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Old 07-11-2007, 05:29 PM   #1
"Perplexed"
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Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Hi, very new aikidoka here (3 months) with an perplexing situation.

My son, aged 9, trains wing chun and has been for three years. I have a very small amount of akido training, enough to know the difference between ikkyo and yonkyo but I am very aware of my ignorance!

The situation is this - I feel that I learn more about my aikido when playing with my son than I do in the dojo. Although I'm using terms like atemi and waza in the following it is for clarity in communicating the types of movements involved, I stress - we are not fighting, there are no connecting punches or kicks, I do not apply any joint locks or try to throw, this is horseplay in which I try to use some of the turning and avoiding I learn in aikido. I am fully aware how potentially dangerous sparring in aikido can be, especially with a child, so we don't go anywhere near that!

So, for example, atemi. If I feint to his face as he punches to the stomach, the ikkyo wrist take is much more effective. When I just try to catch the wrist, I fail often. We very rarely integrate atemi into waza at the dojo.
Also I have to move four or five times faster to sidestep his punch, the slow motion punches in the dojo are entirely different.

Firstly, I don't want you to think my son and I are like the father and son in the Police Academy films! We are only playing and not trying to injure each other, most techniques end in a 'special secret tickle attack'. The fact remains though that the sincerity of his punches (I'm talking about speed and motion in a general move to the stomach, rather than him trying to knock me down!) beats the dojo (a reflection more on the dojo training than how much he wants to hurt me!).

Am I expecting too much of my early aikido to be effective against a child? It's almost embarrassing, or am I underestimating the value of three years of wing chun?

I know the dojo is an artificial construct to safely learn and practice new techniques, but I feel my training may be missing something if the gentle application of those techniques in a more 'real' environment teaches me so much more about effectiveness.

I hate the idea of training hard in the dojo, only to learn that in the 'real world' (I know, I know I don't like to bring it up) that I am unable to defend myself against a 9 yr old!

Do I talk to my sensei?
Is this normal?
Should the dojo environment take things up a gear once the practice has happened?
Is the atemi's practical value due to my lack of development in aikido (in other words will I need it less as my technique improves?)
Should I be worried?
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Old 07-11-2007, 05:57 PM   #2
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

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Should I be worried?
Of course you should be worried. You should be able to leap tall buildings after 3 month's of aikido.
Sorry, couldn't resist.
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:14 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

If I may hazard a guess, there may be more of a sense of play and spontaneity when you are with your son, with a sense of exploration, that feels more like "active learning" than the slower, kata based learning you are doing in the dojo. because most aikido dojo won't call it kata, but the truth is learning slowly step by step each side of a 2 person training exercise IS just that.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-12-2007, 02:58 AM   #4
"Perplexed"
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Thanks for the replies.
Janet I think you may be very close to the truth with the spontaneity you mention. I suppose my question, phrased with the clarity you provide, should be as follows -

Is my dojo's learning experience missing effectiveness due to a lack of sponaneity?

It may be that many dojo train the same way, maybe my dojo is doing something different. I'm concerned that my training could be hampered by that missing element.
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Old 07-12-2007, 03:44 AM   #5
CitoMaramba
 
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

The spectrum of training methods in Aikido dojos is quite wide. While there are some that take a hard-nosed practical approach, there are others that practice in a manner that some would term as the "Aiki-fluffy-bunny" approach.
As to atemi, you'll find a lot of quotes attributed to O-Sensei where he reportedly said, "Aikido is xx% atemi" where xx is anywhere from 70-99%.
You may wish to investigate other approaches to Aikido.

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
Dangayan Singkaw Aikido Shinzui
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Old 07-12-2007, 09:23 AM   #6
Qatana
 
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

You are on the mat for threee months? In my experience it takes nearly a year to be able to even tell one technique from another.Just like any other discipline, you can't expect to be able to interpret it correctly without a solid grounding in the basics. Get your basics and then play with them.
In the meantime, do keep playing with your son.You never know what either of you can learn!

