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Old 03-29-2007, 09:21 AM   #9
John A Butz
Dojo: Itten Dojo, Enola PA
Location: Carlisle PA
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 45
Re: Ueshiba on the future of Aikido

I can't speak for Dan, obviously, but I have always viewed the concept of MMA as being less an actual set of techniques and more a methodology of training and employment.

The MMA methodology, in my opinion, is to take your skillset and put it up against another's skill set in an environment with increasing levels of resistance, and work what you know till you reach the failure point, i.e. you are submitted or dominated positionaly and can no longer defend yourself, or you have achieved said control over the other guy.

Cross-training is, to my mind, more of a "putting tools in the toolbox" sort of thing. You study different arts and methods as individual activities. In essence, you learn several arts under the assumptions those arts make about training and combat.

Because all arts make assumptions about training and combat, you need a venue in which to experiment without the need to "do technique" and see how things can play out when you forego some of the assumptions. That is the role of mma-style training.

MMA is taking that cross-trained knowledge and removing the assumptions it was gained under in a "live" environment where the other guy is under no obligation to share the same assumptions. I do not believe that all cross training has to be mma any more then all mma has to be thai boxing crossed with BJJ and wrestling. You could practice any set of arts, in any combination of armed or unarmed, with a mindset more aligned with removing assumptions and reliance on the "techniques" of an art. I would term this randori, and I personally view it more along the lines of judo's randori then what most folks consider aikido randori.

Even in MMA-style training, you are still going to have assumptions and limitations. There is no way to practice safely without some guidelines. But by removing the arts you train in from their standard context, you will create a less restricted environment to experiment with what you know.

If you watch the mma guys train, they don't just train in the sort of thing you see in a UFC match. They will do striking combo work, BJJ drills, heavy bag work, a wide variety of skill sets acquired from different places (Crosstraining). They then train different combinations of those skills as drills, i.e. standup to create opportunities for takes downs, or newaza till you have position to ground and pound (randori). They will integrate more and more aspects of the game into the drills they do till it looks like MMA. Then, when they get to the actual event, they are able to put the skills into practice. It doesn't always look exactly like what they trained, but because they have remained aware of the underlying assumptions in their game, they are able to have a full-contact, few holds barred type of fight. When they go back to training for the next fight, they also break stuff down again, and work the elements in isolation as well as incorporating them into drills, and the cycle repeats itself.

I do not think that cross training is necessary for MMA and more then MMA is necessary for crosstraining, so long as you understand the assumptions inherent in what you are practicing. I have had no formal training outside of aikido, and have enjoyed several sessions with judo, bjj, and stand-up striking guys where we would play by a certain set of rules and do drills or roll or whatever, and all I had was my aikido. I should note that these were friendly, half-speed and power things, and that in areas where I am weak I would find myself dominated. Sometimes I would find myself in the better position, and able to execute things I had learned from my aikido.

So, in essence, the question is what venue do we use to determine how well we are able to express the principles of our aikido? How do we want to structure our exploration of the principles underlying the techniques? And how can we train under increasing resistance without having it become a competition?

I apologize for the long post.

Last edited by John A Butz : 03-29-2007 at 09:25 AM.
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