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Old 05-21-2006, 12:44 PM   #48
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Real aikido question

Milos Savic wrote:
Actually, the atemi at the end of the technique is not an attack, it is simply to emphasize that you have full control of your opponent. Nothing more, nothing less
Guys, this simply isn't the case. Aikido was never an "empty hand" art... its antecedents were arts utilized for combat by the samurai. The samurai had very little use for an "empty hand" art. Their entire world revolved around weapons.

All of the techniques and movements we use in Aikido assume. at a fundamental level, that both parties are armed. This is the source of all this ridiculous discussion about MMA/ BJJ vs Aikido and the belief that Aikido doesn't work...

The techniques of Aikido are primarily concerned with a) weapons retention b) close quarters encounters when you are surprised and can't access your long weapon and c) the rare occasion when one is disarmed and is facing the armed opponent (and even then the techniques would allow you to access the opponent's weapon)

This is why there is so little "submission" technique in Aikido. Many of the pinning techniques were not designed to force an opponent to "tap out" but rather to put him in a position in which you had time to access your back-up weapon (or his own weapon) and finish him. Many of the the throws were simply designed to unbalance and drop an opponent so that you could draw your sword and cut him, not submit him as in sport jiu jutsu.

This is why O-Sensei, and the folks that trained with him before the War, tend to do that strike at the end of technique. It is the symbolic finishing blow. In real combat it would be a weapon, just as most of our strikes are stylized weapons techniques.

Rather than see what is clearly a strike and then try to square that with some simplistic view of O-Sensei's views on peace and harmony, which in the West are based on a very simplistic presentation of his ideas (largely put together by Arikawa, Osawa, and the Nidai Doshu for post war Western consumption), why don't we try to see what is really there and reassess what we thought we knew about how O-Sensei thought about these ideas.

I have a very hard time with the folks who water down what we are doing to fit their own pre-conceptions. It's a strike. It's a strike done after the control is applied. It's there in many films of the Founder and it's there in the styles of Aikido which were started by people who had done their training primarily with him (as opposed to the post-war students who trained with a variety of teachers as well as the Founder). Why not rethink your own ideas rather than ignore what is clearly there.

This is very much like the folks that decide to call their bokken a "stick" because they think the sword is violent. I know teachers of the art who do that. Well, it's a sword. It may be a "practice" sword but it is still meant to be a sword. If you start thinking of it as a "stick" you lose almost all the benefit of practicing with the weapon. It's a sword and it is a weapon.... now how do you square that with O-Sensei's spiritual and philosophical views?

With the release of the Da Vinci code new interest is being kindled in what original Christianity may have been like. It's a fact that what the earliest Christians believed and practiced was far more varied than what we inherited.

If one looks at what has happened to the Founder's spiritual and martial system in just a few years since his death in 1969, with writings, videos, and access to direct students who are still teaching, it's easy to see that what came down to us as orthodox Christianity may have had little to do with what Christ actually taught or his followers actually did when they studied with him.

I think that O-Sensei should be the "source" for what we strive to understand in our practice. I think that it is ridiculous to look at what he did and retool it to fit some idea we "want" to believe in. That's just some kind of watered down, feel good, spirituality. Look at what he wrote. Look at what he did. Study other arts that relate to give your training context. Then try to understand what he meant by it all. But to ignore what is right there in front of you to fit preconceptions which are themselves based on the 30 or 35 pages of writings handed down to us from the Founder (most of which were highly edited by others to present a certain point of view) just widens the gap between what we are doing and what the Founder taught.

I think that Aikido is an "endangered species" as Patrick Auge Sensei stated about the teachings he received from Mochizuki Sensei. We need to take advantage of the fact that there are teachers still alive who trained directly with the Founder. We need to understand as much as we can about the Founder's ideas and how he trained and what he chose to teach. Most of the Aikido being done today has little to do with what the Founder himself presented. But we will not do anything but accelerate the "drift" from what he originally created if we engage in wishful thinking Aikido. This is crucially important! In just a very few years there will be no more people who trained directly with the Founder. I shudder to think what is going to happen to the art when that happens.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-21-2006 at 12:53 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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