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Old 09-19-2014, 09:56 AM   #126
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
It might be that the real issue is that the "seminar format" that we are all familiar with - teacher is in front of the class, demonstrates something, everyone pairs off and tries to do it - is where things went off the rails. And that was something Takeda came up with, ...
It is well-documented in his training ledgers that Takeda charged by the "technique." This was the custom in the trade, so to speak, so he did not invent the idea. It was not in his economic interest to explain deeply, nor to diminish the sense of discrete techniques rather than an underlying principle that resulted in them.

One can see the current testing and rank system as directly descending from that perspective. This was also one reason Takeda was so offended by Ueshiba trying to teach aiki directly and explicitly -- it threatened his livelihood based on set-piece "techniques." I think laying a similar charge to the current system of testing, ranking and mass seminars is lacking a proper historical understanding of the problem -- in addition to being unfair, wrong and misplaced as a moral criticism -- but --- the origin of its design defects as a teaching paradigm cannot be denied.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:45 AM   #127
Dan Richards
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Following along...

I really think this whole idea of "transmission" may have been relevant 40+ years ago. And it's obvious that looking at the movements of aikidoka and even Shihan, some of them got it and a lot of them didn't get it.

I was fairly late to the game when I started training in 1988 at the age of 27. And I started at NY Aikikai. And this was long before the internet and information being more freely shared and discussed. But even back then there were people like Mantak Chia, Peter Ralston, John Painter, and Koichi Tohei who were making previously very esoteric information quite available. Chi Kung classes and workshops were publicly available. Ki Society classes had open doors. And most of all this were clearly based in Daoist principles and practices.

This was 25 years ago. Now it's 2014. I think it can be interesting to research the past. The distant past even gets more dizzying. And I appreciate the efforts of the historians – like Stanley Pranin, Chris Li, Peter Goldbury, and Ellis Admur - for bringing information to light.

And the conclusions are basically the same. This stuff has been around, sometimes more open, sometimes not. But it's been around for a long time and can be seen in cultures all over the world.

Fast forward 25 years...

Katherine makes a great point that the "warm up" exercises are the Chi Kung / Aiki Tanren of Aikido. They've been there all along. But a huge point is, are they treated and viewed as "warm ups" or internal exercises to build the Aiki Body?

John, I agree with you that M Ueshiba wasn't that great of a systematic teach. But he obviously provided a fantastic environment for learning. I think one of the problems is when we try to look at it as a "system" at all. Ultimately, there is no system. And ultimately it's the responsibility of the student to explore and suss out what they're looking for. And this is a continuous endeavor.

Ueshiba talked about sword. When Nishio showed up, no one at Hombu knew much about swordwork. So, Nishio went to some of the top sword masters and learned. And I doubt Ueshiba taught Nishio much on the level of "technique." It was more about principles, concepts, and approach.

In all the time I trained under Nishio, he never made a physical movement and said, "The founder did it like this. He moved his hand like this and he put his feet like this." In fact Nishio moved very differently than Ueshiba. But Nishio would go on and on about Budo and principles the Founder said. And he would also frequently comment on how the movements, and the way many people who training aikido, were martially ineffective.

Nishio was already seeing a lot of Aikido being turned to shit - years ago. Same observations that you're seeing and ranting about, John, and others here.

I'm going to start a topic called Third Wave Aikido in the General forum. And rather than just bang on the whole Aiki/IP/IS aspects, I'd like to get some discussions going of the overall evolution and revolution that's occurring in Aikido. And things we can look for in the training methods and organization to see what works and is adding quality, and what's crap and needs to be removed.

A lot of Aikido really does suck. And this can be seen not just by longtime aikidoka, but other martial artists and even the general public.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 09-19-2014 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:57 AM   #128
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
A lot of Aikido really does suck. And this can be seen not just by longtime aikidoka, but other martial artists and even the general public.
But remember Sturgeon's Law. As aikidoka, we don't really see all the awful karate and judo and TKD that are out there.

