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Old 06-28-2013, 10:48 PM   #1
Michael Varin
Dojo: Aikido of Fresno
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Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
I also realised that many of the 'standard' attacks we work with in aikido are not really effective attacks at all and therefore of little real use when searching for 'true' aikido.
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 06-29-2013, 01:08 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

"standard" attacks? Suppose shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, katetori, katatetori, munetsuki + attacks from the rear are those I've seen most consistently at different places I"ve trained or visited.
In terms of effective or unrealistic....Is the goal of dealing with the attacks to learn a on-the-street self-defense system or to learn to pattern the body/mind to do aikido?
The reason I am asking this question before proceeding is that an attack like shomenuchi is sometimes ridiculed as "nobody attacks like that;" however, if the principle to be learned is a strong irimi that enters under the sword, then it is eminently practical to practice it over and over.
To me, a "proper" attack is on-target and focused, does not freeze or root once "delivered," and ideally it is suited for nage's level of competence in how hard and fast it is delivered - it should provide enough energy for nage to be able to do the called-upon technique but no so much he is totally overwhelmed and fails every time.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:12 AM   #3
Marc Abrams
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Kata vs Kumite..........

This "argument" is now like beating the blood out of a fossilized dead horse.... There have been some quirky beliefs expressed, but believes, philosophies, etc. cannot trump the fact that the proof/truth is tangible. What constitutes training that does not result in real abilities amidst real situations vs what does work is kind of obvious.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:52 AM   #4
Mark Freeman
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
This "argument" is now like beating the blood out of a fossilized dead horse....
Hi Marc,

it feels good to be back in the fray

My statement that Michael clipped to start this thread, was pretty inelegantly put and I probably should have qualified as my own experience, rather than sounding like a generalisation applied to everyone.

I have happily taught my own students that which I have learnt from my teacher. I have been comfortable with the fact that much of what we do in aikido is 'stylised', the attacks are there to demonstrate and practice principles. They don't have to be totally realistic, just realistic enough to understand the point. Training with beginners is completely 'unreal', it has to be, how would they learn if it wasn't so. As we improve it can get more realistic, but aikido in and of itself is a collaboration between training partners, each style having its own particular norms. We all abide by the rules that we are taught by our own teacher/dojo.
In our case the primary goal is to achieve co-ordination of mind and body, which can then be applied to daily life. My own teacher long ago gave up teaching aikido as a 'self defence', preferring the training to be geared towards living a happier more congruent life.

I've never really been interested in the question/argument of whether aikido will work in a 'real' situation as both times I have been in imminent danger of getting my head kicked in, I used communication to resolve the situation (winning without fighting, maybe?).

I'm sure that when you first touched hands with DH, you had will have had a moment of questioning all that you knew, I know I did. The same thing happened with Corky.. I agree with you that although philosophy is interesting, it is with hands on, that one really finds out what reality is.

Anyway, thanks for your input, good to see you again

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:30 AM   #5
Mark Freeman
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.
Hi Michael,

Sorry I missed you when I was over in the States, I would have liked to call by your dojo and shared some mat time. Your country is so big, and my van was slow and time finite, I just couldn't get to see everyone I wanted to.

I'm not sure I can address all of the questions you pose with any form of comprehensive answer. It seems to me that everyone practices with their own level of intensity, given the particular training paradigm in each dojo/style.

The type of attack that I was 'schooled' in at my dojo is one that could be labeled soft/focussed/high intent.It is effective in that it provides the energy for nage to work with. In the case of a working with a lower grade it would be much lower intensity and could be seen from the outside as ineffective.

As I mentioned in the other thread, on my travels I was able to comfortably deal with those I practiced with, as they were all attacking with a similar feel to what I was used to, somewhat 'harder' in some cases.

However, Corky's brand of attack on nage's centre, felt altogether different, much more challenging. And the means of resolution, based more on nage's intention towards uke than on technique, I found fascinating. Not a million miles from what I had been practicing all along, but different and exciting enough to want to learn more.

