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Old 03-25-2007, 12:30 AM   #1
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Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido training?

AikiWeb Poll for the week of March 25, 2007:

How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido training?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Critically important
  • Very important
  • Somewhat important
  • Not very important
  • Not at all important
Here are the current results.
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Old 03-28-2007, 01:12 PM   #2
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

I am amazed at how many people think that strong-gripped "static grabs" are important to your training.

IME, for most people, such training cultivates exactly the opposite of what I would consider "aiki" and as you begin to develop your understanding of musubi, kuzushi, and sente, pose no real challenge.

Last edited by tarik : 03-28-2007 at 01:15 PM.

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 03-28-2007, 01:27 PM   #3
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
IME, for most people, such training cultivates exactly the opposite of what I would consider "aiki" and as you begin to develop your understanding of musubi, kuzushi, and sente, pose no real challenge.
I actually find it easier to deal with.

Michael Hacker
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Old 03-28-2007, 02:06 PM   #4
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

There's no such thing as a "static grab or attack." If the uke is breathing there are cycles of movement involved. The very act of grabbing or gripping involves a coiling, pulling into yourself action. I guess the only real "static" situation is if a person is ignoring what's happening for whatever reason...

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Old 03-28-2007, 07:01 PM   #5
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
There's no such thing as a "static grab or attack." If the uke is breathing there are cycles of movement involved. The very act of grabbing or gripping involves a coiling, pulling into yourself action. I guess the only real "static" situation is if a person is ignoring what's happening for whatever reason...
I assumed that was why it was in quotes, but perhaps not. I don't think I'm at the level of sensitivity where I can easily deliberately join with someone's breathing although I do work on it. On some days I'm able to relax and feel where to move more easily, on others (like when you're watching, sensei ), I can't find it at all!

I do still find it challenging to deal with someone who is using their EDUCATED center to kill my movement, which I also find somewhat counter-productive, however, that is perhaps a difference in skill levels rather than a difference in "static" vs. energetic grabs.

But in general, I don't find "static" grabs themselves difficult to deal with or all that educational either, except perhaps to make a point in certain training situations.

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 03-28-2007, 07:08 PM   #6
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

From a novice's point of view, static grabs seem to be a useful tool for establishing good structure and connection. When I began training I used to grip with my fingers and hold on for dear life - didn't work at all. At some point I started grabbing more and more with my center. Catching a glimpse of that difference has informed my approach to ukemi tremendously.

-Will
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Old 03-28-2007, 08:47 PM   #7
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

I took the meaning to mean that it was a set grab that was not achieved from motion. I find this kind of training invaluable because it allows you to isolate the core movements of the waza and really study the structure of the movements. As Chuck Clark mentions, there is no purely static (satsujinken) grab, but a well done (katsujinken) "static" grab is a very vital training tool (IMHO). I would also disagree that this kind of training is easier than training from motion. Inertia and timing can be great masks of clarity and specific mechanics that will only be revealed with slow resistant training. Please don't assume that I think this is the only way to train, it's one type of training that must be combined with others to create a complete martial artist.

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Old 03-28-2007, 09:57 PM   #8
Russell Pearse
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Hi:

I believe that strong hand grips from a static position is absolutely critical to correct training. It is the basis of Saito Sensei's training methodology that all techniques start from a static position with a strong grip before proceeding to more flowing technique.

It is like starting from a worst case scenario, when someone has caught you in a strong grip and you have no alternative but to find the way through. It teaches you to find the line of least resistance and the correct body structure for the development of power. If you can't do it from the worst case scenario, then you won't be able to do the technique correctly in a more flowing way.

If you train only light and flowing it is possible to cheat yourself and think you are doing it correctly. It is only when a 120 kg gorilla has got the other end of your arm that you discover whether you can do the technique or not.

Cheers,

Russell
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Old 03-28-2007, 10:31 PM   #9
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

The stronger the grip the more force and direction you get to work with... the less someone wants to stay strong and not move their feet the more they tell you where they are weak. Whether tori listens to the uke instead of trying to do something to them is another thing.

Chuck Clark
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:15 AM   #10
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
I am amazed at how many people think that strong-gripped "static grabs" are important to your training.

IME, for most people, such training cultivates exactly the opposite of what I would consider "aiki" and as you begin to develop your understanding of musubi, kuzushi, and sente, pose no real challenge.
Hi

In a sense I'd agree with you Tariq.

Static practice is in essence dead. If there is no attack who needs any defence?

However,

Before such practice is dismissed lets look a little closer. After all there is more than 1 way to skin a cat as they say....

I come from a background where such static practice is considered essential.

