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Old 02-10-2017, 04:16 AM   #26
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
What was your experience of it ???

Many regards

Stefan
It was just one class in 2008. He waved his arms around as in the video and appeared to remote-control uke from a couple of metres away. I didn't really have any interaction with Watanabe sensei himself though. I have got a funny story about some hardcore Iwama uchi deshi going to his class and getting picked as uke, but you'll have to ply me with beer to get that one out of me.

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Old 02-10-2017, 04:44 AM   #27
PeterR
 
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

Grumble - and sometimes the emperor is not wearing clothes.

It really does not matter if it was a lark or serious. It was filmed, put out in the world, and become a focus of derision.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-10-2017, 06:04 AM   #28
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
It was just one class in 2008. He waved his arms around as in the video and appeared to remote-control uke from a couple of metres away. I didn't really have any interaction with Watanabe sensei himself though. I have got a funny story about some hardcore Iwama uchi deshi going to his class and getting picked as uke, but you'll have to ply me with beer to get that one out of me.

Hahaha, so worth it. I will stock up.



Stefan
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:36 AM   #29
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I am curious about the background of Watanabe shihan and other senseis that teach the "soft" style of Aikido and how they came to this style. I was reading not long ago about Endo Seishiro because he had a transition from a harder style of Aikido in his youth to a softer one after a bad injury to his shoulder at 30 once Yamaguchi sensei said to him "You’ve been doing aikido for 10 years now, but now you have only your left arm to use, what are you going to do?". What I observe now with a lot of softer Aikido is that it is the yin to harder styles yang. Whilst in other types of Aikido you can force and bumble your way through a technique with strength and speed, with softer styles there is a lot of focus on connection with your partner and balance, you can't really "wing it". That is not to say that I understand it entirely, as often times like in this video it seems to my untrained eye that the technique no longer exists after a certain point, without contact or much movement from nage. Yet the two senseis I have heard of and seen that demonstrate (Endo and Watanabe) are both 8th Dan with the Aikikai which I find curious. To obtain such a high rank they must know their stuff and have contributed greatly to Aikido's progression, yet their Aikido style is so controversial.

As for me, my sensei teaches a very different style to this softer Aikido but when Seishiro shihan comes here in a few months I am strongly considering attending his seminar, I don't know if it is for me (or if it will even help me at this early stage) but better to keep an open mind, no?
I have never heard anyone call Endo controversial in the same sense as Watanabe (or anyone else that does no thouch magic bohoo-stuff). I would highly recommend his seminars as well, beware that you probably wont be doing a lot of waza and that the expectations regarding ukemi can differ greatly from what you are used to.
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Old 02-10-2017, 01:08 PM   #30
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

I would make a couple of collective comments:
Aikido has a presence in the greater martial arts community. Providing clarity and confirmation about instruction is important to helping the aikido community keep its house in order and manage its relations with the greater martial arts community. This responsibility cuts both ways, both on the part of the publisher and the consumer.

In context, these videos may make sense to someone, somewhere. But without context...
It isn't wrong to verify what you see or ask for clarification about what you see. I think sometimes we see, or feel, or have an experience about which we are so excited that we publish our thoughts without understanding what happened. The publication, therefore, can't provide the context necessary to clarify what is going on and the next thing you know... bullshido.com.

Here on aikiweb, we can communicate with each other to verify what is going on and provide critical feedback for the larger community. I am not sure we want to keep an "open mind" because we want to keep pressure on our publishers to understand they have an obligation to tell us what they are doing. But we want to be fair and discerning.

A broken clock is right twice a day... I think these are good examples of "how to loose credibility in an instant"; whether they actually portray quality aikido is mute because non-aikido people will never look deeper than the video.

