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Old 12-03-2011, 03:34 AM   #26
Gerardo Torres
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
Hugh and Gerardo,

You are engaging in Textbook circular reasoning. You believe that everything O Sensei did was based on this notion of in yo ho. Therefore you see Sensei throwing with the fan in one hand and the other dangling as evidence of in yo ho because your approach also calls for the hand to be down to balance the forces in the body. You ignore all the examples when his arms are not as you desire. I understand what is being claimed. I call it dangling to make a point. Beginners always leave an arm dead. I guess you'd say they know the secret of in yo ho.

Much of the time O Sensei threw without touching. The principles on display on those occasions were entering, timing, blending, and taking the mind.

That O Sensei did a variety of things to fit the situation is not an opinion. You can see this on the videos. He described what he was doing to his students. He gave interviews. He wrote. It's called take Musu aiki.
The arm is not dangling but it's connected and extending energy. The one arm up and one down is a position - a pose - to demonstrate understanding of certain principles (in a sense O Sensei was showing off... ), and is a known pose that has a historical significance. However you can maintain the same principles with the arms in different positions. In yo ho is not only shown through this pose but through every movement of the body; there are other tell tale signs of such training and conditioning.

O Sensei did many things, some of them like bayonet, spear training, misogi, etc. that almost nobody does today. And yes, sometimes he is shown doing things like no-touch throws, blending and apparently leading his uke's mind. The efforts to put this and everything else in perspective and better understand what he was doing, what did and did not teach, and why, are still ongoing. In the process I've come to share the view that this sort of practice of blending, leading, and large taisabaki (at least as codified by the second Doshu and other deshi) does not fullfill aikido's promise of resolving conflict through non-violence. It's fairly evident that most aikidoka cannot deal with skilled attacks or high-pressure scenarios using aiki-do with only these tools. I am not saying that this training is wrong or that it has no value, I'm just saying that it's insufficient to train O Sensei's aiki and therefore do his aikido. In fact replicating this type of movement from the outset can hide a fundamental deficiency: You can have beautiful, seemingly harmonious external movements, perfect timing, perfect technique... and yet at the same time you can display collisions, inbalances in the body, and force-vs-force events; in other words the antithesis of aiki. You can see this in 99% of the aikido videos out there.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:06 AM   #27
hughrbeyer
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
The principle of Aiki which means absolute non-resistance, manifested in timing, body positioning, leading, blending, Etc.
Your other points have been ably answered already, so I thought I'd pick up on this one.

What is the principle of aiki? That, for me is the heart of the question, and that's what I've spent >20 years trying to understand. I suggest to you that it is a legitimate inquiry--that reasonable people can have different views, and it's not an insult to anyone's teacher to explore different ideas.

Your definition of aiki is widely shared and up to 10 years ago I would have agreed with it. Timing, body positioning, blending: over-simplifying a bit, all adding up to getting out of the way--and then using uke's over-committed attack to lead them in a direction they are already weak.

Which is all very well, but what if uke doesn't over-commit? What if uke has actual training and delivers a fast follow-up attack?

When I joined Gleason Sensei's dojo I found that he and just about all the other ASU teachers I met had a very different idea of aiki. The aikido I've found in the ASU focused much more on immediate connection and immediate kuzushi, and I was taught to look for those principles in every technique. So even in a movement like tsuki irimi-nage, where the initial irimi movement doesn't require touching uke at all, as soon as the touch happens there should be connection and uke should be off-balanced.

Frankly, the things you keep emphasizing in your posts don't seem to me to reflect the aikido I've found in the ASU. Yeah, body positioning matters--because it puts you in a place where you can connect and take kuzushi. Same with timing and blending. But what knocked my socks off 10 years ago wasn't the elements you list but how they're used to create connection.

These days, most of the people I work with are involved in the IP/IS work, and that introduces a new idea of aiki--that you create aiki in yourself and then use that to control uke. I've found these ideas to be continuous with the approach that already existed in the ASU and that teachers like Ikeda are still pursuing. The IP/IS idea of aiki adds stability and centeredness before the attack and provides a vocabulary and set of concepts for what it means to "take center", "connect", or "take balance"--concepts which are embodied as physical skills and which can be trained with specific exercises.

Note that Endo Sensei seems to be talking along these same lines in the video linked to in the "stance of heaven and earth" thread. I talks about not bracing yourself or being "on your guard", but standing centered in a stance that "connects heaven and earth."

You've picked up the idea that IP/IS stuff is static, but that's nonsense--the whole point is to move dynamically while maintaining your center and controlling uke's. There is practice that starts from a static position, but that's practice--no more "realistic" than kokyu-ho.

