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Old 11-22-2005, 11:32 PM   #28
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindston

David Valadez wrote:
Ben asked:

"Would you say that such a response could be considered aikido?"

I would say yes for three reasons. First, I would say yes because of how such a response relates to the overall training of Aikido -- as described in the article (e.g. the interdependent relationship between striking tactics and throwing strategies and the vice versa). Second, I would say yes because of how important striking tactics and strategies are to truly spontaneous training environments, and then because of how important truly spontaneous training environments are to the cultivation of the deeper aspects of Aikido. Third, I would say yes because I do not define Aikido by its basic curriculum and/or by any other architectural manifestation. On one hand, Aikido represents a methodology for personal cultivation and, on the other hand, a harmonizing of Yin and Yang energies marks it. In either case, striking is not at all outside of the scope of these things and thus neither is it antithetical to Aikido training and/or Aikido application.

Jon wrote:

"The question David brings to the table is can aikido resist the degradation of martial arts as we (as a society) continue to reduce the effort that is required to participate. A friend of mine is a chef and once explained the purpose of a reduction as this, ĎA reduction removes water from the sauce. Through concentration, the sauce's flavor will be strengthened and therefore create a more flavorful taste when eaten. But, if the sauce is reduced too much it will burn and become inedible.'"

This is right on the money! This IS the question one should pull out of the article and this thread.

Camilla asked:

"So do you mean that you can refine yourself to react to what is, instead of what you think is, only through what you term "real" training?"

Of course, I would never reject the idea that personal cultivation happens or can happen via forms training. It can and it does. However, I would propose that forms training can only take us so far in this regard. This is because ultimately there is a lack of congruity between our deeper inner selves and anything that is fabricated, constructed, of the material world (the world that is made -- if you will). Forms are a made thing. To penetrate and/or reveal, and thus reconcile our inner self, I would propose that we need a tool that is of the same nature. Our inner selves are marked by emptiness -- in the Buddhist sense of the word -- of pure potential, of unknown. Alternately, we can say that our inner selves are of a state of pure Is-ness. We are at this level beyond our intellectual capacity and so we require a vessel that is of like essence to truly expose ourselves for what we truly are. This is where spontaneous training environments come into play in Budo. This is why, in my opinion, "takemusu aiki" is so upheld by Osensei.

Forms are a constructed reality, and as such, we cannot NOT relate to them via what we think. Yes, to refine ourselves to react to what is, instead of what we think, yes, it is only through real training that we can do this -- i.e. training environments that are marked by the same nature as our inner selves, by pure potential and by the unknowable.

Camilla asked:

"How do you train your way out of that in the dojo setting?"

This is the constancy of the practice. In a way, it is no different from any other type of spiritual cultivation that orients itself toward such an end. Think of Zen, with the Master's tailoring of the teachings to have the disciple WAKE UP! You do it with constant modification of the training -- all aimed toward not having the deshi become attached to their own identity, their own fear, their own pride, their own ignorance, nor to the teaching itself, nor to the teacher.

For example, the videos in the article were not filmed for the article. They were part of "waking" my deshi up to the assumptions (what he thinks of reality) that have come to him unconsciously through his own training in Aikido. He had allowed himself (as we all do) to be conditioned to the belief that if he did not commit he would be further from "defeat". I explained how this happens to aikidoka near the end of the article. For him, in his own words, that class was one big WAKE UP! Yes, it was a modification of the teaching, and in the end it shed light on the role of commitment, the reason behind Uke's choreography in Kihon Waza, the relationship between tactics and strategies, etc., but ultimately the real lesson was on how we may still be trapped by our intellect, by our habitual responses, even when we may feel the most free and the most natural (or when we are told to feel free and to act natural).

Camilla asked:

"Can you really be all-aware?"

I have to believe that we can. I have faith that we can.

Camilla asked:

"We seemingly cannot escape the effect of other peoples' emotions. Are we really learning how to -- ahem, distance ourselves from them in aikido? To manage that effect?"