I think the effective/ineffective question should be focussed on - do your training methods get you to a place where you can manifest aikido under a committed attack where harmony is restored and the attack nullified or not? If yes, then it is effective, if not then it isn't.

I like the fact that there are unanswered questions and I like the fact that there are people like Corky out there who are prepared to ask the awkward questions that challenge the status quo.

L.A. is relatively not that far from you, if you find yourself down that way, why not look him up, I'm sure you would be made very welcome and I'd love to hear about your own take on what he is doing.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 06-30-2013, 12:39 AM   #6
Michael Varin
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
I like the fact that there are unanswered questions and I like the fact that there are people like Corky out there who are prepared to ask the awkward questions that challenge the status quo.

L.A. is relatively not that far from you, if you find yourself down that way, why not look him up, I'm sure you would be made very welcome and I'd love to hear about your own take on what he is doing.
It looks and sounds very intriguing. I most certainly will look to train with him if I find myself in Southern California.

But...

No one has really addressed the topic of THIS thread.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 06-30-2013, 12:55 AM   #7
Michael Varin
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Kata vs Kumite..........

This "argument" is now like beating the blood out of a fossilized dead horse.... There have been some quirky beliefs expressed, but believes, philosophies, etc. cannot trump the fact that the proof/truth is tangible. What constitutes training that does not result in real abilities amidst real situations vs what does work is kind of obvious.

Marc Abrams
OK... So you contributed next to nothing to this thread. You didn't even address one of the questions in the initial post.

Kata vs Kumite?

If one were limited to the "standard" attacks of aikido, but practiced in a way that was more like kumite than kata, would those attacks be effective?

What is "kind of obvious," Marc? I think overlooking the obvious is where most of us get ourselves into trouble.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 06-30-2013, 06:00 AM   #8
phitruong
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
What are effective and realistic attacks?
the ones that connected and did what it was intended or even unintended. could be a wildly haymaker, straight punch to the kisser, hair jerk from behind, spit in the eye, bump to the rump, kidney shot with the thumb, kicks to the knees, sweep to achilles, hot coffee in the laps, fingers sticking with honey saps, ....

aikido attacks are just reprentation of force vectors to a cylindrical object.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:12 AM   #9
Marc Abrams
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
OK... So you contributed next to nothing to this thread. You didn't even address one of the questions in the initial post.

Kata vs Kumite?

If one were limited to the "standard" attacks of aikido, but practiced in a way that was more like kumite than kata, would those attacks be effective?

What is "kind of obvious," Marc? I think overlooking the obvious is where most of us get ourselves into trouble.
Michael:

I am assuming that your response to me was rhetorical. Life is kind of like driving by Braille. If you are moving in one direction and hit a wall, the smart thing to do is to turn. If a person chooses to overlook the obvious, then do you really think that pointing out the obvious is going to accomplish anything? There is a big, big world out there. If a person chooses to remain within a very limited environment and assume that this accurately represents the larger world, then that is simply their choice and their right to make that choice. The outcome of that choice will reflect the accuracy of the assumption/choice.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-30-2013, 10:33 AM   #10
CorkyQ
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.
Hi Michael,

I am pleased to make your acquaintance on the board and I am so happy to receive your questions.

The questions you pose have informed my practice since around 2004.

I have found through extensive inquiry that the traditional technique emulation model of teaching aikido, while teaching the movements inherent in the art, inadvertently tends to instill a rigidity of response which requires uke to be in collusion with nage or requires nage to apply force to get uke's attack to fit the path of the technique.

From its inception, aikido has been taught using a technique emulation process that is natural to martial arts. Most martial arts have sets of movements called kata, which represent the physical forms by which the respective art derives it effectiveness.

