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Paula Lydon 09-29-2005 03:52 PM

intensity/violence
 
~~I've come across this feeling often over the years where intensity during training is interpreted as aggression/violence or just plain makes partner nervous or feel threatened, even when the utmost control is being used and the intensity is just the level of focused concentration being maintained. Any thoughts on this?~~

Kevin Leavitt 09-29-2005 04:02 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
I guess that would depend on the definition of violence, which to me, is defined by the intent to hurt, kill, or injure in someway.

I would say intensity would not necessarily be the same since it just means you are training harder or faster.

I think intent is everything. Certainly if you are not being responsible and sensitive to your uke's comfort or abilities/skills, then you are being harmful, so possibly that could be defined as a form of violence.

jss 09-29-2005 05:28 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
I know the feeling.
Some people like to be pushed out of their comfort zone in aikido; others just get uncomfortable, I guess.

Question: how important is that intensity to get any good at aikido?

Pauliina Lievonen 09-29-2005 08:09 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

Paula Lydon wrote:
~~I've come across this feeling often over the years where intensity during training is interpreted as aggression/violence or just plain makes partner nervous or feel threatened, even when the utmost control is being used and the intensity is just the level of focused concentration being maintained. Any thoughts on this?~~

My view would be that it depends on what the training relationship is of the two people. If one training partner is getting nervous and uncomfortable, there needs to be a lot of trust between the two to continue at that intensity. If there isn't an agreement that it's ok to keep pushing, then to do so would in a sense be a violation, IMO. Make sense?

kvaak
Pauliina

SeiserL 09-29-2005 09:43 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

Paula Lydon wrote:
~~I've come across this feeling often over the years where intensity during training is interpreted as aggression/violence or just plain makes partner nervous or feel threatened, even when the utmost control is being used and the intensity is just the level of focused concentration being maintained. Any thoughts on this?~~

Deepest compliments. IMHO, you must be training well. Keep it up.

Lorien Lowe 09-29-2005 09:50 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
To extend the question a little bit farther, should someone who interprets intensity as violence, and therefore refuses to up their intensity, be promoted?

George S. Ledyard 09-30-2005 11:13 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

Paula Lydon wrote:
~~I've come across this feeling often over the years where intensity during training is interpreted as aggression/violence or just plain makes partner nervous or feel threatened, even when the utmost control is being used and the intensity is just the level of focused concentration being maintained. Any thoughts on this?~~

Paula,
Knowing how you guys train... you will encounter many places in which your approach will be deemed aggressive / violent. This is especially true here on the West Coast, although you can find this attitude anywhere.

There are a couple reasons for this. First, teachers who themselves practiced very severely in their day who are trying to protect their students from the wear and tear they experienced themselves. Unfortunately, this coddling of students simply waters down the practice and makes the students unable to stand up to any attack which has real intention.

Second, there is a trend in Aikido for some folks, people who feel very strongly that Aikido is the art of Peace and that it is a spiritual practice and not a martial art, to remove anything that has any relevance to the martial side of the art. Actually attempting to strike your partner is considered aggressive and shows that you are not a person of superior moral character. Once again this is very much a West coast thing. Example (said to me by a person who was unable to do a tenkan when i had grabbed her wrist): "You're very resistant! Your energy body is not very sensitive."

My response to all of this is that you are training properly and they are not. Now I don't believe in abuse. I don't injure my partners. I think that any one who has more than a few injured partners over a period of many years is in need of some attitude adujustment. But if you do a shomen uchi, it should have enough uumph that your partner REALLY wants to get out of the way. Many people strike in a way that would nothing more than mildy annoying if they actually hit you. Strength of intention is everything in martial arts. You want to defeat your opponent before you ever physically touch. Ikeda Sensei and Saotome Sensei are masters of this. It was the essence of what Ushiro Sensei talked about at Camp this summer.

When asked by Stan Pranin what he saw as the most important element to address for Aikido people to improve their practice, Ushiro Sensei relied instantly "Make your attacks better". So if you are scaring people and they think you are some kind of aggressive, unspiritual person, you are training just fine in my opinion (unless you are injuring people either physically or psychically; and I don't mean hurting their egos).

Mark Uttech 09-30-2005 11:28 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Intensity is something to handle.

bogglefreak20 09-30-2005 02:34 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
My own experience, though limited, also shows that intensity can be perceived as violence. I would agree with Kevin Leavitt that intent is the differentiating factor between the two. However, one's intent is a category known to oneself, not necessarily to one's partner. Provided there is enough trust between the two, no conflict should occur. On the other hand, a lack of honest communication (not necessarily verbal) or even bad experience from previous training sessions might draw people to get uncomfortable on the tatami.

