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Old 08-05-2015, 12:39 AM   #26
robin_jet_alt
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
When you're in the car, or sitting at the bar, or watching Netlix stretched out on your foam-memory bed... Do you need to get your feet under the body for you to practice aikido... or just move?

Fall on the mat... where are your feet? Do you need them?

That's like deciding that you can't drink water because you don't have a cup.
I admit that I was working under the assumption that you were talking about performing tachi-waza, where you are standing from the beginning of the technique through to the conclusion of the technique. I was not considering techniques performed from a prone position. Obviously, when in a position where you feet do not touch the mat, you make use of those parts of your body that do touch the mat. However, I maintain that UNINTENTIONALLY falling over when you begin in a standing position is not a desirable outcome.

As for your analogy, for the motion of lifting a cup to your mouth to be an effective means of drinking water, I believe that some kind a of cup-like receptacle is necessary.
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Old 08-05-2015, 11:19 AM   #27
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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The idea of foot work is putting the cart before the horse.

Aikido is body work. Center work.

If you're placing your feet anywhere, in terms of "foot work," you're predetermining how and where you should move.

This is a bad idea.

This is not moving from center—which moves from intention.

Interested to throw the idea out and discuss.
I get the impression we can learn a lot from studying how we walk/step. If Aikido is center-controled body work, incorporating the legs/feet early on seems like a good way to integrate them into the activity.
If predetermining where we should move is a bad idea, how do we ensure we don't fall off a cliff or other edge, or move into some other detrimental position on the ground?

Last edited by mathewjgano : 08-05-2015 at 11:23 AM.

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Old 08-05-2015, 12:44 PM   #28
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I get the impression we can learn a lot from studying how we walk/step. If Aikido is center-controled body work, incorporating the legs/feet early on seems like a good way to integrate them into the activity.
If predetermining where we should move is a bad idea, how do we ensure we don't fall off a cliff or other edge, or move into some other detrimental position on the ground?
I think the idea is that your foot should not lead your movement, but support your body's movement. To answer you question, I would say that if you do not commit to moving your body over a cliff, your feet should not walk you off it. Now if you feet are just doing what they want...

It seems a silly answer, but look at a better example... A classic arm bar applied from the guard position is often baited with an open lapel (or other attractive choke advance). Top position inserts the arm to control the lapel. Bottom position disconnects the arm and rolls into arm bar position. Why does this work? Because the attacker leads the movement with his arm, which can be isolated. The bait is designed to get the attacker to reach outside of his range:
https://youtu.be/ibizOGoRVPs
You play with someone who does not lead with the arm and the bait fails more often because the attack never really disconnects the arm from the body. How can you tell if the attack is connected? Because the arm feels like a cable with which you can do nothing.

Why do I like this example? Because both partners are disoriented to a typical ground path of support and you get a very definite feel of success. If you are dependent on your feet, you'll have difficulty. If you are not connected, you'll have difficulty.

Last edited by jonreading : 08-05-2015 at 12:49 PM.

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Old 08-05-2015, 01:13 PM   #29
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Quote:
Dan Richards wrote:
The idea of foot work is putting the cart before the horse. ...If you're placing your feet anywhere, in terms of "foot work," you're predetermining how and where you should move.
I get the impression we can learn a lot from studying how we walk/step. If Aikido is center-controled body work, incorporating the legs/feet early on seems like a good way to integrate them into the activity.
If predetermining where we should move is a bad idea, how do we ensure we don't fall off a cliff or other edge, or move into some other detrimental position on the ground?
I'd be very curious how people in this discussion view how we walk/step. I have my own thoughts but I am curious about how their thoughts on walk/stepping inform their opinions on this topic.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:53 PM   #30
mathewjgano
 
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I think the idea is that your foot should not lead your movement, but support your body's movement.
That makes sense to me.

Quote:
Dan wrote:
This is not moving from center—which moves from intention
But I don't see how it's necessarily true that focusing on the working of the feet/legs (footwork) precludes use of center, whether moving to a predetermined location or not. If we begin with the premise that all movement originates with the center, then teaching footwork doesn't seem like it would automatically be a bad thing, which is suggested in the OP...as I interpret it, at any rate. If, as you suggest, most people have bad habits in using their legs, I would think focusing on footwork might be a good way to correct that.

So rather than describing all footwork as bad and necessarily disconnected from center, I'd rather see the suggestion of how to incorporate center-driven movement into it.

Quote:
Dan wrote:
It's very possible. Move your body, and your feet arrive. Ta da.
I've seen the opposite quite a lot in beginners who are focusing more on their upper body and allow themselves to move into some fairly strange positions because they forget to allow their feet to move. By drawing attention to how their feet work/support their efforts (footwork), we were able to correct this to some degree.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 08-05-2015 at 01:59 PM.

