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Old 01-14-2013, 06:27 PM   #1
JimClark
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Posture in Iwama Aikido

I have observed for quite some time (both in video and in person) that the vast majority of Iwama Aikido practitioners tend to adopt a posture where the torso is slightly bent forward and the butt is pushed out both before and during technique. Not having come up in the Iwama tradition, I'm wondering if this is intentional, and if so what is the purpose?

I just finished listening to Stanley Pranin and Pat Hendricks Senseis podcast where some mention was made as to Morihiro Saito's posture/movement in regard to arthritis at a relatively young age (40's I believe). I have often wondered if it was possible that an entire generation of aikidoka were imitating the posture of someone not capable of a perfectly upright stance. I mean no disrespect to Saito Sensei and his students, as I have a lot of respect for the quality of Iwama Aikido. I'm simply curious to see if someone can provide some information.

Thanks,

Jim

Learn to see everything accurately. Do not do anything useless. -Miyamoto Musashi, The Earth Scroll, The Book of Five Rings.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:20 PM   #2
Chris Li
 
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Jim Clark wrote: View Post
I have observed for quite some time (both in video and in person) that the vast majority of Iwama Aikido practitioners tend to adopt a posture where the torso is slightly bent forward and the butt is pushed out both before and during technique. Not having come up in the Iwama tradition, I'm wondering if this is intentional, and if so what is the purpose?

I just finished listening to Stanley Pranin and Pat Hendricks Senseis podcast where some mention was made as to Morihiro Saito's posture/movement in regard to arthritis at a relatively young age (40's I believe). I have often wondered if it was possible that an entire generation of aikidoka were imitating the posture of someone not capable of a perfectly upright stance. I mean no disrespect to Saito Sensei and his students, as I have a lot of respect for the quality of Iwama Aikido. I'm simply curious to see if someone can provide some information.

Thanks,

Jim
Gaku Homma wrote an interesting article that touches on this. Try and guess which "respected shihan" he's talking about.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-14-2013, 08:30 PM   #3
JimClark
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Interesting. Thanks for the link Chris.

Learn to see everything accurately. Do not do anything useless. -Miyamoto Musashi, The Earth Scroll, The Book of Five Rings.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:05 PM   #4
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

I saw some pictures of myself just after my shodan test, and noticed that I had "Iwama hip" (the posture you are talking about). While I've heard some people say that there are advantages to this posture, I took measures to correct it, as it doesn't fall in line with my ideas of correct body use. Although I've noticed it still appears when I'm doing something that is particularly "Iwama style".

So from my experience, you just kind of naturally start adopting the posture, whether you like it or not. I didn't and have worked to correct it.

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Old 01-15-2013, 01:13 AM   #5
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Jim Clark wrote: View Post
I have observed for quite some time (both in video and in person) that the vast majority of Iwama Aikido practitioners tend to adopt a posture where the torso is slightly bent forward and the butt is pushed out both before and during technique. Not having come up in the Iwama tradition, I'm wondering if this is intentional, and if so what is the purpose?


Do you mean like this https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink and this https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink ?

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Old 01-15-2013, 01:35 AM   #6
sorokod
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Gaku Homma wrote an interesting article that touches on this. Try and guess which "respected shihan" he's talking about.

Best,

Chris
Saotome ?

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Old 01-15-2013, 08:22 AM   #7
Chris Li
 
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
Saotome ?
I've only seen him once, for a couple of hours, in the last 20+ years, so it'd be hard for me to say.

Anyway, they're Homma's comments, not mine, but I thought they'd be interesting in the context of the OP.

Best,

Chris

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Old 01-15-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
sorokod
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

The link to the podcast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=HlVGpTajjPQ

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Old 01-15-2013, 09:08 PM   #9
JimClark
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

David:
Neither of these images displays what I'm talking about. In the first, uke has something resembling what I'm talking about, but it's because kuzushi has already occurred, and O'Sensei has an erect posture, not what I am referring to. In the second, O'Sensei is leaned slightly forward, but is clearly in the midst of his movement and technique and is not displaying the posture I'm referring to.

Typically, I see this posture before engagement, at an intermediate step with a pause when technique is done step-wise or "kihon" as they say, and quite often as a finishing posture. Also, it is quite prevalent in many videos of Iwama weapons kata.

Regards,

Jim

Learn to see everything accurately. Do not do anything useless. -Miyamoto Musashi, The Earth Scroll, The Book of Five Rings.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:56 PM   #10
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido



This is the kind of posture you are talking about, right (the guy finishing his tsuki in front). With the back hip sticking out . I think it actually comes from the step wise way of learning Iwama Aikido. Because there are so many pauses in between the movements, there is a tendency to lean into the back hip. When I watch Saito Sensei do Aikido, it's not very pronounced, however many of his students do it a lot. It's like the bokken bounce at the end of the suburi, Saito sensei's is noticeable, but his student's is much more so.

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Old 01-16-2013, 03:54 AM   #11
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Saito Morihiro (as I was told by Paolo Corallini) called it the 'Donald Duck Posture' and considered it incorrect.

