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Old 11-29-2010, 10:19 AM   #51
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Tony:

We feel your pain! Now if only we can get Graham to wake up......

Regards,

Marc Abrams
Nah! I wouldn't bother, but you can give me a shake when something really interesting comes up.....
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:35 PM   #52
jonreading
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

In response to a post earlier... These videos seem to be orchestrated as an collusive effort between uke and nage. It is important that when we instruct we rely upon reproduce-able techniques. I think a concern many of us share is the ineptitude these moves would demonstrate against a non-collusive partner. Collusion is not bad for learning, but we need to be careful where else it rears its head...

I think the videos rather imply an imperfection in instructional training. It's tough, but we have a burden as instructors to communicate effective aikido. I think that burden is unfettered by the martial attitude and unfettered by spiritual doctrine; of which I believe the student has the largest say in how her aikido will manifest. It sounds like in the posts as an instructor we are even trying to sway that education.
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:08 PM   #53
Michael Neal
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

you need to take a couple trial practices at BJJ or Judo to see how you should really train, time to put down put down the ganja!
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Old 11-29-2010, 05:53 PM   #54
Michael Neal
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

better yet, watch the Samurai Spirit Video, that to me seems like how Aikido should be trained
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:15 AM   #55
Randy Sexton
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Whew! 4 words come to mind. Please work on Realism, Zanshin, Connection, Precision. Otherwise thanks for sharing.
Doc

By the way, I agree with others, dump the hats if you are going public. Just my opinion.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will"
Gandhi
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:40 PM   #56
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

What makes Aiki Sword just that and not Ken Jutsu is that the sword work should reflect the very same principles operating in the empty hand. One doesn't necessarily use kenjutsu as the standard for evaluating aiki ken. As far as I can see, this sword work reflects quite nicely the same principles operating in the empty hand being done. However, what one thinks of that is another matter entirely...

I realize that there are a million reasons why people choose to do Aikido. I know many folks who are quite good at what they do who have simply crossed the line into territory where you can't maintain that a martial art is being done... it has become something else. Perhaps that something else is valuable, fulfilling and worth doing... I can't really say. It simply wasn't the way I was taught.

I was taught that Aikido was Budo. A new new Budo to be sure, a very different way of thinking about Budo, but Budo nonetheless. There is no Budo going on here. Everything I have seen is completely and absolutely collusive. I have been working with people like Saotome Sensei, Ikeda Sensei, Howard Popkin Sensei, William Gleason Sensei, Endo Sensei, Don Angier Sensei and others. These are people who can drop you effortlessly, sometimes without seeming to move, at least visibly. I actually understand what they are doing and can do it myself, not as well as I'd like yet, but I get it, and can see when those principles are operating and when they are not.

There is nothing going on here, either in the empty hand or the sword work that is anything other than relaxation work coupled with collusive ukemi. I like the level of relaxation, actually. But the technique shows no understanding of how that relaxation could be expressed martially. For it to be a martial art, one needs to be able to express that relaxation in an encounter with someone operating on an entirely different paradigm and still have the technique work. If you took some 200 pound footballer off the street and told him to grab one of the folks in these videos, he'd have torn their arms off before they ever moved him, much less threw him. That's my take on it, It's pretty much entirely wishful thinking from the martial perspective. Now take that away and I don't have an issue with it. If folks think that Aikido isn't really a martial art, which many folks seem to believe, then fine, this is nice relaxation, movement work. But it is "faux" martial arts, and therefore not Budo in any way I understand the term.

Now, I could be wrong... I have seen people like Ushiro Sensei or Vladimir Vasiliev do things that I have no idea how they did what they did. It might as well be "magic" for all that I understand it. So, maybe I am merely not advanced enough to understand what is happening here and the teacher and the students are functioning at such a high level that I am missing it. Like I said, I have trained with folks who operate at this, at least to me, incomprehensible level. I think two or three hundred years ago, anyone doing stuff like what they can do would have been burned at the stake with a bunch of folks standing around chanting "witch, witch, witch..."

The problem is that I have been around Aikido for 35 years. I have trained, at one time or another, with many of the greats, or with folks who had trained directly with them. I have never seen that level of incomprehensible technique coming from any Aikido teacher. Some, like my own teacher, seemed magical for many years, until I had some help understanding what was really happening. Now I understand it. He's better at it by magnitudes than I am, but I get it and can explain it and do it. I just need a few decades more practice to be as good as he is (if he would only stop getting better, that is). Anyway, to the extent that I understand what is happening in Aikido, and I have not, at this point, seen any Aikido teacher that I don't at least understand what is being done. So I am either forced to concede that this Aikido group has taken its work to a level beyond the very best people I have ever trained with, taken their technique to that level of incomprehensible skills that only two or there people I have met or even heard about have attained, or I am forced to conclude that its just "faux" Aikido, an "Aikido-like" substance, with only an exterior resemblance in outer form to real Aikido.

While I am a consistent critic of Aikido with no "aiki", that physical, muscly, art that is simply application of strength against weak lines of the opponent, at least there is something there going on that's real. It won't work against someone stronger or better trained than you are and it lacks any real depth but it is "real" in what it is. I know, I trained that way for years myself.

I am on record as saying that I do not believe that the Founder intended for Aikido to be about fighting and that the from of the practice needs to be changed if that is what you wish to do with it. But I do not in any way mean that this is what happens to Aikido when you take away the idea that it is about fighting. If one really entertains the idea that Aikido can be about "conflict resolution" and contains some lessons in how to stand at the center of conflict and stay balanced and centered oneself, I absolutely fail to see how one does this when there is no "conflict" to begin with. When everything is sweetness and light, everyone is holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" together, there is no conflict and there is no practice of conflict resolution.

