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Old 01-01-2007, 07:51 AM   #26
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The MOST important technique?

On the competitive/competition issue. One thing we do in our week long level I course is discuss in great detail the evolution of Martial arts, the intent of the arts, competition, and the paradigm/intent of training.

We (Modern Army Combatives) use a competitive model as the basis for our training. really for two reasons. 1. It gives us some common rules, and keeps people from getting hurt unecessarily. 2. Army guys like to compete and it gives them something to measure.

Day 1 we give a brief history of the MA. Here is a link of what we show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-lxbU47pho I will keep it open for a few days...as there are some copyright issues I don't want to deal with.

We then show the UFC fights over the next several days showing the dynamics of competitive fighitng and the evolution as rules where imposed.

We discuss with the students the how rules influence things and that they must be keen about this as they study and compete. There are things you do in competition that are not good on the street or in real life.

Competition should not be a BAD word, done properly it is a good thing. While at least in my aikido experiences it is not really there in a instructor sponsored way....don't tell me you don't "compete" on some level with your favorite uke's when you are doing technique! We all do it in someway! I believe it is human nature!
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Old 01-01-2007, 08:03 AM   #27
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Yea, I suppose having your own space and ability to train does influence my beliefs somewhat.

Disagree with you Michael? very minor I think!

Anyway, I do see your point, I guess since I have trained in a fairly traditional aikido dojo, and seem to have enough to work on within the sphere of what my instructors are teaching, I have no problem with the dynamic.

To be honest, I'd say that my level of aliveness depends on the abilities of the person I am working with. If I am working with a 6 Dan like Mike Lasky, or Jimmy Sorrentino, I certainly give them more of a fight than I would a brand new white belt.

When I was training with Bob Galeone, there was definitely a strong, strong martial intent. When Jimmy took over the dojo, a slightly different focus, not a bad one...just different (hard to discribe, but Jimmy knows what I mean!).

I think instructors have a responsibility to cultivate a proper atmosphere in a dojo. I think the goals of aikido are very challenging and hard to balance. you have to walk a fine line between conveying the principles and teaching fighting proficiency. A delicate balance.

On one part Aikido can be a healing art. Think of the woman that comes to class that has issues because of years of abuse, do you really want to start her out in a hard core way? She probably should be brought along slowly and gently.

Think of the knucklehead that wants to use anger, agression, and strength....do you really want to reinforce that it pays off to be this way all the time?

Anyway...enough thoughts on that for now!
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Old 01-01-2007, 10:57 AM   #28
Mike Galante
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Re: The MOST important technique?

I think that practicing with a compliant uke, refines technique in the hope that real ki will develop over time in nage.To learn rhythm. How can we learn otherwise? the first moment of the initial attack should be committed and strong, then uke follows nages lead and, like a mirror, uke teaches nage about the "technique".(by the action of his body)

I agree with Kevin: If nage is not really leading or throwing, then uke should not fall if he regains his balance. A fine line. The spirit of cooperation is needed.

In my opinion, Ki cannot root in a tense body. It stops the flow which hinders learning.

Every meditation/spiritual practice (that I have seen) stresses letting go of unnecessary tension. Aikido, I think, is not different.

Humbly,
Mike

Last edited by Mike Galante : 01-01-2007 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 01-01-2007, 02:24 PM   #29
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Re: The MOST important technique?

I know we are getting philosophical here but....

I am not sure you can develop KI, it already is there. Again, it is probably semantics.

Anymore, I am not so sure about the whole compliant uke thing being necessary. Sure you have to set some parameters to control things, but do we set them too rigidly sometimes in aikido?

I think uke is only responsible for an initial, sound, attack...he does not have to do anything other than offer an honest attack, he doesn't need to follow or anything else. He goes with nage only to continue to improve his position of attack, or to save his ass from getting dumped...it should be very, very tactical.

Speed comes into play as another dynamic. We can slow things down or speed them up. While it does affect the emotion and timing of the attack...theorectically it should not have bearing on the tactical soundness from a principle standpoint.

I think dealing with speed is what we are really addressing most of the time and the impact it has on the realationship. There are two ends of the stick we can work on....slow where we have the time to develop good habits and work on principles. Fast, where we work on timing and all the mistakes, emotions and what not that are caused by that stressor.

should not have anything to do with level of compliance/non-compliance.

When you talk about KI and being rooted in a tense body, it sounds to me as if you believe it is a separate and distinct thing, to be developed or produced. I tend to not separate KI from anything. It is always there and always is flowing...it is just the relationship to yours to someone else and the environment.

