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Old 02-20-2012, 05:28 AM   #26
robin_jet_alt
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

I think this has strayed a bit off the topic, but I have to say that I have ZERO loyalty to any organization, and as such, I have belonged to 3. 4, if you count Nishio aikido as separate from Aikikai. When I move (which I do frequently), I always look for the best teacher in my area, regardless of the organization. I don't think I am alone in this approach.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:49 PM   #27
chillzATL
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

What happened to good, hard, honest training? Training with consequences and pushing each other to our limits so that we grow in some meaningful way as as a result? That hardly exists anymore and if that were what aikido still was globally, there'd be about 60% fewer people doing it, but it'd be a hell of a lot better for it. The standards of most aikido are watered down both in the martial sense and also in the sense that nobody is expected to give anymore than they want to give. They never have their limits tested in a way that they have to dig down and find something inside themselves to keep going. They're never put in a situation where they grow in some meaningful way as a result of the training. Good, hard, honest training with consequences. These days we have shodan tests that last 15-20 minutes, sometimes with a chunk of that demonstrating basic ukemi, nobody breaks a sweat, nobody gets pushed or has their limits tested. That's all probably by design. If you expect people to really strive to reach a high standard and you plan on paying your bills from this stuff, well.. good luck. When you set the standard high and require people to really put part of themselves into the training and you push them to get there, really make them work, they come out with an appreciation and love for the training and for what they went through to reach that standard. They know they earned something worth having. When the standards represent a level that's easy enough that most people can do it, well... you get what we see these days.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:43 PM   #28
Lee Salzman
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
What happened to good, hard, honest training? Training with consequences and pushing each other to our limits so that we grow in some meaningful way as as a result? That hardly exists anymore and if that were what aikido still was globally, there'd be about 60% fewer people doing it, but it'd be a hell of a lot better for it. The standards of most aikido are watered down both in the martial sense and also in the sense that nobody is expected to give anymore than they want to give. They never have their limits tested in a way that they have to dig down and find something inside themselves to keep going. They're never put in a situation where they grow in some meaningful way as a result of the training. Good, hard, honest training with consequences. These days we have shodan tests that last 15-20 minutes, sometimes with a chunk of that demonstrating basic ukemi, nobody breaks a sweat, nobody gets pushed or has their limits tested. That's all probably by design. If you expect people to really strive to reach a high standard and you plan on paying your bills from this stuff, well.. good luck. When you set the standard high and require people to really put part of themselves into the training and you push them to get there, really make them work, they come out with an appreciation and love for the training and for what they went through to reach that standard. They know they earned something worth having. When the standards represent a level that's easy enough that most people can do it, well... you get what we see these days.
I think the question Chris Hein brings up, relative to this point, may be the question of: did we ever actually have any standards to begin with? Maybe there has never been a decline in standards, and that, if anything, they have been on a slow increase since conception of the art... just that, maybe they, as standards, are stuck at a certain plateau because no one knows what is worth standardizing on? It's fine to say people maybe should work harder, but if they're working harder at what is effectively a mediocre goal, the result is still mediocrity.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:04 AM   #29
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
Chris, accountable to whom? and why? This concept is beyond me. In the old days all koryu were closed and private. It was very difficult to be admitted as a student even with a letter of introduction from a highly respected person. It was the headmaster's way or you were not a member. The ryu was accountable to no one. This is still a good way for modern budo. For me the idea of being accountable to a second or third party is outside of my understanding.
To hold thoughts of being accountable can really be a negative thing on your training. The over used statement "just do it" fits here.
I had a long layoff due to a serious knee injury. When I first came back I had a fear of ukemi. It really held me back. I kept thinking I would injure my knee again. When I decided to stop thinking and just do it I was shocked at how easy it came back to me. The thinking was holding me back. If I had to think about accountabality I would just give up.But thats just me. I have been lucky to have received great instruction and thus never had any doubt about the art or teacher.
Chris, do have have these thoughts because you are in doubt about the instruction that you are getting?
I am not a scholar, but I believe in the old days, ryus were held accountable. Accountable to the results they produced in a society that trained these guys for practical purposes. In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world. There are very few that are qualified to interpret these tactics and methodologies of days gone by.

So I think that probably has a lot to do with Chris' point.

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Old 02-21-2012, 10:24 AM   #30
Cliff Judge
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

I don't think it is accurate to describe Aikido as a "hodgepodge system," because I don't believe it is fair to look at Aikido as a system. It is a set of systems that were founded, commissioned, or inspired by Osensei at various points during and after his life. The only thing that really binds differing styles of Aikido together is a shared awe of Osensei and a shared lack of understanding of what he actually wanted Aikido to do for the practitioner and the world.

The fact that this is the information age is honestly the real problem - it is too easy for people working in one Aikido system to communicate with people in other systems, and thus have a birds-eye view of the chaos.

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote:
Aikido- How can we make it clear.

1. Create a clear context as to what it is we are training for. What kind of martial engagement are we preparing for? When training is complete will we know how to sword fight, or wrestle, of drive a fighter jet? We need clear areas that we are going to be working within. Simply saying you are learning to "fight" or "not fight" is not a suitable answer.

