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Old 04-21-2006, 06:51 PM   #1
kokyu
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Lifting the feet

I was recently watching a clip of a Shihan doing randori and two things struck me:
(i) He often lifted his feet
(ii) He took (what looked like) a lot of small steps

The end result looked like he was skipping around.

I also know that people in the Ki Society have a 'hop' or 'skip'.

Unfortunately, I've been taught that lifting the feet and taking small steps are no-nos - i.e. we should try to slide on the mat and minimize the number of steps taken.

Why are there such differences in the thinking about footwork?
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:02 PM   #2
wmreed
 
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Re: Lifting the feet

In my experience, beginners who lift their feet and take small steps are not "grounded", they lose their connection to the mat. Did the shihan in the video look like he was stumbling or off balance? My hunch is it is a different level of training.

William M. Reed
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:21 PM   #3
Jory Boling
 
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Re: Lifting the feet

There is the possiblity that you were seeing the shihan doing randori at his level. If you watched me doing it, there would have been much higher lifting and many more and smaller steps.

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Old 04-21-2006, 07:51 PM   #4
MaryKaye
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Re: Lifting the feet

I have trained (a little) in both Ki Society and Aikikai styles, and it seems to me that you can make a coherent style that includes a lot of skipping, or one that doesn't. They don't mix particularly well, so if you are learning the second kind your teachers are quite right to discourage skipping.

A novice's view here:

If you are going to skip, you'll have a basic stance with the feet quite close together. You won't rely on "catching" your partner's weight with your body, which will tend to de-emphasize throws like koshinage. You'll spend a lot of time on drills which stress balance while skipping. You'll probably use, and need, more space for your techniques. Your preferred ma'ai (combat distance) will be greater. You're likely to use your back in a more limited way, seldom bending it backwards past the vertical. You may permit yourself to back up as a response to an attack. This all makes a coherent package which works together.

If you aren't going to skip, that whole group of other things is likely to be different as well: wider stance, shorter ma'ai, greater use of hips and back, etc. This is also a coherent package which works together.

Having trained with top people of both styles, I think they are all awesome. But I strongly suspect that a 50/50 mixture would be dysfunctional. If I put my feet close together, Ki Society style, and then do a throw in Aikikai style from there, I'm not going to be stable. If I adopt the wider Aikikai stance and then try a Ki Society throw I can't move fast enough or freely enough to make it work. (Maybe someone else could, but I can't--I've tried.)

In another ten years or so I hope to actually understand the differences. I feel as though I'm barely scratching the surface here.

Mary Kaye
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Old 04-29-2006, 07:40 AM   #5
kokyu
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
But I strongly suspect that a 50/50 mixture would be dysfunctional.
In another ten years or so I hope to actually understand the differences. I feel as though I'm barely scratching the surface here.
Mary Kaye
Mary, thanks for the great explanation. Sounds like boxing footwork versus judo footwork, although this could be naive thinking. I also think that mixing the footwork wouldn't work in practice although it would be great to be able to switch from one to the other. I haven't come across anyone who can do both though...

I find that small steps and maybe "feet lifting" are necessary when one has to turn fast in a small area.... that's probably why the shihan was moving in that manner.

BTW, I've always wanted to know this... how do you know when the 'hop' or 'skip' is necessary? Is it done to transfer the weight quickly in a different direction?
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Old 04-29-2006, 07:42 PM   #6
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Re: Lifting the feet

There is also the possibility of the shihan you were watching having his mind fettered via the drill - and that showing up in his footwork (i.e. stuttering mind = stuttering steps).

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-30-2006, 01:04 AM   #7
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Re: Lifting the feet

I've seen video of both Ueshiba Morihei and Shioda Gozo practically prancing while doing jiyu-waza with multiple attackers. The 1936 film made by Hisa Takuma has a number of examples of this.

It is important to keep one's center of gravity low and grounded. Suri-ashi (sliding steps) can be good for learning this, and indeed are a fundamental in sumo. The problem is, it is entirely unusable in the street. Aikido was created and developed by people who wore geta or zori as daily fashion wear, and you can't do suri-ashi in those. Nor is it as easy to do in sneakers on concrete (let alone asphalt) as it is on the mat in bare feet.

