Only yesterday we did a similar practice, with Tori learning to blend and Uke attacking freely (for us veterans this included all kicks too). And, Sensei has instructed my Uke to slow down, since as our speed grew I became "jumpy", "too on edge", lost the smoothness of the movement, and mot importantly, Sensei could see I was stopping to learn and starting to "fight".
As I said earlier, I find nothing wrong with the ideas behind the exercises in the videos. These ideas with similar exercises actually exist as in integral part of our curriculum. Because of the that, we do those things as part of a well defined methodical approach, and the teacher is not experimenting, and knows the exact purpose of each exercise he gives, which exercises we should do in order to improve specific traits, and what changes and comments are relevant to each.
You should have filmed it and shared it here though. That would have been a really nice thing to add to this conversation. Again, everyone, anyone, that is chiming in here could, if they wanted to, jump in on this with video in hand. That would be really cool. It's not that hard to put together. Or, some of you that have video (e.g. Larry, I saw some irimi video of you a while ago - care to share it here again?), even of other drills, techniques, etc., could opt to share them - particularly where you believe it to be relative. Heck, even just get video of other folks doing what you think you are doing. Something, so we could try and actually talk about the same thing here.
As for what you experienced, Amir, please let me ask: Why do you think you were jumpy, requiring the drill to slow down? Are you normally jumpy when doing Kihon Waza? If not, why not? Or, was it something about the drill that made you jumpy? If so, what was it, and how was that solved by slowing down? Did you get less jumpy when things slowed down? If you did, do you feel you got less jumpy because the slower speed of the drill? If you are not normally jumpy in kihon waza, and you were less jumpy (or not jumpy at all) when the drill was slowed down, do you think you would be jumpy again when the drill speeds up? If not, why not?
I'm asking these questions because these questions, or ones like them, are part of the beginning of these pursuits you are seeing in these alternative types of training. On a related note, I just had to qualify for my agency again - handgun and AR-15 A2. We already qualified at the Academy, but we had to do it again. Why? This is what the agency rangemaster told us. "At the academy you get to miss shots, you get to stand still and aim, and take your time. That is not the job. That is not how you are going to be the hero, save a life, save my life, save your partner's. In real life, at the least, you got your shot, and it's only a small window of opportunity, and you have to make it, and you have to run to get it done, and you have to be out of balance when you are in this gunfight, and your weapon's going to malfunction, and you are going to have to reload, and folks are going to be yelling all over the place, and rounds are going to be whizzing by your head, and your fellow officer's weapons are going to be going off right by your face, and folks that should not be shot are going to be crossing your line of sight. That's about as easy as it will get, about as easy as I can qualify you in good conscience. If you don't want to do it, the drills and qualifications we are going to do now, you can quit now and just go home."
So, we did it: a qualification course that included all that he said. During the first round, one of my fellow deputies, while off balance, reloading, folks yelling, shots going off, flying by his head (from his back-up), etc., lost track of parters' line of sight and ended up crossing in front. I thought he was a dead man. Nope, they all just adjusted - clearing, moving, reloading, putting steel on target. The Rangemaster came over to me - cause we are both instructors. He said, "Did you see that?" I said, "I sure did. I don't think he knew where his partners were when he lost his balance." He said, "No he didn't, but he made it - they made it. They kept firing. The bad guy is dead. He figured it out. He did the job. They did the job. They figured it out. Now they are not just Academy recruits. They are deputies."
