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Pauliina Lievonen 09-05-2005 04:28 PM

David's Drills
I hope the title is clear enough. ;) I thought maybe it would be interesting if I wrote down my experiences with trying the drills from time to time.

So I had a chance to train today, briefly, with a more-or-less equal ranked/experienced dojo mate.

This time, I tried to be more open and welcoming instead of pushing away in my attention to my partner. It became very clear when we reached my limit for receiving violence, because this time, when that limit got crossed, I'd really flinch and turn away. Last time I dealt more with "hardening" my gaze. On the other hand, as long as I was still able to stay open, it became more possible to play with the distance and angle between us. My partner (after we switched roles) had a tendency to lose distance and get a bit run over by me. I don't know if that was a clever way of attacking on my side though, I wasn't really thinking about tactics just pushing forward. Which I tend to do, as attacker.

We added deflecting. Observations: The idea of deflecting tends to take my attention to my hands or my partners (or legs if he's kicking). Which is a very basic mistake! The conditions of the drill really brought this out again. In general (I wasn't aware of this at the time) thinking back I realize that I was mostly very focused on my partner, albeit in a different way than before, and not very aware of our surroundings. Not quite all the time, we didn't collide with anyone and I have some recollection of the people training around us.

We went back and forth between deflecting and just moving with hands in the back, because it seemed necessary to take a step back in the drill from time to time. One reason was that allowing ourselves to deflect the attacks seemed to also allow for a sort of ...false safety. So the deflecting could also became a coping mechanism. There was a difference in feel when it wasn't defensive deflecting but accepting deflecting if that makes sense.

...I just realized, writing this, something vague and hard to put to words about how I was holding my arms a bit stiffly, and stopping my own footwork at some point. As if thinking that I should move in some particular way, and not allowing myself to move freely.

We tried entering behind uke but that seemed entirely impossible! There were a couple moments where I could deflect almost everything and keep a nice distance and feel quite free, but I couldn't irimi from there. I don't know if there's something specific to look for there? Or is it just too soon?

I was pleased that I didn't turn away from the barrage in the first fase of the drill, until a clear point where my limit was reached. In the second fase this didn't happen at all, probably because I was coping by stiffening at that point. I'm thinking that a clear "breaking point" is actually a good sign because it means there is no attempt at hiding from it?

Comments and suggestions are very welcome, of course!


senshincenter 09-05-2005 09:25 PM

Re: David's Drills

An amazing exercise of self-reflection! Yes, you are on the right track - as you are hitting or experiencing all of the main elements of the drill and how they provide insights into the mind and/or into the body/mind.

Something I did not pull out as much as one could in the other summaries on these drills is this:

The reason that that irimi is chosen as the final aspect to be obtained is because there is really only one way to get it. You have to stop wanting it to happen. This is the same thing for the Angle of Deflection and for metsuke. Only folks can get through these things (i.e. angle of deflection and metsuke) with (for example) strength and stubborness and thus force these things to work at a level from which they can at least deny to themselves that they are not doing them wrong. With irimi, if you want it to happen, if you try and find it, or if you look to do it, you will undoubtedly become distracted from what else you need to do. Forcing the irimi simple won't do - or if it does it is too greatly forced and thus too hard to deny that it is being done incorrectly (i.e. totally different from how it feels in body art kihon waza). And as a result, because what else you need to do is not being done, as you enter into self-feeding cycle of distraction (i.e. a lack of awareness, an incapacity to be in the exact present as it is being experienced), you cannot irimi from within that context. You are right - it is indeed impossible. At this point, the drill becomes a type of physical koan.

If you try to irimi, you will bog down in your awareness. Thus, for example, your Angle of Deflection will tend to become forced and then eventually it will fall behind what is happening. As a result, your emotional content becomes more and more plagued by anxiety and by feelings of anxiousness. This in turn makes you look more to doing irimi but this only repeats the cycle with every loss of awareness multiplied exponentially. The only way to irimi is to let it occur by itself. Like all koans, this makes no sense intellectually, but makes perfect sense intuitively - which is why we can either do it or we can't - though we learn a lot about oursevlves each time we try (whether we succeed or not). In my opinion, a whole lot goes into being in the moment under martial considerations. These drills help point the way.

