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Old 05-03-2006, 12:42 PM   #101
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Excellent post Josh. Thanks!
Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-03-2006, 01:40 PM   #102
m.kops
 
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Ai symbol Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

I am new to Aikido, and recently when partnered with a Black belt, she felt I was falling too easily! I accepted her instruction and did my best to stay with the technique. It did not make me feel badly. I was happy for the input. I am intrigued by the black belts I meet who do the technique very slowly to find where your actual balance point (or that is my interpretation) exists. That said, I have also had a practice or two with higher ranked aikidoka who frustrated me because they were not sensitive to my level and worked me faster than I would have liked. The question is how do you blend with this situation and what is YOUR lesson in this? Something to think about. In one of my rough practices mentioned above, I have decided that I will let go next time instead of trying so hard to be a "good" uke. It was mentioned in a seminar I recently attended that that is an option of your attacker. In the other rough situation, I had two practices where I told the person they were going too fast for me. The second time I suggested that I bow out and allow him to practice with a black belt who was in a threesome near by. It was intense! I learned from seeing them work, and my partner finally got that he was too much (quick) for me. He said he would adjust in future. I would appreciate any comments on this.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:34 PM   #103
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Martha Kops wrote:
That said, I have also had a practice or two with higher ranked aikidoka who frustrated me because they were not sensitive to my level and worked me faster than I would have liked.
Your personal preferences are disabled in the dojo. Nobody cares what you like or not. This is a place for martial art practice and not restaurant where you can chose your prefered food.
Quote:
Martha Kops wrote:
I
The question is how do you blend with this situation and what is YOUR lesson in this?
Yu must move faster to be able to match speed of technique. This is your most important duty on the tatami.
Quote:
Martha Kops wrote:
Something to think about. In one of my rough practices mentioned above, I have decided that I will let go next time instead of trying so hard to be a "good" uke. It was mentioned in a seminar I recently attended that that is an option of your attacker. In the other rough situation, I had two practices where I told the person they were going too fast for me. The second time I suggested that I bow out and allow him to practice with a black belt who was in a threesome near by. It was intense! I learned from seeing them work, and my partner finally got that he was too much (quick) for me. He said he would adjust in future. I would appreciate any comments on this.
you must learn how to receive the techniques in safe way. this is your homework to do after every class with some help from dojo mates. I think you have 2-3 months to do it, after that advanced ppl will not want to practice with you.
They can't all their life slow down normal rythme of practice only because you 'don't like' move faster.You as uke in 99% must take care about your own safety.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:47 PM   #104
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Amir Krause wrote:
I disagree. Bad Uke does exist in a training environment:
Most of the Aikido practice is Kata practice:
When we practice a particular technique, Uke is supposed to attack in a certain way, and Tori is expected to use one particular timing point, move to a prespecified direction and perform a specific technique.

Amir
You see, this is you personal interpretation. If we say ok to your approach every aikidoka will have his own interpretation and structured training will be impossible.
And many lazy folks will use interpretation to justifie their lazyiness and aikido will be watered down again and again.

It must be one simple rule that we can apply in any dojo in any situation, and this rule must push practice at higher level, indepedently of someone's will.

I think that a rule ' there is no bad uke or bad attack' will do a work.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-03-2006, 05:24 PM   #105
Ken McGrew
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
I'm sure you would recognize it. What we're talking about is not resisting strength-against-strength, but uke maintaining structural integrity until nage takes it.
No, this is not simply a difference in language. Many of the people posting in this discussion talk about forcing Uke. Even your language here about Nage taking Uke's structural integrity reflects a different understanding of Ukemi and the relationship between Uke and Nage than what I have been taught. We don't force Uke or take from Uke. We don't impose, generally speaking, but lead, follow, and shape. In fact, we don't think in terms of Kata but Katache (sp?), a distinction made by Ikeda Sensei.

Uke's structural integrity is compromised by the act of attacking, both spiritually and physically. To truly attack is to become vulnerable, at least momentarilly. To attack someone you must go to them, and this intention can be used to lead the attacker outside of his balance. Once unbalanced, if the motion is continued, there is no opportunity to resist. If resistance is encountered or if something doesn't go as intended, it is always possible to change (either inside the technique or to a different technique, or no technique). I think too often it is the lack of a true attack that gives Uke the opportunity to live in the egotistic delusion of resistance.

I think my earlier post and my quotations of Saotome speak for themselves. More importantly, I think Saotome's books and videos address this issue very well. Again I would say watch the post WWII videos of O'Sensei and his students as well as the videos of both Doshu (the first Doshu has a great basics video that discusses the circular and blending nature of Aikido). If your Ukemi and the relationship between Uke and Nage do not look like that of the students on these videos, then I would suggest that this is something to think about. Who can say that these students did not have proper Ukemi with O'Sensei, or either Doshu, standing next to them and allowing them to be video recorded?

