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Old 03-04-2003, 08:39 AM   #26
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Help! I use too much muscle...

Quote:
Erik Young wrote:
I realise that there is no intant-magic-oh-so-wonderul solution here...but I thought I might throw this out here and see what others have to say.

Anyway, here's my situation. I am an aikidoka from the "bruiser" set. That is, I'm 6'2" and about 220lbs. I'm the big guy the little guys like to throw around (it looks cool ).

Anyway, my problem is that I find it very easy (especailly with less experienced uke) to muscle through techniques when I can;t get them to work otherwise. In fact, it was pointed out to me at last night's class that I was doing it unconsciously. Sensie asked me to "relax"...And I thought to myself "hey, I thought I was relaxed!"

This is not a new problem for me...when I trained before, I would often struggle to not use my strength (although I was less concerned about it then). Now, I'm even more aware of the phenomenon. It's particualrly vexing when I'm working wiht one of our higher ranking folks and they are successfully able to resist the tecnique that I thought was working so beautifully before.

I've decided that my current training focus should be on using less muscular strength and really developing precise technique. This will take time.

What I want to know is...does anybody have any suggestions on how best to approach this. Are there any good awareness-raising excerceises I could practice? Any good anecdotes from others who have been up this particualr path on the mountain?

Hell, I'll take whatever advice anyone has to offer. In the meantime, I'll continue trainign with this goal in mind. It's jsut hard becaus eoften, I'm not even aware that I'm using my strength (it's so natural for me to do so.)

Hope this made sense, if not, I'll attempt to clarify.

peace,

Erik
I have trained fairly extensively with Gleason sensei. One of the things I got from him that has helped me more than anything else is the teaching which he received from Yamaguchi Sensei that Aikido is about resting your full body weight on top of the partner when his alignmenet has been broken. So no technique should take any more effort than simply allowing the weight of your arms to fall.

I am a very large guy. Over the years I have done various things as others have described above to get myself to relax and use less physical power (I am your size). Yamaguchi Sensei's student, Takeda sensei, said that the hardest thing about Aikido was forcing yourself to stay relaxed for all those years while your technique didn't work until it finally started to. Great advice.

The advice about finding partners bigger and stronger than yourself is great advice if there are those folks around. I spent years training at Maty Heiny Sensei's dojo where I was as big as the next two students. I forced myself to do technique so that I didn't even feel pressure when I did it. I figured if I used any extra force on someone my half my own size thne I would have been stopped dead in my tracks by someone my own size or larger.

When I finally got to do my police defensive tactics I really made a qualitative jump. My two senior students are quite a bit larger and stronger than I. One competes in police power lifting. He does a three lift combined of around 1400 lbs now. There is ZERO chance that I could muscle him anywhere. I found that I absolutely had to relax. The least bit of tension totally empowered him.

This is the haredst thing for people and why it takes so long to get I think. You have to convince your Mind and Body that relaxing in the face of force is the safe resaponse. It takes a long time to start to really trust that reaction. But as you begin to be successful you will increasingly start to really trust that you can be safe without "defending against" an attack but rather by allowing it to happen and accepting it into your space. At that point your stuff will really start to cook.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-04-2003 at 08:41 AM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-04-2003, 01:16 PM   #27
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I too am on the bruiser side of the line, being about 5'9 and 210lbs. I have also considered doing Judo instead of Aikido so that I have a legitimate use for my muscle.

The problem with that is that in jiyuwaza and randori I am already resorting to "dirty" tactics like grabs, bear hugs, trips, hip throws and groundwork (much to my sensei's dismay) to take my attackers down or control them. All without having trained in any form of grappling at all. Dont get me wrong though, I am not bragging because my tactics are rarely successful in a one vs many scenario (although I kick ass in one on one jiyuwaza) but in the heat of the moment I still forget most of my Aikido.

Overall I would rather be challenged by something which is alien to me like Aikido than doing something which already comes naturally like grappling (or for that matter, my interpretation of grappling).

