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Peter Klein 04-19-2003 02:07 PM

soft style?
could it be that the french use a very soft and ineffective aikido style? or is this aikido style effectlive like any other aikido style?

erikmenzel 04-19-2003 03:16 PM

I have found that claims like the french are very hard to substantiate. Like in every other country different dojo and styles exist. Some are strong and muscular and others are soft and flowing where as yet another part seems to focus on healing powers or whatever.

I have been in France several times and trained with students of Tissier and with students of Tamura. Soft and ineffective I havent encountered.

Hanna B 04-19-2003 04:02 PM

Oh, I am sure the German aikido is the strongest. :p

Peter Klein 04-19-2003 04:41 PM

hehe the problam is though that we in germany are all taking over the french style and i am just worried that i am learning something like ballet.

Qatana 04-19-2003 04:50 PM

and what is wrong with ballet?

opherdonchin 04-19-2003 06:08 PM

I think some of us need some more background to discuss what is going on.

Re: ballet. It's overly formal to the point that creativity is effectively stifled for both choreographer and dancer. It's bad for the body. It imposes stereotypical gender roles on the dancers. It imposes an ideal of physical beauty that is grueling, especially for the women, and inflexible. There's probably more, but those are the things that spring to mind immediately.

taras 04-19-2003 11:32 PM

I guess it depends on where the softness comes from. If it is from blind copeing then such Aikido would not work. It doesn't matter whether it's soft or hard. So, the question should be, is "French" Aikido effective? And if it is, then how does it matter if it reminds you of ballet? I don't like waltzing but it doesn't stop me from practicing iriminage ;)

DaveO 04-20-2003 06:17 AM


Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I think some of us need some more background to discuss what is going on.

Re: ballet. It's overly formal to the point that creativity is effectively stifled for both choreographer and dancer. It's bad for the body. It imposes stereotypical gender roles on the dancers. It imposes an ideal of physical beauty that is grueling, especially for the women, and inflexible. There's probably more, but those are the things that spring to mind immediately.

Looks great though; and all them ballerinas have such hot legs!

(Heh heh heh!) ;) ;) :D :D

Kevin Wilbanks 04-20-2003 08:43 AM


Dave Organ (DaveO) wrote:
Looks great though; and all them ballerinas have such hot legs!

(Heh heh heh!) ;) ;) :D :D

Actually, the ideal female ballet body type is not very womanly - developments such as wide hips, breasts, and any sort of curvyness are selected against. Puberty is often deliberately staved off via excessive training to avoid these developments. Hot legs? Muscular, for sure, but I dunno. To me, their bodies look a bit like those of skinny teenage boys who have done tons of leg extensions, but whatever floats your boat...

acot 04-20-2003 08:58 AM

Here in Taiwan, the Aikikai prides itself on being a very controlled Aikido or soft Aikido. They even have a seperate class for Black Belts called Aiki~Tai a combination between Aikido and Tai Chi. I don' t know anything about French Aikido, although we did have a few frenchmen come though the dojo a few months ago.

opherdonchin 04-20-2003 09:54 AM

I met a frenchman once who was very nice, but he didn't study Aikido.

On the other hand, a belgian doing an internship in the U.S. joined our dojo about a year ago. He had never done Aikido before, but he is very soft. The belgians are sort of like the french, aren't they?

There was also a spanish woman in our dojo for a little while who was very interested in the spiritual side of the art. She left us a book with lots of pictures of her sensei back home doing Aikido. He didn't look very soft. I know the french and the spanish are very different, but they share a long border so I thought it might be relevant.

Hope this helps. :)

KaitlinCostello 04-20-2003 11:23 AM

My technique is "soft" in that I'm not using much of my strength trying to muscle around uke or Nage. There are others in our group who are not soft at all, despite the fact that our instructors teaching style leans towards the softer styles. In practicing soft style I have not found them to be weak, but quite the opposite. I've been thrown more then ten feet by someone who barely touched me. I also have fewer problems working with those stronger and taller then me, focusing less on trying to push my weight and force against theirs.