In most martial arts the defining purpose of the art is to limit or destroy the ability of the opposing conflict participants to damage or control the martial artist. In almost all martial arts, damaging or controlling the opposing participants is how the purpose is met. Thus, the operating principle of most martial arts is that the participant who outperforms the other(s) wins the fight, and most likely through damaging or controlling the adversary(ies).

Aikido techniques can be used for the same purpose. Those of us who have felt the potential for damage or control in the aikido-world wristlocks we call sankyo, nikkyo, or kotegaeshi or who have been thrown across the room or driven into the mat understand how powerful aikido can be if used for typical martial purposes.

However, if used with a different purpose, a different intention, aikido operates on the principle that the participants are "in it together" for an outcome that beneficially resolves the conflict for all participants. Perhaps this fundamental difference in purpose requires a fundamental difference in the way the art is taught.

Kata (or technique) training can build a habitual response and doesn't take into consideration the natural variations in the expression of any attack in direction, intention, intensity, or level of commitment.

But aikido training in which the path of aiki is determined by the energetic interaction of participants instead of a pre-set movement takes into account all the variants, because the path is being created as a unified harmonious flow of ki. When approached this way, the aikido may effortlessly manifest in a path that doesn't fit what nage might have executed as his go-to technique for that attack, whereas unwanted side effects may be created by forcing an attacker to follow the path of nage's go-to technique.

At the beginning of seminars I facilitate I am uke for every participant. Even beginners will usually have trained enough to competently complete a throw from my attack. Everyone does wonderful beautiful youtube worthy aikido. Then I go through the group again, but this time I embody real attack intention. Suddenly a new dynamic comes into play and the outcome is very different.

Please understand that my intention is not to stop anyone from doing a technique. With the energy I am giving them I should be on the mat instantly. Instead there is almost always a struggle before they either disengage from me or try to throw me hard, at which point I have to cease my attack or risk injury.

So where is the disconnect? I can relate to the idea of aikido as nothing more than a practice of self-purification as Janet suggested, if that is the way you want to see it -- I certainly adhere to that philosophy myself. I am not expecting a deadly attack and I would die happy if I am never called upon to deal with another one.

But I also believe that if I am really getting what the old man was blathering on about, my aikido will be martially effective as well. Surely Osensei, this master of deadly arts who had killed in combat and been the target of deadly attacks would not give his students something that would sound really nice in theory, but leave them sitting ducks to anyone with a real intention to destroy them.

In traditional emulation based teaching there are problems from the start with an art dedicated to harmonizing instead of overcoming. When a student enters the dojo and lines up in seiza to watch his instructors demonstrate a technique, there is an understanding that he is here to learn what the guy in the fancy pants is doing, not the guy who is being flipped around the mat.

Unconsciously, whether stated or not, the student will understand the point of aikido to be throwing the partner. When he is practicing, he will be praised the more readily his partner gets to the ground and if he is ineffective in his technique the sensei will refine his instruction with the goal of getting the result of grounding his uke more efficiently. It naturally becomes, immediately, a result oriented practice rather than a process oriented one.

The subliminal or not so subliminal message is that despite all the jabber about aikido not being about winning or losing, one's aikido is said to be "working" when the result of uke going to the ground is achieved.

You can tell if this is the focus in your instruction (on either end) if the instructor's corrections are geared toward overcoming resistance with leverage or positioning or to making it impossible for uke not to go to the ground. In real life attacks, if I am embracing the idea of "loving protection of all things," the last thing I want is for my attacker to go to the ground. That's where he is most likely to be negatively impacted. But if he does go all the way through his attack, I want to be protecting him from the danger when he falls, not adding to his danger. I want us both to benefit from our interaction.

Usually, since all the focus is on the technique, most aikidoka tend to think of their attack as something to kill time and to provide their partner with an "attack dummy" while waiting for their turn to practice the throw, that is unless instructed specifically as to what they are supposed to be doing to facilitate the throw. Unfortunately it has been my experience that most teachers instruct their students "not to resist the throw," but to "keep up the attack."