Getting to the point at which one really understands the idea that "there is no attacker", that we are all fundamentally connected, even when the other guy intends to take your head off, will NEVER happen the way these folks are working. Never. And if that isn't the focus of the training, it isn't Aikido in any way I understand it, and it isn't Budo.

I am sorry to be so critical... but Aikido is in trouble. The demographics have shifted and around the world numbers are down. There is too much Aikido that simply doesn't deliver the goods... Mediocre Aikido will not last another couple generations. In order for the art to survive in the face of all of the various elements in peoples' lives that pull them away from training, in the face of other martial arts that seem to offer more effectiveness for folks who want to "fight", the art will have to get back the depth and sophistication it had in the day of the Founder. It will have to reproduce the kind of art that lead skilled, experienced martial artists to turn to Aikido as a step beyond what they had been doing.

When anyone with the least experience in a martial art looks at these videos, he is going to be so turned off that he'll potentially never look at Aikido as a serious martial art again. Really great Aikido looks fake, and that's a problem for growing the art. Until you have someone dump you effortlessly on your ass and you never felt anything, you will think it's all BS. That cannot be helped I am afraid. But when its real, someone from another art can walk into your dojo and leave with a new understanding, perhaps even wish to start training.

What is going on here tarnishes the art. It's not even bad martial arts, its not martial arts at all. A junior practitioner from some local Macdojo would eat these folks alive. Any Aikido practitioner with a bokken coming from a style that does sword work, like the ASU, the Birankai, or the Iwama folks, would simply destroy these folks doing what they seem to be doing.

Because these are public forums and so many people of different levels read these and even folks who know nothing about Aikido come here to find out about the art, it is important that folks be willing to say the "Emperor has no clothes" when that is the case. I recently posted some video clips that I knew would generate some discussion along those lines. It didn't matter to me since I know I can do what was in them. I didn't mind that there were folks who thought it was fake, I was simply trying to reach those folks who would understand and appreciate what was being done and perhaps generate the kind of discussion that would open up some minds. I was happy with the result. We had some good discussion, I got to explain a bit more deeply what I was doing, to the extent that I could use words to explain it all, and perhaps the result was positive in the end. I thought so any way. The fact that there are some folks out there who still think it was "fake" is of no concern to me.

So, you've posted these clips and sent folks to your website and it's up there for all to see. Once you do that, it's basically open season. Don't expect folks to be positive and respectful of things they see as really bad. I do not think it should be personal. It should stay oriented towards a discussion of the Aikido being shown (other than the pretty correct "lose the hats" comment). These are not bad people doing this Aikido. I am sure that they are very good people doing bad Aikido. And the discussion will probably not change that view much.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:55 PM   #57
Michael Neal
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Just compare to the Aikido shown in the Samurai Spirit Aikido (documentary) video, especially the scenes where the Aikido students are training.

There is a magnitude of difference in training intensity, I am actually more interested in Aikido after watching them. But the video here makes me think these other guys are just smoking weed swinging wooden sticks around for Live Action Role Playing.

George is right, Aikido is in a serious crisis right now. I have been away from these forums for a few years and instantly noticed how there are so fewer posts here than in the past. Seems interest has really faded.

Shodokan and Yoshinkan are actually becoming respected in some MMA circles, I am seeing more positive attitude towards Aikido as a result. Aikido has a chance to rebound with the right kind of training.

Time for an Aikido Renaissance!

Last edited by Michael Neal : 11-30-2010 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:11 PM   #58
Alberto_Italiano
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Very instructive - thank you.
I bookmarked them, for this illustrates perfectly the type of approach that made me unfit for most dojos.

I have arranged with 3 partners and we train at home - there may be no mat and thus we need extra care (plus knee protections, boxing helmet, and we conclude no projection), and there may be no instructor and thus we may never develop a gracious looking aikido (or have hope for a belt); and yet, we also don't do that type of things we see in the videos :-)

The fact Aikido is so aristocratic and so inclined to let you entertain the hope for a supernatural approach to fight, made too many forget that in order to attain that supernatural approach, you have to spend a lifetime of training first (and also have a mental talent - consider George Ledyard: his posts are always among the very best, and this because he is clearly intellectual, and yet martial -he spoke of budo, in fact).

We don't need more guys who speak of "ki". The truth is: I have no idea what "ki" is. If we are not ready to admit that, we have no hope of attaining it one day. However, we have significant chances of developing an "aikido" like that of the video, spend money for it, and say it's like that because we're using "our ki".
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:32 AM   #59
sakumeikan
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
Hi Ahmad.
Not sure what you mean about the sword blade being down.

Granted the corner could be padded up. Rest assured that all students are taught as a priority that it is their duty to protect their attacker in my Aikido. This means they are made fully responsible for the attacker. Peace. G.
Dear Graham,
Maybe I can offer an explanation about the sword blade being down?Usually in Iaido the cutting edge of the sword [in the saya]is uppermost[ie the curvature of the sword is curved edge above ].In order to change the angle of cut [say Kesa Giri ] using the left hand on the saya you turn the saya to the appropriate angle in order to initiate the correct cutting motion.In your case the saya[ at rest as it were ]is curved edge down over.Just a minor point but an important one.
Hope this helps. Joe.
.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:07 PM   #60
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Alberto Italiano wrote: View Post
We don't need more guys who speak of "ki". The truth is: I have no idea what "ki" is. If we are not ready to admit that, we have no hope of attaining it one day. However, we have significant chances of developing an "aikido" like that of the video, spend money for it, and say it's like that because we're using "our ki".
Hi Alberto,
While I understand what you are saying, I would disagree. This "debate" has been going on for quite a long time. It's how the cycle of change functions with the "pendulum" swinging back and forth...

Anyway, I think it is a sign of the deep issues facing Aikido that folks like you who are training seriously feel that they don't know what "ki" is and don't really feel the concept is helpful in your training. That's a problem. It's the result of poor "transmission".

