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senshincenter
11-08-2005, 10:41 AM
Here in this link you will see some beautiful photos, at what obviously turned out to be a wonderful event:

http://www.pbase.com/cyberholz/aikido&page=2

I realize that a photo does not always reveal everything, and I realize that there are huge elements of technical applications that just have to be felt in order to truly be commented upon, etc., but still frame technology also has its place in the realm of refining body mechanics. Today, still frame technology has firmly become a part of any serious athlete's attempt at cultivating finer technique - no matter what the endeavor. It is through this avenue that I would like to begin a discussion on what I am calling "Rank Aikido." Here is how I would define "Rank Aikido." "Aikido that 'functions' only in accordance to both the rank of your own person and the rank of your Uke, where if your rank is greater (especially significantly greater) than Uke's, your tactical architecture will be allow to succeed no matter how ill-performed and/or ill-designed."

Please note that this is not meant as an attack on the current Aikikai Doshu, nor is it to a testament to the martial prowess of those who seek to train under him, etc. To participate in this discussion, one must move beyond the personality captured in the photos and instead focus in upon the issue of body mechanics as it often comes to be related to the institutional practice of issuing rank. Moreover, one must realize that such nice photos are hard to come by on the net,and that this topic is really a topic that is pan-Aikido federation. I, and I imagine it is the same for everyone, have never been in a place where "Rank Aikido" was not being practice by somebody in one form or another. In addition, it may very well be the case that some of us, perhaps most of us, came to the art of Aikido by seeing tapes of old Morihei practicing what could very well be described as "Rank Aikido." Lastly, and most significantly, one must realize that the heart of this topic is really centered upon our own practice, as we should be the one's most responsible for not coming to practice Rank Aikido, for not spreading it from generation to generation, from dojo to dojo, as we mature in the art and/or in the ranks of our particular governing bodies. This is a discussion about ourselves and our own Aikido - not Moriteru Ueshiba, East Asian Aikido, the Aikikai, etc.

In that light, I would like to address your attention to the following photos:

PB060285, 284,248, and 245.

Let us note that these still frames capture some key parts of the architectures related to at least the first three pins. If one wants to understand these pins more broadly, which is obviously fair to do, one could say that these still frames are capturing some key elements to entire tactical curriculum. That is to say, these are not pictures of some minor and/or irrelevant aspects of a once-performed rep. Moreover, for those that have seen/felt these exact versions, you very well know that you have also seen/felt these versions being performed by a great many other individuals - all over the place.

However, if you look at the photos, you cannot help but to notice a body alignment (i.e. a lack of body alignment) that would get most Nage to "fail" in their application of the technique. If one were to have a higher ranked Uke, this type of body mechanics would not provide the necessary mechanical advantage to function as designed or as attempted. This is not because a lower ranked aikidoka could not (i.e. unskilled) transfer their weight/center into their hands in order to apply enough weight/mass to bring Uke back from the outside to their centerline/center. Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher rank Nage but opts not to do so if they have lower rank Nage.

What are the causes of Rank Aikido? What are the ramifications of Rank Aikido? What are the solutions to Rank Aikido? How does one prevent Rank Aikido from popping up and/or spreading?

For me, the best solution is a simple one: An instructor must learn how to say these words, and say them often, until their Uke are cured of the virus of Rank Aikido themselves*: "Don't do that. Don't give me the technique. Just attack. If I fail, I fail. Stay true to the martial behind the culture, not to the culture that has given face to the martial."


What say you?
dmv

*In my opinion, the virus of Rank Aikido enters at a very young age in the art. It first attaches itself to the fear Uke normally feels when it comes to falling, being thrown, attacking, etc. Here's how: These fears are often somewhat alleviated by the instructions to follow Nage's lead, which in turns allows an Uke to feel that he/she should KNOW what Nage is going to do. It is this "knowing" which addresses the source of the fear of falling, being thrown, attacking, etc., because the source of these fears is ultimately a fear of the unknown. In a way, because instructors or seniors are often the ones that provide this instruction, "follow Nage's lead" institutionally comes to support a fear of the unknown.

This is detrimental to one's progress in the art since one's progress, in many ways, can be measured by how much one has reconciled his/her fear of the unknown - which is one of the most primal fears related to self-attachment and thus is a resistance toward the practice of love, wisdom, and compassion and/or any other human virtue worth intentionally cultivating. When this resistance, when the fear of the unknown is being institutionally supported through instruction, when this self-attachment by Uke connects to Nage's own ego issues (which are centered around a fear of failing, pride, and/or a lack of humility, etc.) you get a full blown case of Rank Aikido. This explains why Rank Aikido is a contract of sorts - a cooperation to defraud oneself for the sake of feeding one's own primal fears and/or attachment to the self. In Rank Aikido, Nage and Uke meet in a pact to feed each others fears and each other's propensity for self-attachment.

happysod
11-08-2005, 11:36 AM
What say I sir? - methinks you're going to be off a lot of people's Chrissie card lists...

On a more serious note, I think the problem is not so much rank aikido and tanking uke's so much as a lack of self-assessment on the part of the teacher and the old "who's gonna tell the boss he's wrong" syndrome - which can easily lead to ill will and banishment to the nine hells of aikido.

You'll always get this problem in any group, not just martial arts, if there's a predilection to a top-down attitude without any outside constraints or objective criteria (yes Peter et al, I know, competition!).

I think the only solution in most cases is a "masterclass" where those who normally teach become students again within a constructive (and probably respectful) framework of honest and open critique.... next on we'll have a demonstration by the Barnsley flying pigs stunt team

senshincenter
11-08-2005, 11:59 AM
But Ian, don't you think that this just doens't happen at the level of sensei/deshi but that it also happens at the level of senpai/kohai as well (perhaps even more so)?

On your other point - an excellent point I may add here - I think you are right on the money concerning how the top-down institutional structure works through and off of certain inter-personal "reactions." In other words, the institutional is a matter of making the personal (i.e. fear, pride, lack of self-reflection capacities, etc.) work socially (i.e. don't tell the boss he's wrong, since it will only defeat you in the end anyways). Once you are stuck in that quagmire - jeesh - forget about it.

It does seem that some sort of competition element could alleviate some of the negative ramifications of the top-down institutional strucuture, but I think the fact that Rank Aikido still shows up in Tomiki Aikido, for example, tells us that there is more to the solution than this. Larry Camejo has made a similar comment, not in terms of promoting competition, but in terms of utilizing more spontaneous training environments in order to "equalize" the field. I can agree with both efforts in part - meaning, I think both competition aspects and spontaneous training environments should have their place in our training - especially if we want to get away from the kind of delusions that Rank Aikido tends to present. However, a thing with spontaneous training environments is that everyone thinks they have them - when in fact they are only mistaking a habituated cultural trend for the "in the moment" whatever that actually should mark such environments. We thus often come to believe that acting habitually is acting spontaneously, when to act spontaneously is actually a matter of acting outside of habit.

Thanks for the reply, and thanks for taking the time to introduce the next act - Come on everybody, let's hear it for the flying pigs!

PeterR
11-08-2005, 06:24 PM
That's an awful lot of supposition based on a few still pics.

senshincenter
11-08-2005, 08:16 PM
That Rank Aikido exists and has the potential to function at the top - even with Osensei himself? Or just that these are examples of Rank Aikido?

If it is the former, I would suggest that we don't need any pictures to be able to testify about such things. If one has practiced long enough, even short enough, one has seen examples of this and/or one should be capable of putting two and two together concerning choreographed training environments and how they are impacted by institutional practices like the issuing of rank and/or the establishing of hierarchy.

If it is the latter, I didn't really want to focus too much on that. I tried to set things up so that one could just look at the pictures as if they were just pictures of any person with rank violating good body mechanics. That said, one thing about Moriteru's Aikido is that it is extremely capable of providing rep after rep without much variation. Thus, these pics are not just samples of a one or two reps done at a specific time and/or in a specific place. These pics are examples of tactical architectures done over and over again, time after time, place after place. If one knows his practice, been exposed to it, and/or felt it, one can tell that these pics are pics of the middle of his Ikkyo Ura (or this part as it is practiced in other pin ura architectures), Sankyo Omote, and Sankyo Ura. Nevertheless, I think the only way that one would not be able to draw such suppositions reasonably (concerning how these pics might be related to the practice of Rank Aikido) is if one could find at least one example in Ikkyo Ura, Sankyo Omote and Ura where it is advantageous and/or in line with keeping and/or producing a mechanical advantage by having a disjointed relationship between one's center, the center of the technique, and the center of contact. I personally know of no such example. Hence, why, for me, these pics are indicative of Rank Aikido.

I think any instructor/practitioner knows that one of the difficulties of Ikkyo Ura (or any related technique) is the tendency in the beginner to move away from the center of the technique (thus disjointing their own center from the center of contact and the center of the technique) as they proceed with the tenkan maneuver. It is very common in my experience to reveal this flaw in kohai by having Senpai Uke simply not move - since Kohai Nage are too out of place to move them and/or to allow them to move in the prescribed direction in any kind of tactical manner. However, whenever the rank roles are reverse, you very often see such disjointedness being practiced as if it was never problematic in the first place. That is to say, whenever Nage is Senpai, you see Uke no longer staying in place (demonstrating the disjointed alignment of such an application). Rather, you see Kohai Uke hurrying to get their ass around - providing the proper body alignment themselves at the middle or at the bottom of the technique.

It is this variance in what constitutes "mechanical advantage," as it is related to hierarchy and/or the issuing of rank, that I am here interested in discussing.

nelsonhomer
11-08-2005, 08:22 PM
IMHO

Everybody can be prone to this. We should always try to check our selves during practice regardless of our ranks to improve our aikido.

roosvelt
11-08-2005, 08:37 PM
Is that possible that Doshu already is in the "exit from form" stage of his Aiki development?

In the old Chinese Marital practice, the students weren't taught any technique but standing still, or standing like a tree trunk literally. At cerntain ranking interval, the master would try to push over the students. Anyone who got pushed over had to continue to stand like tree for another year. Those who's talented enough to figure out how to connect his body as one and rooted to the ground got to the next stage.

The next stage, only 6 or 8 cata were taught. Again, the student had to demonstrate he's worthy of being taugh more at end of the year. Sometime, a tree pushing demo was done. Literally, the student push to bend a thick tree truck.

In Aikido, there is not test to show that the students understand the pricincples. You blame the situate on the dishonest lower ranking Uke?

I blame the Aikido hombo.

roosvelt
11-08-2005, 08:42 PM
http://www.pbase.com/cyberholz/image/51851457

Who's this old sensei? He looks like he knows what he's doing. At least he's got better form than Dashu.

senshincenter
11-08-2005, 10:00 PM
Is that possible that Doshu already is in the "exit from form" stage of his Aiki development?



For me, I wouldn't ever say that Ha level practice or Shu level practice would be a departure from good body mechanics. So I'd have to say that any "exit from form" stage would not exclude an aikidoka from practicing Rank Aikido if he/she demonstrated some sort of inconsistency in the effectiveness of their "mechanical advantages" in relation to the relative rank of their training partner.

Rupert Atkinson
11-09-2005, 12:03 AM
You have pointed out something that I am sure many have noticed but most say very little or nothing.

Whenever I see a pic or video of myself I see things I dislike - and it becomes a training aid, without which no one would likely tell/correct me. So, I find 'revealing' pics of myself useful. But at the end of the day, we don't want everyone worrying about what they look like when doing Aikido - it is far more important to deal with uke in the moment, even though it might not be perfect - and no one is perfect. Also, I am sure you can find a not-so-good still picture of the most beautiful woman in the world. If people worry too much about what they look like we'll end up with mirrors on four walls and a weight-gym mentality where people prance around 'checking' themselves out.

Devon Natario
11-09-2005, 12:20 AM
Im with David Valdez. Rank Aikido happens, and it happens all too often.

I wouldnt particularly give it that name, but it's definately false training. I know many people take things personally when something is said about their art, but this "Rank Aikido" is exactly why I quit training in Aikido. The art is great and offers great things, but I can not say it is "Martial" by any means.

I find Aikido to be more appealing to the older crowds that are seeking a softer style of martial arts minus the martial. Again, no offense

happysod
11-09-2005, 04:05 AM
t that it also happens at the level of senpai/kohai I have seen it happen at this level, in fact in an old association I was amused to hear of one preeminent instructor (in their own mind at least) chide a kyu grade for daring to resist one of their techniques. I think this is one area where the misinterpretation of respect and "it's budo" comes to the fore at the expense of training. For me, I am not providing respect for my training partner, of any level, by providing a less than honest feedback to their technique.

Yes, there can and will be mitigating factors - dumping your teacher while they're doing a demo even I would consider perhaps a little excessive. However, in general I would expect people to react within normal training with the appropriate level of resistance to the technique that is warranted.That's an awful lot of supposition based on a few still pics but it did make a nice shoe-in for a topic

roosvelt
11-09-2005, 08:20 AM
For me, I wouldn't ever say that Ha level practice or Shu level practice would be a departure from good body mechanics. So I'd have to say that any "exit from form" stage would not exclude an aikidoka from practicing Rank Aikido if he/she demonstrated some sort of inconsistency in the effectiveness of their "mechanical advantages" in relation to the relative rank of their training partner.

I guess my bad joke wasn't funny :grr:

I'm totally agree with you about rank Aikido. Look at the Shioda Sensei video in 2nd Aikido Friendship Demonstration from aikidojournal. In every single frame, he's in good postrue and balance. OK, almost, in one suwari waza, he didn't sit properly and immediatedly got pushed over by a uke.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/media.php?media=video&subcategory=15

But what's the solution?

Yann Golanski
11-09-2005, 09:28 AM
But what's the solution?

It's uke's job to make sure that appropriate resistence is given. Sometimes, the technique cannot be done at full speed and/or resistence because sensei is teaching some aspect of it.

If you want to test your Aikido, there are plenty of ways to do it. Randori-ho is but one example. That's why I like our (read shodokan) training method [1]. It keeps thing at least somewhat real: if my technique is rubbish, I'll get dump on my arse by uke. It would be humbling if it did not happen that oftern.... *grins evilly*

[1] Note that I did not say it was the only way, just one way... Yeah, too many years on the 'net getting into silly flame wars because people did not read what I wrote but read what they wanted to hear. Me? Jaded? You jest?

Amir Krause
11-09-2005, 10:22 AM
Forget the pictures. That can only raise a scandal that is irrelevant to the interesting subject you have raised. :yuck:

Rank Aikido happens. I remember a period I used to complain to many students fell due to my BB, not to my actions. Despite the well known Israeli Chutzpa, the general lack of respect to rank in our society and the urging of Sensei and Sempai.

I believe you pointed correctly at the reasons - fear of pain and expectation of a technique requiring premature escape.

The only solution I know of is to be aware of this and careful. To insist on Uke resisting at times, and to look for better Uke as one's qualifier.

Amir

happysod
11-09-2005, 10:42 AM
It's uke's job to make sure that appropriate resistence is given agree, but with a caveat - it's also the instructors job to ensure the climate within the dojo is appropriate and allows for juniors to provide resistance without that impacting negatively on them.

That's why I like our (read shodokan) training method [1]. - insert long rant against the evils of competition here along with a snide remark on the famous rubber tanto and the non-budo aspect of "certain associations" - couldn't resist Yann, what can I say but I'm a traditionalist (gathers hakama and leaves) :D

John Boswell
11-09-2005, 10:56 AM
Im with David Valdez. Rank Aikido happens, and it happens all too often.

I wouldnt particularly give it that name, but it's definately false training. I know many people take things personally when something is said about their art, but this "Rank Aikido" is exactly why I quit training in Aikido. The art is great and offers great things, but I can not say it is "Martial" by any means.

I find Aikido to be more appealing to the older crowds that are seeking a softer style of martial arts minus the martial. Again, no offense

So let me get this straight:

Aikido is a martial art... minus the martial aspect of it, it's great for "older" people because it is "soft", it's false training, you no longer practice aikido... but you come here to an Aikido Forum and tell us these things and then ask us to NOT be offended?

Guess what? I'm offended you think anyone here stupid enough to listen to all that and NOT be offended!