May seem lilke a small thing, but I don't think so.

You can let go of tension and standthere there and get clocked! Or let uke throw you around like a rag doll. don't think it is so much the letting go of tension and relaxing, as much as it is directing your tension etc in the appropriate time, distance, and space.

Its as if you talk about tension (stress) being a bad thing. It is niether bad nor good....it can simply be directed in the wrong way.

KI is sometimes described as energy. It can come in many forms, physical, mental, and spiritual. It is conceptual I thnk. It can be in the form of Stress, Anger, muscular tension, fear, movement...all those things. As an form of energy...it can neither be created or destroyed, it is only transferred from one object to another and is always going toward balance.

To me if you can build up and store KI.....it would be as body fat as it is the body's way of storing excess energy that we do not need !

Right now I have more KI than I need...want some?
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Old 01-01-2007, 02:54 PM   #30
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Re: The MOST important technique?

"he should be very, very tactical"

In your opinion.


When we practice at our dojo.... uke should follow logically.

She should fall if her balance is taken....

Here is where the difference between training in Aikido as I practice it and people who are fighting practice...

We train in Aikido to develop mind body co-ordination....hence to have Ki...

Your way may work for you but please don't say it is the only way.
Mary
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Old 01-01-2007, 03:12 PM   #31
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Re: The MOST important technique?

thats a great vid Kevin - it's a shame it's not going to be up for long!

To my mind this is not a discussion of hard core vs soft training. It need not even be about competition/sparring. As some of you have heard me say before, I'm not convinced true sparring can be effectively introduced to Aikido.

It is however about culture. And I think alot of the issues can be taken care of by having mandating "free time' during regular classes. When I think about BJJ, one of the things sparring gives me (beyond the ability to test and refine stuff vs resistance) is an opportunity to pick the appropriate tech at the appropriate time. Perhaps the most crucial skill you can develop.

In Aikido this skill is at least as important - choosing the right tech to blend with just what uke is giving you. But 80-90% of our practice is doing the technique sensei has just shown - trying to fit a particular technique to the uke's attack. Sure there's jiyu but how much of our training time is spent actively as nage in jiyu. I'd hazard a guess that for most it's not enough.

So it's not about saying, lets be bad asses and train like mmaers. It's about saying more regularly, now is the time to try and put it all together, work with someone at a level of resistance you're comfortable with, don't prejudge the technique and just try it all out...

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-01-2007, 03:45 PM   #32
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Mary,

You don't support good attacks? That is what I meant by tactical. All attacks should be centered and realistic. How does that differ from your opinion?

I think a logical conclusion in most cases is to fall if your balance is taken. However, it may mean moving to regain your balance. I don't believe it should be a predetermined conclusion that she will always fall, if that is not an appropriate response. Balance taken does cause things to happen...like falling.

I don't practice Aikido to practice fighitng, i practice it to learn aikido. I do other things to practice fighting.

I believe much of this is semantics.....however, again, and of course it is my opinion....practicing to have KI is like practicing to see if you have eyes and can see...kind of a useless practice since you already can do this.

Practicing how to use what you inately already possess is what you are really doing...again...my opinion.

don't mean to imply my way is the only way...hence the words I use like "I think" and "my opinion"

The wonderful thing about aikido is that it allows people to experience things and interpret them for themselves. Don't believe I have ever said my way is the only way!
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Old 01-01-2007, 04:04 PM   #33
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Hey Michael,

I am tracking with you and understand exactly what you are saying. It has been a while since I have been in my aikido dojo, but we I used to do this before and after class with people. If you and I were in the same dojo I'd do that with you no problem.

Yes I think it is important for sure.

I think this is a tough issue given the nature of the dynamic some dojos.

One thing that comes to mind is in dealing with uke's that do not give the appropriate attack that the instructor has requested in the demo. It becomes very frustrating trying to practice the response that was requested to be practiced. No matter how hard you try to beat the round peg in the square hole it does not work. So you do something else that is appropriate.

About that time, the instructor walks by and I get caught doing the wrong technique and I get that instructor "well that is not what I was looking for try this.." oh well! Can't win!

We would do randori from time to time in our dojo. I think though again, given the dynamic in the dojo that randori degrades fast into very bad training if not properly controlled...then what do you have? poor training?

Randori is appropriate in the dojo I think. you have to balance things.