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Old 02-10-2017, 03:57 PM   #31
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I am curious about the background of Watanabe shihan and other senseis that teach the "soft" style of Aikido and how they came to this style. I was reading not long ago about Endo Seishiro because he had a transition from a harder style of Aikido in his youth to a softer one after a bad injury to his shoulder at 30 once Yamaguchi sensei said to him "You've been doing aikido for 10 years now, but now you have only your left arm to use, what are you going to do?". What I observe now with a lot of softer Aikido is that it is the yin to harder styles yang. Whilst in other types of Aikido you can force and bumble your way through a technique with strength and speed, with softer styles there is a lot of focus on connection with your partner and balance, you can't really "wing it". That is not to say that I understand it entirely, as often times like in this video it seems to my untrained eye that the technique no longer exists after a certain point, without contact or much movement from nage. Yet the two senseis I have heard of and seen that demonstrate (Endo and Watanabe) are both 8th Dan with the Aikikai which I find curious. To obtain such a high rank they must know their stuff and have contributed greatly to Aikido's progression, yet their Aikido style is so controversial.

Also I would urge people though to maintain an open mind. Aikido is all about unity and harmony on the path that we all follow and we should maintain an aiki approach even to things that do not align with us on a personal level (applicable both to "soft" aikido and "harder" styles that lean toward aikijutsu). I am constantly surprised that the mindset of others under this art is to react aggressively toward things that are different than what they know. Try to be better than the youtube commenters that comment on all aikido videos along the lines of how the art is in general "bullshit" and "not effective". As for me, my sensei teaches a very different style to this softer Aikido but when Seishiro shihan comes here in a few months I am strongly considering attending his seminar, I don't know if it is for me (or if it will even help me at this early stage) but better to keep an open mind, no?
There is a difference between keeping an open mind and allowing yourself to be duped. That is not to say that I have any issues with softer styles. I practice one of the softer styles. The head of the style is very soft, but also incredibly good. You also mentioned Endo-sensei. I have done seminars with him, and he is also incredibly good. However, what I see from Watanabe sensei is nothing like what I see from those two. It's just fanciful. Looking at older footage of him, at least it has some basis in reality, but like Ellis said in his IHTF column, it lacks the sharpness and precision of some of the better aikidoka like Endo-sensei. As for his ranking, I have no idea as to the reasons behind it, but rank is not always commensurate with ability.

Anyway, to paraphrase, keeping an open mind does not require one to give equal value to everything that is presented to them. 16 years of training has at least given me the ability to know good aikido when I see it (even if it isn't the style that I'm currently practicing) and differentiate it from bad aikido.
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Old 02-10-2017, 10:09 PM   #32
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

Hello, Mr Hultberg,

Thank you for your mail.

Before I give my own experiences, some preliminary comments are necessary.

Aikido, in the form adopted by the Aikikai and shown by Watanabe Shihan, eschews any form of competition, real or imagined. One result of this, in my opinion, is the existence and development of certain problems. One problem (1) is the clear discernment of quality; the other (2) is a consequence of the vertical social structure and ranking system: it might be called ‘The Adoration of the Sensei.’

I am certainly not the first person to have perceived the first problem. One of the Founder’s early students perceived it and developed a system to combat it. This person was Kenji Tomiki, and his blending of the waza with a limited form of competition was the occasion of the first major postwar division in aikido. However, an important caveat is necessary here: the reasons why Morihei Ueshiba forbade competition (championship matches: 試合 shihai, in Japanese) and why Kenji Tomiki thought some form of competition was necessary are quite different.

Another Japanese term is kyousou (競争) and, and to the extent that we can discern this through his discourses, this was most certainly not forbidden by Morihei Ueshiba. But you would need to examine his discourses to see this: and you will receive no guidance from any aikido organization, certainly not from the Aikikai.

My answers follow to the matters raised in your post. They are signaled PAG.

Quote:
Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
Dear Sir

I would love to hear more about your experiences when taking ukemi from various honoured teachers. I have speculated much about the (sort of) topic of this thread and also plagued the aikiweb community about my thoughts on aikido and time - which is just a metaphor for the investigation into "true reality" by means of aikido. "True reality" can be understood (in a very limited way) through theoretical physics, aikido, meditation, mathematics, perhaps altered states of consciousness in an ayahuasca-hut in Peru. Many avenues and many possibilities. Many pitfalls.