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Old 08-05-2015, 02:04 PM   #31
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
I'd be very curious how people in this discussion view how we walk/step. I have my own thoughts but I am curious about how their thoughts on walk/stepping inform their opinions on this topic.
My walking is based on something I experienced playing soccer as a kid: every step is kicking the ball. There seemed to be a correlation between this and how I could stop or even blast through kids who were much bigger than me (when kicking the ball at the same time). When I run long distances and I'm getting tired, I focus on making every step a small kick to an imaginary ball. I have to focus on not over-exagerating the motion, and it takes a few steps before I can find a smooth rhythm, but suddenly my legs aren't tired and I find myself speeding up naturally.
What are your thoughts?

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Old 08-05-2015, 02:13 PM   #32
Janet Rosen
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
My walking is based on something I experienced playing soccer as a kid: every step is kicking the ball. There seemed to be a correlation between this and how I could stop or even blast through kids who were much bigger than me (when kicking the ball at the same time). When I run long distances and I'm getting tired, I focus on making every step a small kick to an imaginary ball. I have to focus on not over-exagerating the motion, and it takes a few steps before I can find a smooth rhythm, but suddenly my legs aren't tired and I find myself speeding up naturally.
What are your thoughts?
The guided visualization I have my older adults start each Surviving Falls class with has us, as we walk, first feel feet on mat, extend them down down, find knees and hips and connect them with feet....THEN moving up to the center (I have them imagine the entire abdomen) as the engine and prow of a ship cutting through the ocean and the feet stay underneath to carry us along....there is more but that is more like what you describe than how folks talk about unbalancing. My seniors are already unbalanced enough so we are trying to get them to walk smoothly with good structure

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:51 AM   #33
Erick Mead
 
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
My walking is based on something I experienced playing soccer as a kid: every step is kicking the ball. There seemed to be a correlation between this and how I could stop or even blast through kids who were much bigger than me (when kicking the ball at the same time). When I run long distances and I'm getting tired, I focus on making every step a small kick to an imaginary ball. I have to focus on not over-exagerating the motion, and it takes a few steps before I can find a smooth rhythm, but suddenly my legs aren't tired and I find myself speeding up naturally.
What are your thoughts?
I think walking is what made us smart. Human walking is 25% more efficient than the ordinary locomotion of other mammals of similar size. Our brain constantly consumes 20% of our calories just ticking over. Without the excess energy budget from the development of walking -- human beings would not have had the lavish resources necessary to evolve and operate our brains.

As to walking itself, it is an exercise in optimizing momentum conservation -- whereas for combat, the optimization needed is in concentrating and dissipating structural moments and dynamic momentum. There are other schools of thought, but for a number of reasons, including what I have learned from aikido, I tend to follow those who conclude that the early innate structural reflexes are instrumentalized in normal development. Normal efficient walking is an orchestration of reflexively driven pendulum swings. We don't push off the back leg as we do for running. We commence a topple over the forward leg, and a set of reflexes we possess since birth kicks in to orchestrate our stepping behavior. As we develop it comes under greater and greater voluntary control, and develops greater sophistication of unconscious coordination.

In the linked discussion, they criticize this conclusion, noting the distinction between the early infant stepping reflex with weight on the full sole and the more usual older infant learning to walk with weight on the toes. On the other hand, they fully recognize the distinction between dynamic righting and relatively static equilibrium, which is blended together in adult walking. But as anyone can tell from taking a good backward koykyu stretch, you have a far greater range of righting stability or dynamic power of balance when your weight is on your toes, than when the feet are planted flat. Shioda even emphasized this. This probably explains the distinction noted in the link for infants, who quickly realize they can recover from being destabilized over a wider range of disturbances more easily when the weight is on the toes, even though static equilibirum there is more precarious. Hence the early walkers can often move pretty steadily if they keep going -- but when they stop they flop down, because they don't have good standing equilibrium yet.

I also conclude that other reflexive aspects of structure can also be instrumentalized -- and exploited -- through training. Examples include the triggering of flexor reflexes in the legs by torque stretch of in nikkyo, and the triggering extensor reflexes in the legs by the inverse torque of sankyo. Ikkyo seems to me to be an aspect of the startle reflex.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:41 PM   #34
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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John Powell wrote: View Post
In my mind, body moves as a unit usually when good things are happening, therefore body-work = footwork and vice-versa.
I'll buy that for a dollar!
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:33 PM   #35
mathewjgano
 
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
The guided visualization I have my older adults start each Surviving Falls class with has us, as we walk, first feel feet on mat, extend them down down, find knees and hips and connect them with feet....THEN moving up to the center (I have them imagine the entire abdomen) as the engine and prow of a ship cutting through the ocean and the feet stay underneath to carry us along...
Very interesting! This does sound very similar. I'm looking forward to my next run so I can really focus on this some more; I'm going to need to since I haven't been training much.

