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Old 01-27-2011, 09:03 PM   #1
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
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Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Hi everyone.
Thought it's time for a new perspective on this idea of Martial, as in martial arts, and to show how it fits in Aikido and thus you will see in all martial arts. This is of course my view, my perspective, my understanding which I have decided may be food for thought.
When I first heard the term aikibunny I was amused to find out what it meant, I'd never heard it before, coupled with the fact that people keep going on about matial effectiveness and what that means. All very amusing to me but I didn't know why I found it so amusing. So on studying all the various viewpoints and 'shouts' about reality I thought it is time for what I consider reality on this subject.
So let's take the word martial and instead of just having it as a label, like a one thing, let me point out that their are many aspects to this STATE OF BEING.
Yes first and foremost it is a state of being, thus from it you get martial intent. It's nothing to do with 'thinking like a killer' or 'being prepared to fight like an animal' or even to damage which may well happen depending on the circumstances. It is to do with something completely different.
Just like there is a huge difference between pulling and drawing as in gokkyo, between avoiding and harmonizing with the motion as in all aiki motion etc. so there is between what most seem to consider is martial and what actually is.
To show you what I mean I'll use the sword as an example.
So let's get to basics right here and let me explain the basics of sword work. The first thing you have to learn is how to face a sword, basic. First you need a partner who can cut through with the sword, slowly at first while you are taught how to move, unarmed, to harmonize with the motion. Where you can move, timing etc.etc. until you can feel comfortable facing and being in that position which represents so many things to the mind and introduces so many different emotions and feelings to avoid, escape, run, etc. All non-martial I may add. So you see you are thus developing something through that practice alone.
Then we come to the other side of the coin, you being the one with the sword. Most people think that's the easier side thus you will find that those who do are either unreal and only wake up when they find they can be hit too, or are unreal because they imagine it's easy to damage another person.
You teach the person to cut through and the emphasis is through. No different to hitting through. There is a massive difference between hitting and hitting through, striking and striking through. If you ever observe a fight and see two people going at it so to speak, if you really observe you will see they are hitting at each other, whether connecting or not, and even if they are angry you will be able to see they are actually holding back their power, it's all tensed up, constricted in their body yet their faces are so aggressive. Of course it will be damaging to that degree but it is nowhere near as powerful as the image suggests.
Now I'm saying this because if you think you are doing something TO the opponent then that is not through, that is at and in terms of the sword that would be a chop rather than a cut. You see the reality is it takes courage to cut through. I saw David Orange mention his dismay at going to a dojo where they were avoiding doing so, I don't think he'll mind me saying that, and I too would be dismayed to see that but the reality is MOST people have a BIG barrier to cutting through and that is why I've chosen to use the sword in this explanation.
To get through that barrier completely is what results in martial being.
When you can comfortably be there with no thought of avoidance and running away and at the same time knowing with the same confidence you can strike through, complete with willingness and ability, that is the stae of being I call martial.
On all levels this applies from physical to mental to spiritual. When you get through that barrier then you have no counter thoughts in your mind, no avoidance thoughts, no fear thoughts, so thats the state of mind and whereas your energy before was either running away from or ridging up against or at best going to the 'opponent' it is now no longer doing so for it is going straight through them as well as out throgh the universe so to speak, zanshin.
If I'm not mistaken I think you will find that the samurai warrior practiced from the viewpoint of 'one cut- finish' no messing around, no getting clever and trying to do something to the opponent, no parry-parry. That's why they hardly ever drew their swords for it only had one purpose and that was to finish something in one complete move.
So there you have it. It's nothing to do with looking mean or acting tough or big muscles or athleticism or evil intent or anything else and when you can maintain that state of being then you will remain calm obviously but more importantly the effectiveness of techniques or even touches for that matter will be therefore martially effective.
I'm sure I don't know it all and I'm sure I have much to learn but I hope that is of some use.
Regards.G.
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:12 AM   #2
jonreading
 
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

I posted this elsewhere, but I believe it may be relevant to bring back up...

My interpretation of the term, "martial art," is the study of activities related to militaristic activity (war). My understanding of the term is derived from its literal meaning, which is a reference to the Greek/Roman god of war, Mars. The term, "martial," refers to a thing of militaristic origin or design, which includes organized warfare. Martial arts, in its original use, was simply a curriculum of education disseminated in a particular way.

I think Graham has a point that we should not consider martial arts to be any more than what it is, the classification of a formal method of education for a set curriculum.
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:28 AM   #3
lbb
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I think Graham has a point that we should not consider martial arts to be any more than what it is, the classification of a formal method of education for a set curriculum.
Agreed. It's a handy label, and an individual practice of "martial arts" may involve more in terms of the actual experience...but it would be a mistake to assume so.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:34 PM   #4
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Graham,

Might I suggest you start a blog? Many of your posts seem to be more like expository articles than conversation starters, and might suit that medium better than a discussion board.

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Old 01-28-2011, 12:50 PM   #5
graham christian
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
Graham,

Might I suggest you start a blog? Many of your posts seem to be more like expository articles than conversation starters, and might suit that medium better than a discussion board.
Matthew,
Thanks for that, interesting. I will consider it.
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Old 01-28-2011, 02:33 PM   #6
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

A person with much experience teaching Aikido and who can write a good column length article, could write columns. Aiki Web has columns... hint, hint. Also, Francis has expressed an interest in learning about the history of Aikido in Great Britain.... hint hint, maybe you answered his column, I'll go back and look.

