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Old 07-16-2008, 08:43 PM   #119
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Seiseki Abe Sensei video....whats going on here?

I am off in the am traveling cross country so I want to keep this relatively short... I totally understand what the folks are saying about "tanking" and the detriment to any martial efficacy. I don't think there is any question about that.

I think this is the point at which we start to have the discussion whether Aikido is meant to be a functional martial or rather a system of personal development which uses a martial paradigm.

I guess I do not think it is any mistake that one sees technique which is less practically oriented coming from older Senseis. Certainly that was true of the Founder. I suspect that they simply aren't interested in fighting any more... been there, done that, so to speak.

In my own Aikido I have chosen to move into a period in which I am not terribly concerned with practical application. I spent most of my younger days focusing on such things and, I too, find that my interests have taken me elsewhere. What is interesting is that this "letting go" of the need to fight, to worry about winning etc also has corresponded with the period of greatest positive change in my art. I am certain that, where I to require my waza for practical defense purposes, it would be stronger and more effective than it ever was.

I do not encourage my students to "amplify" what they feel in their ukemi. But I also do not train them to do anything with their body structure which doesn't make sense martially. Tension is the enemy of speed and power. Too many people think that being martial means using their muscular strength to resist technique. This almost never makes sense practically. But "tanking" as a way of doing ukemi makes equally little sense. I teach my students not to go if the nage's power goes into their structure. With good posture and grounding, muscling technique will not work, especially if one is relaxed.

On the other hand if the nage gets the technique then it isn't good practice to hold on. Resisting past the point of no return indicates that ones mind is caught in the past and is not in the present. One is stuck in the past when one should be doing something entirely new. Virtually always this represents a dangerous "opening". Kaeshiwaza is the martial application of aiki principle. I think, if I understand what he is saying, that Dan recommends this type of practice. I have found that I am much closer to being able to do that having changed the manner in which I practice. But we do not practice this way all the time. I think it would take Aikido in a different direction than was intended if practice was mostly a pseudo battle in which one or the other practitioner won.

Sometimes it's just fine to take the ukemi. It's a different practice and not how I would prepare folks for battle... but the dojo isn't a battle ground, at least not with ones partners. I have decided that it isn't useful for me to look at one way of practice or another as right or wrong... They are different and accomplish different things. Certainly, the different approaches to training allow people of vastly different dispositions to train. Perhaps some re-naming needs to take place as some approaches are so different from others that they might as well be different arts. Or perhaps we just come to terms with the fact that each person's Aikido reflects his own strengths and weaknesses and will change or not as he changes or doesn't.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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