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Like an Unsheathed Sword
Like an Unsheathed Sword
by Ross Robertson
11-30-2012
Like an Unsheathed Sword

"You glitter too much.

Like a drawn sword...
Like an unsheathed sword.

You cut well, but a really good sword remains in its scabbard."
"Sanjuro," Akira Kurosawa
I went to a seminar. I won't say when, or where.

And I won't say who the highly ranked presenter was.

I could say, but it would serve no real purpose. Names of people and places, times -- these things are interchangeable. Odds are good that you were there too (or will be), no matter who, where, or when.

As I say, this instructor was highly ranked. Many years, decades even, of experience. You could see it in the way he held a jo or bokken, or in the way he held himself. He had clearly spent many long hours of devotion, sharpening himself. His movements were quick, precise. Formidable.

In taijutsu training, bodies were flying. Big or small, man or woman, it didn't matter... there was lots of air time. Some uke knew the art of the aerial glide, and how to land. Others were seen careening gracelessly, flopping over in clumsy barrel rolls, and hitting the mat in a confusion that was not quite a tumble, not quite a break-fall. Nearly always though, the presenter looked perfect.

Sankyo was a major theme that weekend, with a number of variations. Now, instead of flying, people were driven down into the mat. Usually, very fast, very clean, and often quite hard.

Not that the instructor was a big man, or notably strong. It was simply the matter of his knowledge of balance and leverage and vectors that allowed him to access a near-perfect democratization in dealing with his attackers.

It seemed to me, as an observer, that size and gender and experience all dissolved in the forge of this instructor's waza. Some of those without experience in protecting themselves at this degree of speed and force came away covertly massaging their wrists. As did some with many years of experience.

But the movements of the instructor were always impeccable.

One of the resident yudansha with a background in the harder arts was called up for demonstration. Precise kicks and punches were met with precise blending and throwing, precise control and take-down.

Once, during the rollover for a pin, the free arm became trapped under uke's body, and uke started tapping immediately. The instructor held the pin, and commanded access to the trapped arm. More tapping resulted. There were at least a couple of iterations of this. Eventually the presenter shifted position slightly, which allowed the uke to free his arm and submit it for pinning along with the other one.

That demonstration concluded, bowing ensued, but uke was out of commission for the rest of the weekend.

Being a man of clarity and precision, the instructor explained to us that we should never release a pin just because someone taps. If the positioning is not correct, the uke might still have the opportunity to reach nage with the free arm, or perhaps the legs. We were advised to keep applying the pin until we were sure that uke had been completely neutralized. Releasing the pin simply because someone starts tapping could become a dangerous habit, presumably because a clever assailant would use that to trick you.

Needless to say, all this served to sharpen my observation of this instructor's movements, and to listen keenly to all that he was saying. As I studied him, I began to notice how skillfully he could execute a vigorous throw, transitioning from an impressive blur to a fixed point of stasis like a gymnast sticking a landing, and then steal just a moment to check his form in the wall mirrors. I noted carefully his attention to detail, even down to making sure the paths between him and the video cameras were kept clear, and even directly addressing the cameras from time to time, when teaching.

Self awareness in aikido can reach impressive levels. We seek to exemplify the dictum of masakatsu agatsu. At some point, we can achieve sufficient victory over ourselves, or such self mastery, that the form of the attack no longer matters, and uke no longer matters. Uke may be part of the equation, but not an integral part.

So this instructor left us with many valuable lessons. Skills in ukemi need to be honed if one is to escape injury in the face of such flawlessness. Oneness can be attained by being the lone figure still standing. A human can be forged through fire and hammer and fold, and emerge as an instrument that is unstoppable.

The arc and flight of a live blade can take your breath away.

2012.11.01
Ross Robertson
Still Point Aikido Systems
Honmatsu Aikido
Austin TX, USA

www.stillpointaikido.com
www.rariora.org/writing/articles
@phospheros
Old 12-02-2012, 05:43 PM   #2
Susan Dalton
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Beautiful column, Ross.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:31 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Beautiful indeed.....a pity those most needing this column will likely not recognize themselves...

