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Old 02-24-2004, 06:11 AM   #1
Rick Danger
Location: Oporto
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2
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Straight Face Need better training

Hello,

This is my first post. I have practiced Aikido for about half a year, but have stopped for a while now. I love the art, even in its most complexity, but I have many problems in training, for I can't find a sensei who can deliver the basics. I have practiced several techniques, but I have yet to learn the footwork (aishi sabaki?) or breakfalls (ukemi?). At the beginning, I thougt that was unnecessary, but, whitout fundamental knowledege, I began to make no progress. I have managed to attend one special class, where I found out how the basics are taught and practiced, but, where I live, I can't find that kind of instruction on a sensei.

I have not given up, of course. I am waiting to find a good dojo, but, until then, I wouldn't mind keeping up in shape. Any suggestions on solo training? Also, do you know of any books, websites, etc. where I can find information on the fundamentals I am lacking?

Cheers,

Ricardo Tavares
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:16 PM   #2
Jack Robertson
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 64
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REAL AIKIDO is what I'm reading. It has explanations and step by step pictures for breakfalls and a bunch of techniques also.

Just wondering, have you tried using the dojo search on this website? It's pretty darn good.

Best of luck
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:37 PM   #3
Ted Marr
Location: Providence, RI
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 94
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While I know that not everyone has the benefit of an informal relationship with their teachers, have you considered asking your current instructor whether they would be willing to spend a bit of class time on the basics? Or perhaps mention to a senior student that you have this problem, and wish that some class time were devoted to it?
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:49 PM   #4
Anders Bjonback
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
Location: Boulder, CO
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 129
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My approach has usually been instead of asking for a teacher to deliver the basics, I just jump in and hope I can swim. More advanced students usually give me advice when I'm doing something stupid. Just go to practice, and as you learn, people will gradually correct you and you'll get better. Once in a while I'll ask someone after class for help on something like my ukemi, and I'll sometimes ask teachers if they would consider teaching something I want to learn in class. But I think that just going and practicing is the best approach to learning.

I don't think there is any good substitute for training without a partner. You could practice shikko, getting up out of seiza, sitting down into seiza, and practice what you know of bokken and jo on your own. You could also practice doing front rolls from different positions. But ultimately, to make any real progress, I think you need a teacher and a partner.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 02-24-2004, 03:27 PM   #5
Doka
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 169
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Ricardo

Aikido starts with Kamae - posture. The basic stance, centered, with strong balance and focus.

This then moves on to basic movements - Kihon Dosa - through which you should not lose Kamae at any time.

This then moves on to basic techniques - Kihon Waza - which comes from Kihon Dosa, and through which you should not lose Kamae at any time.

This then moves on to Jiyu Waza - free style technique - (for some: randori) which comes from Kihon Waza, from Kihon Dosa, and through which you should not lose Kamae at any time.

So practice Kamae!

The above is the foundation of Yoshinkan, but applies equally to all schools. How you stand is basic, and this should be in all your technique.

Additional practice is Kihon Dosa, whatever your basic moveements are. And a great form of solo practice is to do the techniques in solo with a pretend Uke.

Learn sword and Jo, Kata and forms, but make sure you are doing them all as Aikido, as so many people do sword, then do Jo, and then do Aikido. You become so much better if it is all Aikido, as they all build on eachother, but if you do not, then you can only get as good as you are in each seperately.

Good luck and I hope this is helpful to you.

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Old 02-25-2004, 07:18 AM   #6
Rick Danger
Location: Oporto
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2
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Thank you.

Jumping in and wing it is what I have been doing, but, without basics, progress is very difficult. It's not only a matter of learning them, I think I need to practice them each class. I believe my sensei thinks that going through the basics may be too boring, so we skip to the techiques.

Meanwhile, I'll be scouting other dojos in the next few weeks.

Cheers,

Ricardo Tavares
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Old 02-25-2004, 08:22 AM   #7
Kevin Masters
Dojo: Woodstock Aikido
Location: Mount Tremper, NY
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 85
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Hi Ricardo.

I hope you find what you're looking for in a dojo.

It's been my experience that the basics are all there even when it seems like you're learning something complex. 6 months is a relatively small amount of time to expect to have learned the basics even with remedial help. The most important thing you really need to keep training is the ability to take the ukemi. Not so much breakfalls, but you would do well to be able to take competent rolls.

Learning Aikido is like learning to cook but you're only given the ingredients bit by bit. Eventually you'll have the recipe but for now you just have to make due with what you've picked up so far.