To me aikido has become the main vessel towards insight, illumination - minute as it might be.
PAG. Investigating ‘true reality’ through aikido would require a separate discussion. If you look through the various examples in Ellis Amdur’s IHTBF columns, you will see a wide variety of experiences, all of them authentic, in the sense that they contain insights, but also have the perceptual limitations, of those who took ukemi from the teachers concerned.

The Hombu teachers from about whom I have the clearest memories of ukemi are Tada, Yamaguchi and Fujita and the reason is that all of these visited Hiroshima regularly and gave seminars, but in a setting that allowed more hands-on contact than a Hombu class. Of these three, the one who was in any sense closest to what is exhibited by Watanabe Shihan was Seigo Yamaguchi, in the sense that he obviously wanted feedback from you—and adapted what he gave you to the feedback you gave him. The other two were different, in the sense that they felt they had to give you a certain inherited transmission, regardless of any feedback you might have to give.

The only other experience I have had that was in any way similar to that which I had with Yamaguchi Shihan was partnering Morihiro Saito Shihan with jo and bokken, but this was done through the weapons. (I recommend you discuss this with your fellow countryman Ethan W. at some point.)

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Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
When it comes to the clips shown in this thread there is one that seems more playful and one that seems more martial. I would love to know more about the setting, the situation. Even more I would love to feel being thrown by someone who is a, sort of, no touch supersensei. Is it true? Does some of it work?? Is there anything there at all???? Do I have to become more sensitive??? If I become more sensitive to the jedi-style aikido - maybe it could make me more of a martial artist (in the true martial sense) even if the jedi style be completely hopeless in a "martial sense".
PAG. I took uke from Watanabe Shihan a few times when I trained at the Hombu in the late 1980s and the way he executed the waza was typically ‘Hombu’ in the sense that it conformed to a pattern that I suspect stemmed from Kisshomaru Ueshiba. It was in no sense ‘no touch’ and followed a recognizable pattern. In Hiroshima, we also followed a pattern, but this was based on the model given by the Hiroshima instructor and was different in some respects. As you progress in aikido, your perceptions of what is happening in each waza should become more acute and you should know with increasing precision where your body is and what it is doing / what is being done to you. On occasion, after being thrown by Yamaguchi Shihan I could not exactly work out what had happened – and I was 5th or 6th dan rank at the time. This never happened with Watanabe Shihan, or with Endo Shihan for that matter.

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Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
Could training in what we see here provide more insight on the marvellous workings of ki? Perhaps.
PAG. It is very important to distinguish ‘the marvelous workings of ki’ from the equally marvelous workings of Koolaid. Differing interpretations of the former became another issue that split the Aikikai, when Tohei broke away from Kisshomaru and formed his own organization. It is also noteworthy that this split was a consequence of widening differences that occurred much earlier, when Morihei Ueshiba was still alive and active, but he gave no guidance at all and left it to the two protagonists to work things out by themselves. The rest is history.

The problem with Koolaid is a consequence of what I earlier called the ‘Adoration of the Sensei.’ In my experience, people go through severe intellectual and emotional contortions to persuade themselves that their Sensei (usually with a capital ‘s’) never makes mistakes and part of this contortion is the undue importance given to the role of uke. Ukes, especially in Japan, are trained to conform totally to a received image of their role and this accounts for some of the antics you see in the video. There is a story of a certain Japanese instructor in the UK who was blocked in mid-waza by a very strong uke, who thought it his duty not to go unless thrown. The instructor immediately concluded that there was a major challenge to his standing as an 'uchi-deshi of O Sensei' and issued a challenge to a duel with swords, knowing that the uke would be outmatched. The issue was resolved another way, but the uke was (wrongly, in my opinion) made to feel that he had made a major mistake. I think this lack of honesty adds to the problem of Adoration of the Sensei, for the only accepted course of action then is a complete spilt, with no further communication – and adoration becomes the complete opposite.

