View Single Post
Old 01-22-2011, 05:32 PM   #198
George S. Ledyard
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Training Internal Strength

It has already been commented on many times that one of the common reactions in these discussions of internal skills is "oh yes, we do that too." When you state
It's no real secret......
you are essentially saying the same thing. Well, I have been doing martial arts for 40 years one way or another. Having trained with no teacher that was even mediocre in his art, I can honestly say that I have a fairly informed opinion on what these guys are talking about.

Why do you think Ellis Amdur wrote a whole book on who had these skills, to what degree, and where did they get them. If it all was no real secret, I think everyone would have them. They do not. The majorty of the Aikido folks I have been on the mat with either don't have them at all or only have them to a degree.

Having trained at least briefly with the big three IS guys who either post here or who have students who do, I can say that in certain areas I have seen no Aikido teachers who have developed these skills to the same extent. What they do is different. I am not saying that their Aikido is better, because in fact none of them are Aikido people. But each of these people has the ability to do things with his body that is quite simply absent from post war Aikido in general. And I have not seen much that would indicate to me that the 30's guys who did have some of this knowledge found a systematic way to transmit it. I have seen the top Yoseikan, Shudokan, guys in the world, I have trained with folks from just about every style of Aikido there is and I can honestly say that some styles are farther away from manifesting these skills than others, none of them has the depth or sophistication of understanding of these skills. My own teacher Saotome Sensei is, in my opinion, still the best Aikido practitioner I have ever put my hands on. At 130 lbs he has always been able to handle me effortlessly, even when I had 200 lbs on him. He clearly has some of these skills, as does Ikeda Sensei. But I can assure you that they don't do nor can they explain these skills to the degree that is being discussed here.

The idea that it's "no real secret" is quite simply a smoke screen that acts to make you feel all right about what you have done over the years based on no direct or hands on knowledge of what these guys are doing. For myself, I have no problem admitting that these guys are doing things that I can't do yet. It doesn't make my Aikido any less... but I would like to understand what these guys understand. I'd also like to understand a lot of stuff that I think these guys do not understand. I look around and see a bunch of folks not willing to admit that there's much they don't understand.

I find that interesting myself because for me, the more I have trained the more I have found that I don't understand. So when I see things that I know I previously have been unaware of, that I have never encountered anyone who talked about them or could teach them, and I am someone who gets out, travels, has cross trained for years, and then I hear someone like you stating it's no real secret... well, I think that's just an example of that "boy thing" of not ever wanting admit there's something he doesn't know. Sort of like the frustration women have with their husbands never stopping to ask for directions... they'd rather be lost and late than to admit they needed help.

IS stuff is a subset of skills. It is not the sum total of Aikido. It is a set of skills that would allow one to take his Aikido to the highest level and the folks at that highest level all have some. But few, if any, have spent their adult lives focused just on developing these skills. The guys posting on here about these skills have done so and have developed a detailed understanding of these skills that simply is not generally found. I am sure your Aikido is quite competent. I looked at your video clips. You don't lose a thing by admitting that someone might have some juice you don't. It just means that someone worked on some stuff you didn't. You can do many things I am sure that these guys can't. But when i see folks close themselves off to new influences bases on complete lack of actual information, it seems sad. The folks out there who can benefit most from the work that these teachers have done and the generosity that they have shown in being willing to share this work with the Aikido community are the people just like us. We've had the best Aikido training available. I know of no source from within the Aikido community who can show me how to get to the next level. I have already trained with the best. It sounds like you've had quality training as well. I think it is just plain silly to think that what you know is so all encompassing that you can't admit that any of these folks doesn't understand some stuff you don't.

Oh, and don't worry, I think the IS guys do exactly the same thing. I have heard them say about Systema that's it's the same stuff and I am pretty sure that much of what they do is fairly unique in conception and execution. They judge someone like Ushiro Kenji Sensei solely through the lens of their IS experience and whereas much of what he does is the same thing they are doing, he is doing quite a bit that they are not, and I have seen little sign that they wish to cop to that either. So, we are all limited by our own experience.

It was Ushiro Sensei in his second book
What you know is the enemy of learning
I think that pretty much sums it up right there. The folks here know an awful lot and that creates an attendant set of limitations as well. Since the nature of things is pretty much limitless, I far prefer to focus on what I don't know, and that seems to be expanding all the time no matter how much knowledge I seem to accrue. That expanding dimension of what I don't know seems to pull me along continuously and in the process of what I do know seems to be increasing exponentially.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
  Reply With Quote