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I didn't go but my instructor did. I was having afternoon tea with a friend on saturday who I train with and we started making the usual jokes about courses.
The four big ones are:
The course will be acclaimed as being very good and the instructor will only have taught basics.
There will be no change in the basics, but the ukemi will have become more flowery, elaborate and require uke to do a lot more and require tori to be sloppy to allow uke to do this.
Nothing will actually be explained.
Great excitement will be expressed that shockingly our Aikido is STILL just like Doshu's. This is confirmed several times a year and is still a great source of excitement.
So we went training last night and sure enough now we're taking six more steps on our ukemi with no clue why. I did ask Sensei, got into an argument actually. Sure enough Doshu did basics and nothing but.
I honestly wonder just what's going on at hombu. Everytime we come into contact with someone from hombu nothing changes in the technique but the ukemi becomes incredibly daft. I mean jodan irimi nage modified so that uke can take two steps back and chuck themselves across the mat? Why?
This is what caused the argument: if you ask me as uke to take two steps back and I end up back on posture and back on balance then I will just stand up. It would be dishonest not to. Frankly if you ask me to take two steps back I will always step back on posture, this is why we always completed the throw at the point where we did TO STOP UKE STEPPING BACK ON BALANCE AND THEN FIGHTING BACK. So I took two steps back and shock I was in a rock solid posture ready to fight back.
The fact that I can take take two steps back indicates that something has gone horribly wrong in the technique.
Actually there was one modification to irimi nage, there was a small tenkan added to supposedly break uke's posture more. The evidence for this is that uke has to make a step.
Thing is when a person who is off posture makes a step they go from an unbalanced position to a balanced one by definition otherwise they would fall over. You're meant to throw them while they're off balance.
So I ended up in kiba dachi and then when I made the first of the two daft steps I was in kiba dachi square onto Sensei ready to counter. He set himself up beautifully for a throw, I noted this and then did as I was told and threw myself on the floor.
In fact while I was practicing at the end of the two daft steps I dropped into an ippon seoi nage because it was given to me on a plate and it was the sincere thing to do. Then for a bit of a joke I mimed pulling the shikoro out of the way, drawing a yoroi doshi from my belt and finishing tori off, since I had him pinned.
Sensei said that he noticed that Doshu's ukes stay up longer than we do, well from what I've seen that could easily be remedied by throwing them.
I mean there's something going on because at the point where Doshu's ukes fall over in spectacular fashion I'm in a good fighting stance ready to fight back, assuming that I'm not kneeling on the elbow and head of tori and
Now it could be that there's a good reason why Doshu does things this way but it would seem that asking questions is a big no no.
This is partly why I don't go on courses: I can get good basics in my own dojo or in other dojo close by and frankly my instructor is teaching the most advanced Aikido I've come across: Everyone else seems to be teaching advanced ukemi.
By this I mean ukemi for those desperate, emergency, life and death situations, where tori hasn't broken your balance and keeps putting you back on posture but you absolutely must get down onto the mat or you'll be killed.