Quote:
Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
Now, back to the start - what did the ukemi feel like. Have you experience no touch throws - what happened? What was it like?

Oh, to go back in time and be thrown by O Sensei
PAG. Well, yes, but I would like to have experienced his training in the early Kobukan years and in Iwama, before he became established as O Sensei.

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Stefan Hultberg wrote: View Post
Many many regards & thank you for your time.

Stefan Hultberg
PAG. Not at all. Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 02-10-2017 at 10:15 PM.

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Old 02-11-2017, 07:13 AM   #33
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

I would like to feel it.

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Old 02-14-2017, 01:24 AM   #34
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

Without further context (e.g. the missing audio track), my first impression was that it certainly looks phony! However, I'm willing to give it a benefit of a doubt, not so much as "no touch" waza on the part of the sensei, but maybe some sort of connection exercise on the part of the student. Something along the lines of "See if you can follow my intention, onegaishimasu!"

Even if it was a connection exercise that had a useful purpose, I'd say it was a poor decision to film it just do to how easily it could be misunderstood.
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Old 02-17-2017, 03:49 AM   #35
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
The problem with Koolaid is a consequence of what I earlier called the ‘Adoration of the Sensei.' In my experience, people go through severe intellectual and emotional contortions to persuade themselves that their Sensei (usually with a capital ‘s') never makes mistakes and part of this contortion is the undue importance given to the role of uke. Ukes, especially in Japan, are trained to conform totally to a received image of their role and this accounts for some of the antics you see in the video. There is a story of a certain Japanese instructor in the UK who was blocked in mid-waza by a very strong uke, who thought it his duty not to go unless thrown. The instructor immediately concluded that there was a major challenge to his standing as an 'uchi-deshi of O Sensei' and issued a challenge to a duel with swords, knowing that the uke would be outmatched. The issue was resolved another way, but the uke was (wrongly, in my opinion) made to feel that he had made a major mistake.
Been there, done that.
But isn't there a point to it?? (Aka here comes the Koolaid: )
Let's start with the most obvious case: An uke that does absolutely nothing but standing straight, not even acknowledging the existence of tori. In Karate this would be the most trivial thing, you'd punch that guy, case closed. In Aikido, we could certainly fell such an uke with eg Irimi Nage, but would you call that Aikido? Felling a passive person? I wouldn't. On the other hand, Aikido is supposedly a defensive martial art and luckily for us there is no such thing as a permanently passive attacker.
So there is such a thing as wrong ukemi! The most common version (there might be others, but this is the one that comes to my mind right now) is an uke that attacks a little bit and than at some point retreats into a stable position against the technique that tori is supposed to execute. Again in karate you'd just punch that guy. In Aikido we seem to do your techniques on uke's attacks, not on uke itself. So an uke that stops attacking leaves us quite helpless (seemingly unable to perform), but doesn't present a worthy challenge either.
(Continuing with the Koolaid: )
So uke should retain an attacking spirit or an attacking relation to tori! (In advanced free sparing there is a point in practicing also with an uke that switches between attacking and defending spirit, because that gives you the opportunity to work on this winning-in-an-instant concept.)
So what is the nature of this attacking relation? I guess, every teacher has a different view on that. And that's the reason why the ukemi and therefore the technique looks so different with different teachers. (At the core, it's this attacking relation Aikido and really every martial arts strives to solve. So this shapes the ways uke performs her attacks which creates the structure tori can work with.)
Some teachers prefer a mechanical relation, some an abstract one others en esoteric one, even others one that is not really an attacking relation but a general human-to-human relation. Not all ideas about attacking relations hold their own in the face of real conflict or in all kinds of real conflict. Doesn't mean they don't have valid/interesting/profound points to teach. (But that doesn't mean these points are relevant to your idea about how conflict works or where you want to go with your Aikido/martial art).
So at an advanced level, the first and by far not the easiest question to look to answer is: what is my partner/teacher's idea of the attacking relation!
(The reveal)
So is Watanabe's idea relevant to a "real conflict" (aka my/your ideas about conflict or at least training)?
I'm still trying to figure that out! He's a former rough Aikidoka, gone physiotherapist, trying to figure out what O-Sensei was talking about, having 50+ years to (r/d)efine his position!
Until five years ago i used to train in a dojo that followed him. The video is filmed in Birach/Germany. I used to train at his seminars there. I'm fairly certain, i was in the vicinity of the camera at the point of filming the clip. (more information on his seminars). The clip is classic Watanabe, that's how he works.
You probably look at the video and think for a minute "WTF??". I've been wondering the same thing for over a decade now. It's a very productive question for me
(severe intellectual contortion out)
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Old 02-19-2017, 06:32 AM   #36
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