From here, from what you say, it sure looks like the drill is working for you. My advice, just keep going with it. You will get there in time - all without trying. :-)


Abasan 09-05-2005 10:58 PM

Re: David's Drills
After reading your experience, davids drill seems awfully familiar. Its like I saw systema's drill on movement. Of course we don't have systema here, and all i know about it is from the dvds i bought.

But all in all, it sounds the same.

Pauliina Lievonen 09-06-2005 05:27 PM

Re: David's Drills

David Valadez wrote:
From here, from what you say, it sure looks like the drill is working for you. My advice, just keep going with it. You will get there in time - all without trying. :-)

Thank you David! That's good to hear.

This going back and forth is very very useful.

Reading what you wrote makes me think that when we got to the second drill, I was coming against the same things again as in the first one, and even at the moments where I felt free I probably wasn't. Little moments of self-delusion there, heh. Or big ones.

Anyway, I think I know how to proceed for now, I'll report back again some time. :)

off to bed

Charles Hill 09-07-2005 12:32 AM

Re: David's Drills

I am very interested in hearing about your experiences. I, too, am working on how to incorporate David`s drills, so your posts are very helpful


Tim Griffiths 09-07-2005 04:59 AM

Re: David's Drills
What are these drills of which you speak?

I've missed something, as I've been off for a while, both practice and reading aikiweb (they go together for me) due to injury - if you thought left/right differentiation was important in aikido, let me tell you its much more important in hang gliding, esp near a cliff. :uch:


Pauliina Lievonen 09-07-2005 09:57 AM

Re: David's Drills
A quick reply - look for a thread called "Quickness and accuracy" , in the past few weeks. Somewhere along the thread the drills are discussed and IIRC David gives a link to them. I'd look for it for you but I gotta go.

Charles, glad to hear that, that's why I thought I'd post here instead of emailing David privately.


senshincenter 09-07-2005 01:20 PM

Re: David's Drills
I'll try and write more later, but here is the link to the original thread - which includes the links to the drills in question (video) and some commentary on what one is doing in the drills, etc. (for those who would like in on this conversation but aren't sure where this all started).


Pauliina Lievonen 09-09-2005 05:42 PM

A short burst of practice again after class tonight. Class incidentally was about kokyu and aiki (sensei's words, not mine). :)

Partner this time was less experienced than me, sankyu I think. She needed some encouraging hitting me at first, but got quite enthusiastic as we went on. :uch: :p

Writing stuff down afterwards seems to be a good way to do this, I don't have time to observe when I'm in the middle of it. This time it was all easier, I guess partly because my partner just wasn't as experienced. I kept to turning slightly off-line for a while. For some reason I was blinking a lot, maybe because she was mainly aiming for my face... but still, I could sort of welcome it in and almost feel comfortable, like when it's raining hard and finally you just accept that you're going to get wet. I could prevent some of it landing just by turning appropriately, something I wasn't able to do last time.

Deflecting also felt more ... obvious, like I didn't have to try that hard. And then, suddenly I just slipped through to her back. :D It felt really nice, not clashing.

Actually the more interesting thing of this evening was that I was watching myself a bit in class before this. And indeed, I can observe myself going into different modes when we do our normal kata practice. Even with something as predictable as a pre-agreed shomenuchi, I can see that reaction in myself of not really wanting to accept the attack. heh.

Well, that's all for tonight.

senshincenter 09-09-2005 05:48 PM

Re: David's Drills

I'm sorry I haven't been able to write - I hope to be able to do so later this weekend.

However, just a quick note - I wanted to suggest maybe filming yourself, so you can watch youself in sort of "real time" but as a third perspective. This usually provides surprising results/insights.

