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Old 02-14-2017, 11:40 AM   #1
jonreading
 
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A defense of Aiki

As the movement of internal power and aiki continues to grow, I want to express some personal observations of what I have experienced over the past several years and also provide what I perceive to be a confusion around how internal power and aiki factor into our aikido. This is a brief summary of our journey into internal power and aiki. I have broken down my comments into some general groups for ease of conversation.

A History of Things
First and foremost is the abundance of evidence to support the claim that aiki and IP is inconsistent with the modern methodology of aikido training. I am not going to repeat the evidence here; there are better articles and writers who have shared what they know and I believe the exercise of ingesting that research is important to a better understanding of the landscape on which aiki and IP are built. There is a political-historical foundation that is required to understand the larger conversation. I once heard this prerequisite knowledge described as, “How can we talk about calculus when you don’t understand basic math?” Even in the books written on this stuff, the authors spend a significant time laying a history. If history isn’t so important, why is so much time spent on history in these books? Because it is.
When I decided to look into the world of internal power, I did it first by researching the topic. I found out there was a lot of misleading and even contradictory perspectives on the topic. I choose to look a little closer at the sources of the perspectives and started to find inconsistencies. Many of these inconsistencies are related to translation (or transcription) issues. Some of these issues were related to an ideological perspective that framed a narrative. Some of the issues were related to political agenda to obscure or remove elements of history. A critical component in my early investigation was to understand that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I have heard proponents of aiki and internal power try to express this perspective and encourage budo people to look at the history of things. As a criticism, I think whether you agree with an interpretation of acts, it’s a worthwhile pursuit to know the facts. I think many of us don’t know all the facts, and I include myself in this category.
We now know much of what was originally was translated and transcribed by O Sensei, was done without the best interpretations. We also know much of what O Sensei knew has previously existed in other areas, with striking similarity in language, instruction, and application. This presents a strong argument that we also have access to the information of aiki that O Sensei used as his foundation of his aiki training. We have a choice to pursue O Sensei’s aiki, because it is both real and achievable. This is a different aikido than most of what we learn as aikido. There is no comparison in movement and to do so disrespects the aikido that came from Hombu; both movement styles exist, but they should not be compared because they are that dissimilar.

Who Cares? Unless You Do
Second, I think we need to apply pressure to our advocates to support their opinions. If you advocate a position, you should be able to knowingly and competently defend that position. The dojo made a decision to review our approach to the ultimate goal of learning aiki, through the training of aikido. As I started down my exploration of internal power, I talked to people, I met with people, our dojo entertained visiting instructors to talk about internal power. The dojo supported an evidence-based approach to see who could show what he did and explain the methodology behind the training. I think we sometimes deliberately create a conflict in our argument about internal power by crafting two strong possibilities: 1. what we traditionally know about aikido is wrong and we don’t know about internal power, or 2. What we traditionally know about aikido is right and [related to] internal power. Yes, I understand a small segment of the aikido population does not believe internal power is part of aikido. The problem is that we (aikido people) can touch each other and feel a qualitative difference. So we (aikido people) have this tangible feeling that can corroborate what is going on.
What I noticed was a lot of people who felt just like everyone else, even when they said they were using “internal power.” This created a problem for the me; how can someone who trains internal power feel like someone who does not? You can’t. So, excepting the quality of feeling (i.e the amount of training), I noticed a difference between someone who was working on internal power and someone who said she was working on internal power. As a criticism, I think we (aikido people) rely on intellectualism too much with regard to our pursuit of training, and we (aikido people) ignore the practicality to do what we (individuals on the mat) say [we can do]. I felt that ultimately, I am the only one who advocates for my aikido. Sure, my friends and fellow aikido people are there to help me along the way, but if I didn’t care enough to change my training, no one else would do that for me.
We have access to people who work with internal power movement. We have a choice to work with people who can demonstrate the difference. Whole-body movement and aiki has nothing to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent. O Sensei is quoted on this claim in paraphrase saying that aikido has no opponent. We have a choice to work on whole body movement self-supported, or work within a system designed with co-dependence on a partner. We have an opportunity to put our bodies in the center of the universe. After all, isn’t that what O Sensei said?

