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Old 01-27-2010, 08:49 PM   #25
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think he has probably had alot of experience with alot of guys that simply do not understand what they are doing martially. There are plenty of them out there for sure to serve as bad examples! I'd say the majority.
Agreed.

David Orange wrote:
"I just disagree with Thorton's assessments of aikido and of kata.
"
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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Categorically, I'd agree with you, however, his experiences are his experiences and I think that is what he is going on...
But don't forget that his "experience" includes long steeping in the JKD traditional dogma that "kata is dead pattern." So I think he's also letting his beliefs and patterns get in the way of seeing the truth. How much experience has he had in kata? I know the old JKD guy I used to spar with once said, "I only ever learned one form in my life and I have tried hard to forget it." Not much of a basis for judging all kata, is it?

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Keep in mind also that his criteria and value weights are focused on a particular area of budo, so based on that...sure, it is completely useless in that area.
Again, I'd say he has only seen the lower end of the scale. If he'd said, "TMA as practiced in the United States," I'd give him more credibility. I'm sure he's a good fighter, but so are a lot of street thugs. They have techniques that they share among themselves. Ever heard of "kicking the can"?

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I also teach Army Combatives, while certainly Aikido has RELATED skill sets and structure...it is a very poor delivery mechanism as practiced by the majority of aikidoka...so on that criteria and value weight (Army Combatives) I'd say the same thing!
Yes, as practiced by the majority...you just don't see much of the old sword-based sharp-edged stuff anymore.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Practicing Basketball won't help him much either in this area and is a waste of time! THe thing is you don't go to a "basketball dojo" and see them professing to teach self defense or skills to help you in a fight.
I think they may share more of that among themselves than most people will ever know. There's a whole art to fouling and getting away with it that would prove very useful on the street. Lots of sports have that element. Maybe not good for warfare, but very effective for a bar or streetcorner.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
99.9% or Aikido and TMA dojos have "Self Defense" on their websites..pick one...anyone and they list it. Go there and I bet they are doing the same fricking kata and stuff that the next one is doing and VERY little in terms of REAL skill sets that are needed in a fight or self defense.
Since most such schools are more or less homemade or breakaway "styles" from other breakaway "styles," probably true. But then many of them are formed by experienced fighters who know more about "alive" fighting than they do about traditional karate or jujutsu...and the TMA side is what's lacking. In other words, what you often see advertised as Karate has no real connection to the real art of karate.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Why, because the illusion of Self Defense and lure of Mastering esoteric stuff like Steven Seagal and Bruce Lee brings folks in the dojo!
Agreed.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
If we stopped all the nonsense, maybe we'd all understand what we were doing a little and folks wouldn't get the wrong ideas and we could agree that we are simply entertaining ourselves and having a good time for the majority of the time.
Well, the folks that are doing the real thing are doing it and the ones faking it and stealing the glory are never going to change.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think the saying is..."if the shoe fits...." if not, then no issue and Matt's brashness probably wouldn't bother us too much!
As I say, I agree with him in many points. But true aikido is apparently something he's never seen. And he is woefully uneducated (or deeply mis-educated) on the nature and purpose of kata.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I think though deep down, many of us know that there is something not quite exactly right about what is going on out there in the martial arts world...and THAT is why we get a little anxious and miffed when guys like Matt bring up the subject...we simply have alot of time and emotion invested in what we do and we can't figure out how to fix it.
Well, from my point of view, JKD is exactly that kind of thing. Bruce Lee had his last formal training from a master by the age of 18. And following his own way, he was dead at 32. If you read his Major Purpose In Life statement, it was not to be the greatest martial artist in the world: it was to be the greatest film action star. His words. Not mine. And all of his "research" into the martial arts of the world was mainly looking at books and watching films and cherry-picking what he liked and rejecting as useless anything he didn't understand. And that kind of narrow, uneducated thinking is very much a part of the problem. It's just another kind of "kroddy" to appeal to the masses who don't know better.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I've seen alot of stupid stuff passed off as kata. I have also seen alot of good kata become dead and pointless because over time the folks doing it have no basis or criteria to evaluate it or to really understand what they are doing. Hence alot of our discussions over the years on Aikiweb...AND the whole topic of "the lost internal skills of Aikido".
Yes, but that does not indict the kata method. It only indicts those who teach without deep understanding.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I dunno, you can train pretty hard and seriously and still do it in a very smart way that allows you to capture "lessons learned" and interpret it and codify it into appropriate patterns to be replicated over and over (kata).
The problem is his direct quote: "If it is in a pattern, or a repeated series of sets (kata, form, or djuru), then it is not Alive. In these cases it would contain no timing."

You know, this includes a Marine going through firing drills shooting at targets. It includes all step-by-step training methods that are not done with unpredictable sequence and live-action timing. And the only guaranteed result from that is a high rate of injury and a mass of people too bunged up to deploy.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Why not go out and find guys that are legitimate and have the depth and experience?
My point exactly. Matt Thorton didn't do that. He bases his opinion on dense dogma and experience of some low-level people who clearly don't understand their own arts.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I agree that most modern people lack this whole level of experience, however, there are alot of good accessible folks out there that have that experience AND they understand the spectrum of training methodologies and what each of them are designed to do.
Absolutely. Why didn't Matt look them up and base his opinions of TMA on what those people do?