I have made peace with the fact that I will need to practice a lot and practice hard to unlearn my "bad habits" but nothing worthwile in life is free or easy to obtain.
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Old 03-04-2003, 02:30 PM   #28
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I have found it really helps to relax when you move everything from center. With your center the driving element and everything connected to the center it is difficult to muscle. I try to stress doing everthing from center (including ukemi). Saotome and Ikeda Senseis really stress the use of the center connection in their seminars. I believe some of Ikeda's students have even written a book on the topic. My nickle.
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Old 03-04-2003, 02:47 PM   #29
akiy
 
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Quote:
Wynand van Dyk (drDalek) wrote:
I too am on the bruiser side of the line, being about 5'9 and 210lbs. I have also considered doing Judo instead of Aikido so that I have a legitimate use for my muscle.
Interesting. Do many people here think that judo is about using muscle?

From what I understand, the principles of judo and aikido overlap greatly. Although these principles may not be very present in "sport judo" these days, Kano sensei and those who study Kodokan judo really seem to emphasize that it's not about muscle but using the principles.

Have you ever watched Mifune sensei? At 110 pounds, he wasn't able to outmuscle his opponents. Yet, from what I've seen of his videos, he was able to throw people with great weight advantages...

Maybe it's just my limited understanding and experience in judo, though.

-- Jun

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Old 03-04-2003, 05:22 PM   #30
Mike Collins
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There's no advice to give, except to train with the question in mind: "Will I be able to do it this way when I'm 75?" For me, most of the time, the answer is no, but it's getting more possible as I train longer.

One of the side issues this has brought up for me, is that I tend to not finish technique with a ton of "down", and have been accused of trying to be too loose and disinterested.

My take is that I have always got access to strength and power when I want it, but learning how to effectively relax is a lifetime thing (well, so far anyway).
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Old 03-04-2003, 08:02 PM   #31
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Eric

I find using too much strenth a huge problem. This thread was great. After starting Aikido 8 months ago I am stuggling with loss of balance by the use of too much strength.

Ryan
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Old 03-05-2003, 07:19 AM   #32
Erik Young
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Re: Re: Help! I use too much muscle...

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
This is the haredst thing for people and why it takes so long to get I think. You have to convince your Mind and Body that relaxing in the face of force is the safe resaponse. It takes a long time to start to really trust that reaction. But as you begin to be successful you will increasingly start to really trust that you can be safe without "defending against" an attack but rather by allowing it to happen and accepting it into your space. At that point your stuff will really start to cook.
That is a really deep thought. I'm going to think on this concept some more...Thanks!

Peace,

Erik

HAve you heard the one about the agnostic dyslexic? He wasn't sure if he believed in the existence of Dog.
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Old 03-05-2003, 10:56 AM   #33
ian
 
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
I sometimes pretend I am Audrey Hepburn
Yeh, so do I - but that's another story.
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Old 03-05-2003, 11:08 AM   #34
ian
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Interesting. Do many people here think that judo is about using muscle?

Have you ever watched Mifune sensei?

-- Jun
Although I've done some Judo, I wouldn't say I know that much about it. However I do believe it is very much strengh/weight orientated. Why else would they have weight categories in competition?

Also, when I've done Judo training I tended to go with slightly heavier opponents due to my aikido experience. However I found it extremely frustrating because I couldn't do wrist locks, throat attacks or atemis. Also once in a close clasp the heavier person seemed to have a massive advantage (I'm sure you'd agree Ron).

When you talk about Mifune doing Judo I think you are talking more about the old Kodokan style. In modern competition it you loose points for being passive and so this automattically puts you at a disadvantage. I find it very easy to resist being thrown by even advanced jodoka if I don't have to throw them, but if you are forced to attack it is very easy to get thrown.

I believe Judo lost alot when it left its Kodokan roots.
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Old 03-05-2003, 11:21 AM   #35
aiki_what
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Wink

"I think that Fred Astaire could have been a sensational aikidoist. What great posture and athletic ability, combined with class and charm! (All areas that I am seriously lacking.)"

Actually, I think Ginger Rogers would have been even better....she did everything Fred did backwards and wearing heels!
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Old 03-05-2003, 11:35 AM   #36
akiy
 
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Quote:
Ian Dodkins (ian) wrote:
When you talk about Mifune doing Judo I think you are talking more about the old Kodokan style.
Yup. That's why I wrote, "Although these principles may not be very present in "sport judo" these days, Kano sensei and those who study Kodokan judo really seem to emphasize that it's not about muscle but using the principles."

