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Old 12-20-2010, 05:13 AM   #11
Michael Varin
Dojo: Aikido of Fresno
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 567
Re: Form does not equal function aka The Shape of Aikido

Hey Mark,

Very interesting post! I'm sorry to see, but not at all surprised that it generated no meaningful discussion.

Mark Murray wrote:
One of the main detriments to training aiki in a Modern Aikido setting is the ukemi model. It is a great hindrance to becoming martially strong. That isn't to say the cure is to introduce fighting. It is to say that the solution is to introduce more efforts of uke to not fall or roll but change things more in line with how a really good jujutsu/fighter/judo person would react. Modern Aikido relies too heavily upon its ukemi model. Why? Did not some students say they did so because of the power of Ueshiba, not because they learned it from him? Did not some students say they taught themselves them to roll and fall or that the senior students taught them?

Everywhere you look at Modern Aikido, it is known by what? Look at that kotegaeshi? No, it is rather, look at the breakfall the uke took from a kotegaeshi. The uke being flattened out in midair from an irimi nage. And by what method are these ukes doing this? They are *taught* the ukemi. If you don't believe that, why is it that brand new people training in aikido rarely fall like people who have been training for years? Why is it that a boxer or a BJJ or a judo person rarely react/fall/roll the same as someone training in Modern Aikido for years?
This I very strongly agree with. I have often thought that the only real challenge most aikidoists face in their training is learning how to take better ukemi. Interestingly, it is quite noticeable that the level of ukemi has improved in aikido over the years.

Here is a video of pre-war Morihei and some pretty standard ukemi. This would have been a few years into Shioda's training, but it doesn't look like he is an uke in the video. Yes. It is a demonstration, but we don't have much more to go on.

I wonder what Morihei would think about adding a sparring/resistive/uncooperative/alive/whatever training method to aikido, because, as I understand, he did not want there to be a winner and loser per se, which necessitates a cooperative model.

Another important consideration is weapons training, and its impact on this model. If you are training with live blades failure to use cooperative ukemi, i.e., taking the fall is very foolish. Hard woods pose a similar threat. This is a factor that just isn't present in judo, bjj, or boxing. And, of course, today it can be overcome by using a variety of safer training implements.

Mark Murray wrote:
It was formless because their entire body was changed by Daito ryu aiki and when non-aiki men contacted that kind of changed body, either by touch or through weapons, they knew it was entirely different.
This is a serious question, and one that has been avoided in the past. If the blade of a cutting sword contacts a "changed body," what is the affect? Is the man still cut? What about the point of a knife? Still stabbed? If the answers are yes, then the value of the "conditioning" is minimal without the ability to stop or avoid a strike, whatever that entails.

Mark Murray wrote:
Now you have Modern Aikido focusing on techniques when you can read where at least one prewar student mentions that the wrist "techniques" weren't techniques at all but body development exercises.

Anyone could look at all the various branches of Daito ryu and their thosuands of techniques and then listen to Ueshiba, Kodo, and Sagawa state their art was formless.

That form, or shape, of Aikido does not equal the function of aiki.
This I cannot agree with. And I feel that it is in some way actually insulting to Morihei and numerous nameless martial artists who developed, refined, and passed these techniques on. Even something that is formless will manifest itself in a form upon application (unless, of course, we are talking about something that operates only on the level of the mind/spirit). So it is one thing to say that empty form does not follow function, but quite another to say that form does not follow function.

To add weight to this, countless martial arts throughout the globe, pre and post Morihei have all contained very similar forms. They all had something in common, something that is common to all serious human combat -- weapons. Any warrior would search for techniques that could be naturally integrated with the use of their weapons, would support the use of those weapons, and, in a pinch, could be used if they were caught without a weapon.

"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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