From one technique are born 10,000
Third, I think we should apply functionality to support our training methodology. What we do needs to make sense. If you practice an exercise and you cannot explain it’s function, you cannot defend the merits of the exercise. In aikido, we practice kata because, presumably, the movement has a purpose that refines how we move. For me, fighting movement needs to address several concerns: the production of power and efficiency of movement, the impact and effectiveness of offense, the success and range of defense, and the variety of application. These elements do not address the task of preserving a system. Preserving aikido is not an element of fighting movement. In this regard, internal power movement conflicts only with bad martial movement.
We found that some of our aikido movement did conflict with our whole body movement, consistently indicating that our aikido movement was flawed. We felt this failure was a combination of a flawed method of preservation with regard to our movement and instruction.A criticism that arises here is when we perceive movements to conflict with internal power movements, we tend to believe our movement is “good”, thus creating perception of conflict against the contested movement. We do this because we believe the movement we learned is [correctly] preserved from the system and system supports the movement, rather than our independent working knowledge of body movement.
We felt our training needed to produce aiki movement. Can you use aiki in weapons, empty hand, striking, grappling, or throws? Aiki is a body movement, so the answer should be, “yes.” Again, O Sensei gave us proof of this understanding with a number of references that extrapolate vast ability created from one practice (aiki). More importantly, this should be a unifying connection with sister arts that also allows us to apply the knowledge and information used in other fighting systems. Why can’t aiki work in judo? MMA? Tai chi? In understanding how our bodies work, we can also leverage the information of other systems into our training. Why do you think O Sensei could look at someone and discern from his (or her) movement they moved with aiki? Ultimately, our dojo began working with someone who was able to show and teach how aiki can significantly alter any fighting endeavor. We collaborate with other arts and leverage their knowledge and training. How great is that? A training methodology that is inviting to anyone.

Over the years, I have heard a number of arguments for and against internal power in aikido. The truth is, you are the advocate for your aikido. This is a very scary premise, because it squarely places the responsibility for learning aikido on you. Bad instructors, busy lives, injuries… blah blah blah. When your partner touches you, all is revealed. In a very intimate setting, you and your partner have this micro-experience and she looks at you and and makes a judgment. There’s no blog, no academic theory, no reigi, and no excuses. We felt like our training was not adequate to defend our aikido and so we changed how we learned so that we could feel adequate defending what we do. It’s not right or wrong and I think many arguments within the topic of internal power are framed that way. It’s not comparable - moving with aiki is so dissimilar to modern aikido it is not recognizable to those who practice aiki. O Sensei said as much when visiting Hombu.
I am frustrated by most arguments against internal power. Many are baseless at face value, but often center around an element of confusion, obfuscation, politics, or ideology. Internal power discussions should be instructive - we have an opportunity to better understand why we do what we do. Instead, we belittle points of fact. In part, I believe this is a tactic of argument because the fact path leads to a conclusion that is strongly defensible. Because the conclusion is strongly defensible, the arguments attempt to disrupt the fact pattern prior to the conclusion. Internal power and aiki is real and trainable. It is foreign to me that aikido people spend effort and energy to disprove this idea. While the foundation for this post is based on experiences in our dojo, I imagine there are aikido people and dojos out there who are looking into internal power and being met with opposition, much like what we experienced. In sharing my experience, I wanted to bring up my defense of aiki.

Last edited by jonreading : 02-14-2017 at 11:48 AM.

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Old 02-14-2017, 10:21 PM   #2
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Aikido is the Way of Aiki. I am not claiming to be an expert, but I do claim to be headed in the right direction. Who would tell me otherwise; should I listen or laugh? Well, I would just leave them be. I am on my own journey. I think people should consider such and make their own choice.

For yourself it can be whatever you make it to be.

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Old 02-14-2017, 10:27 PM   #3
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
First and foremost is the abundance of evidence to support the claim that aiki and IP is inconsistent with the modern methodology of aikido training.
You're painting with too broad a brush. Modern methodology of Aikido training encompasses a wide spectrum of practices. Perhaps you can be more specific and define just what training model(s) you include in the modern methodology of Aikido training. That will help further the discussion by providing a quantifiable domain over which to apply the evidence.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I am not going to repeat the evidence here; there are better articles and writers who have shared what they know and I believe the exercise of ingesting that research is important to a better understanding of the landscape on which aiki and IP are built.
Fair enough. How about a few references then?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
This is a different aikido than most of what we learn as aikido. There is no comparison in movement and to do so disrespects the aikido that came from Hombu; both movement styles exist, but they should not be compared because they are that dissimilar.
Surely though comparisons can be drawn regarding things like: training goals, the underlying assumptions that provide the framework upon which the form of training built, analyses of both types of movement with regard to their respective body mechanics and why one is to be favored over another... Without the ability to compare the results obtained by different training methodologies there really isn't much to discuss; unless, that is, you're just looking for affirmations of your viewpoint (I don't think that's the case, but when you preemptively close the door on areas of discussion it can appear that way).

