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Old 11-17-2015, 01:26 PM   #26
Cliff Judge
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

Interesting. So basically, it's like Phi says - most Aikiken sets don't involve the approach.

On the one hand, I have got to say, this Shodokan sequence has basically every move I've seen Ueshiba do in kumitachi on film.

This sequence absolutely looks to be of a species with early modern compilation stuff, e.g. Kendo kata, Toyama ryu's paired forms, etc....systems that focus on some type of training, and then also have a few sword kata that they work on to enrich the main practice. And it looks to be a pretty good version of that.

Which brings me to another thought: at some point, we need to address what we want Aikido weapons to be about, and what is even possible.
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Old 11-17-2015, 05:10 PM   #27
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
When pressed, I think we have a difficult time differentiating our weapons work from weapons-based arts. When further pressed, I think we have a difficult time proving our weapons work holds up against "non-aikido" attacks. So we're all about combat unless we fight someone that knows something, then it's a teaching tool.
Weapons in aikido primarily serve as a teaching tool, IMO. That said, I do not feel unduly disadvantaged in a dark alley with a broomstick or shovel handle near to hand. The question is what they are there to teach. I have some thoughts on that.

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We have dropped our weapons component for while after researching the role of weapons in aikido and how our weapons work translates into other systems. I think that generally, we are caught between putting up and shutting up. I think most of what we do with weapons is not "aiki", nor is it functional weapons work.
Due props to your points -- but I think abandoning weapons is going overboard -- and having trained substantially in Iwama's weapons, I have some grasp of Saito's point in integrating the weapons and tai-jutsu study. He did it to preserve what had been given. I do it, on the other hand, because the relationships in the principles that Saotome's doctrine sensitized me to, permitted me to look for and to develop them consistently in all the training. These are found in the weapons work, rightly understood.

Whether there is aiki in your weapons training or not -- rightly approached, the principles that lead to it may surely be found there. Particularly, focus on the creation and maintenance of juuji , keeping a high quality of musubi, and strong intention of cutting always deeply to the center , even -- and perhaps especially -- when not actually moving.

Things done at miniscule scale in aiki are expanded to vastly larger scales in the weapons. The stress paths and dynamics may be made the same -- the scale merely changes. In the weapon errors of structure and dynamic may be seen more readily and adjusted more plainly. And if you learn what the weapon has to teach to your tai-jutsu in these terms -- not merely as analogies ---but the same exact structural and dynamic principles simply writ large, your weapons work becomes steadily more functional and more subtly responsive as well. At least, mine has.

Plus, our 3d dan Iaijutsu instructor keeps me honest...

I follow a different manner of abstracting, less focused on closely repeated strict form, and more focused on keying to structural feel and dynamic. I did not approach things this way out of any sense of revelation or invention -- but out of necessity. I seem from an early age to have had a severe deficit in sequencing and have exceeding difficulty putting a kata in the same sequence twice. On the other hand -- habits don't trouble me that much -- they never get started. I just ken things a different way.

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We know it's not aiki, but we kinda hope to bluff our way through functional... until someone shows up and says, "Really? I play swords, too."
Play-sparring with weapons is false -- false in principle, false in feeling, and false in effect. Good for movies, maybe and not much else. In point of fact, the very abstraction that is accomplished in kata and awase allows one to study true principles that would be lost in the artificiality of some form of reinvented formal duelling or weapons equivalent of kumite. Recruits do combative training with padded batons -- hurts like a mother -- but that is not really real either -- it's more for personal toughening in the face of attack -- a Western form of shugyo , if you will ....

(I suppose actual duelling would suffice - but the lessons would be short and the career very likely shorter. Plus, you use up training partners ... )

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:20 AM   #28
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

I don't equate weapons work with using a weapon. I think it stands to reason that some experience with a tool raises your ability to use the tool, even if only on a basic level. A person skilled at throwing a baseball would find advantage holding a round rock - that neither proves a rock is a baseball, nor the thrower a baseball player. My point was the observation that when pressed by someone with knowledge, we will pivot our reasoning to not compete with the knowledge base against which we are reasoning. People pivot their arguments all the time, but I think we are getting called out for it more.

For the record, I think aiki weapons has value in developing aiki. We (the dojo) have dropped the focus on kata and "sword clacking" while we work to re-define our aiki... then put it back into our weapons and re-purpose them. I have worked out with some very good weapons people that make it woefully obvious how much work we have in front of us.

Erick, to your point, I would say that if we start by acknowledging that aiki weapons doesn't have aiki in the beginning (which it doesn't), then "learning to cut" should at least have a functional aspect (i.e. learning to correctly cut). Here's the rub - generally speaking, aikido "cutting" is not very good functional cutting. To make things worse, we'll use instruction based on our aikido cutting... Move like you're cutting with a sword, blah blah blah. But what we're really instructing is how to move our bodies using an analogy to a weapon we don't really swing correctly. How you can then expect someone to move their body correctly? Which means that we need to look at making our weapons instruction functional. You see some people doing this; they're getting a broader perspective of their weapons training outside aikido and bringing that perspective back.

Also, you see some people moving away from that kind of instruction since is it somewhat equivalent to teaching algebra by reminding children to rely upon their knowledge of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. That is, you are using advanced education to support basic instruction. We have moved away from those analogy-based comments for this reason. As a side note, I think some of this related to the relative education early students of the founder possessed at the onset of their aikido training... Kendo, judo, karate and the like. I would not be surprised to find that O Sensei worked with what he got - a 3rd dan in judo usually doesn't need a tutorial on kusushi...

I think there are people who feel that aikido weapons is play sparring (in a sense), for a number of reasons argued much better by persons other than myself. I am sympathetic to that perspective and sensitive to find a position where we can use weapons work to improve our aikido while respecting those who have a much better understanding of weapons work.

