Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"
"Okay, I can understand that. But, you wouldn't just jump right into spontaneous environments in training, would you? You'd start with basics and slow movements and progress to spontaneous environments, right? In my view, from the beginning as an attacker, if you learn to give a good committed attack each and every time as a building block to help tori/nage, then it isn't really defeat, but training for tori/nage. Then at some point as an attacker, you learn to give a committed attack but then look for openings and reverse the situation, especially on that very first movement by tori/nage. That's training for uke. (Why should we train just for tori/nage?) And if you train as an attacker to look for and take advantage of openings, you won't get any good openings unless that first attack is committed and good. Otherwise tori/nage doesn't have energy to work with and won't be able to make the glaring mistakes. Some time later, the committed attacks and committed techniques become more subtle and require less energy to complete and tori/nage and uke find themselves interchangeable until someone makes a big mistake. Along the way, uke finds that giving a committed attack isn't a defeat but an opening of sorts to reverse the situation. That's my view of taking the "fears" and "non-committed attacks" out of training."
Yes, I can agree with all of this. In my opinion, for anyone that takes their Aikido training seriously, this is the way to understand that training. On the other hand, it is also a kind of "party line" for Aikido training -- we have to admit that. As a party line, we often say "yes" to it before we truly understand it. Therefore, we commonly end up saying "yes" to a whole lot of other things that we should be saying "no" to (if we understood the party line better). The things that we should be saying "no" to come to the forefront of our awareness only when all the prescriptions of our training paradigms go away. As "free"as such a paradigm may appear to be, and as total as it may seem to be in addressing our fears and our understandings of committed attacks, there is a whole lot of assumption that is included in that model -- assumption that comes with the very nature of design. I do not mean the nature of its design; I am referring to the nature of design itself. In other words, there is too much "I do this and you do that" and/or "When you don't do that, I do this,"to truly know who we are outside of these constructs -- outside of the design of our training paradigms.
Whenever we have design, we have a role to play, and (in the beginning) no matter how well designed a role may be, it is never us -- it is a role. This becomes very complicated the more trained we are. This is because once we are more trained we are often able to fulfill the role to such a degree that it seems very natural to us; the only way to be. However, because of that, the more trained we are, the more often we take the context of the role for granted. Thus, we do not see how the "naturalness" of the role is dependent upon the context in which it is being played. Nor do we see that the assumed context is THE THING that makes such a role to appear natural. Thus, the training paradigm you laid out functions very well when the roles are taken as "natural" (i.e. when the supporting context is adopting without question). However, when the context is not taken as natural, but seen as designed (which it is), which often comes out for all of us whenever we train with beginners (folks less engrained in the training culture), the whole paradigm falls apart (e.g. smoothness goes out the window, etc.). For example, when the beginner does not look for openings and reversals, but instead seeks to create openings, you see even advanced training partners have their technique go right out the window. This happens to them because the context that is supporting the role they are playing is no longer present. Hence, a "real" you (i.e. the you that exists outside of design, context, and assumption) comes out. At such a moment, we see ourselves not blending, not moving, not capitalizing on the target creation tactics of the beginning training partner, etc. We see an "us" that is stuck on the context, stuck on how things are "supposed to be" rather than being able to deal with things as they are, etc. This is what we often experience when we cross train and attempt to go freestyle with a person from another art. What is being exposed through such situations is not a shortcoming of the art of Aikido; it is the problem of being blind to and thus attached to one's own cultural contexts. This problem is universal to every art.
The same thing happens to uke. Within the training paradigm, uke functions in a way that it is possible for the small self to see such behavior as context-free, as natural, etc. However, once nage does not allow uke that "out" some of us so come to rely upon -- when nage just decides to front kick uke in the groin for coming in from a million miles away, etc. -- you immediately start to see the same sort of "fish out of water" reaction to uke as we saw in nage. Thus, we also see uke struggling with the attachments to his/her own training culture. For example, we see that after a few stop-hit tactics performed by nage, tactics that are capitalizing upon the million mile launch of uke's attack (which do a great deal to provide the out uke is seeking, or even the "suki" he/she is looking for), uke has no idea how to attack now - no idea how to balance not giving openings and not de-committing, etc.
It is the same with the philosophy of Aikido. Inside the dojo, at a seminar, etc., it is so obvious, so easy, so natural for us to respond to others in a way that is filled with love, compassion, and wisdom. However, when we are at home, with our spouse, with our children, with our parents, etc., when we are outside of the context that supports our "natural" moral behavior, all of sudden, we have a different "us." We want to know this "us" because this is the real us -- the real us that exists outside of the pristine constructs of the dojo. If we really want to know if we can attack with commitment, we will need to drop all the supports that are there by design to help us stay committed in our attacks. If we really want to know if we can embody the philosophy of the art, we will need to see how well we can embody that outside of the dojo -- with our spouses, with our friends, with our children, etc.
Personally, I've never met an aikidoka that a few stop-hits can't lead him/her into a state of culture shock. I'm sure they are out there -- just never met one.
Great post Mark - thanks for sharing. Good points.