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Old 01-07-2010, 07:20 AM   #1
dps
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Martial Ineffectiveness

How do you measure martial ineffectiveness? Can you do so in a dojo?

David
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:57 AM   #2
chillzATL
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

variety and intensity?

Sure, but it certainly depends on the dojo and how far the people in it are willing to go to test things out.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:40 AM   #3
gregstec
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
How do you measure martial ineffectiveness? Can you do so in a dojo?

David
The only true test is in an actual combative situation - any other environment, regardless of intensity, will still only provide a speculative result.

Greg

Last edited by gregstec : 01-07-2010 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:12 AM   #4
Garth Jones
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Effectiveness under what circumstances? Are you talking about a 'fair' fight - an aikidoist against some other martial artist of similar experience? A drunk in a bar? An aikidiost against a doped up mugger, or a gang of doped up muggers? An assailant with a gun? 1000 aikidoists on a battlefield against a 1000 armed and armored samurai?

The last would probably be the best test of martial effectiveness since one of the main goals of ancient martial arts was to make better soldiers.

Whenever somebody asks me if aikido is good for self defense (another way of asking if it is martially effective) I always wonder (and sometimes ask) defense against what?

So anyway, it seems to me that before the quesiton of 'is aikido martially effective' be addressed, we need to know what we all mean by 'martially effective.' For me that spans a wide range.

Cheers,
Garth
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:50 AM   #5
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

It is a realitve question for sure. At 50 Meters a Glock is pretty martially effective and any empty handed martial arts are pretyy ineffective for sure.

At grappling range, that ratio may change.

Also, what is the desired outcome of the situation too? Do you care about long term gains, or short terms ones?

Strategically or tactically ineffective?

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Old 01-07-2010, 09:50 AM   #6
sorokod
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
ef·fec·tive: adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result:
What is the specific purpose/result are you thinking about? I do not think that "martial" counts as either.

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Old 01-07-2010, 10:21 AM   #7
Eric Winters
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Hello Mr. Skaggs,

I am not sure why you asked that question on this site. You know you are not going to get a straight answer. I posted a question earlier about training for a physical conflict and got "aikido is not for fighting", "what are you fighting for", "what kind of a scenario are you talking about", "what if a nuclear missile was shot up your arse?" (just kidding about that last one.) I found I get more of a straight answer when talking person to person.

Best,

Eric
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:32 AM   #8
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
How do you measure martial ineffectiveness? Can you do so in a dojo?
Can you make it work.
Yes.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:35 AM   #9
dps
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Eric Winters wrote: View Post
Hello Mr. Skaggs,

I am not sure why you asked that question on this site. You know you are not going to get a straight answer. I posted a question earlier about training for a physical conflict and got "aikido is not for fighting", "what are you fighting for", "what kind of a scenario are you talking about", "what if a nuclear missile was shot up your arse?" (just kidding about that last one.) I found I get more of a straight answer when talking person to person.

Best,

Eric
If you and I belonged to the same dojo and trained together, would I be able to judge if your Aikido would be effective in a fight ouside the dojo or vice versa.
Would a sensei be able to tell if his students could?
Would a student be able to tell if his sensei could?

David
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:37 AM   #10
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote: View Post
The only true test is in an actual combative situation - any other environment, regardless of intensity, will still only provide a speculative result.

Greg
I do not think this is true at all. It's not at all difficult to know when things are martially ineffective. Aikido practice is highly stylized. So the first sign of martial ineffectiveness is when the folks in the dojo can't even make their waza work under the controlled circumstances of practice.

Irimi is at the heart of all martial application. If you go to a dojo and no one can enter without you hitting them, the practice is ineffective. That's my first test... I frequently arrive at dojos to teach and find that not a single student can pull off an irimi when I attack. That's because I REALLY attack. at the majority of the dojos I see around, the students are not really trying to strike their partners. If everyone trains that way day after day, they think they know how to do things they really cannot do. As Frank Doran Sensei says, the "entry" is everything, everything else is just icing on the cake.

I think that the "entry" is the most neglected aspect of Aikido training. I sell a lot of Aikido DVD's. I have a set I call the Principles of Aiki set. Vol. 2 is just on "Entries". I sell fewer of those than the others. I am convinced that this is because people see the title and say to themselves "I know how to do that..."

