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Old 09-09-2012, 06:36 AM   #1
TokyoZeplin
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How long does it really take?

Forgive me if I'm misinformed about any facts here, feel free to correct me if so!

Lately, I started thinking about something. Generally, people say that it will take 20, 30, 40 or more years to Master Aikido. In fact, many say that you shouldn't really expect anything useful (in a combat scenario) for the first many many years.

But is that really so?
When we look at Morihei Ueshiba, he trained Aiki Jujutsu only 8 or so years before he started teaching it. In just 20 years of training, we already see those amazing stories of how he "sent people flying".

Likewise for Gozo Shioda, in just 9 years of training, Morihei Ueshiba told him (according to a note in Aikido Shugyo), when he was being sent off to China, "You will not lose to anyone". Even before that, Shioda had already (successfully) tested his Aikido in combat many times (I'm sure we've all read/heard the stories of their trips to Shinjuku to find fights).

The Yoshinkan (and similar programs in other styles) Senshusei course would also seem to disagree that you cannot attain a "acceptable professiency" relatively quickly.

Now granted, there is without a doubt a matter of intensity here. Shioda was a live-in student for many years, and the Senshusei course is known for it's intensity.

But still, I'm left wondering why so many Aikidoka insist that it takes such an immense and long time to get any decent at? Or is it a matter of that "It's not Aikido that doesn't work, it's your Aikido that doesn't work"? (who originally said that anyway? I'm curious )

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts on it!
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:15 AM   #2
sorokod
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Re: How long does it really take?

If you pretend for a minute that there is an agreement on what "useful" and "combat scenario" are, you can imagine a scale that measures the time you spent training vs. how "useful" this training is for a specific teacher/club/dojo. For certain teacher/club/dojo your "useful" value will be pretty much zero across the scale, even after decades of training. For others there will be slow or fast increase as your practice continues.

Use common sense to avoid the zero value case.

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Old 09-09-2012, 07:17 AM   #3
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Re: How long does it really take?

I guess it depends on what you mean by Master.

Certainly you should be able to use techniques learned in an Aikido dojo in a self defence situation within a year. Of course that depends on how you train.

Small class, small number of techniques, lots of scenario and resistance based training.

I should also add - lots and lots of mat time not including extra conditioning work.

Last edited by PeterR : 09-09-2012 at 07:30 AM.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:29 AM   #4
TokyoZeplin
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Re: How long does it really take?

Both of you, thank you for your answers
Perhaps "master" was a bad word to use (as it can be argued that you never truly master something, or "you are only finished when you die" type mentalities).

David, that would seem natural, yes, that it depends greatly on your teacher, yourself, and your dojo. While maybe I should have been more clear on that, that is covered under what I meant by "intensity". Instead, I meant that the general consensus that I often see, are that no matter what, you should not expect anything, for use in self defence, for many years. Many often talking about how extremely difficult Aikido is. My point was merely that the great masters of the past, didn't seem to require that much time.

Peter, indeed, within a year would seem reasonable. But then there are many that say 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or more (and of course those that say that Aikido will never be of use to you in self defence).

Anyway, thank you both for your answers
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:30 AM   #5
Garth Jones
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Re: How long does it really take?

It's not the years, it's the total hours. People who who train several hours a day six days a week are going to progress MUCH faster than those who go to the dojo a couple of evenings a week. Most of the people training today do not have the financial resources or the will to work at aikido as their full time job so it will take them decades to achieve 'mastery.'

I don't know who may have said 'Aikido works, it is your aikido that doesn't work' first, but I have heard Ikeda Sensei say that many times.

Garth
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:38 AM   #6
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Re: How long does it really take?

Well - I think what 20 year technique means is that you always will find room for improvement.

As far as Aikido never being useful - my experience tells me otherwise. It really does depend on your goals and the goals of the dojo you join. For the record no where that I have trained is the goal so focused on self defense that a year is enough but it is possible. I would say the same of all the other martial arts I have dabbled in.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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Re: How long does it really take?

I think lots of us have seen the 10,000 hours to master anything complex quote. For a casual trainer say 2 classes/3 hours a week, that's about 64 years But mastery and being proficient at something are 2 different beasts.

A lot of techniques in Aikido are in other arts, and I think you could learn to apply some techniques very effectively (in terms of applying in a deceive manner) in a short time if that's what you concentrated on. I think what takes time is honing the techniques in terms of blending with different opponents, and efficiency in the use of strength and movement (the -do vs the -jitsu if you will).
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Old 09-09-2012, 09:50 PM   #8
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Re: How long does it really take?

Like everyone else here, I think it really depends on how you train and who you train with. If you train in the right environment, you should end up with something pretty good, and pretty useful in a few years.
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:44 PM   #9
Janet Rosen
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Re: How long does it really take?