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:15 AM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Perplexed, Qatana basically answered your question to me: yes, you need to learn the basics in some kind of slowed down, kata like form in order to get the "building blocks" - kind of like learning words and sentences before you make paragraphs, when you are learning a language.
What you are doing with your son, then, is like "free verse" or improvising which is fun AND valuable but will not instill proper posture and movement and technique into your "muscle memory".

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:21 AM   #8
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Tongue Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Look, you've been training for only three months. Your son has a lot more experience than you, even if his training in a different style.
He had plenty of time to acquire speed and experience in physical confrontations - playful or not. I'm not sure what your problem is. One can learn from anyone, whatever their age. When I was training in Shotokan, I remember a kid (he was about the same age your son is now) who inspired me with the determination with wich he executed his katas. And he was lower ranked than me. I gladly accepted the inspiration that he provided me, and my katas improved dramatically in spite of my natural shyness.
You take what's good where you find it.
Your A´kido training may be just fine, give it a few more months for results to start showing.
And you are lucky to have a son who is helping you improve. Be thankful to him, and keep the fun going!
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:38 AM   #9
"Perplexed"
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

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Jo Adell wrote: View Post
You are on the mat for threee months? In my experience it takes nearly a year to be able to even tell one technique from another.Just like any other discipline, you can't expect to be able to interpret it correctly without a solid grounding in the basics. Get your basics and then play with them.
In the meantime, do keep playing with your son.You never know what either of you can learn!
Just to clarify, I don't expect to be able to leap small buildings in a single bound or foil bank robbers after such a short amount of training.

I'm not finding it difficult to recognise or apply basic techniques (notice the qualification of basic!) maybe I'm a quick learner or just wrong!

My concern is that the training I am doing is the same as the higher grades do. There is no discernable difference in (for want of a better term) intensity. If the techniques as taught are not effective against a child, admittedly an experienced child, then I'm not sure that learning them that way is going to help me in the long run.

I agree absolutley about the building blocks (see my first post) and when learning anything new the basics must be solid. Surely there comes a time when active learning needs to take place? By active learning I mean more than passively repeating at slow speeds the same technique. That would be like teaching someone to develop their artistic skills by the exclusive use of 'paint by numbers' books.

If I didn't have the experience I gain playing with my son, and only trained at the dojo, I'm very concerned that I wouldn't ever progress beyond 'painting by numbers'. My understanding of my capabilites would be severely distorted.

I have no doubts of the effectiveness or philosophy of true aikido, just concern about staying within this style of learning.

Thanks again for the comments.
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Old 07-12-2007, 11:18 AM   #10
Basia Halliop
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Well, if there are other dojos around, you might be able to watch different classes and see if you can find some that give you a better impression.
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:36 PM   #11
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Hmmm...I practice Aikido on my 3, 5, 7. & 9 year olds....and they love it.

For actual practice I find it imperative to practice with adults to test yourself...after all, as you mentioned, they are kids - so you really cant practice per say.

Question, how do you feel at class.
Do you feel the guy is just letting you do the move?

I tell the biggest dude at our place to not play around and dont budge for me. - and you know what...a technique Im learning wont work...so then I learn a workaround, called take him off center somehow and then try it.

Truth is, if I saw a bigger guy - at this point, I would run.
Or kick him.

Peace

Dalen
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:41 PM   #12
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
My concern is that the training I am doing is the same as the higher grades do. There is no discernable difference in (for want of a better term) intensity. If the techniques as taught are not effective against a child, admittedly an experienced child, then I'm not sure that learning them that way is going to help me in the long run.
Again, I would strongly suggest to find the biggest dude in the dojo...tell him to grab your wrist - and I mean grab it where you know hes not playing around - and try out moves.

See if you feel that he is letting go at some point to let you do the move. Try ikkyo on him and see if you can actually move that arm or not.

This is how you will tell if it works...or if there is hope of it working.

