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Old 06-08-2005, 08:25 PM   #101
Dojo: Finger Lakes Aikido
Location: Cortland, NY
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 980
Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Hi, Larry,

A few more comments:

Larry Camejo wrote:
.... The format you gave for the sparring training you guys did is exactly the same paradigm that we use in Shodokan, that of not "trying to win" but as a means of self development and clearing/emptying the mind and body to react spontaneously (mushin mugamae).

The levels of randori you speak of are very important, we also follow a similar format where we start with just evasion and intercepting drills,(tai sabaki), then medium speed, zero resistance freeplay (kakari geiko), then onto medium to high speed, medium resistance freeplay with counters (hiki tate geiko) and then onto full speed, full resistance freeplay with counters (randori).

As you also said, when simply training and reacting to the sparring situation you do movements which appear in different arts, as such it's hard to distinguish what is an "Aikido" technique .....
Maybe I should describe exactly what happened:

Sometimes when my partner jabbed, say with his left hand, I parried by brining my hand in from the outside and then hooked down, so that the "blade" edge of my left bag glove was resting on his veins. At the time, I thought it had felt like kote gaeshi postion, just getting there more directly. But then I remember Fook Sao from Wing Chun and a block from Kali that are also similar; Kali alos has a version of kote gaeshi; we just call it the wrist lock. So that's why I backed away from saying it was an Aikido techique.

I think this is a major benefit of randori, freeplay or sparring. It causes one to react spontaneously to the situation, particulars of form (as in kata practice) becomes secondary in this instant ....
Ok, this is where you and Andy might part company. His goal is to have us develop "presence of mind" while we spar, so we can play with particular techniques in that random forum. Othwerise, you dumb down to gross body motions and don't use those nice techniques. "Well, if I can't do them while sparring," he says, "how can I do them on the street?"

This is why the sparring is starting off at quarter speed: to take the flight or fight reflex out of it so we can play with more detailed techniques. First, though, you have to kick out your ego, your pride, and your desire to win. I have a lot of work to do there.

.....This is what I am getting at as regards Aikido training and why forms training alone may not be sufficient to develop this level of reactive or instinctive spontaneity for the application of good, sound Aiki waza .....
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't (and every source I've read said there are not forms in Aikido; O Sensei didn't lock things down the way kata are. "Drill" or "exercise" might be more accurate). Another thing Guro Andy wants is for us to go beyond just seeing a colleciton of techniques and learn the principles. Well, Aiki is a principle; I am just at the "learning the techniques" stage. I'd have to get past the techniques to the principle before I know if it can be applied spontaneously. That I am not there yet after going once a week for a year doesn't reflect on poor training or anything like that, just the details of the material. I've internalized some things. But others aren't there yet.

..... Your training sounds great. It seems like the FMA sparring class and Instructor you have will help in your development of spontaneous reactions .....
Actually, I'm no stranger to sparring. What's new is the "quarter speed" regime Guro Andy is starting, but it's not like I've never sparred. I was just never good at it.

It may show up as an increase in spontaneous ability when you do randori in your Aikido dojo, since you would have had much more practice in "reacting correctly" to apply waza.

Thanks for sharing.
Well, first off, this is an Aikikai-affiliated dojo. So that should tell you what sort of randori there is.

Second, I am nowhere near there. I had class tonight for the first time in two weeks, and I am still very much at the where-do-my-arms-and-feet go stage, although some things have been internailzed through repition. If your response is to argue that randori will help get me there quicker, let me remind you of that although we did some soft stick sparring a couple of years ago, I did my first quarter speed session EVER last night, and I've known Andy since 1997. (Everything else to date has been drills and practicing techniques.) So, eight years with one instructor, seven years of continuous Kali training, and first quarter speed sparring about 24 hours ago. And my biggest issue in sparring, as I mentioned, seems to be my ego.

So maybe if I stay with Kali and Aikido for a few more years, I might see something of what you're talking about. But not right now, I don't think. And even then, one of my projects is to keep the arts separate, do Kali in Kali and Aikido in Aikido. That's another influence of Guro Andy's. So even if I develop presence of mind in Kali, the next thing is to apply Kali in that format. Whether that rubs off on Aikido, I don't know, but it's not because I'll be consciously integrating them.
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