"Ki" is a term for various things we either do not have good terminology for in the West or the explanation of those things is so complex that it's difficult to use those explanations in our training (or healing or whatever). So we develop terminology. While "ki" happens to have been used by the Chinese the concept goes back as far as history in India. For thousands of years terms like this have been used. One is taught what they mean through experience and training.

So when we get to the point at which a good portion of the folks seriously practicing Aikido either doubt the concept or can't define it specifically enough for it to be useful in their training, it is a failure of the system, of the "transmission". Folks who come out of a Chinese martial arts background use these terms all the time. But they are taught through hands on experience what they mean. They get to "feel" it in their teachers and they feel it in their bodies. But when people are teaching who have little or no understandi8ng of these principles, the whole thing breaks down.

A lot of this comes from the attachment to success. Because martial artists are often such type-A, Alpha-dog personalities, they often settle for what seems to work at the time rather than be patient and take their training to a deeper level.

As an example... my good friend Dan Messisco Sensei, an Aikido teacher now, was one of the top Tang So Do practitioners in the world in his younger days. He talked about how when he was training his teacher announced that it was time for the senior students to enter some tournaments and compete. Now these guys were being trained traditionally, very old school. So they went out and entered their first tournament and got their asses kicked. Their teacher told them how pleased he was by their performance. They of course said "but we just got destroyed out there..."

His reply was that he was pleased because they had stayed with their training and had attempted to apply the form of what they had been studying and didn't settle for the "tricks" that most of the competitors used in order to win. So they kept going and competing, kept losing, until one day they started winning. They stuck with the traditional form of the training because, while it was not the fastest way to "winning" in the short run, it was the road to a deeper knowledge in the long run. Dan said that once they had integrated the traditional form and the deeper principles contained in that form, no one could touch them. It just took a long period of being patient to get to the goodies. If they had settled, as most folks did, for developing the tricks simply based on the speed and athleticism available to the young, their art would never have developed this kind of depth.

So, folks who are serious about the martial aside of the training often get led astray by being attached to success too early. They settle for fast movement and physical strength. They are happy when their partner falls down and unhappy when they can't throw him. It's all about the result of ones actions on some "other". They don't like terms like "ki" and other seemingly ethereal concepts because they really don't know how to use them in making the other guy fall down, which is the pretty shallow focus of their training.

Then there are the folks who intuitively understand that it isn't about the result but rather the process and how that shapes us as individuals. Masagatsu, Agatsu - often translated as True Victory is Self Victory. So they focus almost entirely on how they feel emotionally when they train. They love the instruction to practice joyously, they groove on the imperative to exercise "the spirit of loving protection". The problem is that these folks typically ignore the form. They are also attached to the result... but in their case the result is some sort of nice feeling of calm and peace, a harmonious "feel" and the pretty much don't care if they can do what they do against an actual opponent, because, as the Founder stated, there is no opponent.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, still one of my all time favorites, talked about two ways of looking at the world that are prevalent. First was the scientific, rational way of approaching the world. In his book, he represented that type of person. His son in law, however, represented what he called the "groovy" way of approaching the world. This way is characterized by "feel", intuition, finds great satisfaction in the intangibles and is often offended by the mechanistic, overly brain centered way that technical people approach life.

You can easily see both types here on the Forums... And they are mutually antagonistic. One of the points of Pirsig's book was that both of these "types" are trapped. The "Zen" angle referred to in the title of the book points to the need for these two ways of processing our experience to come together as a whole. They should not be separate. But this is extremely difficult because it calls for everyone to go outside their comfort zone. People don't really want to do this. Ushiro Kenji stated in his last book that "What you know is the enemy of learning." I think that is totally spot on.

What needs to happen to "save" Aikido is losing our attachment to success. For some that would be ceasing to look at the success or failure of waza as the measure of ones Aikido. These folks need to dig deep and look for understanding of what is currently unknown or not understood as their path. It will require some extensive period of time in which what they do doesn't really "work" in the same way that Messisco Sensei's teacher had them competing and losing until their stuff began to work on a deeper basis.

For others it would be letting go of the attachment to the "groovy" side of the art and digging down to a rational and scientific understanding of principle. This requires a total retooling of ukemi, since it is the uke's job to force the partner to do a technique correctly. The kind of collusion one sees that is currently endemic in Aikido makes rational and scientific understanding of principle impossible.

Aikido is often said to be about Mind-Body-Spirit unification. As I have stated before, I do not think that is correct. Mind-Body-Spirit is unified and inseparable already. So to be doing Aikido, one has to develop an understanding of the art on all three levels. One level of understanding without the others is imbalanced and incomplete. Simply pursuing ones training with a focus on one of these areas with the assumption that an understanding of the other areas will come automatically is misguided. Training needs to have a balance of elements or it will not result in any deep understanding or skill.

So, if you don't have a sense of what "ki" means and how it functions in your training, the solution is not to throw the concept out, it is to find a teacher who can show you what you need to know to understand it. A teacher like Endo Sensei can show you a very clear and consistent presentation of "ki" and "aiki".

Someone like Dan Harden or one of the folks currently working with him could show you another aspect of the functioning of these principles.

Some folks take the approach that what they don't understand simply doesn't exist. I have seen Aikido teachers who stated that "ki" was all bullshit. They are wrong and their mistaken outlook reflects in their crude technique. Other folks are open minded but simply don't feel they have access to anyone who can teach them on that level. So they proceed to train in a way that they understand. Well, you learn what you train. You will never develop an understanding of "ki" or "aiki" by training with disregard of these concepts. You need to find a teacher who teaches it. Not simply demos how good he is, but actively teaches the principles in a rational, body centered manner.

