The compelling, worthwhile benefits about pursuing Aikido / aiki-jujutsu under the historically supported assumption that aiki is a developed body skill continue to get lost in the fog of online debate. This probably isn't going to change anytime soon, but in the spirit of holiday cheer, I thought I'd offer up a few positive, cool things to keep in mind for those who remain impaled on the fence about whether or not the IP/IS view is worth a major paradigm shift in one's training (or at least a peek at what all the fuss is about). There's nothing new in what I've laid down below, but please just sip on it like a nice spiked egg nog, and remember that we're all here to further a common, constructive cause regarding our martial practices.
- You can continue to teach and utilize the blending-and-timing "aiki" model: heck, it simply makes sense to practice being proactive and not taking the full brunt of an attack, especially since IP/IS isn't something that most, if any of us, are born with. The nice thing is, over time you can eventually be freed from an external tactical view of aiki at the same time you're employing it because your body will inherently set up the uke (single or multiple), at whatever point in time your bodies meet, to play catch-up using aiki in you -- regardless of the techniques/attacks applied by the uke. How cool is that?!
- The kihon waza can take on a greater significance than ever in your training as, one could say, classical expressions of in-yo-ho and kokyu-ho. I sense that some folks here feel that Dan Harden, for example, is out to revamp Aikido in a manner that would destroy what is comfortably familiar to the vast majority of practitioners regarding their art. Yet, Dan has repeatedly stated that the pursuit of aiki as IP/IS should complement preservation of our respective arts (for his part, he does this as a member of a koryu), and teaches how to incorporate waza into IP/IS training. There is a reason, as Dan and others have said, why the techniques in Daito-ryu and its descendant arts have a flavor different than most other budo. Once this more significant role of waza is understood, the irritating noise about a given art not being functional in a practical sense, due to the apparent limitations of the scenarios and tactics presented in a given syllabus, diminishes*. How cool is that?!
- *As Dan cautions, having developed the ability to utilize aiki doesn't in of itself allow someone to successfully use it outside of cooperative training within a given art. But then again, a given student or dojo would be naturally less confined to cooperative training over time. Picture it down the road: a newbie / tire-kicker could walk into the dojo, sign a waiver, pair up with any student with, say, five years of solid, dedicated training, and immediately know that Aikido is street applicable -- no "it'll work in two or three decades" apologetics necessary. How cool is that?!
These things are coming to fruition: it's certainly the case in Hawaii, where there's an uncommon spirit of cooperation on the parts of practitioners of various internal martial arts who routinely meet up to further each others' pursuits of IP/IS (aiki or otherwise). If someone out there is still on the fence by the next leap year, please treat yourself to a Hawaiian vacation and look up Henry. He'll be the guy standing next to and most earnestly conversing with Chris Li about IP/IS at the beach as the sun sets. Don't worry: Henry's an acquired taste, but he, Chris, the trade winds and aiki as IP/IS are all cool.
Happy New Year everyone!