2. Clear definitions of what students should expect to get from our training. Saying things like, " you will gain the power of Aiki" and then only be able to give an intangible answer as to what Aiki is, isn't cutting it. Or saying that Aikido will keep you "fit" when a good number of Aikido teachers are very out of shape, at an early age isn't being honest about what we are doing.

3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable. Without this we are all just wearing old style clothes and dancing about (which actually might be perfectly acceptable, but if it is that should be made clear in 1. and 2.)
I found this three-step program to clarify Aikido interesting, because I asked myself whether these were present in koryu as I understand those systems.

While accountability certainly was - there were duels and dojo breaking - clear context and clear definitions certainly were not; both what a trainee learned and in what domain it was meant to be applied were carefully modulated according to the student's level of experience. A young man might be sent to a dojo to become a good swordsman only to find, ten years later, that he was learning a generalized strategy for getting things done in a stifling, entrenched bureaucracy.

I think it is interesting to note this stuff, because Aikido is a descendant of that educational culture. These issues were never intended to be observed from the perspective that you get with Wikipedia, Aikido Journal, and years of archived posts on this and other forums at your fingertips.

It may be time to work these issues out with some framework or another. But whenever I think about this, I always feel like we risk losing something important that we don't pay much attention to, for example the slow and imperceptible changes and improvements that we get just by going to the dojo every day and grappling with the things we can't yet do, and don't yet understand, not the least of which are WHAT we are trying to do with this stuff and how we can get there for ourselves.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:51 AM   #31
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
I think the question Chris Hein brings up, relative to this point, may be the question of: did we ever actually have any standards to begin with? Maybe there has never been a decline in standards, and that, if anything, they have been on a slow increase since conception of the art... just that, maybe they, as standards, are stuck at a certain plateau because no one knows what is worth standardizing on? It's fine to say people maybe should work harder, but if they're working harder at what is effectively a mediocre goal, the result is still mediocrity.
I can only speak for myself and of the style I practice, but yes, we have a standard and considering what I've seen it seems to be a fairly uninque one in the aikido world. It's certainly not about simply working hard. I really don't know how better to describe it than good, hard, honest practice. Our instructor trained with O'sensei, Tohei and a list of others across a variety of arts. The way we train is how he trained with them and is a representation of how he has trained his entire life, whether it was boxing, karate, judo or aikido. There is a physicality to the practice that leaves you knowing that you've accomplished something. You're not just going through the motions and people aren't just falling because you're making some arbitrary movement. They won't move if you aren't moving them. They'll reverse techniques on you when you leave holes in them. If you don't maintain kuzushi they'll just stand up. It's a mindset that people are expected to adopt as soon as they start becoming comfortable with the movements of the techniques. IMO it's the type of training one should expect and associate with martial arts, period. I also believe it's the very type of training that went on in "the old days", good, hard, honest training. You're having fun, you're actually working, doing something and you're honest with yourself about what you can do, why you're doing it and about helping other people get where they want to be. The notion of "hard" training, especially in aikido, has been bastardized to mean brutal training or people intentionally hurting others, but I think that's just a copout becuase most people don't want to be pushed and that's the easiest way to deflect the feelings they have when they're reminded that what they're doing is watered down.

There's more to it than just physical training though. There's a sense of accountability to ones self and ownership of the training. The syllabus isn't cut down to be fit conveniently into everyones single serving life without some kind of devotion to it. You're expected to know and learn a lot of stuff and you'll be tested on all of it. If you're not putting in the time and taking ownership of your training, which is obvious BTW, you won't be invited to test. When you do test you will be pushed to your physical limit every time. At the end you will know that you were tested and that when your mind and body wanted to quit your classmates, your friends, picked you up and pushed you just a little bit further and you dug down and responded. You feel like you earned something and probably learned a little something about yourself in the process. That's why I laugh at people who think a shodan shouldn't be able to do "something" with his aikido after 5-6 years of training.

IMO that is the ideal of what the martial arts were supposed to be about, at least in the modern age where the meaning and purpose of martial arts changed. Self improvement, personal growth and ability gained through good, hard, honest practice. I"m fully in the internal training boat too and even with that ,the above still holds true to me. If you're not pushing yourself in your training, internal or external, you're never going to be able to do anything with it. Many of the people who were discussing how to fix aikido when I came here back in 2000 are still trying to fix it, only now they're looking at IT as a way to do that. Many of them still can't see how the IT fits in with the aikido training, that they have to be completely separate or something. IT training is a lot of things, but it's still a very physical process, it has to be felt. If your aikido training has no feel, no weight, no pressure, then it's no wonder that you can't see how the two fit together.

Last edited by chillzATL : 02-21-2012 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:40 PM   #32
Dave Gallagher
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote from Kevin:

"I am not a scholar, but I believe in the old days, ryus were held accountable. Accountable to the results they produced in a society that trained these guys for practical purposes. In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world. There are very few that are qualified to interpret these tactics and methodologies of days gone by.

So I think that probably has a lot to do with Chris' point."

