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Old 08-10-2016, 10:40 AM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Cross Training

How important do you think cross training in other martial arts is to your development as a martial artist? I think it's critical, because it's one of the only ways to check your unconscious assumptions and find out what you really don't know. I put a lot of my thoughts about it in this blog post
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2016/08/cross-training.html
What do you think? Is cross training important? Do you do it?

Peter Boylan
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Old 08-10-2016, 04:28 PM   #2
ryback
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Re: Cross Training

I respect every choice but I have to state mine. I never ever cross train! Aikido, the way we are practicing at least, is a complete martial art with armed, unarmed, hand to hand and every possible combination of a fighting situation and of course it's practiced in the form of Kata and not sparring, it is not a sport, it has no rules just safety precautions because it's...real!
There some martial arts out there that I respect very much but have different basic principles than Aikido so any attempt to cross train can only lead to confusion. You cannot stick a...Ferrari engine inside a laptop and claim that you have made a...faster computer. It just won't work!

"The soft is the most severe!"
Steven Seagal sensei
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Old 08-10-2016, 07:47 PM   #3
asiawide
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Re: Cross Training

Well.... Takeda and Ueshiba all did cross-training. Many of top shihans did it too.
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Old 08-10-2016, 09:30 PM   #4
ryback
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote: View Post
Well.... Takeda and Ueshiba all did cross-training. Many of top shihans did it too.
It's not the same really... O sensei has tried a lot of different things trying to find his way in Martial arts so he was going from one thing to the next but he did the work of creating a system of learning Tai jutsu and weapons all under the Aiki principles and he called that...Aikido eventually. That is his legacy, not the creation of the techniques, to claim such a thing would be ridiculous, these techniques have been around long before him.
In the past, the samurai had to train sometimes with different masters in order to learn what they needed because they would learn the sword from one teacher, the spear from another one, there was not a complete system like Aikido, each one was specialized in one form of combat.
In my opinion, since o' Sensei has created the system of practicing called Aikido, he did the work of creating a method of studying all aspects of martial arts. So what they were doing back then, the Samurai, o' Sensei or Takeda was absolutely very different than taking up Aikido and believing that you can supplement it with, let's say karate or Wing Chun or something...

"The soft is the most severe!"
Steven Seagal sensei
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Old 08-11-2016, 06:42 AM   #5
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Re: Cross Training

Consider two aspects to this issue:
1. The impact of cross-training on us, personally
2. The impact of cross-training on us, as an art

I think with have a personal commitment to become competent in Aikdio to the best of our ability. From this perspective, I think the idea of cross-training has merit because it may lead to a better understanding of what we do and why. This perspective is consistent with other academic pursuits and every liberal arts major can tell you that taking college algebra to graduate with your BA in English never made sense... The same goes for all our engineering friends who had to sit through English 101. The idea is that exposure to other areas of learning would "round out" us as students. Now, whether you believe that...

I think we have a obligation to the aikido to preserve the art and ensure it is effectively transmitted to future generations. From this perspective I think that there is pressure on us to understand why aikido chose to preserve a technique or exercise and work within its confines. This provides an interesting opportunity to not just accomplish something, but do it within a framework.

Bastardizing aikido is not cross-training. People who work to do what they want and represent it as aikido are not cross-training. This can be done by people training in other arts and it can be done by people who add their own "flair". The litmus test is whether you can show what you do with aiki.

Also, remember that in our case, O Sensei was given the name Aikido. The students of O Sensei were largely responsible for the techniques we train. Kisshomaru Ueshiba was largely responsible for the way we train. The techniques that O Sensei performed was largely inherited from another art, Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu. Much of O Sensei's ideas also had a foreign point of origin, China. I think there is some argument that we would not have what we have if not for a few people choosing to innovate...

