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cck
11-07-2005, 10:55 AM
I've got this growing boulder of a stumbling block rolling around in my head: I can't get a take on intent. It's getting to where I can't see around it, so I thought I'd ask for input here.

If intent means what you are putting behind your actions, the focus of your action - ie, I will hit you now, specifically with a shomen - I could not practise shomen. I find it immensely difficult to hit someone, and even pretending is difficult. And this is what strikes are rapidly becoming to me: pretense. That's not good, not for me and not for nage; I miss a lot. And now I'm starting to worry about tracking, too - if you hesitate on your punch, you have some time and space to adjust because nage usually moves anyway.

This was further illustrated in class, when the instructor demonstrated a version of randori training by having the attacker attack as fast as possible, ramping up speed as they went along. I could not deliver a satisfactory attack. The man is at least twice as big as me, so for me to try to rush him would be idiotic - it would have to be some out-of-my-head mad, primal mother response. But I tried to suspend disbelief and it didn't work.

So what is intent, then? It can't really just be to be a good uke, either. What does initiating an attack mean to you? How does intent play into that? Do you have a solid intent to strike your nage in the gut? I've tried to think about it as giving nage something to work with, but that doesn't quite do the trick, either.

Steve Mullen
11-07-2005, 11:27 AM
The man is at least twice as big as me, so for me to try to rush him would be idiotic - it would have to be some out-of-my-head mad, primal mother response. But I tried to suspend disbelief and it didn't work.

What I get from your post is that you don't want to go around battering people which is good, up to a point. the fact that you mention that he is bigger than you means that he is the ideal person to help you over come this (i hate to use the word) problem (sorry). try getting him to hold a focus bag while you punch away at it to get some actual practice at hitting. once you become confident at hitting try using a smaller pad to focus your control and aim.

pretty soon you will (hopefully) view the striking part the same way as the technique. from tori's point of view they would much prefer a well controlled attack with intent to one in which the person is just 'going through the motions'.

Most importantly trust the people you train with to be skilled enough aikidoka to get out of the way. and if they don't it's a good learning curve (trust me, the broken cartillege in my nose really made me sit up and pay attention to my guard and what i was doing)

hope it helps
Steve

Janet Rosen
11-07-2005, 11:39 AM
I have trouble maintaining committed ontarget attacks through a class. One thing I've found is that for me it is easier to tap into intent or committment to attack in weapons work--might be worth a try for you to pick up a bokken or jo and have partner do the same and see if it helps.

James Davis
11-07-2005, 11:45 AM
IMHO, there's no reason to smack someone when you could begin by just touching their face to show them that their defenses were down. In time, you can graduate to pressing specific points on the faces that cause pain. This will get students to defend against your reaching hand. When they have that down, start smacking! :D

jonreading
11-07-2005, 01:09 PM
Camilla,

Tough question. By definition, intention is the reason for action. That is, intention is the cause of action to obtain an anticipated reaction. For example, I might set my alarm clock to ring at 7:00 if I intent to get up then. The purpose of action (setting the alarm clock) was to wake up (intention).

I have an anaology for anyone that has ever hit their thumb hammering nails (everyone has..). Did you intend to hit your thumb? No. You intended to hit the nail but the mechanical action of the movement was flawed resulting in your thumb being struck rather than the nail. You intended to drive the nail into the wood and, if applied successfully, would have driven the nail in the wood. Think about the results of the same experiment if you intended to hit your thumb. Do you think the force of the hammer would be enough to drive the nail into the wood? Hopefully not. Different intent, different result.

SeiserL
11-07-2005, 01:46 PM
IMHO, intent is mental and intensity is physical.

Where ever the head goes the body follows and the mind tends to direct the ki.

What visual or auditory are you holding in your head that prevents you from doing what you want to do?

cck
11-07-2005, 03:53 PM
Well, that's the problem - I don't WANT to hit anyone.

Or rather, I don't want to HURT anyone - I do not want my strikes to make contact. Which perhaps is a vital difference, now that I think about it. It really does become a question of trust, doesn't it? In nages ability to get out of the way, I mean.

Same thing with sankyo and nikyo - there just seems such a potential for damage, I have a hard time really "turning them on."

But that doesn't take away the inherent disbelief in the advisability of my trying to rush someone twice my size. I found it difficult to have an appropriate (mental) intent in that situation. And it became pretense, and hence unsatisfactory. Does that make sense?