I bring this up here because, on the one hand, the basics are the same (e.g. breath control, grip, trigger control, sight picture, sight alignment, etc. etc.) for both this qualification and for what recruits do, but on the other hand, these drills are working on different things - things so different that one well-renowned firearms instructor won't even count them as being relative to the same job. I will suggest the obvious here that he was looking to test for different things. When we look to do these alternative types of training, we too are looking to test for different things - sure the basics are the basics, but they are being utilized under such a different situation that it is not that far off from saying, the basics are not the basics. In the drills you have seen on Chris' video and on my video, and even in the drill described by Amir, speed, for example, is one thing that makes the basics not the basics. I am sure, you will want to say something like speed is irrelevant - the basics are always the basics, etc. - especially if you have not ever experienced how basics take on new meanings/additional meanings under more dynamic conditions, by my experience is that speed is very relative to what one is trying to accomplish and/or cultivate. So much so, that if you take out speed, slowing things down, you are not doing the drill anymore. Look at it this way, if a person does kihon waza all the time, and they are never jumpy when they do kihon waza, and they aren't jumpy when they do any of the above mentioned drills slowly, but they are jumpy when they does these drills fast, going slow is not going to do anything regarding the jumpiness. You already know how not to be jumpy when not faced with speed and the unknown. Sure, if you go slower, you will be able to get your waza off, just like you could when you do kihon waza, but if slow reps, or if more controlled conditions, are what you need to go from jumpy to non-jumpy when going fast, it should have already happened when you were doing kihon waza, which we can now note, speaking abstractly here, that that didn't work - since all the kihon waza training previously done didn't stop you from getting jumpy in the first place. My point is that you were looking at a different beast when the drill was fast (a "different" set of basics). By going slow, you simply made the training more akin to what you already know you can do. For me, that is not really training, or, better said, that's not what we are after in the drills we do. We are not after in doing what we already know we can do. We are after we we cannot yet do.
On another note: On the Tohei video. He looks just like someone that is fighting someone that is fighting you back and no weapons or strikes are allowed by either party. I don't see his performance at all related to him not trying to hurt someone or him trying not joint-lock him, etc. That's what the art looks like under these conditions: a mess, more muscle than you want or should use, more yin tactics than you want or should use, attackers losing balance and gravity working on their line of gravity more than them flying through the air head-over-heels, etc.
And, on a another different note: I have to say that there is just a tad too much unchecked egocentricism regarding the self-righteous crusades to save someone else's students. I see so much of that here, on this site, and even in this thread. It is so ridiculous a campaign, so silly a position to adopt. It's full of too much ignorance, misguided nerve, foolish pride, to point to someone and say, "I think your students are in danger - I need to point that out! I'm Super Aikidoka, and if I didn't point it out here, only God knows what will happen to them! (Play hero theme music here.)" Ridiculous. Think about it, or take my case directly...
The gentleman in the video is named Sean. I've trained with Sean for over a decade now, with the last five years under my direct tutelage. Prior to that, he has trained directly under three different shihan. In seminars, he's trained under too many shihan for me to count. Through all that, for reasons that make our school our school, that make my training emphasis my training emphasis, he's opted to train with me. The man trains daily, most often multiple times daily. Over his time with me, his Aikido, at every level of what anyone might think Aikido is, has become both profound and powerful. (Please take note those videos of Sean are something like 5 to 7 years old.) Through his training, through our journey together, he has cultivated himself into a wonderful father, an admired and supportive husband, and a pillar to countless souls. So, you see, the Super Aikidoka hero-talk is just so out of place. But not just in my case, it's out of place always - I mean, I have to ask: Where does one get off feeling they are in such a position to make such comments? Are we, for example, hearing this from folks that have trained decades plus? Or, are they five or six years into their first martial art? Do they train daily? Or, is this a few nights a week kind of deal? Are they in shape? Or, are they 98 lbs when wet, or over-weight with high-blood pressure? Do they require spiritual maturity and the presence of Aiki principles and objectives in every aspect of their life (however they want to interpret that)? Or is the dojo their man-cave, where they go to detox, get away from it all, relax with the guys, etc.? Are they even Aikido teachers? Do they run a dojo? Or, are they just deshi? Do they share the running of their dojo with someone? Are they under someone when it comes to the running of their dojo? Have they done real mentorships under practitioners-teachers that meet the above questions in the way you would expect them to be answered? You know, the bare minimum stuff one would think would be necessary for even making such comments (if one just felt so compelled to do so). It might sound like I'm angry. I'm not. I just wish these kind of comments would inspire deeper self-reflections, the way I wish the "your Aikido sucks" comments and the "is segal for real" or the "can you use Aikido for real" discussions should (vs. actually participating in them directly). Or, at least tell us how many students have actually been saved by this type of hero-action (and, also, what theme music you listen to while you type). Lots of sarcasm here, but, seriously, I remember pointing out a while ago how silly it was to suggest that someone else's practice, way over on the other side of the world, or on the other side of your country, is at all relative to one's own (such that one was compelled to stop what they were doing so that you could continue to do your own training). I feel the same way here with the "you're ruining your students" polemics - so silly.