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Old 05-09-2017, 11:39 AM   #1
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"Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Posted 2017-05-09 10:38:36 by Jun Akiyama
News URL: http://aikidoofmaine.com/connection-in-aikido/

Here's a nice article entitled "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small (5th dan, Aikido of Maine) focusing on what "connection" means to four aikido instructors: Mitsugi Saotome, Hiroshi Ikeda, Bill Gleason, and Dan Messisco.

From the article: "Connection is essential to Aikido, yet it's not often talked about. It's difficult to define, and even harder to teach. So what is the path for discovering unity in our own body and in movement with our partner? How can it be taught? This article focuses on how four teachers: Mitsugi Saotome, Hiroshi Ikeda, Bill Gleason and Dan Messisco describe connection, and what methods they use to help their students learn how to move in unison with their partners. In addition to experiencing their teaching in class, I asked for additional clarifications of their approach."

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Old 05-09-2017, 11:47 PM   #2
asiawide
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

It looks like she doesn't know what the four shihans are doing.
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:33 AM   #3
Fred Little
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote: View Post
It looks like she doesn't know what the four shihans are doing.
With all due respect, I don't believe that you can draw that conclusion, or any conclusion about what the writer knows or can manifest on the basis of the article as presented.

As a former aikido practitioner who studied with all of those individuals over a couple of decades, I would have to say that she has presented, quite accurately, key examples of the typical verbal explanations those teachers provide to instruct their students in what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what points students need to focus on to produce the same results.

If your point is that these explanations don't go very far in transmitting what these four practitioners are doing, I think your issue is with the pedagogy of the individuals whose routine instructional utterances she has accurately captured, and not with Ania.

Best,

Fred

Last edited by Fred Little : 05-10-2017 at 11:34 AM. Reason: dependent clause in first sentence

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Old 05-11-2017, 12:56 AM   #4
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
With all due respect, I don't believe that you can draw that conclusion, or any conclusion about what the writer knows or can manifest on the basis of the article as presented.

As a former aikido practitioner who studied with all of those individuals over a couple of decades, I would have to say that she has presented, quite accurately, key examples of the typical verbal explanations those teachers provide to instruct their students in what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what points students need to focus on to produce the same results.

If your point is that these explanations don't go very far in transmitting what these four practitioners are doing, I think your issue is with the pedagogy of the individuals whose routine instructional utterances she has accurately captured, and not with Ania.

Best,

Fred
Hi, The reason why I think she doesn't know is 'common themes' she suggest is very superficial.

•Importance of relaxation, creating openness and connectivity in one's body
=> Why relax? Many others also keep on saying about it.

•developing mindfulness of our own movement and sensitivity to partners responses
=> This makes nage to apply techniques more easily.

•developing ki or intent
=> how? Sounds like 'You have to learn how to ride a bicycle to ride a bicycle.'

•combination of strong intent and openness in the first moment of interaction, or even before
=> This makes nage to apply techniques more easily.

•no pushing into the point of contact
=> When I see the demo, the shihans like Ikeda push into the point of contact to get kuzushi.

•emphasis on the Aiki principle over the technique
=> I can do 'emphasis'. Any 9th kyu can do it too.

•seeing unity as physical, mental and spiritual
=> what the 'spritual'?

•getting away from a mindset of winning
=> I can say. Any 9th kyu can do it too.

•the path to manifesting Aiki through both uke and nage practice
=> I can say. Any 9th kyu can do it too.

•freedom of movement through Aiki principle
=> I can say. Any 9th kyu can do it too.

There should be something that only who can do it can write or assert. It's missing in her article.

Jaemin
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Old 05-11-2017, 07:58 AM   #5
phitruong
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote: View Post
Hi, The reason why I think she doesn't know is 'common themes' she suggest is very superficial.

Jaemin
just a curiosity, had you actual physical experiences with any of the 4 sensei mentioned in the article?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:32 PM   #6
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
just a curiosity, had you actual physical experiences with any of the 4 sensei mentioned in the article?
hi, no I hadn't.
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:29 PM   #7
rugwithlegs
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

I liked her article. I agree that connection is difficult to define and teach. My wife and I have had many spirited conversations on that!

Two things that stood out for me, and they have been a long standing debate for myself.

I sometimes see myself as half of the equation, and I need to "fit" with the forces at play. Tenchinage is a common example for me - I want uke's shoulders to go heaven and earth-ward, and sometimes not so much my own. Uke and I are very much joined. Saotome sensei in particular was talking about this.

The fourth teacher was talking about finding his structure and intent. I had one teacher talk about, "make the shape and go," and Tohei sensei's writings seem to talk this way too as I recall. With my own structure and intent under control, I can just move. I don't need to pay much attention to uke or how I contact uke. I just move, and they connect however they will. I sometimes do this in randori.

There are many different ways to teach these things. I did not expect the variety of teaching methods and language within one association.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:07 AM   #8
phitruong
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote: View Post
hi, no I hadn't.
it's hard to discuss these stuffs without a common frame of reference. just because we used the same terminology, doesn't mean we spoke of the same thing. if you hang around the internal forum portion, you see the phrase "it had to be felt" IHTBF. take for example, those who had trained with Ikeda sensei, even though i had never met them, but if i said "line" with Ikeda sensei as the reference, they would know exactly what i was talking about. we had a common reference point. we had experienced first hand with Ikeda sensei.

one of the overused and misleading term in aikido is "connection"; the other one is "relax".