James Davis
11-07-2005, 04:22 PM
Well, that's the problem - I don't WANT to hit anyone.

Or rather, I don't want to HURT anyone - I do not want my strikes to make contact. Which perhaps is a vital difference, now that I think about it. It really does become a question of trust, doesn't it? In nages ability to get out of the way, I mean.

Same thing with sankyo and nikyo - there just seems such a potential for damage, I have a hard time really "turning them on."

But that doesn't take away the inherent disbelief in the advisability of my trying to rush someone twice my size. I found it difficult to have an appropriate (mental) intent in that situation. And it became pretense, and hence unsatisfactory. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does. Being 5'6", I'm small for a guy. That never bothered me playing soccer, because the ball was my focus. I would slide tackle people that were much (much much :rolleyes: ) larger than me without fear because I was focused on taking the ball away.

Try just concentraing on touching their nose. If you touch their nose, you "win". If they try to touch your nose, deal with it as things escalate. Force yourself to touch their nose every time, whether you're uke or nage. After that, graduate to smacking their forehead... Fun stuff!! :p

Get that nose.... :D

MaryKaye
11-07-2005, 06:00 PM
It helps me to think, not of hitting partner, but of doing a clean clear movement of my own body through the space he is currently occupying. My responsibility is to execute that movement well, not "cutting ki" or faltering or going off in another direction. Hopefully he will take steps to insure I don't hit him, but that's his job. I can't do it for him, just like he can't take my ukemi for me.

Once I started thinking "Here is the arc of my shomen strike" and not "Here is nage's forehead" I did a lot better with not pulling the blow.

We practice this with an arm-circle exercise. Your partner stands next to you as you do vertical arm circles (the exercise we call udemawashi undo). When the circles look smooth and clean, he intrudes his arm into them. Your task is to continue the arm circles through his arm, neither striking *at* his arm nor allowing it to stop you, but just doing what you were doing before. This is tough, but it really helped my attacks.

You may hit partner occasionally. Sensible aikidoka regard this as one of the risks of practice, just like stepping on partner's feet. It's understood that no malice is involved; you had the intent to do a good attack, not the intent to hurt your partner. If you think the risk of hitting your partner is high, you can do a committed slow attack, moving through the same arc with the same force but less speed.

As for your realism concerns, I would think of it as role-play. You are not there as yourself, you are standing in for the archetypal attacker; and you can depict the energy of his/her attack even if you are physically small. I got some very good lessons on punches and their pacing recently from a novice six-year-old; I sincerely hope he would never attack someone my size in real life, but he taught me quite a bit about appropriate distance--and not underestimating your partner's speed. (He tagged me three times in quick succession before I managed to adjust.) If I ever have to use that it will probably not be against a six-year-old, but that didn't make our training useless.

Hang in there. It does get easier.

Mary Kaye

cck
11-07-2005, 06:28 PM
Thanks everybody for the input - I will try the nose and the "moving through my partner" ideas. And Janet, I think you're dead on with the weapons practice - for some reason, yokomen seems much easier when I think about it in terms of a bokken strike (really, I'm not bloodthirsty, but there's something about the idea of quartering your opponent..!?)
We did talk about this in class today, and several people noted that giving a committed albeit slow attack could work just as well, if not better for some, so I'll try that out for a while and see what happens. It seems to boil down to a sense of confidence, or space, or presence, or "here I am, and now here I am", which touches on a lot of other stuff that goes beyond this particular thread. Funny how aikido always seem to churn up other things...
I know, I know, give it time... I have a master's in Chinese, and our teachers (for some very strange pedagogical reason known only to them) always told us it would take at least 10 years to gain a basic knowledge of the language. It did work for me - whenever I am faced with something I think is tough, I always remind myself that I did indeed learn Chinese.

Thanks!

Janet Rosen
11-07-2005, 06:47 PM
Sounds like budobabes need to meet up with bokkens....there is a big parkland right btwn us! [insert evil laugh]

Qatana
11-09-2005, 12:15 AM
But that doesn't take away the inherent disbelief in the advisability of my trying to rush someone twice my size. I found it difficult to have an appropriate (mental) intent in that situation. And it became pretense, and hence unsatisfactory. Does that make sense?

Yeah, I often ask, Why do I want to attack this guy who is a foot taller than me and twice my weight?

