciate a painting or even mull over how it effects you. She observed something (fantasy or not) that may or may not impact on how she relates to her own training. She didn't say that now she knows how to fight with knives - still waiting for her to describe how it does impact her training.
I suppose you could interpret it this way. I was reading sentences like this one, and taking the implications literally: "So the knife, the sword, the bat...even the bullet, don't matter."

happysod
06-20-2003, 06:29 AM
Thanks to Peter and Kevin for bringing points-of-view that didnít actually occur to me at all from the original post. My own understanding of the post was that the only reason for training was to hone your own reactions and the actual methods/attacks/weapons used were secondary to this goal. To an extent, I agree with this, the minutia of how youíre practicing is secondary to what youíre gaining from it.

However, I also fully agree that ignoring the type of attacker and/or weapon used in a real situation is a very quick way to become a complete pacifist, by that I mean dead.

Kevin Wilbanks
06-20-2003, 06:42 AM
My own understanding of the post was that the only reason for training was to hone your own reactions and the actual methods/attacks/weapons used were secondary to this goal. To an extent, I agree with this, the minutia of how youíre practicing is secondary to what youíre gaining from it.
It seems to me that this can be true only if we admit that the context and purpose of our training is essentially non-practical in any definite time frame. For the most part, I have no problem with this.

For instance, we practice sword or knife takeaways. Part of the training is to learn to respond without any increased level of panic or preoccupation with the fact that a weapon has been introduced - just to make tactical and strategic adjustments to the implications of the particular weapon. This is only because we are not really practicing to takeaway knives or swords... especially not, say, next week. If we expected to actually have to face a dagger or sword on the street or battlefield next week, the training would be worse than useless. We'd be building false confidence and wasting time we could spend studying more realistic strategies (e.g., diversion/obstruction followed by rapid escape, gaining distance and time enough to draw a firearm, etc...). And, no, I don't think one has to be experienced in getting attacked by real daggers and swords to make this assessment.

SeiserL
06-20-2003, 06:48 AM
As a long time student of FMA (Filipino sticks and knives), my deepest compliments and appreciation. Spot on. Nicely done.

gasman
06-20-2003, 07:39 AM
it IS about the knife

and

it ISN'T about the knife

Kev, you are quite right in your many and eloquent observations but you are completely missing the point of the original post. Perhaps because you want to.

Thank God noone has pulled a weapon on me yet, but I must keep the possibility in mind.

If a weapon is pulled and used, then you cannot think "uhmm... irimi tenkan kote gaesh..." or "..sharp blade sharp blade". You must think "where is he and where am I".

Or best, not think at all, just do.

This is the same either facing an armed or an unarmed provocateur. (actally unarmed is misleading, your body has 7 natural striking weapons)

maybe this is what Paula realised.

I dunno.

deepsoup
06-20-2003, 08:28 AM
(As an aside, where I live, any non-criminal is entitled to a concealed weapon carry permit by law. For the most part this means handguns. You don't hear about a lot of knife attacks in Florida...)
They probably just don't make it into the news for all the shootings. :p

Paula Lydon
06-20-2003, 09:23 AM
Hi everybody,

~~I simply wanted to share an observation with a larger Aikido world and feel as though I've opened Pandora's box ('course, it needs opening from time to time). Let me see if I can clarify my origional post; please bear with me:

~~Charles H.--As this occured recently I cannot, of course, know yet the full impact into the future. Analytically I can project that I hope to focus even more attention on what my own sensei, Hiroshi Ikeda, calls the 'touching time' or 'catching time', that first millasecond of contact where (hopefully) all of the principles gel and you catch and keep your opponant's center until any conflict has been resolved. I do believe that once connected like this the physical attack is neutralized and perhaps this will create a space to, at some point, neutralize the intent in the opponent's mind to attack further.

~~I've always been more interested in why a person does a thing than in what they are doing, feels to me like a larger universe to peek into and understand. Yes, principles attract me more these days than mere physical movement, although I understand that they are inextricably linked. The unseen generates energy, energy moves form, form creates shadow, shadow fades to the unseen--just to tweek the fluff-grumblers :). What I felt was a sensation in my body, not just a thought, that was the interesting thing for me. And yet, I feel that it's altered something in my thinking as well; advancing hop-scotch from mind, to body and back to mind. The learning process, I guess.