Finally, on the subject of the big cooperative throws, which seems to be a hot button with you-- People I respect highly don't believe in them, but I'm not there yet. I see a lot of value in them, especially as a training tool early on. You've seen it: people arrive at the dojo falling over their own feet, moving like stick men--and within 6 months their whole movement and posture is transformed. A lot of that is from ukemi. The flexible tension you need to deal with the mat is the same as you need to have connection with your partner.

Large, fast attacks are useful for learning timing and body positioning (which are important--just not the whole story). What's more, they're wonderful for learning to apply the IS/IP principles under pressure. But they're also a training tool, and they're only going to take you so far. You should expect that as you get better and as the attacks get more realistic, nage's movements are going to become smaller and more direct. If you remain wedded to big movement for the sake of big movement you'll always be limited, and you'll never be able to deal with a real, skilled attack.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:48 AM   #28
Ken McGrew
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Re: O Sensei observation

Once again we have someone in ASU using his association with ASU to suggest that I am a bad example of an ASU student and fail to understand what is taught in ASU. This cannot be removed from the previous attacks by Hugh against me and the constant efforts of some people in Harden's circles to claim that what they do is somehow sanctioned by ASU because certain people in ASU train with him.

My definition of Aiki is Saotome Sensei's definition of Aiki. Know anyone who went to the Chicago seminar? Ask what Sensei said about issues like blending. Josh was there. Everything I have ever posted is what I learned from Saotome Sensei, Ikeda Sensei, and their students. As an ASU student it is my opinion that you have an obligation to read Saotome Sensei's books. Everything I have said is in there. If you think what I've said is not consistent with ASU Aikido then I think you need to get out more.

You are stereotyping everything I have said, repeating the often repeated claim that I must not know much about Aikido and must only train with over committed attackers, and so forth. I have explored all these issues about attacks over the years with a great many senior instructors inside and outside of ASU. I know what works and doesn't work against what sorts of attacks.

I have 20 years in Aikido and tested for Sandan under Saotome Sensei. One year before my last test Sensei pulled me aside in Chicago and told me that my Aikido was much improved because I was no longer being overly forceful and that I should continue to work on leading the attackers energy. I know who my teachers are, Hugh.

The fact of the matter is that quick small unbalancing type throws, which I have always said are good, have strengths and weaknesses. The tendency is to stay in place while they are performed. The benefit is that they are very quick ways to put down Uke. They are miniaturized versions of larger movements. They work in much the same way. The problem is that they leave Nage vulnerable if Uke has a knife hidden in the other hand and in multiple attack situations. The small stuff is not superior. It's just another way. The principle of Take Musu Aiki means that we should have as many possible responses in our skill set as possible. It's rather simple to understand. If you favor this one side of things you will be vulnerable. Don't let the cacoon of your dojo fool you into thinking it necessarily reflects the diversity of attacks you may experience in the real world.

More importantly, the blending notion of Aiki is what makes Aikido an ethical martial art with benefits for personal and social development. If O Sensei left anything out of Aikido that he learned in Daito Ryu he did so intentionally in order to move towards this ethical position. The will to dominate, what you call control, is against the love in Aikido. Don't take my word for it. Take O Sensei's word:

http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews/interviews.html


Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Your other points have been ably answered already, so I thought I'd pick up on this one.

What is the principle of aiki? That, for me is the heart of the question, and that's what I've spent >20 years trying to understand. I suggest to you that it is a legitimate inquiry--that reasonable people can have different views, and it's not an insult to anyone's teacher to explore different ideas.

Your definition of aiki is widely shared and up to 10 years ago I would have agreed with it. Timing, body positioning, blending: over-simplifying a bit, all adding up to getting out of the way--and then using uke's over-committed attack to lead them in a direction they are already weak.

Which is all very well, but what if uke doesn't over-commit? What if uke has actual training and delivers a fast follow-up attack?

When I joined Gleason Sensei's dojo I found that he and just about all the other ASU teachers I met had a very different idea of aiki. The aikido I've found in the ASU focused much more on immediate connection and immediate kuzushi, and I was taught to look for those principles in every technique. So even in a movement like tsuki irimi-nage, where the initial irimi movement doesn't require touching uke at all, as soon as the touch happens there should be connection and uke should be off-balanced.

Frankly, the things you keep emphasizing in your posts don't seem to me to reflect the aikido I've found in the ASU. Yeah, body positioning matters--because it puts you in a place where you can connect and take kuzushi. Same with timing and blending. But what knocked my socks off 10 years ago wasn't the elements you list but how they're used to create connection.