I learned how to give a committed attack when I was still very new. We had a sempai who is now neaing 80. A Sandan, she had been training since 1970 or so. Well, you just Don't hit an Old Lady! So I would run at her and kind of wave my hand at her face and she would just stand there. So I had no choice but to try to hit her or neither of us would get any training done. I really owe her for that! And the countless face plants she gave me in her final year of training!

If you & Janet are gonna go to the park & play with bokkens I wanna come too!

Janet Rosen
11-09-2005, 11:02 AM
If you & Janet are gonna go to the park & play with bokkens I wanna come too!
stay tuned for December when the knee may tolerate such stuff!

John Matsushima
11-09-2005, 11:03 AM
I completely understand your feeling. I don't see it as a weakness at all, and I don't think you should try to correct it. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone felt they could not purposely harm another person?
Aikido is based on connection, and peace. Your "stumbling block" may be the key to your progress.

Nick Simpson
11-09-2005, 02:02 PM
If it's something that is alien to you then it's going to be a long hard road trying to re-program your body to work that way. I always find that when working with a good aikidoka, one who I respect and know the levels of their talent, that I should try to hit them and then as soon as they start taking my balance I relax and concentrate on looking after myself. Obviously, I dont go around hitting begginers in the face because they didnt use tai sabaki correctly. The by product of a good attack that gets through is to cause some pain/damage/shock. All in all, they teach valuable lessons. After getting my hand cut open with a shinken for not evading it correctly, your damn sure that I now pay extra special attention to moving out of the way of all strikes, but especially weapons :)

pointy
11-09-2005, 08:01 PM
your role as uke dictates that you try to hit nage. my advice is, stop being so shy and just hit them. if they are more advanced just go for it, if they get hit they get hit. big deal. youre not gonna kill someone by hitting them on top of their head with your hand. :)

it's something everyone has to get over at some point. it is good of course to not do that with every single person (i.e., a beginner), but when it is proper you sort of have to.

even if i take some time off from practice when i go back i feel a little bit of the shyness has come back. this kind of shyness is particulaly bad for your training because it may also stop you from doing the most effective technique you can.

it's a good sign that you are reluctant to hit people. part of learning a martial art is getting over that reluctance in appropriate situations. there is a kind of social weirdness that we have about touching people, it's part of that. just recognize it's there and work through it.

good luck!

ruthmc
11-11-2005, 09:28 AM
Or rather, I don't want to HURT anyone - I do not want my strikes to make contact. Which perhaps is a vital difference, now that I think about it. It really does become a question of trust, doesn't it? In nages ability to get out of the way, I mean.
Hi Camilla,

Do you really think that you will hurt somebody if one of your strikes makes contact?

I have hit a few people in my time ;) and I have never hurt anybody. Sure they may have a bit of a sting in the nose for a while, but it soon wears off. (By hurt I mean incapacitated).

Unless you have been trained in a striking art or boxing, it is unlikely that you will do any damage with one of your strikes. Most of us budobabes don't have the upper body strength to inflict any serious harm. :)

Ruth

Ed Shockley
11-12-2005, 08:19 AM
I once was instructed in a class to strike with commitment. It was the lesson plan and a simple exercise about moving off line. Everyone was at least 3rd kyu. A teenage girl (nearly 2nd kyu) froze and my shomen caught her square on the mens point. Luckily I trusted my gut more than the instructor's agenda. The brave young lady continued practicing through her tears but had I not instinctively held back then she might have a pinched nerve. Trust your instinct and when in doubt keep uke safe. Better to be wrong than to hurt someone. Eventually you will gain sharper instincts and be able to strike harder as well as read the uke's preparedness better. Personally, when training, I am more concerned with the attack reaching me than with the speed or force of it.

Practice answers all questions.

pointy
11-12-2005, 11:57 PM
that's true Ed

if the strike even comes close to hitting me where it was supposed to, im usually like 'good enough!' :D i'll overlook a lack of speed .. . with beginners that is

practicing with my teacher is great. his attacks are very cool because there's no big wind up or anything fancy - he just closes the distance, and goes to hit me. not hard, not even fast - but it always feels like it's faster than i can handle! it's the weirdest thing.

Ed Shockley
11-30-2005, 10:32 AM
I have shared the exact same experience, Evan. It must be more Sensei magic.