Go re-read your post, insert your martial art in place of aikido and tell me how you would react.
____________________________________________

As for the original poster who found 3 or 4 pics that showed bad form or posture or whatever... I have a question for you:

Ever had a bad day?
Ever mess up a technique and wish you could do it over again because you knew you were better than that?
Ever had a lower ranking person tell you how you are doing something wrong?

This whole thread is bogus. Interesting questions, and definitly something to think about. But, imho, the whole damn thing is speculation based on incomplete information... and I'm being nice in saying so.

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 11:19 AM
Sorry about missing the joke Roosevelt, it was right on the money, and that's why I didn't see it - so many folks talk like that you know, "Well, the reason why he's not making a mistake is because he's beyond mistakes, and you would know that too if you were not still stuck in the land of Making Mistakes." My mistake.

I think Yann is onto something here - having a more mindful Uke and/or placing a great deal of the solution on Uke. For the most part, all over the world, we see that kind of solution to this problem taking place between peers - folks of the same rank and/or near enough. These kinds of pairings seem to ring more true. I'm sure everyone has seen these types of pairings or even been in one - where you had that one person (or more) in your dojo who was near your rank and with whom you could be more honest with as Uke, requiring each others Nage to be more honest tactically and biomechanically.

Lets look at that a bit more

Honesty, what does it mean, where does it come from, and why is it so likely to not be present in places where Rank Aikido is practiced? If I look at these questions, the thing that stands out for me is that honesty is related to intimacy. One needs intimacy to be honest without it being insulting and/or damaging. Intimacy allows one the interpersonal privilege of relating to another through and with the Truth. For example, we have no problem (or maybe just a little problem) with our spouse saying, Gee, I dont really think that shirt goes well with those pants. We can take that in and use it better as a guide on what to wear or not to wear. However, if we hear that phrase by someone just passing us in the street, our heart/minds are not able to process the information in any kind of proactive or positive way. We cannot use it. Almost immediately, we feel a breech in the contract we have with strangers (people with whom we have no intimacy): You remain cordial, and you do so even at the cost of not speaking the truth (even if that is just the truth of your mind). We start to focus in on this breech of contract more than anything else. I would say this is what you see happening in Ians example of the high-ranking practitioner chiding the kyu rank for resisting the technique. He/She was unable to see what such resistance (since it always takes two forces to cause a resistance) was saying about his/her technique. He/She could not use the information proactively and instead just got stuck on the breech of contract which had a non-intimate practicing honesty in a place where there was no intimacy.

Competition is one way that we allow ourselves to be honest with each other without necessarily having or needing intimacy. It is a kind of culturally approved way of revealing the truth of things and of each other without needing or wanting any kind of open and/or lasting relationship with another person. Nevertheless, even in competition, especially in good matches, and particularly when folks are able to get beyond the pride issues that often accompany competing, you can still break through the cultural contract, through the honesty, to the intimacy that it usually supports and is supported by. At this point, competitors become very appreciative of their competitors honesty and actually feel very close to them as well.

What does an absence of intimacy say about an art that claims to reconcile the world? It has always been very strange to me how Aikido is posited by a great many of us to be a way of purifying the heart/mind, of cultivating wisdom and compassion, of practicing Love, or as a path to reconciliation, etc., while at the same time there are these federation wars, these dojo clicks, these warnings about trusting or having too much faith in your instructor, etc. It seems self-defeating, even contradictory or hypocritical, to speak of things that require the lowering of boundaries and the taking of interpersonal risks and/or the exposing and sharing of our inner self, but to go on remaining guarded, partitioned off, and closed toward others (i.e. everyone). From this light, Aikidos a way to reconcile the world looks like the biggest pile of crap a modern version of hiding ones own alienation in the garb of an old adage, one that was never really meant to take place. Imagine how silent the phrase love your neighbor would be today if it was immediately followed then (when it was first uttered) by the caveat, but you got to be careful, not every neighbor is worth loving.

If a tradition will not allow room for intimacy to be used proactively in providing truth, honesty, and integrity via the interactions that we can and should have with other human beings, and if that same tradition admonishes the normally accepted social contract of competition, which allows honesty without intimacy, then that tradition is going to be slave to delusion. Not all delusion is going to be attributable to learning curves and safety issues, nor even to Shu level training and/or the significance of forms practice, etc. (Let us note here that nearly all other traditions have learned to face these things without such widespread delusion especially at the top of the social hierarchy.) The problem here is that Aikido, following Japanese models, uses a lack of intimacy to mark and establish hierarchy. This is why we can be more honest with our peers than with our senpai or our sensei in practice. Concurrently this means that the greater the spread in rank, the more our Uke are forced interpersonally to remain dishonest (or suffer the social consequences of breeching the contract we have with strangers). For most of us, it would seem impossible to have intimacy and honesty with our teachers but to also be respectful and courteous at the same time. However, is this not one of the things we are supposed to figure out how to do? Is this not the level of heart/mind cultivation we are supposed to be heading toward, one where we are not trapped on the spectrum of friend, foe, and the non-intimate we respect?

In our dojo, looking at things now, which is just one way of many, we seek out this intimacy, because we know it is necessary for honesty to be present we know that it is necessary for delusion to be purified. There is a lot of self-revelation going on because of the self-reflection that happens as a result of utilizing others in our training (to dialog with, to disagree with, to compete with, to train with, to be defeated by, to gain victory by, etc.), and all of this cannot helped but to be shared because it happens as a result of everything taking place within a community. Looking at this now, I can see that we help folks foster this honesty in their training by utilizing things like competition and also by utilizing protocols that set things up for honesty within the Nage/Uke relationship (a thing I posted on here a while back that caused quite a stir for some one can find it on our web site). However, the end result is to generate a capacity for intimacy. Once a person can establish this intimacy, once one is in a place where it is expected, we can be honest with each others practice without it being in the least way insulting, disrespectful, and outside of the bounds of what is expected.

Thus, that would be my solution: the cultivation and expectation of intimacy. Find a place where it is expected. Find a system where you can cultivate it outside of the friend-foe-non-intimate we respect spectrum. Aikido is supposed to have it. Aikido needs it to survive. We need it to survive.

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 11:24 AM
As for the original poster who found 3 or 4 pics that showed bad form or posture or whatever... I have a question for you:

Ever had a bad day?
Ever mess up a technique and wish you could do it over again because you knew you were better than that?
Ever had a lower ranking person tell you how you are doing something wrong?

This whole thread is bogus. Interesting questions, and definitly something to think about. But, imho, the whole damn thing is speculation based on incomplete information... and I'm being nice in saying so.

Well John if you could forget the pictures then, perhaps you can shed more light on this topic by sharing more of your experience and/or feeling - it would be appreciated.

Not wanting to ignore you, I think I posted above on what you write here when I replied to a similar comment made by Peter.

Thanks for the reply,
dmv
ps. If one is too stuck on the pics and the "unfairness" of their usage, etc., please feel invited to check out pictures of my own practice at our web site - there are videos and pics. Hopefully, one can take this gesture in good faith and thus be able to talk about the topic.

Ron Tisdale
11-09-2005, 11:34 AM
Hi John, and everyone else too.

This thread makes me uncomfortable, and I believe it is supposed to. I believe it makes me uncomfortable because it touches on the heart of many contradictions in aikido which David has very clearly stated. I cannot say that any of his statements are false. I feel uncomfortable because I in fact know that his statements are generally true, and because of the fact that I see myself in the pictures used as an example when I train with both sempai and kohai.

It might have been nice to express these ideas with an example from someone else...not the current Doshu. But David's very point is that we are dealing with a hierachical structure, and that this particular problem comes from the top of that structure, and filters down to each and every one of us. He could just as well have found a picture of any of the leaders of the major organizations, and we would be in the same place.

John, can you honestly say that the statements reflected here are untrue? They are not politic, they are not comfortable, but aren't they true? Leave aside if you will the examples given, the person given, the fact that still shots are hard to judge by (I personally don't know what to make of some of the shots contextually). Are these statements untrue? And if they are not, does the manner in which they are made invalidate their truth?

Uncomfortably Yours,
Ron (who is glad there are not sooo many pictures of my own bad technique out there)

**Honesty check ** I have posted some of my thoughts about the context of these photos on the corresponding thread on www.budoseek.net.

Steve Mullen
11-09-2005, 11:36 AM
I think the general point put across by the thread starter is a good one and a true one, but i think that the vessel used to make this point is inherantly flawed. still photos take a snapshot of reality, every woman's magazine editor knows this only too well, they always have pictures of 'gorgeous' people looking uglier than sin. does this mean that becuase there was a picture of halle berry with sweat patches under her arms that she always sweats? no, it means that for in that snapshot she was.

The same applies to this, because the doshu had 'bad form' in a few photos doesn't mean he has bad form all the time, similarly it doesn't mean that uke was taking a dive. Aikido IMHO is all about it's subtleties, what's to say the doshu hadn't taken uki's balance in the micro second before the photo was taken and was on his way to regaining perfect posture.

We look at a photo of an apple falling and don't assume it is floating

John Boswell
11-09-2005, 12:00 PM
I think the general point put across by the thread starter is a good one and a true one, but i think that the vessel used to make this point is inherantly flawed. still photos take a snapshot of reality, every woman's magazine editor knows this only too well, they always have pictures of 'gorgeous' people looking uglier than sin. does this mean that becuase there was a picture of halle berry with sweat patches under her arms that she always sweats? no, it means that for in that snapshot she was.

The same applies to this, because the doshu had 'bad form' in a few photos doesn't mean he has bad form all the time, similarly it doesn't mean that uke was taking a dive. Aikido IMHO is all about it's subtleties, what's to say the doshu hadn't taken uki's balance in the micro second before the photo was taken and was on his way to regaining perfect posture.

We look at a photo of an apple falling and don't assume it is floating

This sums up my thoughts very well. My emotional response was more a reflection on the other author who chose to attack all of aikido itself, rather than the original poster. But let's go back to the original post:

What are the causes of Rank Aikido? What are the ramifications of Rank Aikido? What are the solutions to Rank Aikido? How does one prevent Rank Aikido from popping up and/or spreading?

For me, the best solution is a simple one: An instructor must learn how to say these words, and say them often, until their Uke are cured of the virus of Rank Aikido themselves*: "Don't do that. Don't give me the technique. Just attack. If I fail, I fail. Stay true to the martial behind the culture, not to the culture that has given face to the martial."

What causes rank aikido, ramifications of it, solutions to it and how do we prevent it? We train.

I'll be testing for 1st kyu next week. I'm not kidding myself, my technique is lacking in many ways. But do I know the techniques? yes. Can I do them? To a certain degree, yes. Do I feel worthy of passing that exam? No, but then again, I'm not the sensei.

Standards need to be kept high and maintained well. ANYONE can be looked at and have "flaws" pointed out. Doshu wasn't even born when Hiroshi Kato Shihan was sotodeshi under the founder, so to expect Doshu to be as good or skilled as Kato Shihan, or many other shihan, just isn't fair, imho.

Fakes need to be found and pointed out. Aikikai as an organization needs to set high standards and maintain them. In practicing aikido itself, attacks should be committed, nage should be pushed to do better, faster in accordance with their rank.

I'm sorry, and I'll freely admit this, I did NOT read every single word the orignal poster said. I speed-read his post because it wasn't just long... it was L...O...N...G...! Too much analysis of something can be a flaw in itself! You want aikido standards to be higher? Get on the mat! And when you find examples of poor aikido, point it out and make people aware, which I fully give credit for.

But in all honesty, I think to much credit is being given to Doshu because he has the title of Doshu. Me? I'm realistic. I KNOW the man would make me look bad, but then again I don't assume him to be the end-all, be-all in aikido either. He's good! But we all have bad days. That is why he travels: to see what others are doing, learn from who he can, teach who he can and generate interest and respect for a martial art that IS in fact martial when done properly. I dare Devon N. to test the skill of a shihan and tell me aikido is not martial. Kato Shihan would have a few things to say about that as well, I imagine.

Now here I am rattling on for page after page. *sigh*

Off to lunch... :crazy:

roosvelt
11-09-2005, 12:14 PM
I think the general point put across by the thread starter is a good one and a true one, but i think that the vessel used to make this point is inherantly flawed. still photos take a snapshot of reality, every woman's magazine editor knows this only too well, they always have pictures of 'gorgeous' people looking uglier than sin. does this mean that becuase there was a picture of halle berry with sweat patches under her arms that she always sweats? no, it means that for in that snapshot she was.



What are apples and oranges?

Those photoes weren't taken inside Dusho's home when he got out of bed or relaxed in a couch with a beer on hand. He was taking down a real opponent in a professional demonstration.

If any those of your "gorgeous" people had a habit of looking uglier than sin in the cat walk or the movie sets, they'd find theirselves out of any job very quickly.

Nick Simpson
11-09-2005, 01:38 PM
He was throwing/pinning an uke, not 'taking down a real opponent'. Just to nitpick. Interesting thread, I was discussing this the other day, sometimes a flaw in technique is a bad thing, sometimes it is not. It's these little idiosyncracies that make each of our aikido our own. Yes, I agree, rank aikido does happen, I have seen it, It's not the best thing in the world but as long as you practise sincerely then forget about what others are doing.

In most aikido, we are told to keep our feet on the floor, grounded, strong posture etc etc. I have seen pictures of shioda sensei on one leg while slamming someone into the mat, looks like incorrect technique? Well, yes it does. But, being on one leg while you tansfer weight to the other one during the throw allows for more body weight/drop behind the technique. Much like when you punch, you punch with your body moving, rather than from standing still and flat footed.

No aikido is ever going to be perfect, with photography we can see these inherent flaws in any aikidoka, however, someone like Shioda sensei or the doshu is still going to be better than the vast majority of aikidoka out there. They are/were still learning, just like the rest of us, eh?

roosvelt
11-09-2005, 02:00 PM
No aikido is ever going to be perfect, with photography we can see these inherent flaws in any aikidoka, however, someone like Shioda sensei or the doshu is still going to be better than the vast majority of aikidoka out there. They are/were still learning, just like the rest of us, eh?


I know O'sensei had a policy that any of his student can attach him anytime in the dojo. Is there a similar policy in Hombo Dojo now? Can the current Doshu perform the "jo-trick"?

I rest my case.

Happy training, in the right way or wrong way so long it makes you happy.

Pauliina Lievonen
11-09-2005, 02:08 PM
So I have a question to all of you taking part in this discussion so far - if you were partnered with Doshu, or Shioda sensei for that matter (if it was possible), and they made a mistake in their technique - would you take the fall? Or would you point it out (by not falling when you didn't need to)? let's assume it's just practice, not a demo, so it's not that public. :)

I wish I could say I would... but I probably wouldn't. Unless they did it repeatedly often enough that I'd get pissed off... which is not really an answer I'm happy with either.

kvaak
Pauliina

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 02:11 PM
Ron, as always, I think you have gone right to the heart of the matter in seeing this thread as a micro-version of the larger issue. It is definitely correct to say that how we feel and how we react to this thread is related to what I'm calling Rank Aikido on the mat. A lot of folks have looked at this thread, but a lot of folks that usually post aren't posting here - and this is exactly what I'm trying to point out without falling victim to the usual false solutions of "just train" and/or "train hard". Come one, folks just train now and folks train hard now. Here's how I see it: When the thing you are using to achieve something is flawed, you can't just say you can achieve that some final thing by using that flawed thing more. In this light, "just train" just means "just do more Rank Aikido," and "train hard" just means "try harder to do more Rank Aikido." So, thank you very much Ron for your insight into uncovering how this thread is functioning as a microcosm for the larger issue.

As to the "bad pic" thing - and even though this is not a thread on Moriteru - these are not just lucky shots of bad technique. Moriteru's technique hardly ever changes - even from rep to rep. If you train in the Aikikai and/or if you've been exposed to his technique, you know this. One can find these exact still shots in nearly any event he's demonstrated at - going back at least to the multi-volume video series he did when he was a young man. I would propose that if you cannot find these shots at some event, it is only because the camera angle wasn't there to record it. These shots represent architecture, not circumstance.