Ken McGrew

Last edited by Ken McGrew : 05-03-2006 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 05-03-2006, 06:56 PM   #106
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Martha Kops wrote:
I am new to Aikido, and recently when partnered with a Black belt, she felt I was falling too easily! I accepted her instruction and did my best to stay with the technique. It did not make me feel badly. I was happy for the input. I am intrigued by the black belts I meet who do the technique very slowly to find where your actual balance point (or that is my interpretation) exists. That said, I have also had a practice or two with higher ranked aikidoka who frustrated me because they were not sensitive to my level and worked me faster than I would have liked. The question is how do you blend with this situation and what is YOUR lesson in this? Something to think about. In one of my rough practices mentioned above, I have decided that I will let go next time instead of trying so hard to be a "good" uke. It was mentioned in a seminar I recently attended that that is an option of your attacker. In the other rough situation, I had two practices where I told the person they were going too fast for me. The second time I suggested that I bow out and allow him to practice with a black belt who was in a threesome near by. It was intense! I learned from seeing them work, and my partner finally got that he was too much (quick) for me. He said he would adjust in future. I would appreciate any comments on this.
Martha,

I would say you handled the situation quite well; Most people develop fairly good ukemi skills relatively quickly and that will allow you to train harder and faster with the more advanced students in your dojo. When you attack give a committed attack at the speed you are comfortable training at; Your partner should meet your attack and blend with it at the same speed and follow through with the technique. It is always good if you are comfortable with the partner you are training with to train just a hair above your comfort level which will enable you to improve even faster. For instance, when I take ukemi for my Sensei I will go anywhere from 75%-90% of an all out attack. I know he can blend with me all out and I know that I can take good ukemi with him throwing me in a manner I don't get hurt. With most other people in our dojo I gear that back down to 60%-80%, and with beginners learning techniques I crank it back to about 25%.

Keep training and before you know it you will have improved quite a bit. Then maybe it will be your turn to take it easy on someone.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 05-03-2006, 07:03 PM   #107
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

[quote=Ken McGrewUke's structural integrity is compromised by the act of attacking, both spiritually and physically. To truly attack is to become vulnerable, at least momentarilly. To attack someone you must go to them, and this intention can be used to lead the attacker outside of his balance. Once unbalanced, if the motion is continued, there is no opportunity to resist. If resistance is encountered or if something doesn't go as intended, it is always possible to change (either inside the technique or to a different technique, or no technique). I think too often it is the lack of a true attack that gives Uke the opportunity to live in the egotistic delusion of resistance.
[/QUOTE]
Ken,
Having read the posts from you and Josh I think it is still more a difference in language than anything else. If you have a good uke their structural integrity is not compromised by the attack. For those of us that have trained in other arts we can throw any variety of attacks and will not be unbalanced in the least, so if you don't "take" my balance, or center, then you will not execute a successful technique and will either be hit or reversed if possible. If when the initial attack is made you do succeed in taking my balance/center, then yes you will lead me as long as you maintain control of my balance/center. If you lose it then you have left an opening again for me to either re-initiate an attack or go for a reversal.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 05-03-2006, 09:48 PM   #108
David Yap
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Hi guys,

Adding to the excellent post from Joshua, here is an article by David Alexander sensei regarding productive and counter-productive use of resistance in aikido training http://www.dragon-tsunami.org/Dtimes.../articlea2.htm

Enjoy.

David Y

Last edited by David Yap : 05-03-2006 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 05-04-2006, 02:43 AM   #109
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
No, this is not simply a difference in language. Many of the people posting in this discussion talk about forcing Uke. Even your language here about Nage taking Uke's structural integrity reflects a different understanding of Ukemi and the relationship between Uke and Nage than what I have been taught. We don't force Uke or take from Uke. We don't impose, generally speaking, but lead, follow, and shape. In fact, we don't think in terms of Kata but Katache (sp?), a distinction made by Ikeda Sensei.
Katachi*. I know what katachi is, and it changes nothing that I'm saying. It is by the resistance (to continue to use an imprecise concept) that nage learns and perfects the katachi.

Quote:
Uke's structural integrity is compromised by the act of attacking, both spiritually and physically.
Oh, if only that were true.

Quote:
To truly attack is to become vulnerable, at least momentarilly. To attack someone you must go to them, and this intention can be used to lead the attacker outside of his balance.
Ah, I say "take uke's structural integrity", you say "lead the attacker outside his balance". We are talking about the same thing.

Quote:
Once unbalanced, if the motion is continued, there is no opportunity to resist.
"Once unbalanced".

Quote:
If resistance is encountered or if something doesn't go as intended, it is always possible to change (either inside the technique or to a different technique, or no technique). I think too often it is the lack of a true attack that gives Uke the opportunity to live in the egotistic delusion of resistance.
The resistance we are talking about is simply not egotistical. Nor is it a delusion. If nage tries to apply a technique without leading me outside my balance, the technique won't work. I won't fall. I'm not not-falling because it makes me feel better about myself; I actually want my partner to feel good because he's doing aikido. I'm not falling because nage has not created the proper katachi.

