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Old 07-07-2014, 07:57 AM   #142
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,139
Re: Introduction + The missing Atemi

John Powell wrote: View Post
OK. For me, I can say that reading the above (yes, all 5 pages of it), and putting a bit of redneck in it, I have absolutely no doubt at all, simply basing it on the level of the cerebration involved (like that word, eh? Cerebration, that's right y'all, a couple of advanced degrees over here and stuff), that I have no doubt that, John, Katherine and Mary can put a serious... the technical term is "Whomp" on someone, should they have a "need" to do so.

But, let's define "need," to define that. Or not, as I'm certain everyone knows the difference between want and need.

That being said, it takes a very, very skilled uke to not taken any remedial action in preparation for a technique they know is coming, e.g. the regular class situation. We've got a saying, "Anyone can defeat a technique they know is coming."

So, we also have another saying, "Nothing ever works. You just keep going until both of you are surprised."

So, on John's quote, which I absolutely loved, "Sometimes, the proper response is to drop your partner on her butt, then explain that while her obstinate attitude is not a problem in application, it is making the current exercise more difficult."

See, John's really nice, and he's all cerebral and stuff. I'm more down home, and would say, "You can do that again if you want, but you aren't learning what you're supposed to be learning while you're down there. If you want, after class, I'll show you how you ended up down there."

I've posted before about the best athelete in my school, a tang soo do black belt, I think she's a 2nd degree in TSD, she was in it 12 years of steady training, so that'd be about right I think, or maybe a bit behind. Anyway, she's the one who "challenges" the "what" we are doing on an almost dily basis, wanting to know "if it works" etc. So, I just shrug and show her. She predictably attempts to block or defeat the technique "on the board" right then, which she does, and because she really doesn't know how what she's done ruined her posture, or gave up her balance, or put her in a vulnerable position, or sometimes all of the above, it devolves to me to show her or point it out to her, usually involving a grunt on her part as she's compressed into the mat, or stretched out in a lock, dumped on her butt, or whatever. It's just the nature of the thing. Beginner's question. They don't understand , and that's OK. Remember, "Question Everything." It's not a bad place to learn from and it's not to be feared.
I used to use terms that implied a deliberation component of a partner's response to confound technique. But, I realized it was over-broad to generalize that my partner was consciously trying to stop the technique. In fact, most of the time, my partner was unaware of the consequences of her action. I got out of the "jerk" mode and into "obstinate" mode. I reserved "jerk" for the clear occasions of deviation intended to confound technique. It lowered my blood pressure and provided a better perspective with which to discuss uke waza. To your point, that is another great way to smile and say, "are you sure that's the pony on which you wanna ride for this race?"

Ultimately, the definition of roles is necessary to learning aiki. It's a science experiment - you don't go changing variables when you are trying to replicate results. Kata provides this structure and its purpose is different that kumite. To Hugh's point, eventually, you have to provide framework to get the serious learning. Randori exercise is a very difficult environment in which to remain consistent. Generally, you are supposed to improve your partner's aikido. Everyone who touches you should be better when they step off the mat. We begin and end each class with the pleasantries of asking for help and thanking our partners for helping us. Introspectively, if you wince when someone asks for help because you will not help them you need to re-think your perspective; or, you wince when someone thanks you for helping them because it is a hollow formality you need to re-think how you interact with your partner. I know people who have trained for years and never grasped this concept - why are we busting someone's chops that is new to aikido for likewise not being appropriately exposed? There's a reason why uke is often reserved for the senior partner...

As for the issue of self-defense... We promote a curriculum that is going to even the odds. Our primary PR is designed around the notion that just because someone is bigger, better, faster or stronger does not mean that have an advantage. If that is our claim, it is not unreasonable to infer a strong foundation for self-defense purposes. I think this is again a gap in the expectation of the prospective student and the ability in the dojo. There are individuals who practice aikido with a narrow gap between aikido and application-based fighting. There are people who cannot punch their way out of a paper bag. Large tent and all that.

Good aikido has foundation that can be applied to defend yourself. Some dojos provide a curriculum to build on that foundation. But not all dojos. There are other curriculum that are better tailored to specific application-oriented fighting and self-defense. Again, this is a not a 6-week program and I think we are talking about mis-managed expectations creating frustration.

I am more supportive of the "question everything." Somethings require less scrutiny, but some things require closer inspection, too. I think Katherine is 100% correct - you will get out what you put in. There is a huge difference between paradox and poor training. Aikido has enough of both. We come to aikido seeing something that we want to change. The dojo provides us the opportunity and the education to make that change.

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