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Old 08-11-2016, 02:39 PM   #6
ryback
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Re: Cross Training

I agree absolutely about the responsibility we have to the art of Aikido and to ourselves, it's just that in my experience, I cannot think of a better way to excel in Aikido other than practicing as much Aikido as possible and then even more!
My approach in Aikido training is certainly a martial arts approach, trying to be effective in any fighting situation, yet without trying different "scenarios" just keeping my perception open to any form of attack or defense.
Everything I ever needed to get there, whether it would be armed, unarmed, immobilizations, joint manipulations, attemi, disarming techniques, you name it, I could always find them inside Aikido and the more I study, the better I become. But that's the way we study in our dojo, I have no problem with other people's choices but cross training certainly ain't my cup of tea, so I usually advice against it...

"The soft is the most severe!"
Steven Seagal sensei
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:08 PM   #7
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Re: Cross Training

Historically, Ueshiba cross trained. Kano cross trained and encouraged several other major martial artists like Tomiki, Funakoshi, and Ueshiba. Shioda was trained in kendo and judo, and had ranks in Daito Ryu. Tomiki had ranks in Daito Ryu, judo, and aikido. Koichi Tohei had several influences.

What is a pure lineage? That is, I think, a messy question. Not sure where we start to call aikido bastardized, though I agree it can happen.

Watching demonstrations of Tai Chi or Shotokan karate kata, I see enlightening, inspiring things with an Aikido lens. If cross training means learning, and knowledge means power, then great.
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Old 08-12-2016, 03:03 AM   #8
ryback
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Re: Cross Training

Was Shioda practicing other martial arts simultaneously with Aikido while he was running the Yoshinkan dojo? Was Tohei doing that? I don't know and even if they did it doesn't prove that it helped them in any way with their Aikido skills.
Having a background in other martial arts doesn't consist a cross training of any kind, I have a background and rank in other martial arts as well. By the time I started in Aikido I have already abandoned them and I knew from the first moment that I felt it that Aikido is what I was looking for all along and I still feel the same almost twenty years later down the road, with plenty of work still ahead of me. In my experience but also with my logic I cannot see any way of developing Aikido skills outside Aikido, it's logical isn't it?
Every hour spent doing something else is an hour away from Aikido, absolutely wasted time if you want to progress in Aikido that is... You cannot become better in Aikido by training in Karate or Kung fu, how could that work?
Aikido has a lot of depth so one wants to be really effective in fighting situations using Aikido, he has to study reaaaaally hard and spend years in an Aikido Dojo...

"The soft is the most severe!"
Steven Seagal sensei
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Old 08-12-2016, 06:26 AM   #9
rugwithlegs
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Re: Cross Training

Mr Mousoulis: I notice the Seagal quote in your signature - according to wiki he has ranks in four different arts in addition to his aikido. He seemed to stay committed to learning. I would not criticize him for it.

I have met several people who talked about abandoning their previous arts. Discarding skills, physical development, insights gained elsewhere - short of a lobotomy or stroke this is harder to do. Dancers and gymnasts also have a leg up in some ways when they start training (not all ways).

I remember committing myself to 100 days of aikido practice once. The day came I was too tired and sore to do any rolling. I had cross country skied 60km mostly in skating technique - basically hours of Ikkyo undo with resistance and stepping sankaku. I decided it counted. When injured, I do something - maybe something someone else would say was cross training.

Ueshiba shows a handful of firearm disarms in Budo and the Asahi News clip. I learned useful insights about these at a firearms safety course - not the from the technique, but from knowing guns a little better. I think my aikido benefited from my anatomy classes too. Yoga and meditation have useful things to add to regular dojo training.

I have had direct students of Ueshiba tell me the aikido I learned was already bastardized as I learned kansetsu and atemi. There are schools that say these things are not Aikido. I know teachers who would call studying aikido at another school "cross training" because they see another person's aikido as different. When I say the idea of a pure lineage is messy, it is because we as a collective art have a hard time defining what categorically is and is not aikido.
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Old 08-12-2016, 09:01 AM   #10
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Re: Cross Training

At some point, you need to decide whether cross-training works. Professional athletes cross train all the time to round out their skills. As I pointed out earlier, academics have long pushed the concepts of generalized education. There are statistics for these measurements and many coaches and academics support a position of generalized education, for lack of a better phrase. I think cross training does work, but I also understand it may not work for everyone for any number of reasons. Part of my perspective is understanding this issue isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

For me, I think cross-training bring up two issues for introspection:
1. Does my stuff work? When I work out with someone who does not train aikido, I am critical of movement that does not work because that is an indicator that I am not moving the way I should be. Cross-training strips away some of the insulation built into our training methodology that may color our success.
2. Aikido techniques are a framework into which we apply aiki to create a waza. When I see a technique, I am critical of movement that is difficult to understand or apply to what I am doing. At some point, we are all just moving our bodies and some people are more efficient than others.