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:43 AM   #4
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

I don't recall ever having you at one of my seminars? sorry couldn't help myself. Haven't been giving seminars as the matter of fact, but I recognize the vanity of catching a glimpse of my self in the dark windows of winter- especially while holding a sword. I try to explain it as my interest in optimizing my form and posture, but I must admit that more often than not I slip and just enjoy the cool look of me..

We are all just people. I strive to become a better person, but it's not an easy path to follow. I have also done my fair share of too hard pins and giving in to vanity, but it is indeed sad when those we hope to model fall short of the standards we assumed they were modelling for us.

I guess we just have to take the best from every one we meet and strive to be ever better - but also strive to accept the shortcomings of those senseis. If we expect them to be perfect then we set ourselves up for disappointment.

Finally it is a good point not to completely release the pin the just because somebody taps out - but of course one should strive to never pin harder than what the other person is able to take. As somebody stated in a different thread - (and I'm paraphrasing) Aikido can be very traumatizing if the actions of tori is not adapted to the ability of the uke. NEVER should we force somebody beyond what they can cope. Being a good sensei however does entail on the rare occasion to make people press the envelope just a bit.

I'm rambling.. will do my best to stop now and go back to piles of work less interesting than posting my verbal image on this text equivalent of the mirrors I soooo much love to glare into.

Great day to everyone.

JJ

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:18 AM   #5
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
Finally it is a good point not to completely release the pin the just because somebody taps out - but of course one should strive to never pin harder than what the other person is able to take. As somebody stated in a different thread - (and I'm paraphrasing) Aikido can be very traumatizing if the actions of tori is not adapted to the ability of the uke. NEVER should we force somebody beyond what they can cope. Being a good sensei however does entail on the rare occasion to make people press the envelope just a bit.
On the assumption that sensei knows better than uke what they can "cope with"? Demonstrably, it was nage's judgment that was in error in this case...significantly so.

It ain't what you don't know that gets you...it's what you know that just ain't so.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:51 AM   #6
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Mary: Good point - and I think we agree.. Especially that nage in the case in question went way beyond what a good sensei should do. The highlighted part of my post was intended to say that sensei any - while striving to create a good learning environment for each and every student in the dojo - sometimes have to push the students out of a state of 'Heck - I'll just stick to what works for me' in order to help them evolve. It might well be simply by showing them that what they sink they now is more complex once they get to a point where they are able to grasp it. As a sensei we are not all-knowing, but with more experience should follow the intention to understand the students and try to assess what kind of training would be best to help them move along.

Anyway... I think we agree (mostly)

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:44 AM   #7
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

"Once, during the rollover for a pin, the free arm became trapped under uke's body, and uke started tapping immediately. The instructor held the pin, and commanded access to the trapped arm. More tapping resulted. There were at least a couple of iterations of this. Eventually the presenter shifted position slightly, which allowed the uke to free his arm and submit it for pinning along with the other one.

That demonstration concluded, bowing ensued, but uke was out of commission for the rest of the weekend.

Being a man of clarity and precision, the instructor explained to us that we should never release a pin just because someone taps."

Could you clarify this part? It reads as if the instructor knew the free arm was pinned under the body. It also reads as if uke was hurt enough to not continue training the rest of the weekend. Is that correct?

FWIW, IMO, if you're demonstrating, there should be absolutely no need to over exert any pin to the point of hurting someone. Pushing limits is one thing, hurting is another. And if a "highly ranked" instructor can't pin someone effectively in a training environment or demonstration without hurting them, they shouldn't be "highly ranked" at all.

The entire reason the "tap" is there is to alert nage/tori/instructor/whatever that uke's boundaries have been reached. Some tap right when they reach it, some tap on a hard limit. Still, it's a safety measure ... for training. Safety measures are there for a reason.

And this part:

"Releasing the pin simply because someone starts tapping could become a dangerous habit, presumably because a clever assailant would use that to trick you."

Wow, just wow. How many times have we read threads about the viability of aikido in a "real" fight? Or aikido versus another martial art? And how many times have we read people replying that the chances of fighting another martial artists were slim to none? So, who, exactly, is it that we're going to fight and who will know to use tapping as a way to trick you? And how many times will that come up?