There is a full continume for the uke between ignoring everything and a full on Stockholm syndrome. There is a interval between these two extremes where practice can take place.
That things are not binary doesn't mean that everything is valid.

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Old 02-19-2017, 12:39 PM   #37
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
There is a full continume for the uke between ignoring everything and a full on Stockholm syndrome.
Actually, the skill to stockholmsyndrome attacker fits perfectly into the Aikido agenda.
Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
That things are not binary doesn't mean that everything is valid.
<AdorationsOfSensei>Oh, Watanabe is valid!</AdorationsOfSensei>
The interesting part is to figure out in what way exactly.

Not everything has to be russian para military approved.

Last edited by StephanS : 02-19-2017 at 12:47 PM.

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Old 02-19-2017, 04:16 PM   #38
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Stephan Schröder wrote: View Post
Actually, the skill to stockholmsyndrome attacker fits perfectly into the Aikido agenda..
Sure, if it provides captive audience and all expenses paid trips to Germany

Quote:
<AdorationsOfSensei>Oh, Watanabe is valid!</AdorationsOfSensei>
The interesting part is to figure out in what way exactly.

Not everything has to be russian para military approved.
I was pointing out the dodgy argument you employed, a special case of False-Dilemma fallacy and didn't say Watanabe's practice wasn't valid (it isn't in my opinion, not even martial art, let alone Aikido).

The bearded Russian gentleman has a funny mix of (pseudo) kokyu exercises and Russian nationalism. Not paramilitary by the way - just a sports club with an Aikido connection to Watanabe Nobuyuki.

Last edited by sorokod : 02-19-2017 at 04:29 PM.

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Old 02-20-2017, 01:27 AM   #39
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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I was pointing out the dodgy argument you employed, a special case of False-Dilemma fallacy .
So the False-Dilemma-fallacy is to present only two options where many exist. While my "Watanabe is valid" may seem to do such a thing the next sentence "the question is in what way" shows (was meant to show) that there are many possible valid ways. So i wouldn't say that i employed a false dilemma.

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
I ... didn't say Watanabe's practice wasn't valid (it isn't in my opinion, not even martial art, let alone Aikido).
Well, you kind of implied it, and now you made it rather explicit.
By the way, i agree with you that not every kind of Aikido (or whatever else) is to my liking. Or that i find it applicable in a meaningful way.

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
Not paramilitary by the way - just a sports club
"paramillitary" goes indeed to far. I was referencing the casual use of camouflage.

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
The bearded Russian gentleman has a funny mix of (pseudo) kokyu exercises and Russian nationalism. ... a sports club with an Aikido connection to Watanabe Nobuyuki.
You're right, Egor here (no racial slur, the teachers name is actually Egor, if i remember correctly) is actually Watanabe's first uke in the original clip this whole thread started with.
I got the impression that it's easier to assume that something it's "street prove" when practiced in camouflage. You don't seem to fall into that trap, though.