Last edited by jonreading : 08-12-2016 at 09:11 AM.

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Old 08-12-2016, 12:19 PM   #11
rugwithlegs
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Re: Cross Training

I guess cross training has some varied understanding here.

Physical therapy following an injury is, strictly speaking, not aikido. Neither is weight lifting, pushups, swimming, running, meditating, stretching, or any number of things. I don't like cross training as just merely doubling of the curriculum. One teacher taught a different art that had me spending hours on standing meditation and structure, and it was time I needed. Some students might benefit from meditation, some might benefit from a punching bag. It is as Jon says, Not one size fits all.

I don't think I am using cross training to mean showing up at multiple classes in the same time. Exposure to other ideas and other arts still counts, training from years ago still counts. Peter wrote about learning someone can hit you in the face - that one insight shouldn't need to be pounded in to you repeatedly. What to do about it is a whole new field of study and that takes time.

In terms of different martial arts, they all have generation of power and how to manipulate someone else's anatomy to harm or control as a base. Everything else all comes from that.

I had a teacher that taught me Tanto dori with the knife in either hand; I was uke for someone in a test who had cross trained a style of Kenjutsu that only allowed a Tanto in the right hand. It was an embarrassing situation all around. As Peter wrote, "That can't happen, no one does it that way" kind of responses are worth examining.
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Old 08-12-2016, 04:15 PM   #12
Walter Martindale
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Re: Cross Training

My judo sempai trained sometimes with Isao Okano (smallest at the time to ever win the All Japan Judo Champs, at 80kg).. My sempai asked Okano if he did any training other than judo. Apparently Okano told him "no, I only do judo"... And yet when my sempai wandered in to the Kodokan weight room one day, there was Okano banging away at the bench press. When challenged about what he was doing, Okano apparently said - "this is judo..."

Call it cross training - it's all "training"...
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Old 08-12-2016, 09:30 PM   #13
ryback
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Re: Cross Training

Well,as someone said above when we say cross training we don't necessarily mean the same thing...
Steven Seagal Sensei is in my opinion one of the greatest Aikido masters. When I look at his technique I don't see anything else in it other than Aikido, although it's a different approach on the art than others it's not like it has a little bit of this or that. Matsuoka Sensei, Reynosa Sensei, being his students have the same approach because they have been taught by him in his way of studying Aikido. Whether Seagal Sensei started with Karate (he actually did) or whatever doesn't seem to make any difference.
I also practice Zen meditation and Iaido but in our dojo it's just part of Aikido, we don't consider it to be cross training. Jubi undo (Jubi taiso), Aiki Ken, Aiki Jo, Tai jutsu, armed against unarmed, Iaido,zen meditation, shiatsu healing are all aspects of our Aikido practice, that's why I said that the term cross training can mean a lot of different things.
When I said that cross training is not my cup of tea, what I actually meant is that I don't think there is any benefit in mixing different martial arts, or combat sports. One doesn't need to look away from Aikido to learn, for example, how to strike, it is there but it depends on the school and the teacher of course. And there is no point in trying Aikido against other arts or (even worse) against combat sports to become familiar with certain scenarios of attack or defense because you can never cover them all. Instead one can,by studying hard, develope his Aikido to work against anything, whether ha had encountered it before or not, whether he saw it coming or not,if you try to adapt it is already too late, your body has to react according to your training... Aikido has to work and be effective against anything, no matter what, it has that potential, and in my experience that skill can only be developed in a serious Aikido Dojo and not in trying different things...