Katherine
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:23 AM   #129
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
But remember Sturgeon's Law.
Katherine
that they are only good for caviar?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:32 AM   #130
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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that they are only good for caviar?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:02 PM   #131
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
It is well-documented in his training ledgers that Takeda charged by the "technique." This was the custom in the trade, so to speak, so he did not invent the idea. It was not in his economic interest to explain deeply, nor to diminish the sense of discrete techniques rather than an underlying principle that resulted in them.

One can see the current testing and rank system as directly descending from that perspective. This was also one reason Takeda was so offended by Ueshiba trying to teach aiki directly and explicitly -- it threatened his livelihood based on set-piece "techniques." I think laying a similar charge to the current system of testing, ranking and mass seminars is lacking a proper historical understanding of the problem -- in addition to being unfair, wrong and misplaced as a moral criticism -- but --- the origin of its design defects as a teaching paradigm cannot be denied.
Eh? "Custom in the trade?" Where do you get that idea?

Who else was moving around a bit, giving 10-day seminars, charging by the technique?

Before Takeda started teaching Daito ryu in this way, he trained with Sakikibara, who started to create a sort of MMA league of bujutsu, and taught thousands of students. This was an innovation in direct response to the collapse of the social system where bushi were paid stipends and given rewards for mastering bujutsu, and thus the collapse of the market for classical Japanese martial arts.

I would be interested to hear why you think this was commonplace. What other teachers and schools were doing this in the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods?

The idea that Takeda didn't like Ueshiba "directly teaching" Aiki was a cause for their falling out is common, that could be true. But it seems like Ueshiba getting closer to Deguchi was a considerable part of the strain. And Ueshiba was teaching harder, more direct, application-oriented jujutsu at the Asahi dojo before Takeda came to town and pronounced that he had been teaching incorrectly. Then he proceeded to teach them more subtle, aiki-related applications. Which confused them, so Tokimune suggested that they just start everybody over on the Hiden Mokuroku.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:02 PM   #132
Dan Richards
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
But remember Sturgeon's Law. As aikidoka, we don't really see all the awful karate and judo and TKD that are out there.
I think Judo has managed to keep up the quality for the most part, and still has a pretty good reputation.

With karate, there's so many various schools. I've trained with a lot of karate people, and a lot of them are not really clued in the bunkai aspect of their training. It's similar in the world of taijiquan. Lots of time doing single kata movements, and not enough time working in pairs and groups. Consequently, they can train for years and never get to the actual applications of the kata movements. And that's an area where a lot of karate and taijiquan sucks.

I had an 8th dan karate renshi in the same dojo where I used to teach, and he and I would exchange ideas in long discussions and on the mat. He said that one of his teachers told him that when his karate reached a high enough level it would look and feel like aikido. And I would work with the karate students on their bunkai - showing them the applications and possibilities within their kata.

A lot of martial arts suck. But there's some good stuff out there, too. And there are people who are practicing and exploring more progressively who are more open to training in different ways than the models they were spoonfed.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:08 PM   #133
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Hello Dan,
I don't mean to be rude towards Nishio Sensei or any of the other highly ranked shihans but the term in aikido "martial lye effective" is suspect in itself. Did you ever see Nishio or for that matter any Shihan fight an opponent using aikido (as it is generally agreed to be at this moment in time)? All I have ever seen in almost 24 years of aikido is the set up of uke/tori. Please understand the same can be said of a huge number of CMA teachers demonstrating push hands or applications upon "trained, compliant" students .i have done my fair share of sparring in my almost 40 years of Budo and that doesn't really indicate martial effectiveness either, unless of course you practice outside of your own discipline, at least demonstrating the ability to freely react, fast and effectively to whatever presents itself.
Now at the age of 62 I don't mind a bit of friendly sparring, I still do it outside of the aikido dynamic but I don't really fancy going at it full tilt to see if we can develop this elusive "martial effectiveness". After all if it was a sport system it would make sense to train differently, and if it were intended to be self defense, which I take more seriously at my age than I did before, then the whole approach should be revamped.
As for aiki skills, they don't make a fighter, only fighting skills used for fighting make a fighter. In fact I would say I could turn a guy into a fighter inside of six months if he was dumb enough and tough enough to survive a bar fight every month for those six months of training. He would then be more marginally effective than 90% of people practicing aikido. When I grew up in London I trained full contact Chinese boxing, I still lost more fights than I won, even though I did well in competition.
So what exactly are you proposing, more aiki/IP training, more contact free fighting, more study of martial strategy and tactics, more experimentation on the streets as some of O Sensei's early students were supposed to have done, according to urban Tokto legend.
What's all the fuss about?

