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Old 01-31-2010, 07:49 PM   #107
Ketsan
Dojo: Zanshin Kai
Location: Birmingham
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Just read
Peyton Quinn's book Real Fighting: Adrenaline Stress Conditioning Through Scenario-Based Training. His experience is replete with martial artists who could not access their skills under pressure.
I'd call that an untrained mind. Pure and simple. That's what happens when you don't consider the practical application of what you're doing. Then when the mind is put in such a situation it naturally yells out, "What do I do?"

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Folks are always touting the "martial" effectiveness of Aikido based on encounters with subjects who have little or no actual training. Ellis Amdur once defined martial arts as "training to fight another professional". What you are talking about is simple "self defense".
Well this is true, but then this is probably because there just aren't really that many professionals out there. Speaking personally I'm in Aikido because I'd spent years learning TKD, Kick boxing, Lau Gar and Jujutsu, went to an Aikido class and lost to my instructor. From that I've gone on to watch Aikidoka defeat practitioners of just about any art you care to mention.

Ueshiba was famous for doing just that, so at some point something's gone seriously wrong if Aikido practitioners are no longer capable, as a group of doing that.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
In self defense, one is not training with the expectation that one will encounter a highly trained opponent. Dangerous perhaps. Armed, quite possibly, but not highly trained.
As you point out, we're studying Aikido, not self defence. Ueshiba trained to defeat Judoka, there are notes about how to do it, aren't there? No doubt if Muay Thai or any art you care to mention had been as big as Judo was in Japan at the time he'd have been equally interested in developing ways of using his training to defeat them. Isn't this adaption, this harmonisation really what Aikido is about?

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I'd be seriously shocked if many of the Aikido folks I know do think this way at all. This is a young males fantasy world. Sure, when I was young I thought about what I would do if I encountered one or more evil doers out on the street. Of course, in 34 years of Aikido that's never happened. Nor has a single one of my students ever done so except for my law enforcement, executive protection and security students (who did not study Aikido with me but a far more eclectic mix of skills)..
The people most likely to survive an emergency tend to be the people that plan for it. This is true of all situations. Survivors from airliner fires tend to be the ones who were planning their escape before there was a fire. They plan on every flight and probably every situation they consider potentially dangerous. This is true of many survivors from all types of disasters. Atheletes do it too; they visualise the event before it happens. Buddhism has tantra where they visualise being a buddha to develop those qualities in themselves.
The young males fantasy world would seem to have a highly practical end product: It trains the mind to react and instils confidence. Simply constantly visualising being calm and collected while under attack has uses.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I absolutely reject the notion that the art of Aikido has no value outside of some anticipated practical self defense application or martial encounter with a trained martial artist (duel?).

Aikido is an art, the practice of which has its own inherent value. As I have said many times, if one is training properly, some degree of self defense capability is a by product of the training. But is not the point of the training.
I agree but I think serious martial training is an aspect of Aikido and linked to that martial effectiveness.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This is not just an issue with Aikido, it exists in most traditional martial arts. If real world application is the standard by which we judge, then many of the elements of our training are archaic and irrelevant. And many practical techniques, strategies, and technologies are ignored. So we dump what seems impractical and add what seems modern and up to date. Soon it isn't the same art at all.
If they're archaic and irrelevent now they've been archaic and irrelevent for hundreds of years. They've never been effective systems. I think it more likey that people's mentality is different today than it was when these systems were created.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Aikido is an art which, in my opinion, is about the study of connection... physical, psychological, and spiritual. Nothing I have heard or read about the Founder or his deshi, including what I heard from my own teacher who was one, contradicts this view. If you look at the entire quarter century period of the Founder's life after WWII, which is when the art actually became Aikido (1942), I would say that the Founder's teaching showed a staggering lack on concern for the practical application of the art. His entire focus was on how the techniques of Aikido contained the various principles at work in the universe, that the doing of Aikido could and would on some level, bring things into harmony.

All the time I see people bringing the mind of conflict into the dojo and trying to remake Aikido into something it is not. The people who do this never get very good at the art. In the pursuit of "practical" skills, they content themselves with the surface and never delve into what is far deeper in the practice.
Hmm, my line comes through Chiba who was/is quite adament that Aikido is a fighting art, or at least that's what was imparted to his students who now head up the association. Although that, I feel, is changing as the association moves closer to hombu. I don't disagree that Aikido is about connection per se but I do ask the question, "Great, you've connected and you're in harmony, and what?" For me the answer, at least in part, is that it makes you more effective in a martial sense.