The flip side is that geta and zori are also very good at inducing proper budo movement because you can't walk heel to toe in them. And, not surprisingly, in the footage I've seen of Ueshiba and Shioda, they are stepping on the balls of the feet and toes, not the heel. Also, while they lift their feet when stepping, their feet are in full contact with the ground when they apply a technique.

Josh Reyer

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Old 05-01-2006, 01:38 AM   #8
kokyu
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
Aikido was created and developed by people who wore geta or zori as daily fashion wear, and you can't do suri-ashi in those. Nor is it as easy to do in sneakers on concrete (let alone asphalt) as it is on the mat in bare feet.
Another great explanation. I guess it's good to practice moving in a skipping way as well... seeing that it would be useful on the streets.
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Old 05-01-2006, 11:05 PM   #9
kokyu
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
I've seen video of both Ueshiba Morihei and Shioda Gozo practically prancing while doing jiyu-waza with multiple attackers. The 1936 film made by Hisa Takuma has a number of examples of this.
I've seen the same thing in a black and white clip of Shioda Kancho. Wasn't sure if my eyes were playing tricks, so I'm grateful for the confirmation.

With reference to the jiyu waza clip in the original post, the Shihan demonstrates kihon waza where he moves in suri ashi with a wide stance, so I was surprised that he changed his footwork for the jiyu waza. I guess it pays to be flexible.
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Old 05-02-2006, 03:20 AM   #10
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
William M. Reed wrote:
In my experience, beginners who lift their feet and take small steps are not "grounded", they lose their connection to the mat. Did the shihan in the video look like he was stumbling or off balance? My hunch is it is a different level of training.
Hi Bill,

I very much agree with you. In my 30+ years of receiving and giving instructions, the following were quite common instructions in the dojo:

Don't look down!
Don't look up!
Don't lift up your heels!
Don't bob your head up & down!

The above instructions are simply to remind us to maintain an upright posture which most beginners lack. At a higher level, the MA (especially karateka) become like those standup punching dolls - quick to regain their balance and posture. I definitely like to hear my first aikido instructor shouting these instructions to Mohammad Ali or Mike Tyson.

I just watched a video-clip of Koichi Tohei sensei giving a demonstration in Florida in 1965. His uke was Yoshimitsu Yamada sensei. He was skipping and jumping all about and the mannerism of his tai-no-henko was like, "Shall we dance?" My first aikido instructor would have a heart attack watching this video-clip

Best training

David Y
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:41 AM   #11
kokyu
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
With reference to the jiyu waza clip in the original post, the Shihan demonstrates kihon waza where he moves in suri ashi with a wide stance, so I was surprised that he changed his footwork for the jiyu waza. I guess it pays to be flexible.
Oops... I meant randori instead of jiyu waza.

Quote:
David Yap wrote:
I just watched a video-clip of Koichi Tohei sensei giving a demonstration in Florida in 1965. His uke was Yoshimitsu Yamada sensei. He was skipping and jumping all about and the mannerism of his tai-no-henko was like, "Shall we dance?" My first aikido instructor would have a heart attack watching this video-clip
Well... Tohei Sensei has continued that style of footwork in the Ki no Kenkyukai, although I'm not sure if Yamada Sensei moves in that way.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:53 PM   #12
Aiki LV
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Re: Lifting the feet

From my own experience I tend to have a little bit of a hop because of my height. I can't speak for every short person out there, but I find on certain occasions I need to hop a little bit to cover more ground quickly. This seems to be the case especially when working with taller folks. I can't cover as much ground in a hurry with a sliding step, my legs are too damned short. I've trained at dojo's that advocate sliding and others that tend to pick up the feet a little more. From what I've seen and done as long as there is a happy medium your fine. I've seen some that in my opinion skip and hop way too much on the other hand I've trained at dojo's where they would practically drag their feet. I guess it all comes down to where you train and what works for you.
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Old 06-01-2006, 02:35 PM   #13
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Re: Lifting the feet

Great observations Mary! I'd just like to add, as a Ki Society practioner myself, that the feet (and rest of the mind-body thing) are stable and touching the mat, during the crux of a technique. The whole light-on-your feet approach is always at a time (as far as I can tell) when uke is at a mechanical disadvantage or is not touching nage.

On lifting your feet:
Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
You'll probably use, and need, more space for your techniques.
At first this might seem true, but I'm not so sure this is as much of an issue after training for some time. Hmmm ... must observe myself more closely.
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Old 06-07-2006, 04:17 AM   #14
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
I've seen the same thing in a black and white clip of Shioda Kancho. Wasn't sure if my eyes were playing tricks, so I'm grateful for the confirmation.