Moreover, let us step back a little and take a look at things a bit more objectively. Let us look beyond the name of Moriteru and instead look to the symbol of Doshu. Here, we have the apex of Aikido hierarchy (even if you are outside of the Aikikai federation, you still are looking at the grandson of the Founder - which is not entirely irrelevant no matter how modern Japan becomes) - which means if Rank Aikido does exist then this is the best place to see it; we have in the Aikikai Doshu the pinnacle distance from things usually used by other aikidoka to generate more honesty - things such as weapons practice, competition, spontaneous training environments, etc.; and we have the highest absence of intimacy (i.e. who is really in any kind of place to let the Doshu know that he's not really doing what he's thinking he's doing). From this point of view, you cannot really say that these pics are irrelevant - even though I think we can talk about this without getting stuck on the pics, if that is what one needs to actually say something reflective regarding this matter. However, this takes us right back to Ron's point: That we should look at how we need to get away from these pics in order to speak on this matter; how we'd like to speak on this matter but not if the apex of rank is involved (where we are always going to be kohai). Inversely, one can look at how many responses/posts a normal thread gets when it's some "no one" or some "kohai" getting flamed for something they didn't do or didn't do right. Where is all the "Well, that is just one bad shot" then?

Man, Ron, the more I think about it, the more you've said everything that could ever be said about this topic. Excellent job. Again - thank you.

dmv

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 02:16 PM
I know O'sensei had a policy that any of his student can attack him anytime in the dojo.


You know, if you look at this sociologically, this is really a form of competition - a social contract by which one can provide an honest martial response outside of there being an intimacy present.

From that point of view, I find this agreement that Osensei had with this students very relative.

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 02:24 PM
So I have a question to all of you taking part in this discussion so far - if you were partnered with Doshu, or Shioda sensei for that matter (if it was possible), and they made a mistake in their technique - would you take the fall? Or would you point it out (by not falling when you didn't need to)? let's assume it's just practice, not a demo, so it's not that public. :)

I wish I could say I would... but I probably wouldn't. Unless they did it repeatedly often enough that I'd get pissed off... which is not really an answer I'm happy with either.

kvaak
Pauliina


This is another excellent way of getting to this topic via a more personal level. I would say the same thing as Pauliina - probably not, certainly not at some camp (which is also a type of training and not necessarily a demo). Almost immediately you can feel the social ramifications of such actions - where the best you could do is act like you sort of messed up because you suck or because you didn't know something or another. Either way, you take the blame: "Oh sorry Dohsu, my fault." Maybe you gain some insight you just keep to yourself - staying silent - but that's about it. However, we have none of this stuff come up when we are working with our Kohai or our peers. When we are with kohai or peers, all of sudden such resistance and/or such exposure is not only the right thing to do, not only a good thing, it is something we do for their (i.e. kohai) own good.

John Boswell
11-09-2005, 02:42 PM
You know, if you look at this sociologically, this is really a form of competition - a social contract by which one can provide an honest martial response outside of there being an intimacy present.

From that point of view, I find this agreement that Osensei had with this students very relative.

David,

I have to ask: What is your intetnion here? What are you trying to get at?

If you are concerned for the quality of aikido, then fine. If you think that Doshu, as Keeper of the Way, is not living up to the title and is therefore the cause of all aikido slacking off in quality, then I'll ask you to come right out and say so.

But now you come along and say that O'Sensei had a standing "competition" going with his uchideshi, despite O'Sensei being against competition of any sort.

I can't help but wonder ...

... well, I'm just trying to figure out the point and purpose of your thread. That's all.

Ron Tisdale
11-09-2005, 03:11 PM
Thanks for the kind words David. I'm thinking a lot about this. I hope that what I'm about to write doesn't get me into trouble.

I do have partners that are much better than I am, and one to two rank levels ahead of me, where the shite / uke relationship is very honest (in my opinion) and intimate. One of these relationships is no longer a training relationship, because the person left aikido, for some of these very reasons mentioned here. This is not to say that there weren't times where I would follow uke's role for his sake, or that he wouldn't follow uke's role for mine. And I don't think David is saying that should never happen. I think he is saying that we should explicitly recognize when it is happening, and design / implement / discover / participate in training methods that do not fall into that category. My friend feels that aikido training is basically a setup. Generally, we know the attack, past a certain level we know how to thwart the waza in question.

This means that two competant people walk a very thin line. How do I keep the waza honest, and yet have an uke at the conclusion of this waza? Or a shite? Because if I do every part of the technique perfectly (at least using an architecture that includes being comfortable with popping uke), there are times when uke will have to get popped to have an honest edge to the waza...and there are times when shite will get popped by the attack or a follow up as well. And let's be real...even using enough control to minimize how much damage results from a landed strike is in some way dishonest.

Ueshiba Sensei himself made a very important point at one time.

It was around the year 1939. Since Admiral Isamu Takeshita was president of the Ueshiba Dojo, Sensei was asked my the Admiral to five a demonstration in the Saineikan before the Imperial family. Ueshiba Sensei first refused his request saying, "In aikido the winner is decided in an instant. There is no way your opponent will get up and attack you again. If he does, it's all false. It cannot possible show such false techniques to the IMperial family." But since Admiral Takeshita insisted Sensei could not refuse him and ended up going to the Saineikan. ***

This delima is a constant source of vexation for many ex-aikidoka I am sure. I also am willing to struggle on being vexed, and being happy having one or two partners where I can be pretty darn honest...honest enough so that I progress, but not quite so honest my body gives out.

And my instructor's aikido is scary enough that *I* won't be the one pushing for *too* much honesty from him. That is one side of this equation...there are consequences to seeking too much honesty, whether we like to admit it or not. I could say the same about quite a few instructors out there.

Best,
Ron

***From An Aikido Life (02)
by Gozo Shioda
Aiki News #73 (December 1986)

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 03:17 PM
Come on John - how many threads make you feel compelled to ask what one's intentions are? You're going from the relevance of the pics to the relevance of the poster.

It's like you can only talk about this stuff if you can approve of the intention, but you know that you have no intention of approving of the intention. Besides, the intention is clear - as others have noted it: There are direct questions given in the first post, and folks have clearly been able to grasp that this is an attempt at generating a discussion capable of harboring some real self-reflection and possibly some real self-transformation for those that bother to share in the self-reflection. If Doshu was the problem, then I would have said, "We need a new Doshu." Instead, I said, (paraphrasing) "We need to bring more intimacy into our training environments so that we can bring more honesty into our training environments - especially if we are not going to rely upon competition to bring us the kind of honesty that can come without intimacy." In my opinion, Doshu is not the problem, which is why none of this would be alleviated if we got a new Doshu.

As far as competition goes, please note that I used the word "sociologically" in the same section - in that sense, in a broader sense, when Osensei has that standing order for his deshi to try and get him, he's not really practicing the cooperative nage/uke dynamic. Is he? No. He's doing a form of competition - where his deshi try their best to get him (doing whatever they want, whenever they want, etc.), and he does his best not to be got (however he can).

If this topic is way too taboo for any reader, I think its everyone's option to bow out and/or to not participate, but it doesn't really fly to say that this topic is false and/or inaccurate simply because it is taboo. It is the taboo nature of this topic that makes this topic accurate, and it is the accuracy of this topic that makes this topic taboo. That, again I say, was Ron's point.

This is not the "attack" you want to see, the way you read that other post by that other poster. This is a real topic, and one can either face his/her taboos or one cannot. In my point of view, anyone that is really interested in penetrating their art or their practice is going to learn how to rub up against their own taboo subjects. This is not about Doshu. This is about me, and about anyone else that wants to participate. It's about the Aikido we each practice. Let's not lose sight of the fact that anything said here will have absolutely zero impact on Doshu, his Aikido, or the Aikikai. Only that which we opt to reflect upon can alter things, and the things this can alter can only exist in the person doing the reflection.

Ron Tisdale
11-09-2005, 03:18 PM
Pauliina,

If I was partnered with Shioda Kancho

a) I would probably piss myself

b) I would be totally preoccupied with giving my best attack, and then being prepared for the world to tilt. Permanently.

c) Oh, I don't know...I can't really even imagine such a thing. Have you **seen** the ukemi his partners had to take???

Best,
Ron (I'd probably run and hide in a corner somewhere...)

John Boswell
11-09-2005, 03:39 PM
David V.,

Consider me "bowing out."

Maybe I'm having a bad day, lack of sleep, whatever... but I'm still not reading english here. First I see you saying one thing, then I see the exact opposite. Power to the people who comprehend.

Enjoy your thread. Hope you find your answers. I'll do my best to steer clear from you next time.

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 04:32 PM
John, please know that I harbor no ill feelings - it's all choice here for me. And I respect your decision to pull out fully. I'm sorry things seem not to have worked out here for us. Please forgive if anything felt directed at you personally - not my intention at all. I'll definitely try harder next time to not have that happen again.

peace,
david

Nick Simpson
11-09-2005, 04:41 PM
Well Roosvelt, I believe O'sensei had a policy relating to his students trying to hit him, but Im not sure as to what this 'attach him' policy is you speak of? Was it like transformers? Were his deshi allowed to morph with him anytime to create one huge aiki-bot? Did they take the forms of cars/tanks/planes/helicopters/trucks ala the original transformers or were they in the much hated 'beast wars' animal forms? Was it a war between the good aikikai bots and the evil shodo-decepticons?

What is this jo-trick you refer to?

Why do you rest your case? It is far from conclusive I reckon?

Ron, hilarious and so true. I would piss myself too. Even if Shioda sensei was making a mistake in his technique I believe that you wouldnt have time to point it out before your arm was ripped from your socket. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best. Nothing is perfect, whether trained in the right or the wrong way. Some people are better than others, FACT. And thats that.

Pauliina Lievonen
11-09-2005, 05:39 PM
Pauliina,

If I was partnered with Shioda Kancho

a) I would probably piss myself

I guess Shioda really is a bad example in this discussion... because I understand he didn't go out of his way to protect his ukes anyway, right? So it's not just a question of rank, it's also a question of is it physically safe. That said... I've trained with some people where all I did was keep myself safe while taking ukemi, because they were stronger than me, and had enough experience over me that they could have hurt me if I tried anything but go along, even if they did make mistakes...and I don't think that was good practice. Really, it's just another manifestation of the same - don't show a higher rank their mistakes, and the consequences in this case aren't social, but physical injury. I don't know that that isn't even worse.

b) I would be totally preoccupied with giving my best attack, and then being prepared for the world to tilt. Permanently.
But I asked, if he made a mistake, and you didn't need to fall? Would you still fall?

Maybe just from the shock? :D

kvaak
Pauliina

crbateman
11-09-2005, 06:17 PM
But I asked, if he made a mistake, and you didn't need to fall? Would you still fall?

Maybe just from the shock? :D

kvaak
PauliinaMaybe to hide the wet spot... :eek: ;)

Chuck Clark
11-09-2005, 06:31 PM
David,

What courage! ... "The Emperor Has No Clothes"

Good points and questions. Certainly one of the benefits of being independent, eh?

Best regards,

senshincenter
11-09-2005, 08:21 PM
Hi Chuck,

Though I appreciate your reply greatly - I think you are giving me way too much credit. Really, as an independent, my Aikido is as untouched by Doshu as his is by mine. I am so far on the outside that it takes no courage at all to raise such issues and/or to raise them in the way that I have. As you rightly say: one of the benefits of being an independent.

I think it was Ian who was saying something that touched upon a feeling I have been experiencing lately. He was mentioning something about having to play the rank game at seminars or something like that. Regardless of what he said exactly, I remember how crazy that was back when I was federated. It is such a part of that whole scene. We all know this especially if we ever become really interested in the martial application of Aikido and/or in applying a martial edge toward our self cultivations. When we do realize this, seminars and camps tend to become more interruptions in our training than the beacon of information they once were.

Some of us, for whatever reasons, or maybe it is all of us depending upon where we are at any given time in our training, just cant see the game for what it is. I know I didnt always see it; I know I didnt always mind playing it; I know I didnt always think it had such an impact upon my Aikido; and I know I didnt always think it went so deep into everything. For these reasons, I think this is why we often cannot see where non-aikidoka are coming from a lot of the times in their critique of Aikido and its supposed claims. When we cannot see the game, we often want to dismiss such critiques as a bunch of ignorance lumping them all together. However, not all of these critiques are ignorant, and thus not all of them are irrelevant to what we do as aikidoka. I remember Nishio Sensei saying something in the forward to his book, about how in order for Aikido to remain legitimate it has to be able to address the ideas, principles, and practices of other martial arts. I believe he is talking about the same thing.

Earlier, I mentioned the need for intimacy in an art that requires honesty but admonishes competition. Ron brought up something that I felt could be understood along these same lines when he offered that very relevant self-reflection. He talked about how he had some folks that he could train with at a more honest level. I know this group. I think we all know this group. I think we have all had these fellow aikidoka, people whom we count upon to provide a more insightful experimental ground. If we look at this from a different point of view, we can indeed see that Ron, and all of us as well, have really set things up so that out of all the aikidoka we are exposed to, we have these few folks that we can be more intimate with and thus more honest with. Man, I can say if it was not for the group that supported my training in this way while I was in Japan, well I could not imagine what I would be doing now. I owe everything to them.

Once we realize how much we owe to these groups, the issue becomes, How do we expand this group from the few to the many to the everyone? If you want to improve, you are going to ask yourself this question simply because you know how fertile these kind of intimate training environments really are. Since I am a dojocho, even before I became an independent, I felt compelled to ask this question of myself and to take it very seriously. After I would not allow myself to follow the usual party line of not everyone can train at that level, I see now that I have come to realize that this is really an intimacy issue. It doesnt really have anything to do with training hard unless we understand how hard it truly is for some of us to be intimate with other human beings.

Because for me this has become an intimacy issue, and because Aikido claims to be this avenue into the spirit, into the human heart, into the Divine, which I take seriously as well, I could not help but to conclude that any practice of delusion that was supported by an incapacity at honesty, which itself was fostered by a lack of intimacy, was a failure on a grand scale (personally speaking). That is to say, if one could not for whatever reason be honest in their training, one could not achieve the spiritual cultivations we are supposedly seeking. It seems to me that honesty, or, if you will, Truth, is not just paramount to the reality of our martial efficacy but that it is vital to the very foundation of our spiritual maturity. Moreover, for me, it seemed that a technology of the Self that aimed at human virtues paramount to social living would have to be a tradition that would make vital the role of intimacy not just off of the mat, but (especially) on the mat. It would have to be part of the training to have oneself exposed, to have oneself exposed via another this could not be the rare exception or the temporary luxury of having a group of good friends to train with. What I had to lose or be wiling to lose, what I would suggest we all have to lose, is all that stuff that goes with having exposure be seen as some sort of failure and/or affront. Sure, we have to keep Shu level training going, because that is how information is first passed, but even then, there are ways to be more intimate with each other in kata, and thus more honest, so that rank and/or other institutional fictions remain irrelevant.

Well, as you can see, I am just thinking aloud.

Again, thanks for your reply Chuck always grateful.

Humbly yours,
d

Michael Varin
11-09-2005, 08:24 PM
I don't know what you want to call it, rank aikido, or whatever, but it does exist. Every seminar I have ever gone to has had at least a couple glaring examples of sandan or higher that have poor technique, no ability to relate to their partner, no adaptability, or some combination of those things. I don't know why anyone would be offended by David using Moriteru as an example. I really doubt he meant any disrespect, and he probably wouldn't mind if you critiqued his own technique. Why is the doshu so special and we are not? One of the important traits of a warrior is to not put anyone above or below you.

Many people who have trained for a decade or more believe that their long duration of time spent in the art makes them capable, and deserving of rank. But how honest has their training been? Many of these people are stuck at a plateau, and are unable or unwilling to break past it. I believe this phenomenon of rank aikido is to blame. Why do we have people with 30 years experience doing sankyo after sankyo on a cooperative uke thinking that they are doing aikido, but these same people are afraid to explore what aiki really is?

Strongly related to this, I find aikido people talking about being open, and spontaneous, and egoless quite often. I also find that aikido people, especially high ranks, are the most closed minded, the least adaptable, and still have big egos.

About Morihei, first let me say I don't "know" anything that he was doing; all I know is what I've read and seen in pictures or video. Morihei was against competition, but what about when he faced off with the naval officer who got frustrated and threw down his bokken? What about when Morihei would let someone take aim at him with a firearm and "dodge" the bullet? If two people are engaged in a competitive activity, but each person is interested in the other's improvement, is it really a negative thing? As far as the jo trick, I don't think it was a physical trick. I think it was more at the mental level, a form of mind control, which is what I believe aiki has the potential to be.