Do your best, be polite, and don't give up unless they ask you not to ever come back.



Kevin.
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Old 02-26-2004, 03:29 PM   #8
Jason Mudd
Dojo: Suffolk Institute for Eastern Studies
Location: Bohemia, NY
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 10
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I have just started Aikido training as well, and I find it strange that your dojo does no basic exercises.

In our dojo everyday begins with stretching (either structured or independent) and the basic exercises of rowing, 8-directions, forward and backward rolls, etc. A lot of these you can do on your own if you have enough space (or don't mind the neighborhood kids looking on in interest as you play on the lawn).

For a good book that has quite a few of these exercises you can check out Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere.

However, this will only get you so far. Going to the dojo and practicing with others will help tremendously, even if you do not feel as if it's soaking in, you are still learning. Relax and try not to get too frustrated.

To get better at breakfalls and specifics, I would go to your fellow students and ask for pointers, especially when it comes to becoming a better uke. Everyone should want as many good ukes as possible as this allows for practice on different shapes, types, and demeanours.

I realize that time is not always something we have a lot of, but if you can work with another for 15 minutes before/after class to focus on getting better at a specific thing (I'd say focus on ukemi at first) then after time you will see some improvement.

Also remember to have fun and enjoy it. Don't rush it, or you run the risk of frustration and closing yourself off to the full lessons we receive everyday.

Hope this helps some.

I break the surface so I can breath.
I close my eyes so I can see.
I tie my arms to be free.
Have you ever been free?
- Fugazi
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Old 02-26-2004, 03:41 PM   #9
Doka
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Err, about to say something controversial...

Are you ready?

I think "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" is an appalling book!

Sorry, but at least I am honest!

Peace!
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Old 02-26-2004, 04:49 PM   #10
Jason Mudd
Dojo: Suffolk Institute for Eastern Studies
Location: Bohemia, NY
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Quote:
Mark Dobro (Doka) wrote:
Err, about to say something controversial...

Are you ready?

I think "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" is an appalling book!
No - I know where you're coming from. There are other books I prefer for technical knowledge of moves, but they do not go into detail about the basic exercises. You may see some stuff about falling, stance, and tenkan vs irimi movements, but that's about it.

I've not seen other works that describe the basic exercises better. If there are others that someone knows of, please post up. Therefore for me, Dynamic Sphere is good but not great. I should have included this sentence in my previous post:

"Check it out from the library and do the basic exercises along with the book until they are memorized (won't take long). Then return the book to the library. Good for a read, not for a purchase"
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Old 02-26-2004, 05:29 PM   #11
Doka
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 169
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I have lots of things I don't like about it, but here are a few:

The stance is off center!

Techniques are shown off centre and even behind (dragging) momentum!

Shoulders moving - not hips!

Just a few, and I know that they are the illustrations! So as for the text:

"There is no attack in Aikido!"

What a lot of cr..... err, rubbish!

Sorry, but there is a huge amout of attack from both sides!

I bought the book and struggle to read it, and I do keep trying. Maybe I should have bought it as a novice, I either disagree with or find laughable far too much in there!

Like I say, just my opinion.


Last edited by Doka : 02-26-2004 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 02-26-2004, 07:46 PM   #12
PeterR
 
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Dojo: Shodokan Honbu (Osaka)
Location: Himeji, Japan
Join Date: Mar 2001
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Japan
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Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-27-2004, 01:57 AM   #13
Bronson
 
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Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
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Thumbs up

Reads like an engineering text on aikido.

Bronson

p.s. I'm with Peter

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:33 AM   #14
Jason Mudd
Dojo: Suffolk Institute for Eastern Studies
Location: Bohemia, NY
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 10
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I've been practicing for a short time, and picked up this book (Dynamic Sphere (DS)) well before setting foot in a dojo because of the sheer amount of beginning information. In hindsite, this may not be the appropriate order - better to ask your sensei first.

Basically used the information as a basis and let sensei and my fellow students flush out the actual techniques and subtle nuances so-to-speak.

"Maybe I should have bought it as a novice, I either disagree with or find laughable far too much in there!"

--- That's an interesting comment, because I rarely go back to this book since serious practice. Perhaps it's most effective early on to get some basic concepts under your belt, then you simply let it go...

Normally, these days if I refer to a book I'll use Ultimate Aikido: Secrets of Self-Defense by Yamada because it explains movements much better than DS. Then again I'm also at a different place now.

