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.
My experience lends itself to the position that one cannot correct architectural matters within force-on-force, spontaneous, unscripted training environments. Hence, why we do not try to do that. In my experience, you are what you are in this type of training, as this type of training is about facing the unknown at the speed of life (vs. trying to do Ikkyo, for example). At that point, you don't want to get preoccupied with how to place your right foot; you just want to move.
In this type of training, we are looking for a union of subject and object, such that art and being are seeking union. We don't want to study the art at that moment, keeping subject and object apart. Thus, at the most, under the rare occasions when someone is getting pounded for technical reasons more than psychological reasons, I might say, "That's the same mistake you make on that move in your Kihon Waza training - NOW you perfectly know why you should stop making it." Or, I might say, "You haven't paid enough attention on how that technique goes, but at least you NOW know why we don't do it like you just did."
At the end of every such training session, that's when we might cover technical issues, but if we don't, we always make sure that one connects such training back to their kihon waza (which is done at a different hour or on a different day), looking always toward refining our moves and making are own individual expressions as close to the ideal version as we can get it - this time better armed with a very practical answer to "Why that way and not this way?"
I realize that conventional wisdom might have us concerned with the downside of repeating bad form (i.e. imprinting), but there are two things to consider with this type of training. First, again, in this type of training, you are who you are. One is not imprinting in this type of training, one is only "printing" - one is simply expressing themselves. Meaning, in regards to technical ability, you are not going to become anything or anyone new by placing yourself within a spontaneous training environment. You are not going to develop habits, you are simply going to express habits as they already are in you. For example, if you are used to fighting with your hands down, you are not all of a sudden going to fight with your hands up from within these training environments. Meaning, you are not going to stumble across tactical viable applications when things are moving faster, more powerfully, and in unknown and unpredictable ways.
In the same way then, you are not going to imprint poor form in you either; you are not all of a sudden going to fight with your hands down inside of these training environments when you always fight with them up when outside of these training environments. At most, habits are amplified or magnified - they are not created here.
This amplification/magnification allows us to see more clearly what was there all along. (This is one very important reason why this type of training is so relevant to forms training!) So, using this example of hands up or down, sure, you might have someone that puts their hands up in kihon waza and then down in these types of drills, but if you look more closely at their kihon waza, you will be able to see the telltale signs of how they are using the scripted format to make up for what the hands are supposed to be doing - which means that while the hands are up, they are not really up doing what they are supposed to be doing. With the script gone, as in these more live training environments, you see that more clearly: the hands are not doing what they are supposed to be doing (which could have this habit represented in the hands being down, but also in the hands being too far out to the side, or chasing the opponent or his attacks, etc.).
When someone slows these types of training down, what one is doing is simply reducing the the amount of amplification/magnification made possible by the drill in regards to habits that already exist. Meaning, with the drill slower, you are not now seeing hands doing what they are supposed to be doing, you are just not seeing as clearly how the hands still don't know what to do. Or, another example, if when the drill slows down, and a person gets less jumpy, more grounded with their feet, more unfettered with their mind, it's not really these things that are occurring. It's just that you have reduced the amplification/magnification and so you can't as readily see the jumpiness/fetteredness. This is not to say that there is no value in slowing things down or even in allowing some script back into these types of training environments. There are lost of reasons for doing exactly that (e.g. what George described). My point is that one needs to be aware of why and what one is seeing or not seeing whenever one is going to slow things down, allow more script in, etc., because these types of things inevitably reduce the amount of amplification/magnification regarding states of being/habits.
What is important to remember here is that one is not out to work on form, on the hardware of the art, with these drills. Hardware training is extremely important, but not here - not here because one is not trying to work on hardware here (only software) and not here because one cannot work on hardware here (as it can only be worked on in kihon waza training - where past and future exist and where then repetition is possible). For that reason, what is more important than whether or not a technique is smooth, for example, is why a practitioner is being plagued by fear, pride, or ignorance (these things being antithetical to takemusu aiki) - that which is behind the need or the habit to make a tactical application jerky, rushed, forced, etc., when faced with the speed and unpredictability of life.
I should say here, since I'm sure someone will raise the issue later: No, in my opinion, you do not within these drills reconcile fear, pride, and ignorance either. Like tactical habits, habits of the heart/mind are simply expressed within these training environments. They are not cultivated here. A person that is plagued by fear will not all of a sudden reconcile it; a person that has reconciled pride will not all of a sudden adopt an egocentric expression of the art. Like one has to go to kihon waza, to measure themselves against an ideal form, to correct and refine tactical architectures, one has to look to spiritual kihon as well (e.g. prayer, sacrifice, servitude, ritual, etc.), to measure themselves against an ideal form, to correct and refine the heart/mind. This is why, when I see a deshi that is having their tactical expressions plagued by egocentrism (e.g. They refuse to yield space when it is obvious they no longer hold it or can hold it), I don't tell them to practice this technique or that technique more, instead I may ask them to pray for their enemies, and to forgive them in their hearts. BUT, now, after this training, when they do that, when they returns back to their spiritual kihon, they are now armed with that very practical answer to "Why this way and not that way?"
Last edited by senshincenter : 12-22-2007 at 06:04 PM.