Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Re: Love to hear your oppinions on this video.
I think this is what I was trying to discuss, that one can look at this stuff and say exactly what you said, "I don't see the basic skills that are learned in fundamental practice being explored and applied to this more intense context." In other words, my point was that rather than looking at these alternative ways of training and going with our first or learned impression, we should, because of their very nature, expect them to look strange to us - different from what we normally do and expect via our training.
In that same sense, one has to realize that whenever one is devising training drills, one is in essence moving both further and closer to realistic training (in relation to Kihon Waza - which is always idealistic and thus non-realistic). They are moving further in that the very nature of the drill, of any drill, is to work on "x" or "y" and not on the totality of reality. In other words, it's like the attribute "specialization." Sure, it means you are really good at "x," but it also means there's a whole lot more you are not good at. So, when you work on through a drill, you are going to work on "x" and look to pick up "y" and "z" in another drill. Still, one is fine with this, or should be, since one realizes quickly that what makes reality "reality" is that it cannot ever be captured in totality. Training, then, can only ever function as a idealization or as a specialization. That's just the way it is.
So, in my first video, we are working on Irimi, that's it. But, we are doing it under conditions not usually practiced in kihon waza (e.g. multiple strikes, fakes and feints, counters, measuring strikes, contact, unrelenting offenses, etc.). The "throw," which is really just a kuzushi, is not the end goal. It is simply that which marks that one has fully entered under the new conditions. Why do this? The first motivation is this: Because entering under these conditions is initially a lot harder than entering under the conditions set up by kihon waza. (Note: In my opinion this is because one has not yet learned what needs to be learned about Irimi.) Sure, entering under conditions that include weapons and ground-fighting, multiple attackers, etc., would make it harder still, but that does not take away from the fact that you are now training to enter under conditions that are much more trying than in how kihon waza is normally practice (for good reasons). In other words, this is still a challenge, and, in most cases, being able to meet the challenge of irimi in kihon waza does not at all mean that you can meet this challenge here. So, as a challenge, there is still lots to learn from, and what you will learn will inevitably go back to your kihon waza applications - which, more than the "throw" (what I called kuzushi), is the common point to all of this (since we are trying to investigate Aikido). Hence, why I showed that last clip of Kaiten Nage.
As to, "When does it cease to become AIkido and become just what a person feels may work for them in an attack?" I can't say I really entertain these questions too much. If I do, I certainly don't see them as leading to anything DANGEROUS (as you have written). Danger for me is a guy with an assault rifle that just robbed me at the mall and saw my sheriff's badge in my wallet, and I have my two kids with me and my wife is at the Mrs. Field's buying cooking, having no idea what's going on. That's dangerous. Folks exploring arts and becoming artists is a creative process, one that hurts no one and no thing but for those folks and things that are looking to set up museums, ones where they don't have to change the exhibits. Still, even they survive. In other words, I do have to say that I'm against this notion of preservation for preservation sake. To be human and to practice art is to live and to live is to learn and to learn is to change. That said, and as Ron has noted elsewhere in this thread, my end results still look like Aikido.
Why or how that happens, for me, is because Aiki represents the greatest tactical advantage (here I'm only speaking martially - of course there are other advantages, more important advantages to Aiki). Thus, anyone who is really going to pursue a real martial tactical advantage, in a truly life and death, anything goes setting, is going to apply Aiki, or they are going to rely too heavily on luck. In other words, my experience has been, and here I'll talk about both of Aiki's major aspects, if you are truly serious about Peace/Love and/or about surviving combative experiences, you are going to travel along the same lines that Osensei did, and no matter how individualized your expression may be, it's going to be related and folks are going to be able to note that. So, on the one hand, I don't fear change, not out to preserve for the sake of preservation, and I feel that anyone serious about this stuff is going to follow along the lines of the Founder. Heck, if I didn't believe that, I would be contradicting myself were I to suggest that Osensei realized some universal truths that are common to all mankind, etc. And I do believe that Osensei realized some universal truths.
Your other points I think are perfectly sound. You are right, there is a whole lot of stuff that goes with Aiki that happens beyond, even previous to, an actual tactical application. And, these things are indeed very relative to one's tactical achievements. These things have to be studied too. They are just not all studied here in this drill. Why? Because it's still hard to do Irimi under these conditions set forth, and for me, if you can't do Irimi under these conditions, then you may in the end ask too much of these other kinds of considerations that you have listed - and asking too much of anything isn't, for me, Aiki. Additionally, while being trained in these other types of considerations may help one get more out of his/her Irimi, it is not automatically given that one's Irimi is at its full (or higher) potential. Studying Irimi then, even under these drill conditions, is still of value to one's overall practice.
In the end, it's a choice - how one trains. I feel each person has to make this choice. But, the one that makes a choice after they have tried this stuff, even if he/she then chooses to call this "wasted time," is always going to be much better off than the person that outright dismisses it as either something they already do, can do, or have done in the same breath that they are dismissing it for being different from how they practice or how they were taught to practice. In the end, this was my main point.
Wouldn't be great, in this day and age, if we all attempted this drill, filmed ourselves, posted those clips, and then talked about what we felt or did not feel? How cool would that be!
thanks for your comments Larry - lots of good points. Sorry if I didn't get to address them all.