David Valadez wrote:
The ultimate proof, or the ultimate test for the validity of one's own methods of cultivating spontaneity is going to be in quality of that spontaneity (i.e. how closely it manifests the ideals of Aiki) and in the number of deshi one has managed to bring to such a level of cultivation.
Very well said David.
From my understanding, effective spontaneity is achieved by training an area of the mind/body that is not dealt with too much in the practice of form alone, namely the reflexive, instinctive elements. The practice of form mostly engages the higher brain functions, allowing one to think about and be mentally and physically engaged with achieving correct form. As you have indicated, if the mind is "fettered" during forms practice (which is pretty much a requirement of forms practice due to its particular goal - conscious development of one's form) then it is very difficult to imagine how this sort of practice alone will allow one to evolve in an area that requires the exact opposite, an "unfettered" mind that is not fixed on the execution of form or a particular technique, but on spontaneously responding to an unrehearsed situation in the most effective means possible while keeping in line with the tenets of Aiki (whatever one may define them as).
As I quoted from David's post above, the proof of whether the method used to develop spontaneity is effective and efficient is reflected in the degree to which spontaneous Aiki responses can be consistently repeated with effective results whether the attacker decides to use free will and resist or not.
This reminds me of an encounter I had at a dojo of another school (Aikikai) once. I had a T-shirt of a Shodokan yudansha sending a tanto-wielding attacker flying with aigamae ate (irimi nage) during a tanto shiai bout with the caption "Resistance is Futile" on the bottom.
Little did I know that the Instructor at the dojo saw this and took issue and proceeded to use me to demonstrate his techniques.
As a matter of expanding my own training, when I visit other dojos I try to train the way the Instructor teaches, not do what I know from my own training. I am there to learn after all. So later when we are practicing he decides to resist my technique as I am trying to execute it his
way during cooperative practice. It does not work (since the concept of kuzushi apparently eludes these people sometimes), so he smirks and says "See resistance is not always futile", I remember thinking (almost voicing) my immediate response "Only when I do it your
What this encounter helped me to see was that within the culture of martial mediocrity there are many folks, and Aikido has a fair share of em, that truly believe in their spontaneous martial ability from practicing in kata alone and try to prove this using bullying tactics since there are certain rules and norms to interaction during forms practice (i.e. Uke does not really try to defend himself). If faced with a spontaneous situation (like resistance randori for example) where the other person is allowed to use free will to counter and seriously attack and defend they may not be so quick to "show" others what is effective Aikido during one sided forms practice. It is easy to be effective when the other guy doesn't get to defend himself.
This is part of the reason I created this thread. This culture that is propagated by both Instructors and Students for different reasons can result in a severe case of delusion as to one's actual ability, and to what really works. Not to mention encouraging ego-driven, bully type responses when they feel that the false structure (illusion)given to them by the culture of mediocrity is challenged somehow in their own minds.
I mean it's interesting to see that when I do seminars on resistance tanto randori at other Aikido schools the Instructors often sit out that portion of the practice for some reason, when it is obvious to many that the reason is because all of a sudden the field is a bit more level as students and Instructors can both try to defend themselves from the other's technique with serious, but controlled intent while utilizing Aiki waza. One does not just roll over for the other's ineffective waza because that person is Sempai or Sensei but tries to resist and get off his own technique as much as possible and get his Aiki to work effectively on Sempai or Sensei.
It's an interesting phenomenon. God forbid the higher ranks actually have to show the lower ranks that they can apply this stuff in a spontaneous manner confidently in the face of resistance. No wonder folks outside of Aikido (BJJ, Judo, JJJ, JKD) have fun pulverizing a lot of Aikidoka who walk into their schools with this attitude. The result is that the image that many have of Aikido folks are that they are
1)delusional as to their actual martial ability,
2)full of ego, attitude and over confidence created by a system that encourages this behaviour since their spontaneous and effective waza is never tested and
3)are so enamored with the culture that has created this illusion that even after they have gotten their beating at the other schools try to console themselves and hide in the belief that these dojos are training for "sport" or that "in a real life situation they would do .... and that sparring is not a real life situation".
What do you folks think? It does not augur well for those who are actually doing what is necessary to maintain that standard of spontaneous martial effectiveness. In fact I believe that the folks who enter this sort of training towards understanding the depths of spontaneous and effective Aiki may be in the great minority.
Just some more thoughts.