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senshincenter
06-19-2005, 01:00 PM
A reason why practicality can't only be defined by what worked:

http://www.bullshido.net/modules.php?name=Links&file=viewlinkinfo&id=118

Chris Birke
06-19-2005, 01:22 PM
Well, as a fan of the emperical method, lets test that more and see if your hypothesis is correct. This could simply be a sampling error.

senshincenter
06-19-2005, 02:18 PM
I am reminded of a line from "Barfly" - something about "dumb luck counting too." J

Well I would not count it as an empirical error - it worked because it worked. However, the mistake comes when we take what worked beyond the parameters in which it worked, coming to ignore those parameters (especially when they are extremely limited), and then universalizing that which worked as that which works.

If you suspend this notion (i.e. that which worked works), even if just temporarily, and you then go beyond to investigate the whys and hows that supported such a working, you are going to realize real quick that having something that "worked" is just the beginning of one's investigation into what works (what is good/what is practical).

In this example, you see a technique that worked. Why? How? If one is truly interested in seeing what works, one is going to ask these questions -- moving beyond the fact that it worked. You are going to note that the underlying effectiveness which is present is heavily dependent upon the following: having 30-50 pounds on your opponent; being in fight and not being attacked; having your opponent swing wildly; having your opponent close his eyes and/or turn his gaze away; having your opponent being unskilled at closing the gap; having your opponent be unskilled at tying you up; having your opponent limit himself to hand ballistic weapons only; etc. If you do this, you know you got a great technique for fighting smaller folks of extremely low skill who are not all that interested in really taking you out. If you do not do this type of analysis, attempting to satisfy all that can and should be learned with this single phenomena, you will have a tendency to walk away saying, "Kung Fu kicks ass!" The downside to this is, if Kung Fu truly kicks ass, you will never be the one to know it because you will never come to know the how and why that is necessary for supporting such a statement.

MitchMZ
06-19-2005, 02:39 PM
Personally, I think the Kung Fu guy had more than one opportunity to back down and walk away. Plus, he revealed his knowledge WAY too early in the confrontation. It really urks me to see rejects like this fighting over something that probably wasn't that significant in the first place. To me, this is not a proper use of martial arts...they are not meant for fighting some random street punk when you could have easily chosen another way. Now if the other guy would have taken a swing at him right away...I think the situation would have been totally different. Nice punch by the guy in the red shirt, though. From my experiences, most so called "bad@##es" on the street just use the element of suprise, weapons, and numbers to take down an opponent. He is lucky he didn't have a weapon pulled on him when he went into the stance.

Adam Alexander
06-19-2005, 03:50 PM
A reason why practicality can't only be defined by what worked:

Are you saying that just because he threw a hay-maker that worked doesn't justify the poor movement to evade the opponents advance, the flurry of "blocks", or the fact that his advance looked like he was trying to walk up stairs?

I think those are the folks that give MAs a bad name.

BTW: I think his leaning away from the attackers strikes demonstrates why one should train with kata. If he had muscle memory, I'm certain KF/GF has something in its reportoire to counter a strike:)

And what's up with the goofy stance from the get?

Pankration90
06-19-2005, 05:43 PM
BTW: I think his leaning away from the attackers strikes demonstrates why one should train with kata. If he had muscle memory, I'm certain KF/GF has something in its reportoire to counter a strike
Even if he practiced a movement to defend against the way his opponent was attacking a thousand times in the air without a partner, he still probably wouldn't have used that technique to block. Muscle memory works when you react to something; it can't be trained in kata/forms because there is nothing to react to.

I agree senshincenter.

AikiSean!
06-19-2005, 05:45 PM
I have only been training for a little over a year now so I could be seeing things that are'nt there, however just watching that video I see a few things that does make me wonder if red shirt does take an art just maybe A.) got sloppy or B.) not very long. At the beginning he seems to be calm and collected, hands something to the female next to him. Somewhere toward the middle he does check his rear and attempt to be aware of his surroundings. What do you guys think?

Ketsan
06-19-2005, 06:54 PM
My thoughts: The fact that he took a stance so early and the way that he took it told you everything you need to know about him, big ego, little experience. I don't think either of them wanted to fight, there wasn't that cold intent you get when someone seriously wants to do harm. It was a posturing match that got out of hand, if there weren't all those people watching it wouldn't have gone so far but as it was, neither of them had the self confidence or common sence to walk away. Niether of them felt they could back down because of the social pressure.

Rupert Atkinson
06-19-2005, 07:29 PM
To me, black shirt's tying of his shoelaces might have been an attempt to diffuse the situation. Also interesting was the way people stepped back, not really out of fear, but more to give them room to fight, as though they wanted them to - just like I remember from school days. Still, you could read it either way.

xuzen
06-19-2005, 09:31 PM
Little Black Shirt kid looks like a wimp. His punches were flailing all over.. full of action, but little power. I would have walk right in with my guard up and give the ol' one-two on the gut. When he is down, and winded, I'll prob'bly help him up, offer him a Gatorade (he doesn't seem old enough to be able to drink) and shake his hand, hopefully we will be friends by then.

As for Kung FU guy, yes he telegraphed his intention too early. And his outstreched arm.... ooooh it is just sooooo waiting to be shiho-nage'd or hiji-ate'd.

But hey, what do I know, I am only an arm-chair expert.

Boon.

