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I'm suprised how much latitude Sensei gives me with teaching. I've made a few minior changes and he's ok with them. The biggest is the use of proper kamae when doing katate dori; something that's puzzled me for a while was the palm up/palm down thing which isn't needed and isn't proper kamae. I know it's explained as coming from drawing the sword but what relevence does that have today?
Drawing the sword actually involves bending the elbow which in an art that's practically built on the unbendable elbow is frankly a bizarre way of doing things. "You know that unbendable elbow I spend ages teaching you? Yeah well don't use it in this technique because if you had a sword.............."
a) The guy does not have a sword
b) If he carried a sword in public the armed response unit would gun him down like a dirty dog
c) The technique works not just fine but actually better without having to resort to some bizarre medieval paradigm.
Why are we teaching impractical things for medieval reasons which actually detract from general competance in the art across the board?
Also I think it actually has a psychological impact in that it teaches a moment of messing around behaving like you have a sword before responding rather than simply teaching an immediate, aggressive and decisive response to an attack. Then when I get around to having to teach shomen uchi rather than having to teach a completely new movement I can just tell them to do exactly what they did for ai hamni. Simp
I talked to Sensei about my plans for a Saturday class and he's very enthusiastic about the whole thing and directed me to go and see a rather senior person about it. The only thing that, well it mostly perplexes me, is that he said that we can't enter competitions because we're traditionalists. I don't see what the problem is.
The only concern is that we're representing Aikido, the association and Hombu Dojo and so we mustn't do anything which brings either into disrepute which is something that's been central to my ideas. As I see things this is my project and I want things done in a way that's martial; more important than representing Aikido, the association and Hombu Dojo we're representing our dojo.
The public face will have to be one that inspires respect and there will be no room for posturing. posing and other testosterone fueled adolescent nonsense or endless chatter about things. Also if it all works out and we become successful then I think I'll actually have to be quite careful about who I train, I don't, after all, really want this to be a massive thing, I don't see this transforming Aikido as a whole; it's purpose is to draw in and retain younger students specifically for my dojo.
So I came in the other day and mum is in the living room doing her Tai Chi while watching a DVD her teacher made and it went onto martial applications. So mum's there rehersing this movement over and over again and she's giggling that she can't get it right so I had a look at the DVD.
It was only shomen uchi jodan irimi nage omote, nearly step for step.
Umm, this is my average weekend. This is what I do for fun. I know he says "This is not paintball" but I can't see a difference between this and the campaign days I play. Even the weapons and uniforms look the same; I suspect he hasn't played much paintball and I have had FAR worse bruises than that at paintball.
"After the first couple of simunition engagements you find the heart rate coming down and down and down because you're being innoculated"
And I'm here thinking "Uh, the heart rate is meant to go up? Mine doesn't. If someone shoots at me I don't really care, I just shoot back. I don't even think about it."
Actually it's worse/better than that. It's this cold aggression takes over, there's no adrenaline, no rush or excitement. It really is this mushin experience. There isn't even really a desire to shoot the other guy and I know from talking to other members of my team, who are all guys I do Aikido with that it's the same for them and this is what it feels like for us when we get into a self-defence situation. Even when I'm paintballing I have a real desire to close with and get hand to hand with the opposition.
The thing that's really worrying me is that in part three the instructor is yelling at him like "He's just raped your sister" and all this and presenter is talking about how when he thinks of the target as being a bad human
Bob suggested that ASAP I should start a saturday class. I quite like the idea it has to be said but my ideas on what should be taught are not quite mainstream.
Sensei has plans to establish our dojo within the Aikido world and Bob and I think we can do better than that. Actually Bob and I think that if Aikido is going to survive we have to do better than that.
I don't see what future there is in Aikido if the demographics stay as they are, assuming that the demographics are uniform across Aikido. Fifty year old shodans and seventy year old yondans teaching kyu grades in their 40's isn't going to cut it at some point the art will become an irrelevence or die of old age.
I would actually say that Aikido is becoming an irrelvence in the martial arts; we live in a MMA and internet dominated environment if we don't engage with that reality then we cease to have relevence in the eyes of propective students and I want to change that.
What I want to do is take the syllabus and defenestrate it and teach oyo waza from day one from punches and kicks so that from day one people can see the relevence of Aikido and once they see that then we can bring in the traditional syllabus because then people will have a reason to learn it.
Then I want to go out there and bounce thai boxers around like rag dolls, which isn't difficult, and when we're finished with them I want to see if we can't stuff the BJJ guys too and you know what that means.
So my Aikido life seems to revolve around getting our 6th kyus up to 5th kyu which I'm finding rewarding and very good training actually. I didn't realise I knew so much and they're learning far more at 5th kyu than I did mainly because I just teach them what I do so they're kinda being forced to go from 6th kyu to 1st kyu and because I can teach how I want I teach the principles rather than the technique and progress seems to be rapid at the moment.
That and I'm a nit picking perfectionist.
We seem to be doing a lot of suwari waza and hamni handachi too and weirdly my knees aren't suffering for it like they used to. In fact my old knee injury which has plauged me for years appears to have vanished so maybe suwari waza has toughened something up or massaged something or I dunno. I'm just glad its gone.
