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Old 09-22-2006, 10:22 PM   #26
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
personally still search perfect uke
I can't imagine why you haven't found one yet.
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Old 09-23-2006, 01:24 AM   #27
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

quick note:

I think both sides are right here -- only both sides might be talking about different things. Of the two, I think Mr. S is more on a topic I am likely to agree with. Meaning, yes, there is stuff of many hours of practice and accomplishment here. That is obvious to anyone that also practices many hours subtle training -- meaning, someone of great dedication is going to recognize great dedication (vs. a two years of training MMA dabbler -- to him this would look like total crap, and be of no value whatsoever). However, and this is how I would understand what Mr. S is saying, we are pretty much looking at what can be called an exaggeration of what is martial. That is to say, great skill is here, many hours of practice, etc., but it is being used in an exaggerated sense, and to that degree it is not 100% consistent with what Mr. S is talking about and/or giving value to (which is something I also tend to give value to).

For me, folks have to learn how to look through exaggerations, particularly when it comes to demonstrations. However, one problem that comes with exaggerations is that folks often stop recognizing the exaggeration for what it is -- coming to accept it as objective representation. This is not only a problem for the viewer but also for the person doing the exaggeration him/herself -- as said person often comes to believe his/her own exaggeration.

What I hear Mr. S saying is that if you take away any of the exaggerated elements, particularly uke's own exaggerated elements, the whole exaggeration can be seen for what it is -- an exaggeration, a departure from or an extension of what is real. Sure, there are a few non-exaggerated throws in the demonstration, but this often only works to make the whole thing cloudy. Meaning, those few throws do not make the accusation of exaggeration any less accurate -- only harder to see through.

For example, take the first throw: the uke just circles around nage. Obviously, the martial tactic here is connection and redirection, etc., but the fact that uke goes around nage simply by having his arm touched thusly -- well, that never happens in real life. It cannot happen in real life -- not like that at least, not like that (i.e. that is not how you can get someone to be behind you on the spiral). It is something partial only to certain abstract training environments -- which tend to be very popular in Aikido. It is something happening here for the sake of demonstrating some other principle, etc. -- only, like I said, the problem is that folks often miss this point and expect to see folks running around them just like that when attacked for real and/or they come to believe that that is all one has to do to put an attacker behind them on the spiral, etc. If you look closely, the video is filled with such examples, all similar to the very first throw. I believe this is Mr. S's point of contention. I do not read him to be saying there is no posture or relaxation, etc.

dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-23-2006, 05:28 AM   #28
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Hello,

There were similar 'issues' concerning Yamaguchi Sensei's aikido, when he was alive. Actually, from what I remember of the locker-room gossip in the Hombu, there were the Believers and the Atheists, with some bewildered Agnostics in the middle, who were wondering what all the fuss was about. The 'Believers' centred around Tissier, Endo and Yasuno, though he was rather younger at the time.

I think Szczepan and David are largely right (with David, I would agree that the circle in the first waza is not what happens in real life, but, on the other hand, the waza is irimi nage, and I have been on the end of Chiba Sensei's version of this waza often enough to know that the circling is not really uke's choice).

If you look at clips of Isoyama Shihan doing the same waza, his ukes are equally isolated from real life, though they all do splendid kiai and ukemi. They come into attack with their arms held high, like the wings of Zero fighters, and Isoyama Sensei goes right in under the chin, with no taisabaki. Of course, it's nonsense, really, totally divorced fom real life, but you just try being on the end of one of these waza.

For what it's worth, when I came to Japan, Chiba Sensei gave me some advice on how to deal with training in the Hombu. Of course, he could not tell me not to train with any of the instructors on the roster, but he did recommend that I train especially with certain Hombu shihan. These shihans were Yamaguchi, Arikawa, Tada (and, of course, people from outside Tokyo like Shirata and Saito, whenever they were in the Hombu). I did.

In the Hombu, I remember a class taught by Endo Sensei that focussed on the taisabaki of kaiten nage in the ura from. My personal opinion is that the ura forms of certain kihon waza are very difficult, 1-kyou and 3-kyou being examples. Kaiten-nage is an anomaly, in my opinion, because it is not really a kihon waza and was not included in the repertoire given in Budo, for example. Well, Endo Sensi was teaching the class in the Hombu, a few years ago, and did not like the way I was practising the waza. So I had to take ukemi, often, and was given very detailed advice on how to perform the ura version of the waza. I have not forgotten this advice.

