Kasey Klipsch (kklipsch) wrote:
I would be very interested in what some of the longtime Aikido instructors in the group who came to Aikido from other things have to say. Sensei Clark, I beleive your background was in something else, but you have taught many people over the years. What do you think?
I don't think I know you, do you know Don Levine at the university club?
Anyhow, this is a loaded question. "Aikido" is taught in many different ways. Some I agree with and some I do not. For example, I have seen some dojo where the instruction for ukemi is - "do a roll like that guy over there for this technique." Sort of like learning to swim by being thrown into the lake. Some learn and many don't.
I started out with judo when I was six and added GoJu ryu karate-do at twelve or so along with a form of jujutsu that my teacher called "Okazaki ryu" (Danzan ryu) in 1959. I learned to punch, kick, throw, grapple, etc. early. I saw Tohei sensei in California in 1964 and knew I wanted to learn aikido. Lots of water under the bridge since then...I met a Chinese man named Mr. Li in 1965 and I left the "dark side of the force" and dove deeply into the internal arts. I have come to the conclusion now, just shy of my 50th year of practice (some 38 years of teaching experience of one quality or another...) that whether technique is "hard" or "soft" is determined by intent, distance, and timing changes, not by how much muscle you have or how fast you are.
How would I teach beginners? Simple, just like I do now, and I call it aikibudo, aikijutsu, aikido...I think they're all shades of the same thing. My students are taught a principle based system. Techniques are just examples of how fundamentals are hooked together, etc. Shisei, shintai, ukemi, how to attack, how to take balance and fit with the attacker and so on and so on. Students are also taught how to "test" each other often so there is a strong feedback loop in our practice.
Is this a good system to start with yes. By all means. It's why I do it. That simple. If I knew a better way, I'd do it. Do other people agree? Some do, and some don't. That's the nature of things.
Your question was what do I think about aikido as a first art...there it is. Like many other questions in life the answer is ... Yes/No.