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:27 PM   #134
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
I don't mean to be rude towards Nishio Sensei or any of the other highly ranked shihans but the term in aikido "martial lye effective" is suspect in itself ... What's all the fuss about?
+1

Ron

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Old 09-19-2014, 02:46 PM   #135
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Cady, I think I have discussed this with you in the past. my very brief experience with internal Chinese martial arts left me with the impression that training is intellectually driven. The bit of bagua and tai chi I have done involved the teacher instructing me in movements to perform by myself, and offering corrections in the form of images to use as I performed them.

Japanese martial arts are based on the paired kata, and corrections are more utilitarian - your feet should be here, your sword should be held like this, you are still not making that cut right, try again, and look, that did not work, do this instead.

In other words, your own knowledge or understanding is not as important in the learning process. I think trying to graft a Chinese approach onto that is a recipe for extreme confusion, if not disaster.
Japanese or Chinese, if its "internal" or not, the teacher should be pretty hands on making adjustments to posture, showing which parts of the body move and how to do it plus all the imagery.

I tend to avoid teachers that don't do that.
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:15 PM   #136
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Cady, I think I have discussed this with you in the past. my very brief experience with internal Chinese martial arts left me with the impression that training is intellectually driven. The bit of bagua and tai chi I have done involved the teacher instructing me in movements to perform by myself, and offering corrections in the form of images to use as I performed them.

Japanese martial arts are based on the paired kata, and corrections are more utilitarian - your feet should be here, your sword should be held like this, you are still not making that cut right, try again, and look, that did not work, do this instead.

In other words, your own knowledge or understanding is not as important in the learning process. I think trying to graft a Chinese approach onto that is a recipe for extreme confusion, if not disaster.
Here's a fascinating article by someone who trained over a long period in both koryu and Chen style tai chi:

http://www.hoplology.com/weapons_detail.asp?id=7
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:32 PM   #137
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
Japanese or Chinese, if its "internal" or not, the teacher should be pretty hands on making adjustments to posture, showing which parts of the body move and how to do it plus all the imagery.

I tend to avoid teachers that don't do that.
I think what I am saying is that in my ephemeral experience with Chinese martial arts, the brain is taught first. You are given movements to practice, and things to think about, and try to get your movements to sync with what your brain has been told is supposed to go on.

With Japanese martial arts, it is almost directly the opposite. You are given a basic idea of the moves you are supposed to make, and you jump in and do them without really understanding what their meaning is. Your teacher and seniors have a much better idea of how good you are then you do, and they sort of poke and prod you into shape over time. You may figure things out intellectually, but then further on down the line you revise what your thinking is and start fresh. At some point your teacher may inform you of something that literally blows your mind.

The big problem with the classical Japanese model is you need a continual succession of teachers who are clued into how the school is supposed to shape you. If there is a break, it is probably gone forever.

FWIW everything I have read leads me to believe that Takeda was 100% a man of the classical Japanese method, in the way he was himself trained, and in the way he taught his inner students.
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:57 PM   #138
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
I think what I am saying is that in my ephemeral experience with Chinese martial arts, the brain is taught first. You are given movements to practice, and things to think about, and try to get your movements to sync with what your brain has been told is supposed to go on.