These days, most of the people I work with are involved in the IP/IS work, and that introduces a new idea of aiki--that you create aiki in yourself and then use that to control uke. I've found these ideas to be continuous with the approach that already existed in the ASU and that teachers like Ikeda are still pursuing. The IP/IS idea of aiki adds stability and centeredness before the attack and provides a vocabulary and set of concepts for what it means to "take center", "connect", or "take balance"--concepts which are embodied as physical skills and which can be trained with specific exercises.

Note that Endo Sensei seems to be talking along these same lines in the video linked to in the "stance of heaven and earth" thread. I talks about not bracing yourself or being "on your guard", but standing centered in a stance that "connects heaven and earth."

You've picked up the idea that IP/IS stuff is static, but that's nonsense--the whole point is to move dynamically while maintaining your center and controlling uke's. There is practice that starts from a static position, but that's practice--no more "realistic" than kokyu-ho.

Finally, on the subject of the big cooperative throws, which seems to be a hot button with you-- People I respect highly don't believe in them, but I'm not there yet. I see a lot of value in them, especially as a training tool early on. You've seen it: people arrive at the dojo falling over their own feet, moving like stick men--and within 6 months their whole movement and posture is transformed. A lot of that is from ukemi. The flexible tension you need to deal with the mat is the same as you need to have connection with your partner.

Large, fast attacks are useful for learning timing and body positioning (which are important--just not the whole story). What's more, they're wonderful for learning to apply the IS/IP principles under pressure. But they're also a training tool, and they're only going to take you so far. You should expect that as you get better and as the attacks get more realistic, nage's movements are going to become smaller and more direct. If you remain wedded to big movement for the sake of big movement you'll always be limited, and you'll never be able to deal with a real, skilled attack.

Last edited by Ken McGrew : 12-03-2011 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 12-03-2011, 01:58 PM   #29
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
What is the principle of aiki? That, for me is the heart of the question, and that's what I've spent >20 years trying to understand. I suggest to you that it is a legitimate inquiry--that reasonable people can have different views, and it's not an insult to anyone's teacher to explore different ideas.

Your definition of aiki is widely shared and up to 10 years ago I would have agreed with it. Timing, body positioning, blending: over-simplifying a bit, all adding up to getting out of the way--and then using uke's over-committed attack to lead them in a direction they are already weak.
Hi Hugh,
What happened after the war was a progressive movement towards the idea that "aiki" was movement that "blended" with the attack. Now, I am not saying that movement isn't important... In fact Saotome Sensei tended to emphasize movement over everything else at the beginning of our training. The problem with "movement as aiki" is that at some point you still have to connect with the opponent. Aikido is an art that is fundamentally the study of connection, in my opinion. Yet it has tended to attract the folks that somehow felt moved to do a martial art but really don't want to connect. "Movement" based Aikido tends to train one to have the attitude of "escape". Too quote Ellis Amdur Sensei's recent article on "irimi":

Quote:
Irimi in aikido occupies space the same way. This, by the way, is the true essence of atemi—not pugilism—but using the body (particularly the limbs) to take space the opponent is trying to occupy. Sometimes one steps off line, but sometimes one steps across line or even in line.
This has not generally been the way Aikido has been perceived or taught, although it is precisely the way Saotome Sensei presented it to us. The Aikido I was taught was essentially about owning the space the attacker needed to occupy to complete his attack. If one did this, issues with combination strikes, continuous attacking, etc became moot. If one really understood how to use the principle of "irimi", there was no possibility of a second strike. This was something Saotome Sensei emphasized and it formed a central part of what Ushiro Kenji Sensei was trying to show us at the various Aiki Expos and his appearances at Rocky Mountain Summer camp.

Over the years I have come to realize that this was only the physical aspect of "irimi" and that at a deeper level "irimi" was about "entering" with the Mind. So, when one understands that it is the Mind that moves first, that the intention is a linear connection to the opponent / partner, while the body movement itself can, as Amdur Sensei stated, take different forms as appropriate, one starts to understand that there isn't really any off the line as some sort of first action. The idea that the first thing you do is get off the line is wrong and it is bad martial arts. Saotome Sensei in Aikido: The Harmony of Nature has a wonderful illustration showing two opponents on a log bridge over a chasm. So, your going to get off the line? Well that puts you into the chasm. The essence of Aikido is to own the space. I often tell my students that rather than think about "blending" and moving away from an attack, the attitude one needs to cultivate at first in ones training is "This is MY house..."