Kuroiwa Yoshio Sensei wrote an article in which he discussed these things in Aikido Journal. I would highly recommend reading it. He was a teacher whose style was clear, scientific, and methodical. He talks about the need to address ones training on these various levels to go beyond just a basic and remedial skill. Without being aery-fairy at all he gives you a concise picture of how ones training is a balance and that this is what results in Aikido.

Training and Cognition

So, don't throw out an idea that you don't understand, find a teacher who can explain it to you and show you how to train it.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 12-01-2010 at 12:14 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:21 PM   #61
Alberto_Italiano
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
...snip...

His reply was that he was pleased because they had stayed with their training and had attempted to apply the form of what they had been studying and didn't settle for the "tricks" that most of the competitors used in order to win. So they kept going and competing, kept losing, until one day they started winning. They stuck with the traditional form of the training because, while it was not the fastest way to "winning" in the short run, it was the road to a deeper knowledge in the long run. Dan said that once they had integrated the traditional form and the deeper principles contained in that form, no one could touch them. It just took a long period of being patient to get to the goodies. If they had settled, as most folks did, for developing the tricks simply based on the speed and athleticism available to the young, their art would never have developed this kind of depth.

So, folks who are serious about the martial aside of the training often get led astray by being attached to success too early. They settle for fast movement and physical strength. They are happy when their partner falls down and unhappy when they can't throw him. It's all about the result of ones actions on some "other". They don't like terms like "ki" and other seemingly ethereal concepts because they really don't know how to use them in making the other guy fall down, which is the pretty shallow focus of their training.

...snip...

because, as the Founder stated, there is no opponent.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, still one of my all time favorites

...snip...

What needs to happen to "save" Aikido is losing our attachment to success.

...snip...

So, don't throw out an idea that you don't understand, find a teacher who can explain it to you and show you how to train it.
Hallo George

always a pleasure to read you. I would like to take this opportunity to explain better what I mean by "rejecting" the idea of "ki": it is misused.
What I object against, is exactly this misuse of this word.

You are commendable not only for your efforts (the quality of your posts is always and invariably among the very best) but also for your intellectual honesty in declaring that if Aikido does not realize it has to change, in a couple of generations it may be a martial art that nobody ever practices. Nearby my place there is a famous martial arts gym - two years ago, they told me, they quit holding aikido lessons - reason: nobody attended them.

Now, one of the reasons this may happen, is this misuse of the term "ki" that leads towards too speculative an aikido, or to Senseis that make their pupils open their arms and move them slowly in circle saying "aaaa-oooo-iiiii-eeeee-uuuuu" (no y, for it's not an Italian letter!).
It's normal that people quit attending, then - I did! lol

I have seen already dozens of aikidokas who pretend they know what "ki" is - the fact I reject this assumption, this pretence, does not mean I am rejecting the idea of "ki" - it means I am rejecting (having in mind your same concerns, probably) its fabrication.

You set an interesting conceptual path here - from a sensei happy that his pupils lost, to what the founder stated: there is no opponent.
A serious training is one where you fail repeatedly while facing a serious attack - you never learn so much like then. Eventually, one has to attain a level where fighting becomes impossible: the real ambition behind any martial art, so it seems to my humble perception, is to attain a level so high, that fighting is made impossible so refined your technique is. Eventually, you should be able to fight (and win) without miving a finger.
We linger on metaphysical grounds.

The idea of "ki" partakes of this metaphysical ground. As you stated much better than me, it's an elusive concept.

Years ago I practiced pranayama for 3 months and it scared the hell out of me - I quit doing it. I started feeling an enormous physical energy and it seemed to me it was flowing through my arms rippling my skin. When one day i was practicing pranayama and i felt this energy flowing very strong, the bulb of my bedside lamp exploded. I decide to quit it - i was terribly scared.

There is something, somewhere out there, that is "ki". Once we find it, we will know. Till then, there is no replacement for the real "ki" made of "aaaa-eeee-iiii-oooo-uuuu", if we want to keep aikido alive.
Ki exists - only I know I did _not_ meet it yet, and also many persons I see who pretend they know what it is, actually don't. That was my point.
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:53 PM   #62
kewms
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Alberto Italiano wrote: View Post
There is something, somewhere out there, that is "ki". Once we find it, we will know. Till then, there is no replacement for the real "ki" made of "aaaa-eeee-iiii-oooo-uuuu", if we want to keep aikido alive.
Ki exists - only I know I did _not_ meet it yet, and also many persons I see who pretend they know what it is, actually don't. That was my point.
Kotodama practice is the Shinto equivalent of pranayama practice. Just because your experience with it seemed meaningless, that doesn't mean the practice itself isn't valid, just that your kotodama teacher was (apparently) less gifted than your pranayama teacher.

Katherine
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:49 PM   #63
graham christian
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Graham,
Maybe I can offer an explanation about the sword blade being down?Usually in Iaido the cutting edge of the sword [in the saya]is uppermost[ie the curvature of the sword is curved edge above ].In order to change the angle of cut [say Kesa Giri ] using the left hand on the saya you turn the saya to the appropriate angle in order to initiate the correct cutting motion.In your case the saya[ at rest as it were ]is curved edge down over.Just a minor point but an important one.
Hope this helps. Joe.
.
Hi Joe,
Thank you for that.That makes perfect sense. G.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:31 PM   #64
Russ Q
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Hi Graham,

Are you thinking about what George Sensei has written. Not playing the parent, just curious if you are thinking about it....?

Russ
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:52 PM   #65
graham christian
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
What makes Aiki Sword just that and not Ken Jutsu is that the sword work should reflect the very same principles operating in the empty hand. One doesn't necessarily use kenjutsu as the standard for evaluating aiki ken. As far as I can see, this sword work reflects quite nicely the same principles operating in the empty hand being done. However, what one thinks of that is another matter entirely...