Unless things were completely different than what they sound like upon reading this, I'd steer clear of that instructor.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:21 AM   #8
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
Anyway... I think we agree (mostly)
Well, mostly...except I'm thinking about what Mark Murray said:

Quote:
The entire reason the "tap" is there is to alert nage/tori/instructor/whatever that uke's boundaries have been reached. Some tap right when they reach it, some tap on a hard limit. Still, it's a safety measure ... for training. Safety measures are there for a reason.
Mistakes can be made in either direction. If uke taps too soon, gets in the habit of tapping too soon, then they're not learning good ukemi. Never mind considerations of toughness or "developing a pain tolerance" (insofar as such a thing can be done) - whenever uke bails early, they're failing to take all the opportunities they may have in the situation. Maybe there's an opportunity to reverse. Or maybe there's an opportunity for a better, safer ukemi. If uke taps the second they're touched, they'll never develop those skills, and in a situation where their attacker doesn't care about tapping, they'll be in big trouble.

If nage fails to respect the tap and places uke's judgment subordinate to his/her own, they risk the possibility that their judgment is in error. If it is, they will do damage to uke's body, uke's trust, and their own authority, whatever that may be.

People will disagree about which of these mistakes is potentially more serious. Certainly you can argue that someone without good ukemi skills is risking more than a sore shoulder. But here's where it becomes crystal clear for me: no matter how big a mistake it may be to tap too soon, it is uke's mistake to make. It harms no one else. If you, as sensei, decide that you can't reason this person out of their bad habits, ease them through it, and continue to teach them, then it's your prerogative to no longer have them as a student. That, you can do. The mistake of misjudging how much your partner can take when they have clearly signaled that a limit has been reached, is not yours to make. No matter who you are, you are out of line when subordinate your partner's tap-out to your own judgment about what they can take.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:12 AM   #9
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Mary: ah.. I was talking in more general terms and not specifically about the tap. I agree on what you write above. When tapping starts the pin will be eased.

My idea of pushing people is to create the opportunity for them to do things they wouldn't choose. People are lazy by nature, but if you create a situation where things are slightly more hectic or challenging than usually then some of them choose to take the opportunity. Out of respect for me, out of curiosity or for some other reason. They CAN always opt out of course.

Sometime I trow them a little further or harder than what they are used to - but I leave room for them to let go of my hand and stop the attack if they feel beyond their borders. I have quite good results and people seem to stick around, so I am quite certain this is perceived as a 'friendly push' and NOT as a traumatizing experience.

Hope I get my opinion across.. English is not my 1st language so "results may vary"

Great day to everyone.

JJ

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:46 PM   #10
Krystal Locke
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post

Being a man of clarity and precision, the instructor explained to us that we should never release a pin just because someone taps."

Could you clarify this part? It reads as if the instructor knew the free arm was pinned under the body. It also reads as if uke was hurt enough to not continue training the rest of the weekend. Is that correct?

FWIW, IMO, if you're demonstrating, there should be absolutely no need to over exert any pin to the point of hurting someone. Pushing limits is one thing, hurting is another. And if a "highly ranked" instructor can't pin someone effectively in a training environment or demonstration without hurting them, they shouldn't be "highly ranked" at all.

The entire reason the "tap" is there is to alert nage/tori/instructor/whatever that uke's boundaries have been reached. Some tap right when they reach it, some tap on a hard limit. Still, it's a safety measure ... for training. Safety measures are there for a reason.

And this part:

"Releasing the pin simply because someone starts tapping could become a dangerous habit, presumably because a clever assailant would use that to trick you."

Wow, just wow. How many times have we read threads about the viability of aikido in a "real" fight? Or aikido versus another martial art? And how many times have we read people replying that the chances of fighting another martial artists were slim to none? So, who, exactly, is it that we're going to fight and who will know to use tapping as a way to trick you? And how many times will that come up?

Unless things were completely different than what they sound like upon reading this, I'd steer clear of that instructor.
Consider the number of people walking around in "TAPOUT" tshirts at this very moment. Folks know to tap to get someone to stop hurting them. A few of the bad guys I've bounced have tried to tap out of immobilizations, but I tend to work a lot of cage fights. My best response is to let up a little bit on the pin, but keep it on enough to maintain control until the police arrive. If they keep trying to tap when I know the pin is slack enough to not injure, I will communicate with them, ask them what hurts, and how I can make them more comfortable, like maybe just switch to the cuffs or choke them out if they really want to be unpleasant about things....