I think this training works well in BJJ dojo because of the focus on training to be successful in your fighitng skills. In an aikido dojo maybe not so well as we are trying to focus on a different side of the art. Again, a little of this is okay though from time to time.
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Old 01-01-2007, 04:14 PM   #34
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Re: The MOST important technique?

yeah I know what you mean about getting caught having to do something different. Add to that we spend so much time telling people to practice what has been taught, but when there is no room in class to develop your own sponanaeity you have to either ignore that crucial aspect of practice or occassionally do stuff that is different to what has been demo'd\

I am of course talking in extremes. there are some opportunities to practice ina more free manner, but I'd contend not nearly enough. I think if you set the right culture with the appropriate supervision it can work well.

Having said that of course one of the challenges I have with my BJJ guys is getting them to take the right approach to the "warm up roll" i.e. rolling without resistance, moving through positions acquiesing to the other as they move through postions etc etc. In otherwords an aiki jiyu approach to bjj. It's a constant struggle to not have this stage of class degenerate into sparring. And I think it is this that I am talking about in an Aikido context as well, so yeah, it has some challenges.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-01-2007, 04:33 PM   #35
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Michael,

You and I have the same experiences. I felt I needed more free sparring in aikido, and I have the same issue with BJJ in the warm up roll.

I do have a few of my BJJ guys that will do Kokyu Tanden Ho now though. Also I am able to get them to do push hands type training now, but I call it the slow swimming drill
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Old 01-01-2007, 04:35 PM   #36
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Re: The MOST important technique?

nice! I'd love to push more of my bjj guys into some aikido training. the ones that came with me from aikido hve a definate advantage in some areas.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-01-2007, 04:54 PM   #37
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I think uke is only responsible for an initial, sound, attack...he does not have to do anything other than offer an honest attack, he doesn't need to follow or anything else. He goes with nage only to continue to improve his position of attack, or to save his ass from getting dumped...it should be very, very tactical.

Speed comes into play as another dynamic. We can slow things down or speed them up. While it does affect the emotion and timing of the attack...theorectically it should not have bearing on the tactical soundness from a principle standpoint.
Amen brother.

I think the above post points out a critical aspect of what we are talking about from the Uke perspective. In the beginning stages Uke should be trained in how to "attack properly" (which does not mean attack ineffectively) and also be shown the ideal ways to receive the technique (react properly), i.e. take the fall in a safe manner once their balance is disrupted.

However as soon as this basic ability is achieved and one moves from beginner to intermediate and advanced student one's operation as Uke develops from merely following the movement of Tori in a logical, programmed manner, towards feeling every aspect of Tori's waza to the point where holes and suki are easily discernable and points of reversal are also detected. The intermediate and advanced uke can then use this sensitivity to movement to stop Tori's technique where it becomes tactically unsound or start working on counters to Tori's technique during randori (kaeshiwaza). This is all done in a relaxed manner and does not require muscular resistance yet. As things develop the resistance levels can be increased, allowing "Uke" to move in a more tactical manner where he can now actively press his attack or chain attacks if the waza is poor or attempt reversals of Tori's technique if Tori provides him with an opportunity to do so via poor execution. At the highest level both persons are merely moving in accordance ( ) with the energy ( ) that is being given by the other. The actual act of breakfalling at this point can really become a matter of saving one's skin since any successfully applied waza at this level only gets through to completion if one totally takes the balance of one's partner and there are no flaws to be exploited (or one's partner is unable to exploit them). This also causes Uke to improve his level of Ukemi.

An Aikikai sensei once told me that good Aikido waza is a product of the raw material you are given (attack by Uke) and the skill level of Tori to use that raw material to reconcile the conflict of the attack. If one trains with poor raw materials at best one will only be able to manifest poor Aikido technique imho. Things can be graduated according to a person's skill level (e.g. use slower attacks, single attacks etc.), but compromise should not be made in the quality of attack given imho.

Just my 2 cents. Good posts Kevin.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 01-01-2007, 05:02 PM   #38
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
nice! I'd love to push more of my bjj guys into some aikido training. the ones that came with me from aikido hve a definate advantage in some areas.
I agree with you there Michael. The vast majority of my Jujutsu students are from Aikido and are able to control their resistance levels quite well to work on the issues at hand, coming from Aikido practice. The hard, resistance-driven JJ randori makes them realise also what things should be like (as far as mindset goes) when doing full resistance randori in Aikido like we do for shiai or self protection training. The mind/body connection however must be relaxed more so in Aikido else nothing works (ma ai control, timing, tai sabaki etc. get compromised) so its quite a challenge, but I think the JJ randori has taught them not to fear resistance and allow tension to come into their mind/body as a result. In this way they learn more and more to relax and "switch on" mentally during Aikido resistance randori without getting tense.