Nick Simpson
06-20-2005, 07:01 AM
Not really bothered about what was right or wrong. It definately looked like neither of them were truly intent on fighting, it prolly could have been walked away from. The guy in the red looked like a prat...

rob_liberti
06-20-2005, 08:52 AM
the mistake comes when we take what worked beyond the parameters in which it worked, coming to ignore those parameters (especially when they are extremely limited), and then universalizing that which worked as that which works

David, your analysis is right on. I want to take this a different direction though... This is the problem I have with people who compete TOO much in their aikido training. The problem is that forcefullness AND sensitivity need to be developed (so that that you can slowly learn how to remain effective with less and less forcefullness). Granted, people who compete TOO little - well of course they have no idea if what they are doing works at all. However, just because something works, doesn't mean it is best, or cannot be improved upon. You need to back off on the competition enough to learn how to be even less forceful and remain effective. My opinion is that if someone with a good deal of time invested into dedicating their training to that idea (more effective, less forcefulness - because the benefits of having more martial sensitivity has been developed under stressful drama) gets into a fight, we would see a very different thing happen. I think people keep missing this point so their misapplicaiton of reductionist thinking convinces them that they are training in the "best" and "most realistic" way and that anything else is well ... bullshido...

Rob

Lyle Bogin
06-20-2005, 09:25 AM
Ah, the 'ol longarm. Very.......effective. Kung fu has a big culture of fighting to gain validity.

Ketsan
06-20-2005, 10:02 AM
I think the basic question we're seeking to answer here isn't so much what works but more "Could you do it again under different circumstances?"

I don't think many people confuse luck with effective technique. Certainly in the various dojo I've been in a lucky shot has always been labeled a lucky shot. So when we say "this works" or "this doesn't work" what we are really saying is "This can be relied upon" or "this cannot be relied upon". I don't think anyone would claim that a jammy shot makes one a great martial artist. That said winning by a jammy shot doesn't make you any less of a martial artist.

So in referance to the original statement I'd say, just because it worked in this instance doesn't mean it's reliable .
In the wider debate which I suppose is the ever lasting question "Does Aikido work" what needs to be proven is not that Aikido techniques can work in a one off situation but that Aikido techniques can be relied upon. That cannot be proven by debate.

senshincenter
06-20-2005, 10:14 AM
Changing the word "works" for "relied upon" is fine. However, the issue I was trying to raise was over whether "real world" success stories alone can be relied upon in determining what should be relied upon (i.e. works). That I think is very much debatable. My position is "No - a lot of dumb stuff 'works' just fine." Rather, we should seek an EQUAL capacity to reflect upon what we are doing through theory, practice, and application (i.e. not giving priority to any one single element).

L. Camejo
06-20-2005, 10:19 AM
If you suspend this notion (i.e. that which worked works), even if just temporarily, and you then go beyond to investigate the whys and hows that supported such a working, you are going to realize real quick that having something that "worked" is just the beginning of one's investigation into what works (what is good/what is practical).

In this example, you see a technique that worked. Why? How? If one is truly interested in seeing what works, one is going to ask these questions -- moving beyond the fact that it worked.
Hey David,

Funny video.:) I think you have hit upon a great point here.

Often when things work for folks they don't try to understand the whys and hows of what happened to fully learn and evolve from the experience, but go off beating their chest assuming that because something worked once that it will always work.

For the true Budoka, this sort of blind acceptance of what "worked" is simply unacceptable. It is imperative imho to analyze, deconstruct, reverse-engineer, pressure test etc. the factors, theories, and concepts that underly the application of an effective technique in a particular scenario so one understands fully why something works (or worked) and is thereby fully capable of repeating the result given the same or similar conditions. This method also assists the Budoka in developing what "worked" to a higher level where it "works" on a regular basis in a variety of situations because of a thorough understanding of the underlying factors involved in having it work.

This concept returns somewhat to something we spoke of in another thread with form training and randori training. An actual SD situation can be seen as a very high or challenging form of randori where one may learn certain lessons that (assuming one survives) can be addressed later by returning to one's study of form and the theories of Aiki tactics and applications to find better ways to deal with the particular situation in future.

This is the approach used by folks in competitive Aikido as well, one does not assume that the technique that works at one instant will work on the same person again 5 mins later. The Aikidoka who uses competition as a learning and development tool does not stop evolving one's approach to combat because a technique worked once on a particular person in a particular scenario, since these folks know too well that what works once does not work all the time, as one's partner will tend not to give the same openings and fall for the same technique repeatedly, not to mention use your own responses against you.

You need to back off on the competition enough to learn how to be even less forceful and remain effective.
Seeing the above I need to ask - How much experience do you have in using/training in Aikido competitively Rob? And at what level?

The reason why I ask is because those who seriously compete in Aikido actually realise that being "forceful" does not mean a technique will work in competition (in fact quite the opposite). The use of the technical paradigm is much more involved than that simple, low level of upper body muscle driven application. As in other combat sport (e.g. Judo), the tense or forceful individual in competitive Aikido is easily dealt with since they often cannot feel subtle, soft changes that takes one's balance and exploits the use of force, so this approach to training does not improve one's competitive Aikido at all imo. As a result, most seek to apply the waza in a relaxed manner as this is most times more effective and successful against a skilled opponent who is well trained to use your force very effectively to his own ends.

Where did you get the idea that competitive practice=forceful practice or application of waza? One can be powerful without being "forceful" and sensitive without collapsing. Imho true power is found in relaxation and is a central aspect in Aikido kata, randori, competition and self defence applications.

One uses the force given to them . 3+7=10 and 9+1=10. It depends on the situation.

