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Old 03-31-2007, 09:15 PM   #38
tarik's Avatar
Dojo: Iwae Dojo
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 567
Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Christian Moses wrote: View Post
OK, I'm not understanding what you're describing then with, "moving slowly and precisely and learning form without strong static grabs for a few months..."
Christian, I'm guess not too clear on explaining it because I'm still working to understand it. I'll try, however, as discussing this helps my own training. Please bear with me.

Are you describing a solo exercise or slow partner practice with minimal/moderate resistance initially from static? Or are you not talking about a static exercise at all, in which case I don't see where flowing would be an incorrect descriptor. (Not trying to be argumentative, just honestly not sure what you're describing.)
When I hear flow, I tend to think of a fair amount of what I might term "dead uke" syndrome where uke attacks, nage begins technique, and then as long as things are not too blatantly going in the wrong direction, uke follows along to the fall at the end.

I not only do not advocate such a practice, I am against it as I think it breeds the kinds of problems that Daren discusses; sloppiness, lack of real understanding of the how/why a technique works, and a tendency to see nage struggling to get kuzushi and perhaps NEVER getting it all the way to the end of the interaction. Too many principles missing.

However, I am also not for the opposite "powerful uke" syndrome which I believe is advocated by "strong-gripped, static grabs" either. I believe that trains a different problem into our systems. In effect, we are only working on our ability to achieve "aiki" with our partners when we are nage and our uke time is spent training something different into our bodies than what I want to feel as nage. Too many principles missing.

The last problem I think I see too often in both practices is an insistence of sticking to the "form" of a technique because it's the technique that is being taught instead of listening to uke's attack and recovery and doing whatever is appropriate. This might be the ultimate reason why it is SO important for a beginner to have a senior person as uke, so that they get the correct attack AND recovery for the technique that is being practiced.

What I advocate is a practice where my partner and I slow down enough to understand where the decision points are in out mutual system and have time to practice acting on them. We refuse to use speed or muscular strength to solve our the problems when they come up. We are willing to fall down and not worry about who was supposed to fall down.

Uke should attack as if no technique was going to be practiced except for their own attack, which should BE a real technique itself instead of something that politely stops dead when our partners do nothing. If/when tori induces kuzushi, uke should genuinely work to recover specifically to attack or take the technique back.

I want an uke that does not move in a pre-programmed fashion at any time; an uke that is capable of falling safely, but only does so as a last resort. As a first resort, they try to recover naturally, the way any person on the street might recover.

Ultimately, I think that this means that as uke (and tori), I should be easily moved and be able to easily move. I think it means learning different ways of receiving and transmitting forces with our bodies into and/or through our partners bodies.

I think it's a DIFFICULT practice, and doesn't look very exciting, which is probably a part of why I have a hard time finding people to practice with me regularly right now. They all want a workout whereas I want to try and train my body to feel the decision points and be able to act on them without thinking. But it's juicy.. very juicy.

I should point out I'm quite familiar with Linda Holiday, Anno Sensei, Mary Heiny and others out of the Shingu tradition (which I assume you're a part of in Santa Cruz)
I think what I am trying to convey is not really practiced in the curriculum that is taught in the Shingu tradition, unless, of course, you count me in that tradition, which is a fair assumption.

It would be quite accurate to point out that these three people were among my first teachers and in fact ranked me (don't worry, I use deodorant before training). In addition, I've been influenced a lot of encounters with people from Daito-ryu, judo, and various AAA and ASU dojo and seminars I used to constantly visit when I was young and single (read: footloose and fancy free).

However, I don't believe that much of what I'm doing (or trying to do) today is really sourced in the Shingu tradition although I do see and feel occasional parallels.

The emPHASis is on a different syllable, you might say, and is sourced from discussion here and on aikido-l over the years and my direct experiences with folk like Dennis Hooker Sensei, Ikeda Sensei, and most significantly with Chuck Clark Sensei and a number of his associates and students.

To be clear, the practice I'm advocating is slow precise movement with a partner that is grabbing very strongly and attempting to keep me frozen in space (the way one would if they were attempting to keep me from drawing or using a weapon) and get connection back to my center.
If I were really attempting to stop someone from drawing or using a weapon, the LAST think I would want to do is keep them frozen in space. Maybe that's just me, though.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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