Unfortunately this ambiguous approach is usually misinterpreted because most classes on ukemi are about staying safe, not about giving an attack with authentic attack intention. The main result of this as far as I can see is that to avoid getting hurt or scolded, students learn to perform ukemi in a vacuum that just happens to be moving next to a nage in a vacuum. No real connection, no real intention except that every aspect of the technique be realized whether appropriate to the attack or not.

The attack then becomes meaningless except making uke something for nage to drag around the mat, or else the effortless in the technique comes from uke's performance of harmony with it instead of the other way around. The latter is fantastic for learning the movements of aikido, but not so good for learning what to do when the attack comes in the natural variants of an off-the-mat attacker who has the intention of sending nage to the hospital or morgue, not the intentionof wanting to help nage learn so the attacker can learn when it's his turn.

For the past nine and one-half years, I have been developing a system of teaching aikido from a base of ukemi -- not ukemi as in how to roll to protect yourself from your loving protector, but as in how to meaningfully, continuously extend a flow of authentic attack energy to the partner's central core so that he or she may find aiki all the way to the conclusion without a pre-learned technique.

How I define authentic attack energy is, of course, crucial to the validity of my approach, so if you don't see it the same way as I you may not see the value in the approach. Authentic attack energy is energy transmitted from the central core of the attacker with the intention of impacting the central core of the target by either destroying it or controlling it.

This is where it gets tricky, because authentic attack energy never kindly stops an inch from your throat. Nor do we want each encounter on the mat to be truly life or death.

The study in our dojo is largely about maintaining authentic attack energy at safe levels of intensity. When my uke maintains an intention to impact my center I can then start to see how that intention is actually creating the aikido and how much of what I erroneously do in the name of aikido is either forcing my partner into my technique or withdrawing in my vague hope that uke will somehow find his way to the mat without my help. I never get those benefits of seeing where my understanding of aikido falls short if I don't have that kind of authentic attack energy to show me where I am screwing it up. (Mark Freeman has spoken about that.)

Please understand I am not suggesting aikidoka permit the attacker to set the course of events, I am saying that when aiki manifests purely from the energetic connection of uke and nage, the attacker does the most wonderful job of placing himself on the ground though a path that injures no one, yet may be through a "technique" one never learned.
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Old 06-30-2013, 10:57 AM   #11
CorkyQ
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
the ones that connected and did what it was intended or even unintended. could be a wildly haymaker, straight punch to the kisser, hair jerk from behind, spit in the eye, bump to the rump, kidney shot with the thumb, kicks to the knees, sweep to achilles, hot coffee in the laps, fingers sticking with honey saps, ....

aikido attacks are just reprentation of force vectors to a cylindrical object.
Yes - all those things, but when the intentions of those attacks are "pulled" to avoid injury to nage, the authenticity of the attack is lost.

If you want to see if your uke is maintaining authentic attack energy, stop your aiki in the middle of the action and see if your uke just hangs there in space in some weird awkward position on the verge of being off balance - - or if he immediately regains balance, and his wild haymaker continues through your skull, he punches all the way through your kisser, he jerks your hair until you can feel it coming out of your scalp, he continues to bump your rump, you can feel his thumb pushing into your kidney, you can feel his foot impacting your knee without quitting, he goes all the way through the sweep of the ankle, etc. all of which can be done safely with a lowered intensity.

If he doesn't go down from his own attack, then he will reach and impact his target or feel resistance to the attack. If he does go through the attack to its final conclusion, then I rely on my attacking partner to give me honest, informed feedback as to whether he felt forced to fall or whether he felt supported and protected through it. But for me, the most important part of making real progress in this art of harmony is uke's authentic attack intention maintained all the way through the attack, whether I am in the role of nage or uke.
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:04 AM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Corky, interesting post and I hope to meet you some day - just for the record, you say "the idea of aikido as nothing more than a practice of self-purification as Janet suggested, if that is the way you want to see it..."
I apologize for this as it is tangential but cannot leave this unaddressed: I do not read anything in my words to come up with such an interpretation, and it is certainly not how I view aikido as my worldview specifically rejects a concept of sin or soiling that requires purification.
I do believe that my post specifically addresses the desirability of attacks that are martially meaningful, as in shomenuchi that induces nage to practice strong irimi.