.....I would say that the defininition of accountable you use is not what the original poster was thinking. Any ryu that was not effective died out if it's practitioners were killed.No Ryu was held accountable by anything and their practice is anything but esoteric in today's world. Having practiced Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo I can tell you it has a real application in the modern world that can only be felt by those who train in it. To say that " In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world" Shows little experience in the Koryu.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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Old 02-21-2012, 03:37 PM   #33
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

All arguements about what the founder was doing and what he intended aside.
The name of this thread should be, "If you build it, they will come".
If, lets say you trained in a dojo where it smelled and looked like there was dryed blood everywhere, it kind of attracted those people. People who wanted to rock and roll and train for "real".
And people who were not ready to rock and roll were weeded out pretty quickly in that type of environment.
Conversely, you were training for movement or for a cardio workout or spiritual enlightment , then you attracted another set of people and a different atmosphere was present.
Todays' Aikido embodies both, as long as people are clear with themselves with what they are entering the dojo for , these two groups of people can intermingle once everyone gets to know everyone and a certain skill level attained. Or they end up gravitating towards each other(opposites dont attract in this case) to practice with the people who they know are looking for the same things out of Aikido.
Thinking about what you are bringing yourself to the table for and what I am bringing to the table is almost a yin and yang thing going on ? And very necessary. Needs to be honest at all costs also.
so you are the hodgepole and/or the information source at the same time.
Receiving and giving. a reinvented wheel again with yin and yang with some new spokes and folks added in

As long as you know you are seeking serious accountablilty from your aikido and who is not in your place of training doesnt mean the people who are seeking something different than me should be excluded or me conversely, and I can learn somethings from those "other" people and have.

Last edited by Garth : 02-21-2012 at 03:47 PM.

A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your effort. That which is on the day of laughter is also now.
Ramana Maharishi
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:03 PM   #34
ChrisHein
 
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

After going through the posts, I once again see how hard communication can be. First I'd like to say, my post wasn't pointed in any one direction. It was meant simply as a reflection of what our system looks like to those outside of it.

I hear lot's of "well I know what I am" or "what we do works just fine for me". That's all good and well. I think you should practice Aikido how ever you'd like. But For me, I think it would be nice if we could all be a little more clear about what it is that we think is important in training, and see where it is we (the Aikido community) meet.

I don't think it's a matter of justifying what you are doing to someone else. I think it's a matter of understanding what you are doing, and being able to express that clearly to others. I feel that often times we don't understand our own practice as clearly as we might think we do, so when others ask us what it is that we do, we just give them the same old lines- and it confuses everyone.

I'm not trying to make a pointed argument, even though my tone often comes off as such. I just wish we could all be a little more clear about talking about what we think is important in training. By doing this, we might start to more clearly see the different camps of Aikido, making it easier to explain to the uninitiated what it is we are up to. This will help our art grow, and make the new students of Aikido better able to decide what kind of training they want to do.

Oh real quick:
accountable
Adjective:
1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
2. Explicable; understandable.

I'm not saying that anyone is right or wrong when I use accountable, I'm not saying that there should be any kind of "authority" who checks on you. I'm just saying that we should be clear about what it is we expect from our training, and keep ourselves accountable to our expressed ideals/goals.

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Old 02-22-2012, 03:19 AM   #35
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
Quote from Kevin:

"I am not a scholar, but I believe in the old days, ryus were held accountable. Accountable to the results they produced in a society that trained these guys for practical purposes. In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world. There are very few that are qualified to interpret these tactics and methodologies of days gone by.

So I think that probably has a lot to do with Chris' point."

.....I would say that the defininition of accountable you use is not what the original poster was thinking. Any ryu that was not effective died out if it's practitioners were killed.No Ryu was held accountable by anything and their practice is anything but esoteric in today's world. Having practiced Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo I can tell you it has a real application in the modern world that can only be felt by those who train in it. To say that " In modern times it becomes an esocteric practice with a lot of people running around in costumes, re enacting an anachronism that has little to do with the real world" Shows little experience in the Koryu.
In effect Darwinism held it accountable. Of this that survived, how many are really preserved intact? In the west especially, even if one aligns themselves with a ryu, or establishes at best what could be described as an affinity, what in their/our background gives us the ability to judge quality or to synthesize or intepret the system as a whole?

I did not mean to imply that all ryus in the west are a waste, but to only ask the question, how do you know? How does a culture that is really devoid of folks with a background in fighting hold accountability?

I think a lot of ryus are just that...costumes and trappings and not much else. I use the word ryu very loosely, as a true ryu would not be that...only the ones that call themselves ryus, but have very little depth or synthesis of a complete system.

It is also possible to have a sound ryu, preserved intact and u still have so called members that are completely lost in this sauce.

As u know. Preserving and practicing a old system that is essentially frozen in time is a great deal of work to do. It is a lot more work to interpret that system to modern practices and provide people insight on application. The are very few and rare individuals that can do this well. I value them.

Overall though, I like Chris think there are a lot of things going on out there that are a hodgepodge of whatever.

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Old 02-22-2012, 07:33 AM   #36
Garth
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

"But For me, I think it would be nice if we could all be a little more clear about what it is that we think is important in training, and see where it is we (the Aikido community) meet.""