Sounds like that instructor was trying to use a very valid point to cover a lapse in skill and judgement. Demonstrating in front of a class is very different than controlling an aggressor. It is a good idea to really practice awareness and zanshin while pinning someone out. It is a good idea to develop as much sensitivity to your uke's position, tensions, and attitude as possible, so that you can control an aggressor safely for both people.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:08 PM   #11
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
Consider the number of people walking around in "TAPOUT" tshirts at this very moment. Folks know to tap to get someone to stop hurting them. A few of the bad guys I've bounced have tried to tap out of immobilizations, but I tend to work a lot of cage fights. My best response is to let up a little bit on the pin, but keep it on enough to maintain control until the police arrive. If they keep trying to tap when I know the pin is slack enough to not injure, I will communicate with them, ask them what hurts, and how I can make them more comfortable, like maybe just switch to the cuffs or choke them out if they really want to be unpleasant about things....

Sounds like that instructor was trying to use a very valid point to cover a lapse in skill and judgement. Demonstrating in front of a class is very different than controlling an aggressor. It is a good idea to really practice awareness and zanshin while pinning someone out. It is a good idea to develop as much sensitivity to your uke's position, tensions, and attitude as possible, so that you can control an aggressor safely for both people.
You just reiterated my point. How many people are going to get into fights with martial artists or fighters who know how to tap? With the exception of cage fights, by their very nature have submissions and bouncers who have to subdue, again, how many aikido people are going to actually find themselves in this position that a highly ranked instructor needs to hurt someone to get the point across?
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:37 PM   #12
Krystal Locke
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
You just reiterated my point. How many people are going to get into fights with martial artists or fighters who know how to tap? With the exception of cage fights, by their very nature have submissions and bouncers who have to subdue, again, how many aikido people are going to actually find themselves in this position that a highly ranked instructor needs to hurt someone to get the point across?
I generally dont bounce the cage fighters, although it does happen once in a while. I am bouncing the untrained, cranked up audience, primarily. They tap. They know about it because they see other people doing it. They pay a lot of money to watch other people tap out, they buy tshirts so that other folks watching cage fights might mistake them for a cage fighter who has tapped someone else out, and they know all about tapping out. A lot of them think that watching cage fights makes them real fighters.

If someone was jacking me up in a fight, I'd try tapping too.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:46 PM   #13
lbb
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

People, what does this have to do with anything? TAPOUT t-shirts, bouncing in bars...are any of you so confused that you can't tell the difference between practice on the mat and pinning Joe Random I-Don't-Know-You who tried to get wrong with you? I don't think so! If someone taps, and you release OR NOT, either way it's a choice, it's YOUR choice. Please don't tell me that you're studying a martial art and you don't have the mental acuity to recognize your situation and make an appropriate choice accordingly.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:22 PM   #14
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
People, what does this have to do with anything? TAPOUT t-shirts, bouncing in bars...are any of you so confused that you can't tell the difference between practice on the mat and pinning Joe Random I-Don't-Know-You who tried to get wrong with you? I don't think so! If someone taps, and you release OR NOT, either way it's a choice, it's YOUR choice. Please don't tell me that you're studying a martial art and you don't have the mental acuity to recognize your situation and make an appropriate choice accordingly.
It is very hard to choose when you are scared. More likely you fall back on habit and training. Very seldom have I seen a dojo where they practice not letting go when someone taps as a valid thing to do.

The evil seminar sensei is exactly right, but for all the wrong reasons.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:58 PM   #15
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Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
The evil seminar sensei is exactly right, but for all the wrong reasons.
No, he's wrong, for all the wrong reasons. Your argument about training for "real life" is invalid if your training isn't exactly what you'd do in a self-defense situation, and allowing someone to tap out if you're in a self-defense situation is stupid. If you (and he) really believe that human beings are incapable of behaving in any way different in "real life" than in training, then you shouldn't let someone tap out in training, either -- with predictable results, and a sharp lesson in human stupidity. As the saying goes, if you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible reminder.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:27 PM   #16
Krystal Locke
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

My training is partially what I do in a real life situation. It has to be partial, and I have to be very aware of the partiality. I have had to control people much harder irl than I can on the mat, because I dont want to run out of training partners. I've had to either sink a choke in so that the guy actually passed out so I could cuff him and drag him out. My dojomates shouldn't have to go through that. I've picked apart a collapsed mosh pit by picking people up by the hair because I knew there was a small girl under the pile who was getting crushed. I cant really train that way without hard feelings. And I cannot keep a pin on while someone is tapping on the mat, but I have had to on the street.