Talk later, again - thanks for sharing. Sounds great.


Pauliina Lievonen 09-13-2005 05:32 PM

Re: David's Drills
No worries David. I'm treating this as a training blog, and whenever anyone wants to comment, feel free.

Tonight we had open class and I thought I'd not get any drills in, but after class I asked a dojomate who used to do wing chun (sp?) if he wanted to hit me and he was more than happy to do so. :)

I think "getting creamed" is the expression to use for what happened. :D :freaky: I found myself looking away, turning away and down and generally trying not to be where I was. Deflecting was never even an option. No, actually I did try --- he just used my deflection to get in. :p

If I was doing aikido for self defense purposes I would be very worried now. As it is, I suddenly had a glimpse of a much bigger challenge than what I've met before.

Funny thing is, even when I was very clearly getting overwhelmed, it didn't really bother me very much. I mean, I was reacting in less than helpful ways, but I wasn't feeling frustrated by that. I did wonder if I should have asked my partner to take it a bit easier, but then I thought, what purpose would that serve? Other than making me nice and comfy again? probably it's just something that has to be experienced again and again until it's not so overwhelming anymore.

sleepy kvaak

senshincenter 09-13-2005 05:44 PM

Re: David's Drills
Hi Pauliina,

Just another quick note: I casually fimed some of our intermediate versions of this drill - where we still keep every parameter the same but allow for fuller contact (wearing protective gear). I'll try and post that soon.

ps. that's really interesting about the wing chun - remember, I posted a video of a wing chun practitioner as a problem for those that just thought they would irimi, etc. how funny. ;)

Upyu 09-13-2005 06:52 PM

Re: David's Drills
Interesting topic, and oddly enough I think comes into play into the power generation necessary to make this kind of body skill to work.
I've noticed that forgetting all the relaxing the gaze, hardening the gaze, feeling more open, or confronting etc, if you simply try to "stand", and keep all points connected, then power will manisfest itself in your technique.

Likewise, like Paulina observed, the second your "intent" or intention goes to a local part of the body, the mind scatters, muscle tension is induced, brute force is applied etc etc.

This applies to all techniques, even atemi.
Its the reason why many Kickboxers, Muay Thai, what have you, can't generate the same kind of power once you get this mind set, and by the same token, it's hard for them to grasp this notion of to generate power in the strikes :)

(Physiologically what happens is that your entire body is recruited to generate power as a whole, in an instant, as a result of this mentality)

In the case of one of the strikers mentioned above, if you were to measure the "wave" of force to see how deeply it penetrates, it wouldn't penetrate at all, and only impact on the surface, after which the force would quickly decline indicating more or less local strength being used to generate the power.

In a nutshell, whatever the opponent does to you, you don't just blend, you accept, but at the same time you never give up your vital "balance". I've found it helpful to simply "fight" to "stand", even as I recieve blows, throws, or what have you. Oddly enough, when you lash back it's simply a result of the "compression" inside your body building up, which you release back at the opponent, without intending to do so.

For this mindset to work, this also assumes that your body is linked and generating a force across all points of your body in 6 directions :)

Pauliina Lievonen 09-14-2005 04:32 AM

Re: David's Drills

Robert John wrote:
In a nutshell, whatever the opponent does to you, you don't just blend, you accept, but at the same time you never give up your vital "balance". I've found it helpful to simply "fight" to "stand", even as I recieve blows, throws, or what have you.

I just realized that I never replied to your pm. I'm sorry.

Sounds like you do some practice similar to the drills we've been talking about here? Would you like to describe some of what you've done?

I can work in a connected way... but I haven't done a lot of training to increase the power I can generate that way, if you see what I mean. So I'm stronger than I would be if I wasn't connected, but not any stronger than that.


"just irimi" ... :D :D :D If anyone was irimi'ing, it was my partner, he was irimiing me off the mat and all over the place. He was wishing for gloves, too. I'm looking forward to seeing the intermediate versions of your drill.