With Japanese martial arts, it is almost directly the opposite. You are given a basic idea of the moves you are supposed to make, and you jump in and do them without really understanding what their meaning is. Your teacher and seniors have a much better idea of how good you are then you do, and they sort of poke and prod you into shape over time. You may figure things out intellectually, but then further on down the line you revise what your thinking is and start fresh. At some point your teacher may inform you of something that literally blows your mind.

The big problem with the classical Japanese model is you need a continual succession of teachers who are clued into how the school is supposed to shape you. If there is a break, it is probably gone forever.

FWIW everything I have read leads me to believe that Takeda was 100% a man of the classical Japanese method, in the way he was himself trained, and in the way he taught his inner students.
How do you think that squares with the "itinerate teacher"/seminar model where he moved from place to place? Certainly there were periods where he remained at a dojo or another (Sagawa and Ueshiba for example), but I was given to understand that most of his teaching was done "on the road" so to speak. But I may have read more into that than is the case.
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Old 09-20-2014, 02:05 PM   #139
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Joseph Dostie wrote: View Post
How do you think that squares with the "itinerate teacher"/seminar model where he moved from place to place? Certainly there were periods where he remained at a dojo or another (Sagawa and Ueshiba for example), but I was given to understand that most of his teaching was done "on the road" so to speak. But I may have read more into that than is the case.
Sagawa, Ueshiba, and Horikawa each spent a lot of time with him. He had a huge number of students who trained with him at 10-day seminars also. My feeling is that he taught the inner students in a hands-on fashion similar to how a classical school would have it. He might even have taken ukemi for them. The seminar attendees, on the other hand, had a learning environment that was much more like the modern Aikido seminar. That's my impression anyway. I am due for a cover to cover reread of Conversations with the Daito ryu Masters.
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:29 PM   #140
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Cliff - I agree with most of what you say, re inner and outer students. But I would wager quite a few of my hard-earned dollars that Takeda n-e-v-e-r took ukemi, in the sense of taking the fall, that we are familiar with in both aikido and koryu. That is a level of vulnerability that I cannot see him doing - not a man who carried a naked blade inside his belly band, leaving slash marks on his own abdomen, because he was concerned re the delay a sheathe might cause if he suddenly had to draw it.
1. I believe he regarded his techniques as possibly a form of ukemi, in that ukemi is the teaching position. Sagawa states that he never let Takeda know that he'd grasped aiki - and never manifested it to him. The implication here is that although one has to steal the technique, if you succeed, you are still a thief.
2. The other type of ukemi we might consider is when he played sumo.

Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 09-22-2014, 04:06 AM   #141
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Hello Dan,
All I have ever seen in almost 24 years of aikido is the set up of uke/tori. Now at the age of 62 I don't mind a bit of friendly sparring, I still do it outside of the aikido dynamic but I don't really fancy going at it full tilt to see if we can develop this elusive "martial effectiveness".
So what exactly are you proposing, more aiki/IP training, more contact free fighting, ....
What's all the fuss about?
I like the way you think. I used to do a lot of Judo and was always trying to fiddle with my opponent's balance vis-ā-vis aiki/aikido. Mostly I failed as I would get thrown while 'studying' but I never gave up. Sometimes, it would work perfectly - 1/100 - and it would provide enough food for me to nourish myself on for ages on afterwards. And the weapons work - I trained in so many schools I got disillusioned with all the petty differences - we do it this way because etc. So now I follow my own ideas. The purpose of weapons is #1 to aid Aikido learning. That is what I follow. But also, on another slant, #2, I have a few methods that aim for freestyle. That is what it is ultimately about. And, when doing freestyle, try to keep the aiki in it. Just start slow, say, OK, you hit me and let's see what happens. I have developed all sorts of fun methods. Far better than pedantic predictable kata training. Here, trust is paramount. Start slow, stay slow - a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and a weak link means you get hit on the head. It certainly wakes you up. I can honestly say I have never seen anyone do anything like this except Sikhs and Indians (Kalari). Also saw some incredible Zulu stuff in Korea a few years ago (they were covered in scars - think about it). Maybe I stole a few ideas. Aikido certainly needs a bit of a reality check from time to time.