Likewise, when I do a katatori, moretetori, ryotetori etc. technique, I grasp strongly, with strong balance and structure. I don't do this because it makes me feel powerful. Standing around in a mini tug-of-war, pushing and pulling with all my strength? How boring! How tiring! I grasp strongly because (among other things), nage then knows exactly where my strength is, and exactly where my weakness is. I lead him to lead me off balance. And thus, as nage, I "listen" to what uke's body is telling me, and let him lead me to where I can lead him off balance.

Sounds terribly collusive, doesn't it? But it's all using "resisitance"!

*Linguisitic explanation.

Kata 型 - A standard model form of movements in sports, martial arts, and dance. In different contexts, often written with the kanji 形.

Katachi 形 - A shape or form. Hence, a kata as a whole has a certain katachi, but of course there are smaller katachi inside the kata, e.g., shape of the hands, footwork.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:49 AM   #110
Amir Krause
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
You see, this is you personal interpretation. If we say ok to your approach every aikidoka will have his own interpretation and structured training will be impossible.
And many lazy folks will use interpretation to justifie their lazyiness and aikido will be watered down again and again.

It must be one simple rule that we can apply in any dojo in any situation, and this rule must push practice at higher level, indepedently of someone's will.

I think that a rule ' there is no bad uke or bad attack' will do a work.
Szczepan
Could you explain your claims to me?
Why do you think:
Quote:
structured training will be impossible.
if people understood their technical training as Kata?
How would you be able to have a structured practice if when asked to practice one situation, your Uke will decide to change it on his own?

The interpretation I wrote was not invented by me,it is the way I understand the teaching of my Sensei and Shihan (see the section below on Kata: http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit5.htm ). Our approach is that even free practice is something one should learn to do, see the phases of kyoshu(randori): http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit6.htm and http://www.freewebz.com/aikido/lecture/unit7.htm

[Shono Shihan is one of Korindo Aikido Shihans. He started his M.A. practice with several Koryu styles in which he studied Buki. And came to korindo Aikido only later in his studied.]

I am not advocating that Uke fall regardless of Tori excution. That is just another form of being a bad Uke in my vocabulry. You can try and describe it in other ways, but it is simply the second side of the same coin.

Amir
(for lack of time, I did not spell check this time, I apologize)



Amir


Amir
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:02 AM   #111
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Hi Ken, Josh has stated my concerns about the ideas expressed in your post very well, so I won't repeat them. You have much more experience with Ikeda Sensei than I, but I have to wonder what he meant by the statement "you have to take it" when describing off-balancing uke at a seminar I attended. Two seminars actually...he used that specific phrase while responding to a katatetori attack. Now admitedly, I do come from a pre-war style of aikido...which does affect the way I see and hear things. But I don't remember Ikeda Sensei saying that the attack is somehow inherrently off-balance. He spoke of taking uke's balance. And the importance of doing this regardless of the experience of the uke (in terms of other martial arts).

Hi Amir and Szczepan,

Somehow I think there has to be a happy medium in your discussion. While I'm not much for hard and fast rules (except that everyone should be able to go to work the next day after training), I agree that we shouldn't water down the training too much as well. But in context, Amir's statements come from a style of aikido that I don't think many people would claim is watered down...at all.

Best,
Ron

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:28 AM   #112
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didn't fall

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
You see, this is you personal interpretation. If we say ok to your approach every aikidoka will have his own interpretation and structured training will be impossible.
And many lazy folks will use interpretation to justifie their lazyiness and aikido will be watered down again and again.

It must be one simple rule that we can apply in any dojo in any situation, and this rule must push practice at higher level, indepedently of someone's will.

I think that a rule ' there is no bad uke or bad attack' will do a work.
I like your clear approach, Nagababa, 'though I do not agree in details.
I guess, it was Kisshomaru Ueshiba, who installed acceptance of "just-for-fun"-aikidoka. Yes, there are other possiblities to stay or get fit, but is aikido an invalid option? I would not blame any of them. Any I would never get bored, if I would train in every training a few time with those and a few times with beginners, I have to take care about. Maybe some of them get incended and change to "real martial training", i.e. go further on the way.
Would I allow them to test for higher kyu or dan grades? Probably not. Would I allow them to visit advanced or high-speed classes? Probably not. How about good aikidoka being injured or just growing old?

Where I totally agree, is, when you blame ppl for claiming aikido is just about slow-fox-dancing at all or 1st kyu and yudansche being ask for doing high speed 3.1 jiyu waza and after each attack the new uke is bowing and asking "are you ready for the next step?" (totally exaggerated - I have never experienced this), or nidan blaming 4th kyu for not falling (when not thrown). "The dojo is our battle-field" claimed a shihan once in a seminar - and probably not only this one - and probably not only once. You have to get martial proudness and attitude and your task is to survive - not to ask for not getting killed.

