Somewhere in this discussion lies the importance of training in awareness, though perhaps it has not been stated in these terms. One of the reasons why I am reluctant to expose beginners to too many variations in the same techniques too early, is that they have not yet learned to perceive the 'essence' of the technique. For example, in irimi-nage, there is always a 'creative tension' between the 'irimi' entry and the circular taisabaki, leading up to the throw. Thus, all the instructors I have had, Tao, Chiba, Kanai, Kanetsuka, Kitahira, Yamaguchi, Tada, Arikawa, have done the technique differently, even though the 'essence' always comes through.
I often see that yudansha in my classes will sometimes do the technique quite differently from the way I showed it and one reason is that they have not 'seen' how I did it: their particular perception of the 'essence' and mine differ. If yudansha cannot perceive, then it is unlikely that beginners will be able to do so either. Thus, I sometimes insist that the technique is done exacty in the way shown, with no variations. This type of training is quite different from, for example, presenting thre or four variations of the same technique, all done from ryote-dori, in the same class. I think this type of 'precision training' is essential for acquiring the other flexibility of approach and I myself learned it from having four different techers in succession, before I reached shodan. The techniques had to be done exactly as the instructors wanted, but in four different ways, as I actually discovered.
This was brought home to me, again, last night. In my new dojo three of us, with three different aikido backgrounds, but all Aikikai, share the instruction. So, once a week we train together, without any students, and look at the basic techniques in very fine detail. It was very interesting to find that we each had slightly differing perceptions of what was basic about irimi nage. We have a total of about 80 years of training, so we could immediately see the differences.
So, for us, the emphasis on precision for beginners lies in its importance as a learning tool. Beginners need to learn how to see the wood through the trees, but they must also learn the crucial importance of the 'creative tension' I referred to earlier. Otherwise, they are learning only rote imitation.
Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-03-2002 at 05:55 PM.