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:45 AM   #9
asiawide
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
it's hard to discuss these stuffs without a common frame of reference. just because we used the same terminology, doesn't mean we spoke of the same thing. if you hang around the internal forum portion, you see the phrase "it had to be felt" IHTBF. take for example, those who had trained with Ikeda sensei, even though i had never met them, but if i said "line" with Ikeda sensei as the reference, they would know exactly what i was talking about. we had a common reference point. we had experienced first hand with Ikeda sensei.

one of the overused and misleading term in aikido is "connection"; the other one is "relax".
Agree that we may talk about different things. But do you think what she captured about Ikeda explains how he does what people say 'wow!' or at least 'connection'? Or do I need first hand experience to say these are/are not superficial? If you say yes, I think we don't have a common frame here.

•Importance of relaxation, creating openness and connectivity in one's body
•developing mindfulness of our own movement and sensitivity to partners responses
•developing ki or intent
•combination of strong intent and openness in the first moment of interaction, or even before
•no pushing into the point of contact
•emphasis on the Aiki principle over the technique
•seeing unity as physical, mental and spiritual
•getting away from a mindset of winning
•the path to manifesting Aiki through both uke and nage practice
•freedom of movement through Aiki principle

Jaemin
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:56 AM   #10
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Some direct students of O sensei have chosen to use very sophisticated tools to develop non- physical, esoteric aikido concepts. Saotome sensei is not an exception, we can see it I.e. in aikido of Hirokazu Kobayashi sensei, Sunadomari sensei or Yamaguchi sensei.

I followed few seminars with those shihans and in my very limited understanding, these concepts should be communicated and used only with selected students that have minimum 20 years of practice under direct supervision of shihan. Otherwise it creates huge misunderstanding, particularly when one wants to teach it to the beginners and intermediary level of students. Such students are simply not ready, not only physically but also on psychical and spiritual level. They should practice hard very physically first under right supervision.

So even if I like very much Ania writings and I agree in many levels, communicate it over internet is counterproductive IMO.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:15 PM   #11
woudew
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Some direct students of O sensei have chosen to use very sophisticated tools to develop non- physical, esoteric aikido concepts. Saotome sensei is not an exception, we can see it I.e. in aikido of Hirokazu Kobayashi sensei, Sunadomari sensei or Yamaguchi sensei.

I followed few seminars with those shihans and in my very limited understanding, these concepts should be communicated and used only with selected students that have minimum 20 years of practice under direct supervision of shihan. Otherwise it creates huge misunderstanding, particularly when one wants to teach it to the beginners and intermediary level of students. Such students are simply not ready, not only physically but also on psychical and spiritual level. They should practice hard very physically first under right supervision.

So even if I like very much Ania writings and I agree in many levels, communicate it over internet is counterproductive IMO.
There are guys out there who will teach you connections within 10 minutes.

And I completely agree: to communicate this over the internet is counterproductive.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:17 PM   #12
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Walter Oude Wesselink wrote: View Post
There are guys out there who will teach you connections within 10 minutes.
.
Yes, in McDonalds you can also have a cheap meal and fast service...

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-16-2017, 02:17 AM   #13
oisin bourke
 
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
I liked her article. I agree that connection is difficult to define and teach. My wife and I have had many spirited conversations on that!

Two things that stood out for me, and they have been a long standing debate for myself.

I sometimes see myself as half of the equation, and I need to "fit" with the forces at play. Tenchinage is a common example for me - I want uke's shoulders to go heaven and earth-ward, and sometimes not so much my own. Uke and I are very much joined. Saotome sensei in particular was talking about this.

The fourth teacher was talking about finding his structure and intent. I had one teacher talk about, "make the shape and go," and Tohei sensei's writings seem to talk this way too as I recall. With my own structure and intent under control, I can just move. I don't need to pay much attention to uke or how I contact uke. I just move, and they connect however they will. I sometimes do this in randori.

There are many different ways to teach these things. I did not expect the variety of teaching methods and language within one association.
Are they all talking about the same thing though? I think that this goes to the core of aikido as an art and why i think it's basically a post modern art. There are no set parameters or definitions for anything: there are a set of terms that act as floating signifiers: concepts that you ascribe your own meaning and value. It's what has allowed aikido to become popular but also is its Achilles heel.
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Old 05-16-2017, 04:18 PM   #14
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Are they all talking about the same thing though? I think that this goes to the core of aikido as an art and why i think it's basically a post modern art. There are no set parameters or definitions for anything: there are a set of terms that act as floating signifiers: concepts that you ascribe your own meaning and value. It's what has allowed aikido to become popular but also is its Achilles heel.
Maybe. At the same time, the one choice of words is for me being my best in my Aiki body, and the other choice of words is about combining two bodies well. Probably, both are required.
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Old 05-28-2017, 09:52 AM   #15
bothhandsclapping
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Re: "Connection in Aikido" by Ania Small

Connection and true relaxation are things that forums can't teach, shihans can't teach, Aikido can't teach - they can each only inspire. Connection and true relaxation are the manifestations of realizations (insights) that can only occur within one's mind. The beauty of the art of Aikido is that it will provide you with immediate feedback on your 'latest insight'.

Jim Redel BHC Aikido
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