It is the starting level for our aikido training without actually being Aikido itself.

It is only 1 of 4 levels - Kotai, jutai, kitai and ekitai.

Our goal is to be able to move through these levels as we grow in skill. While I enjoy the journey I'd hope that there is more to it than just 'doing Aikido' in classes but that there is some development and growth in ability along the way.

This first level, Kotai, is a largely mechanical level. We use it to teach the bases of Aikido, eg positional relationship (kamae), correct distance (maai), good posture (shisei) for starters and then moving on to look at other essential bases of Aikido.

The case for such static practice is that mistakes are easy to see and feel. If you are in a dangerous place in static practice it is easy to see. If you move incorrectly and your partner has a strong centred grip then you will fail.

I could go on but I'm just tossing this on the table for consideration and don't have time to write a book.

The case against, or at least a downside of such practice is that it can be taken as "Aikido" hence the many dismissals of Aikido as not being alive or unrealistic.

Perhaps if people understood it for what it is then Aikido would not be so readily criticised.

My personal opinion is that its not just people outside of Aikido that misunderstand this practice - many aikidoka love it and never move on to the next level. Perhaps this is due to a flaw in some of the older methods of see and copy teaching where students saw something and out of respect for the instructor assume that that is exactly what they must do. Another topic for discussion perhaps although it has come up many times before.

Our second level of practice is jutai ...more flowing practice where Tori can blend with uke. This is where the real movement of Aikido can be practiced.

Personally I think this is as far as many of us get. We can do the moves but something is missing. We can do something, it seems to work, it may even look beatiful and feel beautiful but is it really the full deal.

The issue with jumping in at this stage is that to the unquestioning eye mistakes that would be clear through static practice can be hidden in the movement. A willing partner concedes his balance and posture allowing Tori to fool himself into believing his practice is good. Of course it may be but equally it may be riddled with danger that could have been eradicated by forming a foundation through kotai practice.

To be fair jutai practice is fun, it looks good and feels good. Again if you've seen a figure head do this without explanation it can be convincing enough to practice for years without questioning. Perhaps until now when MMA has opened the eyes of so much of the MA world and fostered a belief that its ok to question.

The next level Kitai probably answers my own question on what is missing. I believe this is the stage where the Aikido moves from jutai and lessons learned from the Kotai stage can provide a framework for inclusion of the missing element - the ki factor or internal energy stuff.

My concern is that if you just jump into this level...if you are lucky enough to have someone to show you...then theres a danger of assuming this energy alone will save you. If you stand in front of a knife and havent learned the basics of getting out of the way its going to hurt...ki energy or not. But when you have a foundation, and the moves then this internal stuff is for me, the final ingredient.

A big issue with Aikido is that so few of us that teach really have a handle on this. I'll be honest and say my own skills are fledgling at best. I think we shouldn't be afraid to admit this and keep working and searching until we find a guide.

Anyway - digressing....

The final stage that we talk about is ekitai....going beyond ki. I don't really have the level of knowledge to talk about this - I assume this level of mastery is where O'Sensei reached.

I'm sure that some of this is either heresy or fluffy rubbish to many. In which case ignore it. My post is really just to say think about why static practice exists.

Regards

D

ps I know I said to a couple of my students that I was joining the 'done with aikiweb' brigade...but its just such a good place to compose ones thoughts and then lay them on the altar for sacrifice...
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Old 03-29-2007, 06:53 AM   #11
RoyK
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

One of my teacher emphasizes training with strong, static grips, and another teacher emphasizes dynamics, movement and fluidity.

I find that at my level, one approach stresses good form, responsiveness and exact direction of force (strong static grip), while the other stresses timing, foot work, and balance.
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Old 03-29-2007, 11:29 AM   #12
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

I'm curious, for those of you who don't advocate strong static attacks, how do you approach exercises like kokyu ho?

Chris Moses
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Old 03-29-2007, 12:28 PM   #13
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I'm curious, for those of you who don't advocate strong static attacks, how do you approach exercises like kokyu ho?
In my dojo, we don't do "static" zagi kokyū hō. Instead, we have other exercises that train the same sorts of things, but they are done from shizentai with a live, attacking uke. (For those who think that a soft "wrist grab" isn't a "real" attack, well... my experience differs.)

All of the proper cutting lines found in Aiki(bu)dō can be trained in this method with far less (IME) chance of the student falling into struggling at the point of connection. In addition to cutting lines, dropping weight along a vector, proper posture, relaxing within form, and footwork, the student is also training in targeting, distance, and timing.

