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Old 11-02-2005, 02:53 PM   #8
Robert Rumpf
Dojo: Academy of Zen and the Ways
Location: Kailua, HI
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 164
Re: A perspective on learning Aikido

Camilla Kieliger wrote:
Absolutely - what puzzled me was that something "not my conscious me" had made this a habit, and seems to hold onto it so tightly although it is now obsolete. It just unveils an ability that goes unrecognized by "me" in my daily activities. What the heck else do "I" do this way?
Yes, I do understand that you must respond to what comes at you, and that different people take different responses. My wish for good habits was more to somehow internalize "use hips, not shoulders", "don't stare at hand", "head up", "downwards is a friend" etc. so I no longer have to think about it and can just apply it to whatever technique we may be practising. Or would that also be a bad habit, then?
Hahaha.. I don't know, but I know that I am continually frustrated by those types of things when they crop up in my life, professionally, personally, and on the mat.

I think you're very much on the right track when you examine your conditioned responses. You have to build good habits before you can break them.

Part of what you seem to be asking though is, in effect, if there are things that are always good habits... I would hope that the answer is yes, but I fear that the answer is no.

Within an Aikido context, in regular training, the answer is probably yes when your goal is to do technique on a properly conditioned uke. Certain habits are very helpful. Likewise with randori, or with an Aikido test. Aikido is set up to work well when everyone does what they are supposed to do, and no one is trying to break the system and everyone can follow along and keep up.

I keep finding myself wandering back to those other times when doing things according to these habits is not positive, and can even be negative. I'm trying to figure out how and when do I decide to deviate from the flight plan, and when I can even allow a crash..

Are there any good times for me to make a mistake deliberately, or to not abide by the good habits? Is my perception of what is a good habit accurate? Can deception by making a mistake be a useful tool?

That type of ura-like practice is another part of Aikido training. Deception or pulling a technique can help when you're trying to lull your partner into thinking something that you want them to think. It can also help when winning or being correct is not the only goal (such as in interpersonal relationships).

Sometimes being right and sticking to the idea that you are right seems to be the most destructive thing you can do. That is also true in Aikido practice. How many times do I find myself changing my technique to be less effective when I know that my uke can't handle it (or that I can't handle how they will treat me afterward)? Is it right to do that or wrong? Can I stop doing it if I choose to, or is that response habitual?

All of the things you describe are good habits - or at least they start out that way. They can also become bad habits when they keep us from moving forward. When I concentrate on moving my hips, I can neglect to move my feet, or I can use too much strength from hips. But can I go from moving my shoulders to moving my feet without learning first to move my hips? When downwards is a friend, ikkyo can be very hard for nage perform. But at the end of ikkyo, downwards is important.

I think that any good habit can be a bad habit in the wrong circumstance, but the circumstance is only a moment long and it is hard to decide what to do impartially. However, I think you do have to acquire the good habits first, and then discard them later. I, at least, don't know how to learn without any patterns or habits at all.

When I learned ukemi to shomenuchi ikkyo, there was a sequence of movements that I learned. In the first set, uke plants the inside knee when descending. In the second set, uke collapses the inside leg. In the third set, a front-fall happens. There are also additional sets - those that lead to reversals. There are also the sets that senior student demonstrate when they don't think my ikkyo was appropriate - the "failure" modes." How do I condition myself to weigh all of these responses equally even though I practice one far more than the other?

I think it is there that other types of training (mental training) become important - at the extent when you realize that there are no well-behaved ukes, that every person on the mat is somewhere between your best friend and worst enemy, that there is no ideal situation, and that every movement you do needs to be created on the spot instead of being based on a habit.

Sorry.. I'm getting off into speculation here and trying to indicate something that I'm concerned about in my training that I can't articulate very well.

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