The beauty of resistance is that it forces you to execute proper waza by generating power from the core and ground and not by using the muscles at the extremities.

LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 01-01-2007 at 05:07 PM.

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Old 01-01-2007, 05:23 PM   #39
Aristeia
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Re: The MOST important technique?

*nods* that's why I wish there were more people open to cross pollination going both ways.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-01-2007, 07:21 PM   #40
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: The MOST important technique?

I only took BJJ for a few months, years ago, but I had that same problem with the warm up roll, or actually all the rolling. The instructor often talked about having an attitude of sticking to the principles, not getting too muscle-y and not worrying about getting tapped. However, there was no time in class, ever, when everyone but me wasn't straining and fighting for every millimeter like it was a struggle to the death. I would have appreciated time set aside for a rolling practice that emphasized yielding and relaxation. It was exactly the converse of the problem we have been complaining about in Aikido.
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Old 01-02-2007, 12:56 AM   #41
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Re: The MOST important technique?

breathing... still learning how to do it...

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Old 01-02-2007, 02:08 AM   #42
Mike Galante
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Cool Re: The MOST important technique?

Quote:
I am not sure you can develop KI, it already is there. Again, it is probably semantics.
With all due respect, Kevin, Ki can be developed and stored.

If you read acupuncture books, they talk about the different levels of chi. From a more superficial down to the chi in the bone marrow.
Maybe you are focusing on a few levels.

Ki can be manipulated, the only limit is your imagination.

In meditation, if the mind is stilled, Ki can build up and when you go to practice, depending on whether it was a good day or not, uke seems to respond much more quickly to atemi, etc. You can feel it. Your force field is increased.


Quote:
Anymore, I am not so sure about the whole compliant uke thing being necessary. Sure you have to set some parameters to control things, but do we set them too rigidly sometimes in aikido?
During regular practice a spirit of cooperation is essential for nage to learn. After all, uke knows what technique is being executed. Not that he should throw himself. That is no help to nage at all. But follow. As practice progresses, so does the intensity.


Quote:
I think uke is only responsible for an initial, sound, attack...he does not have to do anything other than offer an honest attack, he doesn't need to follow or anything else. He goes with nage only to continue to improve his position of attack, or to save his ass from getting dumped...it should be very, very tactical.
In a randori, i agree, because there is no premise of learning a demonstrated technique. It is open and natural.

Quote:
Speed comes into play as another dynamic. We can slow things down or speed them up. While it does affect the emotion and timing of the attack...theorectically it should not have bearing on the tactical soundness from a principle standpoint.

I think dealing with speed is what we are really addressing most of the time and the impact it has on the realationship. There are two ends of the stick we can work on....slow where we have the time to develop good habits and work on principles. Fast, where we work on timing and all the mistakes, emotions and what not that are caused by that stressor.
When we are in a state of oneness, or nothingness, then the sense of time changes, and it is a matter of onenness or blending or duality. Time is unimportant.
Quote:
When you talk about KI and being rooted in a tense body, it sounds to me as if you believe it is a separate and distinct thing, to be developed or produced. I tend to not separate KI from anything. It is always there and always is flowing...it is just the relationship to yours to someone else and the environment.
I agree that Ki is always there, but the more unecessary tension, the less the flow. If we extend our ki without reservation, then we merge with the universal and the ki of yourself and the others and environment are one.


Quote:
You can let go of tension and standthere there and get clocked! Or let uke throw you around like a rag doll. don't think it is so much the letting go of tension and relaxing, as much as it is directing your tension etc in the appropriate time, distance, and space.
Its as if you talk about tension (stress) being a bad thing. It is niether bad nor good....it can simply be directed in the wrong way.
Unnecessary tension is not a "thing " at all, it is merely a total or partial blockage of the flow within. It is the familiarity and attachment with these "things" which limit freedom of movement and spirit.

It is the concept of rag doll or tin man that is always presented. There are infinate gradations in between. Granted we need flexion and extension of muscles to move, we could call that tension.