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Old 11-18-2015, 12:40 PM   #29
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Weapons in aikido primarily serve as a teaching tool, IMO. That said, I do not feel unduly disadvantaged in a dark alley with a broomstick or shovel handle near to hand.
why would you be in the dark alley in the first place? unless, you are there waiting to ambush aikido folks who think their weapon works can be of use in the dark alley? now that's an idea. maybe i should take my aikido weapons and head toward the nearest dark alley and waiting for you aikido folks. if you see some dude jump out at you in dark alley, and tell you that your stands are wrong and your maai sucks; that's would be me!

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:51 PM   #30
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Which brings me to another thought: at some point, we need to address what we want Aikido weapons to be about, and what is even possible.
i thought aikido weapon is about sneaking up on some unsuspecting and suspecting aikido folks and whacking them with our weapons then say "did you see that aiki comes through?"

anything sort of that, you end up with a fight starting with "i have trained with so and so for umpteen years, who came from a long line of so and so, who had touched Ueshiba's pants, which mean my stuffs are legit so bugger off!"

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 11-18-2015, 03:52 PM   #31
Cliff Judge
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I think there are people who feel that aikido weapons is play sparring (in a sense), for a number of reasons argued much better by persons other than myself. I am sympathetic to that perspective and sensitive to find a position where we can use weapons work to improve our aikido while respecting those who have a much better understanding of weapons work.
Not "play sparring"...but it looks a little silly to people who have done more serious training. It is obvious that we aren't training to learn to kill people who are trying to kill us.

I have heard that Aikido people doing sword kata seem to move for reasons other than, you know, they are trying to get the other person to commit to an attack, or because the other person really made them move a certain way....these are the types of things that exist in koryu kata, but these have to do with that ryu's theories and approach and ours is supposed to be aiki, right? So I don't think we should worry about this stuff.

But there are concrete criticisms that we should take to heart, for example I heard that Aikido people can't hold their weapons right, our cuts look awkward or bizarre, we don't seem to have any idea what we are trying to cut, or the worst thing ever, that we don't use our whole bodies when we attack. If there is anything worth developing in aikido weapons kata its this stuff.
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Old 11-20-2015, 08:40 PM   #32
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
For the record, I think aiki weapons has value in developing aiki. We (the dojo) have dropped the focus on kata and "sword clacking" while we work to re-define our aiki... then put it back into our weapons and re-purpose them.
With that-- I agree in principle but which led to somewhat differing conclusion to the approach. Kata are right out. They are good and they work for some people. I like them if I have someone to remember them for me. But I am 1) hopeless in reproducing sequences 2) of the opinion that rote imitation is not as effective as a more structure/dynamic kinesthetic approach (but then I am admittedly biased because of my sequential deficit -- so YMMV).

So I focus on correcting structure, posture, dynamic and the moving musubi of the engaged weapons. Each of these are directly transferable to tai jutsu and ultimately, aiki. "Clacking" is a gross indication that some contact for the needed action can begin -- but what happens in the interaction after the clack is what matters. The better it becomes, the less the "clack" and more the clean slice of scissor blades meshing. Also true of jo work. I find suri otoshi and hassogaeshi awase particulary useful in this.

We focus on suburi and close individual correction, paired awase of no more than one or two exchanges and then exploring the analogous taijutsu in appropriately related waza. Kokyu tanden ho is then worked on to frame the condensation of patterns into ways of affecting structure with feeling and applying critically oriented stresses vice more overt movement . The sequences of these modes of training often are different in any given class -- as I said, sequence and I are, at best, barely polite strangers.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Erick, to your point, I would say that if we start by acknowledging that aiki weapons doesn't have aiki in the beginning (which it doesn't), then "learning to cut" should at least have a functional aspect (i.e. learning to correctly cut).
Agreed.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Here's the rub - generally speaking, aikido "cutting" is not very good functional cutting. To make things worse, we'll use instruction based on our aikido cutting... Move like you're cutting with a sword, blah blah blah. But what we're really instructing is how to move our bodies using an analogy to a weapon we don't really swing correctly.
This is something we abhor and while gentle about fixing it -- do not ultimately tolerate. They improve, though.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Which means that we need to look at making our weapons instruction functional.
Agreed. It takes time and more importantly objective external attention to create internal kinesthetic awareness in people -- it is nothing that the modern world provides naturally or well. It takes time for them to even grasp the errors we point out and to ultimately anticipate the correction we routinely give. But I will not let bad movement go unnoted. If they persist, no one in our classes should be left cutting badly. We encourage participation in tameshigiri with our iaido group with this in mind.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Also, you see some people moving away from that kind of instruction since is it somewhat equivalent to teaching algebra by reminding children to rely upon their knowledge of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. That is, you are using advanced education to support basic instruction. We have moved away from those analogy-based comments for this reason.
Actually, the calculus is pretty easy. It is just really sophisticated estimation of a bread loaf by adding the slices -- getting your head around infinitesimal slices takes a conceptual revelation -- but really it is the damn algebra needed to describe the loaf that it is the hard part.
My peculiar brain bias again.

But my point is that the sword works when it is an extension of the body operation in a very particular way. When that particular way can be glimpsed -- even in brief fragments -- the weapon permits observation of what needs to be sought at large scale, which then leads to what is done in the waza taijutsu in smaller scales, and in aiki finally at near infinitesimal scales. Analyzing Ikeda formed the template, basically.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 11-22-2015, 03:42 PM   #33
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Re: Article: Ellis Amdur, "The Use of Weapons in Aikido Training"

More kumitachi to shake your stick at: https://youtu.be/JbKq1JgRKxY

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