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Old 10-02-2007, 02:11 PM   #1
David Yap
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No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Hi all,

I like to direct your attention to this article written by Gaku Homma sensei.

The link: http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_ar...uwariwaza.html

Well, Homma sensei has given us some insights on the practice of suwariwaza techniques but I do find that suwariwaza techniques are essentially important to our aikido practice; especially on the training of body (legs and arms) co-ordination and sense of balance is concerned.

I would like to hear your views on this - should we do away with suwariwaza techniques?

Regards

David Y
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:17 PM   #2
MM
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

I particularly liked this excerpt:

Quote:
Gaku Homma wrote:
There are not ANY Aikido techniques that truly, physically force a person to fly into a break roll, even without any resistance. The true reality is that ukemi in our Aikido practice is a partnership.

EDIT: As for suwariwaza, what I took from the article wasn't to stop doing it. Rather to understand that it requires some body conditioning before attempting it. Suwariwaza is not that conditioning, either. Everything in moderation.

Last edited by MM : 10-02-2007 at 02:21 PM. Reason: additional content
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:24 PM   #3
Flintstone
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I particularly liked this excerpt:
Quote:
Gaku Homma wrote:
There are not ANY Aikido techniques that truly, physically force a person to fly into a break roll, even without any resistance. The true reality is that ukemi in our Aikido practice is a partnership.
Uh? Me understand not. What about, for example, kaiten nage?
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:45 PM   #4
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Liked the article, and I agree mostly with Homma Sensei pov about the subject.

Alex,
Put some "aliveness" on your training and you'll understand.

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Old 10-02-2007, 09:13 PM   #5
raul rodrigo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

I think the senior shihan that Homma is referring to who changed his suburi and his kokyunage is Saito Morihiro. I didn't know that the reason for the change was the deterioration of his knees.
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:29 PM   #6
Mark Uttech
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

No! We should not neglect suwariwaza. Hikisutchi Shihan taught suwari waza technique well into his 80's.

In gassho

Mark

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Old 10-02-2007, 09:33 PM   #7
Jonathan
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

I have my students practice about 10 minutes of suwari waza every class. A little bit of suwari waza every day seems to work quite well in developing skill in kneeling techniques without causing injury. We never practice suwari waza for an entire class. I also encourage all of my students to wear knee pads for suwari waza training. So far, so good.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 10-03-2007, 04:04 AM   #8
happysod
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
should we do away with suwariwaza techniques
Oh please yes - OK, I admit suwariwaza practice can have benefits, but I've never been convinced that the benefits outweigh their deficits for most students or that it is the best way to teach hip movement and balance.

Yes, it's one way to isolate an area which is hard to make distinct while standing, but my experience is that its not only normally taught quite poorly, but all the sinking, moving from one point etc. etc. go out the window as most students concentrate on not moving like a duck and ignoring the strange burning sensation from their knees and tops of their toes.

We've probably all had the double-jointed sensei from hell with kneecaps the size and hardness of bowling balls to whom kneeling and doing suwariwaza all day is just a brisk walk but seriously, can anyone who has done a lot of suwariwaza truely say they learned more from that than a normal stand-up session?

I also found the article very interesting that suwariwaza was used to "level the playing field" with larger students, smacks a bit of the "lava and glass" argument used against BJJ.

Quote:
What about, for example, kaiten nage?
disagree -even with kaiten nage you can normally accept the fall easier with a standard breakfall rather than a rolling breakfall. I have to agree with the article in that I would normally have to co-operate in taking a rolling breakfall - which I do cos they're fun. [waits eagerly for the obligatory "if sensei x got hold of you you'd have to roll as (s)he throws people 10 feet at least, with just their little finger"]
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Old 10-03-2007, 04:35 AM   #9
eyrie
 
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

I think the overriding principle should be one of training safety first, and that training methods and techniques should be adapted - commensurate with the participant's abilities (or disabilities).

That said, suwari waza has its place in the overall training method. But it is just one method, which, with a little creativity, can be adapted or supplanted by other training methods, to convey the same general basic principles.

