Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido
About the "years and years": It seems to me like most of my disagreeing with Mike on kokyu and aikido has boiled down to how to best prepare a person in aikido to start moving in a more kokyu-like way. From where I'm standing people go through the kyu ranks to learn enough external form to be a shodan - simply because people who were initially coming to aikido were generally already black belts in other Japanese Budo. So that accounts for some of the "years and years" but not many. I see nidan as a rank about achieving some degree of flow using the technical leverage of the external form. All of that training can be from 2 to 12+ years depending on the student and the teacher(s). At that point I see sandan as the beginner rank where people should be so dissatisfied with the results of normal strength that they start to totally over-haul their movements to be more kokyu-oriented movements. It _seems_ like Mike wants people who are at this level to already be good at it, and well then we just might disagree about how to best prepare someone. I see so many people attain some profound (_at least_ to them, but maybe very legitimate) level of understanding and then make the mistake of trying to start out all new students from that point. Invariably they leave something out that either they just had without any training (sense of rhythm comes to mind) so took for granted as a given (and now only look for those "gifted" students who start out with a set of basic requirements before their first class). I don't claim that Mike is setting himself up for that trap as he is not teaching aikido, but I offer it as an explanation for why just getting to the point where Mike would like new people to start takes at least some years and years.
From that point, I have no problem with someone "focusing" on drills like Mike frequently mentions. I'm intersted in all of them. I'm sure that they would be very useful and helpful. I'm not sold on the idea that his approach is from the superset of knowledge in this arena and therefore anything less would be incomplete - but I'm not wholesale discounting it either. To me it is just not a given. I think a yondan should have pretty good command of the basics of what Mike is talking about (I've seen some pretty good people in Japan take 12 years between sandand and yondan), a godan and a rokyu dan should be moving from principle and - I totally agree that Mike is right in that many people with such ranks cannot perform at this level and over-compensate with normal strength (and we call them strong-arm bandits) - and I think that is primarily due to promotions based on "loyalty".
The only thing I would mention about this is that since aikido is supposed to be "transformational", the required changes should be massive. Other massive changes like not shaming juniors, and eventually just truly respecting people and having complete self trust should come with the training or I'm not sure the training is all that important. Many times I see people try to make a short cut martial art approach, and some of the big lessons seem to be the things which are cut out to save time on the short-cut road to martial proficiency.
Last edited by rob_liberti : 07-14-2005 at 08:48 AM.