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raul rodrigo 01-24-2006 02:07 AM

iwama kamae
 
HI:


Just attended a seminar of Hitohiro Saito in Manila. My dojo is Aikikai and most of the attendees had a hard time adjusting to the kamae and suburi of Mr. Saito. His kamae was particularly hard to do. The shoulders and head are projected further forward than I am used to, the butt is supposed to stick out a bit in the back (he actually poked me in the navel with a bokken to make me stick it out; Dennis Tatoian called it making the hips "cocked"), the back foot is bent and placed very close (by aikikai standards) to the front foot. (I was the recipient of many "dames" for apparently keeping my feet too far apart, by Iwama standards). A Swedish aikidoka who also attended trained with Tomita sensei back in the 1970s, and he said the kamae of Hitohiro Saito put the feet closer together than he remembered the original kamae to be, back when he started training with Tomita 30 years ago.

My question is this: the materials on O-Sensei and Morihiro Saito that I have on hand seem to show them with a different kamae, something more "standard," something closer to the stance of other Iwama products like Shigemi Inagaki and Hiroshi Isoyama. Is my impression of them mistaken, and is in fact Hitohiro's kamae the actual Iwama-style kamae of the 1960s and 1970s? Or has Hitohiro been modifying things a little bit since the time his father came out with Traditional Aikido Vols. 1 and 2?

Any input would be appreciated.


best,


R

Aikilove 01-24-2006 02:47 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
I would say that it's not the butt that stick out but the hip that is "cocked". The problem I see with teaching the hip thing certain ways tend to be misunderstood. Take the "Iwama hip" thing. Go to a seminar with Iwama people and you will see a significant portion of them actually sticking their butt out like a duck. In this way they really lift the pelvic back and up. The hole idea, as I understand it of course, is to lower the hip in the cut (e.g. in 1st suburi). That is you lower the pelvic down and front by bending the knees, keeping the back foot at around 45 degree angle wrt. the forward foot. Both knees. If done correctly this leads to a balanced kamae that, if one relax, naturally lowers your point of gravity and projects small area forward.
Problem, as I see it, happens during the transmission of the kamae as a visual image to the student that only see the butt sticking out. "Ahh, I'm suppose to stick the butt out!", and proceed to do just that.
With the risk to sound zealous - Don't stick you butt out! Lower the hips, by bending your knees and tilting your pelvic down and forward.

I can't say that I know how H. Saito does things with respect to this. Since we are built differently some people will have to have their feet closer together in this kamae then others in order to remained balanced and centered. H. Saito seem to keep his feet closer together than most early students of M. Saito (and the founder). At least today. At my last seminars with Inagaki and Isoyama I think both keept their feet more apart.
When I started, I was always told, when doing tai no henko, to keep my head, back, hip, and back leg in one straight line, feet 1-2 foot apart. That is the optimal posture to project forward power (like when you're pushing a car etc). I was also told that tai no henko and 1st suburi posture should mirror each other. Today at seminars with Iwama instructors I frequently see a tilted back wrt. the leg. Both in 1st suburi and tai no henko. I can't say why this is.
Old movies of the founder and M. Saito always showed tai no henko made like I was taught. G. Shioda seem to have taught the same way (straight line, Yoshinkan folks anyone?). There seem to have been a developement and progression, perhaps when some aspects were focused opon more than others. (maybe like balans and moveability etc.).
However irrespective of the progression I feel both ways have solid foundation and are well thougth through. That is as long as one stick to one set of basics your body will learn well. Problem comes when one mixes basics and basic ideas that contradict each other at the early development training years.

raul rodrigo 01-24-2006 07:08 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
"Your butt should be sticking out a bit," is exactly what I was told by Dennis Tatoian Sensei, who was translating for Hitohiro right after he (Saito) poked me in the middle with his bokken. So I don't think I was misunderstanding the instructions. I've been training for ten years in aikido to keep my back straight, to maintain a certain distance between my feet, to keep my butt in, so I might have been having a worse time than an absolute beginner at the seminar.

Clearly, Hitohiro's kamae works for him. His movement was powerful, smooth and very relaxed. I took ukemi for him a few times and was impressed with the effortlessness. My question remains: does this kamae come from his father's kamae circa 1972 to, say, 1975, when Morihiro was writing Traditional Aikido (my benchmark for Iwama aikido) or is it a revision that was made since then?

Aikilove 01-24-2006 07:41 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
Can't state what Tatoian or M. Saito mean, but... There is a difference between sticking your butt out and having your butt stick out as a function of tilting it down and forward. Do you understand? Either you intentionally stick you behind out because that's how it suppose to look like, or you lower and tilt your hips, which will have the effect of the behind looking like it sticks out.