Of course, my attacks were specified beforehand, since it was a normal class and not a demonstration. I have stated elswehere that I do not really believe in aikido demonstrations, since they seem to achieve no useful purpose.

Finally, I also trained often with Masatake Fujita Shihan. This shihan is constantly underrated by the aikido chattering classes because he openly disavows the accepted theory that weapons training is essential to aikido. His aikido is always 'basic', but is much more subtle than is commonly realized. Stephane S., if you get a chance to take ukemi fron this shihan, do so. Give him all the subtleties of attack that you are capable of and see how he responds.

Best wishes to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-23-2006 at 05:31 AM.

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Old 09-23-2006, 09:42 AM   #29
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I totally agree with the assessment of Professor Goldsbury of Fujita Shihan. We had the privilege of hosting a seminar given by him in the Philippines last January. I once was on the receiving end of his "basic" techniques, and I must say, my back had never hit the tatami that fast before. Truly an inspiration. I will try my utmost to train with him any chance I get.
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:44 AM   #30
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I believe Endo Sensei used to be quite forceful or hard when younger until he injured his shoulder. He started looking for ways to accomplish the same things while using less force. In the interview I read, he would ask people to attack him strongly and would try to figure out how to move using no strength. If the kuzushi (balance break) is there, the technique should be effective regardless of the strength used. To me that is the aiki element. Relaxed power.
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Old 09-23-2006, 10:15 AM   #31
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello,

There were similar 'issues' concerning Yamaguchi Sensei's aikido, when he was alive. Actually, from what I remember of the locker-room gossip in the Hombu, there were the Believers and the Atheists, with some bewildered Agnostics in the middle, who were wondering what all the fuss was about. The 'Believers' centred around Tissier, Endo and Yasuno, though he was rather younger at the time.
l,
Where did you stand on this issue—atheist or believer? And could you give us some more details on exactly what would the agnostics be saying about Yamaguchi's aikido?



R
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Old 09-23-2006, 05:35 PM   #32
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

NagaBaba,

How long have you been training? Why are you always trying to turn the power of Aikido into some kind of illusion, why are you training, when you are calling the end result of decades of training just an illusion?

To speak ill of anything is against the nature of Aikido
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Old 09-23-2006, 06:47 PM   #33
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I got a private message - one that perhaps made me think my point wasn't as clear as it should have been - that I did not make it as clearly as I should have. Just to keep things clear, let me share my reply here:

Hi,

Thanks for writing, for sharing. I hope this reply finds you and yours well and at peace.

To talk a bit more on my point...

Like I said, I do see lots of hour of practice in his technique - by which I mean "lots of skill." I hope that part came out enough. I wasn't at all trying to say that Endo was unskilled and/or that he could not throw for real or get a person that did not want to fall to fall, etc.

I think the difficult part in what I'm saying, for some, not meaning you, is that folks often only associate skill with what is "real." For such folks, the inverse assumption of "it's not real" ends up meaing the person is not skilled. For me, this is not the case. For example, for me Osensei's jo trick is an exaggeration of a certain princple/body mechanics - but this does not put the principle/body mechanics or Osensei's great level of cultivation concerning these things in the realm of "unskilled." In the case of Endo, I can say the technique is not real, is an exaggeration, and still see the skill underneath. This is what I was trying to say, and what I heard Mr. S trying to say as well.

In short, I very much imagine that Endo can throw folks, even folks that do not want to be thrown, etc., however, in that demonstration, he is definitely exaggerating and/or taking aiki tactics to a point of exaggeration - meaning, they are not being applied realistically. Therefore, sticking with my first example of the first Irimi Nage, if an uke, even an uke not in the video, feels compelled to run around Endo (as in that first Irimi Nage), then that uke is being compelled by the same training assumptions of exaggertion - because there is nothing in that architecture that would make a realistic attacker run around Endo (or any Nage) like that. For me then - FOR ME - a whole line of personal experiences can be placed back to back, with everyone saying, "He had me running around just like that when I didn't try to," and I would only see a whole bunch of folks that can't see their training assumptions for what they are and/or are not.