~~It will take time (on and off the mat) to truely see how this manifests moving forward. I sense a broader perspective and am curious myself to see what occurs. Perhaps there'll be 'it wasn't about the knife-the sequel' :). Thanks for sharing your curiosity.

~~Peter R.--My first MA teacher always told us 'don't focus on the weapon, sense exactly where you opponant is'. Also, 'if someone attacks you then you've already lost'. He stressed that there were many factors that led up to an attack, from when and how you walked out your door, etc. So, yes, why focus on the weapon--instrument or body--it's about the moment, which to me is about the principles. Sorry about the circularity of thought, it's not easy to verbalize this. The superior swordsman is superior because of his movement and understanding of the opponent and situation, not because of his sword; that's more what I felt.

Thanks for your interest and comments.

Kevin W.--Through 16 years of jujitsu prior to my time in Aikido, I looked deeply into black and white, hardknuckled, take-you-down-take-you-out fighting. Also knife fighting (will dulled blades, thank God). I am in no way suggesting a disregard of any weapon, whether in the hand or the hand, foot, etc. It is an ackowledgement in the equation of the moment...'a knife', 'two attackers', 'route of exit is past attacker', 'brick near my foot',etc. Not to have these thoughts consciously because we all know how the conscious mind shuts down at times and you opperate from somewhere else (I don't even know the name for it, sorry). My point was that although I've known this in my mind and worked with that mental understanding, I'd never fully felt it in my body as a kinesthetic knowledge. I believe this will only increase my efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with situations, on and off the mat. I can see now where I've been wasting motion and energy on things that really didn't matter. If I could move perfectly than I could neutralize any weapon and thereby any attacker and once accomplished would there then be a weapon or attacker? I would rather, if ever possible, affect the mind since it's the intent that changes a steak knife into a killing utensil. That's the ideal, but don't think I disregard the reality of any situation and would falter in dealing with it. To ignore any part of the dynamic would be foolish and if throwing a chair is the appropriate action than so be it...but I wouldn't focus on the chair either. I think there is a greater mind/body beyond mental stratigies and pysical repetition, when we reach into the unkown and draw back something that surprises everyone.

Thanks for sharing your views.

~~Okay, off to work now. Enjoy the day everyone!

Kevin Wilbanks
06-20-2003, 09:26 AM
They probably just don't make it into the news for all the shootings. :p
Believe it or not, quite the opposite has occurred. Since the introduction of 'right to carry' laws, violent crime has gone down in Florida quite a bit, especially the 'random' variety. In a place as violent as Florida is/was, apparently more guns leads to less shootings. Few of the permit-holders have ever used their weapons for nefarious purposes or had to have their licences revoked. Most of the deterred crimes probably go unreported, as the perpetrators are just scared away and that's that. Strange but true.

Charles Hill
06-20-2003, 09:35 AM
Paula,

I've read the book, "Center," about Ikeda Sensei's teachings. Have you read it, and how does it relate to what you experienced?

Charles

PeterR
06-20-2003, 07:49 PM
~~Peter R.--My first MA teacher always told us 'don't focus on the weapon, sense exactly where you opponant is'. Also, 'if someone attacks you then you've already lost'. He stressed that there were many factors that led up to an attack, from when and how you walked out your door, etc. So, yes, why focus on the weapon--instrument or body--it's about the moment, which to me is about the principles. Sorry about the circularity of thought, it's not easy to verbalize this. The superior swordsman is superior because of his movement and understanding of the opponent and situation, not because of his sword; that's more what I felt.
In our style of Aikido we do a lot of tanto randori. We are well aware that it is not knife fighting - the primary purpose of the tanto attack is to give toshu something to avoid and work with vis a vis Aikido techniques. It is very clear from the begininng how difficult it is to avoid the tanto. More to the point of your comments what is drilled into us is not to focus on the knife but the whole person - this coupled with an appropriate ma ai of course.

Niadh
06-20-2003, 08:30 PM
Just a one shot experience reply to Kevin

Really, the knife (or Shiv) doesn't matter in the movement or the center between two people. Can a light touch do more damage than a bare hands attack, yes, but as Paula noted, the one with superior movement is the most likely one to control the situation.