Ignatius
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Old 10-03-2007, 10:39 AM   #10
Alex Megann
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
I think the senior shihan that Homma is referring to who changed his suburi and his kokyunage is Saito Morihiro. I didn't know that the reason for the change was the deterioration of his knees.
Yes, Saito Sensei was my first thought too. I have noticed changes in how Saito moved as he got older (his kamae was originally much more like the "standard" Aikikai one).

The really strange thing for me is the way so many people in the "Iwama Ryu" tradition, having swallowed the line that "this is EXACTLY how O-Sensei practised", copy Saito's posture even though their bodies are healthy...

Alex
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Old 10-03-2007, 12:24 PM   #11
gregstec
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Interesting article that depicts a very pragmatic view of the evolution of Aikido practice outside of Japan. I agree that early Japanese students of Aikido were much more capable of handling suwari waza due to other life style conditioning then the more modern Aikido students both in and outside Japan.

In our small independent dojo our youngest member is in his late 40's and the oldest in his late 50's. We all have issues with doing any extensive 'on-the-knee' movements as well as high breakfalls. Since our focus is on the aiki principles and their relation to energies within movement, we have found there really is no need to subject our bodies to the physical abuses associated with suwari waza and hard breakfalls - once the attacking energies of Uke are received and blended within the sphere of Nage's control, the technique is essentially over because it is obvious to both Nage and Uke that the attack has failed and that Nage is now in control of Uke's destiny. For training purposes, this is all that is required to understand the technique principles. Granted, the capability of performing suwari waza and taking hard breakfalls is very beneficial, but it does not have to be performed extensively to the point it causes medical problems.

Greg
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:53 AM   #12
raul rodrigo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Yes, Saito Sensei was my first thought too. I have noticed changes in how Saito moved as he got older (his kamae was originally much more like the "standard" Aikikai one).

The really strange thing for me is the way so many people in the "Iwama Ryu" tradition, having swallowed the line that "this is EXACTLY how O-Sensei practised", copy Saito's posture even though their bodies are healthy...

Alex
Yeah, I've met a few Iwama diehards who insist that their posture is the only way to do these things. I've shown one of them some photos that demonstrate that Saito had a very different kamae, very Aikikai, in the 1960s and 1970s, but they still refuse to concede the point.

I think the other shihan that Homma refers to as having injured his knees and therefore relies almost entirely on hand movement is Tamura.
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:59 AM   #13
grondahl
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

So what you are saying is that the wide hanmi that Saito used in the 70s are "very aikikai" and the more narrow hanmi of later date are not?
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:31 AM   #14
raul rodrigo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
So what you are saying is that the wide hanmi that Saito used in the 70s are "very aikikai" and the more narrow hanmi of later date are not?
The wider hanmi he used then were standard, more or less, for the Aikikai. Then the stance started to become narrower and yes, to my knowledge, that is not at all common, outside of the Iwama lineage. (I tried to adopt it in a Hitohiro Saito seminar and it made my lower back ache.) You would disagree?

R
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:49 AM   #15
grondahl
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

The majority of swedish aikikai that I have seen uses a rather high stance (probably due to a heavy Kobayashi and Nishio-influence) so I´m mostly curious about the mainstream aikikai-thing.

On the technical side: I find that the extended back leg of the old Iwama kamae (like Tomita sensei)leg really doesn´t give you more stability, and the more narrow stance (but not as narrow as H) gives you both stability and is easy to move from. So in a typical swedish fashion I go with the middleroad between extremes
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:16 AM   #16
Dazzler
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Ok - had another read of this article.

Have to say based upon his writing and some film I've seen of him I'm quite a fan of Gakku Homma and would like to practice with him one day.

He's coming to Ireland soon I think but its a bit far for me.

I'm also a big fan of Suwari waza...It doesn't hurt my knees and on a good tatami I can happily practice all day.

I do have bad knees...but this is down to football and they were knackered long before I started aiki.

So I'll point out that Homma Sensei talks about "over practice".

Straight away I'll say this makes the theme of this irrelevant to my dojo and parent organisation..