Quote:
Erick wrote:
I think walking is what made us smart. Human walking is 25% more efficient than the ordinary locomotion of other mammals of similar size. Our brain constantly consumes 20% of our calories...
We don't push off the back leg as we do for running.
Interesting idea! It's probably a chicken and egg thing, but my hunch has been in somewhat the opposite direction, and I've wondered how much our smartness/brainpower has shaped our walking/running, since it has been through self-observation that I have gradually refined my walking and running efficiency...also for what it's worth I do my best to blur the lines between walking and running. It creates an interesting tension/contrast.
One of my observations from my ball-kicking approach is that it keeps me from over-emphasizing the push off the back leg. In "kicking" I'm also strongly engaging the other leg by way of the lower abdomen; there is a sense of throwing one leg forward while pushing back on the other, and I feel more springloaded. I'll also shift between "kicking" and "skating," which is similar to how skiers move on flat ground, and which seems to engage the back side of the legs/body more.

One more bit, since I'm thinking about it in preparation for an upcoming run, I focus heavily on skull stability and alignment along the vertical axis or I feel my weight a lot more in my legs and feet. The mental intent behind skull stability for me is very similar to when I used to target shoot: aiming/looking "inside the inside" of the center line.
Mostly gibberish probably, but it does seem to have a remarkable effect on my ability to endure relatively long distances...and from a certain standpoint it does feel like it is related to proper(-ish) aikido movement, and is very much foot oriented in that I have to pay a lot of attention to how my feet are striking the pavement and how they connect to the rest of my body's movements.
I'm reminded of something O Sensei said where a person's fists will reveal which way he wants to cut; it seems somehow true to me that the feet can reveal something about how the opponant wants to move, as well.
...Just spit-ballin' though. I certainly don't train enough to know much well.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 08-07-2015 at 07:38 PM.

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Old 08-09-2015, 11:12 AM   #36
Michael Douglas
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Just popping in to agree with every one of Robin Boyd's posts.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:27 AM   #37
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
It's very possible. Move your body, and your feet arrive.
Correct footwork is a technique that has to be learned, like any other technique.

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Ta da
Ok, Tada.

When Tada Sensei ist teaching a class, he often begins with footwork.
Setting the feet is fundamental.

Does your center know how aikido's technique has to be done by itself?
You also move from center in karate, in Iai, or in other mrtial arts. The footwork is different. So just moving the body from the center does not lead to a correct aikido movement.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:50 AM   #38
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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Markus Rohde wrote: View Post
Correct footwork is a technique that has to be learned, like any other technique.

Ok, Tada.

When Tada Sensei ist teaching a class, he often begins with footwork.
Setting the feet is fundamental.

Does your center know how aikido's technique has to be done by itself?
You also move from center in karate, in Iai, or in other mrtial arts. The footwork is different. So just moving the body from the center does not lead to a correct aikido movement.
I agree with this. When a student does a technique and does not do the footwork correctly the technique does not work. For example: when nage backs up taking small steps instead of doing tenkan the uke does not loose their balance.

A better title would be IMO "learn the footwork and then forget it". By that I mean focus on the whole picture and trust your technique.

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Old 08-10-2015, 10:34 AM   #39
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Chicken, egg, chicken, egg, lather, rinse, repeat.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:55 AM   #40
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

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Chicken, egg, chicken, egg, lather, rinse, repeat.
Yup, that is how it works...if you never leave the basics you don't have to go back to them.

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Old 08-10-2015, 11:59 AM   #41
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

Couple of things for me:
1. I think kata has a role in the instruction of waza and that includes a general instruction of body movement, including feet. Learning kata and actively expressing aiki within movement (waza) are two different things.
2. Footwork and aiki may have a correlated relationship, but if your body requires [large] external movement of any sort to affect kuzushi, then you are not using aiki. This is not to say that you are not achieving kuzushi, just not be means of aiki.

I get into trouble when I think about my body movement as given equal and opposite to my partner. i.e. if I get to take a step, my partner gets to take a step. Sometimes, this gives me a physical advantage, such as when I take a large step to my partner's small step. Sometimes, it gives me a disadvantage such as when I try to make a tenkan movement and my partner does not follow me. Physical movements are tricks, a collection of things we can do that gain advantage over our partner. Hence the age-old claim that anyone can stop your waza if they know it's coming. Except the good guys can tell you it's coming and do it anyway. Why? because they're not tricking you with their bodies.

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Old 08-10-2015, 12:58 PM   #42
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

The combination of aiki and technique creates aikido for me.

Each now is blended with as it comes. Kata training provides an alphabet to spell with aiki.

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Old 08-11-2015, 05:47 PM   #43
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

This discussion reminds me of the Yoshinkan Aikido principle about it being "all about the kamae".

The way I see it, "footwork" is to "kamae" what "unbalancing" is to "kuzushi". We are developing the structure and integration of our body within the movements of the techniques. I don't think "footwork" is a particularly good term for any of it.
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Old 08-19-2015, 02:58 PM   #44
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Re: There in no foot work in Aikido

It is all relative, is it not? How I am taught and how I teach are going to differ from someone else. It is my understanding that some places do not emphasize foot work whereas, some schools/instructors do. Foot work is as important in my training as ki is. In fact both are hand in hand.
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