Last edited by ryback : 08-12-2016 at 09:34 PM.

"The soft is the most severe!"
Steven Seagal sensei
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Old 08-13-2016, 07:03 PM   #14
Peter Boylan
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Yannis Mousoulis wrote: View Post
I respect every choice but I have to state mine. I never ever cross train! Aikido, the way we are practicing at least, is a complete martial art with armed, unarmed, hand to hand and every possible combination of a fighting situation and of course it's practiced in the form of Kata and not sparring, it is not a sport, it has no rules just safety precautions because it's...real!
There some martial arts out there that I respect very much but have different basic principles than Aikido so any attempt to cross train can only lead to confusion. You cannot stick a...Ferrari engine inside a laptop and claim that you have made a...faster computer. It just won't work!
I like aikido, but I would not venture to call it a complete art, certainly not in the way Kashima Shinryu or Katori Shinto Ryu. I have to admit, other than the weapons work created by Nishio, I've never seen any aikido weapons that impressed me as being effective sword or staff. The empty hand waza are good, but they are weak on the ground. Get out and try some koryu, try some Kodokan Goshinjutsu, try some Tenjin Shin'yo Ryu. Do a little cross training. You'll be surprised at how much there is too learn.

Peter Boylan
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Old 08-13-2016, 10:44 PM   #15
rugwithlegs
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Re: Cross Training

From the Art Of Peace, translated by John Stevens:
Even though our path is completely different from the warrior paths of the past, it is not necessary to abandon totally the old ways. Absorb venerable traditions into this new art by clothing them with fresh garments, and build on the classic styles to create better forms.

Ueshiba doesn't seem to be against classic sources of information, or borrowing ideas. Isolation means reinventing the wheel.

I studied Shotokan Karate for a bit, and the instruction I was given was very specifically geared towards everything being a strike or block - no matter if it was something like Kanku Sho kata that contained a movement that looked soooo very much like katate dori Nikyo, or specific footwork that resembled judo ashiwaza.

Kano had lessons from Funakoshi, but his judo atemiwaza does not look to have material in common with Funakoshi (not an expert on karate or judo).

Tomiki was a student of Kano and Ueshiba, but I was initially surprised at how very little of his "distance judo" looked like Kodokan judo. The ground work example is valid - there is a standing game in judo, then a couple of movements to newaza. Hanmi Handachi and suwari waza fit very well along side newaza, and some of Funakoshi's and Kano's kata have interesting striking and kicking from suwari waza. I believe the ability to see multiple attackers is a defining characteristic of aikido, but newaza and suwari waza are always present together.

So how did Kano, Tomiki, Funakoshi, Ueshiba and others work together, collaborate on projects, supported each other publicly, had students in common and even taught in the same building on some occasions, - and then ended up with so little obvious overlap?

With little proof or scholarship to back it up, I personally wonder if it was deliberate that they did not reinvent any wheels or cut-and-paste curriculum from one art into another. Compartmentalized education was part of military style training, and specialist teachers are part of the formal education system that Kano and Tomiki were trained in. As each art could specialize, there was less pressure for each individual founder of a separate art to create a complete system.
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Old 08-14-2016, 01:41 AM   #16
ryback
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I like aikido, but I would not venture to call it a complete art, certainly not in the way Kashima Shinryu or Katori Shinto Ryu. I have to admit, other than the weapons work created by Nishio, I've never seen any aikido weapons that impressed me as being effective sword or staff. The empty hand waza are good, but they are weak on the ground. Get out and try some koryu, try some Kodokan Goshinjutsu, try some Tenjin Shin'yo Ryu. Do a little cross training. You'll be surprised at how much there is too learn.
Yeah well, like I said before it depends on the dojo and the teacher. It is true that in most cases the weapons in Aikido are not very effective and the taijutsu seems right only for classical committed armed attacks and weak for modern fast punches or on the ground, but that is NOT the way we do it.
We emphasize in effective kumi tachi, kumi Jo and every possible variation and combination and we do the same for the unarmed techniques or the disarming techniques whether while standing or on the ground, though we try to avoid being taken to the ground.
There are other dojos out there, the Steven Seagal Sensei Tenshin lineage, Nenad Ikras that I respect very much that are very effective in what they do. We say Aikido but sometimes we mean very different things. In our dojo and some other dojos I have seen Aikido is a complete martial art and in other dojos it isn't. I do not consider what we do as cross training, it's just an effective, practical approach of Aikido...