If a student is pretty competent at this exercise, I'll introduce a hard grip just to prove to them that - - provided they just move the way they normally do and don't buy into the game pitting their strength and tension against my strength and tension - - the effect on uke is far stronger than when uke is relaxed. Uke's own tension is a weapon against himself. The harder someone gets, the "harder" I relax.

As a contrast, I'll then have them do the same exercise with just skin-to-skin (even finger-to-finger) contact alone. It still has to be real, and uke is still alive and honest.

I just did this very thing a few weeks ago, and both uke and tori sides were quite shocked at just how much easier it was for tori and how much harder ukemi (receiving) was for uke due to his own stored tension.

For me, the trick in dealing with people who grasp very hard is that I don't try to move them. I move me. If I move me in the right way, uke's posture is destabilized. Aiki isn't something I do to someone, but rather with someone. There is no "no," only "yes." This realization changed me fundamentally.

A strong static grab is, IME, rather easy to deal with. But when someone knows what I'm trying to work on jockies around, yanking and pulling in an attempt to foil my every move... this is quite different. I generally find this activity to be waste of time and that it trains students specifically to not do Aiki. All the student learns is that they can't do the technique. As my late friend Stan Connor once said to me, "If all you want to do is prove that I can't throw you and that you can't throw me, we might as well bow off the mat and go get a pizza."

Another issue I have with grabbing hard is that by doing so, I'm actually stopping my feet and coiling into myself (within tooi maai, no less). This type of activity does not occur in my Aikibudō (when done properly... ahem). Since I train to do Aiki 100% of the time (not just 50%), I don't do anything as uke that I don't also do as tori. At my current level of skill and experience, the only difference I can detect between the two roles is intent, initiative, and outcome.

For a bit of perspective (primarily for those who don't know me) I'm not unfamiliar with the "hard static grab" training methodology. I was a student of Iwama-ryu before move back to the US.

Michael Hacker
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:07 PM   #14
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

For me, these days, I don't grab very hard as uke since I find doing so creates tension in my arms. Where there's tension, there's little active awareness and, hence, no aliveness. Without aliveness, I find it difficult to feel what's going on since the feedback that I'm trying to receive from my partner gets drowned out by my own tension.

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Old 03-29-2007, 05:40 PM   #15
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
The stronger the grip the more force and direction you get to work with... the less someone wants to stay strong and not move their feet the more they tell you where they are weak. Whether tori listens to the uke instead of trying to do something to them is another thing.
I got bumped from my flight to Dallas due to weather and I just got home awhile ago and saw this post. I goofed...

It should say "the MORE someone wants to stay strong and not move their feet the more the tell you..."

If someone is resisting strongly as Michael Hacker was describing, the only possible way they can resist is to use force to resist kuzushi and then you do hando no kuzushi (translates to something akin to "reactionary kuzushi"). If the uke is giving any force (repeat ANY force) it can be turned into kuzushi that works.

I personally am not worried about attacks that have NO force.

I'm off to Dallas again tomorrow for a weekend koshukai with a bunch of our folks. Looking forward to lots of people putting force on me!

Chuck Clark
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:54 PM   #16
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
Looking forward to lots of people putting force on me!
Use the Force, Luke... Please hug everyone and say "hi" from me.

Sounds like a BudoSphere(tm) night to me... :-)

Michael Hacker
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Old 03-29-2007, 11:23 PM   #17
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Hi Daren and others,

Rather than immediately posting replies, I've been pondering people's responses for a few days; disagreements and agreements in varying forms.

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
Before such practice is dismissed lets look a little closer. After all there is more than 1 way to skin a cat as they say....
Agreed.

Quote:
It is only 1 of 4 levels - Kotai, jutai, kitai and ekitai.
I'm not really familiar with these particular terms. My exposure has been to different terms and approaches.

Quote:
Our goal is to be able to move through these levels as we grow in skill. While I enjoy the journey I'd hope that there is more to it than just 'doing Aikido' in classes but that there is some development and growth in ability along the way.
IOW, a curriculum with an internal logic and a plan for growth. Nothing to disagree with here.

Quote:
This first level, Kotai, is a largely mechanical level. We use it to teach the bases of Aikido, eg positional relationship (kamae), correct distance (maai), good posture (shisei) for starters and then moving on to look at other essential bases of Aikido.

The case for such static practice is that mistakes are easy to see and feel. If you are in a dangerous place in static practice it is easy to see. If you move incorrectly and your partner has a strong centred grip then you will fail.
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.

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.

Quote:
I could go on but I'm just tossing this on the table for consideration and don't have time to write a book.
I have considered it, but you'll have to go on further to be more convincing to me.