Just a few thoughts.
LC:ai::ki:

happysod
06-20-2005, 10:42 AM
Rather, we should seek an EQUAL capacity to reflect upon what we are doing through theory, practice, and application (i.e. not giving priority to any one single element). While I think I understand the point you're getting at in that a limited range of "real world" experiences shouldn't get in the way of analyzing what you're doing, I'd have to disagree with your assessment that the three elements you mentioned should be given equal weight.

For example, theory is wonderful, but should be able to be tested relatively easily with practice in a standard dojo, so I'd lump those two into a single process of experimentation. Both of these I'd happily disregard (even if it goes against my own or accepted theory) if there's a consistent body of work which shows, in an applied setting, something that consistently works, even if it's theoretically "dumb".

As for the clip, yes it looked awful and the fight may have been avoidable (but remember youthful hormones and possible history between the two), but the guy walked away without injury, not really much damage was done to his opponent and, more importantly to my mind, the strange kung-fu walk did prevent it turning into a group attack. I wouldn't rain on the lads parade too much personally.

rob_liberti
06-20-2005, 10:48 AM
Where did you get the idea that competitive practice=forceful practice or application of waza?

Hi Larry, sorry about this misunderstanding, but it is really not my fault that people inaccurately describe what you do as "competitive aikido" - I'm already convinced based upon prior discussions that while your approach uses competition it is *over-all cooperative* and I have no problem with that. I agree that what you have previously decribed as your practice doesn't fit my statements, but that's really because I think we both agree that what you do is mis-labeled/ or at least impercisely labled - not because my statements are wrong.

I see people training in what they like to believe is *cooperative practice* where they use too much forecefullness in an attempt to be "effective" - all of the time. The fact is that they are missing a main point of aikido development - to be able to do more with less. I totally agree that at some point you should get a sense of does this actually work - or more like - how reliable is this. I'd say the only disagreements we might have would be when in someone's training it might be best to introduce this "testing" of effectiveness - and we might agree there as well.

Rob

Mike Sigman
06-20-2005, 11:09 AM
To me, black shirt's tying of his shoelaces might have been an attempt to diffuse the situation. Also interesting was the way people stepped back, not really out of fear, but more to give them room to fight, as though they wanted them to - just like I remember from school days. Still, you could read it either way. I suspect black-shirt was simply making a gesture to give the impression that he wasn't nervous.... but of course he was. I don't think you can make many telling observations from watching a squabble between 2 fairly obvious amateurs, one of them mimicking 'kung fu" and one of them mimicking Sugar Ray Robinson. ;)

At best you see what we've all known since kindergarten... a big guy can usually beat up a small guy. You'd think we could now all watch a big guy and realize that a lot of the "effectiveness" of his techniques is quite often the effect of mass and inertia and strength.

Mike

Ketsan
06-20-2005, 12:55 PM
Changing the word "works" for "relied upon" is fine. However, the issue I was trying to raise was over whether "real world" success stories alone can be relied upon in determining what should be relied upon (i.e. works). That I think is very much debatable. My position is "No - a lot of dumb stuff 'works' just fine." Rather, we should seek an EQUAL capacity to reflect upon what we are doing through theory, practice, and application (i.e. not giving priority to any one single element).

Agree totally.

senshincenter
06-20-2005, 01:22 PM
...Both of these I'd happily disregard (even if it goes against my own or accepted theory) if there's a consistent body of work which shows, in an applied setting, something that consistently works, even if it's theoretically "dumb".


I would agree with your underlying position, however I would probably word this differently. Such that: If I saw something that worked consistently in an applied setting but that contradicted a particular theory or group of theories, and/or was pressed theoretically into be noted as "inferior," I would not so much be looking at a need to adopt a "dumb move." Rather, I would be looking at a need to refine my theories - make them more sophisticated so that they could not only account for the particular move (i.e. providing the whys and hows underlying its effectiveness) in question but also lead to other moves of a similar nature that were at first hidden from (theoretical) sight.

dmv
p.s. Great summary post Larry - you are right on target with what I am trying to say.

Adam Alexander
06-20-2005, 01:42 PM
Even if he practiced a movement to defend against the way his opponent was attacking a thousand times in the air without a partner, he still probably wouldn't have used that technique to block. Muscle memory works when you react to something; it can't be trained in kata/forms because there is nothing to react to.

I agree senshincenter.

Who says kata is a solo exercise? I know Shioda, in "Dynamic Aikido," refers to our partner training as kata.

akiy
06-20-2005, 01:51 PM
Who says kata is a solo exercise? I know Shioda, in "Dynamic Aikido," refers to our partner training as kata.
The article "Kata Training in Aikido" contains information regarding this subject:

http://www.aikiweb.com/training/skoss2.html

-- Jun

Adam Alexander
06-20-2005, 02:00 PM
Damn fine article. Makes me want to go to the dojo right now:)

Mike Sigman
06-20-2005, 02:21 PM
The article "Kata Training in Aikido" contains information regarding this subject:

http://www.aikiweb.com/training/skoss2.html What's interesting is this by statement by the author of the article:
"Morihei Ueshiba apparently did not approve of the kata training method, believing that "static" prearrangement of techniques interfered with the direct, spontaneous transmission of techniques from the gods."