Anyway, it's a shock when a bunch of third or fourth dans, or even worse, someone running a dojo, finds that they can't do an entry. They can know 500 techniques and without effective irimi, it's just 500 techniques they cannot do.

The second thing one can spot at a dojo at which the practice is clearly martially ineffective is closely related to the above. Can the students at the dojo strike? With speed, with power? If not, then the practice is being done at unrealistically slow speed. People will not be able to adjust when it gets fast and hard.

What does the "intention" feel like during practice. Once again, you can look at the folks in many dojos and see that they have no projection, no forward intention. You can stand in front of them and feel nothing. They have no idea how to organize a strong forward flow of attention. If you attack them fast, or God forbid, with unexpected timing, they are never ready. You can stand in front of someone like this and know you will hit them before you even start.

One of my students gave me a book on the theory of limits as applied to business. While being over my head math-wise after about three chapters, I got the gist of it. It changed my thinking about how we teach our art. The theory of limits says that in any complex system, like a factory (and Aikido is also a complex system of body / mind skills), one needs to analyze the various elements that go into producing the output of the factory and decide which one is the "limiting factor". You can throw all sorts of money and resources into that factory and have no increase in the production whatever if you don't devote them to improving the "limiting factor".

So, in my opinion, most Aikido practice is done without any regard to this idea. People are studying a wide range of techniques, empty hand and weapons, putting all sorts of time and money into their training with almost no increase in actual skill from year to year because they have not addressed the limiting factor in their Aikido.

For the majority of the folks I see training, the limiting factor is the lack of ability or willingness to train with attacks which have speed and power. Strikes have no body integration and hence no actual power. Grabs tend to be "strong" in a way that is totally ineffective. A grab should be designed to effect the partner's balance and his ability to respond. Turning your partner's hand purple by grabbing really hard has no martial effectiveness whatever and is probably making you tight in a way that limits your ability to move freely.

So collectively, I would put all of this under the label of "attacks". Problems with the "attack" is the limiting factor for most Aikido folks. There is simply no possible way for someone to get to any level beyond the rudimentary without addressing this issue. Period. 50% of ones training is in the role of "uke". All sorts of attention is put on the ability to take the fall, very little is put on the actual attack.

Now, that said, fixing this issue is still no guarantee of "martial effectiveness" outside the dojo. But the idea that only combat will tell you anything simply isn't the case. Physical conflict runs through a whole range from a drunk guy shoving you at a bar to two or three fellows with guns confronting you on the street. There innumerable stories of folks with only moderate skills, developed in their dojo environments, using their Aikido "effectively" for self defense on the street. The reason for this is that most attackers out in the real world are not formally trained in anything. Many are simply incompetent. Dangerous perhaps, but not very sophisticated.

Combat is all out, life or death. Most folks will never have to use their Aikido in combat. That doesn't mean that one can't train for martial effectiveness. Do you want to know whether you are "martially effective"? Go up to your local mixed martial arts gym and see about applying what you've worked on in the dojo. Personally, I don't actually care about this issue, but young men often wonder if their stuff "works" and this is a good way to find out. The uchi deshi used to wonder the same thing... they'd go out to the local bars and get in fights, often with the soldiers from the occupation. That's a good way to find out of you can do your Aikido against folks who have no formal training. Of course you might get injured, killed or just plain arrested doing this, but it will tell you something.

Anyway, my feeling is that people need to fix how they train in the dojo and get it to the point at which it actually works within the stylized framework of Aikido itself before they need to start worrying about "combat application" or "martial effectiveness". These discussions are off mark most of the time, I think. Find the "limiting factor" in your training and fix it. Then find the new "limiting factor" and fix that. Progress will result and eventually you will be good at what you do. Then, if you want to experiment with non-traditional applications, go ahead. Folks who worry about this too early in their training typically do not get very good.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 01-07-2010 at 10:41 AM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:57 AM   #11
dps
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
IIrimi is at the heart of all martial application.
I take it you are not limiting this comment just to Aikido.

If you are looking for martial effectivenes, wouldn't it be better to spend most of your time on basics and not learn 500 techniques?

David
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:06 AM   #12
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I do not think this is true at all. It's not at all difficult to know when things are martially ineffective. Aikido practice is highly stylized. So the first sign of martial ineffectiveness is when the folks in the dojo can't even make their waza work under the controlled circumstances of practice.

