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Old 04-14-2011, 07:16 AM   #51
lbb
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
I'd go further and say go ahead and let them switch focus in their hobbies every few months. That's part of what childhood is for. Save the continuity and work ethic for school, helping with chores around the house, or volunteer work - they can keep plenty busy with such things as it is. In their free time let them play and explore to their fickle little hearts' content.
I agree with this: kids need a break from strongly structured activities with a careerist focus, just like adults do. With the decline in unstructured creative play, there's a need not being met. Now, you may be of the belief that that's not an appropriate way to approach aikido, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that -- there is merit in the argument that when you teach someone a martial art, you are giving them the tools to put a hurtin' on other people, and it's got to be approached in a serious and structured manner. But if you are of this belief, then the conclusion is that you shouldn't be trying to teach martial arts to children at all, not if what you're teaching is the real deal and not play group in white pajamas -- again, a valid POV, I believe. I don't have a strong opinion either way -- I think it hinges on what the definition of "aikido training" is, and whether you have a different definition for children than you do for adults. I don't think that many kids are at all suited for training in the mode that is appropriate for adults, and of those few kids who can do this training, IME they do best when they do it in small, measured doses, without any solid expectations of outcome, and where that is not their sole exposure to "aikido".
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:32 AM   #52
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

While it's always interesting, and perhaps often important, I think it's a different topic to decide what Aikido is here. Meaning, it's not really necessary here. The list isn't saying one can't suck at Aikido, or even that one should not suck at Aikido. It's more of a recipe for sucking at Aikido. In fact, if one wanted to suck at Aikido, one can look at it as a positive "what to do" list.

The problem is though deep down folks don't want to suck at Aikido. Adults don't want that. Parent's of child practitioners don't want that for their children. And the child practitioner doesn't want that either. And what makes the list so charged for some readers is that deeper down, even under the desire to not want to suck at Aikido, is an underlying sense of entitlement that is part of the modern world: That one can get something for nothing.

If we didn't have these things we should be able to read the list just like we can read a recipe for chocolate cake.

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:36 AM   #53
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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David,

I don't know how to approach this other than straight ahead. Frankly, I've watched a number of your videos and I see a glaring mistake that runs through most of your demonstrations: you lean forward quite a bit. Before the uke moves toward you, you're usually leaning toward him. When pinning the uke, you're almost always way forward of your center.

I don't know why you feel that you need to criticize children so much, but I think these things are related.

In Budo.

David
Yes, I lean forward than most current practitioners today. Whether it's a mistake is up for debate and the topic of another thread, but it is by choice on my part.

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Old 04-14-2011, 11:32 AM   #54
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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Yes, I lean forward than most current practitioners today. Whether it's a mistake is up for debate and the topic of another thread, but it is by choice on my part.
Why do you specify "most current practitioners today"? Not leaning is a hallmark of aikido from the beginning. It's a hallmark of all budo. To lean in any direction is unstable, so I can't see where there's any room to debate whether it's a mistake. And I don't see why it would be a matter for another thread because a fundamental error in technique is also a sure way to develop (in your words) "sucking" at aikido.

In particular, to lean forward in all areas of technique is a weak point physically, making it difficult to change intent and direction, but it also shows an aggressive mind that is antithetical to the mushin required to adapt instantly to an attacker's ability to change.

And you're showing that kind of aggression in your criticism of children, as well.

With children, especially, I think it's necessary to cultivate what they do right and help that to grow so strong that it outgrows their less helpful tendencies. This way, their aikido emerges from their nature and is not forced on them from the outside.

In budo.

David

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Old 04-14-2011, 01:01 PM   #55
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

David Valadez,

I just had a fairly careful read of some of the stuff on the FAQ on your website. I think I understand where you are coming from a little bit better now.