Quote:
When I joined Gleason Sensei's dojo I found that he and just about all the other ASU teachers I met had a very different idea of aiki. The aikido I've found in the ASU focused much more on immediate connection and immediate kuzushi, and I was taught to look for those principles in every technique. So even in a movement like tsuki irimi-nage, where the initial irimi movement doesn't require touching uke at all, as soon as the touch happens there should be connection and uke should be off-balanced.
For quite a long time Saotome Sensei trained us to do what I described above. It was enter, enter, enter. My earliest memory was the idea that tenkan simply did not exist without an initial irimi. It was fairly easy to see how this worked when you went straight in on the line... the partner either took a fall or he was struck. It was harder to understand as Sensei started to emphasize more of the "connection" aspect of what happens at first touch. I was taught that the phrase "katsu hayabi" in a technical sense meant "instant victory". Kazushi on the touch. None of us could do that however, certainly not with the light and effortless touch Saotome Sensei had.

As a substitute for an understanding of how aiki and connection functioned, it was clearly not what our teacher was doing... he'd touch up and you'd break... he could get kuzushi with a feather touch. Your brain would be sitting there going "why am I moving"? You always ended up feeling as if you hadn't delivered a good attack... You'd say "Ok, do that again... thinking this time you'd really get him, and he;d do the same thing.

There was a Daito Ryu teacher whose name I do not remember at this point, that stated, "If you understand what was just done to you, it wasn't "aiki". After all these years i am starting to understand what was meant.

Quote:
Frankly, the things you keep emphasizing in your posts don't seem to me to reflect the aikido I've found in the ASU. Yeah, body positioning matters--because it puts you in a place where you can connect and take kuzushi. Same with timing and blending. But what knocked my socks off 10 years ago wasn't the elements you list but how they're used to create connection.
Movement and positioning is central to the idea that Aikido is an art that should be about multiple attackers. That's when movement becomes crucial. More than most other Aikido teachers I have seen, Saotome Sensei has tried to get people to recognize that the movements of Aikido, omote, ura, irmi tenkan, etc are about positioning relative to multiple attackers. When one is talking about a single opponent, this isn't that crucial. Much of what Sensei shows, especially when he is talking about martial application, it's straight in and take the space.

This is, of course, more the old model derived from the Daito Ryu. The footwork in Daito Ryu is really simple... it's almost entirely about owning the space the attacker wishes to occupy. And it's definitely about messing up the other guy's structure at the instant of contact.

There have always been Aikido teachers who tried to emphasize this "first touch" aspect of the art. Yamaguchi Sensei was a giant of post war Aikido and influenced a huge number of teachers. Once I started to discover who the different players were in Aikido, I started to realize that every time I saw some Aikido teacher whose technique really impressed my, it always turned out that they had been a Yamaguchi student. Saotome Sensei was an uchi deshi and certainly considered himself, as Peter Goldsbury pointed out, to be a student of O-Sensei. But one of his first teachers was Yamaguchi Sensei and he continued to train with him the entire time he was at Hombu Dojo. You can see Yamguchi in Sensei and you can se him in Gleason Sensei, Endo Sensei, etc Each of these teachers has a different temperament and emphasis, but each one makes "connection" a central focus of what he is doing. The kuzushi on first touch is simply the hallmark of this training.

Quote:
These days, most of the people I work with are involved in the IP/IS work, and that introduces a new idea of aiki--that you create aiki in yourself and then use that to control uke. I've found these ideas to be continuous with the approach that already existed in the ASU and that teachers like Ikeda are still pursuing. The IP/IS idea of aiki adds stability and centeredness before the attack and provides a vocabulary and set of concepts for what it means to "take center", "connect", or "take balance"--concepts which are embodied as physical skills and which can be trained with specific exercises.

Note that Endo Sensei seems to be talking along these same lines in the video linked to in the "stance of heaven and earth" thread. I talks about not bracing yourself or being "on your guard", but standing centered in a stance that "connects heaven and earth."

You've picked up the idea that IP/IS stuff is static, but that's nonsense--the whole point is to move dynamically while maintaining your center and controlling uke's. There is practice that starts from a static position, but that's practice--no more "realistic" than kokyu-ho.
It is important, I think to remind folks not to judge a teacher by an encounter with someone purporting to have been a student. Often, it turns out that this person wasn't actually very good, didn't train that long with the teacher, or in some cases is simply making inflated claims about his relationship with that teacher. You need to get your hands on the teacher himself or herself. It's truly amazing to me how many strongly held opinions there are that are based on not one iota of actual first hand knowledge. Also, lower level students may totally misunderstand what their teacher is doing and end up misrepresenting it. For instance, there are any number of folks whom after finding how solid they can make their structure, set about showing everyone how immoveable they are. That is a total misunderstanding of what is really being taught. I am fine if you wish to make yourself immoveable, I just hit you. Saotome Sensei always went out of his way to emphasize that,"If the other guy knows you won't hit him, all techniques are stoppable." This whole "you can't move me" non-sense is a distortion. The guys with real internal skills are moving all the time. The balance they have achieved in their structures establishes a solid center but that center is moving constantly. It is fluid and sensitive while remaining very strong.