I have had to modify my training so that I respond correctly when I use my training. Sometimes, I back a pin off quickly, a friend is tapping wildly for a reason I do not see. Sometimes, most of the time, I will back a pin off a tiny bit, but maintain the pin. They stop tapping, but are still controlled, and I can move to a safer immobilization to make space for me to get out of the pin. Taking their pinned arm and sticking it down their belt in back helps a bit, hojojutsu is a nice art I'd like more of. I could keep a pin on while my uke taps, but I will lose friends. Good zanshin is important. How do you train to not fall for a fake tap or to not let someone who still has bad intent up when they tap?

The great paradox of martial arts training is that we cannot fully train the way we would fight. I have to make a careful distinction, that distinction is very difficult, and I have to consider stuff other folks dont in their training. And that's ok.

We are maybe saying the same thing from two different perspectives. You're saying that we have to maintain a dichotomy in our training, and so am I. You seem to be saying that it should be possible for someone to distinguish between their training and their fighting, and lay more on on the street. I am saying that it should be possible for someone to distinguish between their training and their fighting, and lay less on on the mat. I think my direction to that truth is more functional, because it is easier to dial down and not bust a friend and dojomate up in a non-stressful situation than it is to dial up an ingrained practice in a hugely stressful situation.

Folks do lose fights on the street sometimes because they let go of someone who is tapping. Those folks are well trained good martial artsts who did not evaluate the situation properly and did not choose correctly but acted as they had trained.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:49 PM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
"Once, during the rollover for a pin, the free arm became trapped under uke's body, and uke started tapping immediately. The instructor held the pin, and commanded access to the trapped arm. More tapping resulted. There were at least a couple of iterations of this. Eventually the presenter shifted position slightly, which allowed the uke to free his arm and submit it for pinning along with the other one.

That demonstration concluded, bowing ensued, but uke was out of commission for the rest of the weekend.

Being a man of clarity and precision, the instructor explained to us that we should never release a pin just because someone taps."

Could you clarify this part? It reads as if the instructor knew the free arm was pinned under the body. It also reads as if uke was hurt enough to not continue training the rest of the weekend. Is that correct?tor.
DRAMATIC IRONY.
The WHOLE POINT of the essay is this is not a GOOD THING (TM)

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:26 PM   #18
Susan Dalton
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Love this discussion! My friend and I have this conversation quite often. All martial arts practiced in a"friendly" setting have built in assumptions. Those assumptions must exist so we can get up and go to work the next day. Yes, someone can break my nose with an atemi and maybe she would in a "real" situation, but on the mat we play nice. Personally, I believe that it is my responsibility, as my power increases, for my sensitivity to uke to increase as well. I would rather err on the too nice side rather than the "I am so sorry I snapped your arm with my nikyo" side.
Susan
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:51 PM   #19
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
DRAMATIC IRONY.
The WHOLE POINT of the essay is this is not a GOOD THING (TM)
Never said I was quick on the uptake. LOL. I figured that out after my last post. Although it wasn't a sure thing.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:06 AM   #20
Diana Frese
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Please bear with me. I am indeed grateful for the explanations of the difference between the mat and real life concerning the need for consideration of the training partner in the dojo. But I have a confession to make that refers to the visiting instructor looking in the mirror.

Some of the women may be able to look back to the days when male dojo mates might have not wanted to take class when a woman was teaching. This story is about one of them who I knew did not like the idea of a woman teaching. But what I did was inappropriate with regards to the others in the class.

The scheduled instructor was going for higher education in his chosen field of architecture. I picked up the phone at the desk. It was noon class, and student teachers were scheduled/ "Who's the highest kyu rank there," the familiar voice asked. "I am," I replied honestly. "Then you teach the class"

Because I was focusing on the disapproval that one student might be feeling, I decided to teach "triple tenkans." Yamada Sensei and T.K. Lee, one of our senpais, and I am sure others, often taught techniques with two or more tenkan turns so, since I liked that approach, that is what I did, the whole time. When I finally looked at the people, they had red faces and their breathing seemed labored.