I'm curious, how would you define being good at Aikido? Can you watch someone perform and see it or is it something that's felt? How do you know someone is good at producing this connection?

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think that this misses the point entirely. This kind of statement shows a lack of understanding of what kata is. It is not and never was a "stale repetition of a dead form". Kata means form. Marshal McKuen once said, "the media is the message". Well, in Aikido the form is the message. The basic techniques of the art illuminate the these fundamental forms. These then combine and recombine to create an infinite interplay of form. One can spend ones entire life in the study of how to bring ones body and mind into accord with these forms. The more you know, the more you understand you don't know.
Actually I agree with you. My point was that if all the student ever does is learn to perform the kata, as some sport karate dojo do, without studying it content and finding applications then they're just performing a dead form.

In actual fact one thing I love about Aikido is the richness of the kata. Everytime I do my "fantasizing" as us young men are apt to do and I reach a problem or every time I have a sparring match with someone from another martial art and I reach a problem the first port of call for me is the kata.

My view of Aikido is defined by my current understanding of the kata. In the kata we enter in, take control to prevent resistance and then throw or submit the person. That's a martial skill, that's fighting, the kata contain all the information to make you really good at entering in, unbalancing and throwing or submitting someone.

This is the skill I'm assessed on everytime I grade and from checking this skill presumably my instructors make judgements about how well I'm connecting to uke. The two, IMO, are obviously one and the same. My instructors can't show me how to do this in a non-martial context and the kata certainly don't show me how this is done. Ueshiba didn't arrive at this understanding through martial arts either, he arrived at his realisations through meditation and misogi.

To make matters worse I can see the same techniques in other arts and they're not talking about connection, they're talking about flattening people. Even worse the Aikido version of the technique is, in my experience, always more effective. Not because the form of the kata is better per se but because the kata contains better information.
Perhaps the jujutsu version of shiho nage misses the information about extending and stretching the opponent for example.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Masakatsu, agatsu "true victory is victory over oneself". It isn't about winning over another.
Victory over yourself is the basis of all victory. An untrained mind lends itself to defeat more than it does victory.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I was trained by one of the most martially capable Aikido teachers of the post war period. I always find it ironic when I end up one side of a disagreement with someone who is championing Aikido as a "martial art". I've taught bouncers, executive protection, law enforcement, corrections, and security professionals. I get "application". But none of that was Aikido. Aikido is so much more than that.
I see it as that Aikido contains martial arts or that martial arts is the tool used to realise Aikido. Why have a martial form without a martial intent? Why have correctness of technique if that correctness has no physical use? I don't see why you couldn't teach connection with ball room dancing. In fact it would probably be easier to do so if only because there would be less conflict between the goal and the method.

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
O-Sensei stated that training was misogi. The Founder made no distinction between his Aikido and the other practices he pursued. That included farming. It was all Aikido to him. There is no question that we have perhaps limited the scope of what Aikido is more than the Founder did. I for one am not prepared to move to the country and investigate how farming fits in to my Aikido. But I think we received an art from the Founder that quite clearly was not intended as a practical fighting style. Ellis Amdur has quite an interesting section in his latest book about how and why the forms of Aikido were developed by the Founder after the war. Practicality of application did not enter into it. Making the art about fighting will cause the practitioner to miss entirely what is right there before him.
Well I suppose if you goal is connection to the universe everything becomes Aikido. Unless you can find something outside of the universe.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The fact that your Aikido instructor can't match the local Buddhist teachers on the spiritual side of things is the direct result of the divorce of Aikido practice from its spiritual roots. When the art is merely physical, when technique is simply about whether it works or not, one isn't going to get very deep into anything more ethereal.

I am not saying that technique shouldn't "work". I am saying that practical application is not the point nor is it the standard by which the art's value is measured. It certainly wasn't what the Founder was thinking about when he created the art.
Surely though if you're better connected to the universe and everyone in it and your mind-body connection is good then practical application comes more naturally? Isn't that basically what Ueshiba was on about? Surely practical application would actually be a test for your ability to connect and harmonize?
Surely we also get into the realm of skillful means in that you would be in harmony with the situation and would therefore do the most appropriate thing? Occasionally that's actually how I see Aikido.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
And all of what I am saying is certainly my opinion. People can make Aikido into whatever they want. There's no copyright or trademark on Aikido. The attempt to contain it in a box as in a certain style or other is laughable and can't be done. So make it whatever you want. I am just suggesting that folks not settle for Aikido lite. That's just what an Aikido limited towards practical application can be. It just misses the really good stuff.
There are no techniques in Aikido.
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