Specifically, out of the four questions addressed on the FAQ, two of them have to do with the perceived severity of the training:

Quote:
I love to practice Aikido, but I do not like to take it so seriously, can't I train in a more jovial manner?
Quote:
The dojo's culture (e.g. its etiquette and protocols) stresses me out. I hate it. I now seem to avoid it as much as I can. What can I do?
Your responses (I assume it was you) are clear and well-reasoned. I have trained briefly with Chiba Sensei and I know students of his, so I am a little bit acquainted with his approach and I do have respect for it (if that is indeed the tradition that informs your dojo's approach).

Having said that, it's not my cup of tea necessarily, nor would my kids enjoy that approach, but the beauty of aikido is that we can be flexible and find the approach that works best for each of us. We are aikido RICH in this day and age!

Anyway, you have my deep respect for the seriousness with which you and your kids take your training. If you say it works well for you and for them, I have no reason to disbelieve your claim (your kids are probably very different in personality from my own, naturally).

Unfortunately, the way you framed the OP makes it sound like you feel like a lighter approach may not be an effective way to learn aikido. I disagree with this idea, as do (apparently) many others on this thread.

Sincerely,

Conrad Gustafson
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Old 04-14-2011, 02:33 PM   #56
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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David Orange wrote: View Post
Why do you specify "most current practitioners today"? Not leaning is a hallmark of aikido from the beginning. It's a hallmark of all budo. To lean in any direction is unstable, so I can't see where there's any room to debate whether it's a mistake. And I don't see why it would be a matter for another thread because a fundamental error in technique is also a sure way to develop (in your words) "sucking" at aikido.

In particular, to lean forward in all areas of technique is a weak point physically, making it difficult to change intent and direction, but it also shows an aggressive mind that is antithetical to the mushin required to adapt instantly to an attacker's ability to change.

And you're showing that kind of aggression in your criticism of children, as well.

With children, especially, I think it's necessary to cultivate what they do right and help that to grow so strong that it outgrows their less helpful tendencies. This way, their aikido emerges from their nature and is not forced on them from the outside.

In budo.

David
I don't see the list as being critical of children - it is what it is.

I only see you being critical of my posture. And if being critical is an aggressive act (which I may not believe is always true) then the only one being aggressive would be you (though I do not see you as such). I welcome your opinion, even of my form.

As for leaning, and especially in opposition to standing straight up, I don't believe the erect posture we see so much today is correct because it is not martially viable. It's fine in controlled environments but not so much outside of it. One can also see woodblock prints of early budo practitioners that show a lean, as well as Osensei himself in the Asahi film. So I would not say an erect posture is a hallmark of Aikido or of Budo - though I will acknowledge it is common.

I'll start a new thread on the leaning.

Last edited by senshincenter : 04-14-2011 at 02:43 PM.

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Old 04-14-2011, 02:40 PM   #57
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
David Valadez,

I just had a fairly careful read of some of the stuff on the FAQ on your website. I think I understand where you are coming from a little bit better now.

Specifically, out of the four questions addressed on the FAQ, two of them have to do with the perceived severity of the training:

Your responses (I assume it was you) are clear and well-reasoned. I have trained briefly with Chiba Sensei and I know students of his, so I am a little bit acquainted with his approach and I do have respect for it (if that is indeed the tradition that informs your dojo's approach).

Having said that, it's not my cup of tea necessarily, nor would my kids enjoy that approach, but the beauty of aikido is that we can be flexible and find the approach that works best for each of us. We are aikido RICH in this day and age!

Anyway, you have my deep respect for the seriousness with which you and your kids take your training. If you say it works well for you and for them, I have no reason to disbelieve your claim (your kids are probably very different in personality from my own, naturally).

Unfortunately, the way you framed the OP makes it sound like you feel like a lighter approach may not be an effective way to learn aikido. I disagree with this idea, as do (apparently) many others on this thread.

Sincerely,

Conrad Gustafson
Thank you for the reply.

