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Old 05-04-2006, 09:35 AM   #116
Ken McGrew
Dojo: Aikido at UAB
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 202
Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Anyone who reads this discussion and does not think we are describing real differences in Ukemi needs to get out more often. These are not linguistic differences. The word "resistance" is not the wrong word to use. Saotome Sensei has an entire video called Oyo Henka in which he uses the word resistance, and he speaks Japanese quite well. It may not be what your Sensei thinks, but I am not misquoting. Ikeda Sensei used the word katachi to describe something more spontaneous, dynamic, and evolving than kata. We have weapons kata, but our approach to Aikido is not kata, but katachi.

Anyone who read my quotation of Saotome Sensei knows that I am only repeating what he teaches. That is to be expected when I am a student in his organization. I also think he is right.

My statement about the attacker being vulnerable as a result of the attack comes, in part, from 1st Doshu's principles video.

I would differ strongly with the idea that we should force Aikido technique initially and then someday perhaps learn to blend and lead at the higher levels I am describing. You get to the higher levels by practicing a simulation of actual combat. We practice this way all the time. Students start to get good at capturing motion and effortless power in only a few years. I've seen Saotome Sensei do amazing things, many of which I can't do yet, but I've also been directly taught by him as to how to begin to get good at his higher level Aikido. Let me quote, "no force, no violent." This is stated in Saotome's Principles video, that Aikido practice is simulated combat, a cooperative practice. Again, I would ask everyone to dig out their videos of O'Sensei, both Doshu, and look particularly at their students. Do you see ANY resistance? No, you will not. O'Sensei allowed these videos to be made so we would be able to see for ourselves how to train Aikido.

There are people on this board who practice a pre-war style. That's fine. O'Sensei changed Aikido for reasons that he thought were valid. They don't want to change with him, so that is their business. I'm glad they are preserving this earlier art. To me it's like living history. It is not anything I am interested in practicing, however. But when people who practice a post-war style use resistance, I think they are not doing what O'Sensei wanted. A very good book to look at is Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere.

Regarding Ikeda Sensei, what I think people heard him say, which I heard him say again this weekend, is "break their balance." At any rate, Ikeda is Saotome's student also. He does not contradict Saotome. Sometimes Ikeda will ask people to grab strong, but this is an exercise, not proper Ukemi. For example, this weekend he told the partner of one of my students, "No, for this excercise, don't do good ukemi, instead be strong."

The quotes from Saotome are clear. If people don't train like he would have us train that is their business, so long as they are not in his organization. But as the former head instructer at Hombu, and as a person who has been especially dedicated to continuing what O'Sensei started, I think people should consider what he has to say. We all think our instructors hung the moon, and that is how it should be. My ability to follow Saotome's instruction is not blind, however. I look for myself at the historical footage, and I find confirmation of what he claims.

Ken McGrew
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