In regards to Aikido and Ballet, I practiced ballet for many moons. A lot of my movements in Aikido tend to fall back on the postures and the like which was taught to me by my heinous teacher. Sensei often tells me to "stop dancing around" as I pivot into techniques and generally move. One thing I've noticed in people, ballet experience or no , is the standard toe lift. Unless you are very very balanced, walking up on the flats of your toes does not bode well.

Just a few thoughts,


Qatana 04-20-2003 11:47 AM

And my point(e) is that there is Nothing soft about ballet.

The 10 years I was Dancing I was in the best physical condition in my life.

Nothing soft about obsessive committment to physical discipline. Or lots of us wouldn't be right here, right now.

Lets see there is learning to always move from center.Training in balance, flexibility, extension & endurance.Interpersonal relating, which doesn't come quite so easily in the studio as in the dojo as ballet is a fiercely competitive sport.Anyone who has trained in pas-de-deux has a great head start on the physical relationships of aikido-any of you ever been lifted 9 feet into the air by someone who was afraid? As liftee, i sure can see the similarities with ukemi. Hmmm, breath control-you never see ballet dancers breathing heavily on stage.Along with that, awareness of the back. Awareness of space and bodies moving through it.

Body type? Sorry, that ridiculous body type standard does have some founding in physics.And amazingly enough there is a safety element in being "boyishly"built- how would you react if you were lifting a somewhat well endowed partner, on stage, and accidentally got a handful? When it happened to me, i got dropped. Not on stage fortunately but still... however since the death of George Balanchine, who "dictated the standard" the dance community has become much more forgiving and inclusive, preferring to judge dancers on talent & technical ability before body type. I know some rather large and or muscular women who have solid professional dance careers.

I certainly don't have the standard ballet type body and that didn't keep me from performing semi-pro for most of my 30's.

Yes, there are technical aspects to ballet that don't work in other forms such as aikido, tai chi or Argentine Tango. Yes i have trouble keeping my feet parallel instead of turned out. but i do have poise, balance, grace, center and when i was doing karate the black belts hated me cause i could kick them in their 6'2" faces with my 5'2" body.

My point being, once again, ballet is not soft. It only looks that way.

opherdonchin 04-20-2003 12:39 PM

Ballet is certainly not soft. I'm not sure if it even looks that way.

I didn't mean any disrespect to the hard work that dancers and choreographers put into ballet. I also didn't mean to say that there were no useful skills involved in ballet. However, while ballet teaches some things that are useful and some things that are pretty, it also teaches many things that are neither useful nor pretty and there is a lot wrong with it besides.

Still, I'm no expert. I wouldn't confuse ballet with Dance in general, though. I know plenty of people with all sorts of body types having professional dance careers. It's just not in ballet.

Anyway, my post wasn't meant to be taken too seriously. There are things wrong with ballet, but there are probably things wrong with anything we care to think about. Certainly, ballet is more likely to be too hard than it is to be too soft, if either of those mean anything.

What's wrong with Aikido?

erikmenzel 04-20-2003 12:56 PM


Peter Klein wrote:
the problam is though that we in germany are all taking over the french style and i am just worried that i am learning something like ballet.

Of course even Tissier's kind of Aikido varies probably form dojo to dojo. But in general I must say that it is just normal Aikido, but in my experience it isnot soft Aikido.

On the otherhand, I haven;t met an aikidoka with less than a year of exprience that could see, understand and appreciate the differences between certain styles, let alone see and understand some of the subtileties (sp?) within Aikido.

Qatana 04-20-2003 01:55 PM

"However, while ballet teaches some things that are useful and some things that are pretty, it also teaches many things that are neither useful nor pretty and there is a lot wrong with it besides"

i repeat-what is Wrong with ballet? It teaches nothing that is Wrong. For Ballet.What in ballet that is taught that is not useful for Ballet?

Yes there is a great deal of "unnatural movement" in ballet techniques. We don't naturally rotate out glutes and thighs around the back of our legs. But it sure comes in handy for big open tai chi steps.