I would not say that awareness comes from some sort of Vulcan restriction on emotions. Rather, it is when we are slave to our emotions that we become most blind to them, and thus most unaware of them and of anything else. Self-awareness cannot have us emotionless. When we are self-aware, we love not less, but more deeply. Etc. Take note of how distant we are from our uke or our nage when we are being plagued by fear. We find it impossible to do anything but travel inwardly (egocentrically) with our minds and with our bodies. We become selfish in our thoughts and in our actions. Are we to search for a state of no fear? No, this is only a reaction to the fear -- still. We are to seek a reconciliation to the fear -- meaning we must be aware of the fear, at the exact same time that we are aware of how we are responding to the fear. Then and only then do we have a chance of remaining aware of our partners -- and thus of relating to them, of remaining intimate with them. Aikido brings us closer to others by bringing us closer to ourselves. In this closeness, there is a oneness that exists -- in us and in the other. It is the same who ever we are.

bye for now,
Hi David,
Good stuff I must say. I am often amused by how you and I can find such different ways to say the same thing.

First of all, have you read "Kata: The Essence of Bujutsu Karate" by Ushiro Kenji Sensei? He has a marvellous section on shu-ha-ri and the relationship of kata to application of the principles and how application always rests on the kata. It's very interesting because many folks worried about martial application issues tend to believe that kata is this thing you do at the beginning but as you get better you leave the forms behind and really focus on application. Ushiro Sensei Sensei points out that you don't ever leave the kata behind rather you go off and validate your understanding of the kata via application and then return with new insights and look at the kata again and again.

We don't have kata per se in our empty hand practice of Aikido in the way that karate has kata but the practice of our kihon waza functions as kata for the Aikido practitioner. Training in realistic application is very important in Aikido because it allows you to test out your understanding of the technique you've learned and the principles that govern them. But over and over again we come back to the basics because the basics contain all of the principles we need to understand, level upon level of increasingly deep understanding. That's one of the reasons why the old guys always end up doing kihon waza. They have already understood the issue of application and their real interest is in getting deeper into their investigations into principle via the basics. It's just that after this process of going from the kihon waza to application and then back to the kihon waza, over and over, every time they return to the kihon waza its different than it was before.

I have been fortunate enough to have two separate areas in which I get to work. Because I have an Applied Self Defense class (formerly my Defensive Tactics for Law Enforcement but now open to anyone who wishes to train) I can work with some of the training methodologies you are experimenting with and still keep them separate from the Aikido (although there tends to be some spill over from one into the other). It's certainly helped my Aikido tremendously to be able to do that training regularly but I have also come to appreciate what O-Sensei gave us when he created the art we do. All the "goodies" are in the basic traditional art of Aikido.

Some people insist that fighting and experience in fighting is the end all be all. But actually most of those people have jumped into fighting and the world of applied technique without having a very deep understanding of principle. And simply fighting they won't get it... Now I want to make sure that people don't misunderstand me here. What the Gracies and the Machados do is an art. Thes guys have spent years doing the basic exercises which constitute their "forms". In fact they started studying these principles when they were kids. By the time they are adult they have it in their bodies. But they didn't get that just by fighting alot.

If I understand Ushiro Sensei, fighting, ie. application of technique is important because it is where you test your understanding of principle. But you develop the understanding of principle via the forms. This is my take on it as well.

The problem lies in not executing the forms properly or well. Training with no intention, sucking the energy out of the physical movements, kills the forms and the cannot teach the lessons intended. Therefore folks find themselves unable to apply the principles and they blame the art. It is the misundretsanding of the proper way to train in the forms which leads to lack of ability to apply the principles in technique outside the formal structure of the kihon waza.

Anyway, one last thing... looking at the clips it seemed that the focus was on experimenting with the relationship between varying degrees of commitment on the part of the attacker and how atemi utilized by the defender "creates" the technique. We do quite a bit of that in my Applied self defense class. I was wondering if you also do some practice in which you focus on what is at the heart of traditional Aikido technique which is taking the center on the first beat of the movement? I have been working on having my partner attempt to attack me as your partner was doing and trying to execute my irimi in such a way that there simply is no second attack possible. Of course this has always been the goal of Aikdio technique but in the basic practice no one actually attempts to attack in this manner. We should, of course, execute our techniques as if the attacker were actually attacking this way but in reality very few folks do that. It's very useful to take someone with some decent boxing or karate skills and tell them to launch an attack utilizing combination striking technique and the see if you can execute your irimi in such a way that his intention do do this becomes mute becauise you have him before the first strike is even complete. I suspect you must do thios but I was wondering if you have some different approach to it?

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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