In other words, leaving out the bit about "from the gods", Ueshiba did not believe in using kata. He also did not believe in using randorii, IIRC. The question becomes who is right in their recommendations, Ueshiba or Diane Skoss? Ueshiba or Tomiki? Lots of questions. ;)

Mike

Pankration90
06-20-2005, 02:21 PM
Who says kata is a solo exercise? I know Shioda, in "Dynamic Aikido," refers to our partner training as kata.
My mistake, I was thinking of the solo drills done in a lot of striking styles. I'm sure he had done 'kata' before, the kung fu version of it by himself.

L. Camejo
06-20-2005, 04:54 PM
I see people training in what they like to believe is *cooperative practice* where they use too much forecefullness in an attempt to be "effective" - all of the time. The fact is that they are missing a main point of aikido development - to be able to do more with less.

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the clarification. Being able to do more with less is very important imo. But from my experience it requires a person to develop a keen sense for openings and weak lines of balance and relaxed, economic ways of body movement to achieve more with less and also execute effective technique while being very relaxed.

It's a good challenge and goal to be achieved in one's training though.

LC:ai::ki:

Adam Alexander
06-20-2005, 06:49 PM
What's interesting is this by statement by the author of the article:
"Morihei Ueshiba apparently did not approve of the kata training method, believing that "static" prearrangement of techniques interfered with the direct, spontaneous transmission of techniques from the gods."

In other words, leaving out the bit about "from the gods", Ueshiba did not believe in using kata. He also did not believe in using randorii, IIRC. The question becomes who is right in their recommendations, Ueshiba or Diane Skoss? Ueshiba or Tomiki? Lots of questions. ;)

Mike


I wonder if it's not something of an issue of context. I get the impression that it's referring to long katas.

Although I'm not in the top echelons of Aikido training, I suspect that there's no Aikido katas that match the length of those in other arts.

rob_liberti
06-21-2005, 07:32 AM
I don't know about that. I'd say that 31 step Jo kata is as long as - if not longer - than many katas in other arts.

Rob

Mike Sigman
06-21-2005, 08:02 AM
I wonder if it's not something of an issue of context. I get the impression that it's referring to long katas.

Although I'm not in the top echelons of Aikido training, I suspect that there's no Aikido katas that match the length of those in other arts. By coincidence, I've been having a conversation offline with someone else about the jo katas. I was watching Koichi Tohei's perforemance on an old clip that Stan Pranin has up for view. I always tend to shrug off Tohei's "hopping" as some weird quirk (martially it can have problems since a knowledgeable opponent will take advantage of those moments because you have no power), but I noticed that Tohei does the hopping in his performance of jo kata. I happen to have about four good DVD's of prominent Chinese "short staff" (read "jo") practitioners, and Tohei's kata is so similar to one of the styles, including the "hopping" that I'm going to have to go back and look to see how closely they match. What I'm saying is that the jo kata may represent a "borrow" that may be a little outside of the basic idea of Aikido. In other words, and I state this as a possibility only (until I can do some more looking), if we were to discuss the training methods in Aikido, I personally wouldn't include the jo katas as a meaningful part of the discussion, for the moment.

What I *would* include as being far more important than most people seem to think, is the Aiki-taiso and Taisabaki. Those are the "katas" of Aikido and they are where I think most people miss the point. I also think that a huge point is similarly being missed in ken practice and suburi.

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
06-21-2005, 09:11 AM
a little outside of the basic idea of AikidoI'll bite. What are the suspected benefits of about hopping in jo katas in any system or the "Tohei Hop"?

Rob

Ron Tisdale
06-21-2005, 09:23 AM
On kata in aikido....There are different perspectives. Ueshiba is pretty well known to dislike kata, as Mrs. Skoss pointed out. But the fact remains that Gozo Shioda, Tomiki, and other prewar students refered to quite a bit of aikido as 'kata practice'. The mainline of Daito ryu also refers to much of its practice as 'kata practice'. Since the empty hand techniques in Aikido come directly from Daito ryu this has to bear some weight. The early works of Ueshiba (Budo and Budo Renshu) also seem to present kata form. The kata displayed there can be directly traced to the Yoshinkan, Iwama and Shirata Sensei forms you see today.

Interestingly enough, when I spoke with Stevens Sensei about this, his perspective was that in fact aikido techniques as practiced in the dojo were NOT kata, but something different. His idea of kata is influenced by his exposure to more classical arts, where kata (in his perception anyway) are more 'strict' in the movement and response of shite and uke. You don't change the angles, distance, etc. for the situation...you do your best to present the kata exactly as it was taught (again, this seemed to be his opinion). Perhaps Ellis or others more familiar with classical training can weigh in here on this point. Karl Friday's 'Legacy of the Sword' has some interesting points about kata in japanese martial art as well. I also seem to remember the descriptions of how S. Takeda Sensei demonstrated technique as not being as static as you might think of classical kata (a point perhaps on whether or not Daito ryu is koryu, reconstructed or otherwise).

I personally think Ueshiba was focused on 'Takemusu Aiki', or the phase of martial art which is beyond the training methodology of kata. Most of us would like to get to that stage...but I know I'm far from it, and 99% of the time, I am practicing kata (loose definition of kata). Hopefully as time goes by, less of the kata, more of the Takemusu. I think there are good arguements on both sides of this discussion.

On jo waza/kata being an add-on to aikido, as opposed to ken or tachi waza...I'm not sure. The history of the jo techniques does seem fuzzier than the ken or tachi waza (Meik Skoss has some good points on this on fa.iaido). Aiki-taiso and Taisbaki as kata...well, typically, kata refers to two man sets of waza in japanese martial art (as opposed to Okinawan). I don't know that I'd refer to them as kata at all. But they do indeed have a high place in keiko.