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Old 09-26-2014, 03:20 PM   #142
Dan Richards
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Hi Alec, I'm not really sure what you mean by "fighting." And are you referring to "sparring" in the pugilistic, squaring-off manner?

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
...doesn't really indicate martial effectiveness either, unless of course you practice outside of your own discipline, at least demonstrating the ability to freely react, fast and effectively to whatever presents itself.
Nishio did precisely that. And he constantly told students to do the same.

NIshio is quoted in this interview.
Quote:
That's why most people's practice today is empty. They don't look at other types of Budo. Right from the start, the value of a Budo is determined by comparisons with other Budo.For the most part, if you set up Kokyu-ho between two Aikido people it's just useless. That will only be effective in the dojo. I guess that those people say things like "Even though you do Aikido you're also doing Karate and sword. If you want to do Karate then go to Karate. If you want to do the sword then go to Kendo. If you're doing Aikido you don't need to do other things.". Even in other Budo, everybody is working hard, you know. When we see that we should make an effort to surpass them with our Aiki. That is the mission of Aikido as a Budo.
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Old 09-27-2014, 04:12 AM   #143
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Hi Dan,
I'm lazy when it comes to posting here, mostly because i think it is a waste of time. i reckon if you and I met up on the mat we would get on fine and not need to talc so much to find common ground. Anyway I will respond as best as i can.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "fighting." And are you referring to "sparring" in the pugilistic, squaring-off manner?

Seeing as I'm not sure which bit of the post you mean I"ll just give a general response. By fighting I mean unscripted, unplanned, no rules, no rounds, risking life or serious injury. The sort of thing Shioda referred to in Aikido Shugyo when he was posted in Shanghai. I do not believe you can tell if someone is able to use their skills in a live way when you only see set up situations with a teacher and one of their students, or someone from within the mainstream of the discipline the teacher represents. I believe what I feel. Having touched hands with Akuzawa, Dan Harden, Sam Chin, and one or two good Chen guys, and been handled with ease in a light sparring manner, i can't say i have ever felt that from aikido teachers. I'm not therefore saying they couldn't do it but i was never allowed to explore that possibility.
By sparring I mean somewhere on the continuum between Tui Shou and Sanda. Freestyle push hands with light body strikes, hands and feet, indicating other more dangerous techniques, with only a touch.

P.S. My last aikido teacher was a fan of Nishio, and i respect what Nishio represented when he suggested that people cross train. However cross training won't develop aiki, even if it can develop some martial skills.
So i guess what I am saying is this:
You need specialised training to develop an "aiki" body and as far as I am concerned that does not happen through normal aikido training. that's my hands on opinion after almost 40 years of MA. The guys that have really got this stuff are in a different league.
You need to fight freestyle if you want to claim to be martially effective. Sport fighting may be an inroad for some but it is still far away from fighting as i understand.
If you have aiki and fighting experience and martial skills you are a martial artist who can fight.

If you can fight without aiki and without martial training you are a fighter.

Now i am not going to go anywhere near defining what aiki is. I'm not qualified to do so and couldn't be bothered to defend my limited knowledge against all the expert desktop budoka. I would recommend to you dan that you seek out those people who have something other than what is generally available if you are serious about your aiki research.

all the best Paduan.

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Old 09-28-2014, 02:43 PM   #144
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Now i am not going to go anywhere near defining what aiki is. I'm not qualified to do so and couldn't be bothered to defend my limited knowledge...
I think this reflects an important aspect to these conversations and has to do with why I wanted to frame things somewhat in terms of a "working definition," which acknowledges that there will be gaps in understanding (one way or another) from the get-go. In retrospect I don't think it was a good idea for me to conflate this with an objective attempt for definition in the same thread, though.