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
The dojo made a decision to review our approach to the ultimate goal of learning aiki, through the training of aikido. As I started down my exploration of internal power, I talked to people, I met with people, our dojo entertained visiting instructors to talk about internal power. The dojo supported an evidence-based approach to see who could show what he did and explain the methodology behind the training.
It's admirable that you took the step to break with your traditional training methods and broaden the scope of your training. It's all too easy to stay with just what we've been shown and repeat it over and over. You found something missing in your Aikido and instead of closing your eyes to it you looked elsewhere to find your answers. Kudos.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
… I am the only one who advocates for my aikido. Sure, my friends and fellow aikido people are there to help me along the way, but if I didn't care enough to change my training, no one else would do that for me.
Ultimately we are all solely responsible for our own training. Aikido training provides the practitioner many paths to take. In my own 40 years of study I have taken the time to venture down little out of the way places to see what they have to offer. In the end though, I always find my way back to the main line of my training; which itself it defined and redefined by me as I grow and change.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Whole-body movement and aiki has nothing to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent. O Sensei is quoted on this claim in paraphrase saying that aikido has no opponent.
Whole body movement with aiki as a discipline is indeed not predicated on anything "to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent." However the practice of Aikido is the application of aiki driven whole body movement to situations involving oneself and at least one other person. What you're referring to above relates to the application of Aikido, not the cultivation of aiki.

I agree with O Sensei that Aikido has no opponent, not because the opponent doesn't exist in some metaphorical sense but because the Aikido relationship between me and my opponent is such that our individual identities are merged by our interaction as we turn conflict into resolution. In effect, we become a single entity for the duration of that interaction.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
We have a choice to work on whole body movement self-supported, or work within a system designed with co-dependence on a partner.
The two are not mutually exclusive.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
The truth is, you are the advocate for your aikido. This is a very scary premise, because it squarely places the responsibility for learning aikido on you. Bad instructors, busy lives, injuries… blah blah blah. When your partner touches you, all is revealed. In a very intimate setting, you and your partner have this micro-experience and she looks at you and and makes a judgment. There's no blog, no academic theory, no reigi, and no excuses.
Too true, proof's in the pudding for sure.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I am frustrated by most arguments against internal power. Many are baseless at face value, but often center around an element of confusion, obfuscation, politics, or ideology. Internal power discussions should be instructive - we have an opportunity to better understand why we do what we do.
I think past discussions on AikiWeb about internal power have revolved around doctrine more than whether or not aiki is or should be a component of Aikido, how to train aiki, what training methodologies within modern Aikido emphasize the development of aiki, etc. Perhaps your current thread will not get bogged down in the defending doctrine quagmire and yield more fruitful results. One can only hope.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Internal power and aiki is real and trainable.
Agreed, it is real and it is trainable. Keep moving forward with your training.

Ron

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Old 02-15-2017, 06:07 AM   #4
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Without the ability to compare the results obtained by different training methodologies there really isn't much to discuss
This.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:38 AM   #5
MrIggy
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Aiki vs Aikido?
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:58 AM   #6
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Make Aikido Great Again.
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Old 02-15-2017, 10:28 AM   #7
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Jon that was a great post and resonates with my own experiences and training. Love to compare notes (in person!) sometime.

Chris Moses
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:00 AM   #8
jonreading
 
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
You're painting with too broad a brush. Modern methodology of Aikido training encompasses a wide spectrum of practices. Perhaps you can be more specific and define just what training model(s) you include in the modern methodology of Aikido training. That will help further the discussion by providing a quantifiable domain over which to apply the evidence.

Fair enough. How about a few references then?

Surely though comparisons can be drawn regarding things like: training goals, the underlying assumptions that provide the framework upon which the form of training built, analyses of both types of movement with regard to their respective body mechanics and why one is to be favored over another... Without the ability to compare the results obtained by different training methodologies there really isn't much to discuss; unless, that is, you're just looking for affirmations of your viewpoint (I don't think that's the case, but when you preemptively close the door on areas of discussion it can appear that way).
Ron,

I will break up your comments into a couple of posts so that I can spend some time on them.

First, the evidence side. I am completely going to use you as a representative model and tease you a bit; I don't mean any disrespect, but I think you represent a considerable number of aikido people who have been around a long while... I am going to bring up some hard questions and use you, but I think we can all imagine ourselves in your place.