Kind regards Dirk
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:50 AM   #113
Nick Simpson
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Uke didnt have to fall down. I dont have a problem with that. What interests me is that the 'BB' in question thought that he should have. Now, Im no expert but after a little while you tend to know when your technique isnt working/what your doing wrong...

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 05-04-2006, 08:24 AM   #114
Keith R Lee
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Just a head's up. Grab a cup of coffee (or a pint!) or print this one out or something. Sheesh, I got carried away.

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
We don't force Uke or take from Uke. We don't impose, generally speaking, but lead, follow, and shape.

Uke's structural integrity is compromised by the act of attacking, both spiritually and physically. To truly attack is to become vulnerable, at least momentarilly. To attack someone you must go to them, and this intention can be used to lead the attacker outside of his balance. Once unbalanced, if the motion is continued, there is no opportunity to resist. If resistance is encountered or if something doesn't go as intended, it is always possible to change (either inside the technique or to a different technique, or no technique). I think too often it is the lack of a true attack that gives Uke the opportunity to live in the egotistic delusion of resistance.
I understand what you are describing conceptually and intellectually. I also think that Aikido, when it is practiced as Budo, a means of cultivations of the self, should have attaining this level of technique as one of its primary goals. However.

"We don't force Uke or take from Uke. We don't impose, generally speaking, but lead, follow, and shape."
and
"Uke's structural integrity is compromised by the act of attacking, both spiritually and physically. To truly attack is to become vulnerable, at least momentarilly. To attack someone you must go to them, and this intention can be used to lead the attacker outside of his balance. Once unbalanced, if the motion is continued, there is no opportunity to resist."

I have issues with these two statements. Hypothetically I would agree with them, however I think actual application of techniques in this fashion is incredibley difficult. Very, very, very few people achieve this level of technique I think, not that we shouldn't all try to obtain it. To me, the level of technique you are describing exists at the li level. Considering that most people who join Aikido dojos will never move much past the shu level and even fewer onto the ha level, I think obtaining this level of technique is out of reach for the vast majority of people. That being said, considering the limited nature of attacks in Aikido and "aikido speed/intensity" of attacks found in many dojos (everyone knows what I mean when I say this) I could see where someone might falsely believe thay have attained this level of technique (not implying you Ken, just making a general statement).

Aikido attacks are very limited in their composition. I realize many would argue they are designed to be "generalized" attacks in order to simulate a wider variety of attack possibilities. However, the attacks in Aikido remain very simplistic. Attacks in Aikido do not deal with kicks, knees, elbows, the clinch, groundwork, shoots, takedowns, and a myriad of other attacks. Sure there are a few dojos that train with some of these attacks, Mits Yamashita sensei's and our own David Valadez and Kevin Leavitt here on Aikiweb come to mind, but they are in the vast minority. Most Aikido dojos practice with basic hand strikes and grabs only, which does not prepare one at all for actually dealing with attacks. There is also the intensity/speed issue I mentioned earlier. I think most people who have been around Aikido for years and have traveled to many dojos are aware of the lack of intensity/speed in many dojos. Furthermore, I've rarely seen Aikido dojos deal with combinations of attacks. What happens when someone feints/jabs 3-4 times high and low, making limited contact but pushing you out of balance before delivering a haymaker? I don't think Aikido, as it is practiced by many, and especially in the manner Ken describes, prepares people for these types of attack. Instead I think it produces a false confidence within themselves, as well as not preparing them to actually be able to physically apply the techniques in real life situations (perhaps not even apply the principles of AIkido mentally or emotionally in non-physical encounters).

Practicing in such a cooperative environment also leads to such a false sense of security. For instance you state: "Once unbalanced, if the motion is continued, there is no opportunity to resist." I think that most of the multi-art practitioners on the board would disagree with you here. I absolutely agree that when Aikido practitioners act as shite that it should be their responsibility to comprise uke's ability to resist and to minimize the window of opportunity for uke to resist. However, in a cooperative environment, how is one ever sure that this is being accomplished? Furthermore, in the majority of dojos I have vistied in the States and abroad (I'm using Yoshinkan terminology here as it is my base but I have visited a wide variety of Aikido dojos outside of the Yoshinkan system), once shite takes uke to the ground, ukes tend to just passively lay there. I know in the Yoshinkan we focus on a consistent application of control through the throw and during the transition to the osae, but it is a difficult task even with years of practice. It also assumes that the uke is just going to lay there. it is much more plausible that someone would immediately begin to fight and resist and attempt to get up. Not to mention what would happen if the person being attacked had even a passing familiarity with groundwork. I realize that the general counter argument to this line of thought is henkawaza and kaeshiwaza. However, what is the likelihood of someone responding to an aikido technique being applied to them with another Aikido technique?!? Very low I would imagine. And if it did occur I imagine both parties would laugh and head out to the pub for a pint!