Again, this does not mean Endo is unskilled. In fact, I see no point in talking about that at all. Selfishly, I care more about how skilled or unskilled I am. For me then, what is more important, for a discussion like this, is not the skill of Endo, but how we as individuals or as a population can very well be blind to our own training assumptions. With this one being so common, I would like to see a whole bunch of folks in Aikido start asking of their sensei and/or their nage, "Hey, exactly why am I running around you like this?" Even if the answer is only, "Well, so we can work on this "x" principle," well, that would be good (as no training environment can ever be anything but artificial). For me, that answer is much better than the no-answer that is usually given and accepted in the silences of our training cultures. Let me make this small note here: Go down this lineage a bit, to a still relatively high ranking practitioner, now doing seminars and demonstrations all over the states and the world, and you get this one practitioner practitioner that said, "Uke falls in part because they get dizzy from having to have to run around you as nage." Geesh!

This might be where I am coming from only - with a past in Karate - where no one throwing a straigh strike ever does that run around/orbiting nage thingy, or from my own Aikido background where Chiba Sensei often spent a great deal of time straightening folks out on such strikes - not letting them run around him, or even lean toward him, for no reason. As Peter said, when Chiba Sensei has you running around him, you know he's MAKING you do it. The first time Chiba Sensei did Irimi Nage on me under a kenshusei paradigm, he put my inner knee right through my ribs and into my lungs and then into my chin. I suffered the rest of the throw only half-conscious and with the wind knocked out of me. He was going totally slow - me being a beginner. Real quick, you realize that when you tried to run around Sensei, when he had to stop you and straighten you out, you were trying to do that because you were afraid and thus anxiously trying to anticipate the kuzushi (rather than actually letting it happen). Meaning, in the training assumptions of my own culture, such behavior was not ideal but a mere reaction to a fear yet reconciled. This is how the issue remains for me. One should read what I say thusly, as someone with his own training assumptions - just like everyone else.

Thanks again for writing,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:33 PM   #34
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
Where did you stand on this issue—atheist or believer? And could you give us some more details on exactly what would the agnostics be saying about Yamaguchi's aikido?



R
I was an agnostic until I got to know Yamaguchi Sensei better. He regularly came to Hiroshima and I often took ukemi. Then I became a Believer.

As for my 'agnosticism', if you look at any of the video clips on the Aikido Journal site, you will see that Yamaguchi Sensei is Endo writ large. It was very elegant, required a cooperative uke, but was not the kind of aikido I had been used to in the US or UK.

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Old 09-24-2006, 12:16 AM   #35
Charles Hill
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Hi,

When I was at Honbu for four and a half years starting about ten years ago, I attended every Endo Shihan class I could and was fortunate to take ukemi from him a number of times. His main teaching seemed to be that once one learned the basic techniques, one should play with them, "research" as he called it. Unlike many of the other shihan, he did not overtly teach certain ways to take ukemi, but it became clear that he wanted uke and nage to really respond to what the other was doing, not just follow the "kata." There was a period where at the end of each class, he would come over and throw me for about five minutes. I always attempted to keep in constant motion, looking for openings. I would vary the speed and type of attack and Sensei easily moved with whatever I did.

I don't know Endo Shihan's feelings about demonstrations. My impression has been that the various Shihan either are not too fond of them but feel that they have to do them or else they view it as a chance to show (off?) what they can do. My guess is that Endo Shihan is in the first group, but I really don't know.

There was an interesting article in his dojo's newsletter written by a student of his who is a professor in a German university about six years ago that dealt with Szcepan's criticisms. The writer compared the usual style of aikido practice, what she called "aikido in collusion" with Endo Shihan's style, which she called "aikido in co-evolution."

In Collusion, both tori and uke move according to what is in their heads, ignoring what is physically happening at that moment. They are colluding in acting out a representation of a martial encounter, but the result is that they become stiff, they start the "kata" from a far too great distance, and any deviation is responded to by fear and anger (really the same thing.)