I realize that there are a million reasons why people choose to do Aikido. I know many folks who are quite good at what they do who have simply crossed the line into territory where you can't maintain that a martial art is being done... it has become something else. Perhaps that something else is valuable, fulfilling and worth doing... I can't really say. It simply wasn't the way I was taught.

I was taught that Aikido was Budo. A new new Budo to be sure, a very different way of thinking about Budo, but Budo nonetheless. There is no Budo going on here. Everything I have seen is completely and absolutely collusive. I have been working with people like Saotome Sensei, Ikeda Sensei, Howard Popkin Sensei, William Gleason Sensei, Endo Sensei, Don Angier Sensei and others. These are people who can drop you effortlessly, sometimes without seeming to move, at least visibly. I actually understand what they are doing and can do it myself, not as well as I'd like yet, but I get it, and can see when those principles are operating and when they are not.

There is nothing going on here, either in the empty hand or the sword work that is anything other than relaxation work coupled with collusive ukemi. I like the level of relaxation, actually. But the technique shows no understanding of how that relaxation could be expressed martially. For it to be a martial art, one needs to be able to express that relaxation in an encounter with someone operating on an entirely different paradigm and still have the technique work. If you took some 200 pound footballer off the street and told him to grab one of the folks in these videos, he'd have torn their arms off before they ever moved him, much less threw him. That's my take on it, It's pretty much entirely wishful thinking from the martial perspective. Now take that away and I don't have an issue with it. If folks think that Aikido isn't really a martial art, which many folks seem to believe, then fine, this is nice relaxation, movement work. But it is "faux" martial arts, and therefore not Budo in any way I understand the term.

Now, I could be wrong... I have seen people like Ushiro Sensei or Vladimir Vasiliev do things that I have no idea how they did what they did. It might as well be "magic" for all that I understand it. So, maybe I am merely not advanced enough to understand what is happening here and the teacher and the students are functioning at such a high level that I am missing it. Like I said, I have trained with folks who operate at this, at least to me, incomprehensible level. I think two or three hundred years ago, anyone doing stuff like what they can do would have been burned at the stake with a bunch of folks standing around chanting "witch, witch, witch..."

The problem is that I have been around Aikido for 35 years. I have trained, at one time or another, with many of the greats, or with folks who had trained directly with them. I have never seen that level of incomprehensible technique coming from any Aikido teacher. Some, like my own teacher, seemed magical for many years, until I had some help understanding what was really happening. Now I understand it. He's better at it by magnitudes than I am, but I get it and can explain it and do it. I just need a few decades more practice to be as good as he is (if he would only stop getting better, that is). Anyway, to the extent that I understand what is happening in Aikido, and I have not, at this point, seen any Aikido teacher that I don't at least understand what is being done. So I am either forced to concede that this Aikido group has taken its work to a level beyond the very best people I have ever trained with, taken their technique to that level of incomprehensible skills that only two or there people I have met or even heard about have attained, or I am forced to conclude that its just "faux" Aikido, an "Aikido-like" substance, with only an exterior resemblance in outer form to real Aikido.

While I am a consistent critic of Aikido with no "aiki", that physical, muscly, art that is simply application of strength against weak lines of the opponent, at least there is something there going on that's real. It won't work against someone stronger or better trained than you are and it lacks any real depth but it is "real" in what it is. I know, I trained that way for years myself.

I am on record as saying that I do not believe that the Founder intended for Aikido to be about fighting and that the from of the practice needs to be changed if that is what you wish to do with it. But I do not in any way mean that this is what happens to Aikido when you take away the idea that it is about fighting. If one really entertains the idea that Aikido can be about "conflict resolution" and contains some lessons in how to stand at the center of conflict and stay balanced and centered oneself, I absolutely fail to see how one does this when there is no "conflict" to begin with. When everything is sweetness and light, everyone is holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" together, there is no conflict and there is no practice of conflict resolution.

Getting to the point at which one really understands the idea that "there is no attacker", that we are all fundamentally connected, even when the other guy intends to take your head off, will NEVER happen the way these folks are working. Never. And if that isn't the focus of the training, it isn't Aikido in any way I understand it, and it isn't Budo.

I am sorry to be so critical... but Aikido is in trouble. The demographics have shifted and around the world numbers are down. There is too much Aikido that simply doesn't deliver the goods... Mediocre Aikido will not last another couple generations. In order for the art to survive in the face of all of the various elements in peoples' lives that pull them away from training, in the face of other martial arts that seem to offer more effectiveness for folks who want to "fight", the art will have to get back the depth and sophistication it had in the day of the Founder. It will have to reproduce the kind of art that lead skilled, experienced martial artists to turn to Aikido as a step beyond what they had been doing.

When anyone with the least experience in a martial art looks at these videos, he is going to be so turned off that he'll potentially never look at Aikido as a serious martial art again. Really great Aikido looks fake, and that's a problem for growing the art. Until you have someone dump you effortlessly on your ass and you never felt anything, you will think it's all BS. That cannot be helped I am afraid. But when its real, someone from another art can walk into your dojo and leave with a new understanding, perhaps even wish to start training.

What is going on here tarnishes the art. It's not even bad martial arts, its not martial arts at all. A junior practitioner from some local Macdojo would eat these folks alive. Any Aikido practitioner with a bokken coming from a style that does sword work, like the ASU, the Birankai, or the Iwama folks, would simply destroy these folks doing what they seem to be doing.

Because these are public forums and so many people of different levels read these and even folks who know nothing about Aikido come here to find out about the art, it is important that folks be willing to say the "Emperor has no clothes" when that is the case. I recently posted some video clips that I knew would generate some discussion along those lines. It didn't matter to me since I know I can do what was in them. I didn't mind that there were folks who thought it was fake, I was simply trying to reach those folks who would understand and appreciate what was being done and perhaps generate the kind of discussion that would open up some minds. I was happy with the result. We had some good discussion, I got to explain a bit more deeply what I was doing, to the extent that I could use words to explain it all, and perhaps the result was positive in the end. I thought so any way. The fact that there are some folks out there who still think it was "fake" is of no concern to me.