It seems though, that this question arises more frequently among those aikido-students that only just began training. Or is that just my experience?

Ron Tisdale 09-30-2005 03:07 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

It seems though, that this question arises more frequently among those aikido-students that only just began training. Or is that just my experience?
I've been training for some time, and I've felt this occationally. Ususally it was when training with someone much more physically fit than I am, where I *thought* they were using a lot of upper body strength to throw me around, and not taking care with my body. This always has happened with training with people from other dojo fortunately. Whenever you go from one environment to another, there's the chance for mis-understandings. Generally, simply asking a partner to ramp it down a notch until I get warmed up is all it takes to correct the situation. Or having them ask me the same thing. I wouldn't make too big a deal out of it most of the time. Generally, even if that dojo as a whole likes less intensity, they often make up for it in other ways (more suwari waza, fewer breaks, less talking, something).

Best,
Ron

Kevin Leavitt 09-30-2005 03:17 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Wow, lots of great discussion!

I like what George Ledyard has to say for sure!

To add further. I believe intent is everything when considering violence. However, after reading several of these points i'd like to clarify.

I may have the intent to train hard, and what I call Honest, which is defined as intense and good/controlled attacks. My uke on the other hand may be not wanting to train this way. It may be because he/she is really not skilled or comfortable enough to handle it, or it may be that they are using it as an excuse to not train outside of their comfort zone.

the latter I have no time for. I train hard and serious when I train. I do not wish to study with the proverbial "aikibunnies" that do it to feel good about themselves and only want to surround themselve with like minded people that tell them how good their posture and ukemi is while giving each other easy/polite techniques and ukemi.

So while my intent may be honest and true, the aikibunny may not be so honest in true in their approach and projects onto me their dishonesty in which I get labeled "violent or too hard". I have no ill will to hurt them or injure them, but only to train hard, their dishonesty with the situation is what causes the harm.

so it works both ways IMHO.

If someone is really not comfortable working at a certain skill level, that is one thing, but hiding behind the hakama is something entirely different.

Janet Rosen 09-30-2005 04:04 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Since you seem to be talking about committed attacks with real focussed intent, (as opposed to, say, using unneccesary levels of force in throwing or pinning folks beyond their ability to take ukemi, which is what I would consider "violent"), this "left coast" aikifruity wouldn't have any problem playing with you :-)
I agree that this type of attack is not consistently taught well in all dojos, and I for one know that I have problems consistently delivering them...maybe I should spin off another thread hmmm......

Kevin Leavitt 09-30-2005 04:31 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
I purposely didn't use the word "aiki-fruity" :) I believe there is a difference between that and "aikibunny" :)

I can co-exsist with aiki-fruities since I somewhat consider myself one from time to time. :)

Paula Lydon 09-30-2005 06:45 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
~~Often, it's simply an intensity of spirit and focused execution...certainly non-hostile intent. In fact, I've been injured much more often by practitioners with lax intent/focus/intensity~~

Janet Rosen 09-30-2005 06:47 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
I prefer it when uke presents that way because it evokes a similar intent in me and ramps up the practice.

ruthmc 10-03-2005 09:58 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
I guess it depends upon how many bruises you can count on your arms the next day...

I'm happy to attack anybody as hard as they like. Sometimes they have fun with that and enjoy the opportunity. Other times they just use their strength to overpower me. I'm not inclined to keep beating my arms against that kind of tori as it's no fun when you can't lean on the table the next day without wincing :uch:

Anybody who wants to attack me hard is more than welcome and their gift will be most gratefully received. And they won't go home with bruises :)

Ruth

beanchild 10-14-2005 08:42 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
anything other than an intent, focused, attack is not helpful either for the nage or the uke. imo it's bad training.

violence as defined by janet above, though, shows a serious lack of self-control, and a lack of care for one's partner. not aikido at all as far as i am concerned.

...personally i enjoy the focused attacks. and i'll give as good as i get. :D

John Boswell 10-14-2005 10:06 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
It's all a matter of Perception.

If you, as Uke, are giving a commited attack with strong intention and will... not ill will and meaning of harm, then it is up to the Nage to do their job and execute good technique.

If you, as Nage, are perceving harmful intent on the mat, then it is one of two things: you have a "partner" who doesn't fully grasp what their job as Uke is (not likely if your sensei is doing his/her job) OR... you as Nage are misinterpreting the intent and taking it personally... which you have no buisness doing as you have a TECHNIQUE you should be doing in spite of it all!

If someone as Nage is feeling threatened during practice, that person has an issue or issues to deal with.

If someone as an Uke is meaning to hurt their training partner and actually have the intention of not just attacking but doing actual harm (despite this being practice) then again, that Uke has issues and should be talked to by the instructor.


