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Old 02-27-2002, 04:39 AM   #15
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,078
Re: Initial techniques

Originally posted by Tom
As a begginer I find it very hard to differenciate betweeen techniques. Each session I attend they seem to use something different every time, the I forget it instantly.

Although I realise that I am getting something from each one, I feel that I need a structured set of techniques to slowly learn. Does anyone have a list(or a link) of the basic techniques a begginer should learn? I'd just like to have a simple structure to go by. Something where I could learn the names of maybe a few techniques and get some fucus.

At the moment I feel I don't know what's going on and practice so many different techinques it get's confusing. I think I would benefit from having a goal of 'just learn how to do this and this' rather than a goal of 'learn Aikido'.

Any tips would be graetly appreciated.
I think my advice is a little different from that of some contributors to this thread, but it is backed up by many years of teaching beginners and watching beginners training.

You desire for a 'peg' on which to hang a 'simple structure' is very common. but I think it is a red herring. If you come to see aikido as a set of techniques to be mastered, I guarantee you will have problems in th future.

I do not advise you to worry about learning different techiques, or even the names of techiques. I came across Westbrook and Ratti in my third year of training. It was a revelation, but only because I could by then remember the techniques and thus fit them into a pattern. But I never used the book again.

Rather than acquire a conceptual knowledge of techniques, I recommend at this stage that you learn ukemi, ukemi, ukemi and yet more ukemi. Ask one of the black belts to throw you around after class, if this is possible, or teach you the finer points of ukemi. And shikko (knee-walking). Lots of it. Forwards, backwards and also fowards and turning on the inside knee. There are also crucial movements, like turning your body on the balls of the feet (and never on the heels), being 'centred', i.e., moving with your entire body focused at the centre of gravity (in your lower hips), moving without raising your hips.

And, as Colleen says, watch the feet and the hands, especially the fingers. This is good advice, but perhaps it is too early: you need to know what you are looking for.

You give your location as the London Dojo. I am curious as to whether your teacher is Japanese. I trained in London many years ago with Minoru Kanetsuka. Is he your sensei? He was an amazing aikidoka even when I practised with him, but after the recovery from cancer it has become phenomenal, since he simply does not have the physical strength to 'muscle' the techniques. Kanetsuka Sensei has been through an awful lot of suffering in the cause of aikido and in some way is a man with a mission: to show as much as he can in the time he has left. In addition, like Chiba Sensei before him, he does not suffer fools gladly. Even after five or six years of practice, I used to go home after practice feeling so frustrated; he did the techniques so effortlessly. I felt like a St Bernard in the Royal Ballet.

Anyway, the advice I gave you above is the advice Kanetsuka Sensei gave me when I first became his sudent.

And, as the Japanese say, "Gambatte!"

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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