In Endo Shihan's co-evolution aikido, uke and tori start much closer to each other and all conditions are variable. Movement, attacks and even the tori/uke roles can change at any moment. As Jaime wrote above, the result is that both people become "heavier" what the writer describes as "gluey and permeable simultaneously. Atemi is extensively employed but in Endo Shihan's case is very light or at lease guaged on uke's ability to take a hit. (Unlike for ex. Yasuno Shihan who WILL hit you.)

Szcepan's criticisms are interesting for me as I feel that a number of the Shihan whom he admires are in the "collusion" category. As an example, their waza always look the same no matter the size or temperment of the attacker. Also many Shihan's uke will stop in the middle of an attack even if they are in a dangerous position, and wait for the teacher to "do" the technique. I have a video of one of these Shihan in which he loses connection with his uke, who stands up. The Shihan gives him a "look" (the look my mother often gave me when I messed up) and the uke put himself back into a precarious position so the Shihan could finish the technique!

Just one guy's opinion, but Endo Shihan is the best Aikido practitioner I have ever felt or seen. There are some interesting articles on his Saku Dojo's website. I highly recommend them.

Charles Hill
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Old 09-24-2006, 02:00 AM   #36
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I went to a lot of classes with Yasuno, Endo and Yamaguchi at hombu, and I have to say that none of them ever gave me any instruction at all (direct or implied) in how to take cooperate in taking a fall for them. All three of them encouraged me to grab hard and resist as much as I could.

Now, even Endo admits that he asked his ukes to cooperate with him when he first started working with the very soft stuff - but that doesn't mean that that stage lasts forever. You don't start out someone in baseball by tossing 100 mph fast balls at them - you toss them some easy ones and they work their way up - just like most things in life.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-24-2006, 07:04 AM   #37
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I think you need to keep in mind the purpose of the demonstration. If the purpose is for education, then the way the techniques are done will be different than in a dojo or real life situation. You will want to go slower and maybe stop or slow down even more to emphasize aspects of the technique.

Also keep in mind some of the people watching are very far away from the action in the upper seats not on the mat.
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Old 09-24-2006, 09:48 AM   #38
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Nice post Charles. Thanks.

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-24-2006, 11:03 AM   #39
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
Szcepan's criticisms are interesting for me as I feel that a number of the Shihan whom he admires are in the "collusion" category....I have a video of one of these Shihan in which he loses connection with his uke, who stands up. The Shihan gives him a "look" (the look my mother often gave me when I messed up) and the uke put himself back into a precarious position so the Shihan could finish the technique!
LOL!

I agree. Nice post.

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Old 09-24-2006, 02:41 PM   #40
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I am truly grateful for the contributions to this thread. It shows a large part of the full diversity of aikido. We have people posting here who have the experience and the right to their differing opinions through the dint of their hard labor, and they express those opinions thoughtfully and respectfully. Moving on...

This issue of collusion is a difficult one. I may catch some heat for this, but I'll go here anyway, because it is a worthwhile issue. Mr. S. used Shioda Sensei as a good example of someone who "surprised" his uke during demonstrations. I agree...but for me, surprising my uke during an aikido demonstration is not always a good thing...and sometimes leads simply to the appearance of brutality that some see when they see Shioda Sensei's demos. An occasional result of these surprises was a trip to a hospital with a concussion. Now there were several factors (from what I understand) that may have gone into this...Shioda Sensei was tiny and quite a bit older than many of his uke, so that may account for some leeway in application. His uke knew full well what his demos were...and they signed up anyway...so they "assumed any risk".

But to say that Shioda Sensei's demos were "real" vs Endo Sensei's demos being "unreal" (as David has noted) is really false. They portray some things in what may be a more real light if you accept a certain paradigm. In other words, no training or demonstration is real in the first place. They simply are based in different abstractions...and we as adherents simply value some abstractions over others. And this is normal and to be expected to a certain extent. After all...any demonstration is "showing a lie to the Emperor"...because (hopefully) at the end, everyone walks away. And in combat, that is a lie.