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 06-30-2013 at 11:06 AM.

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Old 06-30-2013, 02:25 PM   #13
CorkyQ
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Corky, interesting post and I hope to meet you some day - just for the record, you say "the idea of aikido as nothing more than a practice of self-purification as Janet suggested, if that is the way you want to see it..."
I apologize for this as it is tangential but cannot leave this unaddressed: I do not read anything in my words to come up with such an interpretation, and it is certainly not how I view aikido as my worldview specifically rejects a concept of sin or soiling that requires purification.
I do believe that my post specifically addresses the desirability of attacks that are martially meaningful, as in shomenuchi that induces nage to practice strong irimi.
My humble apologies for my misinterpretation of your words, Janet! I hope to meet you too some day. Mark Freeman speaks so very highly of you and I love your perspective (hopefully accurately understood!) that I see in your posts.

Sincerely,

Corky
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:05 PM   #14
graham christian
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.
1) What are the standard attacks? Strikes which represent the motions of weapons. Holds which represent the other having a weapon.

2) They are very effective.

3) Very realistic.

4) They are effective because they are designed to handle motion.or immobilize.

5) As in anything lack of effectiveness is only due to lack of skill or ability.

6) As they are all effective then degree of effectiveness depends only on level of ability.

My 2 pence.

Peace.G.
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Old 07-01-2013, 02:43 AM   #15
ryback
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.

I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.

But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.

What are aikido's standard attacks?

Are they ineffective?

Are they unrealistic?

If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?

If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?

If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?

What are effective and realistic attacks?

Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.
Each human being is a unique personality with unique choices and paths in life. Yet, in most civilized countries, there is a common ground that everyone has to cross regardless of his future choices, that of education and training.
For example, a boy goes to school and starts learning his alphabet one letter at a time, sometimes it gets hard to learn how to "draw" each letter and some of them are more difficult than others but eventually he learns. The same goes for grammar and spelling. He learns to read or write using a set of rules in very simple sentences that have nothing to do with the way we speak or write in our daily routine and they look "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
When the time comes for the boy to write a composition the topic is speciffic and he has pre given directions about the way to develop it, something that never happens when someone wants to write an essay as part of his research. Once again the path to knowledge looks "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
Now the boy wants to learn the guitar so he goes to a teacher and he starts doing finger exercises. And then he plays simple scales. And then he plays the scales faster and the teacher adds more complex scales. Then he learns to combine them. Still, nothing that the teacher makes him play has anything to do with what a rock band plays in a live show. Again the path to learning looks "stylized", "unrealistic" and "ineffective".
Now the boy has grown up, he has become an astronomer and has written two books on his research and one science-fiction novel. On his free time he likes to play with his rock band mates in an old garage. They play rock songs that were hits when they were young and lately he has written a couple of tunes on his own.
Where would he be without all of his "stylized", "unrelistic" and "ineffective education and training?
Each and everyone of us has had similar kinds of training during his life. Yet, when it comes to martial arts, we get confused and start asking questions about the bleeding obvious.
The attacks in aikido are realistic and effective and so are aikido's techniques. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can start with realistic approach from a begginer's level. It would be as stupid as asking a 6 year old boy to write an analysis about Wagner's operas. He doesn't know how to write, he doesn't know how to develop a subject and he doesn't know Wagner. Yet, he may be a future Wagner analyst.
Aikido supply us with the tools of martial knowledge and esoteric self discovery. The part of it that looks stylized and unrealistic is one step of the way but it is not what it looks like. It may look ineffective from the outside but it is the most effective that the student is capable at the moment, so it is realistic for his level. And he must use it to go to the next level and go on step by step until one day he becomes a warrior.
When a person is a capable aikido warrior, is something that cannot be defined or set in the timeline of his training and it cannot be trully tested by exams or contests just as you can't tell the exact date when the little boy became a scientist and an author. There is no date, only the sum of one's training.
I agree with Graham's comment about effectiveness. The lack of it, is only sign of incompetence on the side of the person who fails to be effective. You can't put the blame on the art in order to get an excuse for it. The attacks and the techniques of aikido have their roots in the samurai martial training to be used in the battlefield. It can't get any more realistic and effective than that...
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:59 PM   #16
JP3
 