I suppose what makes me uneasy with the type of training you are describing is not the training itself. Ideally, I think it should be the ultimate goal for all of us. However, I think by practicing solely in this fashion it actually inhibits us from reaching the actual level that we are attempting to emulate. Perhaps it is just my bias of being in the Yoshinkan, but I don't see how it is possible to attain the level of control of uke that Ken describes with out actually knowing, like empirical first-hand knowledge knowing, that one can apply the techniques to an uke regardless of whether the uke cooperates or not. Just accepting that techniques work in the fashion as to explained to us by our teachers, just because "they say so," does not constitute a good enough reason to me to have faith in the techniques I have learned.

Assuredly, everyone needs to take time, a long time, in learning about techniques and the timing, movement, and distance that goes into applying them in a cooperative environment. This is the only way to learn. There are drills (kata) in every MA from Aikido to Karate to BJJ. However, never moving out of the zone of cooperative practice never provides one with actual first-hand knowledge of how the techniques work in a "live" environment. Instead, one merely develops hypothetical outcomes for conflict situations. Sure, the techniques are presented to you as theory by your instructors, but unless we as students never actually put them to the test, they instead remain only hypotheses to us. I am using the "classical" definition of theory here: "a proposed description, explanation, or model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena ( in our case, applying technique in a conflict situation), capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation." How often do members of the Aikido population put their techniques to the test?

If we look back at the "good old days" of Ueshiba sensei's dojo, it would seem rather often. Shioda sensei was notorious for going out and testing his technique, as were many other deshi of the day. If it worked for them it should work for us right? I don't think so. I'm sure most of us have participated, or heard of the game where a dozen or more people gather together in a circle. The first person whispers a 3-4 sentence story to their right, and people continue to repeat what they heard around the circle. Invariably by the time the last person hears the story and repeats what they heard aloud, it barely resemble what the first person originally said. Amplify that over decades, generations of instructors (good and bad), cultural misunderstandings and mistranslations, and the sheer volume of material included in Aikido and it is amazing we're all on the same page about kamae!

How are we supposed to have real, empirical understanding of the techniques that have been passed on to us without testing them? Not in a egotistic, or combative manner but in terms of trying to better each other in a cooperative spirit! This occurs in many styles of MAs! I have been to Karate dojos where, during sparring the practitioners look like they are trying to take each other's head off! However, as soon as they are finished, they laugh, smile, and give each other a rough hug. They are just as good of friends as two Aikido students and competition has done them no worse for wear. In fact they are helping make each other's technique better. The same thing occurs at the Sambo club at which I train. We drill (kata!) for 1-2 hours and then roll for another hour. There is no malice between us when we roll. While we are both attempting to submit one another, we are both cognizant that through this type of practice we are actually helping one another grow. Certainly it is more difficult to maintain this type of constructive attitude in a competitive environment where it is easy for egos to expand, but that is not to say it does not happen!

Without an element of truly putting oneself on the line, creating an element of risk in training, I think the possibility of growth remains very limited. When we risk nothing in training, there is little impetus for us to push ourselves past our comfort zones. If one always practices at a comfortable pace, takes easy falls, cooperates, etc. then, I personally, do not see how growth can occur. Growth could certainly not take place for me at that pace. I think everyone is aware of the type of risk I am speaking of as well. I would hope everyone remembers their first breakfall, and how it felt before they did it. Or the first time they partnered up with a very senior student, or took uke from their sensei, or a visiting shihan. There is an apprehension there, a sense of risking ourselves before we step into those situations. Yet, somehow, we overcome. Having this type of feeling, I like to term it as "risk," propels us into new levels of our training, and should help us grow wider and deeper in our martial understanding. Also in terms of "ego," are we sure that it is not the ego that is holding some of us back from testing out techniques in a "live" environment? In Aikido there is always a set outcome when one is shite, in "live" training there is no such guarantee. Can we be sure it is not the ego in ourselves as Aikido practitioners, as our technique "always" works (we were told so!), that is keeping us from stepping outside of our comfort zone and discovering how techniques work for ourselves? Could we not handle the bruising to our ego when our techniques do not work?

Is this type of training not what Shioda sensei and others have spoken of as shugyo? Truly austere training? Pushing oneself to the limit in order to develop as robustly as we possibly can? Again, I appreciate the level of technique that Ken is describing. I believe it possibly to be the level of technique that the likes of Ueshiba sensei and Shioda sensei had later in their lives. However I think it is a fallacy for us to attempt and move directly to that level of training! These people who came before us spent many years paying their dues with very hard (austere) levels of training. In a sense, they went through the entire alphabet, before reaching their goal, Z. The level of technique and training Ken describes to me is at the X-Y-Z level. Yet if we start at X-Y-Z, we might understand those last letters, but do we really know the whole alphabet? To go even deeper, do we know the history of the alphabet? Its roots and origins? How did it develop and why? Should we not attempt to gain this same type of insight and understanding in our Aikido?

