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Old 02-08-2013, 12:59 AM   #52
Dan Richards
Dojo: Latham Eclectic
Location: NY
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 452
Re: Perhaps the tide is changing.

Travers Hughes wrote: View Post
... a lot of people seem to be reducing goal timeframes - no such thing as long term goals any more. "If results can't be achieved quickly, its not worth it" seems to be the general attitude.
Travers, that's an interesting point. It seems that one thing that's changing is people's concept of time. For one, so many are now living more asynchronously. The intersection of time as a specific space is disappearing.

I read an article, perhaps by Dr. John Painter, about Tai Chi. Saying that this idea that it should take 20 years to learn was not even the original intention of Tai Chi, and that people could be trained to be battle ready and use it within six months.

My teacher, Shoji Nishio, would say that the way aikido is often taught simple takes too long. That there are better pedagogical methods that can, could, and should be put into place to allow for a much more rapid advancement of students.

A few years ago, I had a student who came in all the time. Really worked at it. Lots of weapons works, lots of randori, exploration into rhythm, timing, and breathing. He attained shodan in under two years. I wasn't looking to graduate anyone quickly, but he did it. I was sitting in a chair at some point, and realized that he was using energy on a shodan level. I called him on the cell phone and told him he got shodan. And that was that. In my classes the "test" is every day.

Unusual perhaps. Maybe. Ueshiba nonchalantly graduated Yamada from shodan to sandan while Yamada was giving him a massage.

I think a lot of structure has been put in place over the years that was not there back when it was "old school." Modern aikido often has very structured time schedules when the classes are held. Why? We can have some of that, but what about opening it up. Instead of a 5-6 class, why can't there be an ongoing session from 5-9, and let people come in when they can. On a given day, if someone can't make it in the prescribed hour, they miss out. It makes the window of opportunity for training much more narrow. Why can't we open the windows.

These are just some ideas, since I've had some different experiences over the years, and been inspired by certain movements and schools. Take surfers for example. They're just out in it. And they don't have specific times to meet. And often, what they do is subjugated by the weather and the waves. Skateboarding came from surfers who wanted to do it more, and not be so dependent on mother nature.

Another thing with surfers is that they've really been creative, and used their imagination and technology to progress. Their progression was also not held back by those who went before them. In fact, innovation is encouraged. And if someone like Greg Noll might be considered the O' Sensei of modern surfing, look at how far Laird Hamilton has taken. Things Hamilton does blows Nolls mind. Noll was an integral part of modern surfing, but so many have gone so much further since then.

Another inspiration was from watching the Yip Man movie. Seeing all the "schools" in the town square lined up, and contrasting that with Yip Man hanging out at his house with his children, and training with people who would come over. One of his students, Bruce Lee, was another innovator. Watch this Danny Iosanto interview where he talks about how Bruce Lee's training methods developed.

Of course there can be time for putting on a formal gi and hakama and observing more formalized ritual. No problem with that. But we shouldn't limit training to that alone. I've trained in all sorts of clothing, including a nice dress suit. I love seeing those old videos of (I believe it's) Tohei and K Ueshiba training in a field with tall grass in their business suits. And Sunadomari in a suit with that short staff at the Aikido Friendship demonstration. And when we put on hakamas, let's have everyone where them. That's how it was at hombu before the war. After the war, with the scarcity of materials it was designed only yadansha. Why has the hakama become a source of pride. And in some many systems it's become some sort of proud garment worn by yudansha. At least in some schools, hakamas are put on at 3rd kyu. I've had a hakama since 3rd kyu. I remember a teacher saying that having a hakama meant that you could be thrown, and that you're ukemi was developed enough. I think that's a good start. When I started a school I allowed anyone to wear a hakama as soon as they wanted. And I can tell you from experience, it advances students faster.

There are so many tools that can be used to give people a better and more technically accurate experiential discovery of what they're doing. In almost every class I teach I'll use hula hoops, bokken, jo, and some kind of shinai and a soft foam bokken. And sometimes whatever else is around. There's no reason that even a lot of the training can't be Takemusu as well - sponanteously generated teaching techniques.

And IP / Ki / Integration training. Testing and practices along the lines of Ki Aikido as well as what people like Mike Sigman are doing. I work on, and teach, what Mike taught me in every class. This kind of stuff needs to be in there. And people like Dan Harden and Akuzawa Minoru are providing even more core components for us to learn and experience and pass on.

Systema concepts fit in with aikido training perfectly. Especially the slow randoori. We do that in almost every class.

There's no reason that training can't get back to the "lifestyle" that it's been for many. Open the doors, open the windows. Open minds. Play. Be creative. Have fun. Explore. Take boxing gyms as an example. Or just gyms in general. There open a lot of hours, and people get in there and train when they can. That often results in people
training much more intensely and more immersively, and progressing not only much faster, but on deeper levels.

Just some notes, and me thinking out loud. Cheers...

Last edited by Dan Richards : 02-08-2013 at 01:02 AM.
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