I think, (opinion, which is all you are going to get and then maybe a consensus) that the majority of the people here, are serious practitioners looking for an effective martial art that will hold up under scrutiny.(me)
Real , truth , pushing the training envelope, etc, application in the street , in the ring and so on
I also think we live in the USA of entertainment and a lot of us have ADD and do not like holding the mirror up on ourselves, happy to view someone else's reflection. This non reflection keeps a lot of people from asking those very questions you ask.

A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your effort. That which is on the day of laughter is also now.
Ramana Maharishi
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:40 AM   #37
chillzATL
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
After going through the posts, I once again see how hard communication can be. First I'd like to say, my post wasn't pointed in any one direction. It was meant simply as a reflection of what our system looks like to those outside of it.

I hear lot's of "well I know what I am" or "what we do works just fine for me". That's all good and well. I think you should practice Aikido how ever you'd like. But For me, I think it would be nice if we could all be a little more clear about what it is that we think is important in training, and see where it is we (the Aikido community) meet.

I don't think it's a matter of justifying what you are doing to someone else. I think it's a matter of understanding what you are doing, and being able to express that clearly to others. I feel that often times we don't understand our own practice as clearly as we might think we do, so when others ask us what it is that we do, we just give them the same old lines- and it confuses everyone.

I'm not trying to make a pointed argument, even though my tone often comes off as such. I just wish we could all be a little more clear about talking about what we think is important in training. By doing this, we might start to more clearly see the different camps of Aikido, making it easier to explain to the uninitiated what it is we are up to. This will help our art grow, and make the new students of Aikido better able to decide what kind of training they want to do.

Oh real quick:
accountable
Adjective:
1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
2. Explicable; understandable.

I'm not saying that anyone is right or wrong when I use accountable, I'm not saying that there should be any kind of "authority" who checks on you. I'm just saying that we should be clear about what it is we expect from our training, and keep ourselves accountable to our expressed ideals/goals.
Thanks for the follow-up.

I think my post makes clear what I believe is important. The only thing I would like to add is that I think hard, honest practice should be backed up by a clear focus on the underlying principles of the art, the IS/IT stuff that gets talked about around here so much. I think every style should have a set of taiso of some sort that can be used to explain, test and build the core body usage/skills of the art separate from the waza. Exercises, partner drills, breathing practice, etc, all bound together by hard, honest practice. I think that type of environment can support anyone who might come to aikido, all under one roof.
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:57 PM   #38
Lee Salzman
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
Thanks for the follow-up.

I think my post makes clear what I believe is important. The only thing I would like to add is that I think hard, honest practice should be backed up by a clear focus on the underlying principles of the art, the IS/IT stuff that gets talked about around here so much. I think every style should have a set of taiso of some sort that can be used to explain, test and build the core body usage/skills of the art separate from the waza. Exercises, partner drills, breathing practice, etc, all bound together by hard, honest practice. I think that type of environment can support anyone who might come to aikido, all under one roof.
Putting on my Devil's Advocate Hat (or dunce cap, as it might be), and in view of Chris Hein's questions again...

While you have defined hard work in a way that is probably understood immediately by most, I still find your definition of what IS is doing here really vague.

To put this in context, I work on stuff in my solitary practice that could be IS or could be the farthest thing from it, nor could I ever tell if it was based on any discussion that has taken place here on AikiWeb amongst any people - I leave nobody spared, not even the usual suspects, some of whom I have worked with in person and did the whole IHTBF thing. I literally have no idea whatsoever whether it is.

However, what I do currently work on in my solo practice is 100% conceptually clear to me what I am working toward, not an ounce of doubt or misunderstanding, and yet making sure my body throughout its entirety adheres to that concept is the most difficult physical-learning undertaking I have ever encountered in my life. I more often than not walk out of training sessions with my teacher, having done nothing but practice on my own body, without even resistance (not to imply there are sessions without resistance, but counterintuitively they hide flaws better than solitary work), yet having completely and utterly failed at getting some little part to express what it needs to. There's always something wrong, no real opportunity to ever get self-satisfied about progress, because the progression is so damned merciless, there is definitely nothing mentally fun about it. My ego gets crushed into a bloody, mutilated pulp, and I question my worth as a human being and why the hell am I doing this because my teacher must loathe how retarded I am or any number of mental bludgeons I beat myself over the mind with from a session like that...

But I still go back, every time, and for some reason I don't get turned away either. And yet if I didn't have a 100% clear conception of what it was I was trying to achieve? I would have quit almost from the start because there is no way in hell I would keep going back, it would be utter self-destructive lunacy.

So, yeah, how do you thus define exactly what IS, conceptually, and what aiki is, and how aikido expresses it? Not in terms of, oh, do these exercises, or feel that guy, but where even a novice can hear an explanation and go, yes, yes, I understand, I'd have to be an idiot to not understand. It's okay if the difficulty of the training makes them feel like an idiot, but the explanations never should. But as far as IS and aiki goes, I've never seen clear explanations, not even in person, from proponents of them... So I think there's a massive problem there.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:16 PM   #39
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Putting on my Devil's Advocate Hat (or dunce cap, as it might be), and in view of Chris Hein's questions again...