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:42 AM   #12
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Saito Morihiro (as I was told by Paolo Corallini) called it the 'Donald Duck Posture' and considered it incorrect.
This is interesting considering I have often noticed it about his son to a certain extent. I really appreciate Hitohiro's aikido, but I have sometimes wondered about this aspect of his posture.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/blog/me...o_saito_12.jpg
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:54 AM   #13
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

I suspect Hitohiro posture has its cause in his tanren bo work.

Here is a clip of practitioners of his style which I think explains what I mean.

Last edited by Demetrio Cereijo : 01-16-2013 at 04:56 AM.

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Old 01-16-2013, 07:05 AM   #14
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Saito Morihiro (as I was told by Paolo Corallini) called it the 'Donald Duck Posture' and considered it incorrect.
I also heard this from other teachers in Iwama (albeit without the Disney reference). While I think angling the body as a whole is sometimes necessary, there should be no kinks or "blockages".

Carl
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:52 PM   #15
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
I also heard this from other teachers in Iwama (albeit without the Disney reference). While I think angling the body as a whole is sometimes necessary, there should be no kinks or "blockages".

Carl
So angled body as a whole is good, but bum sticking out is bad? When you say angled body, are you referring to the type of posture in Demetrio's video? If that posture is a good thing, what advantages does it offer? (this is a serious question, not a challenge)
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:52 PM   #16
JimClark
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
I suspect Hitohiro posture has its cause in his tanren bo work.

Here is a clip of practitioners of his style which I think explains what I mean.
This is exactly the posture I'm talking about in my original post/question, which still stands.

What is the purpose/benefit of this posture? Does anyone have an explanation?

To me it looks too forward biased and the bent torso does not facilitate rotation about your body axis without excessive head movement. Again, there is no disrespect intended, I'm just looking for information.

Cheers,

Jim

Learn to see everything accurately. Do not do anything useless. -Miyamoto Musashi, The Earth Scroll, The Book of Five Rings.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:40 AM   #17
ronin_10562
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

I'll take a stab at it. From my understanding the balance is still 50/50 however the pelvis is tilted downward. There exists a photo of O Sensei demonstrating a similar stance but not to that extreme. I had seen it on the AikiJournal by Stan Pranin. I cant seem to find it now.

I have found that posture is powerful. Try this test, take your normal stance and intercept a overhead attack don't redirect it and have your partner lean into it. Now try it with your pelvis tilted down, if you've done it correctly there is a large difference in the outcome. Good luck

Last edited by ronin_10562 : 01-17-2013 at 12:42 AM. Reason: spelling error

Walter Kopitov
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:57 AM   #18
Dazaifoo
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

I was at a seminar in Kumamoto some months back and received a few corrections on my stance from Hitohira Saito Sensei. By way of background, I have been practicing Iwama style since the early 90s and have seen numerous little tweaks and changes come and go over the years.

Sensei told me to keep my feet closer together than what I had originally been trained to do and my knees bent, lowering myself down. The butt out position was a result of the deeper closer stance. And it was also not so much just the rear out, it was also the belly out and sinking down. Sensei said, and I'm pretty sure I understood this well enough, that this was a way to train roppho, the infamous six directions of much debate. Hmmmnn.

The man could move, no question of that. I ended up flat on my back often enough to prove that to myself.

Now, by coincidence, I have been looking up a lot of information recently on bayonet technique, both traditional European rifles form and Japanese Jukenjutsu, looking for some connection with Iwama weapons. I know of no Aikido teachers who regularly train with Mokuju, the wooden bayonet, so I became curious.

It seems that sometime in the 1890s the Japanese military changed the style of bayonet training to a form which utilized spear techniques from different Japanese ryu. Now, I've looked at photos from that time and can't really see any radical difference in stance or attack between Japanese and European/American bayonet methods. In general, Japanese techniques tend to a more upright posture, and from World War II and onward American methods prefer a crouching position.

That said, I did notice in some pictures of the American bayonet a distinct rear end out approach to the thrust. More noticeable in the use of shorter carbines equipped with bayonet than with the longer rifles of old. As an Iwama guy, I find that kind of interesting.

http://i1250.photobucket.com/albums/...ps4378f43c.jpg

I haven't found a solid representation of Jukenjutsu with the rear out just yet. Some images in Google image search hint at it in bouts but just as many feature a straighter more upright posture.

Additionally, I have seen pictures of Ueshiba doing the tail out position in technique, used as proof of Iwama stance. I have also seen plenty of pictures of him standing upright with no twist at all. As an Iwama practioner all I can say at this point is go figure.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:56 AM   #19
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
So angled body as a whole is good, but bum sticking out is bad? When you say angled body, are you referring to the type of posture in Demetrio's video? If that posture is a good thing, what advantages does it offer? (this is a serious question, not a challenge)
No worries Robin, and no, I was not referring to the video (to be honest, I hadn't actually watched it).

I was specifically commenting on Demetrio's post about the "Donald Duck" posture, which if I understood correctly, referred to Chris Hein's post about the "back hip sticking out" and leaning back into the hip. It would appear that Saito sensei considered this incorrect, as do other prominent teachers.