We have instructors who are also qualified coaches, they are aware of the body and of dangerous practice and we simply don't do shed loads of suwariwaza or hamni handachi waza either.

Occasionally we have a good old session - I know I do and everyone who knows Sensei Bernard Harding - 6th dan (the nimble kneed ninja from neath) knows he'll do it too.

But then we'll leave it out for a while. So you don't get repeated strain on the same area.

Common sense I feel.

We apply the same common sense to anyone with an injury - we have coaches that been taught to modify classes to enable those with disabilities (or whatever the PC term is) to participate so getting the same people to practice standing up is not exactly stretching mental capacity of Instructors.

The culture of Sensei being a god and everyone else desperately trying to emulate them doesn't exist for us.

We don't make anyone sit in Seiza through another’s grading, we sit comfortably, if it’s cold we'll put a top on, whatever, but we are aware of the students needs and still maintain a correct and respectful atmosphere without making anyone suffer.

This application of common sense makes it much harder for anyone to be abused and made to wait in pain for their grading. I'm not denying it may have happened elsewhere the past, although I don't know for sure, but it doesn't happen in the NAF.

Interesting comments on instructors that adapted techniques to cater for injury - Our own Pierre Chassange has a knee injury on one side reputedly from the war, so he tended not to kneel on it, maybe we copied this sometimes too.

I'd suggest it’s a strong argument for constantly looking at everything with beginner’s eyes and not blindly accepting too much.

I can guess who it is, but does that make any difference?. It doesn't to me since if its the person I believe it to be then the many positives of his work far outweigh any negatives or implicit criticisms I feel.

Unless its me then I demand satisfaction Mister Homma

Also interesting comments about uke in partnership. I tend to agree, it’s all partnership if you are working together to unify mind body and ki.

If it’s not partnership and you fight, then it’s just a fight and you develop other skills but for me you don’t develop ki.

Bottom line - I'm a fan of Gakku Homma and also Suwari Waza, Hamni Handachi Waza, Aikido weapons training, Ki development and everything else.

You can practice aikido without suwari waza, without hamni handachi waza or without weapons but in doing so deprive your class of a range of interesting and challenging opportunities.

Moderation is the word! for me anyway....

Respectfully

D

Last edited by Dazzler : 10-04-2007 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:38 AM   #17
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
The wider hanmi he used then were standard, more or less, for the Aikikai. Then the stance started to become narrower and yes, to my knowledge, that is not at all common, outside of the Iwama lineage. (I tried to adopt it in a Hitohiro Saito seminar and it made my lower back ache.) You would disagree?

R
Well, there are more Iwama lineage than Saito Hitohiro.

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Old 10-04-2007, 09:33 AM   #18
raul rodrigo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Well, there are more Iwama lineage than Saito Hitohiro.
Yes, I know what you mean. But that's not the impression you get when you listen to Hitohiro talk. The lineage is presented as a straight line: Morihei-Morihiro-Hitohiro, with no allowance for variation or changes along the way. And no mention of other senior students at Iwama like Inagaki or Isoyama.

R
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:34 PM   #19
G DiPierro
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
I think the other shihan that Homma refers to as having injured his knees and therefore relies almost entirely on hand movement is Tamura.
I doubt it. Although Tamura's style can appear magical to those who do not understand it, I don't see how anyone could claim that he is only using his hands. Also, I don't know that Tamura has any injuries, and compared to Homma he is certainly not a "contemporary" instructor.

I suspect he is most likely talking about Ikeda, who has knee problems so bad that he no longer even sits for the opening and closing bows. Homma has also been critical of Ikeda before (again not by name, but on more than one occasion he has criticized people who sell designer aikido gear, of which Ikeda is a very prominent example). Sounds like there is a bit of bad blood between them. Not too surprising given their proximity and that they are competing for students somewhat.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 10-04-2007 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:52 PM   #20
raul rodrigo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
I doubt it. Although Tamura's style can appear magical to those who do not understand it, I don't see how anyone could claim that he is only using his hands. Also, I don't know that Tamura has any injuries, and compared to Homma he is certainly not a "contemporary" instructor.