When asked, "show me proof!" My question [to you] is, "you've been practicing aikido for a crazy long period of time. How is it possible that you have not come across the proof?" By the time I read about the "floating bridge of heaven" for the third time in a different book, I thought to myself, "Huh, I guess the old man thought the floating bridge of heaven is important. Maybe I need to figure that out." Heck, what book about O Sensei doesn't mention the floating bridge of heaven? You have read most of the evidence, the problem is that you don't care to figure it out. Blah blah blah - floating bridge of crazy - this was an O Sensei babble moment. Whatever. There's nothing I can point to, because you won't ingest it. You have access to Aikiweb archives, a great source of information. You don't care to access it. You have access to Chris Li's blog. You don't care to access it. Heck, you can probably PM Ellis Amdur about his books. You don't care to access him. Obviously, you do care to some extent; but, I can't change the priority level you assign to research about internal power or the intensity with which you pursue that research. In my post, I mentioned a conversation about calculus... This is the good example of someone with significant aikido experience who doesn't understand the basic resources O Sensei wrote about. Here are some good starting points we used:
Budo Renshu (1938 version)
Dueling with O Sensei Ellis Amdur
Transparent Power Tatsuo Kimura
Hidden in Plain Sight Ellis Amdur
Chris Li's Sangenkai blog
Allen Beebe's blog

Next, aikido with aiki in it is nothing like empty aikido. Nothing. I was soft on this opinion early on because I thought, "Surely, we're doing something right?" Nope. Honest. In fact, most of our aikido movement is bad enough, IP people can watch a video and say, "Nope." That's how different our movement is. If you do not move with whole body movement then you don't have aiki. If you don't have aiki, you are not doing aikido. It is over-blunt and a little insulting to claim that aikido people aren't doing aikido so we need to be a little sympathetic to the situation... This is a big issue and I appreciate the fuel packed into this explosive comment.

Imagine a scenario where you say, "move from you hips to make ikkyo." I say, "You don't move from your hips." How can we talk about ikkyo? You imply I preemptively closed dialog about technique. I say that if you don't move correctly, how can we have a dialog about technique based on that movement? Isn't the better place to start that dialog, "why would you move your hips?" So, are we really shutting down dialog? No, but we may need to talk about something that is not what we anticipated talking about. Our dojo did this and we realized we didn't know have the stuff we thought we knew. We found that when reviewing much of our kata, there was a significant gap in the teaching methodology to explain how our bodies move within the kata, not to mention gaps in proper movement itself. Moving our hips is one of the more common points of instruction for kata. I don't want to get into right or wrong, but anyone who has trained for a few months has heard the instruction to "move with hips/cut with hips/throw with hips" Yet how many instructors tell us what that actually means? So, for the sake of this response, from whatever instruction (or whoever instructing) you were ever told to use hips, let's start there. Ever try to move from hips in judo? what about when you're pinned on the mat? Did I mention I used to teach "move from hips?" That was a nice shot of bitter... If you have never tried to move from hips while in kesa gatami, try it. It's terrible - but, you see people all the time swing their legs like a pendulum because they are separated at the hips. Why? Because you don't move with hips.

Our dojo worked out with a variety of other arts to better understand how we felt in other settings and how our internal power training changed that feeling over time. This was a positive experience and we also gained many friends. I strongly encourage finding outside groups to work with your dojo and test your training methodology in alternate settings. I also think that the burden of this work should lie with [you], not the hearsay of someone else. See for yourself. You need to be sorted to really see where you sit in order - we found that in many respects we were uncomfortable in other arts. Again, I am telling you we performed a comparison and found our aikido lacking elements we wanted to better work with judo, jujutsu, striking, weapons, empty-hand, etc.

I wish I had more comic relief in this post because we need it. But, our dojo made many sacrifices in order to get this far; in sharing our journey I don't want to discredit the good and the bad aspects of what we learned.

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Old 02-15-2017, 11:23 AM   #9
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Re: A defense of Aiki

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Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
Aiki vs Aikido?
To quote Archer, the best TV show, ever, "phrasing."
Aiki (or aiki-do) and aikido (or modern aikido, representing post- O Sensei aikido). Yes, there is a difference. Just like the playing football without a helmet is silly and confusing with actual football...

Sorry, couldn't resist...

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Old 02-15-2017, 11:58 AM   #10
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Whole body movement with aiki as a discipline is indeed not predicated on anything "to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent." However the practice of Aikido is the application of aiki driven whole body movement to situations involving oneself and at least one other person. What you're referring to above relates to the application of Aikido, not the cultivation of aiki.

I agree with O Sensei that Aikido has no opponent, not because the opponent doesn't exist in some metaphorical sense but because the Aikido relationship between me and my opponent is such that our individual identities are merged by our interaction as we turn conflict into resolution. In effect, we become a single entity for the duration of that interaction.
Here's another rabbit hole...

So whole body movement is absolute to aiki. There is a reason why on multiple occasions O Sensei made distinctions of individual declaration ("I am aiki!") and also indifference to a role of partnership (there is not opponent). So not only did O Sensei tell us that aiki is about [you] he also told you that aiki is not about [your partner]. We got it from both sides one this one. It's also another one of my soft answers turned harder over the years. Heaven, Earth, man. You don't find any references to a semi-compliant partner standing on the floating bridge of heaven (heaven, earth, man+1).

