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Old 11-12-2005, 09:51 AM   #67
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Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)

Thank you for the participation thus far then Peter. My own opinion is that this is a valid topic and so it is deserving of clarification (when needed) and/or some effort to defend itself against attempts to subvert it. I feel that this discussion would be subverted if it was to be transformed into a discussion on the martial effectiveness of any one aikidoka -- including each one of us.

Perhaps at the heart of how folks are opting to read things lie some basic differences in how we understand other things. For example, several people now have demonstrated how they understand demonstration kata different from teaching kata and/or training kata. As I said, I do not, as I am sure others as well do not, hold these distinctions. I also think that some folks hold that kata is or can be an expression of one's martial effectiveness, whereas for me kata is more about architecture, body mechanics, and the representing of other body/mind attributes that can prove relative in a combative situation. I must side myself with other folks that suggest that or hold that a nice kata don't prove jack martially. Differences like these do seem to have some people reading this topic one way and not another.

Realizing you have opted to bow out of the discussion, I would like to use your points to further clarify my own. This is because even of the people that seem interested in the topic, I am not so sure they are themselves truly capable of moving beyond the example given.
Peter wrote:

1. The definition of rank aikido:
"Aikido that 'functions' only in accordance to both the rank of your own person and the rank of your Uke, where if your rank is greater (especially significantly greater) than Uke's, your tactical architecture will be allowed to succeed no matter how ill-performed and/or ill-designed."
I believe that this takes place regardless of rank or affiliation and so might need to be expressed in another way.
I realize that cooperation and choreography happen in basic Aikido training. However, I was not referring to cooperation and/or choreography in general. My critique is not the usual critique of "Aikido is fake." Rather, I was attempting to focus in upon an inconsistency in our cooperation and choreography. I was attempting to point to that moment in our training (whether we have experienced from Nage's side or as Uke) when we cooperate and/or follow prescribed choreography according to rank (relative to our training partner). Thus, I was not interested in noting only how we follow our teacher or seniors lead, etc., but how under the same circumstances we do not do so when we as Uke are working with a kohai. For me, Rank Aikido would disappear not if cooperation and/or choreography would disappear from basic training (which I do not think can or should ever happen) but if we as Uke would either always note poor body mechanics in Nage or if we as Uke would ALWAYS fulfill a kata's prescribed choreography during basic training.
Peter wrote:

The close analysis of Doshu's technique (as nage):
However, if you look at the photos, you cannot help but to notice a body alignment (i.e. a lack of body alignment) that would get most Nage to "fail" in their application of the technique. If one were to have a higher ranked Uke, this type of body mechanics would not provide the necessary mechanical advantage to function as designed or as attempted. This is not because a lower ranked aikidoka could not (i.e. unskilled) transfer their weight/center into their hands in order to apply enough weight/mass to bring Uke back from the outside to their centerline/center. Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher rank Nage but opts not to do so if they have lower rank Nage._
I believe that three still pictures do not form an adequate basis for the opinions that follow the first sentence of the above paragraph.

It is this line that again states that I am referring to an inconsistency in the practice of cooperation and choreography -- one that functions according to rank: "Rather, this is because an Uke who could (equally) transfer their weight to their feet/base opts to do so if they have higher ranked Nage, but opts not to do so if they have lower ranked Nage." As one can again see, I am not protesting against cooperation and/or choreography. It is how these things are or can be determined by rank that is being discussed. For me, an inconsistency in cooperation and choreography, one that is based upon rank, points to a number of cultivation issues, the least of which has to do with martial effectiveness (granting that some may see martial effectiveness relative in a discussion on basic kata training). As one could read, I saw this inconsistency as related to issues of intimacy (or our capacity for intimacy) and, most importantly, to how closely we come to practicing Osensei's larger aspirations (e.g. Aikido is a way to reconcile the world.). I hold that we cannot reconcile the world if our practice is being determined by institutional fictions and/or when our reaction to such fictions is to set up partitions.

David M. Valadez
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