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Old 05-04-2008, 09:57 AM   #1
Bill Danosky
 
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Dojo: BN Yoshinkan
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Is Japanese Aikido different?

It doesn't seem like the Japanese trained Aikidoka have as many reservations about the effectiveness of their waza. Definitely the ones I know have little to no doubt, and I wonder if that's been everyone's observation?

It's be interesting to hear from some of the folks who've practiced both places what they think the differences are.
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Old 05-04-2008, 10:49 AM   #2
Joseph Madden
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Re: Is Japanese Aikido different?

Bill,
I had the opportunity to study at the honbu in Tokyo back in 2005.
I study Yoshinkan as you do. The way I've been taught by Kimeda sensei is slightly different from the way the students are taught in Japan. Since Kimeda sensei is as much informed by the teaching of Kushida sensei, whose focus is primarily weapons, there are slight variations to the techniques, although the differences may not be apparent to someone not versed in Yoshinkan. At the honbu dojo, the typical shodan test takes about 5 minutes on average. Our test at Kimeda sensei's dojo takes approximately 20 minutes on average. Kimeda also incorporates more daito ryu basic techniques into his syllabus. At the honbu, I noticed that some of the students found our 2nd control far more "brutal" than what they were used to (although this may be more "white" unconscious need to prove we are superior to our "asian" teachers). There is far more emphasis placed on suwariwaza at the honbu than at Kimeda's dojo.

OSU
Joe
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:26 AM   #3
aikispike
Dojo: Yoshinkan
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Re: Is Japanese Aikido different?

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
It's be interesting to hear from some of the folks who've practiced both places what they think the differences are.
I've lived and trained in both Japan and Canada. The quality of student and instruction varies in both countries - it really depends on the dojo.

I think that the shodan level in Canada is on the whole a little higher than in Japan because Canadians in their heart want shodan to mean something and Japanese in their hearts know it is just the beginning. Teachers test towards those expectations. After a few dans it all evens out.

As for Japanese students who "know" their stuff works... they are perhaps just cocky.

Spike

--
Michael Kimeda
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Old 05-05-2008, 01:42 PM   #4
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Is Japanese Aikido different?

I wouldn't say that the Japanese don't question the effectiveness of their art. There are a few books (and a few organizations) dedicated to the idea of "making aikido effective". In as much as Japanese aikidoka don't worry about effectiveness compared to their western counterparts, I think there are a number of explanations.

1. Effective is as effective does. Japan is a pretty safe place, and most Japanese don't go through life imagining they'll find themselves in a life-or-death struggle. They figure maybe they'll have to face some drunk salaryman, at worst some young street tough. And they feel aikido provides the level of effectiveness they need.

2. Proven effectiveness. There are plenty of examples of aikido greats, and even the police train in aikido. So, if a Japanese person doubts effectiveness, they doubt their own, not aikido's. Accordingly, they feel they just have to practice more.

3. Naivete. IMO, Westerners, and Americans in particular, are problem solvers, compared to the Japanese. They like to analyze, experiment, and prove things true or false. So, they'll spar with someone from a different art and things like that. They wonder, "Is aikido effective?" and try to work it out one way or the other. For most Japanese, I doubt the question even comes up. Their sensei says, "Do this. It works." and they think, "Okay, sensei says it works, so it must work."

4. It's a budo. Kendo, kenjutsu, iaido, naginata, kyudo, etc. there are many examples of budo that are simply impractical in today's world, that a person will never have occasion to use, and indeed may be a far cry from their once deadly origins. But that doesn't matter. What matters is not "will it work off the mat", but rather, "am I doing it on the mat." IOW, even in the limited conditions of their keiko, they derive some kind of spiritual, mental, physical benefit. And as long as they do, that they can't actually win a real fight is really irrelevant.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:06 PM   #5
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Is Japanese Aikido different?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
2. Proven effectiveness. There are plenty of examples of aikido greats, and even the police train in aikido. So, if a Japanese person doubts effectiveness, they doubt their own, not aikido's. Accordingly, they feel they just have to practice more.
That said it pretty well. I think we should post that on a couple of other threads I've been reading...
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Old 05-06-2008, 04:14 AM   #6
nekobaka
Dojo: Washinkai (Kizu)
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Re: Is Japanese Aikido different?

We just had a spring training lasting 3 days. We had a "reflexion dinner" (drinking party) on friday night. Our shihan used to be the head instructor of Osaka Aikikai until 2 years ago. Until he left that position he never had the chance to leave the country. Since then he has visited Germany, France and Spain twice. In Germany, they had a similar training camp, in which they did 4 sessions a day, morning, afternoon, evening and night. We were all pretty surprised they would train so much, and wondered "what's the difference between them and us?". This made an impression on our shihan, and so our training camp had a similar schedule. He said the other night, "I always felt like we barely practiced, this way I feel like we are actually doing serious practice." A lot of people go just "for fun", and not really to learn something. I don't think this means we are any less serious about aikido, maybe just when we are serious about it . A trip somewhere means drinking, hot springs, and good food.

I only spent 3 years practicing in the states, so it's difficult for me to compare. I went back to my old dojo 2 years ago for a visit, and still felt a strong "trying to prove something" vibe. Maybe because I was also trying to prove something, but I tend to feel less ego when I practice in Japan. It could just be my dojo, it's hard to say.
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Old 05-06-2008, 06:06 AM   #7
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Is Japanese Aikido different?

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote: View Post
I only spent 3 years practicing in the states, so it's difficult for me to compare. I went back to my old dojo 2 years ago for a visit, and still felt a strong "trying to prove something" vibe. Maybe because I was also trying to prove something, but I tend to feel less ego when I practice in Japan. It could just be my dojo, it's hard to say.
I'm aware of something similar where I practice.I had arrived from Ireland all bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for anything (so I thought) but it took me a long time to fit into the rhythm of practice
here. I think there is a more of a need for you to adjust to the general spirit of the dojo in Japan than in "The West".

One of the most enlightening things for me during my time here has been learning how Japanese people deal with the inevitable frustrations of training compared to myself and other foreigners. Another thing is that people tend to enter a traditional art in Japan very much with a view to that it will take years to get anywhere. The idea of "apprenticing" oneself to a teacher is still prevalent in Japan.

Of course, these are very broad observations and there are loads of exceptions all over the place.

Last edited by oisin bourke : 05-06-2008 at 06:11 AM. Reason: rewording
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