I feel silly replying to myself, but I think I finally realized what it is that's been bothering me about this (not bad for a week of kicking it around in my head, but sometimes I'm not that smart). It's a very simple difference.
Willy Lee (willy_lee) wrote:
... and really analyzing each sub-exchange in depth -- more like taking a chess position and analyzing all the options up to 3 moves ahead.
The difference that was bothering me is this:
The chess-like analysis devotes equal amounts of time to what "uke" (Sayoc kali calls this person "the feeder") is trying to do. Like a chess analysis must understand all of both players' options. In Sayoc the feeder's actions and targets are extremely specific: it's not just a forehand diagonal slash, it's a slash targeting the near jugular, or the left wrist -- the "live" hand (without the knife) is always working, too. The feeder is always assumed to know what you're trying to do to him or her, and know how to counter you (this is how you extend the drill so you can practice more things).
_In my experience_, in aikido we don't devote equal time to what uke is doing. We concentrate on what _nage_ is doing. Uke is expected to provide energy and intent -- a sort of abstract thing. We then concentrate on studying nage's response to that thing.
For instance, katate tori: as an attack, an imaginative uke can try various things off controlling the center through the wrist. But we don't really study it -- all the specifics of where to send, control, strike, or counter nage. Nor the many things uke can do with the free hand (not just strike). We don't even study how to connect to nage's center as uke on the attack. We just say "attack, attack, keep the attack going", when it may not be clear to uke how exactly grabbing a wrist and following it around is an attack at all.
I don't think it's all bad to train this way -- I realize we train from a sort of abstraction of an attack that lends itself to generalization and principle-based learning. That's good. There's that whole "defense, not attack" thing too.
I do think it would make for better training to work on what uke is doing, at least a bit more than we do -- seems like at my level, ukes are expected to learn to fall and follow, and not worry about much else. Guess I'm impatient!
Anyway, thanks for letting me clear out my brain,