If you are dependent on a partner, you are not practicing aiki. You can practice aiki and a partner can support your practice. The whole idea of partnership in reconciliation is ideological. In fighting, I would never want my partner to have any input in altering what I need to do. Grab someone with stuff and ask them them to join with your center, see how that works. It doesn't. As soon as you join with someone who is bigger/more centered than you, you are foiled.

Also, notice here how you diminished a direct instruction from O Sensei (there is no opponent) by placing that instruction as "metaphorical"? What if the old man is being literal? O Sensei has to be interpreted in metaphor here because otherwise reconciliation ideology in aikido encounters a big problem - the old man didn't teach it.

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Old 02-15-2017, 12:54 PM   #11
RonRagusa
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
When asked, "show me proof!" My question [to you] is, "you've been practicing aikido for a crazy long period of time. How is it possible that you have not come across the proof?" By the time I read about the "floating bridge of heaven" for the third time in a different book, I thought to myself, "Huh, I guess the old man thought the floating bridge of heaven is important. Maybe I need to figure that out." Heck, what book about O Sensei doesn't mention the floating bridge of heaven? You have read most of the evidence, the problem is that you don't care to figure it out. Blah blah blah - floating bridge of crazy - this was an O Sensei babble moment. Whatever. There's nothing I can point to, because you won't ingest it. You have access to Aikiweb archives, a great source of information. You don't care to access it. You have access to Chris Li's blog. You don't care to access it. Heck, you can probably PM Ellis Amdur about his books. You don't care to access him. Obviously, you do care to some extent; but, I can't change the priority level you assign to research about internal power or the intensity with which you pursue that research. In my post, I mentioned a conversation about calculus... This is the good example of someone with significant aikido experience who doesn't understand the basic resources O Sensei wrote about. Here are some good starting points we used:
Budo Renshu (1938 version)
Dueling with O Sensei Ellis Amdur
Transparent Power Tatsuo Kimura
Hidden in Plain Sight Ellis Amdur
Chris Li's Sangenkai blog
Allen Beebe's blog
Yes you can show me oodles of evidence that internal power was a part of O Sensei's Aikido. My question though related to your statement that "aiki and IP is inconsistent with the modern methodology of aikido training." My own experience speaks otherwise. When I watch what Ikeda, Gleason and others are demonstrating today, I'm seeing what Maruyama S. was teaching us 40 years ago. The terminology was different but the gist and results are comparable. You don't have to convince me of the merits of studying aiki as an integral part of my Aikido training. It has been from day one. The fact that the wider Aikido community is finally beginning to come to this realization is heartening.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
If you do not move with whole body movement then you don't have aiki. If you don't have aiki, you are not doing aikido. It is over-blunt and a little insulting to claim that aikido people aren't doing aikido so we need to be a little sympathetic to the situation... This is a big issue and I appreciate the fuel packed into this explosive comment.
We called it "No Ki, no Aikido" back in the day. But since "Ki" is such a button pusher of a word, I'll use your terminology, "No aiki, no Aikido".

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Imagine a scenario where you say, "move from you hips to make ikkyo." I say, "You don't move from your hips."
Except I don't say "Move from your hips". I'd more likely say something like "Move with mind/body coordinated as an integrated unit." Which would translate to "Use whole body movement with aiki." to use your terminology.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
How can we talk about ikkyo? You imply I preemptively closed dialog about technique.
Yeah, but I never mentioned technique. Here's what I actually wrote "Surely though comparisons can be drawn regarding things like: training goals, the underlying assumptions that provide the framework upon which the form of training built, analyses of both types of movement with regard to their respective body mechanics and why one is to be favored over another...". Nothing regarding technique. If you have an open enough mind and are willing to entertain the idea that there's more than one training program that will engender aiki then we have lots to talk about. Otherwise you're just going to bog down in that doctrine based quagmire I talked about in my previous post.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Our dojo worked out with a variety of other arts to better understand how we felt in other settings and how our internal power training changed that feeling over time. This was a positive experience and we also gained many friends. I strongly encourage finding outside groups to work with your dojo and test your training methodology in alternate settings. I also think that the burden of this work should lie with [you], not the hearsay of someone else. See for yourself. You need to be sorted to really see where you sit in order - we found that in many respects we were uncomfortable in other arts. Again, I am telling you we performed a comparison and found our aikido lacking elements we wanted to better work with judo, jujutsu, striking, weapons, empty-hand, etc.
At my age Jon, I'm no longer interested in pursuing that line of training. Over the years I've worked out with a number of folks from different arts and have discovered the value internal based training brings to Aikido. The experiences I've had with others has shown me that aiki isn't art based and that it can be successfully applied to any number of endeavors.

