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Old 05-26-2005, 02:31 PM   #32
Matt Molloy
Dojo: Azami Kai
Location: Edinburgh
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 134
Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Joep Schuurkes wrote:
You are right that I know far too little about UFC, etc. and the skills involved to comment on it. However your statement above might support the idea I had, since you wrote "as they reach more advanced years". I'd interpret that as they first become more or less succesfull fighters and after a number of years of practice, they come up with more interesting stuff. So they become 'succesfull' with a basic skill set and develop that skill set into something more profound later on.
(For clarity: this idea is just an idea, not a strong opinion of mine, so feel free to correct me.)
Thanks for the response.

Firstly, I'm not sure that I would classify the skills that such fighters/athletes have as necessarily basic. From what I can gather, the skills that they have developed to compete at such a level are quite sophisticated but then so are their opponents so it can sometimes be like watching top level Judo, it may look a little messy but only because they are quite evenly matched. Against someone of lesser skill we would probably see them setting up and using quite sophisticated takedowns that would look very smooth.

As to developing it into something more "profound" I personally think that just about all chat referring to "ki," "spiritual strength" or the like should be restricted to those of sandan or above. Most real enlightenment comes from first working your backside off but unfortunately too many people seem to leap to that instead of just shutting up and training.

If I can put it another way it would be that one should climb the mountain before dribbling on about the view.

Back on topic, who knows, perhaps there is a Kano or an Ueshiba in waiting going round the UFC/NHB cracking heads and quietly (or not so quietly) working on an educational or spiritual (respectively) idea of their art.

So as I said, perhaps it would be prudent to wait and see.

Joep Schuurkes wrote:
But isn't the ideal to aspire to the 'no strenght'-idea, since it implies a thorough understanding of other factors that make technique work, such as technique, timing, distance, adaptibility, ... ?
Which of course begs the question as to why mastery of those other factors is worth more than having a thoroughly trained body. (Standard respone: you grow old, you loose physical capabilities. But are well trained old(er) people really that much weaker physically?)
Whilst the ideal is to aspire to the "no strength" idea, we cannot get away from the basic fact that to move ourselves, arms, legs, whatever does indeed take muscular strength no matter how little.

Therefore, if we build our muscular strength and endurance, we have the capacity to carry on for longer, both in terms of a day's training and in terms of lifelong training.

If I may use the image of a bushi training himself to be as strong as possible then using the aiki arts to make his use of that strength as efficient as possible so that he is unlikely to run out of strength halfway through the battle, whether that battle be a day against the enemy outside or a lifetime against the enemy within.

Of course the challenge then is to resist the temptation to muscle techniques (hey, nobody said it was easy) but I seem to remember that Michael Stuempel mentioned on another thread recently something about doing 100, 200 or 300 breakfalls before the occaisional practice to exhaust yourself so that you wouldn't be able to muscle the technique so it would appear that the Yoshinkan at least are working in this area.

So I would say that you need the technical ability in conjunction with the strength (however efficiently used) to use it.

I don't think that there is any doubt that as you grow older you lose some physical ability (technical on the other hand is an entirely different matter) but the more you have when you're younger, hopefully the more will be left when the ravages of time have done their work.

Joep Schuurkes wrote:
Interesting thought. Would you care to elaborate?
It was just a thought that many people rush to try to emulate O'Sensei's gentle Aikido and spiritual path without ever doing half of the sheer physical work that he did.

Let's face it. The man was built like one of the tree stumps that he apparently used to work so hard to uproot on the farm. Doing hard farm work built him up quite considerably. Looking at photo's of him as a younger man you get a sense that this was someone you wouldn't want to tangle with just on a physical level.

Put another way, I showed my wife a video of him as an old man throwing around young fellows as if they weighed nothing and her first reaction, even with him at this age, was, "My god. He's built like the proverbial brick outhouse."

What would our modern equivalent be? Working on a farm? Doing the gardening? Working on a building site? Hitting the weights?

It just seems that from a very fit old man who turned out some incredibly fit and hard students to take Aikido to the world we seem to have got to a stage where we have people turning up totally out of condition and expecting to aquire the skill to fling people around without raising a sweat, even in training.

I believe that Peter Rehse has mentioned stuff like this before.

It's not the fault of the art. The art is fine.

Just some thoughts.



Last edited by Matt Molloy : 05-26-2005 at 02:38 PM.
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