With reference to the jiyu waza clip in the original post, the Shihan demonstrates kihon waza where he moves in suri ashi with a wide stance, so I was surprised that he changed his footwork for the jiyu waza. I guess it pays to be flexible.
Shioda Kancho didnt do kihon dosa either...

As for suriashi compared to stepping: we slide the feet so that we don't loose the alignment of the hips and back and loose the weight for the throw. Stepping may cause those things to happen. The suriashi is not, in and of itself, that important. If you can step and keep the hips, back and weight - no problem.

Spike

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Michael Kimeda
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Old 06-07-2006, 07:48 AM   #15
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Re: Lifting the feet

Wasn't there a phrase in the Art of Peace to the effect of:

"The Art of Peace has no form ..."

I think altogether too much emphasis is placed on how one should stand, move, etc. without a real understanding of why. As some of the posts have pointed out, there are videos around of O'Sensei and others lifting their feet, not holding a "shoulder-width" hanmi and lifting their feet or heels; essentially moving according to the situation.

It is important, as many people have also posted, to know why we practice hanmi and the likes in set positions; it trains the body into feeling for the correct movement and position without needing to think. This doesn't necessarily preclude lifting your feet.

Just my two cents worth
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:50 AM   #16
Alex Megann
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Re: Lifting the feet

If you look at photos of O-Sensei, even towards the end of his life when he was physically frail, you will see plenty of examples of him completely - if momentarily - airborne. Stanley Pranin stressed this in a recent article in Aikido Journal (I'm afraid I don't remember the title of the article). The tradition of clear, precise tai-sabaki you see in mainstream Aikikai practice these days is due mainly to the influences of Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Morihiro Saito. As already mentioned in this thread, Shioda Sensei often lifted his feet off the ground too, although you won't see this much in current Yoshinkai practice, where the stress is even more so than in the Aikikai on clarity and rooted kamae. Actually, I was surprised to see how different Shioda's aikido was from the Yoshinkai style - to me the photos of him in "Total Aikido" look very different from the pictures of anyone else in the book.

My personal feeling on this is that the "jumping" is consistent with what Shioda Sensei used to say about the importance of being able to focus power into any part of the body at any time. Kanetsuka Sensei (himself a student of Shioda's) is fond of saying that aikido must work in zero gravity - in other words, your continuous contact with the partner should be independent of how well you are rooted to the ground. He has more than once shown kokyunage from an attack where tori is lying on the tatami and there are four attackers, one on each arm and one on each foot, sending all four flying with one movement. It is too easy to get trapped by your own hanmi!

Alex

Last edited by Alex Megann : 06-07-2006 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:58 AM   #17
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Re: Lifting the feet

Training is training.
Aikido is aikido.
Both can be the same or they can be different.

Just as you read about the Q&A of "Does Aikido Work" with "My Aikido Works, I Don't Know About Yours", so, too, you will see many various personal "adaptations", if you will.

In the end, IMO, Aikido is more about a "way" than about how it is expressed physically. Or, ask yourself this, Was the Aikido that Molly Hale did in a wheelchair not really Aikido? After all, she neither slid her feet nor hopped.

Just to throw out another wrench in the system. Try randori with a senior level student and watch how he/she can be off balance and un-centered and *still* be able to reverse the situation such that you are now on the ground and pinned. Did skipping or sliding of the feet matter? After all, don't we learn to slide the feet to gain better posture such that we can properly "do" Aikido?

Mark
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:24 PM   #18
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Adam Bauder wrote:

On lifting your feet:At first this might seem true, but I'm not so sure this is as much of an issue after training for some time. Hmmm ... must observe myself more closely.
When I practice with the Aikikai they tend to back me into a wall, step by step, because I've been taught to take a bigger ma'ai than they have. I don't know whether this is integral to the style difference or not. At my level the Ki Society throws certainly seem to need a bit more space. If I start out a shomenuchi technique with nage's and uke's arms already in firm contact, I'm liable to do (my best impersonation of) Aikikai shomenuchi iriminage, because Ki Society shomenuchi kokyunage seems a bit late already.