Ron

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Old 02-15-2017, 01:21 PM   #12
RonRagusa
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Re: A defense of Aiki

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
So whole body movement is absolute to aiki. There is a reason why on multiple occasions O Sensei made distinctions of individual declaration ("I am aiki!") and also indifference to a role of partnership (there is not opponent). So not only did O Sensei tell us that aiki is about [you] he also told you that aiki is not about [your partner]. We got it from both sides one this one. It's also another one of my soft answers turned harder over the years. Heaven, Earth, man. You don't find any references to a semi-compliant partner standing on the floating bridge of heaven (heaven, earth, man+1).
Well, you kind of recast what I posted with some of O Sensei's cosmological metaphors thrown in. Recall I wrote, "Whole body movement with aiki as a discipline is indeed not predicated on anything 'to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent.'"

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If you are dependent on a partner, you are not practicing aiki.
Aiki is a result. It's a condition of the mind/body unit that arises when mind and body are integrated via intent. Training aiki strengthens the mind/body unit beyond what might normally be achieved by physical or mental conditioning alone. In my mind, one doesn't do aiki, one is unified with aiki and that unification within oneself is expressed as whole body movement; or as I would say, movement with mind/body coordinated.

Ron

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Old 02-16-2017, 08:31 AM   #13
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Perhaps the proof is in the end result ...
Having trained in many arts for many years with many people (perhaps too many of all three), I/you can feel the difference between those exploring/training in the internal-arts/discipline and those who choose not to ...
Perhaps we do not have to defend/explain our choices/preferences ...
Enjoyed your thoughts and have always enjoyed our training ... compliments and appreciation.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:36 AM   #14
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Re: A defense of Aiki

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Well, you kind of recast what I posted with some of O Sensei's cosmological metaphors thrown in. Recall I wrote, "Whole body movement with aiki as a discipline is indeed not predicated on anything 'to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent.'"

Aiki is a result. It's a condition of the mind/body unit that arises when mind and body are integrated via intent. Training aiki strengthens the mind/body unit beyond what might normally be achieved by physical or mental conditioning alone. In my mind, one doesn't do aiki, one is unified with aiki and that unification within oneself is expressed as whole body movement; or as I would say, movement with mind/body coordinated.

Ron
Kinda. Part of what you said also was that the training of whole body movement was not exclusive of co-dependent movement. While on some small level of commonality, that may be true, I am being a little more firm here by saying that if you are moving with dependence on your partner's interaction, then you are not moving correct. Join center is false.

There is another thread right now musing the "worthiness" of aiki training. I am trying to separate my thoughts to better match the thread to which I post, but it brings up a series of questions that we explored, so I am going to post some comments here, instead:
1. Everyone is not doing "it." I have worked out with a number of people who claimed to have IP or "do that" in their aikido. They don't. Sensei so-and-so said this or that. Great, where has sensei been to teach this stuff? Why can I count on two hands the number of IP heavyweights in aikido? This is was critical issue for us when we looked at who was doing what and we realized that pool is pretty small.
2. There are some digs about aiki people in the other thread that illustrate real points... I can point to a lot more aikido people who will talk their way out of anything, rather than defend what they do. I know a lot of aikido people who purposefully avoid checking their stuff to see how it works. I know a lot of aikido people who use parlor tricks. This points to what we found - you can't hide on the mat. You are either using IP or you are not. And we found you can tell the difference literally just by touching someone.

I got no problem with keeping things light and fun and digging at each other. I got no problem with ribbing our crazy training techniques, from bongo drums to breathing and in between. But the truth of the situation is that aikido has some real problems in the fighting world. Doing better jujutsu is the not answer to the better "street" application. Talking down to MMA is not the answer to dealing with fighters you can eat you alive. Aiki has survived for a long time, while aikido is relatively young on the fighting arts timeline.

It's the internet, so I am not inclined to make statements about who does what because you can't prove anything one way or the other, but your words are immortalized for the world to criticize. I take people at their word when someone says what they can (or can't) do. Internal power is tough training. It's not for everyone. We all want to say we do it because it sounds like Eastern magic and we know that O Sensei did it. Empirically, we just don't train the way you need to train to make aiki movement. This is why the post-war aikido struggled to produce anyone with the look at feel of the earlier students of O Sensei. That's not to say that there are not good teachers out there, or that aikido isn't worth practicing, or that we should start naming names to embarrass people. If your instructor knows and just isn't teaching, why? If you are doing and not teaching, why? Do you feel like everyone else, why? These are tough questions that we need to look at.