I can't say how we can fix this, or if we should even try. All I know is that we should remember why we started training, be brutally honest with ourselves, and find as many like minded people as we can to train with. I still am passionate about my aikido practice and want to learn more about it and myself.

What great fun this thread has been!

Michael

NagaBaba
11-09-2005, 09:06 PM
Heay, congrats David! Very important topic.
I believe every aikidoka that practices long enough face this problem and must find his own way to work it out. In my case, I solved it, but it took few years of hard work. For less advanced then me, I don’t punish them (for strong, fast and difficult attack and doing “heavy“ ukemi), by doing very painful technique. In contrary, I’m avoiding as I can whole atemi thing to invite them to attack as hard as they can.
Consequences are there, efficiency of my techniques was almost null in the beginning, when I started this approach, slowly being improved.

With more senior folks, it was much more difficult. I must chose them very carefully and by honest practice prove, that my intend is not to “test” them, but simply to add more difficulty, and to improve a technique.
With mature partners it was very well possible. The results are truly revealing. As a uke, I can now feel directly and live, how senior folks are trying to resolve the difficulties, and this has no price. I’m learning how to close all openings from perspective other then mine. Then with few of them, I’m trying to do the counters whenever it is possible. Of course, they practice with me the same way as a uke. Absolutely amazing.
After such practice, “regular” practice is not only boring, but makes no sense at all……..

But as my instructor told me, I’m walking on the edge very thin red line……

roosvelt
11-09-2005, 09:45 PM
As far as the jo trick, I don't think it was a physical trick. I think it was more at the mental level, a form of mind control, which is what I believe aiki has the potential to be.



The jo trick is like some magic. When you know how it's done, it's simple. It only take some 20 years of dedicated practice though.

It's not a mind control. Unless you mean his mind controled his own body. Search Mike Sigman here, he gaves a reasonable explaination. Having seen similar demo by Chinese martial artists, I know it's real. You just need a lot of concentrated practice to get there.

Unfortunately, Aikido is not the best way to get there.

Rupert Atkinson
11-09-2005, 11:00 PM
I have just browsed the pics on that site again and the Doshu himself comes out well in most, but not all, pics. What I noticed was how ukes just accept techniques too easily - you can tell from the situation - and you also know because that is what most of us do everyday.

Since coming to Korea I have concentrated on overcoming resistance (not letting you do it seems to be in the Korean psyche) and in the last two years am finally getting somewhere. Recently, I have been working on what I call Judo attacks. Judo people do not just grab and wait for you to do something. What I have been working on is practising the attack - grab and pull or push, grab and pull harder and so on. Really hard until uke can throw with just the attack (e.g., grab one hand and rear lapel - kinda looks like irimi-nage entrance, and really force them into the tatami). Then, try the techniques against these attacks. It either fails dismally or works like a charm. There is no inbetween. Still, a long way to go yet.

Some of the Tomiki threads herein have addressed a similar topic - how to make training more realistic.

We are only being duped by ourselves ...

Charles Hill
11-10-2005, 12:16 AM
Let me throw another log into the fire. Doshu`s uke are always the shidouin who live at Honbu or are young shihan who used to live at Honbu. They are very carefully trained in how to take ukemi for the Doshu. At a recent demonstration, the Doshu had just returned from overseas and was clearly exhausted. One of the uke made a minor mistake in ukemi and was lambasted later backstage by the young shihan who also took ukemi.

Charles

happysod
11-10-2005, 04:05 AM
Hiya Charles, interesting information and I'm fairly disgusted at the shihan involved. However, I'd personally feel more comfortable if the thread stayed in the realms of generalities rather than specific individuals - not because of the rank of the person in question, although Jun may find questions asked for "allowing" this thread to continue if this is pursued - but mainly because I don't like singling out any individual/group in such a debate.

I believe once you involve personalities, you detract from the argument as people polarize more quickly. David's already been devious enough here, deliberately using a highly ranked individual as his spring board to prevent the standard "not in my dojo" response - funny how none of us ever have the "bad aikido" railed against so diligently...

Well, guilty as charged I'm afraid. I have accepted technique that was poor without a murmur on several occasions when I've visited other dojos outside my normal purview - I was guest and they were rigid in their etiquette, what can I say. I've even failed miserably to correct my instructor when they're demonstrating to the class. On the plus side, we do foster honesty during normal practice, but I wonder if that's because a lot of us have known each other for so damn long. Thankfully it seems to becoming more of the normal dojo attitude, so some light there.

However, there's another side of the equation which is being neglected. Often criticism is not accepted not because it's not due, but because we're all so poor at providing it constructively. As with everything, there's ways and means of giving a wake up call and there's times I would consider it inappropriate.

Peter Goldsbury
11-10-2005, 05:41 AM
Yes, the problem exists, though I doubt whether erank aikidof is a correct description. I became aware of it long before I came to Japan. I think it comes with the art, with the central role of the teacher and of ukemi in the art, and I think the problem would exist whether you are 'federation' or independent, whether you have ranks or not. My own opinions generally coincide with those of Szczepan, Charles Hill and Rupert.

I am 'federation' up to my neck, for my name appears on the Aikikai's Japanese website. However, I believe that Doshu is aware of the problem, as are the shihan and shidoin in the Hombu who are his usual ukes. My grounds for stating this are the private conversations I have had over the course of several years.

I am also pretty sure that others in the Aikikai, apart from myself, use the Internet and read forums such as this.

Since we are discussing on the basis of still photographs, perhaps it might be more appropriate to look at the tapes that go with Doshu's Kiban Aikido books. Yes, I know they are 'teaching' tapes, not tapes of demonstrations or regular practice, but I understood that the prpblem is not just one of Doshu, for example, having an off-day, but the deeper problem of actually executing particular waza incorrectly.

Best regards to all,

Pauliina Lievonen
11-10-2005, 06:20 AM
However, there's another side of the equation which is being neglected. Often criticism is not accepted not because it's not due, but because we're all so poor at providing it constructively. As with everything, there's ways and means of giving a wake up call and there's times I would consider it inappropriate.
This is a part of training that I find very interesting. How to connect ...ummm, socially?...with a training partner so that we can train well and honestly together, and give each other constructive criticism.

Sometimes it's only possible for a very brief moment, or only up to a certain level, before it gets too stressful for one of us. Emotionally stressful I mean.

I think Sczcepan had a good point about making it safe for kohai to attack honestly. I feel safe not taking a fall for my teacher if he screws up, and if I didn't, I'd be thinking about changing dojo.

The hardest part is really when you give honest feedback as uke, and your partner has trouble with it, and you start to feel responsible for their distress, and back off. To be able to be compassionate and honest in that situation I think would be a great achievement.

I actually dreamed about this topic last night...
kvaak
Pauliina

Steve Mullen
11-10-2005, 07:51 AM
Why is the doshu so special and we are not? One of the important traits of a warrior is to not put anyone above or below you.Michael

With all due respect i feel that this is a glaring oversight, were the samurai not warriors? they lived to put their master above them, i believe it was musashi miyamotto (feel free to correct me on this one folks) who said that the only way to serve your master was to live as though you were already dead. if that's not putting someone above you then i don't know what is.

Don't get me wrong im not trying to compare aikidoka to the samurai class, but neither, i feel, can modern day martial artists hope to call themselves warriors.

Just my two pence worth

Ron Tisdale
11-10-2005, 08:40 AM
I guess Shioda really is a bad example in this discussion... because I understand he didn't go out of his way to protect his ukes anyway, right?

Well, I don't believe that is totaly true. None of his uke died... :D and from what I can see at least, he was more than capable of ensuring you landed badly. So it comes down to the **level** of protection. From what I understand, he had one way of protecting uke in a public demonstration using uchi / soto deshi, one way of protecting yudansha at seminars, one way of protecting mudansha at seminars, etc. But I never had the pleasure of being there in person, so I don't really know for sure. This is martial art. If you step up to take ukemi at a public demonstration, when you are on track to be an instructor in his name, you've signed on for the serious stuff.

So it's not just a question of rank, it's also a question of is it physically safe.

This is a very sensitive area for many people (me too). There is that thin red line that Mr. S spoke of. And it is VERY important to have an intimate relationship (in David's words) established on some level BEFORE you get to that line...just in case you cross it, which you surely will sometime if you are really pushing. More about that later.

That said... I've trained with some people where all I did was keep myself safe while taking ukemi, because they were stronger than me, and had enough experience over me that they could have hurt me if I tried anything but go along, even if they did make mistakes...and I don't think that was good practice.

Hmm, well, for me it was good practice, but practice of a different sort. Learning to receive the power, speed, intensity without getting hurt has enabled me to push the barrier in other cases, at other times. Both of the forth dans in the dojo where I train are stronger, one is younger, both are vastly better at aikido, one is 6'1'', one is 6'5''...you get the idea. I'm pretty much outclassed. Neither has ever hurt me (in any serious way outside of REALLY f'ing hard ukemi). Both have incouraged me to attack hard, to try my best as uke, even when demonstrating waza in front of the class.

But there is a line. With one, it came during normal training when I thought he was resisting and asking for more power from me when I was shite (why I would ever think more raw physical power would be good as shite is another matter). So I gave it, and caused quite a bit of pain to my uke in the process. During hitori geiko later, when he threw me, I could swear it sounded and felt like a rocket ship being launched. I took some of the best ukemi in my life. Good thing too. But his point was, there is a line, and it's not wise to cross it. Our seniors feel pain too, they get injured too, they have egos too. They don't like being roughed up any more than we do. Taking advantage of the shite/uke training is wrong...and it can be very difficult in some cases to know when you are and when you aren't. This same person is someone who does encourage me to keep finding the edge of that red line. And it's HIS body he's putting on the line when we do that.

Really, it's just another manifestation of the same - don't show a higher rank their mistakes, and the consequences in this case aren't social, but physical injury. I don't know that that isn't even worse.

hmmm...well...this is martial art. If you physically step up your attack, shite will physically step up their response. All I can say is you have to accept the consequences if you anti up. And I'm not talking about cheap shots...just good strong technique on the edge. Even when in heavy correction mode, I've never seen my teacher intentionally hurt someone. But bad falls can happen anytime...it's more likely when you push the edge.

But I asked, if he made a mistake, and you didn't need to fall? Would you still fall?

I'll let you know when I feel it happen. :D

Maybe just from the shock? :D

Yeah, shock, that's it. My black eye is from shock.... :p

You have to constantly determine what is happening in the moment. I've felt my teacher frustrated with me when I've given the wrong attack when it should have been obvious, I've felt him wonder where my head is at when he is trying to illustrate a point while teaching and I act like we are in a public demonstration...I think you get the idea. Situational awareness is key. Understand, even this post is taking a chance and walking that line. If I mis-represent, mis-characterise, mistakenly malign the people I train with, there are consequences (and should be). I don't even mean physical ones...

Best,
Ron (my thanks and utmost respect to my sempai and teachers)

Steve Mullen
11-10-2005, 11:04 AM
If any those of your "gorgeous" people had a habit of looking uglier than sin in the cat walk or the movie sets, they'd find theirselves out of any job very quickly.

I'm sure if doshu was continuously bad then questions would have been asked by more than a few people a lot sooner than now.

senshincenter
11-10-2005, 02:59 PM
It is sort of amazing how much energy we all have to put into partitioning off our teachers/seniors in order to talk about this, especially since we all know that we have fully participated in this phenomenon at one level or another.

I think we have to take what Charles is sharing as something we have either experienced ourselves and/or that we have internalized at some level coming up through the ranks. I am not sure it is necessary to not have to talk about these things. We just have to understand them from the right point of view. In particular, I think whatever examples come up along the way, ones people would like to share, it is important to note that Rank Aikido is not just faking it and/or trying to make our teachers look good. We have to move beyond that in order to note that we are really looking at how we give different responses within the same situation (i.e. how we act one way for a senpai and another way for a kohai) depending upon various institutional fictions/constructs (e.g. rank, title, authority, etc.).

If we do that, we can then also look at the very common solution we have all come up with (i.e. to officially or unofficially find a few intimates we can be more honest with in our training). We can then question if this is actually a solution or not determining whether it is costing more than it is delivering and/or whether it is stopping us from realizing more important aspects of the art. In other words, we can ask ourselves if our solution is part of the problem or not.

I think this is important, because if you really step back and look at things, one is probably going to see that it is these groups, groups that are formed all over the world, groups that were probably utilized by the very shihan we are learning from now when they were deshi, that it is these groups that actually carry the true weight of the art that it is not, for example, the great lineages and/or the sensei/deshi relationships we all like to refer to. That is to say, the art that is supposed to reconcile the world, that is supposed to unify things, is surviving through the years by practicing huge amounts of exclusion and partition. It is like the art has to sell its soul in order to get into Heaven.

I am beginning to wonder if these groups whether they are just friends that get together and/or whether they are uchideshi or kenshusei are not just a habitual response to our propensity to be taken in by the institution and all of its fictions. I wonder if these groups are not just a survival tactics. We should note: The thing with survival tactics is that they are so reactionary in nature, and thus they are more often part of the problem than any real kind of solution.

Again, the bigger questions are these: Why do we as aikidoka accept the lack of honesty, choosing instead to have institutional fictions (i.e. rank) determine our decisions (which I should point out is exactly who we are - we are our actions)? Why in an art so key on penetrating the absolute (whether that be of our selves, of the Universe, or of martial practicality) do we practice such idolatry with these institutional fictions? (Idolatry being absolute intimacy with something that it not absolute.) Alternatively, why do we as aikidoka, whose art includes notions of union, of togetherness, of Love, and of reconciliation, etc., see the acceptance of a lack of intimacy and the practice of exclusion/partition (which is the flip side of the groups we form) as viable solutions to this problem? Why can we not see that our solutions are simply the habitual reactions of dissolution and alienation (i.e. utilizing again our incapacity to practice intimacy in our lives)?

The martial shortcomings of bouncing back and forth between dishonest practice and practicing only with a few folks is obvious. However, it is the same spiritually speaking in my opinion. What kind of spiritual development can come from choosing between the practice of dishonesty and the idolatry of institutional fictions, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the acceptance of dissolution and alienation? I would say, none, or, perhaps, only a very shallow one.

I think Ian is on to something here with identifying the other side of this - that we often are incapable of expressing criticism constructively - which I will take as saying: "We often cannot separate our judgment of others from our will to power, from our ego trappings." I would say this is indeed true, and this does go hand-in-hand with being unable to accept criticism constructively. Giving constructive criticism is one of the things that friends most often learn how to do with each other - that's probably why we can have these types of groups as a solution to Rank Aikido without this issue coming up (at least not too much). I would like to use this point to elaborate more upon the issue of intimacy and how it could be cultivated within a dojo as a possibly better way of addressing the phenomenon of Rank Aikido.

When I refer to intimacy, I am not proposing that we try and exactly duplicate what we have going on in these small groups of ours. These groups are much too organic and as a result could never really be reproduced at any kind of institutional level. However, we can use them as a guide of sorts all the while being mindful of the various factors that must also be present in order to satisfy the larger issues of Budo/Aikido practice. Additionally, I am not proposing that we all just hug each other more, etc. Thats not exactly what I am referring to whey I use the word intimacy. I am using the dictionary entries of being indicative of ones deepest nature and/or referring to what is essential; innermost to our person.

As I said before, competition in part allows us to do this without actually having intimacy (in the normal sense of the word) be present. If we look at how competition does this, it achieves this by setting up some parameters that are well known by both parties ahead of time. These parameters are a kind of ritual by which behavior, but then so too the interpretative models for understanding behavior, are determined. What could be used, and what we have been playing with at our dojo, is to set up some parameters that govern the nage/uke dynamic, and the various levels of training, so that these things come to each participant in a way similar to how rules are presented in competition. This is pretty much what happens when we establish these groups only everything goes unsaid, which is why it only works for intimates and not for everyone. In other words: Find out what makes these groups tick; Establish those things as parameters for the uke/nage dynamic and the various types of training that we do in the dojo overall; Monitor them and adapt them according to how they may effect the whole of the Budo experience; And then get everyone to abide by them as if they are rules meant to govern ones training.