Irimi is at the heart of all martial application. If you go to a dojo and no one can enter without you hitting them, the practice is ineffective. That's my first test... I frequently arrive at dojos to teach and find that not a single student can pull off an irimi when I attack. That's because I REALLY attack. at the majority of the dojos I see around, the students are not really trying to strike their partners. If everyone trains that way day after day, they think they know how to do things they really cannot do. As Frank Doran Sensei says, the "entry" is everything, everything else is just icing on the cake.

I think that the "entry" is the most neglected aspect of Aikido training. I sell a lot of Aikido DVD's. I have a set I call the Principles of Aiki set. Vol. 2 is just on "Entries". I sell fewer of those than the others. I am convinced that this is because people see the title and say to themselves "I know how to do that..."

Anyway, it's a shock when a bunch of third or fourth dans, or even worse, someone running a dojo, finds that they can't do an entry. They can know 500 techniques and without effective irimi, it's just 500 techniques they cannot do.

The second thing one can spot at a dojo at which the practice is clearly martially ineffective is closely related to the above. Can the students at the dojo strike? With speed, with power? If not, then the practice is being done at unrealistically slow speed. People will not be able to adjust when it gets fast and hard.

What does the "intention" feel like during practice. Once again, you can look at the folks in many dojos and see that they have no projection, no forward intention. You can stand in front of them and feel nothing. They have no idea how to organize a strong forward flow of attention. If you attack them fast, or God forbid, with unexpected timing, they are never ready. You can stand in front of someone like this and know you will hit them before you even start.

One of my students gave me a book on the theory of limits as applied to business. While being over my head math-wise after about three chapters, I got the gist of it. It changed my thinking about how we teach our art. The theory of limits says that in any complex system, like a factory (and Aikido is also a complex system of body / mind skills), one needs to analyze the various elements that go into producing the output of the factory and decide which one is the "limiting factor". You can throw all sorts of money and resources into that factory and have no increase in the production whatever if you don't devote them to improving the "limiting factor".

So, in my opinion, most Aikido practice is done without any regard to this idea. People are studying a wide range of techniques, empty hand and weapons, putting all sorts of time and money into their training with almost no increase in actual skill from year to year because they have not addressed the limiting factor in their Aikido.

For the majority of the folks I see training, the limiting factor is the lack of ability or willingness to train with attacks which have speed and power. Strikes have no body integration and hence no actual power. Grabs tend to be "strong" in a way that is totally ineffective. A grab should be designed to effect the partner's balance and his ability to respond. Turning your partner's hand purple by grabbing really hard has no martial effectiveness whatever and is probably making you tight in a way that limits your ability to move freely.

So collectively, I would put all of this under the label of "attacks". Problems with the "attack" is the limiting factor for most Aikido folks. There is simply no possible way for someone to get to any level beyond the rudimentary without addressing this issue. Period. 50% of ones training is in the role of "uke". All sorts of attention is put on the ability to take the fall, very little is put on the actual attack.

Now, that said, fixing this issue is still no guarantee of "martial effectiveness" outside the dojo. But the idea that only combat will tell you anything simply isn't the case. Physical conflict runs through a whole range from a drunk guy shoving you at a bar to two or three fellows with guns confronting you on the street. There innumerable stories of folks with only moderate skills, developed in their dojo environments, using their Aikido "effectively" for self defense on the street. The reason for this is that most attackers out in the real world are not formally trained in anything. Many are simply incompetent. Dangerous perhaps, but not very sophisticated.

Combat is all out, life or death. Most folks will never have to use their Aikido in combat. That doesn't mean that one can't train for martial effectiveness. Do you want to know whether you are "martially effective"? Go up to your local mixed martial arts gym and see about applying what you've worked on in the dojo. Personally, I don't actually care about this issue, but young men often wonder if their stuff "works" and this is a good way to find out. The uchi deshi used to wonder the same thing... they'd go out to the local bars and get in fights, often with the soldiers from the occupation. That's a good way to find out of you can do your Aikido against folks who have no formal training. Of course you might get injured, killed or just plain arrested doing this, but it will tell you something.