So, you've posted these clips and sent folks to your website and it's up there for all to see. Once you do that, it's basically open season. Don't expect folks to be positive and respectful of things they see as really bad. I do not think it should be personal. It should stay oriented towards a discussion of the Aikido being shown (other than the pretty correct "lose the hats" comment). These are not bad people doing this Aikido. I am sure that they are very good people doing bad Aikido. And the discussion will probably not change that view much.
HI George,
May I congratulate you on an excellent response.Why do I say this? Because I see it is heartfelt, considered and sincere.
I have never been on a forum before and thus am learning many things here so it's all good to me. I find many of the responses interesting as I didn't expect it and so I learn I have been quite naive.
Now, as to going in to a big defence of my Aikido I have refrained from doing so for I have nothing to prove, my purpose is not to say look at me and how good I am, rightly or wrongly I did it as an experiment. Only recently, this year, someone pointed out to me that the Aikido I do was taped on camera and proceeded to show me how to make it into little vids. On doing this I was amazed because in all the 30 years of practice I had never seen myself do it. On looking at the vids my friends and students past and present got me to put them on youtube. It was all good fun for me yet I could see that not many people would understand what I was doing and that if I ever made any teaching videos they would have to be different to these, step by step, with commentary.So here in this forum I wondered what people in the Aikido fraternity would summise and boy did I find out!
I was trained in a private dojo, by invite only, so let me tell you just a little about my teacher. After being there for five years I remember asking him why he wasn't in a federation like Aikikai, or Yoshinkan etc. He told me that in the early days in this country he came to a dilemma in himself, he said many of those he trained with seemed to be going down the macho force route and refusing to develope on the Ki side of things, ie: have the Ki tests as he showed us as a major part of their training. He also said , rightly or wrongly that he thought if he made a stance politically at the time it would possibly cause a big split with some following him and others not. So he decided to go independant and was no longer interested in big organizations.
As for me, after 15 years it was time to go my own way, and to me from now on the world, the streets, work, would be my dojo so I ended up teaching privately whoever happened across me and liked what I had to offer. I never wanted to be an organization and so have never done Aikido as a business or club and only recently gave my style a name. I did hope that showing it with a different name ie:Golden Center, would show it is not the Aikido you are used to seeing and thus not cause offence.Once again naive.
On the point of collusive training believe it or not I wholeheartedly agree with you and see the conclusions drawn from my videos gives this view 100%. I now know if I want others to actually see through film the effect of what I do on a 200lb wrestler IT would take a different type of video. So, as with showing people flying at me and me taking them and projecting them into a nice dramatic breakfall it all gives me a dilemma. I am not promoting my Aikido, or Aikido as yet for that matter, yet if I put anything on a public forum then I should do it in an expected manner which would then enter the field of promotion. So once again I have a decision to make and a lesson to learn.
As far as the situation worldwide to do with Aikido being on the decline goes then not being involved in organizations and the politics of it all then this comes as an unwelcome surprise to me and explains some of the touchyness I have encountered here. But here I must state my view clearly and give a message to all those who have had their confidence knocked or their hopes for the future of Aikido shaken. IT IS EASY TO BLAME OTHERS WHEN THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL. The answer is ALWAYS in your own scene.
I have had a couple of people insist I watch a video called samurai spirit and say how it inspired them and it promotes Aikido. Well I have watched it and can see how it could do that for some or even many, all be it very contrived, but what I say to them is this: If it is good promotion you want then make some good ones yourself, or get your organization to do it and stop crying like little babies. There is no honour in destructive criticism and blame and thus no center, no samurai spirit, apart from no manners or self discipline.
So I will finish off here with something you may find interesting as it is from someone not immersed in your organizational world of Aikido. The people I know, the ones I work with, friends and associates of mine get to know me and thus know I do this 'thing' called Aikido. Many have tested me, many have questioned things I do like Ki-atsu for example, but none disrespect me. I am never rude or belittling or critical, be they a doctor, a shop owner or a drug dealer. Yet when they are in trouble they know I can help. This I find applies in life and the reason I am saying it here is because in my experience everyone who has experienced my Aikido hasn't got a bad word to say about it. I have advised many people on Aikido and sent many people to Aikido clubs over the years for I have no opinion as to that ones better than that one I only tell them to find the one they like.I have people who come to me from various martial arts now and again for advice on what they do which may be an art of which I have no experience or knowledge but I get them to show me what they are getting stuck on and almost always help them to a solution for I can see the principles of what they are doing and thus where they are failing. This doesn't make them want to do Aikido but they go away and overcome that which they were getting stuck on in their own art and in this way I maintain a respect for Aikido from them. So in my zone of influence the people see what I do as disciplined, helpful and when they need it -useful. If I was a brash, arrogant, 'superior' kind of person then I am as sure as the sun shines that it would give Aikido a bad name. So from my viewpoint and experience I suggest All Aikidoka should look at their own behaviour as a major factor of peoples perception of Aikido and even in this forum for people are not stupid and by and large they do believe that Aikido is a more harmoniouse form of martial art and so expect the adherents to be very well mannered, polite, reasonable, helpful and strong in mind and spirit. Samurai if you like.(The good ones anyway)
Well if you have read this then thank you for listening.
Peace. G.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:59 PM   #66
graham christian
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Russ Qureshi wrote: View Post
Hi Graham,

Are you thinking about what George Sensei has written. Not playing the parent, just curious if you are thinking about it....?