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Student composition and base has alot to do with what we can train on as well. I have wanted to teach more advanced stuff in classes I have run, but frankly the level of conditioning of the average "civilian" student is not up to par to handle alive training.
But traditional training, properly done, can bring them up to a very high level of conditioning and capacity, relatively safely, without ruining their bodies in the process.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
If you do the necessary stuff to get them in shape, they will complain and say "hey" I came here to learn "self defense" and Aikido...not get punished, abused, and do a workout! Yet that is probably the best thing they could do martially!
Absolutely. It's why I don't teach on any large scale.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Agree with this for the most part. Kata are simply drills. Drills to create appropriate patterns of muscle memory and habits in response to stimulus..whatever that may be.
I have to say that's a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of kata. Drills are quite separate from kata. Kata are more like mind/body puzzles to challenge dexterity and coordination as well as the intellectual understanding of the principles of the art. Most really traditional Japanese kata are done with really screwy timing if the purpose is to fight that way. See this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iYlo5TUfbM

This is not a drill and it definitely is not to create muscle memory or habits in response to stimulus. It's like an encyclopedia or text book of counter techniques. It's done like it is to show the techniques--from teacher to student to pass along the important principles to be intellectually used to improve actual fighting practice; and from student to teacher to very clearly show in big, slow movements, that the student has absorbed the principles and is working to incorporate them into his live training.

and this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSQ13Zby0DY

It would be impossible to fight this way. And all the elaborate movement between techniques would be waste if it were intended to ingrain response to stimulus. That's why you see so many Americans move sloppily in the spaces between "the techniques" of a kata. They don't realize that there is meaning there, as well as in the techniques. The kata are reference works to be mined for the content--not direct examples of how to fight or drills on how to move. They're all about the mind.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
...all martial arts do them. Some do a better job at understanding why they are doing what they are doing than others. Some understand the pedagogy very well...most do not.
And to dismiss them as "dead" simply betrays a deep ignorance that really should not be advertised as a benefit of "live" training.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Personally, when someone says "advanced kata" my Bullshit flag goes up right away. I have studied arts with Advanced Kata (tm). It is bullshit IMO. There is no such thing as advanced kata IMO.
Advanced kata is 'real' kata that has come down from masters and has been maintained by masters along the way. Most of what we see was picked up by Master Joe Jimmy from Master Bob Billy, from Grandmaster Red Belt 11th Degree Jimmy Carl Jackson.

To say that "advanced kata" are bullshit or that they don't exist is like saying Newton's Principia is no more advanced than "Chariots of the Gods" or "Secrets of the Hollow Earth." Or that "The Bush Doctrine" is the equal of Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

Advanced kata training requires a really sound kata passed down by masters, maintained by masters along the way and experienced in a room full of men who have mastered it. Advanced kata cannot be learned from a book but has to be learned from men (or women) with an advanced undersanding of its meaning. It's definitely real and not BS.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
When someone does advanced kata, the "advanced" part is them stringing a ever increasing bunch of moves and "special" thing together designed to be increasingly intricate and complex.
Absolutely not. Look at the first link above. That's fairly complex at first glance, but after a few run-throughs, you realize that it's really short and all the techniques are kihon waza. But that's a very advanced kata. It is not old, but it was created by a man who was a direct student of both Kano and Ueshiba, a master of katori shinto ryu and recognized throughout Japan as one of the leading authorities on ancient jujutsu. And the second kata is likewise very simple, illustrating not the techniques but the five most fundamental methods of tai sabaki done to the inside and to the outside, with a technique for each one. The important thing is the tai sabaki--not the techniques. In fact, Mochizuki Sensei once asked me to come up with a different technique to open the kata instead of the forward pulling drop shown. He wanted to put in something that better illustrated the potential of that nagashi tai sabaki. Since he created the kata, it was his prerogative to change it. I never did make any suggestions on that line, though.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
What this tells me is they either one, believe that there is advanced kata and they don't have no clue about Aliveness or fundamentals. Or they know this and they are a snake oil salesman selling belts along with "advanced" levels of training.
And for the people you've observed, that was probably true. But, again, you're targeting the people and mistaking their weaknesses for a weakness with the kata system.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
There are enough things to do with learning fundamental patterns of movements and principles at the basic levels...everything else IMO is simply a variation on the same them...sure, there are a zillion combinations and patterns to be devleoped.
And the point is to cling to those basics--not to complicate them for the sake of making them appear more advanced. "Advanced" just means that it reveals deeper levels of the simple basics.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
David, I personally don't think it is a issue with being open or closed minded, just simply getting tired of all the bullshit and crap that is thrown around in the name of martial arts. After a while you kinda develop a fairly good BS detector and know the patterns, language, and what not in order to see it, and Matt, I believe is a guy that has spent a great deal of time doing this.
Yeah, but he has concluded that because he has never seen an actual diamond, cubic zirconia is the best there is.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Do some innocent folks and arts get taken out as "collateral damage" when he preaches his mantra...sure...I agree with that...but again...if the shoe fits.....
It does fit a lot of what is called "aikido" in the modern scene. It does not fit the real, root aikido that will always exist whether anyone is aware of it or not.

I appreciate your efforts to find the truth and I encourage you not to give up on it. There is great wealth of knowledge and value in the traditonal arts but you really have to get it from the source. The further you go downstream, the less you're going to find. The big boulders are at the top of the flow. At the beach, you just get pebbles and sand. And if you look out the wrong way, you just see driftwood and washed up trash.

Best to you.

David

Last edited by David Orange : 01-27-2010 at 08:57 PM.

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