By the way, you are being a good sport and I appreciate the dialog.

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Old 02-16-2017, 09:20 AM   #15
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Since Aikido is primarily a system of self defense, training with no regard to the attacker is futile. It makes it another art.

I have correct feeling a lot of the time as a result of my training. When I lose it I get it back as soon as I can.

The self defense situations I have been in required that I have mind body co-ordination and total attention being given to the situation. Being the strongest women in the land would not have helped me.

Our training method works for us. And discussion is important. However, we don't all train for the same reasons.

There are many paths to the top of Monument Mt.

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Old 02-16-2017, 12:28 PM   #16
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Re: A defense of Aiki

This is maybe a good example of unanticipated dialog I spoke about a couple of posts earlier...

For Mary, Aikido is primarily a system of self defense. Why? For me, Aikido is primarily a study of aiki. Why? This is a fundamental difference in the definition of what we think we are doing. If you do not even consider the study of aiki as the reason for the art, where do we go from there? What do you think the odds are Mary is gonna move anything like I am gonna move?

Think of the number of threads and posts on Aikiweb alone that end with "We don't train for the same reasons." Or, "There are different path to the mountaintop." Or, "We do things for different reasons." So here's my challenge, if we are all doing the same thing, why are we always excusing why we're not doing the same thing? Because we're not. I am convinced that, "there are different path to the mountaintop," is the aikido version of our Southern saying, "bless your heart," a back-handed compliment that excuses a difference of opinion.

I think there is a truth to this comment... we are not doing the same art. So now we get into the , "my mom can beat up your mom," stuff, right? Break out the Thunderdome... No. Rupert mentioned this in like the 2nd post - there's no need. Our stuff either works or it don't. We keep our eyes on our own paper and share what we've learned.

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Old 02-16-2017, 02:11 PM   #17
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Re: A defense of Aiki

"I think there is a truth to this comment... we are not doing the same art. So now we get into the , "my mom can beat up your mom," stuff, right? Break out the Thunderdome... No. Rupert mentioned this in like the 2nd post - there's no need. Our stuff either works or it don't. We keep our eyes on our own paper and share what we've learned."

It seems like you are moving the goal posts here, Jon. I have met a couple of the gentleman that you are probably speaking about. I don't find how they felt to more "aiki" feeling than I am.

Our way works for us and our students...it involves development of correct feeling by learning to integrate mind/body in stillness and in movement. It also involves interaction with a partner which to me provides the opportunities to see what works and what doesn't. Does that happen in you aiki training?

I see some factions of aikido are seeking new ways that involve what we have been doing all along. If you or they are interested in aiki being found with Aikido please feel free to visit or dojo or to come to our seminars.

A good discussion involves give and take...an infomercial involves one way being the way.


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Old 02-16-2017, 02:32 PM   #18
RonRagusa
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Re: A defense of Aiki

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Kinda. Part of what you said also was that the training of whole body movement was not exclusive of co-dependent movement. While on some small level of commonality, that may be true, I am being a little more firm here by saying that if you are moving with dependence on your partner's interaction, then you are not moving correct. Join center is false.
Let me grab my whole quote since plainly I'm not communicating my view of the relationship between aiki and aikido very well. I wrote: "Whole body movement with aiki as a discipline is indeed not predicated on anything "to do with your partner, or connecting centers, or being affected by an opponent." However the practice of Aikido is the application of aiki driven whole body movement to situations involving oneself and at least one other person. What you're referring to above relates to the application of Aikido, not the cultivation of aiki."

Let me try to clear up what I mean by drawing on your prior reference to calculus. Calculus may be studied independently of any real world situations to which it may apply, such as finding the area under a curve by solving a definite integral of the curve's function over a given domain.

Likewise aiki may be studied and trained independently of any real world situations to which it may apply such as the execution of aikido technique. Aiki is applicable to just about any physical activity you care to think of. It's not the sole province of martial arts practice.

So the second sentence of my quote refers to the application of aiki in an aikido setting where partnered practice is the norm. I am saying that the training of whole body movement can be exclusive of co-dependent movement.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Sensei so-and-so said this or that. Great, where has sensei been to teach this stuff?
When I wrote that Sensei was showing us this stuff 40 years ago "showing" appears to have been a poor choice of words. He was teaching this stuff to us 40 years ago. Sorry for the confusion.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Why can I count on two hands the number of IP heavyweights in aikido?
Seriously Jon, in your years of training how many of the million or so aikido practitioners have you actually had the opportunity to train with and feel? I'm guessing it's a pretty small, statistically insignificant number. Could be wrong about that though, you never know.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
But the truth of the situation is that aikido has some real problems in the fighting world.
And if improving the image of aikido in the fighting world is your thing then go for it. Not my focus though.