I suspect he is most likely talking about Ikeda, who has knee problems so bad that he no longer even sits for the opening and closing bows. Homma has also been critical of Ikeda before (again not by name, but on more than one occasion he has criticized people who sell designer aikido gear, of which Ikeda is a very prominent example). Sounds like there is a bit of bad blood between them. Not too surprising given their proximity and that they are competing for students somewhat.
I see. Thank you.

R
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Old 10-05-2007, 11:40 AM   #21
tedehara
 
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

I already expressed my opinion here.

That post came from this Oldies thread from 2001.

"Recycling old threads to conserve server space"

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 10-06-2007, 10:41 PM   #22
David Yap
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Done my first iaido lesson yesterday and my left knee still hurts like hell. Thought that with my suwariwaza experience, the drawing of the sword from a kneeling position would be painless. Wrong thought, perhaps at 50 the mind is over adventurous.

In suwariwaza, the body weight is always shifting from one kneel to another and finally returning to the center at the completion of the technique. In the first iaido exercise, my left kneel was always on the ground - appreciate some good advice from the seasoned iaido practitioners.

Thank you.
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Old 10-06-2007, 10:49 PM   #23
David Yap
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
I doubt it. Although Tamura's style can appear magical to those who do not understand it, I don't see how anyone could claim that he is only using his hands. Also, I don't know that Tamura has any injuries, and compared to Homma he is certainly not a "contemporary" instructor.

I suspect he is most likely talking about Ikeda, who has knee problems so bad that he no longer even sits for the opening and closing bows. Homma has also been critical of Ikeda before (again not by name, but on more than one occasion he has criticized people who sell designer aikido gear, of which Ikeda is a very prominent example). Sounds like there is a bit of bad blood between them. Not too surprising given their proximity and that they are competing for students somewhat.
Guys,

Think you guys are off topic and are making too many non-aiki and unwarranted assumptions.

David Y
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Old 10-06-2007, 11:53 PM   #24
G DiPierro
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
David Yap wrote: View Post
Think you guys are off topic and are making too many non-aiki and unwarranted assumptions.
What specific assumptions do think I have made that were unwarranted or "non-aiki"? Also, what exactly is a "non-aiki" assumption? That sounds like a nonsense expression to me.

Let me remind you that this what Gaku Homma actually wrote:
Quote:
Gaku Homma wrote:
Some contemporary instructors today use a minimalist technique style that relies mainly on hand movements. To an observer, this technique style might look powerful or mysterious; almost ¡Èmagical.¡É I have heard this style described as wonderfully pure; free of extra movement or excess muscle. Closer to the truth of the origin of this style is that the instructor himself is working within limitations of movement dictated by his own physical injuries.
If you think that I am wrong about the instructor Homma was referring to then please explain why. Do you know of any other contemporary instructors who use the kind of minimalist style described above, as I think almost anyone would acknowledge that Ikeda does, and who have the kind of knee injuries Homma is talking about in this article, which Ikeda is commonly known to have (as I pointed out, anybody who has taken a class with him recently would know this, since he does not even sit in seiza for the opening and closing bows)? If you don't have any such knowledge, then perhaps I am not the one making unwarranted assumptions.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 10-06-2007 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 05:34 AM   #25
raul rodrigo
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Re: No suwariwaza techniques at Nippon Kan

Quote:
David Yap wrote: View Post
Guys,

Think you guys are off topic and are making too many non-aiki and unwarranted assumptions.

David Y
How is it off topic to identify the specific shihan being referred to? I mentioned Saito because Homma's column makes more sense if you know he is referring to.

I don't know if there is, as Giancarlo reports, bad blood between Ikeda and Homma. But it is relevant to know if Homma is referring to Ikeda, because the young Ikeda had perhaps the fastest suwariwaza I had ever seen on video. I used to watch him and think, "boy, I wish I could do that." But knowing what we know now, then I can look at his suwariwaza video with a new perspective. Perhaps, as Homma says, that kind of skill comes with a price we might not want to pay.

RAUL
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