Peace

Dalen
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:44 PM   #13
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I know the dojo is an artificial construct to safely learn and practice new techniques, but I feel my training may be missing something if the gentle application of those techniques in a more 'real' environment teaches me so much more about effectiveness.
Yes they are gentle and its like a flow and dance, but you can ask them to rough you up.
By the way I think aikido works - not like some sort of magic, it takes time to get the flow and gist of it.
It would be a lot easier just beating someone or buying a gun.
(but in the long run, at least for me, its about solving conflict in a more peaceful means.)

Peace

Dalen

Last edited by dalen7 : 07-12-2007 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 07-13-2007, 11:08 AM   #14
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

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So, for example, atemi. If I feint to his face as he punches to the stomach, the ikkyo wrist take is much more effective. When I just try to catch the wrist, I fail often. We very rarely integrate atemi into waza at the dojo.
Also I have to move four or five times faster to sidestep his punch, the slow motion punches in the dojo are entirely different.
This paragraph leads to several ways to enhance your practice.
1. Do some research: the original way of performing ikkyo (as done pre-WW2 and still in Iwama circles I beleive) was to strike to the face and then do ikkyo on uke's blocking arm.
2. Research and analyse techniques: I was taught to focus on controlling the elbow to do ikkyo. Actually, initial control of the arm is in my opinion always at the elbow. So question everything. Get exposed to as many different teachers as you possibly can.
3. Change the way you train. Ask for a better/faster attack. Most people attack in 'safe mode' for the sake of a pleasant training experience, yet are willing to give a more serious attack if asked.

Joep
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:40 PM   #15
Basia Halliop
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

"When I just try to catch the wrist, I fail often."

I've always been taught NOT to try to catch a flying wrist... first contact for ikkyo from a strike the way I was taught is with one kind of forearm block or another, depending on the strike, (while simultaneuosly getting off to one side out of the direct line of the full force of it). It's quite possible you've been doing it such a short time that you're only seeing the vague idea of what you're actually being taught. On the other hand, if that's really how they're teaching you (reach out and try to catch someone's wrist in mid strike), I find that... 'strange', at least...

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 07-13-2007 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 07-13-2007, 01:23 PM   #16
Basia Halliop
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

"Do some research: the original way of performing ikkyo (as done pre-WW2 and still in Iwama circles I beleive) was to strike to the face and then do ikkyo on uke's blocking arm."

We do this occasionally (we're Aikikai -> USAF-E), although not always... i.e., either using a strike to the face to 'invite' a block from uke which then gives you an opening for ikkyo, or similarly, using ikkyo somewhere in a chain of techniques that's led you to that opening.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 07-13-2007 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 07-13-2007, 04:48 PM   #17
Qatana
 
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Perplexed, the fact is that everybody who is senior to you is executing the appropriate ukemi for Your Level. When I am training with the black belts, I can let them have it as hard as I can and they will put me down with the same intensity. when I am working with someone with threee months experience, I am performing ukemi in such a way as to have my partner feel where their hands (and feet and body) are supposed to be in order to do the technique properly. If I tried to resist I assure you that they will have a great deal of difficulty moving my tiny 110 pound body unless I allow them to.They might be able to make me fall but not by using the technique corectly.
And of course, when I was a beginner all my seniors made it easy for me to feel how I was supposed to be moving, but I never for one moment allowed myself to think that *I* was doing the technique!
This sounds to me like the way it is practiced in your dojo.

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:00 AM   #18
Mark Uttech
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Training with children, or adults much weaker than yourself, teaches you to study without using strength, and how hard that is. It is a true finger pointing at the aikido principle that nonviolence begins with yourself, your own aggression is the sword you are polishing. As for harmony, are you shoring it up, or tearing it down? All of this is useful; each aikido technique/principle takes your whole life and that is why aikido is Budo.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 07-15-2007, 10:30 AM   #19
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

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Training with children, or adults much weaker than yourself, teaches you to study without using strength, and how hard that is. It is a true finger pointing at the aikido principle that nonviolence begins with yourself, your own aggression is the sword you are polishing. As for harmony, are you shoring it up, or tearing it down? All of this is useful; each aikido technique/principle takes your whole life and that is why aikido is Budo.