While you have defined hard work in a way that is probably understood immediately by most, I still find your definition of what IS is doing here really vague.

To put this in context, I work on stuff in my solitary practice that could be IS or could be the farthest thing from it, nor could I ever tell if it was based on any discussion that has taken place here on AikiWeb amongst any people - I leave nobody spared, not even the usual suspects, some of whom I have worked with in person and did the whole IHTBF thing. I literally have no idea whatsoever whether it is.

However, what I do currently work on in my solo practice is 100% conceptually clear to me what I am working toward, not an ounce of doubt or misunderstanding, and yet making sure my body throughout its entirety adheres to that concept is the most difficult physical-learning undertaking I have ever encountered in my life. I more often than not walk out of training sessions with my teacher, having done nothing but practice on my own body, without even resistance (not to imply there are sessions without resistance, but counterintuitively they hide flaws better than solitary work), yet having completely and utterly failed at getting some little part to express what it needs to. There's always something wrong, no real opportunity to ever get self-satisfied about progress, because the progression is so damned merciless, there is definitely nothing mentally fun about it. My ego gets crushed into a bloody, mutilated pulp, and I question my worth as a human being and why the hell am I doing this because my teacher must loathe how retarded I am or any number of mental bludgeons I beat myself over the mind with from a session like that...

But I still go back, every time, and for some reason I don't get turned away either. And yet if I didn't have a 100% clear conception of what it was I was trying to achieve? I would have quit almost from the start because there is no way in hell I would keep going back, it would be utter self-destructive lunacy.

So, yeah, how do you thus define exactly what IS, conceptually, and what aiki is, and how aikido expresses it? Not in terms of, oh, do these exercises, or feel that guy, but where even a novice can hear an explanation and go, yes, yes, I understand, I'd have to be an idiot to not understand. It's okay if the difficulty of the training makes them feel like an idiot, but the explanations never should. But as far as IS and aiki goes, I've never seen clear explanations, not even in person, from proponents of them... So I think there's a massive problem there.
I'm a big fan of those who play devils advocate! To be completely honest, I wasn't seeking to define it in the same way I did the hard practice stuff, but I'll give it a shot with the caveat that I DO NOT teach anyone IS/IT. What I do is try to relate what I've learned, what I've felt and what of it I can physically demonstrate in a way that hopefully makes sense and that usually means relating it to things they are already familiar with in their training, mainly Tohei's methods. Now, we could spawn a whole discussion about whether or not Tohei was like Ueshiba, how much if it he got or didn't get and how good overall his stuff is for learning this, but that'll be another thread.

IMO, as it relates to aikido practice as we all know it, I think his methods provide a more than ample framework for people to explore and develop IS provided that you take the time to explain those things in the more modern, easy to understand way that people like Dan and Mike are doing. It's probably best if I just give you some examples of some of the things I talk about when I have an opportunity to lead class and how i personally do things myself now.

Ibuki no ho: This is one that I think most people see as some sort of relaxation technique to start class, get your mind right and all that. I used to see it that way, but not anymore. What I explain is that you should inhale into your lower abodomen/hara/whatever and you should feel the pressure of that breath pushing into the ground and that in turn pushing your hands up. You're not raising your arms, they're being pushed up. As the hands go up, and open the front of the body opens, the back closes and as they exhale the hara sinks, pulling the arms down, closing the front of the body and opening the back. Rinse and repeat. I'll talk about initially making sure your body, arms, hands fingers are all slightly stretched/full and that the inhale should increase that feeling. you might even feel a slight tingle in the hands/arms, I did and do. Eventually it should create this cycle that just goes back and forth and at some point some of that pressurized feeling you get on the inhale should remain even through the exhale and into the next cycle. Some of this I really haven't gotten into much because I don't think you can really feel a lot of it until you develop some sensitivity to that ball of pressure in the dantien. Once you start feeling that then the flow of that cycle becomes more clear, as does that weird sensation in the body. IMO this exercise alone covers quite a few layers of the IS onion. A relaxed, connected body, using breath to further connect it and center initiated movement.

Taiso: Just doing taiso I try to get people to think of that same stretched and full feeling as mentioned in ibuki. Not a hard, physical stretch, but just a slight tug at the skin. I also focus on the same center initiated movement as mentioned above and getting that same breathing cycle going, opening and closing, etc. We'll also pause at various points in the taiso and do push tests. Ikkyo-undo for example, we'll stop with the hands extended and push from the front into the hands, chest and shoulders and to the hips from behind. Sayu-undo we'll pull the arm on the extended side and push into the hip on the weak side. You can do that on almost all of the taiso and it helps people feel what "complete relaxation" is really supposed to be and after a little practice you can start feeling the ground supporting you and letting those pushes just pass through you and expand into other aras involving breath, intent, etc.

waza: I try to find ways in every technique to impart all of the above and more. One of my favorites and one that I think the other people in class were able to feel immediately was doing shomenuchi ikkyo, irimi. Normally we move in as uke moves to strike and try to catch the strike at its apex and then drive into uke to do the ikkyo. In this case I had them catch the arm in the extended ikkyo undo position and let the uke's weight settle on them. They should relax and let that weight pass thorugh them to the ground, but use that weight to connect to uke's center and then find a way around that force. One neat thing that I found is that if you set your intent in the direction you want them to go before contact, they tend to go that way on contact, pretty neat stuff. I've done that same sort of intent stuff in a few other exercises and people felt it. I am not ashamed to admit that I stole a good example of ki and intent that Mike Sigman used when talking about that stuff that people really seem to get.

