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Old 12-27-2010, 04:21 AM   #41
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,220
United Kingdom
Re: Non-aggressive way to test ability and level of understanding.

Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Apologies in advance in case this comes across as a bit blunt:

There seem to be some unusual definitions of "a tight grab" as well what constitutes "a relaxed grab" as well as the power of such a grab. A tight grab doesn't need reams of explanation. If you ask me to grab you tightly, I'll try to grab you tightly.

Perhaps this sounds too simple, but imagine your opponent is going to follow up the grab with a punch or other attack with any of their unoccupied limbs. Alternatively, imagine you have multiple opponents and your attacker is one of many attempting to stop you moving so they can all lay into you. In the role of the attacker, is your grab the kind of grab that would succeed in securing that arm, stopping their movement or dragging someone into an alleyway? Can you do any of the above with a light grab and if so, is that basic?

The founder was well known for letting people (often high-ranking martial artists) grab tightly (Tenryu for example) and many of his direct students do likewise as a method of kokyu development. Whether other people use this kind of training is up to them. What I don't get is some of the illogical statements people are making to invalidate this practice and elevate their own.

Mark, is your definition of grabbing lightly the same as my definition of grabbing tightly? The tight grabs I described above can be done very strongly by weak old masters using aiki alone -- but it is still a tight grab, particularly when you give them something to work with by trying to muscle out of it. If this is not your meaning, I guess what confuses me about this post is that I find the opposite scenario: people grabbing tightly with the purpose of immobilising (by muscle or aiki-magic) make it a lot harder to move whereas people grabbing lightly (even if ironically to maintain their freedom of movement -- which I also don't get btw) are usually easy to move even with just a little regular muscle. I understand that in certain ki-forms, there are exercises involving this kind of thing but I think this is a different kind of practice to the basics the OP was talking about. If your opponent is "relaxed" as in only lightly attacking, they can't strike so easily because their physical (and "intentional") connection isn't strong enough to stop you moving somewhere safer and they can't stop you striking them for the same reason: the attacker only has a tenuous connection that can be broken easily. Usually, the worst the attacker can do is to give up and flee if you mistakenly try to apply a waza to an attack that poses little danger.

It seems to me that if you're going to do a technique on someone who only has a light grab, it has to be this scenario: a fully committed attack in which the opponent is intending to get a solid immobilising grab but you only allow the light grab.

Also I'm not sure what is meant by "centre in their hands." The most basic, easy-to-explain kind of centre is the centre of gravity.

Kind regards to all

Hi Carl,

I dont think your definition and mine are the same. I didn't mention grabbing 'lightly', not sure where that comes from, a forum is a bit like chinese whispers, things get distorted along the way. I mentioned 'relaxed', with full intent, free to move etc.

I have no problem with people practicing with whatever level of grip that they like, if aikido is valid it has to work with all levels of strength and types of attack.

What I am certainly not advocating is some limp/relaxed hold that has no intention, that would be a complete waste of everyones time.

The hold itself is only one aspect of the whole person. If uke holds with a relaxed grip (and I realise it is the word relaxed that is causing the problem for some), but with their mind on the target, basic standing or dynamic movement, makes no difference. Then they are in a position to follow nage's movement with ease. If uke's structure/co-ordination is correct throughout, then any use of 'muscling' a technique, runs into a big problem, as it is very difficult to throw a whole person with something as ineffective as tense arms.
When I am teaching, I constantly use this method to find the point at which the student is 'going wrong'. This method relies on co-ordination and a non-fighting mind. Uke's job is to follow the truth in the movement, to decide nothing and provide the intent for nage to work with.

I have been working with trying to understand and practice this as taught to me for quite a while. In the begining I was really into the training and what my teacher was doing, but I must admit, I was sceptical that it had any martial merit, it all seemed a bit 'soft'. It took me about 5 years before I began to see the logic behind it all. Now, I wouldn't want to go any other way, unless it could be proven to be more effective.

If I want to test myself against 'strength', my assistant teacher is a 'Dry Stone Waller' by trade, he lifts and places rocks, hammering and chiselling when required. He has a grip that can cut your circulation off If I ask him for the sake of demonstration to 'apply a serious grip'' he knows what is coming next. For me the throw is easy, for him the fall is much harder than if he stayed relaxed and co-ordinated.

As for the 'centre in the hands' point. If your hands are not an extension of your one point/hara/centre/dantien, then you do not have the mind/body structure that is required to manifest the elusive aiki/IS that is much talked about. The hands must be connected to the ground, through the centre (not the centre of gravity/although it's in approximately the same place) This I realise, is the most problematic part of reaching higher levels of competence in aikido. If I am uke and am following someone's technique, if their hands are not an extension of their centre then they have 'lost'. Not that it's about winning and losing of course, just trying to constantly improve.

Not a full explanation, by any means, but maybe enough to gauge where you are on this continuum. I could just cop out and say 'it has to be felt', it does. Hopefully, this might clear up some of the tangents that this thread has gone off on.



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