View Full Version : New guy
05-21-2004, 12:38 PM
Hi all. I'm Jonathan Cole. I used to practice Aikido in a more-or-less Aikikai (unaffiliated) dojo, but for various reasons left it behind for a couple of years. I also used to post infrequently to Aikido-L, but I doubt anyone remembers me.
Now I'm back to training, rusty as ever, and practicing Aikido in a new city. The biggest change? I'm now training at the only Aikido dojo in town, and it's a Ki Society dojo. Needless to say, I'm busily trying to empty my glass so that new learning can commence. Sensei is very patient, but it's so hard to start completely over!
Oddest thing: the rusty-ness is actually helping. I'm not sure I could do tai-no-henko correctly at EITHER dojo, at this point! hehe.
In any case, the new dojo is small, the members seem to care about each other, and the training is focused and specific. I'll be sure to pass the word around about this forum, and see if any of my new dojo-mates want to join the community.
05-21-2004, 09:09 PM
Hi, and welcome back!
I started out training in Ki Society but also did a stint at a Classical Aikido dojo, so I know what you mean about having to start from scratch. After the initial confusion I think it's actually good for your aikido.
I think the difference that takes the most getting used to is that in my experience, where throws from other traditions work badly till you learn to do them well, some of the Ki Society versions don't work at *all* until you learn to do them well. This can be disconcerting if you don't expect it, but hang in there. Eventually things will start to click.
(I've found that saying "I can't see how this throw could ever work at all" in sensei's hearing generates many wonderfully educational experiences, but you'd better be in good ukemi shape that night....)
05-22-2004, 02:03 PM
Thanks for the welcome!
You make a really interesting point, Mary, and it's one I was confronted with last night (not much of my Aikido was working at all - hehe). We were going through a variation on shomen uchi kokyu nage, and I was totally at a loss. Like so many of the other things we've done, the power in what Sensei was giving me in demonstration was quite, well, strong (I would have called it "positive" contact in my other dojo) - not what I would have expected. The technique worked beautifully for him, of course, but when I was attempting to perform the technique, muscle and effort kept creeping in. That's one of the things that really intrigues me about what I'm learning: incredible power is present in the techniques, but it's generated and lives in completely different places in the technique than I expect. I don't know if this is making any sense, but. . . I think what I'm trying to describe is that the students who are "getting it" seem to be doing more than just achieving the same result with less muscular effort - they're actually inhabiting the technique differently than those of us who aren't "getting it." This was also definitely true of shomen uchi ikkyo irimi last night.
Hmm. I don't think that made sense, but I'll throw it out there just the same.
Hey, here's a question: in class last night, watching the sempai take ukemi from Sensei, I kept noticing that their ukemi led them out of the path of potential atemi. However, when I asked the sempai (what IS the plural of sempai, BTW?) about this, none of them understood what I was talking about (being aware of and actively avoiding atemi). The result was basically the same: the movements of their bodies were as if they were actively avoiding attacks and protecting openings as they evolved, but their awareness was completely ignoring either delivering or defending against atemi. Is that a Ki Society thing? I'll ask Sensei, of course, but I'm curious what the experience of others here is.
05-22-2004, 03:04 PM
In searching a bit on the boards, I found the answer to my own question about atemi, which appears to be, "it depends, but usually atemi are not used." See this thread:
05-22-2004, 07:43 PM
Japanese doesn't use a suffix for plurals. Two samurai, two sempai, two sensei. Sometimes English adapts the word with an "s" (one ninja, two ninjas?) but it looks and sounds funny with "sempai" so I'd leave it alone. I confess I usually write "one sempai, two seniors."
My Ki Society dojo doesn't emphasize atemi much at all, though I wouldn't go as far as "generally not used." Atemi-reliant throws start showing up on the tests around first kyu. Below that, there are some throws with "cryptic" atemi--you aren't taught that they are atemi, but if you explore what you can do with a resisting uke, you find yourself placed to hit him. You do sayu expecting that uke is going down, but if he somehow isn't, your hand intersects with his face....
One thing I noticed in comparing my dojo with the Classical one where I trained for a bit is that our "default adversary" is an imaginary aikidoka bent on reversing us, not an imaginary karateka bent on hitting us. But perhaps if you avoid setting up a reverse, it also helps in avoiding atemi? Certainly if you break uke's balance so that he can't throw you he often can't hit you either.
In the Classical dojo I was a pest for my partners. They expected blocks, and were prepared to grab the blocking arm and throw me, but I tended to tenkan or back up instead and spoil the throw. They didn't usually hit me, but perhaps that was kindness to a guest.... They taught some beautiful throws leveraged off blocking movements. I've seen those in Ki Society but they aren't usually taught at my level. We did a couple unexpectedly one class, and sensei had a hard time convincing the low-ranked people (through third) that they needed to block.
I know what you mean about shomenuchi kokyunage. It's the hardest thing on my next test, because we're not allowed to grab or shove or do anything straightforward to make it work. I have trouble maintaining connection with uke and then the throw seems perfectly impossible. The whole throw has to come from the down-up-down pattern; worse, the up cannot be enforced but must come from uke's natural attempt to regain his posture. (As a result, if you do it slow-mo it stops working, because by the time you try to come up, uke has resigned himself to being bent over and doesn't straighten.)
It does work, and quite convincingly in the hands of a senior; but for a long time it seems as though some essential part must have been left out of the mechanism.
My teachers say that the way to get this is to relate it to udemawashi undo and to bokken strikes. You are dropping your arm through uke, not pushing uke with your arm, and this is similar to the way Ki Society drops the bokken through a shomenuchi strike. The other big difference I saw between Classical and Ki Society is that Ki Society explains everything with reference to the hitori waza, at least my dojo does. It often takes a long time for me to figure out what they're talking about, but then it does help.
05-24-2004, 12:22 AM
Thank you so much for the clarification! I always wondered about the plurals in Japanese.
As to kokyunage, what you describe is EXACTLY what I'm floundering about with: the "down" part of down-up-down is where all that energy was coming from sensei - more of a "DOWN," really, but none of it from muscle. The second "down" for me (as uke) feels like it flows from my awareness of the impending intersection of my face as I come back up and the fist of nage as s/he opens up (I think that's part of the connection you're talking about). That was actually what prompted my question about atemi, because the "time for you to fall down now" part was not related to atemi, but rather following and staying connected to nage's energy.
I particularly like the point you make about thinking of uke as another aikidoka reversing us, rather than someone attempting to crack my bones. . . I'm going to bring that one into class tomorrow with me: see if it helps my mindset any.
As to the ongoing comparisons between Classical and Ki Society techniques, a friend of mine is training at Frank Doran Sensei's dojo (which is pretty darn Classical, I think?), and we've been having some discussions about technique, as well. I'll see him in a few months: perhaps I'll get to see first hand what you're describing when comparing Classical and Ki Society arts. Sounds like fun!
In any case, thank you for your detailed reply: it's giving me lots to think about, and I appreciate the tips to listen for in the dojo (hitori waza, etc.) Your insights are helping me transition into this new dojo - I can ask things here that I'd be embarassed to ask Sensei about.
Welcome to the AikiWeb Forums! Just as a tip -- you might want to repost your questions in separate threads outside of the Introductions forum as they will probably get more views and replies that way...
05-24-2004, 01:29 PM
Thanks for the tip, Jun! Will do. . .
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