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Old 04-26-2008, 08:02 PM   #16
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
Dojo: Yoshokai; looking into judo
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 434
Re: Functional Origins of Aikido/Daito-Ryu Techniques

I spent quite a while thinking about this response, because I'd like to avoid coming across as repetitive. I hope I was successful at that!

Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Paul - It's not so simple. We are talking about a 400+ year regress. Imagine a technique specifically for responding to a stab with a knife. (I never said, BTW, that the techniques were all "weapons taking"). Now, imagine it is adapted to empty handed attack (well-adapted or poorly). Now, add the fact that because there is not a weapon involved, you could combine it with a hip throw (you're not concerned about being stabbed), OR, someone realizes that one can take that technique, which may be martially inefficient and adapt it as a training method to hone everything from body displacement to internal strength.
Point taken. It just kind of seems like: at the end of all that distortion away from "actual" martial arts, is there anything of value (as budo) left in aikido? Over the course of this convoluted historical legacy and repeated readaptation, has it become kind of like kyudo -- no longer bearing any relevance to firing a bow, but simply a symbolic and meditative practice? A tea ceremony where you fall down, as it were? This leads me to:

Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
400+ years pass and Takeda Sokaku appears with his Daito-ryu, which, at least to Meiji jujutsuka, is remarkable (aiki, remember?). Because otherwise, it's just some wristy-twisty stuff.
I've heard it argued that modern aikido still teaches good things about body mechanics, timing, and so forth. I've heard similar arguments about tai chi and other Chinese internal styles. It makes perfect theoretical sense to me, but I don't see the empirical evidence. Certainly, it doesn't seem that abstracted internal training is necessary to become a top-notch martial artist. Competitive martial arts have taken off of late, and hardly anyone seems to be knocking on aikido's door for either internal or external material.

Don McConnell wrote: View Post
In the end each person has to figure our aikido or any martial art for themselves. Thinking, experimenting, discarding, revisiting....serious students need to find a good teacher, but ultimately its up to the student to plumb the depths of the techniques and principles.
At present, I'm thinking I need to get good at judo before I can really "get" aikido. If aikido's about principles rather than specific techniques, it seems like one would need a "literal" base. This certainly seems a common story, although it may be historical accident: many aikido teachers seem to have started out with foundations in judo. I've also heard people argue that aikido is "high-level" martial arts training, which isn't really suitable for anyone who hasn't gotten good at the basics (judo, jujutsu, etc.)

In other words, I guess it's a bit like Pascal's wager (a bit): If I'm right, and aikido still has something to it as a martial art, maybe judo will let me understand that by giving me a basic context. If I'm wrong, and aikido has degenerated into total nonsense, I'll at least be on my way to learning something else. (Small consolation, admittedly, given how much I like aikido.)
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