"The soft is the most severe!"
Steven Seagal sensei
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:13 AM   #17
rugwithlegs
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Yannis Mousoulis wrote: View Post
...Steven Seagal Sensei is in my opinion one of the greatest Aikido masters. When I look at his technique I don't see anything else in it other than Aikido, although it's a different approach on the art than others it's not like it has a little bit of this or that. Matsuoka Sensei, Reynosa Sensei, being his students have the same approach because they have been taught by him in his way of studying Aikido. Whether Seagal Sensei started with Karate (he actually did) or whatever doesn't seem to make any difference.
I also practice Zen meditation and Iaido but in our dojo it's just part of Aikido, we don't consider it to be cross training. Jubi undo (Jubi taiso), Aiki Ken, Aiki Jo, Tai jutsu, armed against unarmed, Iaido,zen meditation, shiatsu healing are all aspects of our Aikido practice...One doesn't need to look away from Aikido to learn, for example, how to strike, it is there but it depends on the school and the teacher...
Referring to the bolding above, which I added, there doesn't seem to be any difference, except his aikido is different. I would be interested to know if Seagal Sensei himself feels that his formal training in karate, judo, kendo, his time spent training MMA fighters has influenced his aikido and his teaching. It sounds like you benefit from your teacher's own cross training.
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Old 08-22-2016, 03:13 PM   #18
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
Referring to the bolding above, which I added, there doesn't seem to be any difference, except his aikido is different. I would be interested to know if Seagal Sensei himself feels that his formal training in karate, judo, kendo, his time spent training MMA fighters has influenced his aikido and his teaching. It sounds like you benefit from your teacher's own cross training.
Just like O'Sensei's students that are all or mostly proficient in other styles of Martial Arts before they first started training with him? Is that also one of the reasons why there's so many styles in Aikido?

Oneigashimasu.

"For The Secret That The Warrior Seeks: You Must Know That The Basic Principles Lie In The Study Of The Spirit." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:49 PM   #19
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
How important do you think cross training in other martial arts is to your development as a martial artist? I think it's critical, because it's one of the only ways to check your unconscious assumptions and find out what you really don't know. I put a lot of my thoughts about it in this blog post
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2016/08/cross-training.html
What do you think? Is cross training important? Do you do it?
When i tried to cross train in Judo a few years ago, neither club liked it and i ended up getting banned from both. Aikido senseis don't like the idea that you can use aikido kata in freestyle sets, and judoka don't appreciate being immobilised by the skill of aikido move sets. It was very effective for me at the time though?!?
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Old 08-28-2016, 04:35 PM   #20
Janet Rosen
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
John Robinson wrote: View Post
When i tried to cross train in Judo a few years ago, neither club liked it and i ended up getting banned from both. Aikido senseis don't like the idea that you can use aikido kata in freestyle sets, and judoka don't appreciate being immobilised by the skill of aikido move sets. It was very effective for me at the time though?!?
Cross-training does NOT mean bringing the skill set of one into the other in order to outdo your training partners.
Effective martial arts training is NOT "besting" your partners, it is being an uke who allows your partner to learn.

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-28-2016, 04:40 PM   #21
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Re: Cross Training

That is the correct reply from an aikido position, but the wrong one from a judo stance. Where the essence of judo, certainly today, is a competitive spirit. (Meaning that you out step, throw, groundwork and submission him, until he taps and you win). I thought i could straddle this difference, but more fool me.
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Old 08-28-2016, 04:53 PM   #22
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Cross-training does NOT mean bringing the skill set of one into the other in order to outdo your training partners.
Effective martial arts training is NOT "besting" your partners, it is being an uke who allows your partner to learn.
I also don't like the passive aggressive attitude that i get from reading this post, thanks.