Yet there is movement in aikido which is equally unnatural. And specifically designed to cause pain. The pain in ballet is Self-inflicted!But no ballet dancer is qualified to classify Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sanky & Yonkyu( which granted i have not yet had the pleasure- or is that pressure) as Wrong. How are you qualified to make this judgement about ballet?

and just FYI, at least 80% of all professional dancers have a ballet background whether they perform it or not.

and i am starting to feel beligerent so i think i better not continue this verbal aiki skills ain't so well developed!

opherdonchin 04-20-2003 04:44 PM

Sorry to have gotten you upset.

Just to make myself clear: I agree with what you say: ballet training seems reasonable for ballet performance. I still think that all the stuff I said is wrong with ballet is, in fact, wrong. Not within the ballet aesthetic, of course, but rather from my own personal sense of what makes 'good' movement and 'bad' movement and what makes 'good' art and 'bad art.

While it seems reasonable that 80% of dancers have a ballet background, that has more to do with the way ballet fits in to little girls princess fantasies than with ballet being good training for other kinds of dance. I think most dancers who do not dance ballet feel that their ballet training was more of an obstacle to be overcome than a good basis from which to develop.

All right, why am I carping on this? I'm not sure. Apologies again.

I am, however, interested in what you feel is unnatural about Aikido movements. I'm willing to believe that there are things which would qualify as unnatural, but they don't come to mind off hand. Of course, 'unnatural' is in they eye of the beholder. I'm interested in your perspective, coming from the tradition you come from.

Hanna B 04-20-2003 05:06 PM

In find this thread very surprising! Softness is not the opposite of effectiveness.

Good technique might hurt, but a technique that hurts is not necessarily a good technique. Those around who were really good, were always able to do soft technique.

At least in ny universe. But maybe there are others?

Qatana 04-20-2003 05:13 PM

Opher, don't worry i'm not at all upset. Tho i know in a previous thread i started i did mention more than once i can be easily misunderstood...

You have it backwards about the little girl princess fantasies tho. Most professional Jazz and Modern dance companies require and sometimes subsidise daily ballet classes. In most programs it is the ballet teachers who are acknowledged first. The princesses generally weed themselves out as soon as they find out how hard it is or the first time a choreographer raises her voice, or on a more positive note, when she discovers that there are other dance forms out there. Ballet is just generally the first exposure to "theater dance" one receives.Usually the Nutcracker- princesses, fairies, the she goes there first

actually my original background was in Modern, i resisted ballet fiercely till i was over 30, when my company director required i get into a ballet class. needless to say i was sold.body type notwithstanding.

what in aikido is unnatural? did i mention Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sankyo and Yonkyo? i'd add Kotegaeshi except i know that it is an accuoressure technique and therefore may have medical benefit. butdoes the human body voluntarily perform any of these techniques by nature? or didn't somebody, OSensei or one of his predecessors have to actually figure out that if you bend a wrist a certain way it causes an interesting reaction in a person? just like somebody figured out that if you wrap your thigh muscles around a certain way it makes it easier to do as many as forty-six pirouettes on one leg without stopping?

i do yoga too. more forcing the body into unnatural positions. nothing wrong with that, either.

I have no problem that you have issues with ballet. hey i was a deadhead for 20 years and i had no problem with the fact that most people couldn't stand the Grateful dead, either.and i thought disco right or wrong about either of those. i just get picky about the difference between judgement and opinion.

and now back to the original subject of this thread. French Aikido, wasn't it?

Kevin Wilbanks 04-20-2003 07:13 PM

Trying to define natural vs. unnatural in terms of human movement is pretty hopeless. In a philosophical sense, if the body can do it, it's natural. What's unnatural about breaking a bone, for instance? It happens 'in nature', it involves bodily healing processes, the break occurs according to the 'natural' structure of the bone, etc... Dying is plenty natural too, for that matter.

It would probably be more useful to criticize physical disciplines like ballet in terms of how they damage or restructure the body in ways that cause future pain and/or reduced function.

I would say the 'outward turn' of the hips and ankles cultivated in ballet definitely qualifies. It is nearly impossible to run fast or run serious mileage without forward-oriented hips and feet aligned forward in the same plane as knee movement. The same goes to a lesser extent for walking. For this reason, without explicit re-education/alignment of the lower body, one's capacity to do most any sporting activity might be reduced by extensive ballet training.