On the other hand, our Ki Society regional head (Clarence Chinn sensei) likes to just stand there, saying "I'm an old man, it's too much trouble to run around." He hardly moves at all, and if there is a generous ma'ai it's because his uke is too intimidated to start closer! (He told a student once, "Start from there and approach until you feel uncomfortable." To general laughter, the student *backed up*.)

In some ways, the style differences seem to lose all meaning at the very highest levels. You can still see them, but they no longer appear limiting.

Mary Kaye
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Old 06-07-2006, 03:15 PM   #19
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
Quote:
David Yap wrote:
I just watched a video-clip of Koichi Tohei sensei giving a demonstration in Florida in 1965. His uke was Yoshimitsu Yamada sensei. He was skipping and jumping all about and the mannerism of his tai-no-henko was like, "Shall we dance?" My first aikido instructor would have a heart attack watching this video-clip
Well... Tohei Sensei has continued that style of footwork in the Ki no Kenkyukai, although I'm not sure if Yamada Sensei moves in that way.
West or East, accomplishment in dancing and martial ways have always been considered to go hand in hand. George Washington, apart from being a superb strategist, was considered among the preeminent dancers and fencers of his day.

There are simply many styles of dance, as there are many styles of martial movement. Dancing or fighting, the only movement that is absolutely wrong is that which lacks rhythm, balance or connection to your partner.

Beginners typically lack one, two or all three. Some movements are more or less effective depending on the setting in time and circumstance, but that's what we try to learn. Other movements may lack in grace and ease, if not effectiveness. Beauty is a valid test of efficiency.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 06-10-2006, 05:58 AM   #20
Mark Freeman
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Beauty is a valid test of efficiency.
In one of my first lessons of aikido I remember sitting at the side of the mat watching my teacher demonstrate Kaitenage. The whole movement looked so beautiful that I let out an audible gasp ( which was a surprise even to me!). I knew then that I had chosen the right art.

regards

Mark

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Old 06-10-2006, 05:29 PM   #21
Neil Mick
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Re: Lifting the feet

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
I was recently watching a clip of a Shihan doing randori and two things struck me:
(i) He often lifted his feet
(ii) He took (what looked like) a lot of small steps

The end result looked like he was skipping around.

I also know that people in the Ki Society have a 'hop' or 'skip'.

Unfortunately, I've been taught that lifting the feet and taking small steps are no-nos - i.e. we should try to slide on the mat and minimize the number of steps taken.

Why are there such differences in the thinking about footwork?
Diff'rent strokes, for diff'rent folks.

I have also been taught that too many steps is a no-no...but then I started studying under Anno Sensei, who likes to do these 10-step iriminage's that sound clumsy but look awesome (at least, when HE does it).

For him, the important thing was trying something new.

****************

One of the more memorable iriminage's I've seen was at Saotame Sensei's dojo...a 3rd kyu test. The woman was about 4'8" versus her 6'0 opponent. With this huge grin, she leapt in the air just after stepping, and "hopped" to settle right behin uke, delivering this "flying" throw.

Saotame Sensei was first very amused, and then he suddenly sobered up and admonished her to "stop jumping."

Still...I'll always remember that flying grin, on her face...
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:20 AM   #22
crbateman
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Re: Lifting the feet

Not long ago, I asked a friend of mine, who has been a direct student of Tohei Sensei for more than 30 years, about the "Tohei hop". He said that it is Tohei Sensei's way of assuming the correct spacing (ma-ai) in the fastest and most direct way. Makes sense to me, but personally, I feel better staying in contact with the ground. I'm sure that his long years of training make it much easier to him than to a mere neophyte like me.
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:50 AM   #23
Mark Freeman
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Re: Lifting the feet

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...86495&q=aikido

This clip shows Joe Thambu Sensei 6th Dan Yoshinkan Aikido ( I thought these are the guys that emphasise sliding the feet ) At about 1.35 into the clip he does a leaping irimi in a defence against the jo. No contact with the ground, but effective

Keeping contact with the ground is important especially in learning, but the more the centre of your movement becomes the centre of 'everything' the less contact you need with the ground.

Ueshiba Snr & Jr, Shioda, Tohei and many others are all on film hopping skipping and jumping their way around in space. Why there is even a question about it slightly confuses me ( not difficult )

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-12-2006, 10:03 AM   #24
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Lifting the feet

Excellent clip. Thanks for posting. Yep, some can do the jump while maintaining the princples. No doubt about it. Not me yet.

Best,
Ron

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