Quote:
Perhaps if people understood it for what it is then Aikido would not be so readily criticised.
Anything not open to criticism is a dead or dying.

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.

Quote:
To be fair jutai practice is fun, it looks good and feels good. Again if you've seen a figure head do this without explanation it can be convincing enough to practice for years without questioning. Perhaps until now when MMA has opened the eyes of so much of the MA world and fostered a belief that its ok to question.
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.

Quote:
I'm sure that some of this is either heresy or fluffy rubbish to many. In which case ignore it. My post is really just to say think about why static practice exists.
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.

Quote:
I know I said to a couple of my students that I was joining the 'done with aikiweb' brigade...but its just such a good place to compose ones thoughts and then lay them on the altar for sacrifice...
Yep. Aikiweb and aikido-l and similar habitats have been an instrumental part of my training for 10 years or more.

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 03-29-2007, 11:25 PM   #18
tarik
 
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I'm curious, for those of you who don't advocate strong static attacks, how do you approach exercises like kokyu ho?
Christian, IMO, kokyu ho is not a static exercise. Perhaps we have a disconnect of terminology that cannot be explained without getting on the mat.

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 03-30-2007, 05:14 AM   #19
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Hi Tarik

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Regards

D
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:02 AM   #20
ChrisMoses
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

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Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Christian, IMO, kokyu ho is not a static exercise. Perhaps we have a disconnect of terminology that cannot be explained without getting on the mat.
For me, static = lack of momentum. I can cheat at kokyu ho (after the first time anyway) by timing my outward movement with uke's attempt to find their balance and come back up into a stable posture, but that's a trivial exercise. I believe it turns the table on the encounter, giving nage a HUGE advantage on 3/4 of their techniques. I feel the meat of any encounter is the very beginning.

I should also clarify that when I read "strong-gripped" I don't think of purely muscled wrist juicers, but of whole body connection grabs that feel strong because they are so hard to move from. This is opposed to the lighter "connection" style grabs that are often done.

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Old 03-30-2007, 09:44 AM   #21
Larry Cuvin
 
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Strong grip is a good tool for learning the principles of non-dissension. The softer "ki grab" is a lot harder to deal with. IMHO

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Old 03-30-2007, 10:04 AM   #22
Alex Megann
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

Very important. Kanetsuka Sensei even imports specially-bred Russian giants to the BAF Summer School to test us!

He says that Saito Sensei taught him how important it was to be able to move an uke with a strong grip - "what do you do when your attacker backs you into a wall - what use is tai-sabaki then?" He often demonstrates with two or three partners holding morotedori.

Kanetsuka Sensei often stops Dan grading examinations to tell uke to hold properly - he intensely dislikes what he calls "Modern Aikido" where tori starts a technique without making contact with the partner. This is particularly true with ushiro-dori, where he insists that uke has a chance to get a proper grip before tori starts to move.

I can't help thinking that some of the responses to this thread cast light on other, more controversial, threads currently running. O-Sensei often demonstrated by asking his strongest students to try to stop him moving, but quite a few people seem to feel that this isn't a valid training method any more. I am convinced personally that this is an essential tool for checking that we aren't losing our own centre or trying to use force.

Of course the quality of the grip changes with experience. We also practise nigiri-ho, where tori grips uke, and the more rigid the grip the harder it is to move the partner. With the most proficient people it feels as if the grip immobilises (or moves) the whole of one's body, with little sense of physical effort on their part.

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Old 03-30-2007, 11:00 AM   #23
tarik
 
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

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I should also clarify that when I read "strong-gripped" I don't think of purely muscled wrist juicers, but of whole body connection grabs that feel strong because they are so hard to move from. This is opposed to the lighter "connection" style grabs that are often done.
My current training is focused very much on trying to perfect this idea of whole body connection, however, I am trying to do it with the lightest touch possible that will still affect my partner's structure.

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote:
O-Sensei often demonstrated by asking his strongest students to try to stop him moving, but quite a few people seem to feel that this isn't a valid training method any more.
If you actually carefully read what I posted, you'll see that I use "strong static centered grips" for the same purpose; "demonstration". Demonstration is NOT training, IMO.

I'm curious, did O-sensei demonstrate this and have the class of students then train this way? I've never heard documentation one way or the other about this.

Quote:
Of course the quality of the grip changes with experience. We also practise nigiri-ho, where tori grips uke, and the more rigid the grip the harder it is to move the partner.
This just doesn't match my personal experience to the extent that i honestly don't comprehend what you're saying. My best guess without experiencing this with you is when you say "the hard it is to move the partner" means that you and I are training two different things. I have been trying to learn to NOT move my partner, but to move myself. No one can grip me tight enough to prevent me from moving and the tighter they grip, when I do move, the more affect it will have on them.