There are several issues here. There are folks who think they understand all about internal stuff, the "oh, we do that too" folks who have no actual hands on experience with anyone operating at this level. It is interesting how strongly these opinions are held while no willingness to actually see if the opinion is correct by meeting one of these teachers exists. It's almost an energetic balance between the strength of that belief and the unwillingness to find out if it's true.

Then, there are the folks who actually do get some real hands on experience but simply can incorporate the paradigm shift required into their world. There were hundreds of people at the three Aiki Expos. We all saw the same folks, we all went to many of the same classes. A small group came away changed forever, revamped their Aikido top to bottom, and haven't looked back. Ikeda Sensei would probably be most prominent in that group, and he was one of the top "head table" teachers at the events. But i have talked to other people upon whom the event made no impact whatever. They looked at Ushiro, or Kuroda, or Angier, or whomever and said "yeah, I saw them, they were good..." And? And? What came next? Nothing! These folks went home after having a chance to train directly with some of the finest "aiki" teachers in the world and didn't change a thing. To me this was totally incomprehensible but that's what happened.

Quote:
Finally, on the subject of the big cooperative throws, which seems to be a hot button with you-- People I respect highly don't believe in them, but I'm not there yet. I see a lot of value in them, especially as a training tool early on. You've seen it: people arrive at the dojo falling over their own feet, moving like stick men--and within 6 months their whole movement and posture is transformed. A lot of that is from ukemi. The flexible tension you need to deal with the mat is the same as you need to have connection with your partner.

Large, fast attacks are useful for learning timing and body positioning (which are important--just not the whole story). What's more, they're wonderful for learning to apply the IS/IP principles under pressure. But they're also a training tool, and they're only going to take you so far. You should expect that as you get better and as the attacks get more realistic, nage's movements are going to become smaller and more direct. If you remain wedded to big movement for the sake of big movement you'll always be limited, and you'll never be able to deal with a real, skilled attack.
There two levels on which classic Aikido large style kihon waza functions. First is quite simply taking a set of principles and enlarging them, as one would use a microscope, to get a good idea of the detail that exists in the movement. When you look at someone like Saotome Sensei, often what he is doing is so subtle that folks miss it entirely.

But the real reason the larger Aikido movement and technique exists is, in my opinion, spiritual rather than functional. Anyone who trained in a lineage that emphasized the spiritual teachings of the Founder, especially the Shingu line or Sunadomari Sensei's linage has been told that on a certain level the whole point of Aikido is to open up the heart chakra. On a less esoteric level I think that Aikido was always meant to teach people to meet conflict expansively and not to contract. Aikido kihon waza is big for this reason. You greet the incoming attack energy by expanding to meet it, not to contract and defend against it but to embrace it. The ability to do this is also important for martial application but in that case the waza will be very small indeed, potentially very explosive and impactive. The large, beautiful, classic waza of traditional Aikido is where a lot of the trans-formative effect of Aikido can be found, I think. It isn't about "application" it is purposely impractical. It is difficult to have a focused attitude of conflict when the movement is so expansive.

It's funny because this is precisely where the Aikido hard ass martial artists, who want to make it all about fighting, actually agree with many of the non-Aikido "aiki" folks. None of them find the idea of Aikido as a trans-formative, spiritual practice compelling. Yet it is clear fro virtually everything the Founder talked about that this was really the whole reason for his creation of Aikido. Certainly, there is a lot of Aikido that is entirely focused on this aspect. Martial application simply doesn't enter into it. The martial folks rightly point out that what these folks are doing isn't effective and the 'spiritual folks" replay that it's not about fighting anyway.

Anyone in the least interested in an understanding of how the Founder viewed his art needs to understand the balance between these two streams. For him there was no separation. But most folks pick the "easy:" way which is to go with the stream that fits their own personality and then that maintain that the other guys didn't get it. You can constantly see this in the threads on Aikiweb. Many of these discussions have people talking at cross purposes. There cannot be a meeting of minds because each person is starting from an assumption that is polar opposite from the other. In my opinion this actually does complete injustice to what O-Sensei, as I understand it, was trying to put forth. Everything about Aikido is meant to be about balance and connection. But if one really understands that balance in the microcosm of the body as well as the macrocosm of the larger world, even the universe, then, I think you have some sense of the Founder's Aikido.