Either way, one has to be creative, more creative than just finding a few folks to go to town with, and definitely more creative than just trying to Rank Aikido harder.


dmv

Ron Tisdale
11-10-2005, 03:16 PM
That is to say, the art that is supposed to reconcile the world, that is supposed to unify things, is surviving through the years by practicing huge amounts of exclusion and partition. It is like the art has to sell its soul in order to get into Heaven.


Well, I don't see it quite that way. It's pretty clearly known in most dojo where I've trained who you can go to for this more honest, more challenging practice. It's usually clear just watching people train after an advanced or even regular class. I've had members of 'the group' reach out to me to invite me in...and I'm not much for belonging. I''ve seen them welcome anyone who wants to step up to that next level.

Another issue is that it would be great to behave that way with everyone in the dojo, all the time, no matter what. But the problem is, aikido isn't a koryu, you have many different types, and supposedly aikido has room for these different types. Some people are actually happy just doing the kata, and not much more. Many beginners will quit if all they get is thrown (before they can fully protect themselves), and they never get to throw.

What do you do with the student who has a resistance to falling, and it's creating a safety issue for them? I would tell them to take every fall, no matter what. Take the fall enthusiatically, just dive right into it, learn to love ukemi by taking ukemi. Later on, when they are safe, they can work on resisting, being hard to throw, reversals. Step one: ukemi. Is that a valid method? If so, what does it do in terms of this discussion? I guess I'm just not convinced everyone can get 'there' safely right out of the box.

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
11-10-2005, 04:33 PM
Hi Ron,

Thanks for the comments. Good points.

I think you are right in pointing out that for most of us when we form these groups we do our best to make them larger and larger. I didnt mean to suggest that this partitioning and/or exclusion happens at any kind of conscious level certainly not at the level of some sort of ill-will. I am referring to a sub-structural level of popular Aikido culture.

In that sense, though we can try to make these groups larger and larger, more inclusive at the level of conscious intent, culturally speaking, these groups of ours just make more divisions prominent. For example, these groups, or the members of these groups, often go on to hold the higher ranks in the dojo, the teaching positions, the teachers confidence, more dojo responsibility, members of these groups travel together, attend events together, have extra workouts together, etc. Their pact to train more honesty never just stops there these group comes to manifest themselves in countless other ways within a dojo. Moreover, these groups are often distinguished according to age and gender lines as well such that most of these groups are made up of young males. In the end, at a sub-conscious level, these groups can definitely represent a kind of exclusiveness in the minds of the outsider/other: lower rank, female, older member, etc.

In the end, conscious will or not, we are still forced to simultaneously say, Aikido is a way to reconcile the world, at the same time that we are saying, Aikido is not for everyone. I would propose that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot say one without contradicting the other. Right now, in my opinion, much of Aikido is suffering from being firmly lodged within this contradiction. That is why much of Aikido is neither all that martial nor all that spiritual. (Which may however be one reason why it is popular/modern.)

The trend up to now, in trying to reconcile this hypocrisy, has us only training more dishonestly. We try to make Aikido for everyone by having as many people as we can not really doing Aikido. We need a new trend, as a new generation, in my opinion. We need to find ways of having the positions of not everyone can train martially and/or not everyone wants to train martially NOT seem so obvious to us. I think it can be done, I think we at our dojo have been able to do it on a smaller scale, but I could be totally wrong with what we got going. Only time will tell. However, the one thing I do firmly believe I got right is that we got to be a heck of lot more creative in all regards if we want to move to a new trend in understanding both Aikidos spirituality and its martial effectiveness. We have to become very dissatisfied with the party line of not everyone can or wants to train martially. We have to move beyond the idea of making Aikido for everyone by having as many people as we can not do Aikido.

regards,
dmv

Rupert Atkinson
11-10-2005, 10:30 PM
Have you ever picked up a book, looked at the pics, and thought, "Nah, that's not right," and put it straight back down again? Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on it ... but you put the book down all the same.

Charles Hill
11-11-2005, 01:37 AM
I am very glad Prof. Goldsbury added some thoughts to this discussion. I was hoping he would. I do want to make clear that I really haven`t given any kind of personal opinion. I think that people have a bit of mistaken idea as to what Doshu`s role is in the Aikido world (not like I really know either). Is he supposed to be the exemplar par excellence of Aikido technique? I am definitely not convinced that that is his role. To try to give a definite opinion here, I think that this topic has two parts. One is that of judging a high level teacher. The other is as to what the role of the Doshu is. This thread definitely has a different flavour than the one one of our participants started awhile back with a picture of Ikeda Sensei.

Charles

Peter Goldsbury
11-11-2005, 08:01 PM
Hello Charles,

Originally, I wrote a much longer post, but then I read Peter Rehse's comments on Budoseek and shortened it.

I think some people are upset that Doshu appears to have been singled out for special scrutiny. I am not upset, for such scrutiny is an inevitable consequence of being the focus of the tatemae of an organization like the Aikikai. Like O Sensei, Doshu is simply not allowed to have off-days or to display bad technique. He is like a yokozuna, who is not allowed to lose even once.

A saving factor, in my opinion, is the concept of the iemoto. There, the leader is the one who can best further the interests of the ie, not the one who has the highest skill. However, the ie is also underpinned by those who do indeed have a very high level of skill, which is why one ahould also look at the waza of technicians like Shirata, Yamaguchi, Tada, Arikawa, Isoyama and others who buy into the Aikikai as an organization.

There is another point that has not been discussed very much in this thread. I think the concept of architecture, when applied to aikido waza, has some disadvantages. A waza is essentially something in time, with a beginning and an end. So there is always a creative tension between the two people doing the waza, which is not well expressed in terms of the architecture of the waza. I saw this at first hand when I took ukemi for Seigo Yamaguchi. He seemed to break losts of rules and static camera shots might well have revealed much grosser 'lapses' than Doshu's. But there was never any question for me, at the time, that the waza worked.

But this raises the question whether, for any one waza, my attack and subsequent ukemi were 'appropriate'. Thus the attention shifts from the architecture of the waza, understood as a kind of Form, to that of the attack and ukemi. This aspect has not been studied nearly as much as the former, but the idea that one should not take ukemi from a 'senior' practitioner if the waza is 'bad' is far too simple to bear serious scrutiny. Ellis Amdur has written about teaching by ukemi in one of his Aikido Journal blogs, but there was little follow-up.

Anyway, rest assured that when I meet Doshu next, I will tell him that his 1-kyou and 3-kyou, evidenced from the Asian Federation meeting, have been severely criticized on the Internet.

Best regards,

crbateman
11-11-2005, 08:30 PM
Goldsbury Sensei,

Do you think that the overall role of Doshu has changed since O'Sensei's passing? ("leader" vs. "teacher" vs. "administrator", etc.) If so, do you think this change has been brought about by outside influences and pressures, or by a conscious effort on the part of Doshu, and his father before him, to expand the role or take it in a new direction? I'd like to hear your perspective. Thanks in advance.

senshincenter
11-11-2005, 08:51 PM
Well, I wish Peter R. would post his comments here especially if you Peter G. feel they are obvious enough to not repeat. However, I think folks can read this and see the issue beyond the example or they cannot. If one cannot, I would suggest that they might be too firmly imbedded in the practice of Rank Aikido. After all, we all know this exists (but for the more beginner practitioners). Look - if we are going to problematize Rank Aikido for the sake of discussion and/or self-reflection, it would be foolish to say that it exists but then go on to suggest, Lets not talk about it with this guy. Rather, we should be able to talk about this and use examples without those examples drawing us away from the main issue. Again - one can either do this or not.

If one wants to make this about the martial effectives of Doshu, one should start a new thread. Under that topic, I would have nothing to say but maybe, Who cares.

For me, there is a deep potential problem when you take a kata-based art, having no competition, little room for true spontaneous training, and mix that all up with the standard notion of Japanese hierarchy (where distance in the hierarchy is marked by the presence or absence of intimacy). As a member of that art, I feel compelled to address this potential problem. As a dojocho in that art, I feel compelled to address this potential problem beyond the usual solution of get yourself a good group of friends you can go hard with. In that way, I feel there is plenty to talk about. Thus, I am very thankful for those that have been honest enough here to reflect openly for the benefit of everyone myself especially.

NagaBaba
11-11-2005, 10:01 PM
Hello Charles,

Originally, I wrote a much longer post, but then I read Peter Rehse's comments on Budoseek and shortened it.

Best regards,
Well, he said basically

I also think David was confusing demonstration with actual testing of technique. He makes that clear later in the thread. Uke does have a role in the demonstration that is different from that in some forms of training.

I think that for any serious teacher a demo is simply training. Only difference is you have some spectators. Of course, some may be tented to do show off, to pretend to be O sensei by trying to do mimic his way of doing the techniques, but in reality, they are cheating themselves.

As one day Chiba sensei said: the most important thing to an aikidoka is to be sincere. This can happen on many levels, and pretenders are quickly detected and got appropriated reputation.

Sooooo....... yes, basically when you do a demo as instructor, you present understanding aikido at your own level. As instructor you happen to teach your students at the same time. If you pretend to do the techniques at level that is too advanced for you(so uke must tank in order to make technique work and/or look "GOOD"), they will learn that such behavior is “a standard” and will pass it to their students. This is how McDonaldisation aikido is created. :(

senshincenter
11-11-2005, 10:25 PM
Szczepan,

Thanks for sharing that. I suppose there are many ways of looking at kata training, and one is of course free to look at demonstration kata training, teaching kata training, and practicing kata training as different things, etc. For me, however, kata training is kata training - like you, I do not differentiate teaching kata training from demo kata training from practicing kata training, etc. It's all kata - all shu level stuff in my eyes - which is another reason why martial effectiveness is irrelevant here. No one can determine martial effectiveness from kata training.

I couldn't even imagine where or how one would differentiate demo kata training from any other kind of kata training. If someone has some idea, please lend me a hand here - much appreciation.

Thanks Szczepan for posting that.
david

Peter Goldsbury
11-11-2005, 11:08 PM
David,

Well, despite your protestations that the thread was in no way concerned with him, you yourself started the thread with Doshu as the main example. So I think you have no grounds for requesting a separate thread, if other posters want to focus on Doshu, rather than the other issues. After all, this is a general Internet discussion, not an academic seminar directed by a chairperson.

Yours sincerely,

Devon Natario
11-12-2005, 12:41 AM
So let me get this straight:

Aikido is a martial art... minus the martial aspect of it, it's great for "older" people because it is "soft", it's false training, you no longer practice aikido... but you come here to an Aikido Forum and tell us these things and then ask us to NOT be offended?

Guess what? I'm offended you think anyone here stupid enough to listen to all that and NOT be offended!

Go re-read your post, insert your martial art in place of aikido and tell me how you would react.

The problem here John is I am a Mixed Martial Artist. I have trained in Tae Kwon Do (with Mr. Lee), Isshin Ryu Karate (with Joseph Barnes), Isshin Shorin Go Ryu (with Joseph Barnes), Aikido (with Thomas Collins and Chris Mitter), Judo (with Dick Tashiro), Kajukenbo (with Brian Davies), Northwest Kenpo (with Asa Rainey), Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu (with David G. Scott), Modern Arnis (with Chris Mitter and Edgar Cordova), Ryu Kyu Kempo (with Chris Mitter), Shin Shin Jujitsu (with Chris Mitter and Larry G. Brooks), Taki Ryu Shin Shin Jujitsu (with Chris Mitter), Tai Chi, I have trained in numerous seminars with Leon Jay, George Dillman, Bill Burch, Remy Presas, Jeff Delaney, and I am currently training for UFC (Muay Thai, BJJ, and Submission Wrestling) at the Lions Den under Trevor Prangley and Derek Cleveland on top of teaching Jujitsu.

I have had the experience of being a Police Officer and using techniques, I have had the experience of many encounters outside of the dojo, I have been in combat, and I have competed in numerous events to understand the difference between "martial" and "art". I believe if you read the book "Living the Martial Way" you may understand what the differences between the variations and the way people practice today.

It shouldn't take a person to quote their entire past for people to understand them. I mean no offense to anyone when I say Aikido is a soft style art. It is what it is. Did that stop me from training in Aikido? No. Aikido has many techniques that could be transformed into a martial way. Of course by taking away the Aiki portion of the techniques, it is no longer Aikido.

Older people train in Chi Gung, Tai Chi, Aikido, etc. All softer style arts. Does this mean they are not effective? No. It just means they are more artsy than martial.

If Aikido was truly a harder style martial art you would see Special Forces and Navy Seals training in it. You would also see more UFC contenders trying to train in Aikido so they could be untouchable. The truth is when UFC first came into exhistence, people learned very quickly which arts dominated the ocatagon, and Aikido was not one of them. All of the Kaiten Nage training did not pay off in the end against a real shoot fighter.

People have started to look for Mixed Martial Arts, rather than a complete olden days style. Why? Because we now have a realistic form of competition that can display what each art can do against real attacks and real fighters.

Again, I try to offend no one. I am a straight shooter. I look at the obvious, not the "what ifs", and I obviously have some sort of love for Aikido or I would not have taken the techniques and added them to my requirements for my Jujitsu students. Every art has influenced my teaching, even if it was a soft art like Aikido.

I have chosen to change my path into trying to be a good fighter. After all, the original reason I joined martial arts was to become a great fighter and have great self defense. After my 20+ years experience, I have found that you can always find good things in any art, but you should never be afraid to adapt and change the things you learn. Change is what has made masters out of drones. Change is what makes martial arts evolve into what is most necessary for the times.

senshincenter
11-12-2005, 12:52 AM
David,

Well, despite your protestations that the thread was in no way concerned with him, you yourself started the thread with Doshu as the main example. So I think you have no grounds for requesting a separate thread, if other posters want to focus on Doshu, rather than the other issues. After all, this is a general Internet discussion, not an academic seminar directed by a chairperson.

Yours sincerely,


Hi Peter,

It's the martial effectiveness of Doshu that I think is an entirely different topic. I clearly stated that here:

"If one wants to make this about THE MARTIAL EFFECTIVENESS OF DOSHU, one should start a new thread. Under that topic, I would have nothing to say but maybe, 'Who cares.'"

The suggestion to start a new thread, as with everything we all write on here, is my individual opinion. I did not feel it necessary to spell out that I am not the chair-person and/or that my suggestion is not a commandment. If this thread is concerned with Doshu, it is only in as much as we are all involved with the practice of Rank Aikido - he as well.

On the other hand, if want wanted to speak about the martial effectivess of Doshu here, I would at least expect a person to demonstrate its relevance before attempting to interpret the thread in such a manner. For me, I just can't see how such a topic can be connected here.

regards,
dmv

xuzen
11-12-2005, 01:03 AM
Dear fellow contributors,

This is a worthwhile discussion, kindly allow me to participate.

Drawing from my personal experience; I try my best to do rank aikido (or textbook aikido) attacks against my sensei or adjutant sensei not because I want to let them look good, more towards to preserve my health.

I am uncomfortable to do funny attacks (non-conventional attacks) because I will surely expect a non-conventional respond from them whereby I have to take uncomfortable falls or endure higher amount of pain.

I learned not to botch up my technique for simple reason as stated in paragraph 3. If they botched the attack, I simply adapt to the given situation and continue with the technique or flow.

I was never berated or scolded ever for doing a botched up attack, sensei or my sempai, just simply adapt to the situation, I get up from their throw, recover, get back in line and wait for my turn again to attack my shite.

Now, for a hypothetical scenario. Maybe in demo, having hundreds of spectator, uke and shihan are under pressure to perform flawlessly and hence martial aspect may be compromised? Each, trying their very best to impress the spectator i.e, improve their showmanship?

Let me explain further; contrasting equine show-jumping and race track horse racing. Both uses horse and I bet that the skills develop by the horses, differ considerably. One is breed to show grace and control, the other breed for power and speed. See the different yet?

I am personally aware that when aikidoka perform demo, their purpose is probably more askew towards showmanship. There are occasion, especially kenshu class (or seniors only class) where we get together and discuss the not so textbook situation. Often, the techniques we use to respond to not-so-textbook situation may look like jujutsu or judo. No matter what, my sensei reassure us, do not let your mind be too compartmentalized; judo, jujutsu, aiki-jujutsu and aikido are sometimes just names we assign. A rose by any name smell just as sweet. Let the situation dictate the respond, not the other way around.