But in my opinion, to get to grasp the entirety of aikido, we need to expose ourselves to these differing abstractions. We need to peek behind the veils, strip away some of our assumptions, and try to expand our minds, because this opens us up to a whole new world of possibilities. And to my way of thinking, these possibilities are in fact the future of aikido. And what I see in Endo Sensei's demo is one example of reaching for some of those possibilities (even at the expense of some of the martial qualities David and Szcepan speak of).

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-24-2006, 08:32 PM   #41
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I am truly grateful for the contributions to this thread....
This kind of post being why my eye stops skimming upon finding "Tisdale" and begins reading.

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Old 09-24-2006, 10:03 PM   #42
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

If I may, working a bit off of what Charles has said... That stopping thingy - yes indeed, one should wonder exactly what is going on there. I put that very much in the same book as the running around thingy. One has to wonder about these things as one is using them to learn something - especially as one is using them to learn something. Sort of echoing Ron: If we just accept them for what they give us, or because they give us something, in time, these things will end up taking more than they ever could offer. I fear this is the case for many kinds of Aikido all over the world - my opinion. For example, sure, it's easy to say something like the following when it comes to the stopping thing: "Well, one is participating in a two man form, and each person has their role to learn - including uke," etc. However, all too often, the whole thing goes unquestioned, and as a result you tend to get two things that are quite risky to live with when it comes to training in an art like Aikido. First, you get a blanket rejection of training than involves continuous movement. This is risky because both spiritual and martial realities are about constant movement - i.e. constant change. For many reasons, for me, one can definitely consider there to be more falsehood in technical environments that start and stop than in those that seek to constantly keep moving (which is not to say that there are never problems with the latter). Second, you start accepting stopping points that have nothing to do with the original/accepted reason for allowing stopping. A good example of this is how Yokomen-uchi is often stopped in a clash just so Nage can clear that hand by and enter to the back of Uke (e.g. prior to Irimi Nage from Tenkan). As a member of the "stopping" lineage, I have to admit that finding the continuous movement, WITHOUT bringing in a whole mess of the usual baggage that usually goes with continuous movement training environments, as been a real goal of mine. I'm not sure that this lives up to Ron said, but I would like to think it's a start in that direction.

Nice post Ron.

Thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 09-24-2006, 10:09 PM   #43
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

The way I see it is that training is just that, training. And demos are to me training. Given that each person should have some specific technical points that they are training in every movement they make, then observing these technical points will be the training. If these points are neglected, then the training stops and becomes something else - but can perhaps in hindsight be used to improve training. Reinforcing and improving of technical points is needs be artificial, but that is what training means. It implies a set of technical criteria to adhere to, to evaluate against, and to reproduce. In that training is nothing but scientific. The major problem seems to be that the technical criteria are elusive - either not well explained and transmitted (purposely or otherwise), or replaced by non-technical criteria. In my opinion, if the technical criteria are known, then men and women can train together better (the degree of "violence" is in general limited more so than between different sizes of males), since the technically more adept person can almost always adapt to work at his or her limits by making their posture more difficult, for example, working from a more disadvantageous position, or by lowering further while still endeavouring to keep the same joined heaven-earth-man structure. In my experience, women need to be taught how to put more power into/out of their often quite good structure, while men need to be shown how to lay off the power and instead first learn more about how to obtain correct structure.

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Old 09-25-2006, 02:20 AM   #44
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
For what it's worth, when I came to Japan, Chiba Sensei gave me some advice on how to deal with training in the Hombu. Of course, he could not tell me not to train with any of the instructors on the roster, but he did recommend that I train especially with certain Hombu shihan. These shihans were Yamaguchi, Arikawa, Tada (and, of course, people from outside Tokyo like Shirata and Saito, whenever they were in the Hombu). I did.
MR GOLDSBURY:

I suppose that Chiba (along with the late shihans M Saito and S Arikawa) is a foremost exponent within the Aikikai of a hard, martial, non-collusive style of aikido. So I find it interesting that he would recommend to you a Hombu teacher whose style is so diammetrically opposed to his own. That he would recommend Arikawa, Shirata and Saito seems to be more in keeping with his own kind of waza. Did Chiba ever say to you if Yamaguchi ever had any influence on his own aikido?