Just a newbie to Aiki Web making a suggestion...
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Old 01-28-2011, 02:55 PM   #7
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

okay, the newbie just checked Graham does not have a column that I can find, but he is on Francis' column which I will study when I have a chance, I mean read , mark and inwardly digest as the old saying goes. On glancing back,just now, he seems to be deferring to the other teachers in Great Britain to write that history, soooo

I guess it's, please get a column, Graham, respectfully submitted,
Diana from the US
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:03 PM   #8
Diana Frese
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

you can still get comments and conversation with a column as you know, I guess you might not have thought of doing columns, though you probably comment on others like Francis' column.. Me, I'm just beginning to absorb some things from forums, blogs and columns, after all, I'm new here
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:05 PM   #9
graham christian
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Quote:
Diana Frese wrote: View Post
A person with much experience teaching Aikido and who can write a good column length article, could write columns. Aiki Web has columns... hint, hint. Also, Francis has expressed an interest in learning about the history of Aikido in Great Britain.... hint hint, maybe you answered his column, I'll go back and look.

Just a newbie to Aiki Web making a suggestion...
Hi Diana, once again, thanks for the suggestion. I take it on board.
Regards. G.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:40 PM   #10
Diana Frese
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Thanks, Graham, and now my husband and I are making a plan
to study your thread start article sometime this weekend. Topic interests him too, he mentioned Satsujin ken and Katsujin ken (in
English) and says we have Takuan's writings in one of his Zen books.....

So comments and conversation later on, we're interested in the discussion. Looking forward to studying your topic
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Old 01-29-2011, 12:15 PM   #11
Diana Frese
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Me again, my husband is out back getting firewood, so I will try this on my own. I have questions related to the sword work examples, so I hope Matthew, Mary, and Jon will come back and maybe give some examples of their own study or teaching about cutting through or more on what martial means. I'm Interested, sorry I went into the back and forth about columns and blogs if I detracted from the original message.

Here's my question. In your practice, what is an example of cutting through. Do you teach or practice where uke cuts down and nage moves, say, to one side but still close enough that uke cannot follow and cut again etc. This is how I usually was training, where uke and nage, or whatever the two people are called in kumitachi, work on their timing so uke cuts thru but nage does not get hit.

I'm going ahead and post this even though I'm not too clear in the hopes that others will join in, or join back in and continue this interesting topic about the word martial, and about cutting through rather than at.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:49 PM   #12
graham christian
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Re: Are you partial to a bit of Martial

Quote:
Diana Frese wrote: View Post
Me again, my husband is out back getting firewood, so I will try this on my own. I have questions related to the sword work examples, so I hope Matthew, Mary, and Jon will come back and maybe give some examples of their own study or teaching about cutting through or more on what martial means. I'm Interested, sorry I went into the back and forth about columns and blogs if I detracted from the original message.

Here's my question. In your practice, what is an example of cutting through. Do you teach or practice where uke cuts down and nage moves, say, to one side but still close enough that uke cannot follow and cut again etc. This is how I usually was training, where uke and nage, or whatever the two people are called in kumitachi, work on their timing so uke cuts thru but nage does not get hit.

I'm going ahead and post this even though I'm not too clear in the hopes that others will join in, or join back in and continue this interesting topic about the word martial, and about cutting through rather than at.
Hi Diana. Thanks for the reply, I'll see if I can answer as best I can.
With regards to the attaker cutting down and the receiver stepping off the line but 'close' enough then I'll break it down to the way I teach it and yes you are correct in pointing out it is also a matter of timing.
First I get them to see what off line means and why. I usually give an example befitting who I'm talking to but primarily I give the example of something in life representing a cutting force moving through something. Say for example a ship sailing along in the water and the bow slicing through the water. Then I point out by viewing the 'v' shape ripples caused you can see the energy displacement and explain how that is an example of energy following the path of least resistance. Thus following the closest of the 'v' lines is what I mean by moving through off line.
That's in answer to your point of moving off line yet close. Later I also say to practice imagining you are the center line and a center line can move easily and very close for it is just a line. Anyway, I digress.
Next, cutting through.
As I pointed out in the topic it is a major barrier for most people and it's not just a matter of saying cut through.
I find first I have to teach about weight underside and koshi. Basically how to relax and harmonize with that downward energy or gravity if you will.
Then I have them practice with the hand sword, or tegatana against say my arm extended like unbendable arm. Through force and speed and whatever they have so much success in moving the arm or knocking it away or down but at most they can knock it down and it springs back up. I use this as an example of not truly cutting through and even ask what was in their mind as they did what they did.
Then I get them to use weight underside and let it go through as gravity does, gravity doesn't stop or try to move it just goes through. When they accomplish this they are usually surprised at what they feel as a result and gain an understanding as to what I mean by through. The effect on me is also totally different as the whole of me hits the floor.
It's not easy, ki has to be extended through the arm and tegatana as well as weight underside for this specific drill as just having a limp arm and dropping your hand with weight underside is more an example of dropping through rather than cutting through.
Next level I would hold my hand up, palm outwards, above my head, or rather forehead, and ask them to cut through me using tegatana, straight down through my center line representing a shomen cut. Until they can do it and thus leave me down on the floor then they aren't cutting through. Lots of thoughts get in the way of a person doing this properly, thoughts like if they do it it might damage me in fact a myriad of things and that's precisely why it's a barrier.
Later I do the same thing with bokken against bokken.
Now a word of advice here. The person holding the arm out or above the head has to be able to do it with weight underside and unbendable arm and center etc. for two reasons. One, so it is a good test. Two, in order not to end up covered in bruises. However done with care and honest discussion two people can learn the differences.
I hope that answers your questions.

As an added thing here, have you ever observed people communicating and noticed that when it is a smooth two way flow that they are comfortably communicating TO each other. Compare that to two people arguing and you'll notice it's AT each other. Neither is willing to be reached through to.
Regards.G.
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