To summarize; It could be in demo, the shihan are more skewd towards showmanship because he wants to be more spectator friendly. Whereas if you are more interested in seeing the martial application, you may just have to join his dojo long enough to get into the inner circle to learn the okuden techniques (the martial applicable techs) and from my experience these really good stuff tend not to be shown during normal class for various reasons.

My two cents,
Boon.

Peter Goldsbury
11-12-2005, 03:04 AM
Hello David,

Yes, I have read your previous post, and other posts, and stand by what I stated earlier. In your first post I picked up the following points especially.

1. The definition of rank aikido:
"Aikido that 'functions' only in accordance to both the rank of your own person and the rank of your Uke, where if your rank is greater (especially significantly greater) than Uke's, your tactical architecture will be allowed to succeed no matter how ill-performed and/or ill-designed."
I believe that this takes place regardless of rank or affiliation and so might need to be expressed in another way.

2. The close analysis of Doshufs technique (as nage):
gHowever, if you look at the photos, you cannot help but to notice a body alignment (i.e. a lack of body alignment) that would get most Nage to "fail" in their application of the technique. If one were to have a higher ranked Uke, this type of body mechanics would not provide the necessary mechanical advantage to function as designed or as attempted. This is not because a lower ranked aikidoka could not (i.e. unskilled) transfer their weight/center into their hands in order to apply enough weight/mass to bring Uke back from the outside to their centerline/center. Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher rank Nage but opts not to do so if they have lower rank Nage.h
I believe that three still pictures do not form an adequate basis for the opinions that follow the first sentence of the above paragraph.

If you really want to separate the discussion of the first point from the second, perhaps it would have been better to choose different pictures. I think you have managed to upset quite a few people by choosing to illustrate a very valid point with pictures of the present Doshu. Of course, this is the Internet, so if you cannot stand the heatc

Yes, Chiba Sensei was my sensei, too and I have also discussed the question of honesty with him. However, I know from long experience of discussing the subject with Chiba Sensei that ecross-culturalf honesty is extremely difficult, much more difficult than is perhaps realized in this thread.

Anyway, as a member of the Aikikai with a close relationship to the present Doshu, whose reputation I do not wish to undermine in any way, I bow out of this discussion.

Best regards,

senshincenter
11-12-2005, 10:51 AM
Thank you for the participation thus far then Peter. My own opinion is that this is a valid topic and so it is deserving of clarification (when needed) and/or some effort to defend itself against attempts to subvert it. I feel that this discussion would be subverted if it was to be transformed into a discussion on the martial effectiveness of any one aikidoka including each one of us.

Perhaps at the heart of how folks are opting to read things lie some basic differences in how we understand other things. For example, several people now have demonstrated how they understand demonstration kata different from teaching kata and/or training kata. As I said, I do not, as I am sure others as well do not, hold these distinctions. I also think that some folks hold that kata is or can be an expression of ones martial effectiveness, whereas for me kata is more about architecture, body mechanics, and the representing of other body/mind attributes that can prove relative in a combative situation. I must side myself with other folks that suggest that or hold that a nice kata dont prove jack martially. Differences like these do seem to have some people reading this topic one way and not another.

Realizing you have opted to bow out of the discussion, I would like to use your points to further clarify my own. This is because even of the people that seem interested in the topic, I am not so sure they are themselves truly capable of moving beyond the example given.
---------------------------------------------------
Peter wrote:

1. The definition of rank aikido:
"Aikido that 'functions' only in accordance to both the rank of your own person and the rank of your Uke, where if your rank is greater (especially significantly greater) than Uke's, your tactical architecture will be allowed to succeed no matter how ill-performed and/or ill-designed."
I believe that this takes place regardless of rank or affiliation and so might need to be expressed in another way.
--------------------------------------------------
I realize that cooperation and choreography happen in basic Aikido training. However, I was not referring to cooperation and/or choreography in general. My critique is not the usual critique of Aikido is fake. Rather, I was attempting to focus in upon an inconsistency in our cooperation and choreography. I was attempting to point to that moment in our training (whether we have experienced from Nages side or as Uke) when we cooperate and/or follow prescribed choreography according to rank (relative to our training partner). Thus, I was not interested in noting only how we follow our teacher or seniors lead, etc., but how under the same circumstances we do not do so when we as Uke are working with a kohai. For me, Rank Aikido would disappear not if cooperation and/or choreography would disappear from basic training (which I do not think can or should ever happen) but if we as Uke would either always note poor body mechanics in Nage or if we as Uke would ALWAYS fulfill a katas prescribed choreography during basic training.
------------------------------------------------
Peter wrote:

The close analysis of Doshus technique (as nage):
However, if you look at the photos, you cannot help but to notice a body alignment (i.e. a lack of body alignment) that would get most Nage to "fail" in their application of the technique. If one were to have a higher ranked Uke, this type of body mechanics would not provide the necessary mechanical advantage to function as designed or as attempted. This is not because a lower ranked aikidoka could not (i.e. unskilled) transfer their weight/center into their hands in order to apply enough weight/mass to bring Uke back from the outside to their centerline/center. Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher rank Nage but opts not to do so if they have lower rank Nage._
I believe that three still pictures do not form an adequate basis for the opinions that follow the first sentence of the above paragraph.
-----------------------------------------------------------

It is this line that again states that I am referring to an inconsistency in the practice of cooperation and choreography one that functions according to rank: Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher ranked Nage, but opts not to do so if they have lower ranked Nage. As one can again see, I am not protesting against cooperation and/or choreography. It is how these things are or can be determined by rank that is being discussed. For me, an inconsistency in cooperation and choreography, one that is based upon rank, points to a number of cultivation issues, the least of which has to do with martial effectiveness (granting that some may see martial effectiveness relative in a discussion on basic kata training). As one could read, I saw this inconsistency as related to issues of intimacy (or our capacity for intimacy) and, most importantly, to how closely we come to practicing Osenseis larger aspirations (e.g. Aikido is a way to reconcile the world.). I hold that we cannot reconcile the world if our practice is being determined by institutional fictions and/or when our reaction to such fictions is to set up partitions.

senshincenter
11-12-2005, 11:19 AM
Here is a good experiment to help one figure out what is being discussed here:

Go to a dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that either employs rank colors and/or a hakama to note seniority. Do NOT wear your black belt or your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics. Now go to another dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that also employs rank colors and the hakama to note seniority. Wear your black belt and your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics.

I predict that the differences will be amazingly different. This is Rank Aikido.

Rupert Atkinson
11-12-2005, 06:02 PM
Here is a good experiment to help one figure out what is being discussed here:

Go to a dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that either employs rank colors and/or a hakama to note seniority. Do NOT wear your black belt or your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics. Now go to another dojo, seminar, camp, event, etc., that also employs rank colors and the hakama to note seniority. Wear your black belt and your hakama. Note how much cooperation you receive when you are nage. Note how much flack you may receive when you are Uke if you press the matter of proper body mechanics.

I predict that the differences will be amazingly different. This is Rank Aikido.

You don't need to predict anything; I experienced just that many times when a student. One reason I have six BBs is different styles is because I always used to wear a white belt when 'travelling' and so also went through the grades. Obviously, I was BB in some styles before others but remained a white or coloured belt in others for years and years. Simply, the higher the grade you appear to be, the easier the time you have - unless you do Judo, which is exactly the opposite. Wear a BB in Judo and anyone under you thinks they have the automatic right to try to better you, and guess what, they do have that right, whether you are a high graded guest instructor or just and ordinary joe.

In the BAF it was common knowledge that certain people - even amongst the volumous white belt crowd (no coloured belts), would 'assume' control and try to teach you what to do when training. It was a real pain in the A to train with these people, even if they were better than you. I just expect people to shut up and train. Accordingly, I try to prevent such in my own students ...

crbateman
11-13-2005, 01:11 AM
In the BAF it was common knowledge that certain people - even amongst the volumous white belt crowd (no coloured belts), would 'assume' control and try to teach you what to do when training. It was a real pain in the A to train with these people, even if they were better than you.This sounds a lot like not just Aikido, not just MA, but life in general. I think it's just human nature. There are people like this in practically every crowd, regardless of the activity or avocation.

Mike Collins
11-13-2005, 02:59 AM
Rank Aikido? Is it rank or is it politeness? Sometimes, people misunderstand their role in being polite, so they err on the side of caution. Sometimes, people are kissing butt. People behave that way in any hierarchical organization. You can convince yourself it doesn't happen, but it happens.

As to the pictures of Doshu, what you are calling misalignment, I am seeing as transitional movement. Specifically 285 appears to be a body shift and draw on what appears to be sankyo; 284 precedes 285, and it would seem to prove my assertion above; If you'll look carefully at 248, you will notice his dogi top closes between his hands, again, a transitional movement it appears, but his basic structure looks fine for what it is; 245, uke is off balance and it appears he (Doshu) is taking his uke down in an ikkyo. Looks like pretty good stuff to me. I don't think there is anyone alive who's technique couldn't be nitpicked by way of stills, but these were a poor choice, in my humble opinion.

As to people tanking for their superiors, it happens. It should be, and in better schools it is discouraged, but it's a fact of life. I try not to do it, but I have done it when I'm being used to demo technique in front of a class or in a demo. It's a way of trying to get along with people. If every single time I tried to demo a technique, my uke felt it was okay to trip me up for any misstep, I would never be able to demonstrate until my technique was perfect.

I submit that with only a very few exceptions on this planet, there are not many folks who could demo with me more than once or twice, if I was allowed, or God forbid, encouraged to show the openings or weakness of any or every technique. That is not realistic. My teacher is amazing. He can throw me at will. I have felt him mis-step in a demo. I would never try to capitalize on that, both out of espect, and if I change-up, it gives him permission to do that to me, and I'm not as stupid as I look.

Rupert Atkinson
11-13-2005, 03:59 AM
Rank Aikido?
As to people tanking for their superiors, it happens. It should be, and in better schools it is discouraged, but it's a fact of life. I try not to do it, but I have done it when I'm being used to demo technique in front of a class or in a demo.

There is really no problem with 'tanking' ocaasionally. Even boxers will no doubt receive slow pre-arranged simulations to learn their trade. The problem is when it becomes too common, to the extent that uke flies off despite technique that is not sound. If you demo that way - not too bad really as it is just a demo, but if you train that way, then how can you ever learn to do it properly? I am not so cocerned about the demos - they are all pre-arranged in Aikido. I am more concerned about the training that happens thereafter.

senshincenter
11-13-2005, 10:12 AM
Well if we want to call it polite when we practice Rank Aikido for our seniors, what do we call it when we practice Rank Aikido with our juniors - when we resist their technique, opting not to be "polite" for them like we were for our seniors? Is it really just a matter of helping them out for their own good? To me it smells so much of power games and ego trips. In our dojo, we try to have the inverse relationship to what one normally sees in Rank Aikido. That is to say, we have it clearly taught, stated, and expected that senpai uke NEVER resist (or "show kohai their openings through resistance) a kohai nage; and that kohai uke should never be "polite" to senpai nage. We deal with the instructing of kohai's nage's form through instruction demonstration, verbal explanation, and the cultivation of discipline and commitment that is necessary to mimic the ideal architecture being presented. We don't try to say "you see, you are doing it wrong" by resisting their technique (since it can be resisted at all times). We just say, "you are doing it wrong - it goes like this." Later, we use spontaneous training environments to help those more "resistant" to gaining the ideal architecture understand why a technique is done one way and maybe not anyway. As for the learning curves of a kohai uke, while they are cultivated to not take dives for senpai nage, senpai nage is further restricted to the accuracy of his/her technique by not thrashing uke - by not going beyond their ukemi skill level. This means a senpai nage is going to learn more about his/her technique because he/she has the dual poles of not having an uke that will take a dive and being able to maintain control of his/her uke without risking injury to them beyond their skill at ukemi to contend with. We leave the "pushing" beyond one's limits to the instructor and to each other's peers. We leave the contracted intimacy to spontaneous training environments.

Steve Mullen
11-17-2005, 05:29 AM
Wow, i never thought id say this (in this post at least) but i fully agree with David on this one. This is the way it should be done.

BUT

My main point in this whole idea of Rank Aikido is that in a lot of cases the uki in question isn't taking a dive out of respect for sensei or some kind of undying loyalty, they are merely being that little bit less resistent to allow sensei to demonstrate a technique to the class/course/seminar. when the students begin to train individually THEY will, individually, learn where the weaknessess (if there are any) lie in the technique shown, and that's always assuming they copy doshu (insert anyother name you want here) exactly. I think the purpose of a sensei is to guide you on the way, not to give you something to copy step for step and blow for blow.

So if uki is being more comlient, than is practical, for sensei when they are demonstrating technique (wherever the setting) then is this really such a bad thing?

When does a class learn more?

1) When they are given a demonstration of a technique in it's entirity, all be it a little loosely
OR
2) When they sit in seiza for 25 mins watching someone try all they can to resist sensei's technique

!But he is a sensei! i hear you all yell !He should be able to control his uki! well yes he probably could, but as we all know, when a technique is being applied practically every time you soon run out of uki (well willing uki anyway, you could always strike a deal; with the local jailor to let you have 10 criminals for each class and 30 for a course/seminar....because seminars last longer.......actually i think i might be on to something here, it would solve the problem of rank aikido and over crowded prisons ; ) )

jss
11-17-2005, 03:34 PM
I agree with the idea that as an uke you should help the person demonstrating/teaching. However, how are teachers supposed to advance if their uke cooperate all the time? Seminars won't do a any good, since rank-aikido exists there as well. And isn't it easier to accept resistance as an opportunity from an uke you know than from a person during a seminar whose aikido you know little about?

L. Camejo
11-17-2005, 08:22 PM
Great thread. A bit long winded at times, but some interesting concepts and reactions.

I'll reserve comment on the pics, but I think the subject of the pics was well chosen. Imho the only person who could have been better at demonstrating rank Aikido in a photo other than the Doshu would have been Ueshiba M. himself. It helps us understand that the issue is not limited to any one person, style or group but can be an endemic pitfall that we encounter in practice and it can affect us at the highest levels.

In the end, only those who seek to practice honestly and ask themselves the hard questions that come with serious Budo practice may attempt to deal with and avoid these sorts of pitfalls where one's Aikido can only be effective in a false construct of shared delusion.

An interesting manifestation of rank Aikido is often seen also in multi-style seminars and camps, where Aikido shares an equal floor with Judo, Jujutsu etc. What one often sees are groups of Aikidoka (not many) who only train with each other and often take great pains to not train with folks from the other styles who don't help in creating the illusion of effective waza.

I can understand the differentiation between training and demonstration for rank Aikido and that choreography and showmanship are often primary elements of demos. From my experience however, demonstration does not automatically mean unsound technical principles and Ukes taking a dive for otherwise empty technique. The audience is not always folks who don't know what they are looking at or what to look for as regards effective waza. Also, we cannot always depend on our Ukes to behave like trained Poodles in a demo, hence our martial edge and technical precision must still be maintained to deal with the spontaneous and unexpected even in the midst of a demo.

In training there is a place for cooperative practice of waza. This is a necessary stage in learning. But even in this place of cooperation, sound technical principles and structures must be adhered to, else one's practice becomes empty and false imo and movements have no cause and effect. The effects of this sort of practice is easily revealed in the lowest levels of zero resistance randori, where the Tori with poor structure hopes that the contract of shared martial illusion is maintained here and Uke takes a dive without having been influenced by correct tactical movements that result in an honest throw or lock etc.

It is important for us to always seek an honest answer for the hard questions that affect our training and work towards evolution beyond our limitations, even if it is hard to admit our weaknesses. If we start (especially as Yudansha and Instructors) to believe the illusion that what we do in cooperative/polite kata practice in some way relates to serious martial application without some means of error-checking, then all we are doing is aiding in Aikido's martial degeneration. Without Bu, can we still call it Budo? Without honest Aiki, can we still call it Aikido?

