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A few of my friends recently read some of the discussions here on Aikiweb where I was expressing my feelings about IP/IT/IS, and they had some questions for me, that made me realize, that without some background information about me and my training, some of my arguments might not make sense. So I've decided to write a quick explanation about where I stand on the IP/IT/IS discussion, and why my feelings are the way they are.
I started my Aikido career with and received my Shodan from Patrick Cassidy, Aikikai 6th dan, awarded his 4th dan by Morihiro Saito Sensei, trained in Iwama Japan for around 7 years. My early Aikido training was an interesting mix of solid Iwama kihon, Aikikai style ki-no-nagare and strong spiritual ideals (if you know Patrick you're very aware of what I mean).
From this training I began to understand the idea that "Aiki" was the ability to understand, lead, and blend with your attackers mind. This understanding of the mind, leads to the ability to work with the attackers body. This idea, took a strong hold, and to this day I find it to be a unique, and practical ability inherent to Aikido training.
After receiving my black belt, I began to feel like I didn't really understand how one could practically "use" Aikido. How one could martially defend themselves with the techniques found in Aikido. So I figured the best way to find out would be to start competing in Sport martial arts. Which I did, I competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Submission wrestling, Mixed Martial arts, and a full contact stick fight. Through this experience competing, I found a simple and clear way understand and "use" the techniques of Aikido, Aikido's waza.
While doing these competitions, I also was training full time with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and internal Martial arts expert Tim Cartmell. Tim is a Gao style Ba Gua Zhang lineage holder, author and translator of many internal marital arts books. He lived in Taiwan for 12 years, studying Chinese internal Martial arts, and Chinese literature. I moved to train with Tim, and stayed with him, competing and training full time for two years. In this time I formed my idea's about Chinese internal martial arts and sports/athletic training.
After the time I spent with Tim, and competing, I moved back to the central valley, and co-founded, Central Valley Aikido. Later I became Dojo Cho and chief Aikido instructor at Aikido of Fresno.
My arguments about Internal Power are not made from the perspective of someone who has never been a part of internal martial arts training. The ideas and concepts presented by the "IP" crowd are not new or foreign to me, but I do not believe that what they are describing is unique phenomenon, limited to a very small group, or secret in any way. I believe that the Chinese had a very unique way of describing (coming mostly from the writings of Sun Lu-t'ang) a very normal phenomenon that is part of most athletic endeavor. Further the assumption that "Aiki" is closely related to "IP" sounds incorrect to me. Chinese internal martial arts describe many things, so it's hard to say that part of this is not "Aiki" but the "jin" or power aspect of Chinese internal, what I believe most of the "IP" crowd is talking about, has little to nothing to do with what I learned as "Aiki".
The further assumption that Aikido cannot work without "IP" is absolutely incorrect in my opinion as well. I spent lot's of hard hours sparring to discover this, Aikido waza works perfectly fine without any special additions. The only thing missing, is correct context and what I believe Kenji Tomiki did a pretty great job with, a sparring practice. This is not necessary for the system itself, but is necessary for the practitioners of the system to learn how to use it.
My resistance to seminars.
Frankly I hate seminars. As uchi deshi I was forced to go to a great number of them. I always found them overly expensive, annoying to travel to, and you get less then ideal training for your efforts. When the "IHTBF" argument came around, I ignored it because without any reason to believe "IP" is anything different then what I experienced in two years of training full time with a Chinese internal martial arts expert, why would I go to something that simply annoys me?
Recently I've realized that there is no way around this, and I'm going to have to feel one of these IP fellows to see if in fact I'm familiar with what they are doing or not. More of this to follow in 2013...