In gassho,

Mark
And each tecnique/principle involves 'their' whole life and aikido offers us the skills to view people in their entire natures; weak/strong, young/old, male/female,happy/sad,open/closed. Aikido also provides us with the strength to absorb them and surround them in active compassion as well as it does them,us.From this standpoint it becomes obvious why aikido is misogi,purification, for our planet, bodies, and selves.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 07-15-2007 at 10:34 AM.

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Old 07-15-2007, 10:19 PM   #20
Shannon Frye
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Quote:
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Training with children, or adults much weaker than yourself, teaches you to study without using strength, and how hard that is. ...

In gassho,

Mark
I think Mark has a great point here - learning the principles that are in play in Aiki takes much more time than learning , say, a Wing Chun pattern. It's harder and takes more time to sink in. Kinda like learning to race without speed. But once you DO have it down, and the speed is applied (or external force is added), it is truly comes together.

I play (wrassle) with my both 4yr old and 2 year old all the time, and am constantly showing them the benefit of redirection, fluid motion, or simply getting outta the way. Keep up the play with your kids. Chances are, he has much more to teach you, if you pay attention.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:27 AM   #21
Angela Dunn
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

I get the impression that the people at your dojo are practicing at a level appropriate to a begainer. But to answer the question of

Is my dojo's learning experience missing effectiveness due to a lack of sponaneity?

without having any knowledge of the dojo or style of aikido you do I have a feeling the answer is probably no. The moves at begainers level have the same potentual to cause injury just as much as the moves for higher grade so I suspect that your Sensei is making sure you are learning them safely befoire introducing the element of sponaneity. Also if you get the basic moves sorted out now you will find yourself in a better position for when the higher moves are introduced to you, (and of course the gradings!)
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:14 AM   #22
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Quote:
Shannon Frye wrote: View Post
I play (wrassle) with my both 4yr old and 2 year old all the time, and am constantly showing them the benefit of redirection, fluid motion, or simply getting outta the way. Keep up the play with your kids. Chances are, he has much more to teach you, if you pay attention.
I am writing because it makes me happy to hear when parents play,wrassle, and have fun with their children. They love it so much and it makes their hearts the kind of heart you want to add to the world.
Way to go. And I agree with Mark .

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 07-27-2007, 05:33 AM   #23
"Perplexed"
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Thumbs up Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

I just wanted to let you know how things stood at the moment.
Firstly, thanks very much for all of your thoughts and contributions, you have helped me put the difference between dojo practice and more spontaneous practice into perspective.

I'm still having fun with my son, the other night I tried my first randori with two attackers... yes ok, their combined ages were still less than half my age but it was still a lot of fun, and I did learn things too.

So, I trust to my teachers to use a tried and tested method of transfering their knowledge, and I trust to myself to learn how it applies in my world. I hope by combining the two I will make progress to being a whole and balanced human being.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-28-2007, 09:29 PM   #24
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

It seems like you are talking about reflexes. You can practice working on reflexes in the dojo. We have done jabs, gradually getting faster while the nage does kote gaeshi. That is not generally practiced though. My cat has great reflexes and it used to be kind of fun practicing jabs with her!

Your son can't hurt you right now and he knows it. Well maybe he could if he punched you in the nose! Therefore he's not holding back at all.

I don't think you should compare yourself to him. He has a child's enthusiasm and fearlessness and you are a grown up. I don't think your dojo members will practice hard with you until you have more experience. Try to be patient.
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:13 AM   #25
Janet Rosen
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Re: Learning more from a 9 yr old?

Perplexed, it sounds like you are figuring it out as you train, and between your dojo and your child, you have the best of both worlds!

Janet Rosen
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