Personal feelings should be left off the mat. Then... and only then, you will know that this intent and serious attack coming at you is actual PRACTICE to prepare you for the real thing.

Take it as a compliment! If they are coming at you full-tilt-boogy with 110% intention to strike, then they obviously feel you are capable of dealing with it and executing good technique and dissipating the energy! "Good on ya, mate!" as the Aussies would say. ;)

PS: I'm no Saint. I'm still working on all of the above and have been for the last several years. It's an on-going process. :confused:

jonreading 10-14-2005 11:49 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
The relationship between uke and nage is based on harmony. "Intent" is a term that we use to describe the underlying reason for action, "I Intend to do X." I think that sometimes we forget as a martial art, the intention of keiko/training is to create conflict and resolve it. My instructor used to draw anaolgy to a scientific experiment.

To me, my partner's intent must be to create conflict. If I exist in constant harmony, how can I train to restore harmony? Hooker Sensei has lecturered on this topic on numerous occasisons - Uke brings conflict and resolves conflict, nage does only what is required to allow uke to resolve the conflict, anything more or less is not aikido. My partner can create conflict as quickly, slowly, strong, or supple as they please but conflict must be created in keiko, so it may be resolved.

Sometimes, the intensity and skill in which that conflict is created can be intimidating. Some students are not comfortable with that challenge, others look to push their comfort levels. So again, I believe that the intent of the attack should be to create conflict that should make your partner uncomfortable, but still allow them the ability to let uke resolve the technique. That intensity and skill should be appropriately managed for each student and each technique in order to create a learning environment.

Which leads me to my final observation. I think that the underlying problem in this sort of issue is not the physical attack, but the trust between partners. Keiko reinforces a relationship that demonstrates an act of trust. We give ourselves to our partner; they can break us, maim us or kill us. Every class out partners reinforce a respect for our bodies and our lives. This relationship allows us to increase our intensity and improve our comfort level in daily training. I believe that students that do not trust their partners are more uncomfortable with their partners and therefore more uncomfortable with training. Is this true all the time? Maybe not, but I think there is fair truth to the observation.

SeiserL 10-14-2005 01:15 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
IMHO, intensity is just a spectrum of energy. It is the intent that can be violent. I personally love high intensity low violence training.

Paula Lydon 10-14-2005 05:27 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
~~Ditto, Lynn...and then going for coffee and chitchat after!

RebeccaM 10-15-2005 12:01 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote:
I prefer it when uke presents that way because it evokes a similar intent in me and ramps up the practice.

Me too! I love it when my partner also wants to play.

John Matsushima 10-15-2005 11:14 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
It really irritates me when someone equates intense training with throwing someone hard. As an uke, we all know that we could do other things besides grab someones wrist, or throw just one punch at someones midsection. But instead we attack in a predetermined manner so that the nage may practice a predetermined technique. I have been slammed by people really hard and nearly had my arms broken and the person's response was "I like to train hard" What a bunch of crap. I am practically handing myself to you for you to practice and you throwing me hard doesn't show squat about your technical ability or physical strength, except that I was stupid enough to let you do it.....once.
So now let's look at the other end of the spectrum. Sure, there are people who say that intense training is when uke attacks really hard. I can even appreciate a good hard attack, but how beneficial is this training, after all? Does it make you feel better because you were able to pull off a kote gaeshi on someone when you knew exactly when and where the punch was coming from, even though it was "hard"??? To tell you the truth, I have found that a hard, fast attack is actually easier to deal with sometimes. So much for intensity.
Intensity has far more to do with one's training than with the speed and power of uke and nage. Training for long hours in the middle of the night, in the hottest heat of summer without air conditioning, in the coldest nights of winter without heat; doing shikko until your knees bleed, doing shomen cuts until your arms feel like they are going to fall off; constantly pushing yourself when you don't think you can go anymore, and training everyday of your life are some examples of intense training.
I think the reason people want to practice hard and fast in the dojo is because they think it prepares them better for reality. However, there is no such thing as reality training because the future is unknown. You have no way of knowing how, where or when the person will attack, or who it may be. Intention on the part of uke can never be replicated in the dojo because the person who will try to kill you for real will have a fire in his eyes, a dragon in his heart, and whose stomach will thirst for your blood. Hard and fast attacks don't amount to squat.
Intention on the part of nage doesn't either. The saying goes "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". I don't care if you meant to hurt me or not because either way I trusted myself to you and you hurt me.
Can you imagine if the US Navy trained this way? Uke ship fires a REAL missile at nage ship, and nage ship responds by blowing up uke ship, who also happens to be on the same side. Doesn't make sense.
I hope this wasn't too intense for anyone's reading.