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
06-21-2005, 10:31 AM
I'll bite. What are the suspected benefits of about hopping in jo katas in any system or the "Tohei Hop"? Most of the "hops" (skips, leaps, whatever) that are done in forms practices are to move into position, change position, etc., so they are legitimate in that sense. It's doing a "hop" while you are in engagement (e.g., "connected", etc.) to your opponent that is the no-no.

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
06-21-2005, 10:42 AM
On jo waza/kata being an add-on to aikido, as opposed to ken or tachi waza...I'm not sure. The history of the jo techniques does seem fuzzier than the ken or tachi waza (Meik Skoss has some good points on this on fa.iaido). Aiki-taiso and Taisbaki as kata...well, typically, kata refers to two man sets of waza in japanese martial art (as opposed to Okinawan). I don't know that I'd refer to them as kata at all. But they do indeed have a high place in keiko. I'm not sure about the jo kata, either, Ron, but it seems anomalous... so my inclination is simply to leave it alone as an indicator of Aikido practice. "Kata" means simply a form for practice and in that sense I point out Aiki-taiso and Taisabaki because they are the body-training "forms" that are so important.

When I took Uechi-ryu karate on Okinawa, I learned Sanchin as a first "kata".... it's a kata that goes across several styles. I missed the fact (as has just about every other westerner, if you'll check all the writings by the western "experts") that Sanchin is primarily not only a tension and breathing exercise, it's also a ki and kokyu exercise. I didn't know enough to see it... now it's obvious. When I took Aikido, I didn't really know how to do the Aiki-Taiso and the Taisabaki (the principles are immutable, BTW, so this isn't an "impression")... now I do. And for the most part, those form exercises are quite comparable to the purpose that Sanchin kata serves in karate. That's why I gave my opinion about Aiki-Taiso and Taisabaki being equivalent to kata.

FWIW

Mike

Ron Tisdale
06-21-2005, 10:57 AM
I know the jo kata seems to have a prominent place in 'misogi' in at least some interpretations of Ueshiba's aikido (here is an example of a solo 'kata' in aikido, so perhaps you are right). I'm starting to realize that a lot of the references to 'misogi' are ki training of one sort or another...perhaps there would be some tie in to the rest of the practice from that angle?

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
06-21-2005, 11:15 AM
I know the jo kata seems to have a prominent place in 'misogi' in at least some interpretations of Ueshiba's aikido (here is an example of a solo 'kata' in aikido, so perhaps you are right). I'm starting to realize that a lot of the references to 'misogi' are ki training of one sort or another...perhaps there would be some tie in to the rest of the practice from that angle? Well, the old saying is that a weapon is simply an extension of the hand. First you learn to move with ki and kokyu with the hands and body, then you apply that way of movement to a weapon. Usually.

In the case of Aikido, my suggestion would be a person practice Aikido (remember, all this ki-strength stuff without technique, ma-ai, timing, etc., is as wrong as technique without ki-strength) techniques slowly while also doing the Aiki-Taiso and Tai-sabaki repetitively, slowly, and with kokyu-ryoku.... but I would also stress my conviction that correct suburi practice is equally important and productive. The jo can be swung and poked, pulled, etc., with the same body skills, but because of the spinning and stuff, my instinct is to leave the complex jo movements until later and use the bokken as the training weapon of choice. But that's just my opinion.

FWIW

Mike

senshincenter
06-21-2005, 03:18 PM
I would like to slightly return this to topic…


I think that most would agree that a balance of theory (e.g. “blending requires less energy than not blending”), practice (e.g. doing Suwari waza Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote in the dojo), and application (.e.g. getting the arm-bar in a real life encounter) is a good thing. This is especially true, I would propose, in regards to the context and manner of this discussion here.

However, let us see if we are willing to take this to its natural conclusion. In particular, I would suggest that if we truly want to appreciate such a balance, we are going to have to find the validity of our martial perspectives within that balance. That is to say, anyone that takes a balance of theory, practice, and application seriously is going to mark what is martially valid only by what can by deemed as such according to all three aspects simultaneously. One is not going to say that something if valid in theory or overall when it cannot work in practice and/or function in application. Nor will one say that something is valid in application or overall when it cannot be supported by theory and/or work in practice (which must include the continuing refinement of theory and practice). Yet, while I see that a lot of us are quite willing to say that a balance of these three aspects of training is best, many of us are quite willing to lay great foundations of our training upon discrepancies and/or contradictions located somewhere within the original tripartite.

Here is an example for consideration:

This one just happened this morning: We are working on Suwari-waza Shomenuchi Kote-gaeshi. One of my Ikkyu ranks, a deputy sheriff, about 250 lbs., lots of hands-on experience in the field, training with one of my Sankyu ranks, a single-mom of two kids, no prior martial arts training nor athletic history of any kind, weighing about 110 to 120 lbs. (max), is doing that version of Kote-gaeshi where you keep all of the energy in the wrist joint by pulling on the hand more than you should. Being Suwari-waza and thus closer to the ground, such a tactic does architecturally provide enough energy in relation to the apex of the movement to get Uke to turn over. The added pain located in the wrist assists with the turning over by motivating Uke to do thus. In addition, the mass and muscle discrepancy adds as well to the outcome (i.e. Uke turning over). This is how it is understood theoretically, according to the sciences of biomechanics and physics, etc. That is to say, theoretically it’s operation is seen for what it is: Thoroughly limited in its application, particularly concerning opponents of larger mass and muscle and/or opponents not prone to the culture pressures of the training environment. However, let us go on. Say this deputy sheriff goes out in the field and does this very same Kote-gaeshi version. In addition, let us say he is doing it on a “resisting” subject (by legal definition) of equal and/or greater mass and muscle. It “works.” That is to say, it worked now in class (in practice) and it worked in the field (in application). However, it is still inferior theoretically. Theoretically, even in the field, it is seen as sub par. When one comes to look at why and how it worked in the field, one starts to see the same sort of conditions that were present when it worked in practice. One sees that the suspect was not “resisting” all that much, and/or one sees that whereas a training culture was not present the weight of the entire national culture was baring down upon the suspect – such that he resisted but only up to a certain point. What theory provides is awareness of that point. In both cases, that point was not crossed and hence the energy prints present remained within the operative window of that technique. What you end up with is a technique that works under some very limited conditions – no matter how present they have been up until now.

