Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: That it works, don't make it good.
I would like to slightly return this to topic…
I think that most would agree that a balance of theory (e.g. "blending requires less energy than not blending"), practice (e.g. doing Suwari waza Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote in the dojo), and application (.e.g. getting the arm-bar in a real life encounter) is a good thing. This is especially true, I would propose, in regards to the context and manner of this discussion here.
However, let us see if we are willing to take this to its natural conclusion. In particular, I would suggest that if we truly want to appreciate such a balance, we are going to have to find the validity of our martial perspectives within that balance. That is to say, anyone that takes a balance of theory, practice, and application seriously is going to mark what is martially valid only by what can by deemed as such according to all three aspects simultaneously. One is not going to say that something if valid in theory or overall when it cannot work in practice and/or function in application. Nor will one say that something is valid in application or overall when it cannot be supported by theory and/or work in practice (which must include the continuing refinement of theory and practice). Yet, while I see that a lot of us are quite willing to say that a balance of these three aspects of training is best, many of us are quite willing to lay great foundations of our training upon discrepancies and/or contradictions located somewhere within the original tripartite.
Here is an example for consideration:
This one just happened this morning: We are working on Suwari-waza Shomenuchi Kote-gaeshi. One of my Ikkyu ranks, a deputy sheriff, about 250 lbs., lots of hands-on experience in the field, training with one of my Sankyu ranks, a single-mom of two kids, no prior martial arts training nor athletic history of any kind, weighing about 110 to 120 lbs. (max), is doing that version of Kote-gaeshi where you keep all of the energy in the wrist joint by pulling on the hand more than you should. Being Suwari-waza and thus closer to the ground, such a tactic does architecturally provide enough energy in relation to the apex of the movement to get Uke to turn over. The added pain located in the wrist assists with the turning over by motivating Uke to do thus. In addition, the mass and muscle discrepancy adds as well to the outcome (i.e. Uke turning over). This is how it is understood theoretically, according to the sciences of biomechanics and physics, etc. That is to say, theoretically it's operation is seen for what it is: Thoroughly limited in its application, particularly concerning opponents of larger mass and muscle and/or opponents not prone to the culture pressures of the training environment. However, let us go on. Say this deputy sheriff goes out in the field and does this very same Kote-gaeshi version. In addition, let us say he is doing it on a "resisting" subject (by legal definition) of equal and/or greater mass and muscle. It "works." That is to say, it worked now in class (in practice) and it worked in the field (in application). However, it is still inferior theoretically. Theoretically, even in the field, it is seen as sub par. When one comes to look at why and how it worked in the field, one starts to see the same sort of conditions that were present when it worked in practice. One sees that the suspect was not "resisting" all that much, and/or one sees that whereas a training culture was not present the weight of the entire national culture was baring down upon the suspect -- such that he resisted but only up to a certain point. What theory provides is awareness of that point. In both cases, that point was not crossed and hence the energy prints present remained within the operative window of that technique. What you end up with is a technique that works under some very limited conditions -- no matter how present they have been up until now.
Next, you go to spontaneous training, against folks that have every intention to defeat you -- to be the one that comes out victorious. Here, let us say, this person tries that version of Kote-geashi. Repeatedly it is easily countered because there is no Angle of Cancellation affecting the whole of the opponent's body. In addition, there is also no Angle of Disturbance affecting his/her base of support. And now that we are standing, the energy delivered in relation to the apex is not enough to achieve anything but a wrist sprain, dislocation, or break, but only in those folks that aren't capable of capitalizing upon the absence of both an Angle of Cancellation and an Angle of Disturbance. For anybody else, which is most skilled folks intent on victory, the energy put into the wrist is only either a minor nuisance or an opening to be capitalized upon (since one now has his/her hands in the same place at the same time -- losing one's positioning checks and/or capacity to trap, etc.)
From the start, this is exactly what theory would say this version would be under any conditions more serious than participation in convention-laden culture involving someone that weights 100 lbs. less then you and/or is not all that out to have the entire State come down on him/her.
For me, the same thing could be said about some of the demonstrations now visible on Aiki Expo DVDs. First, let me note that these are a great buy and that there is plenty worthy of looking at and/or considering very deeply. I highly recommend the purchase. I mention some of it here only as a common point of reference. In some of the demonstrations, you see a lot of "drilling" that seems to be misunderstood as practice and/or as application. Some of the connection drills, that are important, are being extended way beyond their capacity for some aikidoka, and I feel that a big contributor to this is that folks are looking at what "worked" and not seeing the hows and whys -- not applying any theoretical investigations along with their practice and/or application. In the end, the considerations and conventions necessary for extending a drill beyond it's nature are going unnoticed. This, I feel, can be said about a lot of our Aikido world today.