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

I'll swing at this, below, but I do want to ask about the term "Aikido Warrior." Isn't that non sequitur? Aikijutsu "warrior" would be more correct, the way I understand the meanings behind the Japanese suffix of "Do" vs. that of "Jutsu." But, I may be off there, that just "rang wrong" in my ear, the warrior part. If you are training for a warrior's psychological standpoint of reacting to aggression, that would be bujutsu in one of it's forms, would it not. OK, enough on that.

I very much enjoyed Corky's initial post, he said, in a much more literate way than I typically do, what I've been telling people for years. "The bad guy ain't gonna quit that easy, so stay on top of him." Very much less impressive use of language on my part.

On to the Q&A:

Q1: "What are aikido's standard attacks?"

A1. IMO, Aikido doesn't have attacks. Aikido training simulates attacks, by borrowing other martial ways' attack forms to be performed by uke. That's my way of explaining part of the weird dichotomy inherent in practice. Maybe a poor one, but it works to transmit a concept to beginners. Still, the attacks I arm ukes with are more similar to PhiTruong's list than a very traditional school might, as nobody I know, or have ever met anywhere, including overseas, has ever been attacked by a guy with a bo staff, a sword, edged, blunt, or wooden. Knife? Certainly. Gun? Unfortunately, yes. Bat, club or stick, you bet. Fists, slaps, elbows, kicks, etc? Absolutely. (No we don't chase our beginners with batons, but we have dealt with attackers wielding them in upper-belt practice.)

Q2: "Are they ineffective?"

A2: I hate semantics, but you need to define "effective" in order to get good answers to this question. Effective for what? Training proficient people? If that is the goal, read the posts above and I'd say yes. If effective means that every attack could effectively end a confrontation, because the attacker gained a dominant outcome by using it, I'd say no, not in the beginning stages. The attacks which we use in class, especially in the begging stages, particularly with kyu grades, are very stylized, though it explained how the stylized form is derived from, but does not simulate/emulate an actual overhand right, good left hook, or a Thai leg kick. Still, one must have a place to begin which reduces risk ... and fright on the part of the beginner.

Q3: "Are they unrealistic?"

A3: In the beginning, I would say a definite "sorta." Standard beginner showmen "can" be delivered as a technically-correct palm-heel strike from certain traditions, so... that can be realistic. Are they being delivered in a realistic, tactically-effective manner? Probably not, not with beginners. But, one must learn to stand before one can compete in the Olympic 110m high hurdles, right? So, in this sense, the "unrealism" has a purpose, as long as it is understiood that this period is akin to training wheels on a child's bicycle... they'll come off eventually, if you really want to Ride the bike.

Q4: "If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?"

A4: It can be any one, or any combination of two or more of the above, or all of them.

Q5: "If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?"

A5: If we didn't start out learning against the other, "unrealistic" types, there would be MANY more injuries in class. Students would be broken before they can learn how to deal with such, dojos would close up, the art would die out, and everyone would stand around bored talking about the good old days.

Q6: "If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?"

A6: I think I covered this in the above.

Q7: "What are effective and realistic attacks?"