Then without looking at the mirror I knew I had been guilty of vanity.

I hope you all don't mind this digression. I'm adding it because I think it is another example of not being considerate and not looking out for the welfare of others in one's dojo.

thanks again for the main examples you all have mentioned about training on the mat and how to deal with situations in real life confrontations. They are very, very important.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:42 AM   #21
Susan Dalton
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Diana said,

"Then without looking at the mirror I knew I had been guilty of vanity."

If we're honest, most teachers have been guilty of the kind of vanity you're describing. Sometimes we learn from watching what others do and deciding we want to do that. Sometimes we learn from watching what others do and deciding we don't want to do that. Sometimes we learn by screwing up ourselves. And sometimes we have to screw up over and over before we learn. Good for you for being aware enough of your audience that you knew immediately.
Susan
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:06 PM   #22
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
[\]
Could you clarify this part? It reads as if the instructor knew the free arm was pinned under the body. It also reads as if uke was hurt enough to not continue training the rest of the weekend. Is that correct? [\]
Hi Mark. Yes, that is correct.
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:31 PM   #23
R.A. Robertson
Dojo: Still Point Aikido Center
Location: Austin, TX, USA
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Hi All,

I just want to take a minute to step back into the conversation. For the record, I want to make it clear I'm not against hard training (though I don't see a lot of value in "hard for hard's sake"). What I do like to insist on is established safety protocols, and clear consent and agreement between all parties at all times.

Part of my view of aikido is it's capacity for establishing a very deep connection with a partner or adversary. I'm not a fan of any aikido that is heavy on personal development at the expense of this connection.

I'm also on a fence as to whether I think this article as written fairly characterizes this instructor. The incidents were enough to raise my concern, and that of some others. I hadn't seen this particular teacher in a long time, so I'm in no position to know if that weekend represents his current stage, his future trajectory, or perhaps an uncharacteristically feisty but temporary burst of unfortunate exuberance.

It's also fair to disclose that, over time, there are those that I've hurt. These have been thankfully few and far between. At least, so far as I know -- but that's part of the problem, isn't it? When is post-training soreness normal, when is a small injury a random thing not worth mentioning, and when does an individual or a group need to confront someone whose training is simply too risky?

As for me, I deeply regret any harm ever done. I accept that what we do involves some inherent risk, and no matter all our precautions, accidents will happen sooner or later -- to ourselves, and to those we touch. At no point in the context of our training, should injury be seen as a sign of skill or toughness. Whatever value can be derived after the fact, should be in attending to what not to do.

For those who hurt us, and for ourselves when we hurt others, a degree of forgiveness has to be part of our training. But only to that degree. Beyond this too often invisible boundary, we have to know when something is not tolerable, and take action against it.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:59 AM   #24
Gary David
 
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Re: Like an Unsheathed Sword

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
On the assumption that sensei knows better than uke what they can "cope with"? Demonstrably, it was nage's judgment that was in error in this case...significantly so.

It ain't what you don't know that gets you...it's what you know that just ain't so.
Mary
All of these interactions have two sides or maybe many sides even given that nage or teachers responsibilities may lead....still when one is teaching you are looking at any number of inputs coming at you rather than the general one coming from teacher to students. At seminars you have even more diverse personalities, most you may have never come in contact with, looking up at you. Not all of these folks have the same agenda or are there for the same reason or have the same expectations........sometimes the "noise" these folks knowingly or unknowingly direct at you just gets to you as a teacher..... We are after all only human...having bad days tossed in sometimes making it easy to let go for a moment. Given we may all be trying to get to that point were we just turn and smile...resolving all conflicts and we should all try for that......

As for me I have only knowingly hurt two people in my 38 years of being involved in Aikido, both times as a result of a long build up of crap from the other person..... one I was sorry for afterwards and the other not so much. In both cases I could have left the mat giving up "my house" so to speak to someone who knew what they were doing....doing it for that very reason. In taking the 10,000 falls I have taken over the years I can recall only about 10 people who were seriously trying to do damage to me on the mat.... I think that is not bad as a general comment.

I don't favor what happened in the mentioned seminar though it is clear through my experiences there are a number of reasons it may happen and sometimes in the "moment" we can't control everything.

Gary
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