LC:ai::ki:

philipsmith
11-18-2005, 03:36 AM
I've been following this thread with interest and would like to make some observations:

1 Its difficult to judge technique from still photographs (or even video)
2 What I call demonstration Aikido is VERY different from training Aikido
3 There is in many instances an "Emperors new clothes" syndrome in all associations
4 There is a tendency to assume that we as Aikidoka have degenerated and are not as proficient as our forbears. This seems to occur in all societies who lokk back to a mythical Golden Age which was much better than now.
5 Peoples prejudices often get in the way of objectivity ( I train with X therefore my Aikido is the best)
6 (Last point) We can have a "Tall Poppy" attitude to individuals who stand out from the crowd. Sometimes we like to think that they are only in their position because of outside i.e. non-technical factors such as nepotism etc.

In saying that I think that criticism is healthy provided it is constructive.

Sorry to be so long-winded.

senshincenter
11-18-2005, 09:58 AM
Again, I think that folks that practice Rank Aikido end up missing the bigger picture here because they cannot see the observation as anything more than a criticism - which is an attempt to suggest that it is not an observation. It is not a criticism to say that today, Nov. 18, is Friday. It is an observation. However, it has to be a "criticism" for someone that wants to say that today is not Friday. See how this works?

This resistance to the observation is making folks just focus in on one part of this thing. The other part of how we as senpai uke act differently toward kohai nage is totally being ignored - WHEN THIS IS PROBABLY THE LARGER AND MORE SPIRITUALLY DETRIMENTAL PART OF THE PRACTICE. Moreover, because we cannot get this far in the observation we are missing an even more spiritually detrimental part to our training - that which comes with our expectation of Rank Aikido.

I am here referring to those times when we are senpai nage feel affronted when kohai uke either out of experimentation and/or ignorance end up doing something as that presents a "resistance" to the waza being practiced. When this happens, we very often proceed to thrash them, make them pay, show them how they just jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, force them into the technique, do atemi, etc. - you see that kind of advice offered all over the place on this site. Yet, what do we do when a senpai uke does such a thing, or when a teacher does such a thing, all of a sudden it stops being a martial challenge deserving of conquest. Instead, it becomes some sort of physical riddle that we are supposed to figure out in as pristine a way as possible. All of a sudden, there is no affront - there is only a great learning experience we are having difficulty grasping (for the time being) - there is only this great honor of being given so much needed attention, etc.

The other day I had a meeting with the Judo club's teachers. I showed up early to watch part of the class that evening. While I was watching the class, another spectator showed up to watch. He was interested in training in Judo. One of the senior practitioners came over to talk to him after he pulled out from the third hour of training. They proceeded to have a conversation about past training and what Judo might offer, etc. It came out that the spectator had done Aikido.

Upon hearing this, the Judo player said, "Well, Aikido is a beautiful art. It offers a lot of positive things. My younger daughter has actually opted to train in Aikido over Judo - the rest of the family does Judo. However, there are a lot of assumptions you have to accept in Aikido in order to train and sometimes those things get in the way of a great deal. In Judo, you know what you get. A throw is a throw, and when you are thrown, you are thrown. This allows folks to get along - as you can see. You can even have the toughest match of your life and then go out to get a beer with that person - laughing and talking the night away."

To this the spectator said, "Yes, I can see how helpful everyone is being (which was true) to each other. It is really great to see."

Later the senior Judoka left and the spectator started a conversation with me. It turned out that he had done some training with me as a teenager, when I used to instruct in Kenpo - when I used to travel around to dojo to instruct, etc. - he was at one of those dojo. We started doing some catch-up. The topic of past training came up and of course then so too did Aikido. Somewhere in there I told him that he should not think that there is only one Aikido - that instead he should realize that there are many types of Aikido - yada yada yada. Anyways, he ends up telling me this story:

"So I am at the Aikido dojo, taking one of my first classes. I don't know anything, and I certainly don't know what to do. At this place they all line up and have the nage throw everyone in the line before they go to the end. It is my turn to be thrown, only I have no idea what to do. I wasn't trying to resist anything, I just was ignorant of what all was going on. The person being nage was an upper-intermediate student. He could not move me at all, let alone thrown me, but rather than offering me some direction, he just got really angry at me for messing him up or for not cooperating or something. I took that as a bad sign."

If we are honest in our training, and if we have any mind at all for spiritual reflection, we are going to be able to look at how we have different emotional responses (and thus tactical responses) depending upon the relative rank of the person offering us "resistance" in our training. This is all part of Rank Aikido and why, in my opinion, Aikido in general often falls short in both martial and spiritual applications.

btw - great post Larry. Thank you.

dmv

George S. Ledyard
11-18-2005, 10:59 AM
Again, I think that folks that practice Rank Aikido end up missing the bigger picture here because they cannot see the observation as anything more than a criticism - which is an attempt to suggest that it is not an observation. It is not a criticism to say that today, Nov. 18, is Friday. It is an observation. However, it has to be a "criticism" for someone that wants to say that today is not Friday. See how this works?

This resistance to the observation is making folks just focus in on one part of this thing. The other part of how we as senpai uke act differently toward kohai nage is totally being ignored - WHEN THIS IS PROBABLY THE LARGER AND MORE SPIRITUALLY DETRIMENTAL PART OF THE PRACTICE. Moreover, because we cannot get this far in the observation we are missing an even more spiritually detrimental part to our training - that which comes with our expectation of Rank Aikido.

I am here referring to those times when we are senpai nage feel affronted when kohai uke either out of experimentation and/or ignorance end up doing something as that presents a "resistance" to the waza being practiced. When this happens, we very often proceed to thrash them, make them pay, show them how they just jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, force them into the technique, do atemi, etc. - you see that kind of advice offered all over the place on this site. Yet, what do we do when a senpai uke does such a thing, or when a teacher does such a thing, all of a sudden it stops being a martial challenge deserving of conquest. Instead, it becomes some sort of physical riddle that we are supposed to figure out in as pristine a way as possible. All of a sudden, there is no affront - there is only a great learning experience we are having difficulty grasping (for the time being) - there is only this great honor of being given so much needed attention, etc.

The other day I had a meeting with the Judo club's teachers. I showed up early to watch part of the class that evening. While I was watching the class, another spectator showed up to watch. He was interested in training in Judo. One of the senior practitioners came over to talk to him after he pulled out from the third hour of training. They proceeded to have a conversation about past training and what Judo might offer, etc. It came out that the spectator had done Aikido.

Upon hearing this, the Judo player said, "Well, Aikido is a beautiful art. It offers a lot of positive things. My younger daughter has actually opted to train in Aikido over Judo - the rest of the family does Judo. However, there are a lot of assumptions you have to accept in Aikido in order to train and sometimes those things get in the way of a great deal. In Judo, you know what you get. A throw is a throw, and when you are thrown, you are thrown. This allows folks to get along - as you can see. You can even have the toughest match of your life and then go out to get a beer with that person - laughing and talking the night away."

To this the spectator said, "Yes, I can see how helpful everyone is being (which was true) to each other. It is really great to see."

Later the senior Judoka left and the spectator started a conversation with me. It turned out that he had done some training with me as a teenager, when I used to instruct in Kenpo - when I used to travel around to dojo to instruct, etc. - he was at one of those dojo. We started doing some catch-up. The topic of past training came up and of course then so too did Aikido. Somewhere in there I told him that he should not think that there is only one Aikido - that instead he should realize that there are many types of Aikido - yada yada yada. Anyways, he ends up telling me this story:

"So I am at the Aikido dojo, taking one of my first classes. I don't know anything, and I certainly don't know what to do. At this place they all line up and have the nage throw everyone in the line before they go to the end. It is my turn to be thrown, only I have no idea what to do. I wasn't trying to resist anything, I just was ignorant of what all was going on. The person being nage was an upper-intermediate student. He could not move me at all, let alone thrown me, but rather than offering me some direction, he just got really angry at me for messing him up or for not cooperating or something. I took that as a bad sign."

If we are honest in our training, and if we have any mind at all for spiritual reflection, we are going to be able to look at how we have different emotional responses (and thus tactical responses) depending upon the relative rank of the person offering us "resistance" in our training. This is all part of Rank Aikido and why, in my opinion, Aikido in general often falls short in both martial and spiritual applications.

btw - great post Larry. Thank you.

dmv

Frankly, many practitioners completely misunderstand the role of the uke in the training interaction. People seem to fall into two categories... either they attack with the intention to take a fall, thereby never actually delivering a good attack, or they attack thinking that the "martial" way to be a good uke is to stop the partner's technique. This is just as bad from a martial a standpoint as it creates huge openings. No real attacker has the intention to stop your technique, he has intention to do something to you. This is quite different energetically.

This does not mean that the uke colludes... he merely executes the attack called for with strong intention. The fact that, with an unskilled partner that might result in the failure to execute the called for technique is the result in the lack of skill in the nage rather than the intention to stop his technique on the part of uke. Uke simply delivers the energy in as clear and strong a fashion as possible.

When I started teaching I noticed that my techniques worked better than when I was on the mat training under another instructor, At first I thought the ukes were cooperating but I would periodically do the technique wrong purposely and would make sure that they didn't just fall down for me. What I realized was that the ukes gave me "real" ukemi. By that I mean that, as the teacher I was free to do any technique I wished. I could change the technique at any instant, do a variation, throw an atemi, whatever. The uke had to be ready for anything, which is what an uke should be. But the moment you see the teacher demonstrate and pair up with a partner, there is already the expectataion of what the technique should be. Uke often, even without realizing it, is moving to counter the technique he knows is coming. Training partners often don't give each other proper ukemi. You frequently see them doing things with each other that they know would result in getting knocked cold by their teacher if they did it with him.

All of this is done with the best of intentions. It should be caught by the teacher and corrected as a mistaken way of training. But at least it occurrs with the best of intentions... When you add in the whole area of people's emotional baggage ie. fears and insecurites, all that ego stuff, you can get a real morass.

Not only do you have an artificial situation in which the technique occurring is "supposed" to be a particular technique, often a particular version, which is a completely non-aiki assumtion, but then there is a set of expectations based on the perceived level of the partner.

If one is training with a senior or especially the teacher, one expects that he can do the technique so one has little or no ego investment in taking proper ukemi. No loss of face, so to speak, to be thrown easily by the senior person. But the more junior the person is to you, the more the expectation is that he shouldn't be able to do the technique without at least working for it. The intention shifts from giving a strong and clear attack to giving the partner problems. To be "aiki" one should at that point switch the technique to whatever the energetic situation calls for but in most dojos doing a technique which the teacher hadn't demonstrated isn't considered acceptable. You are supposed to do the technique demonstrated. This makes it all the more important that the partner deliver the type of attack for which the demonstrated technique is appropriate because to do anything other than that results in forcing the technique and complete lack of aiki.

The above type of problem is extremely common and I find it takes almsot constant remnders from the teacher to not allow this to happen. If you then add in the ego issue of investment in ones status and position you can really get in trouble because at that point, when an interaction isn't taking place which matches the expectations of the nage, he gets angry and possibly even violent because he perceives a threat to his view of his skill level. A junior who he can't throw represents a threat to his self esteem, one of the mopre dangerous things someone can do in the martial arts world, especially Aikido in which the practice is so cooperative.

I havce seen this, even with senior teachers, who when given a hard time by an uke or if struck by him, will feel obligated to hurt him on the next technique, just to demonstrate to all that he is the inferior. Guess what the students at such a place do when their model is such a teacher?

It is the instructyor's job to keep people on the proper path and to make sure the ukes have tha right attitude with their partners. It should be explained that this isn't just because it's nicer but that it is reuired if ones Aikido is going to get past the merely physical, strength oriented level.

Ron Tisdale
11-18-2005, 11:20 AM
So I am at the Aikido dojo, taking one of my first classes. I don't know anything, and I certainly don't know what to do. At this place they all line up and have the nage throw everyone in the line before they go to the end. It is my turn to be thrown, only I have no idea what to do. I wasn't trying to resist anything, I just was ignorant of what all was going on. The person being nage was an upper-intermediate student. He could not move me at all, let alone thrown me, but rather than offering me some direction, he just got really angry at me for messing him up or for not cooperating or something. I took that as a bad sign."

This is a very good example of the problem. So the question becomes, how do I teach the new person their role in the technique? Do we teach them the ukemi, the same way we teach nage/shite the waza? I have seen and done this...teach the ukemi and explain the reasons for that role right from the outset. Do styles where the ukemi is highly defined (go down on your back knee / block the nikkajo by bracing with your head / switch knees / sliding breakfall ) answer this quandry? Partially? Fully?

I find that sometimes it is not enough, as in a case I recently mentioned in another thread. A 300 pound newbie (male), was pushing around a 128 pound intermediate student (female), and not following the ukemi. With me, he followed the ukemi. But not with her. Finally, she just floored him. It ended the issue. From then on, he took the ukemi.

Now, I had no problems with her doing that. He had been taught the ukemi, and the reasons for it. He was, in fact, in the superior position physically. Yet he chose to step outside the model. Are you suggesting there should be no consequences for that?

Another instance...recently, someone relatively new asked me what we did about a roundhouse kick. His partner, not quite as new (and reasonable ukemi for his level), was also interested. Unfortunately, the ukemi required for techniques against certain kicks is sometimes a bit tricky. I forgot about this, and he pretty much got dumped (thankfully without injury). I've thought about this a bit...and regret showing that technique. I'm not sure if I should have just answered without demonstration, or gotten another senior student to demonstrate on me, or whatever. But I certainly should have found another method.

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
11-18-2005, 11:32 AM
Frankly, many practitioners completely misunderstand the role of the uke in the training interaction. People seem to fall into two categories... either they attack with the intention to take a fall, thereby never actually delivering a good attack, or they attack thinking that the "martial" way to be a good uke is to stop the partner's technique. This is just as bad from a martial a standpoint as it creates huge openings. No real attacker has the intention to stop your technique, he has intention to do something to you. This is quite different energetically.

This does not mean that the uke colludes... he merely executes the attack called for with strong intention. The fact that, with an unskilled partner that might result in the failure to execute the called for technique is the result in the lack of skill in the nage rather than the intention to stop his technique on the part of uke. Uke simply delivers the energy in as clear and strong a fashion as possible....


YES! This is it! The whole package right there! Thank you.

Now, (if others could follow suit) it would be cool if we all could talk about how this as an underlying substructure of our Aikido seems to subvert our supposed efforts at spiritual cultivation. My own idea is: The deeper aspects of Aikido are not open to 20th century understandings of Japanese hierarchy (both inside and outside of Japan).

Somewhere in there, having a social system that is vertically based and that is connected to degrees of intimacy and insult, etc., is going to hugely get in the way of reconciling the world (whether that be on an individual level or on a global level). This means that Rank Aikido is a problem not just for the folks that are doing Aikido for martial reasons. This is right up there as well for those folks that make a distinction between the martial side of Aikido and the spiritual side of Aikido. I do not want to suggest that commonly held views of Japanese hierarchy do not have their way of generating certain human virtues that are important socially. However, for example, I do suggest that at a certain point the humility that comes from submitting oneself to the will, guidance, and tutelage of another, etc., is not exactly the same humility that comes from a reconciliation of the world in Oneness.

Deconstructing Rank Aikido is one way of beginning to grasp this difference - in my opinion.


Again - thanks George, great post.

dmv

senshincenter
11-18-2005, 12:11 PM
Hi Ron,

Thanks for the reply. Ill try and answer these questions they are all good ones got me thinking.


You wrote:
This is a very good example of the problem. So the question becomes, how do I teach the new person their role in the technique? Do we teach them the ukemi, the same way we teach nage/shite the waza?

Answer: Yes. (In Kihon Waza training) Waza is basically a Kata it is not a match or a self-defense scenario, etc. It does not measure how close one is to being martially effective. It measures how close one is to embodying a tactical architecture that is theoretically seen as being martially effective. That is a big difference that is often overlooked especially by those of us that do not compete and/or that do not regularly participate in (true) spontaneous training environments, etc. So, yes, you teach Uke how to fall, stay connected, stay committed, etc. how to embody and/or generate the forces prescribed by the ideal architecture, and then how to land safely as a result of that.

You wrote:
Do styles where the ukemi is highly defined (go down on your back knee / block the nikkajo by bracing with your head / switch knees / sliding breakfall ) answer this quandry? Partially? Fully?