R
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:05 PM   #45
dawolfie
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

My teacher learned under Yamaguichi and Endo. There is something there that is hard to explain. You really have to feel what is going on in the video. The Aikido is very different in concept than most schools.

I have only worked out with Endo in one seminar. Regardless of the uke's willingness to participate, the Aikido is very powerful. Why it is called soft, I have no idea. Grabbing Endo is like grabbing a train. I have had the pleasure of working out with many great teachers, Endo is by far the most interesting and powerful.
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Old 09-26-2006, 10:11 AM   #46
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

I agree about the soft comment Jody...some of the hardest throws I've taken were from 3rd, 5th, and 6th dans from that tradition. Ever get ahold of Nagao Sensei? Soft my @$$...

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-26-2006, 10:28 AM   #47
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
MR GOLDSBURY:

I suppose that Chiba (along with the late shihans M Saito and S Arikawa) is a foremost exponent within the Aikikai of a hard, martial, non-collusive style of aikido. So I find it interesting that he would recommend to you a Hombu teacher whose style is so diammetrically opposed to his own. That he would recommend Arikawa, Shirata and Saito seems to be more in keeping with his own kind of waza. Did Chiba ever say to you if Yamaguchi ever had any influence on his own aikido?


R
Well, I think that Yamaguchi Sensei in some sense was sui generis. I have heard Kisshomaru Doshu acknowledge him as a master technician and along with Tada and Arikawa he had his regular teaching slot at the Hombu, for decades. Chiba was young enough to have cut his teeth taking ukemi for Yamaguchi Sensei, as well as O Sensei and Kisshomaru Doshu.

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Old 09-26-2006, 11:30 AM   #48
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Breaking balance is done by anticipating uke. Have you seen any situation where uke was surprised? -- of course not. See, this is a key for observation. No surprise, so uke can anticipate in positive way, but also can make counter or simply block a technique. . No surprise, so nage can't break balance for real.
As someone who clearly prefers the "force of nature" style of Aikido I can see why you wouldn't like this. I am sorry but you are wrong about this. The surprise is defintely there when you deal with someone like Endo. It's not in the timing changes or some violent assault on the partner's structure, which is what you are used to. Endo, Yamaguchi, Takeda, Saotome Senseis all focused on "absorbing" the power of the attacker. You grab them and you feel nothing. Your balance breaks and you are not sure why, you can't figure out where your power went.

People think that power represents the expression of the martial side of Aikido. Having trained with some folks who come from older classical aiki backgrounds, I can tell you that the truth is exactly the opposite. They will set you up and dump you and you won't even feel it coming. I know I sound like a broken record on this, but since Mr Sczepan consistently maintains the opposite poistion on this, I think someone has to hold up this end.

This stuff was never about empty hand combat. These techniques were based on both people being armed. There is no point to wasteful expenditure of power trying to hurl people to the ground. In the martial stuff the idea was to drop the attacker virtually straight down so that one could access ones sword and finish the attacker. This would happen without you being aware of the setup so that you wouldn't execute a counter.

All this got changed in Aikido when the spirals got larger and the movements became very open and flowing. There were reasons for that but they had absolutely nothing to do with being more martial. Kuzushi isn't about throwing someone, although the technique might be a throw if one chooses. It's about placing the attacker in an off balance position in which you can strike him and he cannot respond. A throw is simply a strike you are choosing not to do.

Endo Sensei's interest is largely about how one uses the principles of aiki to absorb the attacker's energy at the instant of physical contact. He isn't interested in smashing people or torquing their joints. He is studying how to completely join with the attacker. I have taken ukemi from him and I can tell you that it's like grabbing air. I equal more than two of him in body mass and he moves me effortlessly.

This whole focus on getting to the point at which no one can throw you... what a lot of BS! Anyone can cut his outward energy flow and hunker down and get immoveable. Once you collapse your energy field like that, you might as well be a rock. I had a guy at camp do that to me... he was quite pleased that I "couldn't" move him. But why would I? The moment I felt him ground out, I slid behind him and had both my hands on his face with my fingers on his eyes. When you ground out and make yourself immoveable like that you are simply making yourself a non-moving target. If you are tense you cannot protect your suki (openings). That has nothing to do with good martial arts.