PS you're art is in no way better than mine. no matter what rank you hold. rank only shows formal recognition of skill, and there are plenty of other accolades which i hold to meet these, thanks again.
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Old 08-28-2016, 05:58 PM   #23
Walter Martindale
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Cross-training does NOT mean bringing the skill set of one into the other in order to outdo your training partners.
Effective martial arts training is NOT "besting" your partners, it is being an uke who allows your partner to learn.
Well... Actually... That's why I went into judo in the first place - to take throwing skills into wrestling for training and competition. I sometimes found wrestling skills handy in judo competition, but not long after starting judo I quit wrestling - more fun, and the people generally acted more civilized..

Aikido, on the other hand - I found a couple of different shihan who very much liked how the judo background influenced my aikido - the spatial awareness, the ability to take some pretty vigorous ukemi and keep going, the ability to "get" what the shihan was displaying... I very much appreciate the non-combative/competitive nature of aikido training - after all, most properly executed aikido moves CAN cause a lot of damage, but most of us realise that if we break our training partners we won't have anyone to train with.. I practiced once with a systema guy (Russian exchange student) - it was a little like grabbing smoke, and I would have liked a chance to learn that way of moving from him. The idea NOT being to get one over on my training partners, but to make myself a little better at aikido...but he never came back to that dojo...
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:42 AM   #24
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Re: Cross Training

Cross training will definitely improve your aikido if you have a solid base and are clear that aikido is your core art. If you merely add techniques to a bag of other techniques you will end up with a mess. The way to cross train successfully IMO is to focus clearly on the art you are trying to learn and seek to identify the principles of movement and power generation and absorption within that art. Gradually you can try to see "the system within the system" as Datu Kelly Worden often calls it. Working from the outside to the inside, I.e. Learning techniques and skills to create a responsive body will lead to inside out work, mind leading energy leading body. Each person chooses what they consider to most important to them. For me it used to be perfecting the "forms" of aikido but now I am far more interested in the spontaneous aspects of the art. My last teacher, Hiroshi Kato, frequently spoke about the "feeling" of ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, etc. as expressed both in tachiwaza and bukiwaza, as being the same energy shapes. A close study of other arts, especially combat arts rather than sports, will reveal the range of most effective usage of the body. I believe that staying within one system only can lead to huge assumptions about what you have really developed and a good doe of humility never hurts. This is the value of testing (sometimes competing), not to win but to lose and see your own suki.

Last edited by Alec Corper : 08-29-2016 at 12:46 AM.

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Old 08-29-2016, 08:46 PM   #25
Janet Rosen
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Re: Cross Training

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post

(in response to my "Cross-training does NOT mean bringing the skill set of one into the other in order to outdo your training partners. Effective martial arts training is NOT "besting" your partners, it is being an uke who allows your partner to learn.)

Well... Actually... That's why I went into judo in the first place - to take throwing skills into wrestling for training and competition. I sometimes found wrestling skills handy in judo competition, but not long after starting judo I quit wrestling - more fun, and the people generally acted more civilized..

Aikido, on the other hand - I found a couple of different shihan who very much liked how the judo background influenced my aikido - the spatial awareness, the ability to take some pretty vigorous ukemi and keep going, the ability to "get" what the shihan was displaying... I very much appreciate the non-combative/competitive nature of aikido training - after all, most properly executed aikido moves CAN cause a lot of damage, but most of us realise that if we break our training partners we won't have anyone to train with.. I practiced once with a systema guy (Russian exchange student) - it was a little like grabbing smoke, and I would have liked a chance to learn that way of moving from him. The idea NOT being to get one over on my training partners, but to make myself a little better at aikido...but he never came back to that dojo...
We are in agreement. The idea is to better YOURSELF in the chosen art by integrating aspects of what you learn in cross-training....not to find ways to close down a training partner by throwing in techniques that are totally alien to the art.

Janet Rosen
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