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Old 03-30-2007, 06:14 AM   #19
Dojo: Bristol North Aikido Dojo
Location: Bristol
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 659
Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Hi Tarik

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I'm not really familiar with these particular terms. My exposure has been to different terms and approaches.
Ok - that is fair enough. I'm not here to say our way is the only way. I like to understand a little of why others do things, maybe take a little on board now and then and occassionally applaud and say 'Amen' to some of the contributions.

If you are interested in digging a little deeper you've got your search engine or by all means PM me and I'll send you some of the stuff I have in my personal library.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post

It's difficult to formulate why this feels wrong to me, but I'm going to try. Let me state up front that I HAVE tried a "strong centered grab" approach to training, and I do occasionally use "strong centered grips" for demonstration purposes or to make a point, but I don't generally practice them in a regular fashion or allow them to be practiced when I am leading a class because, in my own exploration and study, I have found such practice to be counter to the development of good habits such as you describe and to in fact foster bad habits.
again - fair enough. The Aikido we practice is underpinned by 9 bases which apply to all levels and for us this is the best way of starting off learning these and has been tried and tested through 50 years of my teachers practice.

There seem to be many ways to interpret Aikido and how to do it. I have long ago abandoned dissmissing the ideas of others as "wrong"...can anyone say for instance that Tohei was right and Tamura or Saito are wrong because they had different approaches. Absolutely not. Both are superb yet different. All we can do is follow our chosen path and take advantage of contrasting styles when opportunity arises.

I have seen this approach work well and produce some excellent Aikido people. If its not for you then no problemo, if it feels wrong dont do it.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post

Let me try and explain my point of view in a different fashion.

I've tried out and studied a lot of different physical stuff in my day (as I'm sure most of us have). Karate, kenpo, iaido, fencing, archery, shooting, wresting, golf, soccer, football, baseball, scuba, weight training, tennis, and plenty more.

In not a single one of these activities did I experience a coach or instructor trying to teach me that using a strong centered grip (or any kind of equivalent) was a good tool to begin to learn the basic postures, mechanics, positional relationships, timing, and other fundamentals.

In fact, my experience has been quite the opposite; they all want the beginner to start slowly, gently, SOFTLY, and to practice good form with MINIMAL strain and resistance and to stick with that slow and easy pace until good form is driven deeply into your body and habits.

I cannot for the life of me find another pursuit that is movement based that recommends starting out by being strong and centered and then moving to a flowing practice.
So because it is not relevant to these sports its not relevant to Aikido?

Now its your turn to go on further to convince me Tariq.

Again - if you don't like it don't do it.

Focussing more on the static for me it is so easy to show errors and address them. I've been taught they are like musical scales (which i know little about so don't bombard me with music info)..but with time and experience you should be able to move through the levels while continuing to adhere to the 9 bases.

Practice in static should use the same moves as in flowing practice. Jumping in at this stage can...and I emphasise can...lead to the practice that is so like dancing but hidden behind the movement is a whole host of errors that could have been made clear by slowing right down and examining the work more closely.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I have considered it, but you'll have to go on further to be more convincing to me.
I'm not here to convince anyone Tarik. For me there are many ways of learning - If people are interested in what we do I can say more and will happily give a reply to PMs, and the internet is full of info. If you've considered what I've said and choose to go another way I'm happy for you and good luck.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Anything not open to criticism is a dead or dying.
I quite agree Tarik. Have I said anything to the contrary? My gripe is that so many people look at this static practice and criticise it for being martially ineffective without understanding that it is just a development step and as I said in my previous post not really "Aikido".

Just as bagwork, running, stamina training etc are all part of boxing training without actually being boxing.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post

If I had to be specific if my criticisms of much of the aikido practice I've witnessed, it would be to say that many people are either too quick to try and go fast and do so without good form or understanding of what makes things work OR that many people are too focused on trying to do it against powerful resistance, again, without really understanding what it is that makes things work. IMO, of course.

The entire concept of aiki is fundamentally a manipulation of the complex psychological and physical structure that exists when you are connected to your partners. In my experience and in the paraphrased words of nearly every shihan I've ever heard talk about this, one must be relaxed to feel what is going on in the conjoined physical structures.

When I or my partner indulges in resistance we are certainly training something, but it is not our ability to feel and manipulate that structure in a relaxed fashion without using unnecessary musculature and/or movements.

When I am training, I am NOT doing, I am trying to build habits that will translate into being able to DO. I think too many people are on the mats trying to DO, instead of patiently training the fundamental habits that will allow them to DO under pressure and duress.
On this I think we agree. As usual some mat time rather than exchange of words would probably clear much up - to me none of this excluded from the latter stages of our practice.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. That it's NOT ok to question? Or that it is?

It's a bit of an educated guess and a degree of trust we place in our seniors to decide what is a waste of time and what isn't, is it not? Hopefully, our seniors can demonstrate to us exactly the riai and also teach us how to test it so that we don't have to take things entirely on faith as we select our path and dedicate our precious moments to training.

I believe that the people I choose to train with now encourage (DEMAND!) such a questioning approach and are ready and willing to say "I don't know" when they don't instead of making something up or being enigmatic. I hope yours are the same.
I'm all for questioning Tarik. I believe the wave of interest in MMA and such like has blown away a lot of the mystery and mystique of MA which is a good thing. So my point was to say question and subsequently understand what you are training for ...if you choose static training understand what its trying to achieve and its strengths and weaknesses.

At the same time ...and going well off thread it can be frustrating when you come across volumes of dialogue from people with a little knowledge of Aikido containing a negative slant and questioning every detail within it. If only because it can dissuade those with even less knowledge from trying the art out in the first place.

Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I wouldn't use the terms heresy or fluffy rubbish to describe your approach. It doesn't make sense to me, but I still wouldn't use such terms, nor would I ever try to force someone to train the way I want to train. I am getting a lot pickier about who I'm willing to train with, but that's more of function of feeling like I have less time to waste doing things in a way I don't want to do any more if I want to learn and improve.
Thanks Tarik. Lets hope everyone shows such tolerance and looks for the good bits in others posts.


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