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Old 07-14-2005, 08:16 AM   #208
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Highest Level Martial Arts and Aikido

Not bad, Rob. And pure debate, too!

Rob Liberti wrote:
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.
In my view, our disagreement really starts not a when people start moving with kokyu, but what kokyu really is and how different it is from normal movement, on the whole. I consistently see your argument as indicating that you're thinking of one thing as general ki and kokyu movement and I'm thinking something else.
From where I'm standing people go through the kyu ranks to learn enough external form to be a shodan (snip) I see nidan as a rank about achieving some degree of flow using the technical leverage of the external form. (snip) I see sandan as the beginner rank where people should be so dissatisfied with the results of normal strength that they start their 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.
I see godan's who are clueless about kokyu movement because they have practiced and reinforced normal movement over so many years. In my experience, not only in Aikido but in other arts using these strength/body skills, too... there are only a few people who can *really* do these things. In the normal course of Aikido, particularly among westerners, there is almost no grasp of these skills... so discussing "when to introduce these skills because we do it a little later" is sort of beside the point, IMO. In a way, Rob, you've been saying that (a.) people in western Aikido do understand these things and (b.) as a part of Aikido, these skills are of secondary importance. What I"ve been saying is that (a.) in "Ai Ki Do" these things are of paramount importance if you want to go beyond the superficial and really understand what O-Sensei thought was a big deal other than a bunch of nifty techniques and (b.) almost no one in (particularly western) Aikido has more than a rudimentary idea what these things are. And I'm offering to do a friendly show and tell which will give everyone (including me) a chance to lay out their cards. I think people would find that this is a more complex area then they think.

Incidentally, Rob... can you name a few of these "so many" people you know who have reached a "profound" level? I'd like to meet a couple.
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.
Actually, I'm pretty convinced that you're WAY shortselling the importance of side drills in traditional Aikido and *I'm* probably short-selling them some. Repetitive simple drills done many times are essential. You can't just go to a workshop and "learn how to do these things" (which is why so few people who I've met in workshops over the years really make progress... they think that if they academically understand it and did it 3 times they got it). Swinging a bokken 500-1000 times a day isn't a "maybe interesting" thing to do, IMO... it's a "must do" if you want to get anywhere. And there are other things I'd do if I was a serious Aikidoist.
I think a yondan should have pretty good command of the basics of what Mike is talking about, 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".
OK, fair enough. That's your opinion. But I still think you don't really understand what I'm talking about, at least not fully enough. BTW... bear in mind that a lot of people learn a lot of these movement skills independent of any martial art... that might affect your idea of where and when in Aikido it "should" be learned.
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.
I dunno... you just slipped some ideas in that I think are "western Aikido" and border on the self-assigned definitions of ludicrous phrases like "verbal Aikido". What you're trying to inject is your impression of what Aikido is on a philosophical basis and all I'm tallking about is function. I think we both know that there is not firm support for things like "transformational", "verbal Aikido", etc., from either O-Sensei's words or his personal manner. Let's stick with movement and the when's, where's, how's, etc., in order to keep from getting mired down, as a suggestion.


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