I don't think I've seen the video of a wing chun practitioner?


Ki No Nagare 09-14-2005 11:27 AM

Re: David's Drills
Hey, Ik heb een vraagje aan je Pauliina, ik studeer in hilversum en woon zelf in de buurt van gouda, ik zou graag eens willen zien wat voor een aikido je in utrecht beoefent. Dus zou je me misschien het adres kunnen geven? Of iets dergelijks...

In ieder geval bedankt,


Pauliina Lievonen 09-14-2005 01:10 PM

Re: David's Drills
Hoi Stijn, our website is:

You can find the lesson times, and location there. Ezra sensei is coming to Utrecht on the 24th if you want to combine your visit with a very interesting seminar.

tot kijk op de mat, hoop ik!

senshincenter 09-15-2005 12:45 AM

Re: David's Drills
Here is that video of us doing the same drill but with fuller contact - wearing protective gear.


happysod 09-15-2005 03:45 AM

Re: David's Drills
I'll give 5-1 on odds for Sean in the next vid as long as he's allowed to use elbows...

Thanks for the vid David, nice to see your version of protective gear was for those delicate shins and hands only, I was expecting something as outre as protection for the head (TKD body armour and hakama, it may catch on...)

senshincenter 09-15-2005 08:57 AM

Re: David's Drills

Well, we have mouth-guards too. And there are instep pads at the end of the shin guards. :-) We'd just like to not have our face more cut up than necessary - so we can go to work the next day and not frighten people - that kind of thing.

The aggressor in the drill is allowed to use anything ballistic - which includes head, knees, elbows. The only thing at this level they are restricted from doing tactically is shooting, etc. However, in the moment, through doing the drill, I have found that most folks stick to punches (over kicks, knees, elbows, etc.), as punches give them the best odds (they feel or believe) for either hitting their partner, cutting them off at the angle if they miss their partner, and/or for keeping their balance against the eventual kuzushi. Since the "defender" is restricted from launching a counter-attack (e.g. stop-hit, etc.) and/or from grappling him/herself, etc., the use of kicks (e.g. to close the range) and elbows and knees (e.g. to address infighting concerns) is somewhat diminished - allowing one to take advantage of the added capacity for balance that punches (for example) often allow for. Hence, why (I think) we see the flurries made up of punches more than other ballistic tactics.

will write more soon,

happysod 09-15-2005 09:25 AM

Re: David's Drills
Sorry David, but I think I can get better odds on Sean as you won the last round so handsomely... also Sean T-shirts available in the foyer now

Actually, the reason for the elbows remark is that was the first thing that came to mind to stop you scuttling off round the back so nicely. Does the drill also have have the aggressor stop trying to go ballistic once taken off balance to prevent scuffles? (OK, I should really wait for the next installment, feel free to ignore in favour of a more deliberate response later on)

senshincenter 09-15-2005 09:57 AM

Re: David's Drills
Hi Ian,


Yes, the aggressor can do all of these things - at least he/she is allowed to. If we see the aggressor not doing them it is more because they are being entered upon and having their balance broken in the midst of their strike and/or during their plans to execute the next strike. In other words, while the defender is not pro-actively checking against such things, the aggressor in his/her own aggression is preoccupied from doing such things.

However, I am sure one will get that practitioner that seeks more to NOT be taken off balance than to attack the defender - in which case the things you mention become more viable. However, such a student would come to face a lot worse hardships than being taken off balance come higher drills where the defender is allowed his/her own ballistic weapons.

It is not only therefore more conducive to this drill that the aggressor see it as his/her job to hit the the defender (fast, hard, and many times) rather than prevent him/herself from experiencing the kuzushi, it is way more conducive to other drills, and to one's survival rate in those drills, to have many hours of practice learning how to apply ballistic pressure on your opponent.