To conclude: You think Watanabe's practice is phony ("not even [a] martial art, let alone Aikido"), while i still value the (extended) experience.

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Old 02-20-2017, 04:05 PM   #40
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

This hocus pocus video is absolute nonsense and devalues the Martial Art of Aikido. Iwama Aikido, Nage initiates the attack to draw a response from Uke followed with lots of Atemi through out the technique from Nage. There is a dark side to Aikido.

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Old 02-21-2017, 04:34 AM   #41
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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This hocus pocus video is absolute nonsense and devalues the Martial Art of Aikido. Iwama Aikido, Nage initiates the attack to draw a response from Uke followed with lots of Atemi through out the technique from Nage. There is a dark side to Aikido.
Hi Richard,
given your username i assume that you train within Riai Aikido. I actually visited four dojos in NZ, when i was there on holiday in 2009. Also in Wellington and Auckland (and Nelson and David Lynch's dojo. But i assume David Lynch is not related to your head teacher Henry Lynch?) but i don't think those where the Riai dojos.
You're line seems to work much with Robert Nadeau. It would be interesting to know, what he thinks of Watanabe's Aikido!

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Old 02-24-2017, 01:34 AM   #42
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Stephan Schröder wrote: View Post
Hi Richard,
given your username i assume that you train within Riai Aikido. I actually visited four dojos in NZ, when i was there on holiday in 2009. Also in Wellington and Auckland (and Nelson and David Lynch's dojo. But i assume David Lynch is not related to your head teacher Henry Lynch?) but i don't think those where the Riai dojos.
You're line seems to work much with Robert Nadeau. It would be interesting to know, what he thinks of Watanabe's Aikido!
Kia Ora Stephan. I started Aikido with Riai, but now train Iwama. Riai do not train in weapons. Attended seminars with Nadeau Sensei and David Lynch (Yoshinkan). Nice to hear you trained while visiting our Country. My sentiments are from my own experiences and the references on attack are how we are taught in our dojo.

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Old 02-24-2017, 07:24 AM   #43
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Richard Campbell wrote: View Post
Iwama Aikido, Nage initiates the attack to draw a response from Uke followed with lots of Atemi through out the technique from Nage.
Thats not exact.

Quote:
There is a dark side to Aikido.
Sure, but it is not in the Iwama style.
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Old 02-24-2017, 12:59 PM   #44
Riai Maori
 
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Thats not exact.

Sure, but it is not in the Iwama style.
In all due respect, I have never seen you training at our Dojo. You can speculate all you want. These are some of the fundamentals that we are taught in our Dojo.

Last edited by Riai Maori : 02-24-2017 at 01:07 PM.

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Old 02-25-2017, 06:26 AM   #45
sorokod
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Stephan Schröder wrote: View Post
So the False-Dilemma-fallacy is to present only two options where many exist. While my "Watanabe is valid" may seem to do such a thing the next sentence "the question is in what way" shows (was meant to show) that there are many possible valid ways. So i wouldn't say that i employed a false dilemma.
A special case of false dilemma:

1. you present a single option (there is only one correct way of being uke)
2. You easily disprove 1 (Let's start with the most obvious case: An uke that does absolutely nothing ... So there is such a thing as wrong ukemi!)
3. You conclude that you have proven that any way of doing whatever is correct or who is to say or....(I guess, every teacher has a different view on that)

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Old 02-25-2017, 07:36 AM   #46
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: What do you say when you see Aikido done like this?

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Richard Campbell wrote: View Post
In all due respect, I have never seen you training at our Dojo.
With all due respect, I don't even know where it is.

Quote:
You can speculate all you want. These are some of the fundamentals that we are taught in our Dojo.
For sure, but when you start to be taught intermediate and advanced waza, you'll see how the statement you made and I quoted is wrong.

And regarding Watanabe sensei video, Iwama style people should not, IMO, call what he does nonsense when there are Iwama people like Hirosawa sensei doing the same.
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