Anyway, I don't see that agreement is possible with many folks. They want Aikido to be what they want it to be. They don't transform themselves based on their pursuit of the art but rather transform the art to fit who they already are. No shift is likely with these folks because their Aikido is simply meant to be a validation of the stroy they are already telling themselves. There's no room for another interpretation.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 12-03-2011 at 02:02 PM.

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Old 12-03-2011, 03:42 PM   #30
hughrbeyer
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Re: O Sensei observation

Ken: Have you understood yet that I'm not attacking you? I'm not using my "association with the ASU" to say anything about you, good or bad. I've made no claims about you or your practice at all, and if you're reading my posts that way, you're misreading them. I'm using your posts as an opportunity to meditate on my practice and what it suggests about the relationship between the IP/IS work and traditional Aikido, in the hopes that this might be useful to someone--possibly even you. In the above post, I was celebrating my discovery of the stream of Aikido shared by Gleason and Saotome, and sourced back to Yamaguchi. You didn't enter into it except in a "Huh. This is odd" kind of way.

Here's an attack if you want one: You can't possibly be as incompetent as your posts suggest. No dan grade in the ASU can possibly believe O-Sensei's free hand is "dangling" in any of his techniques. No one can seriously believe the remarks you call attacks were intended as such. I've found dan grades in the ASU to be strong, soft, centered, and connected. I'd be very surprised if you were the exception.

So quit fighting with me, okay? I'd be perfectly happy to discuss timing, blending, and positioning with you if you'd just put your dukes down.

George Sensei: Thanks for your thoughtful post. Your reflections on how Saotome has addressed these concepts is very helpful.

I agree with everything you said about the spiritual aspect of the large movements. It's my belief also that O-Sensei simply didn't separate the martial and spiritual streams of his thought.

But I'd argue that in the same way, the large movements practice both aspects. When I do a big, open movement to receive an attack, I'm practicing an attitude of mind towards conflict, and ultimately towards my interaction with the world. But I'm also (these days) practicing the IS concept of "opening" the body, using that motion within myself to unbalance uke. And that's the same motion I'd be using in a smaller or static situation. So I don't see any conflict either on the martial or on the spiritual side.
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Old 12-03-2011, 04:44 PM   #31
graham christian
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Re: O Sensei observation

Hugh.
My definition of Aiki is motion, harmonious motion. Thus aiki motion.

How this is equated with getting out of the way I don't know. Connection is all part of motion, not something different.

Here's the thing for me, when I see this 'new' (which is old) internal Aiki I only look at it or listen to peoples experiences of it to see how much Aikido they have in it.

Aikido is harmonizing with motion and aiki is the harmonious motion of energy. All according to the natural laws of the universe and to be done in accordance with.

That's my view.

Regards.G.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:25 PM   #32
Ken McGrew
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Re: O Sensei observation

Hugh,

You once again brought ASU into the debate after the history of your doing so. That was with a certain intent in mind.

I respect your clever use of language here. If I disagree with you then I admit I'm incompetent. If I don't agree O Sensei is demonstrating the secret of in yo ho then I'm incompetent. You can watch O Sensei in slow motion and see that he does a variety of things. Not every part of his body was always being put to a crucial purpose in every single situation.

Ledyard Sensei has chimed in apparently in support of your post. He presents himself as the final authority on what Saotome Sensei teaches. Clearly he has lots of experience and a certain take on things. Other teachers equally so have a different take but wont post on here for obvious reasons. The reality is that Sensei teaches a multitude of responses. It can be documented in videos. He also describes Aiki as blending with energy and intent. This can be painstakingly documented by quoting him. Ask him if he accepts the various claims that you and others are advancing. Ask him if he has changed his views about the things he wrote, said in the videos, or said in person. I dont think he has changed his views. I hear he spoke about these things this weekend in Chicago. Aikido is not one thing. It is not even always about connection. Usually, sure, but not always. It is not mostly about irimi. It is equally about tenkan. It's about take Musu aiki.

When I look at videos of people who are reportedly doing something based on in yo ho that is not or at least less about the mainstream notions of aiki I can see even greater dependence on the central importance of timing, leading, blending, and so forth, because they are more committed to the choice they made than they would have to be in larger circle Aikido. I also see highly cooperative ukemi. For example, Uke holding on. I also see certain patterns of Ukemi. People think that Uke responds naturally but it is culturally conditioned. If you travel you experience the variety of ukemi out there. So really I see little that is superior. Just different. Everything has strengths and weaknesses. As the situation changes you must change. This is the primary lesson of kumitachi 4. By the way, baseball bat attackes are real and they are big.