-- Jun

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Old 03-05-2003, 12:42 PM   #37
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Quote:
Although I've done some Judo, I wouldn't say I know that much about it. However I do believe it is very much strengh/weight orientated. Why else would they have weight categories in competition?
Part of competition is "fairness". To that end, competitors are arranged by experience and skill levels as well. Weight categories are just another way of leveling the field, of ensuring the competition is "fair". There are some tournaments where there are no weight categories (the All Japan Open comes to mind), but such "open" weight competitions are never (rarely?) won by small competitors (Koga may be the only exception). Light heavyweights and above tend to be the champs.
Quote:
I find it very easy to resist being thrown by even advanced jodoka if I don't have to throw them, but if you are forced to attack it is very easy to get thrown.
I'm curious how advanced the judoka were if it was easy to resist. Short of running away, one fellow I trained with was capable of throwing me at will, hard enough that I would not be able to continue. He would have perhaps been good enough to place in the top 3 in a state meet. In a regional meet or national meet, he'd be cannon fodder, and the US isn't a top tier judo country.
Quote:
I believe Judo lost alot when it left its Kodokan roots.
How did judo lose it's roots? The entire Kodokan cirriculum is still taught, other competitive formats (ie Kosen Judo) exist. Judo continues to evolve and florish, does it not?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 03-05-2003, 03:20 PM   #38
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Quote:
How did judo lose it's roots? The entire Kodokan cirriculum is still taught, other competitive formats (ie Kosen Judo) exist. Judo continues to evolve and florish, does it not?
Now that you mention it I was looking at the book "Judo a Pictorial Manual" by Ms. Pat Harrington and it pretty much covers all of Kodokan curriculum step by step. I don´t mean to disrespect or offend any fellow budoka, but some aspects of it just look outdated, specially goshin-ho (women´s self defense) and kime-no-kata (the forms of self defense). My sensei has a background in judo and sometimes he spices up his technique (specially while showing kaeshi waza)with a leg sweep or hip throw, still his technique flows effortlessly. My point is, did Judo´s technical evolution just stopped cold? If so, should a judoka look into other arts to expand his/her vision? To me Aikido is still a living, evolving art, solidly rooted by its philosofical/religious background.
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Old 03-06-2003, 02:11 AM   #39
mike lee
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aiki is everywhere

Quote:
Kano sensei and those who study Kodokan judo really seem to emphasize that it's not about muscle but using the principles.
The first time I used a judo hip throw in the street, there was absolutely no resistance. Looking back, it was probably the best aikido waza I ever did — and I was only 10 years old!
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Old 03-06-2003, 04:29 AM   #40
paw
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Quote:
I don´t mean to disrespect or offend any fellow budoka, but some aspects of it just look outdated, specially goshin-ho (women´s self defense) and kime-no-kata (the forms of self defense).
How much as Iwama style aikido evolved, technically? How relevent is it to train with bokken and jo in an age of firearms, chemical sprays and tactical folders?

I think you'll find, much like aikido, that some people are preserving the tradition as it was passed down to them, while others are extending the tradition into other areas.
Quote:
To me Aikido is still a living, evolving art, solidly rooted by its philosofical/religious background.
As is judo, to my way of thinking. Mutual benefit and welfare. Maximum result, minimal effort.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 03-06-2003, 12:36 PM   #41
deepsoup
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Quote:
paul watt (paw) wrote:
As is judo, to my way of thinking. Mutual benefit and welfare. Maximum result, minimal effort.
Hear hear.

Oddly enough, my Judo instructor (I practiced from childhood until I was about 20) was very interested in the 'philosophical' aspects of budo practice. My current Aikido instructor on the other hand, is much more focussed on physical technique.

Consequently, my own experience is of judo as a 'philosophical' budo and aikido as a 'no-nonsense', practical martial art. Pretty much the exact opposite of what some people would expect.

As for judo having lost its roots, not so, they're alive and well and living at the Kodokan.

There are dojos out there that have lost their judo (those where they practice randori to the total exclusion of everything else, for example), but thats a different matter.

Sean

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