Answer: I do not feel that we can understand either Ukes role or Nages role through Kihon Waza training alone. Spontaneous training environments are paramount when it comes to truly grasping what a given waza is saying about either of these things within/through its architecture. What I say above is only the beginning of training in ukemi, and it is a beginning that comes when one begins to understand that kata/kihon waza training does not measure martial effectiveness directly. When you realize and accept that you are not in a fight when you are doing kihon waza, your ego has a chance of settling down (either from pride or from fear), and you thus look for other things that can measure martial effectiveness more directly. If you do not, you are stuck doing ukemi at entry levels at levels meant to address beginner learning curves. This means you are stuck not learning huge parts of ukemi since the addressing of beginner learning curves always means that you are having some things left out. So you may start by saying go down on your back knee/block the nikaajo by bracing with your head/switch knees/sliding breakfall, etc., but you cannot end there either in theory or in practice. You must venture into spontaneous training environments - where the unknown works to give a reason to the known. That is to say, you must practice under conditions that can bring to you the REAL reasons for why something is done one way and not another. All of kihon waza training, for me, is about working our way up to this type of training. Thus, at our dojo, when we venture into spontaneous training, the new person to the training never really says, Man, I need more time doing this stuff. They always seem to say, Crap, I got to get my basics down more. Or, Crap, I need to practice my breakfalls more. This is how spontaneous training environments and kihon waza are supposed to function in combination.

You wrote:
A 300 pound newbie (male), was pushing around a 128 pound intermediate student (female), and not following the ukemi. With me, he followed the ukemi. But not with her. Finally, she just floored him. It ended the issue. From then on, he took the ukemi.

Now, I had no problems with her doing that. He had been taught the ukemi, and the reasons for it. He was, in fact, in the superior position physically. Yet he chose to step outside the model. Are you suggesting there should be no consequences for that?

Answer: For me, only a teacher should do this for safety, martial, and spiritual reasons.

Senpai Nage are to work on refining their technique by accepting the challenge of maintaining control of their kohai uke without injuring them and/or pushing them beyond their ukemi skill. This is the best way of getting something out of training with kohai in fact, this is the only way that you can get this level of technical refinement. Moreover, there is the larger spiritual issue here where if I understand you correctly (and I may not be) the senpai nage just practiced frustration and not acceptance which is a huge part of both the martial and spiritual sides of Aikido. Additionally, the kohai uke is demonstrating that they have not grasped the true nature of kihon waza training. In fact, if they are doing the correct ukemi only because they had been slammed and not because they are in an architectural agreement with their partner. Chances are they are on their way to being fully captured by the pitfalls of Rank Aikido. As a dojocho, I would want to stop that from spreading from person to person under my roof.

For me, I would have gone over there before the kohai got slammed and explained to them that they have a role to fulfill, and they should thus use each opportunity to practice that role. Id explain that kihon waza training is about learning and about getting some basics under you so that you can move forward in the training so that you dont find yourself in spontaneous training environments saying, Man, I got to work on my forward breakfalls, or I got to get my basics down better.

Had I not seen it until after the slam I would have gone over and said the same thing as above to the kohai but I would have also reminded the senpai nage of the opportunity they lost to learn something more about the architecture and their distance from embodying it fully. Then I would have proceeded to do the technique in an even slower/lighter fashion to show them that there are other ways of reacting to resistance and that they should seek those out. I would have pointed out that refinement of technique will first require that we change ourselves before we can try something new (tactically speaking). Finally, I would have reminded them of our dojos policy in regards to how senpai nage are to related to kohai uke in Kihon Waza training.

As for the consequences for both nage and uke who cant follow this direction they will come to experience them in spontaneous training environments fully and naturally, and in ways and in degrees that Kihon Waza can never generate. Before that, there is only the slight admonishment that comes with losing prime opportunities for training more efficiently and for not following dojo protocols more closely.

Much to think about here for me thanks Ron for prompting the reflection.

david

Ron Tisdale
11-18-2005, 12:24 PM
And much for me to think about with the response! I no longer teach much, but you never know when you might get called on (as happened rather unexpectedly the other night). I did see the beginning of the 'issue', and made sure to address it to the class as a whole before the 'slamming' occured. I guess I figured, once warned, if you chose to ignore it, then you've stepped up. I knew quite well the shite could handle that particular problem. But I also have to wonder just how 'rank' it was for me to let that continue. I think now I would follow your suggestion...as the teacher, take it upon myself to demonstrate the reason. I wonder though...since the main reason for the negative reactions of uke were the fact that shite was female, would uke make the connection between my subsequent demonstration, and his own machismo/chauvenism, etc.?

To put it more bluntly, he was convinced that no tiny woman could submit him. How does my showing my own ability to solve the puzzle teach him that women can solve the puzzle as well (albeit in this case, somewhat forcefully)?

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
11-18-2005, 03:13 PM
Hi Ron,


I was thinking about that myself as well. There was a lot going on here in the event. I imagine then that one has to come to it from many angles in order to make sure we are being mindful of all of the things that George was kind enough to spell out for us. For the record, however, I was suggesting that one should demonstrate the technique on the big man not the female nage.

I actually have this kind of thing come up quite a bit in our dojo. We have a 39/40 year old woman that is just over five feet. Shes been with me for a long time and she trains daily. Folks, men, especially new men, often make the mistake of (habitually) underestimating her which is really a habitual form of over-estimating oneself. If they bother her enough, she is very likely to just give it to them. Shes at that stage in her training where she can generate the power to manipulate ukes body but is now looking to not have speed, momentum, or surprise (and definitely not choreography) play such a significant role in that manipulation. She is only about three or four weeks into this type of training now. And she really only came to it via a shoulder injury which took her a while to understand that she got it as a result of poor body mechanics and a habitual tendency to muscle/push at uke via fear, pride, and/or ignorance (the two things feeding each other). When she was just about to realize, as George said in a recent blog entry over at Aikido Journal, that she was practicing false self-defense, she was still sure that she was muscling only the huge guys most of the guys in our dojo are up over 200 pounds. She was convinced that she was doing the only thing that could be done particularly within the spontaneous training environments she was finding herself within at this same time.

I did all the stuff to show her that muscling was not the only option, even before one develops decent kokyu skills. I did the pinky techniques, I did the one leg versions, the up on the toes and on one leg versions, etc. I had her push on me as hard as she could. I had her and two other folks push against me as hard as they could, etc. I did the techniques on her ukes in this way, etc. It didnt really work. She was stuck on muscling. More accurately, she was stuck on not seeing the gap in the logic of her thinking. She was not able to see that her habitual response to fear, pride, or ignorance, her habitual tendency to push against (to be the second energy necessary for resistance to make itself present) was not the same thing as using our muscles as Aikido requires/prescribes. Instead, she defended her actions to herself by a priori defining her tendency to resist against uke as the normal muscle use of any physical activity. Shes moved past this now in a tremendous way. What worked? I started to help her see that she not only acted thusly with the big boys like she thought like she needed to think in order to think what she was thinking. I showed her that she did the same thing against everyone even the new women that come in and that are smaller than her. In the contrast, she was able to see the common denominator: The habitual tendency to force and/or resist things. This is very much in line with something Pauliina said once about how a singer that strains his/her voice when he/she sings, also strains the voice even when they are whispering.

So, for me, nage, my student, and the nage in your relationship, just has to learn this lesson: that forcing technique is resisting against uke. In my dojo, you want to know that a bit well before you get into spontaneous environments. Why? Not so that you can stop resisting uke. That wont happen with a mere intellectual understanding. However, by realizing this when you do practice it within spontaneous training environments, and you get your ass kicked because of it, you have some way of understanding that beating a bit more constructively. Hence, things will not be so demoralizing and/or prone to make you quit.

But what about uke? That is really your question if I understand you correctly. I think uke has to also be addressed at the same level of body/mind. As teachers, we cannot just talk to them about their technique. We have to address why they are doing what they are doing, why they arent doing what they should be doing, why they cant do what they should be doing, and what they need in order to do what they should be doing. This is how you approximate the ideal architecture more closely. These questions are as much physical as they are psychological or spiritual. However, there is a lot that can go wrong. For example: When we demonstrate anything as teachers in a hierarchical society we have to realize that many people come to such a system with a great need for social verticality. This goes right along with Nietzsches herd mentality and his will to power concept. This is also related to the cycles of abuse that Ellis Amdur often points out and also the passing on of violence that George spoke about in his post above. This is why in many places dojo resemble more a dysfunctional family than anything else where cycles of abuse are passed along in an almost genetic-like fashion and where it is all accepted as something benevolent and/or worth the cost. That means that while I may be trying to make a point for the welfare of my senpai nage, my huge new man kohai uke might take things a bit differently might see it like you are suggesting. He might dismiss the point that is being made for nage by putting me as sensei above it all (since I am at the top of the social hierarchy) such that the female nage might simply remain weak in appearance (which was his point he was trying to make to himself).

This is why the point has to be made slightly differently for uke. Aside from the technical matters, when I notice such inconsistency in ukes following of the dojos protocols regarding the uke/nage dynamic in kihon waza training, I am sure to point it out. Hey, you practiced your ukemi for me, but now you arent for her? Whats with that? You need to realize how important it is to get your basics down. There are other places and times for the resistance you want to provide here. Believe me, if you dont learn how to flow here in kihon waza, you are not going to be doing much of anything under spontaneous conditions. More than likely you are simply going to get hurt over and over again until you can figure this out. So it is better to use every nage you have to practice your side of the technique. Do not be caught up in this temporary pairing the technique is beyond that. You and her are the finger dont forget the moon! Practice your ukemi. Dont kid yourself that you are fighting here. You are here to do a form do the form.

Then lets say he doesnt come in line which Ive had happen once: Hey, I think you have a problem with women training. Your pride comes out too much when you are training with them. Do you realize that? Its getting in the way of you learning ukemi more fully because you are reducing your time spent practicing ukemi by 50%. There is more however: With such attachment to pride, how can you help these partners to grow in the art? How can you be a senpai to future female kohai? Do you not owe the dojo and your fellow members that you will work to reconcile your attachment to pride so you can actually be a senpai, actually be capable of practicing compassion in the face of their respect? With such attachment to pride, how can you develop spiritually? Will you not only be spiritually mature when conditions are prime for you to ACT humbly? Isnt that a false humility and wont that simply lead to the danger of having pride in ones humility? Martially, how can such attachment to pride not fetter your body/mind? Can you really believe that it is only women practitioners that trigger your attachment to pride? If not, then will not your pride come up in anything and in everything you do? This is your chance, your female fellow deshi are helping you here, by giving you the opportunity to see yourself more clearly AND to do something about it. If anything and/or anyone will make you progress in the art, it is the very people you now feel you are above training with. As I said with the technical side of ukemi, do not waste these opportunities to improve. Get to work the job is right there, right there before you. You only have to reach for it now. Do the job.

After that, if the person doesnt fall in line (with things being repeated many times and in many different ways), the person is subject to both rejecting the dojos protocols and de-investing from the training. At our dojo, such action is subject to demotion, a lack of promotion, and even expulsion (if it becomes dangerous and/or if it causes too much disruption on the dojos society). In this regards, the dojo cannot lose since it either gets a person that is working on what should be worked on, or it loses one that will not do any such thing.

Thanks again.

just my take on things,
d

Ron Tisdale
11-18-2005, 03:38 PM
Hey, you practiced your ukemi for me, but now you aren't for her? What's with that? You need to realize how important it is to get your basics down.

Excellent post, and thanks. One day I must come and train there. Your students are very fortunate.

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
11-18-2005, 04:36 PM
Ron,

you are always welcome - you'd be our guest, so all you'd have to worry about is getting here. :-)
The rest would be our pleasure.

thanks,
d

roosvelt
11-18-2005, 08:17 PM
I actually have this kind of thing come up quite a bit in our dojo. We have a 39/40 year old woman that is just over five feet. She's been with me for a long time and she trains daily.

:
:

I did all the stuff to show her that muscling was not the only option, even before one develops decent kokyu skills. I did the pinky techniques, I did the one leg versions, the up on the toes and on one leg versions, etc. I had her push on me as hard as she could. I had her and two other folks push against me as hard as they could, etc. I did the techniques on her ukes in this way, etc. It didn't really work. She was stuck on muscling.

:
:
d

I'm new to Aikido. I don't think I'm qualified to question any one's teaching method.

But I found it rather disturbing.

There is a aikidoda who has been tained hard under you for a long time. You perfectly understand the usage of Ki. Somehow, this particular aikidoda hasn't had a clue about what you've been doing. Now, you brought up the problem of "Rank" aikido, i.e. some higher ranking aikidoda lack of "Ki" in demostration.

Have you answered your own question?

I suppose if all the "ranking" aikidoda had the "ki" ability of O'Sensei, there wouldn't be any of the "rank" aikido problem.

"I did all the stuff to show her that muscling was not the only option"

I thought "muscling" was NOT an option at all. If you're muscling, you're not doing Aikido. The whole kihon waza was to develop Ki. If you still need muscling in a "kata" form traing, what's the point of KATA training? :grr: :disgust:

I bet you $100 dollars that the aforementioned aikidoda can't do a 1000 bokken cut without a rest. I bet you $200 that she can't do a simple static katadori ikkyo with a strong uke.

I may sound a little mad in my tone. Please don't take it personal. But in order to be truthful. You can consider it as my full resistant uke to you nage.

senshincenter
11-18-2005, 08:59 PM
Hi Roosvelt,

Thanks for the reply. I'm probably missing something you are trying to say but I'll try and clear some things up a bit here. I will be trying to not get too off topic here.

- Of course I wouldn't say that I understand the usage of Ki perfectly. I wouldn't say that about anything I do - ever. I'm here to practice, to train, not to achieve. Moreover, what I was talking about would qualify in my book more accurately under Kokyu and not Ki - but that is just my take on things.

- I did not define Rank Aikido as someone practicing Aikido without Ki (however that might be understood by anyone). Ki has nothing to do with why we freak out when our newbies give us a reality check - for example.

- Additionally, by how I defined "Rank Aikido," Osensei himself was prone to practice this and/or be a part of this larger problem.

- Let's be clear, I was making a distinction between "muscling" and using muscles. For me, Aikido will always necessitate that we use our muscles - but "muscling" is something else used to describe when we are using the wrong muscle groups in isolation from other geometric and timing issues, etc. Until we figure this out, muscling is always one option of many. It might not be THE option or even the best option, but it nevertheless remains something that one might do and/or do the most at certain stages in one's training.

- But... I'll bet you anything that one day she will be amazing - by anyone's standards. Thus, it doesn't matter where she is today, it is only important where she is going and what she is becoming. She is on the Path.

rob_liberti
11-21-2005, 03:55 PM
To be "aiki" one should at that point switch the technique to whatever the energetic situation calls for but in most dojos doing a technique which the teacher hadn't demonstrated isn't considered acceptable. You are supposed to do the technique demonstrated. This makes it all the more important that the partner deliver the type of attack for which the demonstrated technique is appropriate because to do anything other than that results in forcing the technique and complete lack of aiki.

There is the other side of over-investment of success into self-esteem. The above suggestion also has the unfortunate problem of people who have reached a certain level of proficiency but refuse to grow past it. I have seen good teachers demonstrate techniques in a way to challenge such surface-level understanding and rather than the "student" face the possibility that they don't everything already, they just switch techniques and blame the uke and the teacher - and basically anybody else as long as it's not them or their perfect technique.

My feeling is that training should be on the line between what you can do and what you can't. So at every level you should be successful only about 50% of the time.

As far as taking appropriate ukemi - well that's hard! I am just starting to really understand why Gleason sensei wanted me to move in some of the ways I move now. I used to think he wanted me to fall for him, but that wasn't right. Then I though he wanted me to resist him and test him in every way I could and that wasn't right either. The big open body - using your legs to keep your arms driving forward instead of contracting, keeping aware and totally responsive, looking for openings to enter and exploit, kind of attitude is difficult to describe. I'm told that some of the things I work on in ukemi are impossible - like keeping my energy consistent in all parts of my body while taking ukemi. I haven't stopped working on things like that yet. I guess I just need to arrive at that conclusion myself, and while I can't do it 100% I think I can get closer to 100% than I am now.

Anyway, I don't mean to steer the thread off topic. I think the main issue here is "trust building". Your relationship with your partner needs to be "trust building" and often it is "trust destroying" because you were inappropriately being "trust testing". Always be "trust building" between you and your partners, and then in turn help each other build trust in your technique and understanding of principles.

Rob