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
By the way, you are being a good sport and I appreciate the dialog.
Yeah, well I don't have any axes to grind or agendas to push. I know full well that my views on aiki aren't well met by the "faithful"; as evidenced by my being pilloried over on the other thread, for agreeing with you no less.

Appreciate your taking the time to air your views.

Ron

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Old 02-16-2017, 03:36 PM   #19
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Everyone I've had hands on with from the Aikido world in the last couple years has had the same response, "you feel weird." Every one. We have a visiting Aikido (and formerly judo) guy visiting our dojo right now and in class a couple weeks ago he said, "man, this is what real judo ought to be..." At Dan's recent seminar last year in Seattle he had me show the newer folks the boat rowing exercise. Thankfully we'd been working on that one so I didn't look like a total moron! As I went around and let folks feel how I was doing the exercise they all went wide eyed and most insisted that I do it again because they didn't believe it was working on them. And it did. I think it's safe to say from their reactions, that NONE of them had felt that before. I'm not saying this to float my own boat, I would rate my own competency at this stuff as "barely foot in the door." But, when you actually FEEL this stuff, feel even the beginnings of real aiki, it's like finding a new color. Something is possible that wasn't possible a moment before. We also don't refer to our stuff as "aikido" either, so I don't feel the need to convince Aikido folks that there's anything missing in their art. I am convinced however that what we're working on is almost completely missing from Aikido, yet IS the aiki that OSensei was talking about.

Chris Moses
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Old 02-17-2017, 03:09 AM   #20
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Aiki training does not need a "defense". Aiki does not make people invincible (other silly thread). Aiki is a body quality that acts as a force multiplier or neutralizer. After pursuing it actively over the last ten years with Akuzawa, Dan Harden and Sam Chin, I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that some people have a quality that others do not. When this body quality is married to fighting skills you have something very potent.
However for most people the practice of aiki offers more to their levels of concentration and awareness than to their aikido skill. It is no more a given that skill in aiki equals skill in aikido, than in the opposite ( namely that mechanical skill in executing waza produces aiki).
I have been trying, mostly with only moderate success, to incorporate aiki training within aikido practice. Most of the experts in the field have pretty much equivocally stated that it can't be done that way, that the presence of a partner or the intent to perform technique prevents one from retaining the self awareness necessary for internal work. I tend now to agree even though I continue to use Chen style push hands as a bridge to this point.
6 directional force, opening kua, peng, fascial connection, spiral forces, tendon power, usage of tanden ( and ming men), these are just a few of the terms that only people who are trying to do internal work (or study CIMA) will be familiar with. Being able to explain and demonstrate what the activation of these qualities do is way harder.
However, I don't believe there is any need or reason to remonstrate with those who want to practice differently. Personally I couldn't care less. I don't mean that harshly, simply it does not impinge on my right to do what I choose.
with respect to all who try to do their best

Last edited by Alec Corper : 02-17-2017 at 03:12 AM.

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Old 02-17-2017, 04:53 AM   #21
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Re: A defense of Aiki

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
I have been trying, mostly with only moderate success, to incorporate aiki training within aikido practice. Most of the experts in the field have pretty much equivocally stated that it can't be done that way, that the presence of a partner or the intent to perform technique prevents one from retaining the self awareness necessary for internal work.
Somehow one has to bring it into the technique, otherwise one will not understand how the mechanic works in conjunction with the technique. How else if not in aikido practice?
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:16 AM   #22
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Markus
I obviously was not clear. I was referring to the challenge of developing aiki within standard aikido practice. Since aiki is a body quality it must occur naturally within your movement but that can only happen after conscious "unnatural" effort. Many people imagine their natural movement to be the apotheosis of freedom but aiki has to be mastered before it is your body natural. Most aikido waza contain the potential for aiki development but that will not occur through repetition of mechanical action

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Old 02-17-2017, 09:16 AM   #23
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Re: A defense of Aiki

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Alec Corper wrote: View Post
Many people imagine their natural movement to be the apotheosis of freedom but aiki has to be mastered before it is your body natural. Most aikido waza contain the potential for aiki development but that will not occur through repetition of mechanical action
Yes, I agree.
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:44 AM   #24
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: A defense of Aiki

For those who are training in aiki developement: How do you measure your increase in performance?
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:18 PM   #25
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Re: A defense of Aiki

Funny you should ask, here's our first post to our new Facebook group, Budo Tanren:
Budo Tanren on Facebook.

/shamelessplug

Chris Moses
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