Also, wanted to say thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts and keeping the tone productive. Sometimes it's nice to let the topic wander a little and see what we get.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 09-30-2014, 10:04 AM   #145
Dan Richards
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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i reckon if you and I met up on the mat we would get on fine and not need to talc so much to find common ground.
Hi Alec. Absolutely. I think we may be cut from a more similar swatch of cloth than it might first appear.

I don't think the links were working in my signature for awhile; but if you click on them, you'll find we are on quite similar ground.

Speaking of "ground," I had a wonderful training with some Systema guys last night in Riverfront Park in Troy, NY. We used the entire area: steps, grass, concrete, etc.. I'm 53 years old, and after two hours last night of taking punches, falling and rolling and doing ground work - and even some full forward rolls and backward rolls on the concrete - I woke up today not only not feeling any aches or pains, but feeling like I got a $200 full-body massage.

The thought just came to me that a lot of people talk about working with "resistance," "aliveness," reality-based," etc.. And yet they'll train on thick mats or bouncy flooring - often with gloves and other pads.

Wanna talk about "real?" Wanna work with some serious "resistance?" Wanna see IP/Aiki work pay off in spades?

Train on concrete.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:50 AM   #146
RonRagusa
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Speaking of "ground," I had a wonderful training with some Systema guys last night in Riverfront Park in Troy, NY.
Dan -

Was that Simon's Systema group you worked out with last night? He studied Aikido with Mary and me for many years before moving to Troy. Wonderful martial artist and a fine person.

Ron

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Old 09-30-2014, 12:09 PM   #147
Dan Richards
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Hey Ron, yep, that Simon. Great group of guys. He's a total sweetheart. I'm sure we must have looked strange to passersby - laughing and cracking up while punching and throwing each other into the pavement. I thought that if anyone asked what we were doing we'd just tell them we were from Blue Man Group - or practicng for a theatrical production of Pirates of Penzance.

BTW, click on that seminar link in my sig. Simon and I are both instructing. And I think you know Larry Gravett. You and Mary are about 1.5 hours away. Wanna come? It's Ueshiba's birthday. We could squeeze you in on the instructors bill.
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Old 09-30-2014, 01:15 PM   #148
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Train on concrete.
I have only ever done simple rolling exercises on concrete, but the hard, pointy, etc., ground is great for learning how to engage/move softly! Studying how to spread or otherwise manipulate incoming force through/around the body safely, and moving around immoveable objects spontaneously and at will, is kind of what the budo aspect is all about it, isn't it? We're rolling along the path and suddenly that little rock you didn't notice makes its point real quick. Your proprioceptive awareness for all the boney bits in your body tends to go up too, I imagine.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 10-12-2014, 02:52 AM   #149
WolFlow
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

I have a pretty simple view of Aiki. Yet simple doesnīt mean it is easy to do.....

My background is 20 years of BJJ and for the last 6 years in addition I trained mostly Systema Homo Ludens with Alex Kostic but also met guys like Vasiliev, Ryabko,Rickson Gracie, Dan Harden, Torsten Kanzmeier and Akuzawa. Some I could watch, others I felt. With some I trained only a few hours others I know for years. Without judging all of these guys I have a certain opinion about Aiki.....

First of all I donīt think it is something that you could put really into words. Itīs a feeling or a level of moving that you only can develope when you go through a long process of self discovery in many ways.

At the root of this whole Aiki thing is the ability to fight no matter how. All the good guys with "strange" skills (call it Aiki if you like) where fighters when they where younger. The reason is simple how can you be relaxed and sophisticated if you flinch or freeze as soon as a punch is thrown or someone grabs you.

Being able to be calm under pressure is one of the key qualities of developing more sophisticated body skills and if you canīt do that all the secret solo drills in the world will not help you to be able to use any kind of Aiki under pressure.