By angling the body as a whole, I meant moving it while keeping it connected. So my feeling is that within reason, we can tilt and manoeuvre the body however we like according to certain ingrained principles, of which one is not breaking connections. This includes the area around the lower back.

As for the posture etc in Demetrio's video link... I've never trained with Hitohira Sensei, but I'm not sure if some parts are representational of his normal teaching. I'd extend that to the photo Chris Hein posted, since the instructor highlighted is a prominent student of Saito Sensei, whom I've heard give salient advice on posture.

Carl
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:22 AM   #20
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Hi Scott,

Have you seen this?

Hi Carl,

I was not qualifiyng Weisgard Sensei posture as the "Donald Duck Posture" (DDP) as this one other pic of Saito H Sensei is not DDP also.

DDP is the bum sticking out, like the people in the clip I linked,

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Old 01-17-2013, 02:47 PM   #21
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Hi Carl,

I was not qualifiyng Weisgard Sensei posture as the "Donald Duck Posture" (DDP) as this one other pic of Saito H Sensei is not DDP also.

DDP is the bum sticking out, like the people in the clip I linked,
Thanks for clarifying.
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:13 AM   #22
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Hello all,

Since it is (amongst others) my posterior on the line (so to speak) then I will put in my two yen's worth. Having your pictures out there on the net does leave you as a sort of sitting duck..
Sorry, I couldn't help myself - too much coffee!

By the way, we Iwama folk refer to it as the Iwama Duck :-) So we are well aware of the position as well as the problem.

I can't believe I am writing about my possible protruding posterior on Aikiweb :-)
There's always a first time for everything!

The position we are talking about occurs when you engage the front hip - and this movement becomes over-emphasized.

In aikido as we learned it in Iwama, when striking or thrusting forward weight distribution should be slightly forward, and the front hip is engaged, to transfer energy forward and outward, so slightly more than 50-50 weight distribution is called for. The front foot should be more weighted than the rear at the intended time of impact, but you should at all times be in a posture from which you can move immediately in any direction without having to re-distribute your weight.

Structural integrity is very important: a nice, clean line in the body from ground up to the head with a slight forward inclination is what we should strive for, to channel energy outwards and forward.

The problem occurs when you over-commit and your posture "breaks" from your waist up, causing the upper body to tip forward, and thereby disconnect from your lower body. This often happens if your stance is too upright (feet too close). This is when you end up with your rear end sticking out.

In the old days (1960s-1970s and early 80s) a very wide stance was used, with quite a lot of forward inclination (much like the diagram pictures of old bayonet techniques shown on this thread). .

This stance is strong, but it locks you into a position from which you cannot move unless redistributing your weight. My first Sensei - Takeji Tomita Sensei (based in Stockholm, Sweden) - told us that this deep, forward-leaning stance was based on you as uchi -tachi or uchi-jo, committing fully to your attack. Uke-tachi or Uke-jo (the role of sempai/sensei) could assume a more upright, mobile stance, as this was the more advanced role in weapons training. In the old days the kohai would only be allowed to be the attacker for years, before progressing to the defensive role.

If you notice O-Sensei in the old films, he is almost always in a quite natural stance during his execution of techniques, also in his zanshin at the end of techniques, be they tai jutsu or bukiwaza.
I noticed that Saito Sensei also went from a quite deep, forward-leaning posture in the 1970s and 80s into a more natural upright posture later on. I see this as a natural progression in Saito Sensei's own training.

We were also told in the 1970s and 80s to keep the rear leg straight (this killed my back for several years). Noticing Saito Sensei's slightly bent rear leg when I began training under him in the mid 1980s, I tried to assume this attitude in my training and found my back appreciated the change quite a lot.

So to sum it all up: structural integrity should by all means be kept. We do try to engage the forward hip when striking and thrusting forward, but overemphasis of this position causes the aforementioned affliction - quack quack...

In aiki,
Ethan Weisgard
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:29 PM   #23
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

Thanks Ethan
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:42 AM   #24
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

You're welcome :-)
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:25 AM   #25
Alex Megann
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Re: Posture in Iwama Aikido

A student of Saito Sensei's, Tony Sargeant, used to refer to the "Iwama pelvic tilt", though he wasn't sure whether this derived directly from the example of O-Sensei or from Saito's physical condition.

I find it striking that the characteristic stance in the Iwama tradition is very different from the kamae adopted in the Yoshinkan, which is much more square and tends to a pronounced bend in the front knee. I recall reading an article where Gozo Shioda gently ridiculed the posture of students at Iwama, as he felt that Saito Sensei (for whom I believe he held a deep respect) was restricted in his body movement by his long-term injuries, but his able-bodied students tried to copy him exactly.

I have seen some "Iwama-style" people standing in what seems to me an exaggerated caricature of Saito Sensei's posture, with the front leg almost straight and the weight towards the rear, and often with the backside sticking out.

Mind you, I have seen this amplification of distinctive attributions in the Ki Society too: third-generation students often look much more different in their posture and movements from what would be considered "normal" in the Aikikai than Tohei Sensei ever did.

Alex
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