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Old 05-27-2005, 12:58 AM   #45
Dojo: Finger Lakes Aikido
Location: Cortland, NY
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 977
Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Larry Camejo wrote:
.... The problem I see with how many Aikidoka approach things is that instead of properly trying to learn and really apply the principles of Aiki (which does not get down to the level of technique yet, just principle) many will simply resort to using what they know from other systems to get off a particular result without realising that the answer to these tactical and strategic problems exist within the paradigm of Aikido itself.
Well, part of that has to do with what is in their muscle memory. To use an extreme hypothetical example, if someone who'd done karate-do for 25 years joined your dojo and at the end of his very first class, some weisenheimer fired a roundhouse kick to his head when he doesn't exepct it? What would he respond with? With karate-do, of course! Yes, Aikido should contain an answer, but he'll refelxively fall back on what's dominant in his muscle memory.

It's an issue we all bump into. A couple of my training partners in Kali have tripped over their muscle memory, doing something one way even though Guro Andy wanted it done differently. It's why his Kali instructor, Guro Kevin Seaman, had a policy of not letting Kali and Jun Fan students spar right away, especially if they come from other systems, because he wants his students to apply what they learn from him, not what they learned elsewhere. But even so, old habits never go away, as Michael Neal discovered in his "Aikido Works" thread.

I don't see this as a sign of Aikido being bad or inadequate, just a "cost of doing business." The only way to absolutely gurantee a "pure Aikido" response in most people is to have someone who has never done anything else. Neither you nor I nor a lot of people here can say that.

Here is an example: I have students who come from a variety of MA backgrounds, mostly the Judo and TKD/Karate types. The randori that we practice is designed to make your defenses shut down and make you really dig down deep to find the way to apply Aiki to get out of the situation without injuring your partner while being very effective. However, as I have seen many times, as soon as the going gets tough the folks who cross train will want to switch to Judo or some other method to put their partner down instead of sticking to the Aiki principles so that they can enhance their Aikido training, understanding and skill level. It is a challenge for them not to resort to old habits and other systems, but that is the point of Aikido training, to find ways of applying and understanding Aiki in different situations.
Well, apart from holding off on randori until they have better grounding in Aikido, following Guro Kevin's example, why not teach them how to do randori and practice randori before they do it?

It sounds redundant until you understand the approach Guro Andy is taking in readying us for kickboxing sparring in Kali. Neither ne nor Guro Kevin is a beleiver in just putting the equipment on people and letting them wail on each other; they want to teach you how to spar, and more importantly, to be aware of what you're doing while you're doing it, because that's how you use it as part of your training (I guess). So we've done a bunch of classes looking at kickboxing basics, and also been doing some drills. And when the sparring starts it won't be full tilt -- you start at maybe one quarter speed, partly for safety and partly to think about what you're doing.

So maybe you could step back and build up to randori, and then start it at a slow pace so they have time to think and apply Aikido, and that after being grounded in Aikido. Not everyone may agree with that, but it seems worth considering if you want to address this issue.

The above situation tends to expand into other areas of training where folks start thinking that Aiki principles simply don't work under resistance (when in fact you have not taken the time or gotten the training to really understand and use them effectively).
Another topic to cover then -- how to apply Aiki principles against resistance. And more drills to come up with.

The result of this sort of thing may be seen on AJ right now with one of the seminar instructors who believes that Aikido needs to be modified to meet certain combative requirements, but which in fact the art already addresses.
Again, it may be a good idea to look at those areas and come up with drills to address them. It may be one thing to say, "Aikido works on the ground," but that doesn't mean you know how to translate to that scenario.

Many folks from grappling type schools always bring up the subject about the shoot and Aikido's defenses (or lack thereof) or that "most fights end up on the ground" ....
I'm turning into a broken record -- how to adapt the principles to that? More drills and exercises! Whether you have much of a private life when not coming up with all these things is your problem.

.... I get the feeling that these simple things like training in maintaining balance while applying effective technique or receiving a serious attack designed to disrupt balance is not utilised, taught or stressed upon enough as a vital element in having one's Aikido work in a resistant situation ....
The techniques can be tricky enough; just getting them to work can be the hallenge, enver mind making them effective! It isn't easy; the devil is in the details. Someone has to have all the details ingraned before you naturally apply them to something unexpected, and that's going to take a while.
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