I think the reader has to be aware of what they are bringing to the OP. As such, I think it would not be accurate to describe our program as "not fun" or as something that might be thought of as deadly serious. It is however about commitment. And commitment can't be cultivated the same way for everyone or even the same way always for a given person. Nevertheless, commitment must be present for someone to become skilled at anything. That is the starting point of all skill. As such, it only follows that a lack of commitment is the starting point for all lack of skill.

It has been the readers up to now that have brought a oppositional nature between commitment and fun, wherein "forced" is the only understanding one seems to have of commitment. I would not agree. Commitment is not the opposite of fun. I would also not agree that being forced is commitment.

As I said, one has to be creative, imaginative, and proactive to figure out how one can see commitment as a positive experience and thus as the origin of their skill acquisition. The thing I see however is that most parents don't see this problem for what it is, they don't try and solve it, and the alternative they usually come up with only has the child quit Aikido (i.e. not becoming skilled at Aikido).

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-14-2011, 03:18 PM   #58
David Orange
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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As for leaning, and especially in opposition to standing straight up, I don't believe the erect posture we see so much today is correct because it is not martially viable. It's fine in controlled environments but not so much outside of it. One can also see woodblock prints of early budo practitioners that show a lean, as well as Osensei himself in the Asahi film. So I would not say an erect posture is a hallmark of Aikido or of Budo - though I will acknowledge it is common.
I just watched the 9:43 version of the Asahi film and I didn't see a single instance of O Sensei leaning toward the attacker except where he had just thrown someone and a second attacker approached before he returned to full upright posture, which he displayed for virtually the entire film.

I don't know of any high level aikidoka who leans toward the attacker. The only time I have ever seen it is in people of up to about nidan and it's easy to make those people lose balance by feinting.

The upright posture is a hallmark of all asian martial arts. Shoulders align with hips in aikido, kendo, kenjutsu, tai chi, bagua, xing yi and every other traditional art I know of. It's not a modern thing by any means. The modern corruption is to lean. Shoulders not above the hips means more work for the lower back and it's harder to move in any direction except the direction in which you're leaning.

It's fine to have a hard-line attitude toward training, but when applied to a technically incorrect practice, it only multiplies the error.

David

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Old 04-14-2011, 03:26 PM   #59
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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Nevertheless, commitment must be present for someone to become skilled at anything. That is the starting point of all skill.
Assuming for a moment we accept that:

Quote:
As such, it only follows that a lack of commitment is the starting point for all lack of skill.
That does not follow logically from your first statement.

If A is a necessary condition for B, then it in no way follows that if B is not true that we can know a priori whether or not A is true. Knowing that B is false provides no information about A. E.g. there may be additional necessary conditions.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:02 PM   #60
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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I just watched the 9:43 version of the Asahi film and I didn't see a single instance of O Sensei leaning toward the attacker except where he had just thrown someone and a second attacker approached before he returned to full upright posture, which he displayed for virtually the entire film.

I don't know of any high level aikidoka who leans toward the attacker. The only time I have ever seen it is in people of up to about nidan and it's easy to make those people lose balance by feinting.

The upright posture is a hallmark of all asian martial arts. Shoulders align with hips in aikido, kendo, kenjutsu, tai chi, bagua, xing yi and every other traditional art I know of. It's not a modern thing by any means. The modern corruption is to lean. Shoulders not above the hips means more work for the lower back and it's harder to move in any direction except the direction in which you're leaning.

It's fine to have a hard-line attitude toward training, but when applied to a technically incorrect practice, it only multiplies the error.

David
I posted the other thread.

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:06 PM   #61
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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Assuming for a moment we accept that:

That does not follow logically from your first statement.

If A is a necessary condition for B, then it in no way follows that if B is not true that we can know a priori whether or not A is true. Knowing that B is false provides no information about A. E.g. there may be additional necessary conditions.
I saw it more as if A is necessary for B, then non-A leads to non-B.