Russ
Hi Russ, now this did make me smile, I have just finished responding to what George said and then as I return to the page I see this. Good Ki.
G.
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:36 AM   #67
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
HI George,
May I congratulate you on an excellent response.Why do I say this? Because I see it is heartfelt, considered and sincere.
I have never been on a forum before and thus am learning many things here so it's all good to me. I find many of the responses interesting as I didn't expect it and so I learn I have been quite naive.
Now, as to going in to a big defence of my Aikido I have refrained from doing so for I have nothing to prove, my purpose is not to say look at me and how good I am, rightly or wrongly I did it as an experiment. Only recently, this year, someone pointed out to me that the Aikido I do was taped on camera and proceeded to show me how to make it into little vids. On doing this I was amazed because in all the 30 years of practice I had never seen myself do it. On looking at the vids my friends and students past and present got me to put them on youtube. It was all good fun for me yet I could see that not many people would understand what I was doing and that if I ever made any teaching videos they would have to be different to these, step by step, with commentary.So here in this forum I wondered what people in the Aikido fraternity would summise and boy did I find out!
I was trained in a private dojo, by invite only, so let me tell you just a little about my teacher. After being there for five years I remember asking him why he wasn't in a federation like Aikikai, or Yoshinkan etc. He told me that in the early days in this country he came to a dilemma in himself, he said many of those he trained with seemed to be going down the macho force route and refusing to develope on the Ki side of things, ie: have the Ki tests as he showed us as a major part of their training. He also said , rightly or wrongly that he thought if he made a stance politically at the time it would possibly cause a big split with some following him and others not. So he decided to go independant and was no longer interested in big organizations.
As for me, after 15 years it was time to go my own way, and to me from now on the world, the streets, work, would be my dojo so I ended up teaching privately whoever happened across me and liked what I had to offer. I never wanted to be an organization and so have never done Aikido as a business or club and only recently gave my style a name. I did hope that showing it with a different name ie:Golden Center, would show it is not the Aikido you are used to seeing and thus not cause offence.Once again naive.
On the point of collusive training believe it or not I wholeheartedly agree with you and see the conclusions drawn from my videos gives this view 100%. I now know if I want others to actually see through film the effect of what I do on a 200lb wrestler IT would take a different type of video. So, as with showing people flying at me and me taking them and projecting them into a nice dramatic breakfall it all gives me a dilemma. I am not promoting my Aikido, or Aikido as yet for that matter, yet if I put anything on a public forum then I should do it in an expected manner which would then enter the field of promotion. So once again I have a decision to make and a lesson to learn.
As far as the situation worldwide to do with Aikido being on the decline goes then not being involved in organizations and the politics of it all then this comes as an unwelcome surprise to me and explains some of the touchyness I have encountered here. But here I must state my view clearly and give a message to all those who have had their confidence knocked or their hopes for the future of Aikido shaken. IT IS EASY TO BLAME OTHERS WHEN THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL. The answer is ALWAYS in your own scene.
I have had a couple of people insist I watch a video called samurai spirit and say how it inspired them and it promotes Aikido. Well I have watched it and can see how it could do that for some or even many, all be it very contrived, but what I say to them is this: If it is good promotion you want then make some good ones yourself, or get your organization to do it and stop crying like little babies. There is no honour in destructive criticism and blame and thus no center, no samurai spirit, apart from no manners or self discipline.
So I will finish off here with something you may find interesting as it is from someone not immersed in your organizational world of Aikido. The people I know, the ones I work with, friends and associates of mine get to know me and thus know I do this 'thing' called Aikido. Many have tested me, many have questioned things I do like Ki-atsu for example, but none disrespect me. I am never rude or belittling or critical, be they a doctor, a shop owner or a drug dealer. Yet when they are in trouble they know I can help. This I find applies in life and the reason I am saying it here is because in my experience everyone who has experienced my Aikido hasn't got a bad word to say about it. I have advised many people on Aikido and sent many people to Aikido clubs over the years for I have no opinion as to that ones better than that one I only tell them to find the one they like.I have people who come to me from various martial arts now and again for advice on what they do which may be an art of which I have no experience or knowledge but I get them to show me what they are getting stuck on and almost always help them to a solution for I can see the principles of what they are doing and thus where they are failing. This doesn't make them want to do Aikido but they go away and overcome that which they were getting stuck on in their own art and in this way I maintain a respect for Aikido from them. So in my zone of influence the people see what I do as disciplined, helpful and when they need it -useful. If I was a brash, arrogant, 'superior' kind of person then I am as sure as the sun shines that it would give Aikido a bad name. So from my viewpoint and experience I suggest All Aikidoka should look at their own behaviour as a major factor of peoples perception of Aikido and even in this forum for people are not stupid and by and large they do believe that Aikido is a more harmoniouse form of martial art and so expect the adherents to be very well mannered, polite, reasonable, helpful and strong in mind and spirit. Samurai if you like.(The good ones anyway)
Well if you have read this then thank you for listening.
Peace. G.
Hi Graham,
Thanks for your response. You know, the good stuff looks fake... It even feels fake in that your mind is telling you that shouldn't have worked, even as you are headed to the floor.

At the first Aiki Expo, I met a friend in the hallway who had just walked out of Angier Sensei's class in disgust. He said it was terrible, the ukes were just tanking and the whole thing was fake. Well, I had actually trained several times with Angier Sensei before then. I told him to get his ass back into that class, go to the front row, and not leave until he had felt it, then he could tell me it was fake. I met him again later and he thanked me for saving him from making a big fool out of himself.

As I said, there's a bunch of stuff out there that's as close to magic as anything I am likely to experience. It's magic because I don't understand it and don't know how to even go about thinking about it.

