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Old 10-19-2007, 06:03 PM   #16
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: VOE: Active Resistance

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello George,

Endo Sensei was in the Yamagchi clan.

Perhaps you should explain more clearly how active resistance is related to Saotome Shihan's training methodology. Yamaguchi Sensei never explained it.
Hi Peter,
Thanks for the input...
I think that Endo Sensei's approach is different than Saotome Sensei's. I see what Endo Sensei is doing as being rather like what I think happens when Systema meets Aikido. It has the form of Aikido but the goal of training is to reprogram the Mind and Body, removing all vestiges of mental and physical tension from ones life. He approaches ukemi exactly the same way he approaches the nage's role. Resistance, if it is in the form of tension is actively discouraged.

I think that for Endo Sensei, martial effectiveness might be a by product of proper training but clearly not the main point. I think he is far more interested in an Aikido that would realte to ones everyday life than worrying about that least likely of all events, an actual violent confrontation with an attacker.

I think that this is precisely the attitude of Systema, which actually has another Russian name which translates "to know yourself". They see what they do as a mental and physical health system with fighting ability being a byproduct of the training.

Saotome Sensei wasn't quite as clear about the uke / nage roles. In much of my Aikido career, there was a distinct dichotomy between what I did as uke and what I did as nage. Sensei was more overtly concerened with martial effectiveness, I think as a result of his travels where he observed a marked decline on that aspect of the art. He let us train with a lot more intensity and muscularity than I currently do with my own students. This resulted in having a group of seniors who will not baqck away from an incoming threat, who wil move straight in under the sword etc. This is a crucial trait for any execution of Aikido technique.

But we were also allowed to be incredibly rigid and tense. We shut each other down, used more power than our partners could handle in a relaxed fashion, attacked harder than or partners could receive without some mental and physical tightening or collapse of projection. In other words, we trained hard but we trained stupid in my opinion.

When taking ukemi from Sensei one was encouraged to attack as hard as one could. But that didn't mean being dumb about it. You were expected to attack in a manner that allowed defense at any instant if nage chose to strike. Focusing too much attention and energy on trying to stop a particular movement would result in an imbalance that Sensei would instantly point out with an atemi. If one was prepared to defend at any instant during the attack, ones intention to "get" Sensei was pretty much irrelevant. If one is to be aware of ones openings, one has to be sensitive to changes in the mind and body of the opponent / partner. He uses that need for connection to move your mind which in turn gets you to move your body (pretty much my working definition of "aiki").

It was great taking ukemi from Sensei that way, but I do not think we should have trained that way with each other. To the extent that any of us have a take on what Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei are doing (and by extension what I have seen via videos of Yamaguchi sensei and felt from Endo Sensei and Gleason Sensei) it has taken us almost three decades of training to get there. I do not think that this should be necessary. Obviously, not everyone in Aikido can function at the most etheral levels of skill, but I do think that virtually everyone can do hsi or her Aikido with some degree of "aiki".

I am very influenced by the Systema methodology. They never go faster than they can execute their movements without tension. If they start to tense up, they slow down. If something hurts enough to cause tension, they back off. The emphasis on the training is discovering all of the places we carry our tension and shifting things to get a release. Eventually, their senior folks get to the point at which they can function at very high speed and channel a great deal of impactive energy without any tension (or injury) at all. Vlad's seniors, who are uniformly greatly skilled, trained with him for under ten years for the most part. I look at what they can do in ten years and compare it to what most Aikido folks are doing and it isn't in the ballpark.

In the long run, even if the interest is in attaining functional martial skill, I think that Endo Sensei's training will get the student to a higher level sooner, than how I trained when I was younger. Once one has learned to receive the energy of an attack in a composed and relaxed fashion and the principles of connection have been deeply imprinted, then one can take the energy up to whatever intensity one wishes, add the applied technique back into the mix, and one should have a very effective martial artist, assuming that was the goal.

It's all an experiment... I am asking my students to train differently from the way I myself trained. I hope the result will be more people who get to some level of competency, sooner, perhaps with a few who end up better than I am. I am 55 and will have only one shot at this. If I am wrong, I won't get a "do-over". I have told my students this and they are on-board with the experiment. So far I am very happy with the results. But twenty years from now, it may turn out that other people understood what it took better than I and my students will be off at their seminars trying to fill in the blanks that I left them.

I hope this clarifies some of what my thinking is on this issue. The terminology thing is merely a matter of what works in terms of instruction... If you say "resist" to the average person, he will use muscular tension to do so. I prefer explanations which people don't already have an association for that doesn't actually fit what i am trying to get them to do. An example is Ikeda Sensei's "pick" or "pick them" which is his way of saying "pick them up". I prefer to use the term "float them". Most folks think they know what picking something up means and it usually resembles OSHA approved lifting techniques at best. So I prefer "float" because most people would associate the word with something effortless, that rises almost of its own accord; which is precisely the feeling I want them to have. Floating the partner isn't a term that makes people tense up, but picking them up is...

So I don't use resistance because it doesn't result in the right feel in the body and it doesn't give the proper feeling of intention that I want the students to have when they train. We probably mean exactly the same thing when we use various terms but I can't say the same thing for how my students understand them.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 10-19-2007 at 06:15 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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