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Old 01-13-2006, 01:15 AM   #116
Dojo: Finger Lakes Aikido
Location: Cortland, NY
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 978
Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

Larry Camejo wrote:
Hi folks,
Hi, Larry,

Since the thread came back to life, I thought I might take another run at it.

..... Have we as Aikidoka begun to accept a culture of martial mediocrity within our art? In other words, has objective martial effectiveness and its related elements within Aikido training become something so abstract, so diametrically opposed to the concept of "peace and harmony with the universe", so much not a major goal of modern training that often folks move through the ranks into the higher levels of Yudansha without understanding simple elements of body control that are addressed by training with the goal of objectively effective technique?

My reason for asking these questions is because recently I see a trend where many Aikidoka appear to be clueless about how to achieve simple tasks like maintaining one's footing and vertical posture in the face of a shoot or tackle .....
You call that "simple"? Just maintaning good body mechanics during regular practice is difficult enough. I can't remember how many times I've been yelled at for letting my rear foot off the floor. (Happens in Kali, too, while throwing a jab-cross, so it's not an isolated problem.) Staying solid and stable while someone who presumeably knows what they're doing goes for your legs and does so correctly sounds pretty ADVANCED, not simple.

or questionable ability to comfortably evade certain types of unarmed attacks ....
What types of unarmed attacks? If they're not ones covered in the syllabus most dojo have, then you'd have to be pretty solid in the principles to pull it off. This may require mastery of the basics, but is not basic -- is porbably somewhere way beyond basic.
...... Has Aikido gone the path of modern Wushu, with practitioners learning movements that only work as shown in a choreographed environment?.....
I think the "choreography" is meant to help you learn principles and internalize reference points. I think that's how I wrist-locked my partner in chi sao some months ago. So it is an effective method of training but you have to be aware of what it is teaching you and how.

Since I've been surfing here, I've come across the two mutually exclusive shcools of thought: One that Aikido can handle anything you throw at it, and the other that it's almost useless in the real world, and God knows there's enough anecdotal evidence to support both positions. Reality is somewhere in the middle.

.... Imho an Aikidoka who understands certain principles (not even having to do with offensive techniques) should be capable of not having his balance easily taken by a shoot or tackle, not allowing a situation of resistance allow him to resort to Jujutsu and Judo techniques or muscular and mental overtension, or not have to resort to ground grappling in the majority of serious attack situations because he does not easily allow himself to be taken to the ground (this does not mean not cross training, since there are special situations where grappling knowledge serves well). Basically, he does not allow the attacker or the attack to easily draw him out of the tactical range that keeps him in control and keeps his Aikido as usually practiced effective, without resorting to other tactics from other arts too easily and quickly. Is it that folks simply don't train anymore to the levels where the martial principles of Aiki are so ingrained that they quickly abandon Aiki principles when faced with serious attack?
I think the real question is, how much mat time does it take to ingrain those principles? Probably a lot.

I've been doing martial arts for a few weeks shy of 21 years, yet coming back to Aikido, the main benefit seems to be I'm quicker at picking things up, ie I don't have the added burden of having to get my body to do soemthing specific. Even then, there are a lot of basic areas where I have problems. Forward ukemi explode to mind -- they were a challenge in Seidokan 20 years ago and while improving slowly, a challenge now. This is after plugging away once a week for a year and a half. Going from there to naturally being stable if faced with a Shoot, or evading any empty hand attack from any angle ..... It might take decades to get to that point. When you mention rnaking Yudansha, are you including 6th degree black betls with ~30 years of experiences? They'd be closer to the mark than anything.

Having said I have trained only three dojos and probably missed a lot of crap out there, the issue may not be that no one can get the principles you are talking about, just that it takes a long time to do it. Even with a teacher who explains everything to you, it is still long-hair stuff, somewhat tricky, and just plain difficult to get. It has nothing to do with "accepting" medicority or rejecting it -- just that in it's own way, Aikido can be difficult.

..... Have we grown to accept that in the face of other arts we cannot stand on the same level in the area of martial applicability? I am not referring so much to self defence, but more to the mastery of the Aiki basics that makes an effective Aikidoka and Budoka.
Maybe not, but mastery doesn't come over night, and simple things can be difficult to master. Just the other night in Kali, Guro Andy Astle devoted a chunk of the time to studying the lead hook, saying "The hook can be difficult to master." The HOOK! Something anyone familiar with boxing knows, and yet getting that right can be tricky! If people have trouble with some basics in Aikido, it may not be that they're instruction is bad or that they've resigned to being mediocher but that to get where they want to be is longer and more difficult than you might first expect.

Practice, practice, practice. That's the key.
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