I've known a couple of folks who within a very short time were able to do things along the line of apply a quick nikkyo to deal with an unwanted wrist grab. So, yeah, define practical usage...

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:01 AM   #10
Mario Tobias
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Re: How long does it really take?

I think the difference between "us" and "them" as to why their advancement is quick is priority, dedication and the intense search for understanding what aiki truly is.

AIkido and martial arts in general is their livelihood. They live and breathe aikido. We have day jobs, family, kids, other priorities.

I believe anybody can attain their skill if we had aikido as our livelihood and have the right intentions. This also holds for other endeavors as well. I also believe aiki is inherent in everybody but that somebody just needs to draw it out of us since Aiki is the invention of nature.

Unlike any other martial arts that I have tried which aims for perfection, what has drawn me to aikido is the search. IMHO, for aikido, it is not the search for perfection of techniques but the search for what true aiki is. I am challenged by what I do not understand.

If you are going to search anyway, then why not dedicate a lifetime seeking "it"? I do not mind the time spent no matter how long it will take since in the end I feel it would be a worthy exercise.

For me it is not the instant gratification that I can apply aikido to a real fight situation and win but of what I am really capable of once I scratch the surface in understanding what true aiki really is.
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Old 09-10-2012, 06:31 AM   #11
Malicat
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I've known a couple of folks who within a very short time were able to do things along the line of apply a quick nikkyo to deal with an unwanted wrist grab. So, yeah, define practical usage...
Exactly what Janet said. I would go further and assume it's a translation error. Mastery is defined (in this context) by having nothing else to learn. It's the pinnacle and you can go no farther. I doubt you will find any Aikido practitioners who are willing to say that they are finished learning Aikido and they know everything there is to know about it, regardless of how easily they are able to send attackers flying in different directions.

I can point out quite a few people I know personally that can and have handled themselves with ease in actual combat situations using Aikido. One of them went from a bartender in college who not only broke up fights, but also was attacked on several occasions, to being a high school teacher who also broke up all of those fights. And he would be the first one to tell you that he has not "mastered" Aikido, and is still gaining new insights into attacks, responses, and techniques.

--Ashley
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Old 09-10-2012, 07:35 AM   #12
Richard Stevens
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Re: How long does it really take?

Training 4 hours a day 6 days a week will net roughly 1,152 hours of training in a year. Training twice a week for 2 hours a session will net roughly 192 hours of training a year.

In 10 years the full-time Aikidoka will have put in 11,520 hours, which according to Malcolm Gladwell (*grain of salt*) is just past the 10,000 hours minimum needed to "master" something.

The part-time Aikidoka will have put it 1,920 hours after 10 years. To hit that 10,000 hours mark it would take the part-timer roughly 52 years.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:45 AM   #13
Belt_Up
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Re: How long does it really take?

The execution of techniques in a practical sense, is probably possible within months if you train hard. No doubt you could brute force an ikkyo, snap a wrist with kotegaeshi, slam someone into the ground with iriminage, etc.

Doing aikido, with correct body form, adherence to the principles, actual blending, resolving it with little or no damage to your opponent etc will take much longer.
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:57 AM   #14
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Re: How long does it really take?

Well put Geoff.

Just a few days ago I found myself in a discussion about judo / jiu jitsu and Aikido and differences in approaches.

A friend of mine have taken judo many years back in a dojo where competition was not the main goal. Technique were practiced. In most other dojo's students were encouraged to start compeeting very soon. In his point of view this bore the risk of creating judo-ka's that rely on strength before technique.

I think the same thing can apply to Aikido. If you are primarily focused on learning Aikido as a selfdefence for 'realistic situations' (whatever that is) then I think you might miss the whole point of what Aikido can be. Aikido techniques can be used in at least two ways - but only by putting in the many many hours on the mat will you be able to perform the kind of magic that some of the really big stars are able to, and if you start out on with focus upon raw bodymechanics and physical power then I would expect the journey to effortless power would be quite a fair bit longer.

And of course the whole thing depends on the student, the teacher and about a million other factors.

I think I have heard more stories of people using their skill to avoid a 'combat situation' than to dishing out woop ass. This leads me to think that practicing Aikido as a quick route to fighting ability is probably not a clever strategy. Either train Aikido as it is and accept the different view upon conflict - or go do something else. Krav Maga, BJJ, wing chung or something along those lines would probably turn you into a fighter a lot faster than most styles of Aikido.

JJ

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Old 09-11-2012, 11:03 AM   #15
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Geoff Byers wrote: View Post
The execution of techniques in a practical sense, is probably possible within months if you train hard. No doubt you could brute force an ikkyo, snap a wrist with kotegaeshi, slam someone into the ground with iriminage, etc.
.
yup. also, once you burned bad movements into your muscle memory, it will be very difficult and longer to "un-burn" them.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:28 AM   #16
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Re: How long does it really take?