Next, you go to spontaneous training, against folks that have every intention to defeat you – to be the one that comes out victorious. Here, let us say, this person tries that version of Kote-geashi. Repeatedly it is easily countered because there is no Angle of Cancellation affecting the whole of the opponent’s body. In addition, there is also no Angle of Disturbance affecting his/her base of support. And now that we are standing, the energy delivered in relation to the apex is not enough to achieve anything but a wrist sprain, dislocation, or break, but only in those folks that aren’t capable of capitalizing upon the absence of both an Angle of Cancellation and an Angle of Disturbance. For anybody else, which is most skilled folks intent on victory, the energy put into the wrist is only either a minor nuisance or an opening to be capitalized upon (since one now has his/her hands in the same place at the same time – losing one’s positioning checks and/or capacity to trap, etc.)

From the start, this is exactly what theory would say this version would be under any conditions more serious than participation in convention-laden culture involving someone that weights 100 lbs. less then you and/or is not all that out to have the entire State come down on him/her.

For me, the same thing could be said about some of the demonstrations now visible on Aiki Expo DVDs. First, let me note that these are a great buy and that there is plenty worthy of looking at and/or considering very deeply. I highly recommend the purchase. I mention some of it here only as a common point of reference. In some of the demonstrations, you see a lot of “drilling” that seems to be misunderstood as practice and/or as application. Some of the connection drills, that are important, are being extended way beyond their capacity for some aikidoka, and I feel that a big contributor to this is that folks are looking at what “worked” and not seeing the hows and whys – not applying any theoretical investigations along with their practice and/or application. In the end, the considerations and conventions necessary for extending a drill beyond it’s nature are going unnoticed. This, I feel, can be said about a lot of our Aikido world today.

Ron Tisdale
06-21-2005, 03:38 PM
David,

Agreed. With a capital A. One question, are you talking about the Demo, the classes, or both?

Side note...what is expected to be shown at a demo? We know these are with compliant uke, right? How much application vs practice or theory should be present in a demo?

Best,
Ron

L. Camejo
06-21-2005, 04:24 PM
Great post David. I enjoyed reading it.

Brings things right back to the question of "It worked, but is it good?"

Skilled resistance changes things greatly, can even cause one to re-evaluate what constitutes sound, theoretically correct technique.

LC:ai::ki:

senshincenter
06-21-2005, 04:33 PM
Hi Ron,

I can only refer to the demonstrations – as that was the only thing viewable on the DVDs. However, based upon what I did see in the demonstrations, I would be very surprised if such reasoning and practice did not also support what was taught in some of the classes.

I would like to make it clear that I am not out to raise the old debate of “compliant uke vs. non-compliant uke,” or even to raise the issue over what a demonstration is and/or is not, etc. This is not to say that these things are not relevant, only that I was trying to refer to a very specific thing: when a drill is presented and/or practiced beyond its constructs due to an ignorance surrounding the hows and whys of that drill and/or whatever practice or application it may be presented under.

In particular, I was referring to the obvious blending exercises that were being “stretched” in order to fulfill a given practice and thus an assumed application. In my opinion, the thing with drills is that they are set to cultivate one or a few particular attributes. This a drill will do at all costs, such that a drill will reject its inevitable conclusion for the sake of recommencing itself repeatedly. A drill does this because the attribute being cultivated is held up to be of more importance then the conclusion of the drill itself. As a result, because the conclusion of the drill is not of significance, those things that are relative to such a conclusion are also deemed as low priority or even as totally irrelevant. What we see in many of the demonstrations is an unawareness of this process. That is to say, what we see is a misapplication of the drill’s tendencies to forgo conclusions (plus all that is related to a conclusion) for the sake of achieving an action and/or application that could not have taken place otherwise. Thus, we see moves that are conclusions but that are full of openings and/or that are dependent upon the “drills” tendency to make such openings irrelevant.