Yet, at this point, I am better than I ever thought I would be. I am doing stuff on the mat that I used to think only the 8th Dans did. But it's no big deal... it's explainable and teachable. I can get a brown belt to do most of these things if you gave me 20 minutes to half an hour. So what was, at least, magical is now commonplace and other things I have encountered have taken the place of what I once thought was unattainable.

So, ok. I'm not going to be the one who says you can't do what you think you can. If you had better training than most of us did, which in the Aikido world wouldn't have been hard, and you were lucky enough to have found a teacher who really had the goods as some of these folks I encountered at the Expos clearly do, then I think there is every likelihood you could be that good. No way of knowing... not without heading for the UK and trying it out. My perception could be quite wrong. I have seen a number of things that looked phony that I know for a fact weren't, so I have learned not to invest too heavily in my own opinions on these things. If you were closer I'd simply come play and we'd see.

So, we can leave it at that... I can't see it, but you say you've got it. I suppose you are in a better position to know about that than I. So no further argument is necessary or desirable.

Someday, you and I will have met and one or the other will have learned something, possibly both. Someday I will have met Sczepan and he can find out whether I can do what I say I can... he doesn't see it when he looks at my stuff either.... I swear, before I die, I am going to figure out how to stick someone to a wall like Vlad and Okamoto Sensei can do... It's all part of the process for all of us who are really training. If we put ourselves in the way of knowledge it will come, maybe not in a comfortable manner, but it will come.

So good luck in your efforts. I applaud the fact that you didn't get all defensive and belligerent when you got rained on. That's quite a bit more than many of the bad asses here can manage. So I'll reserve my own final judgment and keep watching your stuff. Maybe I am simply missing something that I will better understand after more time messing with this stuff.

But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:44 AM   #68
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Alberto Italiano wrote: View Post
Years ago I practiced pranayama for 3 months and it scared the hell out of me - I quit doing it. I started feeling an enormous physical energy and it seemed to me it was flowing through my arms rippling my skin. When one day i was practicing pranayama and i felt this energy flowing very strong, the bulb of my bedside lamp exploded. I decide to quit it - i was terribly scared.
Actually, weird shit like this can be fairly common experiences amongst folks doing certain kinds of training. Certainly there are tons of stories going back thousands of years. Rather than quit, it is important that you have a really qualified teacher who can help you and also recognize when you are in trouble.

Saotome Sensei said much the same thing about some Aikido misogi exercises he did when he was training with O-Sensei. He said that there were certain things it was best not to do alone in case you had a bad reaction to them.

But to me, it sounds like you quit just when stuff was really starting to happen and that is too bad.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 12-02-2010, 07:48 AM   #69
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

I have enjoyed reading this thread. Graham, I see your relaxed style in your posts and responses to negative critisism. I also like how you let things that really don't matter just pass on by. That to me is trully Aikido in the way that I want to train.
Mary
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Old 12-02-2010, 07:53 AM   #70
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

"But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George"

Hi George:
I read all of your post. I really liked it except for the above quote. Maybe you don't understand why they wear the hats. Have you ever thought of asking why instead of saying something rude? Part of internal training is letting the impulse to say something mean pass by and getting to the connection.
Understanding helps build connection. You don't have to like something to just let it be.
Mary
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:41 AM   #71
graham christian
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Graham, I see your relaxed style in your posts and responses to negative critisism. I also like how you let things that really don't matter just pass on by. That to me is trully Aikido in the way that I want to train.
Mary
Thank you Mary, a pleasant surprise.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:23 AM   #72
ChrisHein
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity. If Graham Christian had put up these exact same videos, but the setting was in a formal Japanese Dojo, and Graham was a 6-10 dan the first several responses would have been, "thank you sensei for putting up this profound work". Then likely someone would have come along and said, "this is crap, it's all cooperative". To which someone (one of the 6-10th dans followers likely) would have retorted with something like, "you don't know what you're talking about, this stuff has to be felt to be understood". This would go on and on.

I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.

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Old 12-02-2010, 10:40 AM   #73
mathewjgano
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity...I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.
I think we all could do better in how we tell people that what we think they're doing could be improved.

Quote:
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Graham, I see your relaxed style in your posts and responses to negative critisism. I also like how you let things that really don't matter just pass on by. That to me is trully Aikido in the way that I want to train.
Mary
...but he didn't reply to my questions...oh...

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:03 AM   #74
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
"But I still say, lose the hats. There's no way anyone will take you seriously with those hats...

- George"

Hi George:
I read all of your post. I really liked it except for the above quote. Maybe you don't understand why they wear the hats. Have you ever thought of asking why instead of saying something rude? Part of internal training is letting the impulse to say something mean pass by and getting to the connection.
Understanding helps build connection. You don't have to like something to just let it be.
Mary
Hi Mary,
It was meant more as a joke, really.

As a piece of advice, well, I stand by it. The hats definitely detract from the first impression. They act as a distraction from what Graham is, I believe, trying to show. And, at least until people know and understand Graham better, they do not help on the credibility side.

Do I care? Certainly not. If their Aikido is good, they can wear tutus for all I care.

- George

George S. Ledyard
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Bellevue, WA
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:07 AM   #75
Marc Abrams
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Re: YouTube: Golden Center Sword

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
HA, This thread is awesome!

The attacks on this fellows (Graham Christian) Aikido are insanity. If Graham Christian had put up these exact same videos, but the setting was in a formal Japanese Dojo, and Graham was a 6-10 dan the first several responses would have been, "thank you sensei for putting up this profound work". Then likely someone would have come along and said, "this is crap, it's all cooperative". To which someone (one of the 6-10th dans followers likely) would have retorted with something like, "you don't know what you're talking about, this stuff has to be felt to be understood". This would go on and on.

I wish some of you pompous asses would take two seconds to look at your own practice before openly attacking another practitioner. The hypocrisy of our community seems to know no bounds.
Chris:

Thank You For Sharing....

Marc Abrams
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