It's good to explore a variety of approaches so you have more to draw upon. Internal stuff is also fine. All the claims that are made are problematic. As if IS were the only way Etc. As if all the things that O Sensei said suddenly don't apply.

Why not pick a video clip of something you like and then describe what you see both Uke and Nage at each stage. Then others can respond if they see the same thing.

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Ken: Have you understood yet that I'm not attacking you? I'm not using my "association with the ASU" to say anything about you, good or bad. I've made no claims about you or your practice at all, and if you're reading my posts that way, you're misreading them. I'm using your posts as an opportunity to meditate on my practice and what it suggests about the relationship between the IP/IS work and traditional Aikido, in the hopes that this might be useful to someone--possibly even you. In the above post, I was celebrating my discovery of the stream of Aikido shared by Gleason and Saotome, and sourced back to Yamaguchi. You didn't enter into it except in a "Huh. This is odd" kind of way.

Here's an attack if you want one: You can't possibly be as incompetent as your posts suggest. No dan grade in the ASU can possibly believe O-Sensei's free hand is "dangling" in any of his techniques. No one can seriously believe the remarks you call attacks were intended as such. I've found dan grades in the ASU to be strong, soft, centered, and connected. I'd be very surprised if you were the exception.

So quit fighting with me, okay? I'd be perfectly happy to discuss timing, blending, and positioning with you if you'd just put your dukes down.

George Sensei: Thanks for your thoughtful post. Your reflections on how Saotome has addressed these concepts is very helpful.

I agree with everything you said about the spiritual aspect of the large movements. It's my belief also that O-Sensei simply didn't separate the martial and spiritual streams of his thought.

But I'd argue that in the same way, the large movements practice both aspects. When I do a big, open movement to receive an attack, I'm practicing an attitude of mind towards conflict, and ultimately towards my interaction with the world. But I'm also (these days) practicing the IS concept of "opening" the body, using that motion within myself to unbalance uke. And that's the same motion I'd be using in a smaller or static situation. So I don't see any conflict either on the martial or on the spiritual side.

Last edited by Ken McGrew : 12-03-2011 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:57 PM   #33
kewms
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
Ledyard Sensei has chimed in apparently in support of your post. He presents himself as the final authority on what Saotome Sensei teaches.
I would say that his comments should be considered fairly authoritative, being based on years of hands-on experience. But clearly you missed the recent post where he talked about remembering particular events completely differently from others who were in the same place at the same time.

Katherine
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:28 PM   #34
Ken McGrew
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I would say that his comments should be considered fairly authoritative, being based on years of hands-on experience. But clearly you missed the recent post where he talked about remembering particular events completely differently from others who were in the same place at the same time.

Katherine
The question is whether the claims that you and others make about a variety of things related to Aikido, in yo ho, and aiki are correct and if they are also the views of Saotome Sensei (not a debate I started but you brought to this thread). For example, Saotome Sensei wrote that Aikido developed from sword movement and nature and not primarily from Daito ryu.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:36 PM   #35
Gary David
 
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
I respect your clever use of language here
It seems to me with all the effort you have spent in the clever use of language yourself these lines from the Grateful Dead's "Touch of Grey" are appropriate.........

I see you've got your list out, say your piece and get out
Guess I get the jist of it, but it's alright
Oh well anyway, sorry that you feel that way.
Every silver linings got a touch of grey


And........

Shoe is on the hand that fits, that's all there really is to it
Whistle through your teeth and spit, but it's alright

We will get by, We will get by, We will get by, We will survive.


Gary
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:43 PM   #36
MM
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
My definition of Aiki is Saotome Sensei's definition of Aiki.
Shihan McGrew,
I can only assume that you are at shihan level since you have definitively stated that you understand and know Saotome sensei's aiki. That you must be very close to Saotome sensei and very high up in the organization that you can speak on behalf of Saotome sensei in how he defines aiki. It would be illuminating to actually understand how Saotome sensei defines aiki. Could you please define if for us?

Mark
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:52 PM   #37
Ken McGrew
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Re: O Sensei observation

There are a group of people who take turns jumping on anyone who questions the claims they make about a variety of related issues including what O Sensei meant by aiki. They silence people by a variety of means. If you happen to belong to ASU they use their relationship with three named instructors to silence you. It's rediculous. I think the ASU teachers should ask them to stop playing that game.