Or in plain speak: If you quit, and you are not on the mat, you are not continuing to be skilled, or you are not becoming skilled if you were not skilled in the first place.

Since Aikido is a perishable skill, time not on the mat, or quitting altogether, is going to lead to one being unskilled. It's not rocket science. If you don't train, you don't get good. To continue to train is to practice commitment. To not train or to quit training is to not have commitment. Not sure what is so confusing.

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:15 PM   #62
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

David,

I don't understand why you chose the term "sucking" to make your point. You seem to indicate that by "sucking", you mean "to be unskilled". I'm not a native english speaker, but for me those terms have very different connotations.
To me, "being unskilled" is a neutral term, leaving open the possibility to aquire skill by commitment, while "sucking" is a value judgement, suggesting that acquiring skill is unlikely because of incompetence.

If I take the term "sucking" as equivalent to being "unskilled", I still have difficulty with understanding your point of view. It seems very black and white to me. One either "sucks" or one doesn't? One is either unskilled or one isn't? Wouldn't there be a lot in between? Doesn't it take years to go from "unskilled" via "some skill", "failry skilled" and "skilled" to "highly skilled". Or do you mean that as soon as one quits aikido, one sucks?
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:56 PM   #63
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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While it's always interesting, and perhaps often important, I think it's a different topic to decide what Aikido is here. Meaning, it's not really necessary here.
Then call it a prerequisite topic -- because if you're going to toss around judgments about how to "suck" or "not suck" at an activity, you first must define what that activity is.

Quote:
David Valadez wrote: View Post
The list isn't saying one can't suck at Aikido, or even that one should not suck at Aikido. It's more of a recipe for sucking at Aikido. In fact, if one wanted to suck at Aikido, one can look at it as a positive "what to do" list.
What "it" are you talking about?
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Old 04-14-2011, 05:11 PM   #64
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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David,

I don't understand why you chose the term "sucking" to make your point. You seem to indicate that by "sucking", you mean "to be unskilled". I'm not a native english speaker, but for me those terms have very different connotations.
To me, "being unskilled" is a neutral term, leaving open the possibility to aquire skill by commitment, while "sucking" is a value judgement, suggesting that acquiring skill is unlikely because of incompetence.

If I take the term "sucking" as equivalent to being "unskilled", I still have difficulty with understanding your point of view. It seems very black and white to me. One either "sucks" or one doesn't? One is either unskilled or one isn't? Wouldn't there be a lot in between? Doesn't it take years to go from "unskilled" via "some skill", "failry skilled" and "skilled" to "highly skilled". Or do you mean that as soon as one quits aikido, one sucks?
"Sucking" was just for flare. Yes, unskilled is the meaning: "How to Make Sure Your Kids are Unskilled at Aikido."

Please fellow posters don't tell me now you can go, "Oh, in that case, never mind."

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-14-2011, 05:12 PM   #65
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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Then call it a prerequisite topic -- because if you're going to toss around judgments about how to "suck" or "not suck" at an activity, you first must define what that activity is.

What "it" are you talking about?
Really? I got to define "chocolate cake" before I write a recipe for it? I would disagree.

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Old 04-15-2011, 09:31 AM   #66
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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I saw it more as if A is necessary for B, then non-A leads to non-B.
OK, that's better. Now that makes logical sense.
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:41 AM   #67
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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To continue to train is to practice commitment. To not train or to quit training is to not have commitment.
I'm glad you clarified that, because that's not actually what I think of when I think of commitment. IMO, if you just happen to drift along for many years training because you happen to feel like it or because you need to for some reason, but are _willing_ to drop it any time if something more interesting comes along, I wouldn't tend to use the word 'commitment'. But you'll get better anyway. So for that reason I would tend to say that your level of commitment (your attitude) maybe doesn't matter quite as much as your actual actions. Same as someone who stays in a job for many years because the job market is bad and they haven't found a better paying one and don't feel like they have the option to leave could get very good at their job without being particularly committed to it.