Here is one example: Many of the connection and/or blending drills in Aikido make use of both leading and following. Usually, Nage leads, and Uke follows. Through leading and following, via this drill, the dynamics of connection and leading, which are viable martial concepts, are both analyzed and embodied (over time). However, when such a drill is stretched beyond its intended capacity, due to a theoretical ignorance, one has a tendency to wrongly take martial concepts like leading and connection into practice and/or application while remaining hugely dependent upon (uke) following (which can only be relative to the drill and not to application). Following is one of those elements particular to the drill’s intention of repeating itself and not concluding. When this is not understood, you start to see tactical architectures and/or suggested geometries that could not produce their suggested outcome (e.g. a front breakfall or a radical redirection of motion, etc.) outside of the contrived “reality’ in which it is being demonstrated (i.e. an environment where following is practiced but no longer seen as that element particular to a connection drill repeating itself/not ending). More than wanting to talk about Uke that just go flying for no reason and/or that jump in the air as high as they can for more added affect, I am referring to tactical architectures that fail even within their own assumptions. For example: The body does not flip over itself because you have a stick in front of it and swing down; the body does not reverse direction because you guide it thusly by the wrist; the body does not fall backwards because you attack the back of the legs with the jo; etc. These things only happen when Uke is “following.” These reactions, I would suggest, seem to “work” because one is not investigating them theoretically – such that the culture that is supporting them as “working” does not come into question and/or is not exposed for the misapplication of a drill that it is. What I am referring to is that odd blindness that comes to us via our tactical architectures when we go with what “worked” and leave theoretical validation and/or investigation to the wayside.

Anyways, that is some of what I have been thinking.

I would love to hear more of your take as well Ron. Please/thanks.

david

senshincenter
06-21-2005, 04:34 PM
Skilled resistance changes things greatly, can even cause one to re-evaluate what constitutes sound, theoretically correct technique.


Excellent point Larry.

d

Steven
06-21-2005, 04:55 PM
so much talk about how poor the technique was. How about this one.

http://www.dkbnews.com/flash/2005/movie01.swf

Lan Powers
06-21-2005, 11:29 PM
WOW!! Now that's the best response to a jerk I have seen lately. Not too good an idea to get caught in a headlock, but it happens anyway. Gotta love her full commitment.
Lan

rob_liberti
06-22-2005, 08:23 AM
Yeah, that's a cool video. I've seen that before, and I love it.

David,

I didn't watch much of the demos except some of the free clips. I agree with your ideas here from the perspective of training a nage to defend themselves from more of the average real world situation. However, what about the perspective of training the uke to actively move to a safer position for them and a more dangerous position for the other person? Techniques change a lot when both uke and nage are doing that. I agree that skilled resistance is important - but I'm thinking about one of the many "skills" of uke. If a training metholodogy gets people moving out of senitivity to danger, that's not all that terrible - as long as - the nage understands that aspect and does not actually depend on it for their actual self defense in a real world situation. I think sometimes training is very good to just focus on being able to do more with less. I just also happen to think that sometimes a really good way to expand my training is to actually draw out and extend the technique being practiced for a long as possible - which challenges me to improve my ability to maintain that fragile connection - which is at the heart of the whole do more with less idea in the first place. I see too many "strong-arm-bandits" in aikido. I don't want people practicing martial nonsense, but I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater either.

Rob

senshincenter
06-22-2005, 10:24 AM
Hi Rob,

This is a good point Rob. As I said, I understand the logic of the drill. However, my issue is when we see that logic being unknowingly used to create the actual geometry for falling (whether thrown or pin – having a topsy-turvy affect on Uke’s body) in a given tactical architecture. My point only slightly overlaps with issues of self-defense, and only because of the natural tendency for delusion to spread. Thus, I would rather not have to talk about self-defense issues. I am referring solely to tactical architectures (i.e. waza) being reliant upon drill constructs that were originally put in place to keep the drill going (i.e. those things of reality that the drill denies in order to repeat itself continuously).

For example, take the idea that one can get the whole body to turn in the reverse direction by simply guiding the wrist in a big circle from a cross-lateral grab or point of contact. This was quite prevalent throughout the demonstrations. It was often used as the necessary opening for Ikkyo. I would suggest, it is one thing to do a drill where such redirection is being used to develop the skills you are noting, but it is another thing to have our architectures rely upon it. Specifically, I am referring to how Nage then comes to make zero or near-zero use of Uke’s elbow as the main point of contact for actual redirection and/or fails to see how the wrist should actually be allowed more to go straight along its original path of action than curving away from it. Moreover, I would say that when our architectures become so reliant upon elements that are particular to the drill, we even lose that which we were trying to gain in the drill. Meaning, Uke often ends up moving into a place from which he/she is more vulnerable, Uke becomes less sensitive to Nage, etc.

When the cost of implementing drill methodologies into our tactical architectures is to practice invalid biomechanics and/or to rely upon a deluded sense of the physical world, I believe it is time to find better ways of getting what the drill is providing without relying upon it in our tactical architectures. An easy way of doing this is just to keep the drill the drill. Another way is to use the following, the connection, etc., from the drill without needing it for the final geometry for falling. As an example of this, I would site Ikeda’s demonstration. He found ways of using aspects of following, of leading, of connection, as the matrix of his demonstration while still opting to work with real-world physics for the throw or pin. As a result, his uke were highly sensitive, highly responsive, and fully capable of remaining safe – not the opposite.

If your Uke goes flying because your hand is resting lightly on their elbow, or not at all, this Uke is not responding to what you as Nage are doing. They are responding to what the training culture says they should be doing for that cue. In this way, in actuality, Uke is out of touch with both Nage and reality. Uke’s sensitivity is as manufactured as the tenets of the training culture are, and thus Uke, through a lack of insight, is actually experiencing more alienation than oneness or harmony or any other similar concepts when it comes to directly relating to Nage and/or reality. When Nage comes to relate to Uke through this same process of alienation, this same process of not relating to each other directly but only through the tenets of the training culture, Nage too experiences more alienation than connection, oneness, blending, harmony, etc.