If a student starts to defend more against the kuzushi than put pressure on the defender, we simply allow the defender to strike. This always motivates the "aggressor" to be the "aggressor" again - funny how that happens. :-) Most folks however can follow the instructions - which were to apply as much ballistic pressure on the defender as possible. With the kuzushi being so gentle, the fear of falling doesn't play such a big part in resisting the instructions.

Anyway, I think if you look at the slow motion parts one can see that the aggressor is either in the midst of the strike he is throwing or his plans to throw the next strike when he is entered upon. In this way, we enter with a (type of) pre-awareness or we enter with a blending of uke's action/reaction. Martially, in my opinion, irimi requires both things of us in order to be a viable tactic - which is what separates it from simply moving forward or in.

I'll take two shirts and one hooded sweatshirt if you got 'em. :-)

take care,

Ron Tisdale 09-15-2005 10:50 AM

Re: David's Drills
Nice stuff David. I like how your attacker doesn't magically unbalance himself. Do you have clips like that that show more traditional aiki-waza? I realize that this is a drill, and that is not the point of it. I was in a similar situation a couple of weeks ago, and I had no trouble using standard boxing skills in that situation, but got off very few entries into aiki-technique.


senshincenter 09-15-2005 11:01 AM

Re: David's Drills
Hi All,

Speaking generally here -- sharing my thoughts…

I would like to address the difficulty that has been mentioned in regards to the last aspect of drill three -- entering fully to the back of the aggressor.

As I said in the previous thread on quickness and accuracy, irimi is a huge part of Aikido tactics. The point of these drills is of course to see more clearly into our body/minds for the purposes of cultivating ourselves according to the moral/social and spiritual aspects of Aikido (e.g. non-resistance over resistance, harmony over disharmony, acceptance over rejection, etc.). However, this does not mean that irimi itself is not a desired-for end. It only means that in the "desiring" for irimi, whether we achieve it or not, we may learn a lot about ourselves at a levels we do not often experience off the mat (and perhaps not often on the mat either if we do not do some kind of training similar to this). Nevertheless, irimi is present in the drill and just as real as any other Aikido tactic we have come to know. As such, we must relate to it in that way. What does that mean?

This means that when we irimi under these conditions, conditions that have to be considered by any standard as a disadvantage, we should still perform irimi in the same way that we have seen it performed in Kihon Waza. This means it is not enough to just get to the back of the opponent any ol' way one can. What one has to do is to irimi to shikaku. And that means: One has to have timing and spatial aspects that correspond to the moral/social and spiritual aspects mentioned above -- one has to enter without resistance, with harmony, with acceptance, etc.

This all makes sense to us, to all of us, I would imagine, as not many folks would say that we should rather try and enter with rejection and with resistance -- with disharmony. However, this sense it makes is something more akin to our intellect and/or at most to what we might want to call the more surface levels of our body/mind. We know how we should enter, and we may have even entered that way before -- here or there spontaneously or regularly in Kihon Waza training. However, in these types of drills, a deeper part of ourselves is reached and when that happens it feels like the "sense" that we understood intellectually and/or with the more surface levels of our body/mind is nowhere to be seen, felt, or heard.

Rather, we are left there almost dumbfounded, but this dumbfoundedness takes place not only intellectually. It also occurs emotionally and physically. In other words, at a common sense level, we are present but we are present having no idea of what to do or of how to do it and we are not even really sure why what is occurring is occurring. There is a kind of "gap," or a kind of "chasm" (which is probably a word closer to the subjective experience), and this is very much related not to what we know intellectually and/or at the surface levels of our body/mind, but rather it is related to what or who we are at our core. By default then, because of how the body/mind is one integrated whole, we are also seeing the point at which our capacity for moral and spiritual behavior faces its own chasm.

