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Old 07-08-2014, 11:48 AM   #10
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,156
Re: Demonstrating aiki, demontrating aikido.Same thing ?

I may have been that guy...

One of the things causing me grief these days is the inconsistent ability to "do" aikido. I have broken down things to try to better understand where the "doing" part happens. In that respect, I have consolidated around the concept of "expressing/demonstrating aiki" and demonstrating a practical application of aiki, "demonstrating aikido." Essentially, I am just talking about technique done with aiki. But, I believe that aiki is real and been shown, which is not what everyone else thinks. I also believe many of us are not actually using aiki in our technique.

We can demonstrate aiki without framing that demonstration in a practical application (aikido). The most common demonstration I can think of is a push test. Or a pull test. The old guys did these a lot when they shared aikido with other arts. Pushing heads, jos, arms, etc. Mochizuki did these alot with judo players and there is a good clip of Sunadomari doing it in his friendship demo. Tohei, O Sensei, Shioda. They all did demonstrations that had these types of elements. I believe these sihan were showing aiki without the facade of technique to hide what they were doing.

The point that I was getting at was that we (aikido people) should be able to show someone "aiki" in a variety of different ways so spectators could see aikido without risk of injury. My unspoken comment was that maybe we don't understand aiki as well as we think if we only have a limited manner in which we can share what we do. Any jujutsu girl can show you an armbar and hurt you in the process - how do we separate ourselves if we cannot show aikido without hurting someone?

When we demonstrate aikido, we pick a collection of techniques in which we excel in expressing aiki and we present those techniques as an example of what aikido can do. But, I think sometimes we use kata to mask the lack of aiki. If I do good jujutsu kata, how is that dissimilar from good aikido kata? Hopefully, not much different. If I know someone will fall down from good jujutsu, who is to say my demonstration is not just good jujutsu? It has to be felt. Back to the practical idea of demonstrating aiki on someone with technique... How can we just pull someone out of the crowd to feel it if we are going to hurt them?

Oddly, I started thinking about this several years ago when our shihan, Saotome sensei, stopped teaching kata. Most of his seminars now are aiki "tricks." the centipede ukes, no touch throws, push throws... I think he felt that "kata" was getting in the way of "aiki". While I don't have the newest ASU handbook, I am pretty sure "centipede nage waza" is not part of the curriculum on which we test. I believe sensei is trying to show us the real motor that drives his techniques.

I think our collection of techniques were created for a common theme - the practical application of aiki. When you have the aikibody, the themes tend to constantly exist throughout movement. Is it different than modern aikido? Yes. But not everyone wants that. I also talked about aikido's tent size - there is a lot of variation in aikido and each one has some value to those who practice it.

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