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Old 08-16-2007, 12:09 AM   #8
Allen Beebe
Location: Portland, OR
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 530
Re: Sword work, internal skill, & "Aiki"

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Good post. I think your comments about sword work are pretty right on. That sort of thing was what I was referring to when I said that the idea of flowing/blending in sword work is slightly different from what you get in popular Aikido. The example I was thinking of was kiri-otoshi in Itto-ryu. At first glance, it looks like you're simply overpowering your opponent's cut. But upon closer examination, it's actually rather blend-y. You're cutting down a downward moving sword.

But I (think) I know what Ron was talking about, and it's not really the same thing as what one does with a sword. Daito-Ryu physically takes a person's balance and physically locks up their body such that they can't move. Even if you want to make some sort of philosophical comparison, in the practical sense it's much different.
I,of course, wouldn't deny that this difference is true for your experience. In my experience, however, there is far more commonality than difference between the ken and taijutsu. For example, taking your Itto-ryu example, the opponent's sword IS physically displaced and their body is momentarily locked up enough to allow the delivery of of a coup-de-gras. We happen to use this very form to teach how all encounters should be both mentally and physically with the opponent being defeated the moment they form the will to attack. Of course, if this can't be physically manifested it is only so much philosophical mumbo jumbo. Now, when one compares how this is achieved technically there are, as you state, similarities and differences. However, once again I find there are more similarities than difference. They both, for example, require proper discernment and use of timing, distance, generation and manipulation of power, psychological state, strategy, etc. They differ slightly in the use of physical technique, however, even here there is overlap.

So to put it simply, as I was taught Aikido, without weapons work, it would be nigh impossible to understand completely and/or achieve the level of physical mastery demonstrated by those that excel at both. The reason being that, between weapons work and taijutsu the greatest difference isn't technical or physical it is the margin of error allowable.

[Please note that I cannot speak with authority about Daito-Ryu. My teacher was initially taught Daito-ryu and received licenses in Daito-ryu from Ueshiba Morihei, but he taught Aikido.]

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Yes, I believe that internal skill allows a person to receive and generate force in ways (even in flow-y/blend-y ways) that you can't without the skills... but follow me a minute.

I can see a few different ways one can blend/flow. The first is with physical momentum. This is big in popular Aikido.

The second would be... I guess you could call it mental/psychological momentum. I think you see this more with sword work, and not much in popular Aikido.

Third would be external structural flowing/blending. This would be following the weak lines of the body & form.

And the last would be internal structural flowing/blending. This would involve "feeling" where a person's structure was weak, or how they were distributing internal forces, and flowing/blending with that. For example, if my teacher feels a weakness in my structure, he can "attack" that weakness and overpower me on a "strong line". I think this sort of thing may or may not look #1 and #3, but would feel alot different.

Sword work seems to primarily involve #1 and #2, with maybe a touch of #3. Popular Aikido primarily seems to emphasize #1 & #3, with the occasional #2. But the current discussion of internal skills seems to want to emphasize #4.
Not too surprisingly my analysis is a bit different. From my experience I would say that the ken uses #2, #3, #4 and sometimes #1, but #1 usually isn't very viable with someone that is really good with the ken. Furthermore, and by now you know this is coming, I would say the same is true for taijutsu.

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
So I guess I'm wondering if the current discussion is exaggerating the emphasis of internal skill in defining "Aiki". My own exposure to DR seems to suggest that "Aiki" is more like #1 & #2, and that the internal aspects simply underpin it all.

But at this point I don't want to sound like I'm taking a step backwards and saying that internal skill is unimportant. I certainly believe some measure of internal skill is necessary for high level Aiki. I guess I'm just wondering if the popular Aikido understanding is really "wrong", or if it's just incomplete.
I wouldn't dare to say. I suspect it would be pointless to anyway. It seems to me that each individual has to decide and discover this for themselves and often that process of decision and discovery has many twists and turns. Sensei, dojos, and organizations can have their respective views but that doesn't mean that they are necessarily "TRUE" in an unchanging eternal sense. Certainly when one looks to the respective fathers of Daito Ryu and Aikido they followed their individual paths and were open to both challenge and change and this enabled them to grow and excel, perhaps this was their "key" to success.

That's my two bits for tonight anyway!

Allen Beebe

~ Allen Beebe
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