So yah, that's basically it, there's a lot more that I could drone on about and I've skipped over a lot of things that I personally do and think about and talk about, but I'm at work and I have a hard time writing about this stuff and not getting up and grabbing my bands so that I can better put those feelings it into words, which just makes it take even longer. What I'm doing is just a hodgepodge anyway, things I learned from Mike and from local guys who have worked with him, Ark and others and are just flat out better and stronger than me. Then practicing those things until I can feel them and then thinking about how they relate to what I'm doing and how they feel in application, what it does to uke, etc. Once you feel it, it aint so hard, but boy it sure isn't easy..

I'm convinced that if the general aikido world actually worked on developing a relaxed, well connected body that moves from the center and gets support from breath, the ground and gravity and then worked at applying those same body principles in good, hard, honest practice, the martial arts world would have some real respect for the art and that's not even factoring in all of the other layers of the IS onion that I didn't bother mentioning here. Hopefully I've answered your question well enough, but if not, grill me again and I'll try again when I have more time later this evening. I certainly did not cover everything I think about or attempt to do as it relates to aikido and IS.
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:09 PM   #40
hughrbeyer
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
... It's okay if the difficulty of the training makes them feel like an idiot, but the explanations never should. But as far as IS and aiki goes, I've never seen clear explanations, not even in person, from proponents of them... So I think there's a massive problem there.
Erm, get out much? This stuff is being spoon-fed to us these days. The guys do everything but chew it up and spit it into our mouths. And not just from the people who are re-creating it, but from the ones they're teaching and even the next-level teachers as well. We've never had it so good.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:28 AM   #41
Lee Salzman
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
I'm convinced that if the general aikido world actually worked on developing a relaxed, well connected body that moves from the center and gets support from breath, the ground and gravity and then worked at applying those same body principles in good, hard, honest practice, the martial arts world would have some real respect for the art and that's not even factoring in all of the other layers of the IS onion that I didn't bother mentioning here. Hopefully I've answered your question well enough, but if not, grill me again and I'll try again when I have more time later this evening. I certainly did not cover everything I think about or attempt to do as it relates to aikido and IS.
You've defined somewhat what IS is to you in terms of exercises, but, why do you need to do it? Why is it integral to aikido for you? Without the why, you can only blindly flail from what you are doing to why you are doing it. If you have a why as well, it helps you to work backwards and structure the what to make more sense - both ways. So... why?

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Erm, get out much? This stuff is being spoon-fed to us these days. The guys do everything but chew it up and spit it into our mouths. And not just from the people who are re-creating it, but from the ones they're teaching and even the next-level teachers as well. We've never had it so good.
You're welcome to take a shot at my question then if you feel it is so trivial. Let's do less boasting and more answering.
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:34 AM   #42
phitruong
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
You've defined somewhat what IS is to you in terms of exercises, but, why do you need to do it? Why is it integral to aikido for you? Without the why, you can only blindly flail from what you are doing to why you are doing it. If you have a why as well, it helps you to work backwards and structure the what to make more sense - both ways. So... why?
don't know what Jason's answer but i can answer from my point of view. IS is the engine of aiki and since I am doing aikido, i.e. the way of aiki. personally, trying to fit IS into aikido is silly, since it's the foundation of aikido in the first place, i.e. there isn't a separation to put it back.

as for the question on hodgepodge, i thought martial arts by definition is a hodgepodge of things that helped us to win, and before someone threw a fit on the winning thing, try masakatsu agatsu (i hate losing to the phi dude). in the old days, the things that made you lose, you won't see it again. now a day, it's the opposite, because we can console ourselves that we are building our characters by losing. me, i hate losing in a food fight or wet t-shirt contest since i got a pretty sizable upper.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:11 AM   #43
Dave Gallagher
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