A7: PhiTruong's list is a good, rhythmic start. One could say that anything which steals uke's body control, balance or posture is an "effective" attack, e.g. gently nudging someone hip-to-hip out into traffic in front of a bus. Quite effective, very realistic ... and sneaky. Still satisfies the point.

I think it boils down to learning curves, and how steep the curve the dojo's main instructor(s) wish it to be. Gentler learning curves will keep "real" out of the class for a longer period, and probably enjoy a higher-retention rate than steeper curves. However, there is a certain point one must reach, on the way up, before a full-speed lower gut fighting knife slash, designed to make one bleed to death rather than a traditional tanto stab" could be competently handled.

And, the only way to find that out is to have some dude or chick try to take your belly and open it like a ziplock baggie. I'm not going to personally get in that line yet. You?

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:45 PM   #17
Gary David
 
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Yannis Mousoulis wrote: View Post

I agree with Graham's comment about effectiveness. The lack of it, is only sign of incompetence on the side of the person who fails to be effective. You can't put the blame on the art in order to get an excuse for it. The attacks and the techniques of aikido have their roots in the samurai martial training to be used in the battlefield. It can't get any more realistic and effective than that...
Aikido is a one step art and it is practiced that way. We are talking about being 6 feet apart. Anything closer than that the standard Aikido techniques break down. At what is called intimate distance, say 2 feet or less, you can't react fast enough to be very effective against attacks that likely are not what is being presented in the dojo and your responses are not likely to be anything like the standard Aikido techniques......hard for me to see that not being first time effective at this distance is a sign of incompetence for failing to train effectively at the 6 foot distance.....so maybe we don't do Aikido here...

Just a comment....
Gary
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Old 07-01-2013, 06:07 PM   #18
graham christian
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Gary Welborn wrote: View Post
Aikido is a one step art and it is practiced that way. We are talking about being 6 feet apart. Anything closer than that the standard Aikido techniques break down. At what is called intimate distance, say 2 feet or less, you can't react fast enough to be very effective against attacks that likely are not what is being presented in the dojo and your responses are not likely to be anything like the standard Aikido techniques......hard for me to see that not being first time effective at this distance is a sign of incompetence for failing to train effectively at the 6 foot distance.....so maybe we don't do Aikido here...

Just a comment....
Gary
Really? I'm surprised you think that.

Peace.G.
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Old 07-01-2013, 06:53 PM   #19
Brett Charvat
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

"Surely Osensei, this master of deadly arts who had killed in combat....."

-- Really? Apologies for the tangent, but who did O Sensei kill in combat?
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:39 PM   #20
jamie yugawa
 
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Brett Charvat wrote: View Post
"Surely Osensei, this master of deadly arts who had killed in combat....."

-- Really? Apologies for the tangent, but who did O Sensei kill in combat?
From my interview with Nonaka Sensei on my blog-"O-Sensei told me personally, that that was the time (The Japanese-Russo war) of his life he is most ashamed of. You know why? He killed Russians. Batto-dai. you know sword? (He) Crept up nighttime Pitch darkness. In the foxhole. You cut with the sword, (its) silent, you fire with the gun make noise. Japan was running out of metal and bullets. He never told me how many he cut …but he cut (them down)."

One little candle can light 10,000 candles- Koichi Tohei Sensei
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:46 PM   #21
Brett Charvat
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Jamie Yugawa wrote: View Post
From my interview with Nonaka Sensei on my blog-"O-Sensei told me personally, that that was the time (The Japanese-Russo war) of his life he is most ashamed of. You know why? He killed Russians. Batto-dai. you know sword? (He) Crept up nighttime Pitch darkness. In the foxhole. You cut with the sword, (its) silent, you fire with the gun make noise. Japan was running out of metal and bullets. He never told me how many he cut …but he cut (them down)."
-- Thanks for that; it's the first report I've heard of Ueshiba Morihei killing anyone. I learn something new every day.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:03 PM   #22
Michael Varin
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Wow!