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Daren SImms wrote:
So because it is not relevant to these sports its not relevant to Aikido?
Daren, I'll have to spend more time composing an intelligent reply to your entire post, but I want to leave you with this thought this morning.

This may be more my shortcoming or limitation, but I cannot imagine a single physical or mental skill that follows the progression of study you're recommending. Even weight training follows an opposite progression of how to learn form and increase one's ability to maintain form under increased stresses.

So, yes, I believe that it's extremely relevant to Aikido.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 03-30-2007, 11:22 AM   #24
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

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I'm curious, did O-sensei demonstrate this and have the class of students then train this way? I've never heard documentation one way or the other about this.
I would consider the fact that this is such a central aspect to Iwama style aikido to be evidence that he did. Further whenever I was able to train with Kurita Minouru Sensei (one of the last uchideshi of OSensei, who spent a great deal of time with him at the very end of his life) he always emphasized this kind of training at some point in the seminar. He explained it as a stage one needs to go through.

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Old 03-30-2007, 12:07 PM   #25
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Poll: How important is working with strong-gripped, "static grabs" in your aikido

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I would consider the fact that this is such a central aspect to Iwama style aikido to be evidence that he did. Further whenever I was able to train with Kurita Minouru Sensei (one of the last uchideshi of OSensei, who spent a great deal of time with him at the very end of his life) he always emphasized this kind of training at some point in the seminar. He explained it as a stage one needs to go through.
I was trained this way as well by Saotome Sensei who was with the Founder for 15 years... I have only come to realize recently that this was not ideal in many respects.

Yes, you as the nage should be able to handle the strongest grab with ease. That's what you are training to be able to do. But the fact is that this kind of grab is not martial. it has nothing to do with actual martial application. The point of grabbing is to neutralize one limb and effect the structure of the opponent so that his other possible strikes are limited or eliminated. That might mean he falls or it might simply mean that you have set your own atemi and placed him in a spot at which he can't protect against it.

There simply is no function in grabbing someone and hunkering down so that they can't move. You need to effect their structure. Proper grabbing is the same as proper receiving. It's just a connection point. The grab should be firm enough in the grip that it doesn't come off easily, and the rest of the arm is relaxed (like a newborn baby which can hold its body weight up with its grip and there isn't another tight muscle in its body. At the instant of contact, direction is imparted to the defender's structure by moving the hips and dropping the weight or shifting the body weight forward... The way that you do this is exactly the same way you receive the grab to do technique.

I have observed that many of my fellows misunderstood the purpose of strong grabs in training as meaning that this was the way to really attack as opposed to it being strictly a training exercise in which one person acts in an essentially unreal manner as a test of the other's understanding.

Endo Sensei has been trying to get everyone to understand that training is the process of removing tension from the body and mind. Since 50% of ones training interaction is is in the role of uke, if you are tight and resistant as uke and then think you are going to be relaxed and sensitive as nage you are crazy. This is improper training even though many of our teachers allowed us to train this way for decades. If you don't let go of it, you won't get where you need to go.

The grab in static technique isn't about locking into the other guys structure, that actually makes it easier to do something to him as Chuck Clark Sensei pointed out. When I grab my partner I am owning the space right up to the point of contact with my structure and touching the partner's center with my extension. If he collapses in trying to get away from my structure I simply follow him in and eventually own all of him with my structure. If my partner pushes into my structure in any way, I am simply immovable. I did not grab with the intention of stopping my partner I grabbed to establish a direct connection to his center. Static practice takes place when I choose not to initiate a technique at that point but allow my partner to experiment with how he can use that connection to get me moving.

If it were a martial interaction, if he didn't have me at the instant of contact, I would have him. That's a more advanced practice and one that people try to jump to without fully understanding that basic static form. As Chuck said, none of this is actually rigid or tight. It is alive and sensitive. If you are tight you are feeling you, if you are relaxed you are feeling the other guy.

There should be no aspect of training that imprints tension. It's ok once in a while to have someone stupidly resist but its just as a check that you know what you think you know. Daily training is about programing your mind and body to think that relaxing will make it safe rather than tensing. If half the time you are tense, your poor body simply gets confused about what it should do.

Let me reiterate... this does not mean that I am falling down for my partner. I can grab my partner with a grab that is quite gentle and he will be unable to move me unless he does the the technique properly. In fact i can place my grab and then actually open my hand but keep contact and still stop my partner unless he does the technique properly. It ain't the power in the hand that stops him anyway.

George S. Ledyard
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