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Old 02-05-2007, 07:01 PM   #392
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Baseline skillset

Eddie deGuzman wrote:
Quote from article:
A frequent scene at the camp was the involuntary smile that lit up the face of an attacker the moment they were "floated" by Ushiro shihan.

Still not having seen or felt Ushiro sensei's technique, I am nonetheless certain it is similar to what is being taught at my dojo. The smile on the attacker being the clue. Working out with the higher ups every week will invariably leave a smile on your face. Throwing and being thrown, both equally enjoyable.
Consider this from an interview with Ushiro Sensei. He gives a five level progression of learning in budo, really almost irrespective of art. It is interesting in that it is largely defined in the first two stages from the perspective of the person applying the art, but in the higher stages more from the person receiving the applicaiton of the art, rather than the person applying it. I know I don't feel the "hardness and rigidity" he speaks of inside or out. I cannot say what people feel like when I apply the art to them, so I could not begin to classify myself otherwise, which would, among other things, also be both presumptous and rude.

The next to highest level he describes as:
Ushiro Sensei wrote:
You react to your opponent's attack with softness and flexibility and maintain that state for the duration of your response and counter-attack. From start to finish it will feel to the opponent as if he is simply being lightly touched all over.
The full interview is here:

Since I can speak in this context as to what I have experienced as uke, this description of Ushiro's next to highest category resonates very much with my experience of most accomplished aikidoka I have known. In contrast, I have grave difficulty reconciling Mike's depiction of "bounce jin" with Ushiro's description of the most advacned physical development of the art as the proper means of kokyu in that context.

Ushiro is at pains to make clear that the "baseline" is not something you "go beyond" or outgrow, but an integral part of the development that remains with you and that you still work with and work on even at the highest levels. In his description the "baseline" runs throughout the progression, merely with grreater and greater realization.

The highest category he describes as "your opponent attempts to attack, but you check, stop, or control him using your ki (energy, intention)." There are only a few I have known enough that I would be able to personally put in the highest category. My first teacher, Hooker Sensei among them, for instance. I would rather get hit multiple times by some people with bokken than be on the recieving end of a harsh glance from that man -- teddy bear though he is in many other respects, his nature remains -- all bear.

Lastly, Ushiro speaks about the integration of theory and practice, a point worthwhile to our discussion:
Ushiro wrote:
To formulate a valid theory you first have to consider actual usability, that is, whether you can or cannot actually do something. Only from that perspective can you start building a true theory. Only from there can you ask, "Okay, I can really do this thing; now, why am I able to do it?"
That is the question I dwell on. Anyone here is free judge the specificity of my descriptions, or those of anyone else posting, whether we are asking Ushiro's practical question about an empirical theory or merely an academic, theoretical one.


Erick Mead
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