If you ever achieve the highest rank, do you ever stop learning? I have no reason to "master" aikido in any time frame. I will do this until my body no longer ables me to and if I obtain higher ranks, so be it. I think we will always be learning and training our muscles.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:40 PM   #17
Chris Evans
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Re: How long does it really take?

i've read here at this site that 3 times per week is "optimal" and more then that would be diminishing returns. ...maybe so, but even if you're talented you'll need to practice your cello or aikido or whatever more than 3 or four times per week if you want to be good enough to have "jam" sessions with semi-pros, so to speak.

Okinawan farmers practiced Kare-Te 2 hours a day everyday, after a full day at their farm, I have read and heard. Some who became sensei practiced four hours a day.

late Thomas Mertion cautioned that "being too busy is the disease of North Americans"

train as much as you can, stop counting, and make sure you have ample time for spouse, family, career, and basic play time. aikido counts as my own "play" time. I'm planing on four times (eeks, what a hypocrit!) a week aikido and twice a week for karate. I'm OK if I never "master" aikido or karate, but i do notice i have far less time now for surfing or mt. biking.

Osu

Last edited by Chris Evans : 09-11-2012 at 01:46 PM.

"The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:01 PM   #18
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Chris Evans wrote: View Post
i've read here at this site that 3 times per week is "optimal" and more then that would be diminishing returns. ...
Really? Do you have a cite for that (perhaps, since "optimal" is in quotes)? I've heard people say that 3 times a week is enough to make steady progress, not that it's "optimal".

Quote:
Chris Evans wrote: View Post
maybe so, but even if you're talented you'll need to practice your cello or aikido or whatever more than 3 or four times per week if you want to be good enough to have "jam" sessions with semi-pros, so to speak.
Right, but is that a good analogy? People don't get hurt playing the cello, and if a rank amateur cello player should misrepresent her skill level and get into a performance of the London Symphony Orchestra, she's not going to end up in the hospital as a consequence. And what's the analog in martial arts terms of having a jam session with a semi-pro? Getting into a bar fight?

Quote:
Chris Evans wrote: View Post
Okinawan farmers practiced Kare-Te 2 hours a day everyday, after a full day at their farm, I have read and heard.
I doubt that the average Okinawan farmer practiced anything but farming and sleeping for two hours a day every day.

Quote:
Chris Evans wrote: View Post
train as much as you can, stop counting, and make sure you have ample time for spouse, family, career, and basic play time.
I think that's good advice; however, considerations of spouse, family, career and basic play time doesn't leave a great deal of time left over. For most of us who are not rich and can't afford a maid to do all the cooking and cleaning, a handyman to fix everything that breaks around the house, and a nanny to look after the children, normal people in normal situations where we cannot simply dump off our responsibilities onto others, two hours a day every day is simply not feasible.
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:35 PM   #19
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Thumbs up Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Really? (1) Do you have a cite for that (perhaps, since "optimal" is in quotes)? I've heard people say that 3 times a week is enough to make steady progress, not that it's "optimal".

(2) Right, but is that a good analogy? People don't get hurt playing the cello, and if a rank amateur cello player should misrepresent her skill level and get into a performance of the London Symphony Orchestra, she's not going to end up in the hospital as a consequence. And what's the analog in martial arts terms of having a jam session with a semi-pro? Getting into a bar fight?

(3) I doubt that the average Okinawan farmer practiced anything but farming and sleeping for two hours a day every day.

(4) I think that's good advice; however, considerations of spouse, family, career and basic play time doesn't leave a great deal of time left over. For most of us who are not rich and can't afford a maid to do all the cooking and cleaning, a handyman to fix everything that breaks around the house, and a nanny to look after the children, normal people in normal situations where we cannot simply dump off our responsibilities onto others, two hours a day every day is simply not feasible.
(1) yes: http://www.aikiweb.com/training/goldfield1.html
"...According to the findings, 3 training sessions (of 1-2 hours duration each) per week is the most productive in terms of both physical conditioning and improving one's skills. ..."

(2) feh, good enough to make a point that aiki and cello are skills intensive, not as much muscle power intensive. What, we can get hurt in aikido: cool! (...just kidding, just in case you are too serious) ...and a fight at a bar's ugly & scary... do not want to get in that (again).

(3) that's what good old late Gichin sensei wrote, but I will not quote him

(4) true true, thanks, but we do what we can balance. I will admit to hiring contractors for occasional upkeep services and while we were raising our son I did have years of laps in regular training...