mathewjgano 10-17-2005 11:50 PM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

Paula Lydon wrote:
~~I've come across this feeling often over the years where intensity during training is interpreted as aggression/violence or just plain makes partner nervous or feel threatened, even when the utmost control is being used and the intensity is just the level of focused concentration being maintained. Any thoughts on this?~~

I've also experienced this at times. Some people will even stop in the middle of doing a technique because they are so timid. I just try to keep as obviously a friendly face as possible while gently coaxing them to assert more effort. I would lessen my intensity to match their receptibility out of fear of scaring them away even further. I've been told my face can have a very severe look which I know can frighten some, so i strive to maintain as relaxed (though focused) a mental connection as possible.
I usually experienced this when I taught Children's Aikido, and the way I found to best make them more assertive is to first show them that they can assert great effort in knocking me over without either of us getting hurt...and i'd let them knock me over several times so they get used to reaching through their target. Sometimes they would forget and withdraw again, so I'd remind them, "I should be able to fall 'hard' without getting hurt." I guess how this might translate into adults is in simply reassuring them. If they think you're being too violent and resisting too much, maybe remind them that the path of non-resistance should be irresistable...at least, that's what I think I remember reading OSensei as saying. Hard to say, though, if it more or less seems to come down to conflicting ideologies. My view is that I should be both soft and sensitive while capable of being forcefull and intense all at the same time, and I'd try to offer that as reasonably as i could to reassure my partner. If visiting their dojo, I'd be inclined to adjust my behavior to match theirs. If they're visiting mine, I'd be inclined to ask they give my way a try while perhaps graduating my intensity so they can ease into the new way of behaving...to make them more receptive to it.
Hard for me to say though. I don't trust my perspective as much as I used to...I need to get more time intensively training again. I'm just now getting back into the swing of things so please forgive my rambling.
Take care,
Matt

mathewjgano 10-18-2005 12:02 AM

Re: intensity/violence
 
Quote:

John Matsushima wrote:
It really irritates me when someone equates intense training with throwing someone hard. As an uke, we all know that we could do other things besides grab someones wrist, or throw just one punch at someones midsection. But instead we attack in a predetermined manner so that the nage may practice a predetermined technique. I have been slammed by people really hard and nearly had my arms broken and the person's response was "I like to train hard" What a bunch of crap. I am practically handing myself to you for you to practice and you throwing me hard doesn't show squat about your technical ability or physical strength, except that I was stupid enough to let you do it.....once.
So now let's look at the other end of the spectrum. Sure, there are people who say that intense training is when uke attacks really hard. I can even appreciate a good hard attack, but how beneficial is this training, after all? Does it make you feel better because you were able to pull off a kote gaeshi on someone when you knew exactly when and where the punch was coming from, even though it was "hard"??? To tell you the truth, I have found that a hard, fast attack is actually easier to deal with sometimes. So much for intensity.
Intensity has far more to do with one's training than with the speed and power of uke and nage. Training for long hours in the middle of the night, in the hottest heat of summer without air conditioning, in the coldest nights of winter without heat; doing shikko until your knees bleed, doing shomen cuts until your arms feel like they are going to fall off; constantly pushing yourself when you don't think you can go anymore, and training everyday of your life are some examples of intense training.
I think the reason people want to practice hard and fast in the dojo is because they think it prepares them better for reality. However, there is no such thing as reality training because the future is unknown. You have no way of knowing how, where or when the person will attack, or who it may be. Intention on the part of uke can never be replicated in the dojo because the person who will try to kill you for real will have a fire in his eyes, a dragon in his heart, and whose stomach will thirst for your blood. Hard and fast attacks don't amount to squat.
Intention on the part of nage doesn't either. The saying goes "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". I don't care if you meant to hurt me or not because either way I trusted myself to you and you hurt me.
Can you imagine if the US Navy trained this way? Uke ship fires a REAL missile at nage ship, and nage ship responds by blowing up uke ship, who also happens to be on the same side. Doesn't make sense.
I hope this wasn't too intense for anyone's reading.

LOL! I love that last line! :D I think, in the dojo, nage MUST protect his partner. All of us have strengths and weaknesses and it's up to nage to feel those out before ripping someone's arms off. On the other hand, the more experience uke has, the more uke needs to be prepared to encounter someone who will try to rip his arms off. Assumption is the mother of all...well, you know, and this goes for both sides. I've heard of systems where some brag that people get their wrists broken from time to time because they're "intense" and that is absolute crap.
All that said, i do think it's important for both "sides" to realize intensity is a relative thing, and to assume the other automatically understands this, is, well, not Aikido...per my understanding at least.
Take care,
Matt


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