Even moving outside of the physical realm of conflict, does this type of practice Ken describes help us apply the principles of Aikido to the rest of our lives if it the only way in which we have practiced it? I would imagine most of us have been in non-physical conflict situations where things did not come at us smoothly, in a pre-ordained fashion, and barely struggled with us as we dealt with them? Conflicts sometimes come at us this way, but they also sneak up from behind and blind-side us. then while we're down conflict's three buddies, Problems, Trouble, and Stress, come up and dog-pile on top of us. I think practicing with higher levels of shugyo and resistance in a "live" environment helps prepare us better for these types of situations. The come-at-you-fast-and-unpredictable types of conflict that we sometimes in encounter throughout our lives. If we only practice blending slowly and cooperatively in Aikido can we really assume we can blend with non-physical conflicts in our lives that do not come at us the same way? I don't know.

And of course, all this is far outside the bounds of a beginner student in my mind. Perhaps even for most students. But should we not expect his level of training and technique out of our upper-most seniors and our instructors? Do they not need to have as large a breadth of experience as possible in order to deal, not only with conflict situations, but also to better relate the teachings to as wide a variety of people as possible? Also, is it really necessary to answer these types of questions I have asked throughout this post if we intend to only practice Aikido as budo, purely as a means of cultivation of the self? Maybe not. Should we expect this level of depth and experience out of our instructors? I think so. I'm truly fortunate in that I think I have found instructors in Aikido and Sambo that are at this level of training.

I too would like to eventually have my own dojo some day and the thoughts and questions I have expressed here often come to my mind. They are part of what drove me to look outside of Aikido; to find some of the answers to these questions.

Lastly, Ken, please do not take this as an attack on your post or methods of training. I really appreciated your post! It helped coalesce a lot of thoughts that have been jumbling about my head and think about the nature of my training. Cheers to everyone who reads this monster!

All the best,

Last edited by Keith R Lee : 05-04-2006 at 08:31 AM.

Keith Lee
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:15 AM   #115
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Thanks for that Keith!

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-04-2006, 09:35 AM   #116
Ken McGrew
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Anyone who reads this discussion and does not think we are describing real differences in Ukemi needs to get out more often. These are not linguistic differences. The word "resistance" is not the wrong word to use. Saotome Sensei has an entire video called Oyo Henka in which he uses the word resistance, and he speaks Japanese quite well. It may not be what your Sensei thinks, but I am not misquoting. Ikeda Sensei used the word katachi to describe something more spontaneous, dynamic, and evolving than kata. We have weapons kata, but our approach to Aikido is not kata, but katachi.


Anyone who read my quotation of Saotome Sensei knows that I am only repeating what he teaches. That is to be expected when I am a student in his organization. I also think he is right.

My statement about the attacker being vulnerable as a result of the attack comes, in part, from 1st Doshu's principles video.

I would differ strongly with the idea that we should force Aikido technique initially and then someday perhaps learn to blend and lead at the higher levels I am describing. You get to the higher levels by practicing a simulation of actual combat. We practice this way all the time. Students start to get good at capturing motion and effortless power in only a few years. I've seen Saotome Sensei do amazing things, many of which I can't do yet, but I've also been directly taught by him as to how to begin to get good at his higher level Aikido. Let me quote, "no force, no violent." This is stated in Saotome's Principles video, that Aikido practice is simulated combat, a cooperative practice. Again, I would ask everyone to dig out their videos of O'Sensei, both Doshu, and look particularly at their students. Do you see ANY resistance? No, you will not. O'Sensei allowed these videos to be made so we would be able to see for ourselves how to train Aikido.

There are people on this board who practice a pre-war style. That's fine. O'Sensei changed Aikido for reasons that he thought were valid. They don't want to change with him, so that is their business. I'm glad they are preserving this earlier art. To me it's like living history. It is not anything I am interested in practicing, however. But when people who practice a post-war style use resistance, I think they are not doing what O'Sensei wanted. A very good book to look at is Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere.

Regarding Ikeda Sensei, what I think people heard him say, which I heard him say again this weekend, is "break their balance." At any rate, Ikeda is Saotome's student also. He does not contradict Saotome. Sometimes Ikeda will ask people to grab strong, but this is an exercise, not proper Ukemi. For example, this weekend he told the partner of one of my students, "No, for this excercise, don't do good ukemi, instead be strong."

The quotes from Saotome are clear. If people don't train like he would have us train that is their business, so long as they are not in his organization. But as the former head instructer at Hombu, and as a person who has been especially dedicated to continuing what O'Sensei started, I think people should consider what he has to say. We all think our instructors hung the moon, and that is how it should be. My ability to follow Saotome's instruction is not blind, however. I look for myself at the historical footage, and I find confirmation of what he claims.

Ken McGrew
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Old 05-04-2006, 10:47 AM   #117
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
I look for myself at the historical footage, and I find confirmation of what he claims.
Footage of demonstrations, not training, by the founder of the art.