People with limited understanding think that the "hard stuff" is the martial stuff. It's really the soft stuff that has the "goods". If you understand the soft stuff, power comes easily and effortlessly.

I realize that no amount of talking about this will change Szepan's mind. There are plenty of folks he can train with who will fulfill his greatest desires to be smashed and torqued. It is clearly his nature to do things this way and he has found his teachers. But others should not fall into this trap of thinking that this stuff is the highest level of Aikido.

If anyone gets a chance to train with Endo Sensei, Takeda Sensei, Saotome Sensei, Gleason Sensei or any of the other decendents of the Yamaguchi influence, please do so. It will open your eyes (if you are open to it, anyway) to what is possible.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 09-26-2006 at 11:32 AM.

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Old 09-26-2006, 12:24 PM   #49
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Hi, I saw this thread and had no particular reaction, but until George Ledyard's post, I thought it was notable that the discussion didn't seem to get into individual values, aesthetics, definitions/conceptions e.g., of kuzushi, (of Sczepan's I could only guess at if I had any inclination). I had no idea what the sensibilities were behind the original post that seemed to pique so many people, but I did see that no one asked him why he thought what he did. (I get that such a line of questioning reflects my own interest.)
In any case, my own topic of study has been centered on not being felt by the opponent, and I am momentarily intrigued by what folks think when they don't have the opportunity to feel a practitioner who is apparently "making" the uke do goofy-looking things.
My battery is about to run out, so...
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Old 09-26-2006, 01:29 PM   #50
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Re: Video of Seichiro Endo Shihan

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
This whole focus on getting to the point at which no one can throw you... what a lot of BS! Anyone can cut his outward energy flow and hunker down and get immoveable. Once you collapse your energy field like that, you might as well be a rock. I had a guy at camp do that to me... he was quite pleased that I "couldn't" move him. But why would I? The moment I felt him ground out, I slid behind him and had both my hands on his face with my fingers on his eyes. When you ground out and make yourself immoveable like that you are simply making yourself a non-moving target. If you are tense you cannot protect your suki (openings). That has nothing to do with good martial arts.
George, this part of your post got me thinking (and it's only Tuesday, I hate thinking before at least Thursday..). I think I understand what you're saying here, but I'll just have to disagree to some extent. I know the kind of interaction you're talking about, I had a nearly identical thing happen to me at the first AikiExpo, as chance would have it, I was playing with some stuff that I'd learned from Takeda Sensei at the time. The guy just stood there arm outstretched as I moved in around him and began to massage his eyelids, "That's not moving me, " he said... Um, yeah ok. At the time I really felt that it spoke poorly of his training (and I still do to a lesser extent), that he would allow me (a complete stranger) to get into a position that made him so vulnerable rather than following the path to safety that I had presented for him. While I still feel that's partially true, I also now see that I was also failed. I did not control the situation. He had the option of simply not following what I was doing. Bad on me. Do I expect aikido to only work on those with a strong sense of self preservation? I would describe this encounter as satsujinken, a dead lifeless encounter with all of the trappings of martial art, but none of the true budo. So how does this relate to your quote?

I agree that being immovable at the expense of all else is not martial, not interesting and kind of stupid. BUT, I don't feel that it's fair to say that the goal of being un-throwable/immovable is not a martial value. I think there are a lot of judoka out there that would certainly disagree. Mifune Sensei was known for being undefeated in randori and nearly impossible to throw, and yet he was able to accomplish this with a spirit of katsujinken, of a living and vibrant martial spirit. I think that as we develop deeper understanging about how our techniques work, we should simultaneously learn how to make those very techniques harder and harder to be applied on us. That isn't to say that we should strive to make ourselves unthrowable in aikido at all times, that would be silly, but those same subtle/internal skills and movements that can accomplish a kokyunage that seems to come from nowhere and take no time can (and should in the right context) be used as uke to block a technique. This is entirely possible to be done in a very dynamic and martial way. I would also point out that this ability, to be unmoved, has a deep tradition within aikido, whether it be the unbendable arm, the 'jo trick' or the quiet structure that forms an ikkyo pin...
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