Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan
I got a private message - one that perhaps made me think my point wasn't as clear as it should have been - that I did not make it as clearly as I should have. Just to keep things clear, let me share my reply here:
Thanks for writing, for sharing. I hope this reply finds you and yours well and at peace.
To talk a bit more on my point...
Like I said, I do see lots of hour of practice in his technique - by which I mean "lots of skill." I hope that part came out enough. I wasn't at all trying to say that Endo was unskilled and/or that he could not throw for real or get a person that did not want to fall to fall, etc.
I think the difficult part in what I'm saying, for some, not meaning you, is that folks often only associate skill with what is "real." For such folks, the inverse assumption of "it's not real" ends up meaing the person is not skilled. For me, this is not the case. For example, for me Osensei's jo trick is an exaggeration of a certain princple/body mechanics - but this does not put the principle/body mechanics or Osensei's great level of cultivation concerning these things in the realm of "unskilled." In the case of Endo, I can say the technique is not real, is an exaggeration, and still see the skill underneath. This is what I was trying to say, and what I heard Mr. S trying to say as well.
In short, I very much imagine that Endo can throw folks, even folks that do not want to be thrown, etc., however, in that demonstration, he is definitely exaggerating and/or taking aiki tactics to a point of exaggeration - meaning, they are not being applied realistically. Therefore, sticking with my first example of the first Irimi Nage, if an uke, even an uke not in the video, feels compelled to run around Endo (as in that first Irimi Nage), then that uke is being compelled by the same training assumptions of exaggertion - because there is nothing in that architecture that would make a realistic attacker run around Endo (or any Nage) like that. For me then - FOR ME - a whole line of personal experiences can be placed back to back, with everyone saying, "He had me running around just like that when I didn't try to," and I would only see a whole bunch of folks that can't see their training assumptions for what they are and/or are not.
Again, this does not mean Endo is unskilled. In fact, I see no point in talking about that at all. Selfishly, I care more about how skilled or unskilled I am. For me then, what is more important, for a discussion like this, is not the skill of Endo, but how we as individuals or as a population can very well be blind to our own training assumptions. With this one being so common, I would like to see a whole bunch of folks in Aikido start asking of their sensei and/or their nage, "Hey, exactly why am I running around you like this?" Even if the answer is only, "Well, so we can work on this "x" principle," well, that would be good (as no training environment can ever be anything but artificial). For me, that answer is much better than the no-answer that is usually given and accepted in the silences of our training cultures. Let me make this small note here: Go down this lineage a bit, to a still relatively high ranking practitioner, now doing seminars and demonstrations all over the states and the world, and you get this one practitioner practitioner that said, "Uke falls in part because they get dizzy from having to have to run around you as nage." Geesh!
This might be where I am coming from only - with a past in Karate - where no one throwing a straigh strike ever does that run around/orbiting nage thingy, or from my own Aikido background where Chiba Sensei often spent a great deal of time straightening folks out on such strikes - not letting them run around him, or even lean toward him, for no reason. As Peter said, when Chiba Sensei has you running around him, you know he's MAKING you do it. The first time Chiba Sensei did Irimi Nage on me under a kenshusei paradigm, he put my inner knee right through my ribs and into my lungs and then into my chin. I suffered the rest of the throw only half-conscious and with the wind knocked out of me. He was going totally slow - me being a beginner. Real quick, you realize that when you tried to run around Sensei, when he had to stop you and straighten you out, you were trying to do that because you were afraid and thus anxiously trying to anticipate the kuzushi (rather than actually letting it happen). Meaning, in the training assumptions of my own culture, such behavior was not ideal but a mere reaction to a fear yet reconciled. This is how the issue remains for me. One should read what I say thusly, as someone with his own training assumptions - just like everyone else.
Thanks again for writing,