b) I do not understand yet David's perspective on speed not affecting kihon. In all the keiko I have done, I have found that speed does affect how I perform at the edge of my competence and ability. I think that success at using aikido under pressure often means moving in a relaxed and somewhat unussual way, and doing that quickly under pressure (for me) is more difficult than doing it slowly. I see that hold true for many of the people I have trained with (in my eyes in any case).
Hi Ron, and others,
I must not have been clear with what I meant to say. My experience is the same as yours Ron, especially when dealing with force-on-force training (whatever the criteria may be). Speed changes everything, makes things more difficult, etc. My point, for raising the issue of speed, particularly when dealing with more spontaneous training environments (i.e. not scripted environments like kihon waza), was that it doesn't do anyone all that much good to slow said training down, since it was the rate of how things changed that was making one need or want to slow things down in the first place.
Speed was the problem, but it's also the answer. Slowness was no longer the problem - it's holding no more answers. Why? Because, as you already said, speed was/is the pressing factor. Slowing down, I was trying to say, wasn't just slowing down, it is a decision to no longer work on one what was lacking, or no longer working toward one's continuous growth - i.e. the capacity to deal with dynamically adapting situations at the speed of life (vs. doing kihon waza, which one already knew one could do, which is why one knew slowing down would remedy things).
On a related topic, my experience is this: After a certain point in one's training, let's just use a rough guideline of at least 10 years of regular bi or tri-weekly practice (less, maybe even half, if you are training every day - like I feel one should) you should start emphasizing the "software" (e.g. Not freaking when things are moving at the speed of life) of the art over the "hardware" (e.g. Irimi Nage) of the art. So, after a while, you aren't so interested on when or how to do Irimi Nage, for example. You are or should be, in my opinion, more interested in why you can not do Irimi Nage under "x" conditions - realizing, the answer to that question is hardly ever, "Because your right hand was too low," realizing the answer is almost always, because fear and fetteredness got the best of me. Ken Murray explains this distinction quite well. Murray is the inventor of simmunitions:
"John Steinbeck wrote:
'This is the law: The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.'
Steinbeck recognized the necessity for tools to provide a decisive edge in battle, but he also accepted that physical training without the psychological conditioning to enter the fray would not win the day.
Despite the fact that we now know the importance of that psychological conditioning, it is surprising that the vast majority of training in the fighting arts is still directed toward skill enhancement, with the primary goal being the demonstration of "proficiency" or "qualification." This is the easy path because it doesn't require teaching people how to think. Our society seems to opt for a lowering of the bar, where those in authority would prefer to tell us what to do than to invest the time in teaching us the process of solving problems for ourselves. Our education system begins the process with the very young, often grinding away at their creativity until it is sufficiently atrophied and obedience is the norm.
When learning how to fight with a pistol or a rifle, teaching a man how to shoot is vastly easier than teaching him how to think his way through a gunfight. Having a high level of technical proficiency, while essential to winning a lethal force confrontation, is just one aspect of ensuring that win. Psychological proficiency is much more important since without the psychological preparation for an encounter, no weapon will reliably save the day."
When I looked at Chris' video, when I do my stuff at our dojo, this is how I understand things: This is training meant to work on the software - what makes the hardware actually function at the speed of life. That type of training, in my experience, is not being done at the Shihan level, and/or in or at the majority level either (i.e. Aikidoka that have invested in the shihan paradigm - for the simple reason that shihan are not doing it). Every shihan I have ever met, and/or seen, and that's quite a large number of them, has opted to dedicate themselves to studying hardware, opening themselves up to Murray's criticism of working the easier path of telling folks what to do and expecting more obedience than creativity, etc. This point relates back to earlier comments made to Chris, to find a teacher, and his response being a very honest and heart-felt, "Where?"
Of course, if anyone here knows of Shihan, ones that are still training and actively teaching, that are working on the software of the art, let me know. If he or she is, however, I guarantee you their training is going to look like just what one saw in the videos thus far posted (even the Tohei video), and what it looks like is going to be totally different from what one is used to seeing Aikido look like (because folks are used to only seeing hardware training in Aikido). If it doesn't look like what I described, it's only because it's got a lot of hardware emphasis still embedded within it.
On another related note... On the teacher/student dynamics, folks talking about welfare, and Murray talking about how it is easier to teach a man how to shoot than how to think his way through a gunfight, etc., let me point out that there is way more teacher investment on the latter than in the former. In my dojo, we have limits on how many folks can start training at a time, for example. We do this because everyone, myself, my family, my fellow students, have to invest big time in the newbie. And, they have to invest equally big as well - meaning, they can never just show up and work up a sweat and go home, or doing a little mental strain over why they have two left feet or how tenkan is related to irimi, etc. Oh no, they are going to have to expose themselves and invest as much of themselves as everyone else is doing. Meaning, since fear and fetteredness are seated in a lack of virtues that Budo has valued (e.g. honor, integrity, courage, etc.), a person is going to have to go through what is almost more akin to psychoanalysis than exercise, but at a very practical level, one with martial consequences of the obvious kind.
All of this has things operating at a level of intimacy, nurturing, caring, support, that is simply impossible in what one sees in hardware training and the shihan paradigm as it is today (it's also totally unnecessary there). This is why a Shihan can go anywhere in the world and teach what he teaches no matter how many folks are on the mat. If a person comes to me, or if I go to him, the best I can do with the normal seminar schedule, after hugely limiting the number of participants, is simply point out the issues and the problems to be worked through - sometimes not even the latter - in regards to the fettered mind.
Again, my point: This type of training is aimed at something other than what is usually aimed at in normal/common Aikido (hardware) training. It is based upon a simple truth, one that anyone can prove to him/herself, that hardware training doesn't address these issues. In many ways, the two are so different that a failure in one type of training can mean success in the other. For example, being punched right on the nose is a bad thing in Irimi Nage Kihon Waza - as the point is not to be struck. In "software" training, sometimes, being punched in the nose is exactly the point of the training. In other words, we should not expect these types of training to look the same, and so we should not condemn one by the other's standards when they do not.