Those of us that may be interested in either one of these chasms (which should always be considered simultaneously since they cannot really be separated) are going to wonder how through all the training, through, for example, all the Kihon Waza, we still have within us this darkness, this chasm, which remains impenetrable. In the other thread, I mentioned that, for example, Kihon Waza, in its pedagogical structure, for its reasons of transmission, assumes many things of us. To be sure, it does not assume its prescribed physicalities. Moreover, if we are capable of training in forms in a very alive fashion -- which is what we should all be doing and what forms assume of us -- Kihon Waza does not even assume those internal qualities and/or virtues necessary to support the prescribed physicalities. Rather, forms come to cultivate these things in us by having us repeat them over and over again. This is perhaps similar to how a child learns through observation and then imitation, etc. So where does the gap or chasm come from? What is forms not designed to address?

To be sure, the chasm is fed by our inability to perform prescribed physicalities in the exact way that they are being prescribed. The maturity levels of the character traits and/or virtues that support our prescribed physicalities also feed it. Moreover, there are indeed things like body conditioning, and experience with the particulars (e.g. adrenaline dumps, etc.) of these types of situations that also come to feed the chasm. Thus, if we are able to address these things, we are able to shed more light into where there was only darkness (only this dumbfoundedness and/or this great distance from employing Aikido tactics under spontaneous conditions as they are employed within our forms). However, much of the chasm remains even if these things come to be addressed.

If I were to take a guess at why that might be in regards to Kihon Waza, I would suggest that it is because while Kihon Waza need not assume our physicalities and/or the relevant character traits, etc., it cannot help, because of its reasons for transmission, but to assume that that which it is not transmitting remain at a level of unequal presence (i.e. a kind of idealized un-present). When forms work on this strike or that strike, or this response or that response, in order to do this or that, forms, in their right to idealize time and space, presume that things are in an unequal state of presence and/or non-presence. Please understand this: It is not that forms do not presume that there are follow-up strikes, counters, etc. It is not that forms bring attention to one thing by ignoring other things. Rather, it is that forms must reject the nothingness or emptiness of combat in order to make something exist -- something that can be studied and transmitted. In this way, Kihon Waza assumes that we are capable of reconciling this emptiness in our lives -- in our actions, our words, and in our ideas -- for the sake of transmission when in reality we have achieved no such reconciliation. More truthfully, probably we alone assume this through our forms training. In reality, this is most likely where Shu and Ha training are meant to relate to each other. Because we are not innately capable of this reconciliation, and because forms only assume it of us (or we assume it of forms), this chasm may remain no matter how much Kihon Waza we do.

In spontaneous training, we do not face a presumed reconciliation of the nature of the universe (i.e. emptiness, constant change, co-dependent origination, etc.). In spontaneous training, there is no kick or strike, no wrist grab, etc., that is manifested over and above the emptiness which marks it. There is not this thing or this situation or this scenario in which we must be alive, or in the moment. In spontaneous training, we experience no "A" to our "B" -- even if "A" and "B" can be witnessed by a third non-participating party. In spontaneous training, we do not seek to relate ourselves to the strike or the kick or the grab, etc., that has erupted from the fabric of emptiness -- as it might in Kihon Waza training. In spontaneous training, I would propose, what we are being asked to relate to is the emptiness itself. Until we can relate to this emptiness itself, that chasm will remain a chasm of darkness, of ignorance, etc. When we can relate to this emptiness itself, that chasm is exactly what is needed -- for inside that chasm lies our own emptiness, our own place/time in the emptiness of which nothing escapes, or own capacity to reconcile with ourselves as we reconcile with the greater universe. In spontaneous training, emptiness, which cannot be transmitted, which is the antithesis of any effort to transmit anything, is the only "presumption" being made -- and its hitting you in the face over and over again saying, "Welcome to the reality of the living world."

Well, thanks for letting me share.


Ki No Nagare 09-15-2005 11:19 AM

Re: David's Drills
Domo arigato gozaimasu, ik zal het zekerweten overwegen!

senshincenter 09-15-2005 04:28 PM

Re: David's Drills
Hi Ron,

Thanks for writing. Right now I don't have any of the more advanced versions of this drill on film - where one might see what you are asking about. Hopefully I will soon.

take care,

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