One thing I wanted to mention, Please don't mistake real Koryu for any art that has ryu in the title. I would guess that 95% of arts with ryu as part of the title are modern and fake. They are based on something but only go back a few years when the arts founder made up the name and claimed a title like "Grand Master" or "head Master".etc.
True Koryu like Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo is at least 600 years old and its linage and students can be traced back for generations.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:24 AM   #44
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
You've defined somewhat what IS is to you in terms of exercises, but, why do you need to do it? Why is it integral to aikido for you? Without the why, you can only blindly flail from what you are doing to why you are doing it. If you have a why as well, it helps you to work backwards and structure the what to make more sense - both ways. So... why?
Like I said, I wasn't trying to write a thesis on what IS is, that's another thread too, but I thought I kind of covered the why. You let people feel what you're doing and you show and explain why this way is better than that way. That's why I try to only touch on things that I can actually demonstrate to a degree that someone can feel and also explain in a clear manner. If someone feels it and doesn't care, not my problem, but when what you're doing fails to work on me or move me, don't fall back on the ole bad uke bit. That's one of the aspects of that whole "honest training" thing. If you feel something better and you're too dishonest with yourself to care, again, not my problem. All I can do is make the best of what I've got and do everything I can to improve myself and the people I practice with. I don't call myself a teacher of anything and I know that what I'm doing isn't high level. It's little more than a sample of some of the core skills and conditioning that make up IS. I don't even consider it aiki, but again, it's definitely some of things you need to make aiki and that's a step in the right direction. Especially when it's so easy to feel the difference.

Last edited by chillzATL : 02-23-2012 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:36 AM   #45
Lee Salzman
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
Like I said, I wasn't trying to write a thesis on what IS is, that's another thread too, but I thought I kind of covered the why. You let people feel what you're doing and you show and explain why this way is better than that way. That's why I try to only touch on things that I can actually demonstrate to a degree that someone can feel and also explain in a clear manner. If someone feels it and doesn't care, not my problem, but when what you're doing fails to work on me or move me, don't fall back on the ole bad uke bit. That's one of the aspects of that whole "honest training" thing. If you feel something better and you're too dishonest with yourself to care, again, not my problem. All I can do is make the best of what I've got and do everything I can to improve myself and the people I practice with. I don't call myself a teacher of anything and I know that what I'm doing isn't high level. It's little more than a sample of some of the core skills and conditioning that make up IS. I don't even consider it aiki, but again, it's definitely some of things you need to make aiki and that's a step in the right direction. Especially when it's so easy to feel the difference.
Keep in mind I still have my dunce cap on as I type this...

This is, to paraphase, just IHTBF, and it was a cop-out, is a cop-out, and will always be a cop-out. It puts the subject on no better a level than an STD that requires close, sustained contact of a mysterious nature to transfer between individuals. But, hell, at least we know at a rough level how HIV works, or others that shall remain nameless, and the consequences of catching it, even though few of us may claim to be disease researchers or MDs. I'd say, HIV has a huge edge on aikido there.

You could tell a man who has never seen modern boxing that the modern sport of boxing is two men hitting each other with closed fists until one guy gets knocked out and loses. That would tell him nothing of how to train boxing, or the frightening totality of it, but it is a clear seed of an idea that encapsulates the essence of it, and why certain things are essential. He might be able to reason that being able to hit hard and fast, and not get hit, are core skills, whether or not that is the case. So if someone showed him the mechanics of striking, he would at least know he must learn the mechanics of striking so that he can hit harder and hit faster and deflect better. But if no one told him why, he would most likely just mimic the form of striking, without progressing towards a clearly defined end.

Now, luckily, he could probably just watch a single boxing match and reason out the why himself to some extent, but aiki does not work this simply. You can see it, you can feel it, you can be shown how to train it, but without a clear conception of why you must do that, your training is just going to be going through the motions. We have the undeniable anecdotal evidence of this situation. Having a teacher who knows what they are doing, even if they can't explain it, who can poke you when you're doing something not right can only go so far, even ignoring that such people are in short supply. Again, we have the anecdotal evidence of that.

This matters even when this stuff is transmitted in person. Again, I've seen the stuff in person, felt the stuff in person, and the justification usually is only ever implied, not explained, that they can do powerful things with this and they got it by doing such and such things. But yet, I always walk away still not knowing what I am trying to get out of these such and such things, especially after many moons pass since the initial IHTBF experience, and the mirage of what was imparted has dissolved. This is simply because it is rarely ever explained what I am supposed to be getting out of it, again, just implied, do this and you too can have my superpowers.

And you know what? It totally does not have to be this way. We just keep making excuses for it - oh, they'll never understand, or, oh, they'll just misinterpret it, so why bother. We can't even somehow be bothered to give a this-is-how-I'd-explain-it-to-a-Martian-why-I-do-this executive summary. It's just a big old IHBTF club, and we're all so smug and satisfied when we're in it, because we can all feel like we're on exactly the same page or working to the same end because we can never even explain what we do enough to realize none of us really are. It's a big club, and we're not in it, we're not in the big club (RIP: George Carlin).
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:25 AM   #46
chillzATL
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Keep in mind I still have my dunce cap on as I type this...

This is, to paraphase, just IHTBF, and it was a cop-out, is a cop-out, and will always be a cop-out. It puts the subject on no better a level than an STD that requires close, sustained contact of a mysterious nature to transfer between individuals. But, hell, at least we know at a rough level how HIV works, or others that shall remain nameless, and the consequences of catching it, even though few of us may claim to be disease researchers or MDs. I'd say, HIV has a huge edge on aikido there.