/J

grondahl 01-24-2006 07:54 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
If you look at the old black&white films that were released in the early seventies it becomes quite clear that M. Saito used a wider hanmi than H. Saito. I don't think it really matters as long as you get the right movement, sinking the hip in a centered way.

raul rodrigo 01-24-2006 08:13 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
It matters because all weekend we were told that "Iwama aikido is O-sensei's aikido" and that if we didn't get the kamae right, everything else was wrong. If Hitohiro is going to be such a stickler for the "right" kamae (and say outright that all the other deshi of his father in Hombu dojo didn't know anything about kamae, suburi, or using the hips), then I would like to know that in fact his kamae was O-Sensei's kamae, and not a later development that came after O-sensei had died. What I hear from Jakob is that Iwama aikido kamae, at least in Inagaki and Isoyama and probably the elder Saito, was once quite different from what Hitohiro does.

In the end, we all find our own aikido. We find what works for us, as long as the principles are observed (lowering the hips, etc, as Jakob says). But if people are going to make large claims for their own aikido and denigrate the aikido of other sensei, then the burden of proof on them becomes a little heavier--or so I would think.

Aikilove 01-24-2006 08:37 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
The thing is Raul, that H. Saito has a very well thought out kamae with respect to the principles of aikido as he sees them. That means that: follow him and you will be good. Inagaki and Isoyama have the same ideas with respect to their respective kamae (which btw do not look identical with each others or with M. Saito AFAI'm concerned) So the same can be said for them. Follow them (exactly as they say and do) then you will also be good at aikido! Their focus are just not on the same things, but I'm sure that whatever kind of kamae these guys have they are all true to the fundamental principles of aikido.
Feel a shihonage at the end of Inagaki or Isoyama or Hitohiro and I'm sure that it will, irrespective of their kamae preferences feel:
Powerfull
Effortless and
Efficient

What they say wrt how good or bad other deshis aikido is or was will have to stand for them. Always.
I, personally, always dislike blatant coments about other peoples aikido irrespective who makes them and irrespective if I personally follow same persons teachings.

/J

Dazzler 01-24-2006 08:39 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
Quote:

Raul Rodrigo wrote:
It matters because all weekend we were told that "Iwama aikido is O-sensei's aikido" and that if we didn't get the kamae right, everything else was wrong. If Hitohiro is going to be such a stickler for the "right" kamae (and say outright that all the other deshi of his father in Hombu dojo didn't know anything about kamae, suburi, or using the hips), then I would like to know that in fact his kamae was O-Sensei's kamae, and not a later development that came after O-sensei had died. What I hear from Jakob is that Iwama aikido kamae, at least in Inagaki and Isoyama and probably the elder Saito, was once quite different from what Hitohiro does.

In the end, we all find our own aikido. We find what works for us, as long as the principles are observed (lowering the hips, etc, as Jakob says). But if people are going to make large claims for their own aikido and denigrate the aikido of other sensei, then the burden of proof on them becomes a little heavier--or so I would think.


an interesting thread with some extraordinary claims! (although not first time I've heard them).

Is there anyone reading this that can honestly say in a real life situation they stuck their butt out and found it in someway helped?

(Except those grabbed from behind ;) )

D

raul rodrigo 01-24-2006 08:53 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
I agree completely, Jakob. The point is to find someone good to follow and just follow them. I'm sure that if I spent ten years following Hitohiro, then the problems I had this weekend would no longer be there. The trouble comes when a student gets confused by differing styles (eg, Tada, Yamaguchi, Chiba, Tamura, etc) too early in his development. As I was. There is a logic to what Hitohiro does, yes, and as I said, it works for him.

Just a correction: I said "the other deshi of his father" when I meant to say "the other deshi of O-sensei in Hombu Dojo."

AriesS 02-06-2006 04:52 AM

Re: iwama kamae
 
Hi Rodrigo:

I been training with Saito Sensei for a while and a little longer with Tatoian Sensei. To answer your questions:

We normally call it hanmi if we are doing Taijutsu.

The Hanmi or the stance has been the same, if you look at the older books of M. Saito its very much alike with what H. Saito does. Tatoian Sensei trained with M. Saito in Japan for 7 years in the 70's. He was one of the early GAIJIN to train with M. Saito. When I started training with him, I was corrected for my hanmi.The hanmi that he taught me is the same hanmi H Saito is teaching. He did not train with H Saito but with his father M Saito. When I went to train with H Saito the hanmi is the same. Tatoian Sensei learned it in the 70's and what you are seeing today from H. Saito is basically the same.

I am not sure with other teachers though but my teacher Tatoian Sensei closely resembles the things that they do in Iwama.

Regards:


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