And FWIW, I myself practice a post-war style.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 05-04-2006, 10:55 AM   #118
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
Anyone who reads this discussion and does not think we are describing real differences in Ukemi needs to get out more often.
Incidently, at the very worst we can agree to disagree, but throwing around statements like above and referring to resistance as "egotistical delusion" is not the very best way to make friends.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 05-04-2006, 11:31 AM   #119
David Yap
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Hi Ken,
Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
snip...
Again, I would ask everyone to dig out their videos of O'Sensei, both Doshu, and look particularly at their students. Do you see ANY resistance? No, you will not. O'Sensei allowed these videos to be made so we would be able to see for ourselves how to train Aikido...snip
Has it occurred to you that there were nothing for the students to "resist" in the first place? Both O Sensei and 1st Doshu were operating at much higher plane - "absolute" aiki, perhaps . Just repeating your quote, "no force, no violent".

I don't see in the posts here that anyone was advocating nage should force aikido techniques initially and and then someday perhaps learn to blend and lead at the higher levels you were describing. It is natural for a beginner to do just that (muscle through a technique) and it is also natural for him or her to progressively lose the need of using force once he/she observes and feels that the instructors and/or sempai can effortlessly do the techniques despite strong resistance from the uke. I believe you have went through this phase at the beginning

Quote:
There are people on this board who practice a pre-war style. That's fine. O'Sensei changed Aikido for reasons that he thought were valid. They don't want to change with him, so that is their business. I'm glad they are preserving this earlier art. To me it's like living history. It is not anything I am interested in practicing, however. But when people who practice a post-war style use resistance, I think they are not doing what O'Sensei wanted.
I believe the late Morihiro Saito shihan's style of aikido is not much different with the pre-war style of aikido and he was a post-war deshi of O Sensei and he was the longest serving deshi. Saito sensei was practically sharing the same compound and sharing the same meals with O Sensei over a span of 23 years. Are you implying that Morihiro Saito shihan was not doing or teaching what O'Sensei wanted? Gozo Shioda shihan also stayed 3 years in Iwama with O Sensei after the war. He had O Sensei's blessings to start his own organisation and dojo. He, too, did not do or teach what O Sensei wanted?



David Y

Last edited by David Yap : 05-04-2006 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 05-04-2006, 12:40 PM   #120
DonMagee
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

I'm not sure if this has been said. I wanted to post this 3 days ago, but my account was not verified yet.

My teacher has told us many times this one saying. "The Uke is never wrong"

I'll leave it to you guys to figure out what he means.

Don
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Old 05-04-2006, 01:01 PM   #121
giriasis
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
I'm not sure if this has been said. I wanted to post this 3 days ago, but my account was not verified yet.

My teacher has told us many times this one saying. "The Uke is never wrong"

I'll leave it to you guys to figure out what he means.

Don
Why don't you tell us what you think he means. I actually disagree with this to a certain extent. The Uke can be wrong at times especially when they lock out and put themselves in a more vulnerable position. But at the same times it can be fun to work with people who do that as long as you are skilled enough to not get frustrated and they have good enough ukemi where they will not get hurt.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 05-04-2006, 01:25 PM   #122
DonMagee
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Why don't you tell us what you think he means. I actually disagree with this to a certain extent. The Uke can be wrong at times especially when they lock out and put themselves in a more vulnerable position. But at the same times it can be fun to work with people who do that as long as you are skilled enough to not get frustrated and they have good enough ukemi where they will not get hurt.

Well, I never really gave it much thought. I would guess that he means you should learn to blend with uke no matter what he gives you. I would also say he means for you to not be so stuck on a technique. If uke resists or is unaffected by your technique it is up to you to change what you are doing, not the uke. Uke's feedback is a important part of the leanring process. If you can't learn to blend and lead your uke as the situation changes then you are just doing choreographed dancing. But that is just what his quote means to me.
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Old 05-04-2006, 03:13 PM   #123
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Ken McGrew wrote:
Again, I would ask everyone to dig out their videos of O'Sensei, both Doshu, and look particularly at their students. Do you see ANY resistance? No, you will not. O'Sensei allowed these videos to be made so we would be able to see for ourselves how to train Aikido.
Honestly, Ken, my knowledge of the English knowledge is not sufficient to detect, what you want to tell us.

Saotome Sensei stated several times: "Resistance is natural reaction of uke and you should never blame uke for being resistant", while he also requires Uke not to stop nage's technique, just because he knows, which technique is requested to be performed.

He tells his students to punch or kick uke, if he does not protect himself (Aikido and the Harmony of Nature), while he insists, that his kind of training is not sparring. And I never understood "no force, no violence" as an order not to attack seriously or not to perform effective techniques.

He also tells us (same book) that he tried to attack O Sensei as hard as he could - even when O Sensei was already weak from cancer a short time before his passing, but I could not find any story, where he stated "I fell, because I felt that I was expected to fall".