You could tell a man who has never seen modern boxing that the modern sport of boxing is two men hitting each other with closed fists until one guy gets knocked out and loses. That would tell him nothing of how to train boxing, or the frightening totality of it, but it is a clear seed of an idea that encapsulates the essence of it, and why certain things are essential. He might be able to reason that being able to hit hard and fast, and not get hit, are core skills, whether or not that is the case. So if someone showed him the mechanics of striking, he would at least know he must learn the mechanics of striking so that he can hit harder and hit faster and deflect better. But if no one told him why, he would most likely just mimic the form of striking, without progressing towards a clearly defined end.

Now, luckily, he could probably just watch a single boxing match and reason out the why himself to some extent, but aiki does not work this simply. You can see it, you can feel it, you can be shown how to train it, but without a clear conception of why you must do that, your training is just going to be going through the motions. We have the undeniable anecdotal evidence of this situation. Having a teacher who knows what they are doing, even if they can't explain it, who can poke you when you're doing something not right can only go so far, even ignoring that such people are in short supply. Again, we have the anecdotal evidence of that.

This matters even when this stuff is transmitted in person. Again, I've seen the stuff in person, felt the stuff in person, and the justification usually is only ever implied, not explained, that they can do powerful things with this and they got it by doing such and such things. But yet, I always walk away still not knowing what I am trying to get out of these such and such things, especially after many moons pass since the initial IHTBF experience, and the mirage of what was imparted has dissolved. This is simply because it is rarely ever explained what I am supposed to be getting out of it, again, just implied, do this and you too can have my superpowers.

And you know what? It totally does not have to be this way. We just keep making excuses for it - oh, they'll never understand, or, oh, they'll just misinterpret it, so why bother. We can't even somehow be bothered to give a this-is-how-I'd-explain-it-to-a-Martian-why-I-do-this executive summary. It's just a big old IHBTF club, and we're all so smug and satisfied when we're in it, because we can all feel like we're on exactly the same page or working to the same end because we can never even explain what we do enough to realize none of us really are. It's a big club, and we're not in it, we're not in the big club (RIP: George Carlin).
I don't know Lee, I think I see the point you're getting at, but I don't know if I agree that it's all that important to know at first. I mean I can explain that there is this fascial network that covers the body and that I believe that what we're doing is conditioning and strengthening that network in a way that allows us to use that, rather than traditional muscle, to provide strength and support for our body. I can explain that this same network, when conditioned, has an elasticity to it that can be used to absorb and express forces and the more conditioned it is the more elasticity we have to work with. I can explain that all this relaxing and pushing is designed to condition the muscles under the muscles so that they can provide enough support at the joints so that the big muscles aren't compelled to kick in, which effectively raises our center of gravity making us light. I can explain that as you condition this network across the body you "connect" it so that it's an integrated unit and that when you move that unit from the center it's stronger than a non-integrated one and that you start combining that with the other things and it just gets stronger and stronger and you can do things like direct forces through it in interesting ways, such as getting under someone from a wrist grab. I can explain all those things, but I don't really think it matters because you're discussing long term results and the end result of this stuff is a LONG WAY OFF. You start wtih these very basic feelings and sensations and you work towards being able to replicate them on a more consistent basis and then against a higher degree of force or another skilled person. Knowing what should eventually be happening isn't going to help you get there faster. It's the small, boring, incremental work that really translates into understanding, for you. That's how it was for me. I personally enjoy discussing this stuff on that sort of level, but that's the kind of thing I want to do after a few good hours of training, over beers because it is, IMO, the doing and trying to do that ends up making more sense out of it than anything.
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Old 02-23-2012, 02:21 PM   #47
hughrbeyer
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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... I can explain all those things, but I don't really think it matters because you're discussing long term results and the end result of this stuff is a LONG WAY OFF.
Y'know, I've read this kind of stuff before and of course, at one level, it's true--takes years to really develop these skills--like any skills worth having.

But at another level, hell no, the end result isn't a long way off. I am very much in my only-an-egg phase of IS training, but it's already making a huge difference on the mat. Yes, someone with a well-connected body and decent IS skills can still take me apart in minute but let's face it... even in my dojo, there aren't that many of those people. The rest of them are going, "What? What did you just do? Why am I off balance?" If you're doing it right, you should be feeling the difference from very early on.
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Old 02-23-2012, 02:33 PM   #48
chillzATL
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Re: A hodgepodge system, in an information age.

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Y'know, I've read this kind of stuff before and of course, at one level, it's true--takes years to really develop these skills--like any skills worth having.

But at another level, hell no, the end result isn't a long way off. I am very much in my only-an-egg phase of IS training, but it's already making a huge difference on the mat. Yes, someone with a well-connected body and decent IS skills can still take me apart in minute but let's face it... even in my dojo, there aren't that many of those people. The rest of them are going, "What? What did you just do? Why am I off balance?" If you're doing it right, you should be feeling the difference from very early on.
Oh I agree completely Hugh. We're likely in a very similar boat in that regard. I was simply refering to going into in-depth discussion of the mechanics and physiology behind a lot of this stuff before someone is even feeling the basics. I'm not sure that it's going to amount to much, but yes, I totally agree that when in a dojo of non-IS people, a little sure goes a long way and the difference should be noticable after a short time of committed practice. If not, one should probably evaluate what they're doing.
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