Also, the amount of time you practice is only one part of getting skilled at something. There are many other essential factors (your teachers for one thing).
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:08 AM   #68
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

As a writer and a student of human nature, I've always found deeper meaning in words than most readers might notice.

As head teacher of an English school in Japan, I got a lot of employment applications with resumes and letters of reference and I found some very strange things among those.

One particularly unpleasant woman I interviewed gave me a letter from her previous employer that began "I hate it that we're losing Martha..." but I felt that the writer's real feelings about the applicant were contained in the first three words: "I hate it." The letter told me that the previous employer was unbelievably happy to see this woman go and overjoyed to write a letter of reference if it would get her out of his workplace. And not only did he "hate" the person, but he found her so repulsive that he referred to her as "it": he wrote, "I hate it...that we're losing Martha..." but he was telling the world that "I hate IT--this THING called Martha."

So I find the title of this thread strangely telling: "How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido."

Why would anyone use the words "Kids" and "Suck" in the same sentence?

But worse, "MAKE...kids suck"????

Put those three words in the Google search box and see what you get. It's interesting.

But looking at it further, we find that this thread is telling us "HOW to Make Kids Suck," which just .....it makes me feel that the writer may not like kids at all. And when we read what David would like to make kids conform to in his classes, it sounds like he really doesn't like them. Their humanity is a lower priority than making them conform to an image he has of aikido which, to me, seems to be an inaccurate image, anyway.

David's many, many technical videos display an aikido that I find less than excellent. This thread, the number of videos David creates and releases, the kind of technique he shows and the bent-forward postures all betray a real aggression that I'm sure he doesn't recognize in himself at all. It always seems to me that the more videos a person releases, the more aggression he actually harbors.

Now, David has a nice-looking dojo and he's clearly put a lot of effort into it. He also clearly spends a lot of time at aikido and he doesn't seem to hurt his ukes (possibly only because they all seem fully compliant). The aikido I learned lets me deal with a non-compliant uke and still not hurt them.

But while I pointed out to someone else that his unfinished dojo reflects an unfinished aikido, in this case, I think that an immaculate outward appearance hides an unfinished inward condition. And that condition is revealed in an outer flaw that David insists is, in fact, an improvement of aikido--his bent-forward posture.

David mentioned earlier that bending forward is instinctual and impossible to avoid, but serious budo training must penetrate those levels of mind and body to allow the budoka to replace them with more purposeful and strategic responses, instead of unconscious and uncontrollable reactions. I've been in many situations where my first impulse was to lose center and take a defensive posture, but because of serious training and constant attention to the primacy and superiority of upright posture, I've been able to ignore that impulse and maintain relaxed and centered uprightness, which has proven invaluable in every case.

Interpersonal violence is almost always a series of escalating transactions combining words and body language: an aggressor says something rude while standing in a threatening manner. What he expects is for the intended victim to respond with similar words and either a complementary aggressive physical posture or a defensive posture. The aggressor will then escalate his words and his posture in a way tailored to the victim's first response and he will expect the intended victim to act similarly or even more defensively. Two or three cycles like this and the fight is inevitable.

However, if, when the aggressor makes the first comment and takes an aggressive posture, we remain upright and centered, this has an unconscious affect on the aggressor, as if he has dropped a rock into a bottomless pit. He waits to hear the echo of his action, but nothing comes back to him and this bothers him. And as he tries to escalate further, if we simply stand relaxed and upright, he feels greater discomfort and becomes uncertain of how to make the transaction move in the direction he wants. Crouching and bending forward in readiness are just an invitation to escalate the transaction toward violence.

By remaining relaxed and upright, we remain free to move instantly in any direction: and spoiling an attack requires only a few inches of movement.

But here's an experiment: stand tall and relaxed, then try to spin around like a skater. Now, stand with your feet apart and bend your body forward from the waist, then try spinning around like a skater. Which way lets you turn faster?