Anyway, my feeling is that people need to fix how they train in the dojo and get it to the point at which it actually works within the stylized framework of Aikido itself before they need to start worrying about "combat application" or "martial effectiveness". These discussions are off mark most of the time, I think. Find the "limiting factor" in your training and fix it. Then find the new "limiting factor" and fix that. Progress will result and eventually you will be good at what you do. Then, if you want to experiment with non-traditional applications, go ahead. Folks who worry about this too early in their training typically do not get very good.
Hi George,
This is very excellent post, it shoud be required to read by every new subscriber to Aikiweb.

Quote:
For the majority of the folks I see training, the limiting factor is the lack of ability or willingness to train with attacks which have speed and power.
And if you try to attack with speed and power they think you are aggressive and nobody want to practice with you anymore.
Others become very frustrated and are trying to punish you with very painful techniques. What a life.....

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:39 AM   #13
mickeygelum
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Are you talking about a 'fair' fight
No such animal when you are in public...on the far side, it would be defined as a confrontation between individuals with the same training, skills and experience...

Quote:
"what if a nuclear missile was shot up your arse?"
ROTFLMFAOPMFPCMEO !
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:40 AM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Great post, George.

I'm sure this is an area where my aikido sucks ;-) but not for want of trying - I think I got interested in it during the yr I trained on an unstable knee and could neither fall nor really move enough to take anybody down: all I had left were entries.
When I work w/ juniors on test prep, say, I will often just stop them from doing technique and ask them to do the entries repeatedly, and I'll also sometimes ask my uke to just work w/ me on them.
Hmm....think I'll have to check out your videos!

Janet Rosen
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:49 AM   #15
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi George,
This is very excellent post, it shoud be required to read by every new subscriber to Aikiweb.

And if you try to attack with speed and power they think you are aggressive and nobody want to practice with you anymore.
Others become very frustrated and are trying to punish you with very painful techniques. What a life.....
One of my students came to me from another dojo. While a beginner in Aikido, this person had a back ground in another martial art. At his previous dojo, this student clocked the teacher with a shomenuchi and got a lecture about how it was his job to not hit the teacher... seriously. When he came to me, he pulled his strikes and I told him it was his job to hit me and my job not to let him. His reaction was to say "I'm confused".

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:11 PM   #16
ChrisMoses
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
How do you measure martial ineffectiveness? Can you do so in a dojo?

David
I usually just stick a fork in it. If I manage to actually get the fork in them, I figure they're pretty ineffective.


Chris Moses
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:31 PM   #17
gregstec
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I do not think this is true at all. It's not at all difficult to know when things are martially ineffective. .
My bad - I read 'effectiveness' in the OP and not 'ineffectiveness'

You are absolutely right, there are many ways to measure and gauge ineffectiveness in the dojo environment. However, even if all obvious ineffectiveness is eliminated, that does not guarantee effectiveness - you would still need to test in a real encounter to ascertain your effectiveness. But, the outcome will only be true for that particular test.

Greg
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:35 PM   #18
Basia Halliop
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

I think the wording of this question makes it far easier to answer than other similar questions that have been posted here. It's so much easier to prove something is ineffective than to prove it's effective.
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:08 PM   #19
Eric Winters
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

I think that you cannot truly measure ineffectiveness or effectiveness in the dojo. You can measure certain aspects such as if a person cannot perform a technique against a properly resisting partner, you will have a good idea that it will probably not work with somebody who is really trying to hurt you.

Eric
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:11 PM   #20
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Are you talking about a 'fair' fight?
My favorite line on this is:

If you find yourself in a fair fight, you haven't trained hard enough.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:20 PM   #21
gregstec
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
My favorite line on this is:

If you find yourself in a fair fight, you haven't trained hard enough.
My take is that if you think your are in a fair fight, you are being delusional so prepare to get your ass kicked

Greg
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:14 PM   #22
David Board
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

George, Your post reflects very well with what I here my sensei saying and doing. Attacking with intent, projecting your energy at nage, etc. And I have read the same comments else where. On the mat I have felt frustration when an attack is weak and half-hearted and the overall technique becomes a feeble act of hand waving and acting.

However, can you help me reconcile some of your comments with other request and remarks I have heard. In particular, my sensei has asked me to slow down and focus on connecting my movements. He said that while fast is fun that to learn the techniques better I need to make the motions slowly and precisely. "Speed will come latter." I have also heard my sensei and others (in particular Mary Heiny Sensei at the last seminar) tell uke to match their attack to the "skill" of their nage. Slow for beginners and fast for more advanced students.