In other news Sensei has had the bright idea of putting on a course which true to the traditions of the dojo is truely epic in scope as in if you're in the UK or maybe even Europe and you're associated with Aikikai hombu you'll probably want to be there.
As we were getting changed he said to me "Do you think we should make it regional, national or international" and my response was "We should go mental and see what happens." We already have one VERY senior person onboard so hopefully we can get more.
Sensei was talking about whether he should have a teaching slot and to my mind the hosting dojo not having a slot would be a rather weird thing. On the other h
Things are looking up. We have lots more victims coming through the doors and people are turning up to training so maybe we've turned the corner.
I still think we're doing things wrong though; not just our dojo but Aikido as a whole or at the very least our association.
On the teachers course I did a couple of months ago the instructor said that when people first come to a dojo they expect to see martial artists which kinda tallies with my experience and it sounds like common sense doesn't it?
I remember when I first started out in martial arts, when I went to the dojo for the first time what I expected to see was a fight and sure enough in TKD and Jujutsu and kickboxing at some point there would be actual fighting and all throughout the class you were doing stuff that you could see was related to fighting.
We don't have that in Aikido. If you stick to our syallabus you could train for a year before someone throws a not very realistic punch at you; I don't think tsuki is on the syllabus until 4th kyu and this I feel is a real issue.
If a student goes to any other martial art they'll have someone throw a punch at them almost from day one, with the possible exception of judo. Immediately then they see the value of the training, they can see that even if they can't do the technique effectively that at some point they will be able to and they will be able to deal with this situation.
In Aikido what we're worried about is someone grabbing our wrist and we quite
Went to my mates Karate class tonight, his dad teaches it. The usual antics happened, me being a 7th dan that doesn't speak much English, yada yada.
I got paired up with this white belt at the start and we did this combination ending in a take down. I don't know how it was supposed to go but I was doing something like fore foot irimi mawashi geri shoto ken into the kidneys and then the take down, which was meant to be a sweep I was doing as chudan irimi nage omote but holding the chest.
So me and the white belt went at a pedestrian pace and then we swapped partners. I grabbed my mate, there's no point going to your mates class if you don't train with your mate for a bit. So his dad is explaining things and my mate and I are having this discussion, mainly non-verbal, about how hard he's going to throw jodan tsuki at me. Eventually he shrugs his shoulders and his dad calls "hajime!" and my mate tries to take my head off but I move and batter him into the wooden floor.
What is it about training at full power? He gets up and he has this look on his face that's all "Yeah, good, more" so I batter him four more times and then we swap and there's kiai and everything and he's slamming me into the floor.
So then comes sparring and again, we battered each other. We talking about it afterwards though. For an Aikidoka taking a punch in the gob and a kick to the ribs is meaningless as long as we get into grapple but for a Karateka there's actually a bit of an aversion to gett
At what point does a situation go from becoming one of those challenges to be faced upto in training to being a problem which just has to be accepted?
I keep writing entries about this and I keep deleting them but basically it boils down to this: I hate being part of a dying dojo. I hate going training; I get nothing out of it and I don't see that anything I put into it will have any result.
I'm not going to talk about how or why this situation has come about because I find that I end up writing ranting diatribes because it is something which provokes immense anger in me.
The fact is though that tonight I will be one of two people on the mat, maybe; there's a reasonable chance that I might be the only person on the mat and its been this way for months and for months I've kinda battled on. Partly I've done this because I'm stubborn and partly because I feel a responsibility as senior student to set an example; I don't want to give anyone else an excuse for not training and so I put my own feelings to one side and I go training and on the mat I bite my tongue, dig deep and carry on. I see it as one of those challenges that has to be trained though.
I've even gone on an instructors course the point of which I do not get. As I said to Sensei, being qualifed to instruct under supervision makes little sense when there are two students on the mat or effectively one instructor, one assistant instructor and a student on the mat.
Completed the teaching course and passed. Yay me, etc. I have to say I actually enjoyed the course and found it useful. Yeah I know: Alex doesn't like courses and they're as useful as a fishing rod in the desert yada yada.
Aside from that I got this sense of, I suppose family, from the course, not so much from the people who were from other associations and styles but from people in my association. Not that the other guys were anything but friendly but reccently I find that people know who I am and are pleased to see me which to me is always unexpected.
Something I picked up from the course was in the part about group norms and something resonated with me in that I came into the dojo and everyone was standing around drinking tea (yeah on the mat, what rebels we are ) and I walked in and sat down and I was the only person sitting. I suppose I never feel part of the group or a need to conform to the group norms.
Then later it occured to me that that's my dojo, we're a group of people who normally don't conform to group norms and this is reflected in how Sensei teaches us or at least the senior of us where he has adopted a very co-operative teaching style, we're left to get on with it and we call him in when we need him.
Our dojo is the one people with issues with authority go to and the people who basically think they can do anything and are the best and can get where they're going (the top) with only need a little help and that must be a massive challenge