But the question still remains, for a beginner who wants to get a good grip on the basic exercises and movements, what book/video do any of you suggest? Personally, I prefer the dojo for this, but things don't always work out to one's expectations

I break the surface so I can breath.
I close my eyes so I can see.
I tie my arms to be free.
Have you ever been free?
- Fugazi
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Old 02-27-2004, 02:33 PM   #15
Doka
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 169
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In certain parts of Asia there is a saying:

"To learn from a book is to learn from the Devil!"

BTW, I was sure that a million Aikidoka were about to send me hate mail for slating that book!

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Old 02-27-2004, 03:40 PM   #16
cuguacuarana
Dojo: River Valley Aikido
Location: Bennington, VT
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 27
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A good, fun and easy read is Aikido for Life by Gakku Homma Sensei. A direct student of O-sensei, his book is a great introduction to the art. It not only covers some of the basic movement and excercise, it is also a great introduction to the spirit of aikido and how it relates to the physical practice. it took me less than a day to read it, it was fun as well as helpful.
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Old 03-06-2004, 02:59 AM   #17
Mark V. Smith
 
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Dojo: Seikeikan
Location: Sacramento, CA
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"Total Aikido", Gozo Shioda.

Very clearly explains ukemi and the kihon dosa Mr. Dobro talked about.

Mark V. Smith
Aikido Yoshinkan Sacramento
Chief mat inspector

Aikido Rocks! (Ukemi Rolls)
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Old 03-06-2004, 12:42 PM   #18
Andrew James
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 14
France
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maybe for experienced aikidoka the Dynamic Sphere book is laughable - however I have to agree with Jason - For a beginner I found it a lot easier to understand how the techniques worked than a couple of other books I have, "Aikido - Initiation" by Christian TISSIER and "Total Aikido", by Gozo SHIODA. However, now more experienced I do find the work of Gozo SHIODA to be an excellent book to work from whether you are Yoshinkan or not.

There will always be differences of opinion about the D.S. book - the best you can do is to see for yourself........

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/kaigan-no-maru/
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Old 03-06-2004, 02:22 PM   #19
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
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You also have to put D.S. in context. There were not a lot of other books out there at the time.
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Old 03-06-2004, 07:22 PM   #20
Lan Powers
Dojo: Aikido of Midland, Midland TX
Location: Midland Tx
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 660
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I loved it.... it was the first Book on the art that I found. (soft spot)

pretty dated now on a lot of it...

Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 03-10-2004, 12:06 AM   #21
Michael Young
 
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Dojo: Alamo City Aikido
Location: San Antonio, TX
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The illustrations were cool...until I saw them on about a million Aikido websites and T-shirts, now I grit my teeth everytime I see one of Ratti's little faceless Aikido guys

Mike
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Old 03-10-2004, 12:23 AM   #22
Michael Young
 
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Dojo: Alamo City Aikido
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BTW, getting back to the original post...must agree with others, you can't really do Aikido at home or from books, and 6 months is a little too early to begin "understanding" the "basics". Books and videos can be helpful for review and visualization, but the bulk of Aikido has to be done, not just thought or read about.



At my dojo we rarely do "basic" Aikido excercises. We do warm-ups and stretching, but then we practice things like kamae, kokyu, and tenkan with a partner attached as "basic exercises". In the first dojo I started to practice in, we started every class with things like individual tenkan, rowing, ikkyo-undo, and other excercises. IMO this approach, done in excess, seems to cause a lot of rigid movements and disregard to how you are affecting your partner when you start having them "attached" to you...there can't be any blending without a partner to blend with. It made for a lot of bad habits I am still working on correcting, both in body movements and mindset. Not that I think it is completely wrong to practice your balance and movement on your own, but you gain all of those same things with a partner attatched, and so much more.

My 2 cents FWIW...

Good luck and don't stop training!

Mike
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Old 03-10-2004, 12:12 PM   #23
Doka
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Quote:
Michael Young wrote:
you can't really do Aikido at home

Of course you can. Practice Kamae, basic movements, techniques with an imaginary Uke!
Quote:
Michael Young wrote:
In the first dojo I started to practice in, we started every class with things like individual tenkan, rowing, ikkyo-undo, and other excercises. IMO this approach, done in excess, seems to cause a lot of rigid movements and disregard to how you are affecting your partner when you start having them "attached" to you...there can't be any blending without a partner to blend with. It made for a lot of bad habits I am still working on correcting, both in body movements and mindset.
You must have been doing them wrong!
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