Anyone can read Saotome Sensei's books, study his videos, study the videos from seminars, read the interviews, go to seminars, or speak with a number of his long time and early students. I have done all of these things recently. I have also had many conversations with Sensei about all these issues. But Mark and others as usual ignore the evidence and launch personal.

It is repeatedly presented by people on the other side, or in the pack as it were, that these debates are all settled and they have won them. Ofcourse this is not true. They have just dominated the discussions because Aikido people are usually conflict averse. It is presented as of everyone agrees. This is not so. Again, ask people who were at the seminar last weekend what Sensei said about blending.

Those of us who are training the harmonizing notion of Aikido that O Sensei and Saotome Sensei describe and demonstrate must preserve the art from efforts to shrink it down to a more limited approach or one that ignores the ukemi training process. By cooperative I don't mean fake or necessarily gentle. I mean aiki. It's ok to explore other arts. But you dont get to force them on the rest of us. You don't get to bully the rest of us into submission and silence.

Last edited by Ken McGrew : 12-03-2011 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:32 PM   #38
hughrbeyer
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Re: O Sensei observation

Ken: You'll be pleased to know that my "clever use of language" earned me a red card from Jun, appropriately, I think. The point I was trying to make is that I think your passion over these issues has led you to to take extreme positions that, if you think about it, you don't really hold. Have you never finished a technique and realized that every part of your body, from your left little finger to your right big toe, is aligned and connected and a part of the movement? Do you not think that for a martial artist of O-Sensei's caliber, that would be the norm and not the exception? Do you think anything he does on the mat, while dealing with an attack, is accidental?

More specifically, don't you teach kyu grades the role of the "free" hand during a technique? Surely you do.

As for Ledyard Sensei supporting my post--thank you, but please stop looking at this as a fight between opposing camps. I read his post as riffing off mine to offer perspective, history, and a different point of view. Whether he supports or opposes any point I made is simply irrelevant to understanding what he had to say, I think.

I wouldn't, by the way, put your understanding of Saotome's art up against his. That's a mug's game anyway.

By the same token--I'm much less interested in arguing with you about whether blending matters, than undesrtanding what you mean by blending and how blending happens in an aikido technique, and what happens to uke when you "blend"--whatever that means.

I'm not sure why a smaller movement on nage's part would lead to more committment than a larger one is. This might be a useful area of exploration.

Finally: I understand you're feeling beat up. Please understand part of the reason for that is that you claim not only to have your own understanding of aikido, but to be able to speak for Saotome, for Terry Dobson (in another thread), and for O-Sensei himself. And you won't be corrected by those who have a closer relationship than you to the people you pretend to speak for. Speak for yourself. Share your realizations. And for heaven's sake, get on the mat with some of these people.
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Old 12-04-2011, 06:16 AM   #39
MM
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Re: O Sensei observation

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
There are a group of people who take turns jumping on anyone who questions the claims they make about a variety of related issues including what O Sensei meant by aiki. They silence people by a variety of means. If you happen to belong to ASU they use their relationship with three named instructors to silence you. It's rediculous. I think the ASU teachers should ask them to stop playing that game.

Anyone can read Saotome Sensei's books, study his videos, study the videos from seminars, read the interviews, go to seminars, or speak with a number of his long time and early students. I have done all of these things recently. I have also had many conversations with Sensei about all these issues. But Mark and others as usual ignore the evidence and launch personal.
Shihan McGrew,
It has been seen by not only me, but others, that you are actively speaking for Saotome sensei. So, I say again, being on topic here, that it would be illuminating to actually understand how Saotome sensei defines aiki. Could you please define if for us? How does Saotome sensei define one arm up and one arm down in relation to his aikido?

Mark
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Old 12-06-2011, 02:45 PM   #40
MM
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Re: Training in Aikido to Create World Peace

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Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
I have placed this topic in the training section intentionally.

O Sensei came to believe that training in Aikido could help to bring about world peace. He asked that those of us training in Aikido spread the art for this reason.

Because of the controversy around translating O Sensei's writing, I provide two sources in which the translations are less likely to be incorrect:
Shihan McGrew,

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
My definition of Aiki is Saotome Sensei's definition of Aiki.
You have also stated that your aikido comes direct from Saotome sensei to O Sensei. In those regards, you must be very close to Saotome sensei that you can post on a public forum how Saotome sensei and O Sensei define aiki and aikido. It would be illuminating to actually understand how Saotome sensei defines aiki as passed down from O Sensei. Could you please define if for us?

Mark
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