The next thing is that a lot of the guys I met where pretty awsome in their skills yet they explained the process of how to get there very differently. Everyone has his one pictures, ideas and modells to understand what he is doing but from my feeling and observation the best guys JUST FEEL IT.

Of course they are explaining it and there are no secrets but its a feeling in your body a way you move and respond to force which can be translated into words a little bit but never fully.

For me since I am doing a lot of BJJ it is always my testing ground of what works and what not. My defintion of Aiki is pretty simple:

Work with the least possible effort and that only works when you are able to "relax" your opponent and work with a different force than brute strength.

Honestly I love these internal stuff but there is no better testing ground as 25 year old, strong athlete who doesnīt know anything about Aiki and is just stiff and tensed and wrestling you on the ground.

From these experiences you learn how to be more and more effortless but its a process not something that happens over night.

In my opinion there are two quailites that are pretty important when it comes to developing Aiki skills.

A connected body so you move as a whole being rather than in single units and this is something you can perfectly see in animals or little childs. Look at a baby when his head turns his feet move too.

And these whole body movement gives a lot of strength that is difficult to detect. I have a very small dog who weight 15 pounds. Yet his stability and ability to pull is amazing for such a small weight and he is always moving in a connected way.

A simple example in Grappling is that people forget the lower body when they roll around. They tense up grab headlocks and donīt care about their feet.

If you are able to create a connection to your lower body the whole time you are grappling for example your abilities of movement and strength will be much better.

The second skill which is very important is to keep the balance between tension and relaxation. If you can be like a guitar string able to deal with incoming forces and return back and actually never loose your structure than you will be much more effecient in your movements than if you are rigid like many people or "pseudo relaxed" which is also very common.

Aiki is experience of fighting skills that is more and more refined into effortless movement.

My own formula of working with this stuff is pretty simple:

Years of intense regular training (like BJJ, Boxing, etc.) I did that for about 15 years before I was looking into more effortless movement.

Then it s all about understanding your body by feeling. Learning how to keep posture, learning how to relax certain parts of the body while you use other muscles for keeping your posture. Itīs about using the middle of the body because think about it. Thatīs the only way to coordinate 4 limps. From the inside out not from the outside in. Look at good dancers or good boxers or MMA guys like Anderson Silva. They always lead with the middle of their bodies and not from the outside. Itīs how animals and little kids do. Think about how little kids turn from their back to their belly.......

And besides all that work it is always going back on the mat as testing ground and checking out if your new feelings and skills work.

In my opinion it is a way back to your natural movement ability you had as a kid. I donīt think it is a secret skill set. The secret is in the body and there are tons of ideas and principles that help some people but donīt work for others.

Like I said everyone of the good guys was different. Yet they had all one thing in common:

THEY MOVED EFFORTLESS

even under stress and that should be a great guideline to work your own skills.

Take care
Björn
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Old 10-13-2014, 01:16 AM   #150
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Refining my view of aiki

Reflecting on Bejoern's post above: I did Judo for a long time and I had one friend in particular - Colin - who could lay on people and they could not move. He just crushed them into the mat with his weight, even though he was no heavier than the rest of us. He had been trianing longer than the rest of us and no matter how he explained or how he tried, we just could not do it - but I did not forget - it was always in the back of my mind. A few years later I was wrestling with someone on the ground and afterwards he asked me how I held them down with such ease. While showing him it clicked - not the how to - but just the fact that I was doing it. I was at a loss for words. Of course, I had no way of explaining it. But then I incorporated it into my training - as a warm-up exercise - and I even use it occasionally when teaching Aikido. But, when I think about it, I would not call it aiki. Holding someone down is just neutralising their effort to get up. Aiki both neutralises and manipulates their response - much harder. For example - my friend Colin could hold people down very efficiently, but he would be at a total loss to use such skill to create, say, irimi-nage. Or even, to create a Judo throw using that 'same' soft skill.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 10-13-2014 at 01:19 AM.

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