"The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:13 PM   #20
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Right, but is that a good analogy? People don't get hurt playing the cello, and if a rank amateur cello player should misrepresent her skill level and get into a performance of the London Symphony Orchestra, she's not going to end up in the hospital as a consequence.
But that will certainly end their musical career. "Pain" and "hurt" are relative when speaking in analogies, right?
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:43 AM   #21
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Chris Evans wrote: View Post
(1) yes: http://www.aikiweb.com/training/goldfield1.html
"...According to the findings, 3 training sessions (of 1-2 hours duration each) per week is the most productive in terms of both physical conditioning and improving one's skills. ..."
Ah, ok, that's your source. According to Cady, that was an "exercise physiology study...concerning the optimum amount of time spent training in any physical discipline." I don't know how they were able to obtain valid findings for "any physical discipline"; I'm skeptical, frankly. People here have their own subjective impressions about how they do at different training frequencies; you can generalize, but clearly there are many exceptions. The point is, the exceptions aren't the rule, either.

Quote:
Chris Evans wrote: View Post
(3) that's what good old late Gichin sensei wrote, but I will not quote him
No need; I read "Karate-do: My Way of Life" years ago. I don't recall him indicating that a typical Okinawan farmer followed this training regimen; I know that he did, but I had the impression that this was not at all typical.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:45 AM   #22
lbb
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
But that will certainly end their musical career. "Pain" and "hurt" are relative when speaking in analogies, right?
Not being a musician, I can't speak for whether it would end their musical career. If you were talking about a field that exemplifies neurosis like the world of academia, yes, I'd say that getting in over your head once could be fatal to your career. Is that also true in music? Not sure.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:33 AM   #23
Maarten De Queecker
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
Well put Geoff.

Just a few days ago I found myself in a discussion about judo / jiu jitsu and Aikido and differences in approaches.

A friend of mine have taken judo many years back in a dojo where competition was not the main goal. Technique were practiced. In most other dojo's students were encouraged to start compeeting very soon. In his point of view this bore the risk of creating judo-ka's that rely on strength before technique.

I think the same thing can apply to Aikido. If you are primarily focused on learning Aikido as a selfdefence for 'realistic situations' (whatever that is) then I think you might miss the whole point of what Aikido can be. Aikido techniques can be used in at least two ways - but only by putting in the many many hours on the mat will you be able to perform the kind of magic that some of the really big stars are able to, and if you start out on with focus upon raw bodymechanics and physical power then I would expect the journey to effortless power would be quite a fair bit longer.

And of course the whole thing depends on the student, the teacher and about a million other factors.

I think I have heard more stories of people using their skill to avoid a 'combat situation' than to dishing out woop ass. This leads me to think that practicing Aikido as a quick route to fighting ability is probably not a clever strategy. Either train Aikido as it is and accept the different view upon conflict - or go do something else. Krav Maga, BJJ, wing chung or something along those lines would probably turn you into a fighter a lot faster than most styles of Aikido.

JJ
Still, we should not forget that Aikido is a martial art, and the goal of martial arts is generally to teach its practitioners to be able to "kick ass" when they need to. I really can't stand it when people tell newcomers that a technique takes a couple of years to get decent at. It's just not true. Mastery takes years, but basic technique should not take more than a year.

Aikido can be a rather quick route to fighting ability, but that means you have to drop the "be nice to your opponent" philosophy. Aikido is very useful at learning to abuse different kinds of openings when someone attacks you, IF you're not afraid of using your fists and feet and manage to maintain a good ma-ai. I like to believe that people like Ueshiba Morihei, Shioda and Saito were pretty capable fighters/martial artists back in their day.

Can aikido be more than just a fighting art? Yes it can, and it should! The main reason why I'm so passionate about it is that its principles apply to many different facets of our lives. However, that doesn't mean that we should forget about the roots of our beloved art.

Last edited by Maarten De Queecker : 09-12-2012 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:12 PM   #24
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: How long does it really take?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Not being a musician, I can't speak for whether it would end their musical career. If you were talking about a field that exemplifies neurosis like the world of academia, yes, I'd say that getting in over your head once could be fatal to your career. Is that also true in music? Not sure.
I thought I might be a musician in a different path, as my original acceptance into college was as a cello performance major. Music is a strange and small world. The scenario you posited would never have happened because no one unqualified would have been allowed on stage for performance. However the attempt would have been laughed at and ostracized.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote:
"People don't get hurt playing the cello, and if a rank amateur cello player should misrepresent her skill level and get into a performance of the London Symphony Orchestra, she's not going to end up in the hospital as a consequence. "
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:51 PM   #25
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Re: How long does it really take?

Dear All,
It is not a question of how many days , weeks , months or years it takes to understand Aikido .Rather than think that by practicing more one improves,I feel that one should practice and try to understand the underlying principles of aikido .This means focusing on Kihon Waza. When you can embody the basics, all else becomes easier.A practice of one hour a week where you train diligently and earnestly is much more effective than spending valuable time just playing around.Cheers,Joe.
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