Quote:
KI is sometimes described as energy. It can come in many forms, physical, mental, and spiritual. It is conceptual I thnk. It can be in the form of Stress, Anger, muscular tension, fear, movement...all those things. As an form of energy...it can neither be created or destroyed, it is only transferred from one object to another and is always going toward balance.
To me if you can build up and store KI.....it would be as body fat as it is the body's way of storing excess energy that we do not need !
I ain't no guru, but with almost 40 yrs experience, I want to say, why limit yourself? We all have infinite potential as human beings. You can most definately draw Ki into yourself, increase it, and store it, do with it what you wish. Breathe uke in, breathe uke out.
O Sensei said, fill yourself with Ki. Doesn't that say you can increase, store ki?
Quote:
Right now I have more KI than I need...want some?
Sounds to me like you need a massage and some female companionship!

Sorry, if I appear too critical. This stuff is my bag.
Happy New Year 2007
Mike
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:12 AM   #43
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Mike,

Based on your example, i'd say most of our discussion is simply semantics. I have plenty of companionship...just need to loose a little weight!

I have some great quotes I read last night from Krishnamurti that are somewhat relevant to this discussion, if I have time later on, I will see about starting a new thread since this is extreme thread drift!
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:19 AM   #44
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The MOST important technique?

good post Larry, you have described how I have learned (or am supposed to learn) Aikido. I'd also say this is the most important technique so to speak, as if you do as you say...all else will follow correctly.

We get into anything else, well it just becomes an attachment so to speak. that is if we concentrate on physical aspects, it becomes a physical attachment, we assign spiritual value to something, well that would be an attachment, and mentally...well that too!

Mike above I think kinda elludes to these things as being road blocks to releasing KI, i have to say, I agree with him at least philosophically speaking.

As Lynn Seiser says all the time...just get out there and do it!
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:31 AM   #45
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Kevin W:

I had the same experiences too when starting BJJ, the whole speed thing being too fast. My beginning students are always doing this.

I think it is human nature to make up for lack of skill by using speed and strength. As we develop skill, it is less important and we increase the gap that allows us options.

I see no difference in this from BJJ or Aikido really. Different ranges that is all. we struggle for Centimeters and meters in aikido, Centimeters and milimeters in BJJ.

That said, I think it is much easier to hold someone honest and accountable in BJJ for good technique than aikido. As I watch youtube videos, I see a bunch of stuff that is considered good aikido that I personally think is very poor aikido.

I was watching some of Ikeda Sensei's videos and would say that the ones I watch of his were good aikido, if you are looking for what I would consider to be good. He spends a great deal of time dealing with a direct attack, working Kokyu.
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Old 01-02-2007, 05:44 AM   #46
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Re: The MOST important technique?

Quote:
Michele Galante wrote:
When we are in a state of oneness, or nothingness, then the sense of time changes, and it is a matter of onenness or blending or duality. Time is unimportant.
This is the case after one has been training for an extended period but for the average practitioner I would say even up to Shodan, this transcendence of time is not expressed in their waza. In fact I have even found folks in the upper Yudansha ranks who can be setup with timing if one is skilled enough. Is it that these folks have not actually achieved this state of oneness or nothingness?

I think what Kevin was alluding to is the use of varying attack speeds etc. to teach the correct fundamentals of dealing with a serious. balanced attack. The use of speed, compliance/non-compliance etc. at varying levels are means of adding a stress factor (aka tension) to the engagement which requires that one address these factors with minor modifications in one's waza (like timing, ma ai etc.) to produce the same level of technical performance as with the slower, less pressing attack.

I raised a thread on the nothingness question since I think it is critical to how one deals with a serious attacker from a purely Aikido perspective. However I am not sure how well it is taught to students and how well folks judge one's improvement in this area. The achievement of nothingness is key to dealing with any type of attack and any level of resistance in Aikido. However I can't say that I've seen many people who can actually express it in their physical technique, though they may know all the theory.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 01-02-2007, 11:12 AM   #47
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The MOST important technique?

yes Larry, that is what I am alluding to.

I look forward to the discussion of nothingness. I will carry it to the other thread, right now I need to think about it since I am not sure of the context in which you are discussing it. Mushin? or no mind? attachment/non-attachment? should be an interesting discussion.
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Old 01-02-2007, 11:27 AM   #48
Mike Galante
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Cool Re: The MOST important technique?

Cool stuff, I look forward to the thread Larry.

I agree, don't see the level I think some of us are aspiring toward.

You know with all the time and effort we put in, why not strive for it all?

Last edited by Mike Galante : 01-02-2007 at 11:37 AM.
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