Yes, I'm right there with you on the shu-ha-ri stuff -- especially the part about all this stuff leading back to Kihon Waza. I too consider any attempt to just "fight" or to see fighting as the end-all of technical application as shortsighted, immature in its vision. This I hold even if one is not interested in spiritual matters. It is the same for me when it comes to seeing forms as the alpha and omega of everything. Forms that come before spontaneous training applications/environments are not the same thing as forms that come after it -- in other words. That is to say, we want the forms, but we want the forms that comes via the insight gained in non-choreographed applications -- only then, in my opinion, can we truly understand that everything IS already there, at the same time that we first begin to truly understand that "all."
Anyways, your points are excellent and I want to thank you very much for joining in here. Great post.
On your last question:
We have some other beginner drills -- with clips of it on our web site -- where we are experimenting with taking Uke's center via Irimi, on the first beat. The drills are very basic, but the principle is the same. You can see those drills here:
Wwe also connect these drills to awareness issues. Some other folks have come to try these drills out as well -- Pauliina for one. She has started a thread on these drills. She shares some great stuff. You can read this thread here (I've posted there as well, explaining some points on the drills in question):
In these clips, however, we not only take the traditional irimi of Aikido, we also take the traditional attack of Aikido (i.e. committed) -- though not the traditional form of Aikido (i.e. we are using boxing-like attacks). In my experience, the committed attack is the attack that is most difficult to deal with (e.g. requires the most skill), penetrates the deepest into our person, and is the one we will most often face in real life self-defense encounters. The non-committed attack is more of an academic issue for me, or it is the one I have to deal with as a teacher who is trying to get his Aikido trained students to attack with commitment under spontaneous conditions.
Since the clips in the article are from a class where I am trying to instill in my deshi the downside of attacking without commitment -- under spontaneous conditions -- I did not really attempt to do an Aikido technique. I really only sought to demonstrate how with some crude knowledge, and with even cruder technique on the part of the defender (my person in this case), one could be put in a disadvantageous position just from not committing when attacking. I tried to keep things as unsophisticated as possible -- so this lesson would really hit home for my deshi. However, even in those crude applications, you can see how there is some Irimi involved and how that does indeed prevent the attacker from launching any sort of follow-up attack - there is just no traditional application of Aikido technique being utilized.
I have seen applications where someone tries to do this very thing but has it end in Ikkyo Omote or some other arm bar/trap from Aikido, etc. Personally, I think this is very interesting and quite beneficial to aikidoka that have perhaps never looked at Ikkyo outside of Kihon Waza, but I also have a feeling that such applications are forced -- like one is trying to make Ikkyo fit everywhere. This could very well be a result of my own bias to not understand Ikkyo Omote as an arm bar technique (seeing it rather as a hip throw with the arm incidentally in place for a pin at the bottom of the technique) and/or a result of my 5'5" frame trying to do an arm bar/trap on the big heavy Uke we have in our dojo.
In Parker Kenpo we have a move very similar to this one -- they are his freestyle moves "B1A" "B1B," etc. In those moves, one advances on the opponent and then checks the opponent's arm at an downward 45 degree angle, setting it up for more strikes and/or an arm bar etc. The downward angle checks the cross lateral side of the body, etc. No second attack can follow. It works well in theory, but several things come up in application when they are not done against the committed attack. First, when an attacker is not committing, he/she is very mobile in the backward direction. Hence, you move in, try to trap the arm, and they just move back out of the trap and the ensuing angle of cancellation -- which then allows them to counter attack, etc. Moving backward is so subversive to this tactic that when you see this being demonstrated you can almost 100% predict that the Uke it is being applied to is choreographed NOT to move backwards. He/she is either slightly moving forward or staying still, in place, when the other person advances on them -- either option is not too skillful a response, in my opinion. The other thing that came up is that a person that is not too committed in their attack is also very capable of changing levels. This means, you come in, you trap the arm downward, they lower their center, reduce the effect of the angle of cancellation, and go in for the takedown/ground fight, etc. Again, this is why when you see this advance/arm trap movement being demonstrated, you see the Uke being choreographed not to change levels. Nothing but choreography is every really stopping them from moving backwards and/or changing levels.
For me, these experiences led to a particular insight: We cannot by ourselves directly control Uke's center -- not ever.
Rather, when we control Uke's center it is more that we do it in conjunction with other forces that are acting on Uke's center in a controlling fashion. These other forces are gravity, inertia, and will. Thus, when we have only our architecture, and little gravity, and/or inertia, and/or will, affecting uke's center, as we might in the non-committed attack, it is impossible to control the center of Uke as we do in Kihon Waza (which requires a committed attack and thus for the forces of gravity, inertia, and will to be acting upon Uke's center). For me, this means, when confronting the non-committed attack, one will have to rely upon a means to victory, or a means to self-defense, that does not require that Uke's center be completely controlled (e.g. striking, trapping, clinching, in-fighting, knife-fighting, etc.). The choreographed restrictions on Uke not moving back and/or changing levels is the artificial way that Uke's center is being controlled -- it's a fabricated way of trying to deal with the uncontrollable center. For me, real encounters require that we do not expect an Uke who is not committed in their attack to stand still -- to not move backwards and/or to not change levels. Inversely, Kihon Waza require that we come to understand how we use our architectures in conjunction with the gravity, the inertia, and the will that is acting on Uke's center in order to control that center.
Anyways, George, if I did not get what you were asking, please let me know. This is fascinating stuff -- what you brought up here. If you got some video of what you are referring to -- that would be great to see.
Thanks again for posting,
David (it's late, this post is a mess -- more than usual -- please forgive)