This alienation, I would propose, seems to be becoming an acceptable standard. Why? I would suggest because folks are making the mistake of seeing what “worked” as what “works.” An Uke, once engrained in the training culture, and/or fully in the middle of the process of alienation, is not fully aware of themselves at the level of practice. That is to say, they just do what they do. What ends up happening then is that such an Uke will come to interpret what he/she is experiencing (e.g. a redirection of their energy by contact at the wrist only) as being absent of their will and/or of any kind of contrived elements when it is anything but. At this point, an Uke feels something works because it worked on them. If one gives equal weight to theoretical reflection, one can see clearly that such a thing only worked because of the training culture and/or that such a thing works only when the assumptions of training culture are present. For me, this is an important thing to realize no matter what our stated reasons for training may be.

david

rob_liberti
06-22-2005, 10:49 AM
I can't argue with that. I think the simple solution for that kind of thing is to go to many other dojos and check how your aikido works or doesn't with different ukes from different dojo cultures. I would think that the aiki-expo would potentially be an example of a pretty good opportunity for such an exploration.

I suppose it takes honest self reflection as well, as opposed to going away from a failed throw thinking it is because that uke just doesn't know how to take ukemi. (Which can be the case, but should be an insurmountable problem.)

Rob

senshincenter
06-22-2005, 12:33 PM
Well I feel that would be a possible solution as well - especially when honest self-reflection is involved. Heck, maybe with honest self-reflection one could even stay right where he or she was and figure it all out too. :-)

thanks for replying,

dmv

rob_liberti
06-22-2005, 12:48 PM
Good point! But even my best sempai (from various dojos) sometimes give me their balance in a technique before I'm really convinced things are working. (I love to travel to all different places.) The "honest self reflection" touches on what I've been working on (in my mind) as a concept called "complete self trust". I want to have that martially as well as just mentally. I think it requires a lot of help from various ukes and various styles of taking ukemi. I suppose that could happen in one place, but as you suggested, delusion spreads despite our best intentions.

Thanks,
Rob

glennage
06-22-2005, 01:50 PM
At best you see what we've all known since kindergarten... a big guy can usually beat up a small guy. You'd think we could now all watch a big guy and realize that a lot of the "effectiveness" of his techniques is quite often the effect of mass and inertia and strength.

Mike

I'm with you there Mike. in my opinion a true master should hide his skills right to the very last then unleash hell, that stance would have had me laughing in his face. interestingly though i read in a Geoff Thompson book that some guy won a fight just by adopting a kung fu stance and screaming! obviously an effective deterrant and it seemed to knock the punks confidence before the punch did.

Kevin Leavitt
06-22-2005, 02:53 PM
IMHO, a true master wouldn't necessarily hide his skill. To do so might entice his opponent into figting against what he percieves is a weaker opponent, which makes the master a big part of the problem and hence not a master.

A master is one that can leave his ego at the door, and de-escalate the fight to nothing. A master also may make his skill known to his opponent so his opponent would realize that attacking him would be futile. The master give the opponent an out in a gracious matter that does not further complicate the situation through humiliation.

Those are my thoughts....

senshincenter
06-22-2005, 03:22 PM
Here's the thing however (for me)...


At a technical level, tactical architectures aimed at falling, pinning, throwing, etc., aimed at disturbing or deconstructing a person's Base of Support, are dependent upon the physical and mathematical sciences. This means that there is an objective perspective that is quite accessible to anyone that takes the time to study these sciences. While self-honesty is important in one's training, it is not like we are really dealing here with the kind of delusion that only satori can penetrate. The kind of lack of insight we are discussing comes really only from a refusal to engage in the study of these sciences as they apply to what we do as aikidoka.

This means, rather than waiting for us to get self-honest, or rather than looking for environments where our own assumptions come to the surface (so that we can be more self-honest), all we really need to do is learn what kind of energy and/or geometry leads toward
"this" type of kuzushi or "this" type of fall or "this" type of topsy-turvy effect, etc. Armed with such scientific objectivity, we are able to fully distinguish what works from what "worked." Armed with such scientific objectivity, we are able to note when a drill has unknowingly and improperly come to dominate our tactical architectures. Armed with such scientific objectivity, we are able to distinguish what is relating properly to reality and what is only relevant to a training culture. Armed with such scientific objectivity, we are able to note when we as Uke are more like a dressage mount (i.e. a horse responding to cues or signals) than we are like a budoka.

The application of theoretical reflection is nothing more than the study and practice of the physical sciences. By such an application, issues of self-honesty may arise. However, to wait for self-honesty to arise before we apply such sciences to our practice is, for me, like trying to put the cart before the horse; or at least it can be considered an unnecessary step - one not needed to apply the relevant sciences to our practice.

Here's one: If you do Kote-gaeshi and you do not pass the bottom apex of the circle as Nage, such that your hands and fingers are only sideways (parallel to the ground) or worse still pointing upward, and if your Uke still goes over topsy-turvy, scientifically you know that that effect was only generated because Uke took themselves over the top apex on the circle. One doesn't need any more self-honesty in regards to realizing this solution than to realize that two plus two is four. Rather, what one needs most of all, I would suggest, is courage. What one requires is the kind of courage that allows one to (first) look, to (second) see, and to (third) go on to act properly according to what one has seen.

Mike Sigman
06-22-2005, 03:29 PM
I'm with you there Mike. in my opinion a true master should hide his skills right to the very last then unleash hell, that stance would have had me laughing in his face. I was just surprised he didn't start pigeon-cooing, a la Bruce Lee. You could see he had no real sparring or fighting experience. Next! :)

Mike