Another example: place wet towels on one side of a washing machine and put it on spin. If the machine doesn't shut itself off, it will tear itself up.

Another example: take an electric motor with a drive shaft. Bend the drive shaft, then turn on the motor. It will rip itself off its mounts.

In fact, one can't even fully relax while standing bent forward (or leaning in any direction). The muscles have to compensate for the uneven pull of gravity. Kept up over years, this will actually damage the body.

Still, if you have an aggressive attitude in aikido, you're pretty certain to lean into (bend toward) the attacker and your technique will be badly compromised.

So a strict attitude and making children act like soldiers in aikido classes doesn't help if the kids are learning aggressive posture and spirit.

I remember the first time I saw a children's karate class in Japan. I couldn't believe how unruly the kids were, running around the dojo, shouting and laughing, playing chase. The teacher was very mild about it and let them do what they wanted (be kids) until class started. It was far more casual than the kids classes I taught. I was just shocked. A couple of boys kept racing up and down the mats, rushing toward the kamiza before running back the same way. I tried to warn them not to run toward the kamiza, where Mochizuki Sensei had a piece of driftwood that looked like a dragon's head, with gold Christmas tree balls for eyes. They just looked at me like I was crazy and kept playing. But then, one of them actually ran into the kamiza and knocked the "dragon head" (symbolizing Morihei Ueshiba) out of the kamiza and onto the floor, where the Christmas tree balls rolled across the mat. The boys quieted suddenly and the teacher spoke rather mildly to them as he collected the components and put them back in place in the kamiza. And then he started class.

The kids loved the teacher and they loved karate. And they were good at it. And they tended to stay with that teacher for many years. I never heard him exonerate any of them about attendance.

In short, I'm a lot less worried about children's behavior and attendance now. I'm more concerned about the quality of what I teach them.

In Budo.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.esotericorange.com
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Old 04-16-2011, 05:36 PM   #69
lbb
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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David Valadez wrote: View Post
Really? I got to define "chocolate cake" before I write a recipe for it? I would disagree.
Oh, now we're going to go into the semantics of "got to"? Okay, to make it explicit: no, you're not being forced to define your goal before you describe how you plan to get there. There is no Definition Police holding a gun to your head and requiring you to do so. It's just that if you fail to do so, it makes any claims of success (or non-suckiness, as you'd probably prefer) meaningless. You haven't said what you're trying to achieve; therefore, how can you say if you've achieved it?
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Old 04-16-2011, 06:00 PM   #70
NagaBaba
 
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

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David Orange wrote: View Post
David's many, many technical videos display an aikido that I find less than excellent. This thread, the number of videos David creates and releases, the kind of technique he shows and the bent-forward postures all betray a real aggression that I'm sure he doesn't recognize in himself at all. It always seems to me that the more videos a person releases, the more aggression he actually harbors.
I disagree. I think he has very good level and you are exaggerating. I may not like some stuff that he is doing, but generally speaking he is doing very well.
I also don't perceive any aggression from him at any moment on contrary He is rather shy and gently while applying techniques on his ukes.

As for the posture, better look how Saito sensei broke his posture by pushing his hips back, particularly with weapons. This is actually important example how NOT to practice with weapons! And a lot of his students imitate him blindly without asking themselves questions....

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 04-17-2011, 01:53 PM   #71
Basia Halliop
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Re: How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido

What I'm understanding from David Valadez that does make sense to me is, that if having your child progress in something is very important to you, it requires YOU to be committed to making it happen and committed to working through setbacks or even changes in attitude in the child and seeing them as solvable problems. You do not need to be aggressive or unkind or 'militaristic', no, but completely persistent, yes.

Now whether one thinks this to actually be a laudable goal for aikido specifically is a different question -- I don't personally think it is. And I also don't think it particularly implies commitment on the part of the child -- it implies commitment on the part of the parent.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 04-17-2011 at 01:56 PM.
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