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Matt Banks
03-05-2001, 04:52 AM
Hi there,

Do you think that some styles of aikido try to be too soft and flowing all the time and thus lose practicality of the art due to this? I think this is why a select few view aikido to be inaffective.
Do you feel problem is that there are too many styles out there which concentrate on the flowing side of aikido without first harnising the basics of good hard dynamic aikido first, thus their stlye is more like a dance than effective aikido. Gozo Shioda worried about this point, he said alot of aikido nowdays was ''hollow'' as people were trying to be too flowy etc without first trying to harness the basics e.g. focused hips ..power etc etc-the components which makes aikido fantastically practical. When I first visited this forum, I couldnt belive how some people were calling aikido soft and inaffective, until I saw some other styles and realised in that case I agreed. The philosophy I always thought was to train hard and really throw people, not just breeze around from the lightest touch. I dont mean use strenght but just apply the tecnique properly. I always thought the time for super flowingness came later in your aikido life when you were more familiar with the basics. Osensei aikido was very direct and powerfull before the war (this is what the yoshinkan's aikido is like) and after the war towards osensei's life he became more flowing as he had a mastery of the basics. Could it be said that, training in a hard direct from the beginging helps someone's aikido to be more practical early on in the aikido training ,rather than training for 50 years in a flowing way then achiving praticality.
The kind of aikido Im talking about are people are Gozo Shioda, Chiba sensei(aikikai), Saito Sensei etc etc.

I hope my question got across correctly, I havent corrected mistakes etc for time. Got to go


Matt Banks

Sam
03-05-2001, 05:30 AM
Probably the difference in styles is due to their philosophy - and some aikido has become likened to Tai-Chi in that a lot of personal benefits exist even in the absence of any real self-defense element.
What worries me is the schools which train with hard techniques yet do not have a system of learning. Both Tomiki and Yoshinkan are styles which are taught using a system with base practices, techiques grouped into meaningful kata and exercises with elements of unpredictability. I fully respect a lot of the styles which are more flowing, but I worry about those clubs which teach hard techniques, but just as a random collection, making application by a student almost impossible.

andrew
03-05-2001, 05:35 AM
Matt Banks wrote:

Do you think that some styles of aikido try to be too soft and flowing all the time and thus lose practicality of the art due to this?

Of course, but I also find people who're too concerned about this who try to use strength, give attacks which aren't committed, or refuse to follow techniques so they can be "effective." I think this often leads to people who don't really understand how gently good technique can work.
I think the root of the problem you're talking about is more related to the attempt to be flowing rather than soft. I think you always have to try and flow, but of course there's no point if you're going to leave uke out of the flow... Softness/hardness is a lot less important than getting technique just right. (I think hardness is of course going to have earlier practical application, though...)
andrew

ian
03-05-2001, 06:17 AM
I think it is easy for hard techniques to seem more effective, 'cos they are easier to do more quickly. I think that is why hard techniques are often taught to armed forces, 'cos they learn it and then don't have time to think and reflect and practise regularly.

I also think that you can loose the point of aikido if you start off with a 'soft' form. It can easily lead to poor attacks, general lethargy and a non-martial attitude.

I think the best way is to start off slowly and firmly - trying to get effective 'technique' as quickly as possible. Then you try to improve the speed (without the injury). Then you try to improve the blending, and this is where your timing and co-ordination begin to improve and you can stop using lots of energy - luckily this coincides with you getting older! However it is very much a feel thing for the particular person. At the end of the day I think the technique should be effective.

Therefore, you have to be sincere to yourself, but there is a danger of thinking a technique is effective just 'cos you can crank it on if someone doesn't go down - you may as well be doing ju-jitsu. The ulimate and unattainable aim is perfect harmony; as chuang tzu said;

'once the fish is caught the net is forgotten'

(sorry for these constant chuang tzu references, he just seems to have a lot of good things to say).

Ian

ian
03-05-2001, 06:22 AM
P.S. many people would question whether there is such a thing as hard and soft aikido; including myself (I think). Basically, if they are soft in their attack, you attack hard; if they are hard, you are soft. I think many problems in aikido really come down to the realism or sincerity of the attack. (I hate these attacks where someone goes to strike you but ends up running straight past you, what are they really aiming to do? - bokken practise seems to be a good way to remedy this, 'cos if the attack isn't sincere you can easily see it).

Also, I have heard about this concept of the circularity of the aiki movement just being necessary to set up the opponent for the most prone position so your power can then be fully utilised (although obvioulsy you don't want to kill uke).

Ian

ian
03-05-2001, 06:23 AM
P.P.S. in answer to the question; yes, sometimes instructors instruct just glorified dancing.

(Notice I didn't say styles, as I know that some people who you may consider to have 'soft' styles are devestatingly effective; they're just very good).

Ian

[Edited by ian on March 5, 2001 at 05:25am]

sceptoor
03-05-2001, 02:55 PM
Frank Doran sensei seems to lean towards the "dancing" type of Aikido so to speak, but he's still very good.

Erik
03-05-2001, 03:57 PM
Do you think that some styles of aikido try to be too soft and flowing all the time and thus lose practicality of the art due to this?

Emphatically yes!

However, I also think the other side applies too. I don't think an exclusively hard style produces particularly good aikido either, at least as I define it.

The problem I see with both methods (hard to soft or vice versa) is that when it becomes time to change you've spent at least 10 years doing it a certain way and it's in your nature by then. Very hard to change.

One of the things I find is that the harder styles really struggle with flow. Sure they can get that shiho nage on you from any angle but that isn't really blending. It's effective, in a way, but it's not flow and it's surely not connection. With the really soft styles I see the things Matt pointed out. It's kind of why I think one style doesn't fit all.

Personally, I have yet to find a dojo that balances this out really well unless they aren't hard core committed to a certain style or method. It takes a very open dojo to get really good balance in my opinion and that type of pure openness seems to be on the rare side.

Consequently, I find myself training at 4 different dojos on a very regular basis. Sometimes all of them in a week.

Chris P.
03-05-2001, 07:24 PM
Matt Banks wrote:
Hi there,

Do you think that some styles of aikido try to be too soft and flowing all the time and thus lose practicality of the art due to this? I think this is why a select few view aikido to be inaffective.
Do you feel problem is that there are too many styles out there which concentrate on the flowing side of aikido without first harnising the basics of good hard dynamic aikido first, thus their stlye is more like a dance than effective aikido.


I totally agree (but it's more than just "a select few"). I think that, in order to improve yourself, you need some standard. Too many Aikido people refuse to use competition as a standard, refuse to use effectiveness or effortlessness as a standard. The only standard is fluid motion, with some vague ideas of self-actualization tossed in for good measure.

They seek to cultivate the inner jellyfish. But this is more suitable for spineless creatures suspended in liquid, then for human beings. If you spend years of your life practicing martial arts, and can't avoid a jab, you are not qualified to talk about self-improvement. Learn to walk before you run or you'll eventually fall flat on your face.

OK, I'm done ranting for today.

jimvance
03-06-2001, 12:59 AM
Here's an idea from a book on Iaido. At the beginning of a practitioner's training they copy the movement. They then make the movement big and fluid. They practice this way over and over until they feel competent. They now begin to make the movement dynamic while maintaining the original feeling of "Big". They practice this way over and over until they feel competent. Then they start to add speed to the movement. I think that rather than speed, correct timing should be used. They practice ad nauseum. Finally they try to make the movement feather light, without sacrificing any other qualities of the movement. I can say without a doubt my teachers have these qualities and they can DANCE, but their waza sometimes feels like being run over by a Mac truck.

Jim Vance