This must be an extremely challenging thread.

I welcome any on topic posts.

Is it really that difficult?

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:40 PM   #23
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Having met and worked briefly with Sensei Quackenbush when He dropped by our old dojo years ago I can say from both his ukemi with me and mine with him that he is a very thoughtful Aikido practitioner with serious intent. So Sensei Quackenbush I found your posts very insightful.

In short I agree with your Aikido is only as good as your "intention" as Uke.

At least that is my experiance.

William Hazen

Last edited by Aikibu : 07-01-2013 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:45 PM   #24
Aikibu
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Gary Welborn wrote: View Post
Aikido is a one step art and it is practiced that way. We are talking about being 6 feet apart. Anything closer than that the standard Aikido techniques break down. At what is called intimate distance, say 2 feet or less, you can't react fast enough to be very effective against attacks that likely are not what is being presented in the dojo and your responses are not likely to be anything like the standard Aikido techniques......hard for me to see that not being first time effective at this distance is a sign of incompetence for failing to train effectively at the 6 foot distance.....so maybe we don't do Aikido here...

Just a comment....
Gary
Sounds reasonable. In your experience Gary can you name an art that emphasizes the 2 foot distance?

William
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:09 AM   #25
CorkyQ
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Re: Aikido's Attacks -- Reality and Effectiveness

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Wow!

This must be an extremely challenging thread.

I welcome any on topic posts.

Is it really that difficult?
I was thinking about this thread and I think a different kind of answer to your questions can be found in looking at the context in which Mark Freeman's declaration was made.

Mark Freeman: I also realised that many of the 'standard' attacks we work with in aikido are not really effective attacks at all and therefore of little real use when searching for 'true' aikido.

If I may be so bold as to explain what I think Mark meant, when he practiced at my dojo he encountered a different kind of attack than he is used to. His reference to ‘standard' attacks was from encountering the same technique emulation teaching model throughout his travels visiting numerous dojos in various parts of the world. Commonly, an instructor demonstrates a technique and the students pair up to practice the form. But often the form is learned at the expense of the formless.

In my dojo, I had no technique for him to copy, I only had authentic intention and a few simple fundamental movements. When confronted by an uke with the intention not of following his technique but of continuously impacting his center, Mark for the first time felt what it was like to really be under attack in a practice situation.

The energy I would give Mark to work with should have brought me to the mat instantly (and subsequently would as he practiced), but because I triggered his limbic system, he reflexively went into his default defense mode and tried to throw me instead of harmonizing. Even though he knew he was safe in the dojo, his state of defense kept him from allowing the aiki to become. That is, until he was able to transcend it and offer some form of love (compassion, welcoming, acceptance, forgiveness, benevolence), then boom, on the mat I'd be, feeling satisfied instead of thrown, from nothing other than a shift in consciousness on his part.

It is important to understand that I was not trying to stop Mark from doing a technique. Defending against a technique is the opposite of maintaining attack intention.

Also, it was not my intention to merely rattle Mark for effect. I am sure he will confirm that the ukemi I gave him was impacting his center continuously from a sincere place. Mark learned that the only way he was going to see me on the mat was to transcend his limbic system response and embody an intention that was in harmony with mine. In this way he made his own discoveries about that intention that were similar to mine, that the spiritual truths of aikido are literally what make the physical principles work when aikido spontaneously manifests beyond technique.

I will go out on a limb here and say that what Mark meant by using the words "true aikido" is aikido that is both martially sound and simultaneously holds true to its highest ideals. I hoped to show Mark that the embodiment of those ideals is at the very heart of aikido's effectiveness, and I wanted him to feel it on both ends of the stick.

When you experience aikido in this way, what you may have thought of before as the Founder's idealistic metaphors are revealed to be literal, practical truths. Only Mark can tell you whether he found "true aikido" on my mat, but I hope he was able to perceive some of the truths of aikido I have found working this way.
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