Yes, I was told that as uke, if I do not see a chance to continue the attack, I should evade by ukemi, but only in explicit "dancing exercises", to get the moves more fluid, I was told to perform ukemi on my own, when the right time has come in the movement.

As far as I cannot find resistance in O Sensei's demonstrations, it seems to me, that uke had no chance to insist, as the technique was just perfect. I might be wrong. So maybe someone can find a statement from O Sensei's uke or just ask some of those, who are still out there. I cannot judge on both following doshu or other demonstrations, some seem to want demonstrations to look perfect, but there are different ways to do that. Some just constrain themselves to a small set of techniques they can perform well, some only use uke, they know very good and can forecast their reaction.

So maybe you can explain a bit better, how you think, we should train. Coming back to the initial topic of this thread: assuming the story told in the beginning was exactly as written here, who do you think was wrong, the 4th kyu uke or the nidan nage?

Cheers Dirk (only 3rd kyu, though)
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:32 PM   #124
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
He tells his students to punch or kick uke, if he does not protect himself (Aikido and the Harmony of Nature), while he insists, that his kind of training is not sparring. And I never understood "no force, no violence" as an order not to attack seriously or not to perform effective techniques.

He also tells us (same book) that he tried to attack O Sensei as hard as he could - even when O Sensei was already weak from cancer a short time before his passing, but I could not find any story, where he stated "I fell, because I felt that I was expected to fall".
Another good quote from that book (there are a bunch but I don't have access to them all right now) is when Satome Sensei states "He laughed at our determined attempts to hold him."

A determined attempt to hold someone is about as much resistance as I can think of?

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 05-04-2006, 05:54 PM   #125
Ken McGrew
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Re: Instructor got mad because I didnt fall

There IS footage of students training under O'Sensei, training with each other, and not making a demonstration. There is also a good deal of footage of students of Doshu and 2nd Doshu training. At the beginning of 1st Doshu's Principles video there is footage of students training with very cooperative Ukemi. 2nd Doshu recently was featured in a show on the Discovery Channel about martial arts. Some American students were interviewed and videod while training. They had very cooperative Ukemi.

If you look at the quote I gave earlier from Saotome's Principles video, it is clear that he believes O'Sensei made a break from the earlier version of Aikido. This changed Nage and Uke practice. In fact, O'Sensei described this change in terms that could be considered an "enlightenment experience." If you train in a style where you are expected to resist, then you should do what is expected of you. If you prefer this resistance training, that's fine for you as well. This is not what Saotome teaches and it is not what he says O'Sensei taught him.

I am not trying to correct other people who follow what their instructor tells them to do. In particular I think my comments have no relevance to people who train a pre-war style. If you study a style where you are expected to resist, then I do not think you are being arrogant. If you study in ASU or a similar style, and yet you resist (unless Sensei has specifically told you to resist), then I think you are being arrogant. Many times I have studied with strong men who seem intent on massaging their egos by demonstrating their ability to prevent Nage from practicing the technique that Sensei has shown, when the technique requires movement from Uke (Irimi Nage is a good example), and yet Nage is not allowed to poke their eyes out. In answering whether the young man should have fallen down, I must do so within the context of certain expecations of Ukemi, that do vary from style to style.

But if you practice a post-war style, and especially if you belong to ASU, I think you should consider what I am saying. I am explaining the Nage and Uke relationship as I understand it, and am making arguments and pointing to evidence that supports these arguments. I went to a training with Saotome Sensei with a focus on teaching where he made very clear his expecations and told us from now on to practice and teach what he had shown us. That's what I am trying to do.

As I stated earlier, Uke should not simply fall down for no reason. But Uke should not resist either. Read the quote in the earlier post. It is rather straightforward. Look at the videos of O'Sensei's student, and the students of both Doshu. See for yourself if there is any resistace. Attacking hard is not resistance. This is the point. We never attack truly and Nage never responds completely. If we did people could die. Because it is not a "real" situtation, we must simulate a real situation. This is a quote from Saotome Sensei's Principles video. It is "simulated combat." When people attack completely there is momentum in their body. This makes it very easy to lead them. To simulate a true attack when training slower than full speed, you must follow as if you had momentum in your body. Too often we practice by asking Uke to grab our wrist. They clamp down with weight and strength. Then we try to move them. This is not real. This is not martial. This is at best an exercise. If it were real we would break their nose, break their knee, and then they would fall down in a very cooperative manner.

Those of you who study a different style than I do have no obligation, and perhaps no interest, in what the head of my organization or my teachers say. That's fine. Those who do care what he might have to teach you, I will leave you with my favorite quote from Saotome that I memorized at a seminar in Chicago, I love to feel powerful too, but I realize that "the more gentle I am, the more powerful I am." When Sensei throws people, and so more if it is a more martial application, it does not feel like force, or leverage, it feels light as a feather, and yet you can't stop yourself from falling. It is not fake. It is perfect connection. To get that good, he says, you must practice in the cooperative manner I have described.

Ken McGrew
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