Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Yes, and no ...
Yes, it is watered down to the effect we don't teach the death, or serious injury that could be used ...
No it is not watered down, but it is your job to see what is hidden right out in the open.
As for Donovan Waite sensei, I haven't had the opportunity to practice with him yet, or attend a seminar, but that is only a matter of time.
One of our junior students, who has had the chance to teach a class or two was learning to impart the rolls and falls of his ukemi, and mistakenly, he described that there was only one way to fall or take a roll for ukemi. That,and other little hints I have injected were the crux of his resentment for many months until he got around to see a few more styles of ukemi, in Aikido, Judo, and jujitsu.
It has always been a wonder to me why such loud slaps are necessary for a good ukemi, and I have gotten more than a few sour looks from instructors for trying to be silent. Maybe it is from my childhood years of playing cowboys and indians, or shoot'em up soldier with sneaking around the bushes, rolling, jumping and falling like stuntmen until mom had a fit because of so much dirt on my clothes. Rolling softly, and quietly reduced the grime and hence reduced the amount of grief I got from mom for playing the guerilla warfare sneaky games.
If you do any type of sports on grassy fields, and there is running with falling involved, you learn how to fall or roll ... or you get hurt. Natural ability to go with the flow in practice, practice, and oops I tripped and fell, accidental practice of practice.
Aikido is no different, but the majority of my early rolls were over the head gymnastic rolls, which did create some apprehension from the teachers ... especially when a double wide middleaged guy is trying to roll like a teenager.
So long as you aren't jerking your neck to cause your head to hit, have some type of round form in rolling, and learn to disperse the energy of a breakfall without causing anyone particular area to absorb the impact of a fall, you will learn many ways to fall and roll as the situations warrant ... or you will go splat, and we all know how splat feels.
I know how you feel being away from Aikido for a while, although my longest away time has been two months, and not years, but just the same, I had the same concerns about the quality of training within my own dojo.
I spoke to my sensei about how many of the basic elements were becoming sloppy, or forgotten, and within a month, the two assistant instructors were again sharp and to the point without missing the elements of a technique from beginning to completion. Half the time they don't see the pressure points, the strikes or distractions, or the opportunity for adding atemi to return to the true roots of a technique, but the fact that they were emphisizing the circle, square, triangle, the simularity of hand to hand to weapons practice, and taking the time to break down the movements so each movement proved a logical step to the next movement, did indeed prove that even the watered down version of Aikido is still valid on its own merit.
(excuse me while I diverge)
When I was in second grade, in the 1950s, an old man came to our school in Red Bank, NJ to demonstrate his martial art, which was judo, but it resembled the Aikido we do today. I remember watching him do many of the incredible feats of strength we attribute to O'Sensei, but later finding out that O'Sensei never came to the USA east, I find he was another teacher from a Judo/Jujitsu school who was quite adept. Not only did he show the unbendable arm, but sat and held back three men who pushed on his forehead, walked on brittle teacups where none of his students could walk with out breaking them, and demonstrated bokken and empty hand techniques simular to our modern Aikido practice.
I have thought about my question of " ... did you hypnotize those people on stage, you were moving very slowly..." which drew a laugh from the master practitioner.
For many years I wondered about my question to the this master, and without realizing it, the same skeptical remarks have been written many responses here on the Aikiweb.
Maybe we are hypnotized to the extent that we don't try hard enough to find the information that validates our practice in both scientific field, and our spiritual / moral well being? Being away from practice, or watching practice from the sidelines, has a sobering affect upon one to initiate a search to find such things beyond, "shut up and practice" answer for all questions where the teacher is not apprised as to how to find the answers?
Maybe, in questioning if Aikido is watered down ... you have taken this first step to finding the answers.
Last edited by Bruce Baker : 09-30-2002 at 08:01 AM.