My personal means of reconciling this is that the key is not necessarily speed but intent and projection. This is reflected in my experience on the mat. I have learned quite a bit and felt a solid attack from sempei as they slowly but with intent and projection attack shomenuchi (or other attacks) towards me. As a beginner, can feel where their power is coming from and where it is going. If I follow through with the technique properly I can feel the release and that I have stepped out of their realm of influence to a place I can now act from. If I fail, I can feel where and when the mistake was made. And I can do this with in my ability. Other sempei attack more with speed. I react. Sometimes I react properly, sometimes not. But as a beginner, I don't get a sense of where I failed only that I failed. I shake my head and try again. I think I learn either way but to be honest. I think I learn faster working with the slow sempai. I feel this is the case because after working on a technique with the slow sempei I am more likely to have success with the fast sempei. The reverse however is not true. [Oh and to make things clear, the slow sempei when practicing with each other are far from slow. And when they attacked me in randori at the last test if they were attacking slow I didn't notice, I was too busy reacting.]

Which brings me to matter of etiquette. Asking your nage to slow down, so that you can slow down as Sensei requested. And how to deal with those who might feel they are doing you a favour by going at full speed as you try to focus on a particular aspect of technique. This may be particularly true when working on irmi.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:39 PM   #23
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

"Slow is smooth and smooth is fast".

This is an adage in the tactical shooting arena. The goal of tactical shooting is to draw and put effective rounds as fast as possible on the target. There are a couple of elements. one, you want to be faster than the other guy. Yes, but you also want to be accurate.

So in order to train that, you have to imprint the right patterns of movement. So, by slowing down, you gain accuracy. Training this way allows you to imprint good and correct habits, which allow you to gradually increase speed until you can find the sweet spot between speed and accuracy.

So, even in practices where martial effectiveness is even MORE relevant like CQB, Combatives I spend my coaching time trying to get guys to slow the heck down more than I ask them to speed up!

If you can't do it right slow...adding speed is going to make it better? in most cases no. However sometimes speed and audacity count for alot too! usually not....we strive for a better product than one that depends on timing and luck!

George, that is a really great post. Thanks for that!

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Old 01-07-2010, 02:48 PM   #24
Mark Kruger
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Martially Ineffective... in what context?

What is and isn't effective is very context driven. What is effective at Sekigahara in the 1600's is different from what is effective at a gulp-n-go robbery today.

Clearing a structure at speed works when you are part of a well trained team. There are enough eyes to watch all the angles. Clearing a structure at speed solo when you don't know where the threat is? Suicide. Yet, I had an martial arts instructor complain about how slow I was clearing structure by myself. It turns out his instruction was solely with law enforcement/military trainers who teach teams and he was applying his knowledge out of context

Striking with a closed fist (boxing) figures prominently in the ancient greek world, almost disappears in the medieval european world, and reappears in the modern. I suspect that it is a function of armor. Punching a metal breastplate... not so good. So it all but disappears from toolbox until that armor goes away.

Being able to push someone many feet away is a great skill. Unless the other person has a projectile launcher (gun) in which case opening the range gets you perforated repeatedly (dead). If you both have guns, you both die if the range opens from contact. I've watched classmates of mine do this repeatedly with simunitions. Given that context, you have to maintain contact to keep them from deploying their weapon.

Shooting in for a double leg takedown is a very effective wrestling move. Change the context and place a knife in the hands of the person being taken down. A double leg results in a number of serious cuts in the back if your lucky and a slit throat if you aren't.

So, before we talk about martial effectiveness, we need to define the context. Where are we? When are we? How many folks are involved? What are the goals of the parties involved? Are there weapons? Who has the weapons? Is there some form of armor? Is there a disparity in weapons, skill, size, strength, numbers? Does one side have an initiative advantage or deficit? Are there legal restrictions on how much and who can apply force?

Respectfully,
Mark Kruger
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:38 PM   #25
SeiserL
 
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Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
"Slow is smooth and smooth is fast".
Another of my favorites. First heard it shooting.

I usually start people off with slow and smooth then slow and smooth.

When slow is smooth you can feel intent. IMHO, intent makes it effective or not.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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