I am also highly suspicious of the extreme flexibility cultivated in ballet (and much yoga, for that matter), and the price in terms of sacrificed stability. Overzealous stretchers often go so far as to stretch ligaments and joint capsules, which means radically increased wear and tear and reduced functional joint life.

Cramming one's feet into pointy shoes and standing on the toes may be the worst and least reversible of the practices. I had an ex-girlfriend who was headed for pro ballet until sometime in her late teens when a ballet accident severely injured her back. In addition to the years of pain and suffering and permanent reduced capacity caused by the back trauma, her feet have never been right, requiring surgery, among other things.

Useful, pain-free function of the whole lower body and back in standing, walking, and running depend upon the foot being able to spread out and do its job properly. In the US, virtually no shoes are well designed to provide enough room for the forefoot and toes, which I think is a major contributor to our epidemic of mechanical back pathologies. What is done with ballet shoes and pointe training is far worse.

Aikido has it's hazards too, as do most athletic, dance, and martial arts pursuits. I would have to say that ballet is one of the worst, though. There's a book out that advocates an adaptation of some New York City ballet troupe's training as a recreational health/fitness program. When I looked through it, I almost choked when I saw all the horrendously unhealthy practices advocated. For those who wish to assume the risks for the sake of ballet as an art: yes, for health and fitness: no.

Qatana 04-20-2003 09:48 PM

Well Kevin i rather agree with most of what you have to say.In fact i was just going to write exactly the same first paragraph- if the human body can accomplish it , it can't be "unnatural".

I put on a pair of pointe shoes once. For about a minute. I'm in no way denying the amount of physical & psychological damage a ballet dancer can do do herself.Remember my original objection was to ballet being classified as "soft".

At least there is not quite so much of the self-starvation, still there, no doubt ,but many ballet schools encourage proper nutrition.

I have found dancers for the most part not very interested in sports.OK so i do martial arts. And one friend of mine is now climbing competitively instead of of my partners runs ten miles, every day, on pavement, barefoot.personally ,across the stage is as far as i want to run.

i've already mentioned the corrections i continually have to make in my hamni, my stance in tai chi and walking backwards in high heels.I'm also one of the only people i know who has attempted to do ballet as it was developed- in a corset. theres another list of bodily damage and deformation to compile...

The dojo i train at is inside a ballet school. i've noticed that as a dancer, i have a very close relationship with the mirrors in the studio. however, even tho the dojo is fully mirrored,, while i am training aikido or tai chi, the mirror does not exist.just an observation i wanted to throw in.

But yeah, ballet is one of the easiest ways i know of to trash our bodies. But it was our choice.And if my ribs are sometimes sore in damp weather ( hairline fractures from being lifted repeatedly), i'm sure my aikido shoulder will also make its presence known to me for many years to come....

DaveO 04-21-2003 12:06 AM

Just for the record; my 'hot legs' crack was a joke; as the indicated by the smilies. I'm well aware of the damage a ballerina can recieved; my mother was one.

That being said; the two women with the finest figures I ever had the pleasure of observing are both stage performers, with a strong balletic background - kudos to them. :)

Anyhoo; back to the thread topic. I don't know anything about Aikido in France; but given the wide differences in style between Ki Society dojos just in my own area; is it not more likely that differences are a question of the individual Senseis; rather than national traits?

Thanks :)

Hanna B 04-21-2003 07:32 AM

In France, there are (as far as I know) two main branches: Christian Tissier, and Tamura sensei. I would suppose that it is the Tissier line that is referred to.

Peter Klein 04-21-2003 09:12 AM

our school is influenced by tissier. i think all techniques that hurt the partner to much have been removed i am not sure though cause i only have been doing aikido since last september thats my dojo:

aikilouis 04-21-2003 10:11 AM

France is first in number of practitioners (roughly 60000), before Japan and the USA. The top instructors are Tamura Sensei (8 dan), Christian Tissier and Gerard Blaize (both 7 dan). Aikido in France started in the 50's, with the coming of Mochizuki Sensei, and all the main 'tendancies' of Aikido are represented there.

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