Not to say that one "ignores" the knife, but that to concentrate on the weapon, and neglect the center of the opponents is the way to get oneself hurt or killed.

Move, on your attackers committed intent, and know that you will get cut. Accept that inevitability and move through it. Only then can you move naturallly and effectively. If because of a superior movement (assuming this is the case, which you are right, one can not always assume), you neutralize the situation, excellent. If you can do so without serious injury, especially to either party, than all the better.

Yes, I have been attaked. At a former place of employment, by a client with a 8" shiv of glass. What did I do, I moved, I neutralized, I took the weapon, I had the client treated for the cuts to his hand.

I was unharmed. I was shaken. I did what I needed to do.

I and my attacker were approximately exual in weight, he had height and reach. I had clarity of mind, ease of movement and mind & body coordination.

Would I do it again? Only if I had no other choice. At the tim of this incident, i did not feel that I had another choice. Too many other peoples safety depended on my not letting him get away with this, including his.

Just a few thoughts

Niadh

opherdonchin
06-20-2003, 09:50 PM
Today in class, the instructor said "one thing about weapons: always make sure you've taken the weapon away at the end of the technique." For some reason, this discussion flashed through my mind and I thought about generalizing that principle to open hand technique.

Sorry, just a little silliness in the midst of a really interesting conversation. :)

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
06-21-2003, 01:44 PM
I recall a few O-Sensei quotes about weapons. Granted, these are the words of a cultist who ran around in the mountains throwing cold water on himself and fighting 'tengu', but, hey, I think most of us understand that he walked the line between genius and insanity with one foot on either side, and learned a lot that way.

Watch not his flashing blade
Nothing can be seen there
His fists will reveal where he intends to cut


In a forest of the enemy's spears
Surrounded!
Then realize that those very spearheads
Are your very shield.


Without the slightest opening
Nor the least thought of the enemy
And his encircling swords
Step in and cut!


Don't look at the opponent's eyes, or your mind will be drawn into his eyes. Don't look at his sword, or you will be slain with his sword.

And one which I cannot find the exact version of ... but went something like:

"When you are unarmed, move as though you had a sword. When you have a sword, do not rely on it."

I'm sure he wasn't speaking too literally, but it makes some sense to me to imagine considering the opponent as a whole more than their weapon - or their punch, kick, etc. (I am a new student, and so this is speculation.)

It seems to me that a knife can be flitted around very swiftly, and trying to track it is problematic. Additionally, it might be misleading, because it is connected to an arm and ultimately a center of balance whose movements and positioning greatly influence how this extension of the person's body is capable of moving.

That being said, I'll close with a paraphrase of something a sempai told me while we were doing some knife stuff at an 'open mat':

"By the way, if someone comes at you with a knife and you're unarmed, you're probably going to get cut."

Scott Sweetland
06-23-2003, 10:00 PM
Yagyu Munenori wrote this in "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War":

"Being "swordless" does not necessarily mean you have to take your opponent's sword. It also does not mean making a show of sword-snatching for your reputation. It is the swordless art of not getting killed when you have no sword. The basic intention is nothing like deliberately setting out to snatch a sword.

It is not a matter of insistently trying to wrest away what is being deliberately kept from your grasp. Not grasping attempts to avoid having it taken away is also "swordlessness." Someone who is intent upon not having his sword taken away forgets what he is opposed to and just tries to avoid having his sword taken away. Therefore he will be unable to kill anyone. Not being killed oneself is considered victory.

The principle is not to make an art of taking people's swords. It is learning to avoid being cut down by others when you have no sword yourself.

Swordlessness is not the art of taking another's sword. It is for the purpose of using all implements freely. When you are unarmed, if you can even take away another's sword and make it your own, then what will not be useful in your hands? Even if you only have a folding fan, you can still prevail over someone with a sword. This is the aim of swordlessness."

Yagyu Munenori's life depended on his sword, yet he understood that an encounter takes place between a person and another person, not a sword and an empty hand.

Paula Lydon
06-24-2003, 02:22 PM
~~Thank you, Scott! :)~~