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Old 10-17-2006, 08:38 AM   #1
Erick Mead
 
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Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

A discussion regarding Yoshinkan sytemization of training prompted a question that seemed to warrant a thread, so :
Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
The amount of diversity is amazing, in light of the systemization...and it's quite nice to have as well.
I have had a limited exposure to Yoshinkan. I did intermittent training on periodic (5-6) stints to Yokosuka over two years, about 11-12 years back. (I swear it was Parker Sensei teaching there at the time; I was never told his name, and was too much of a junior no-account visitor to ask, but how many high rank black yudansha were teaching Yoshinkan in Yokosuka at the time?) I wish I had been there more often or had more time to train there.

I have wondered how much this systemization affects the development of, or the concept of, takemusu aiki -- the more improvisational aspect of aiki technique.

My sense is that the aspect of system that is very prominent in Yoshinkan and to a lesser degree in other flavors, such as Iwama (in which I have trained more extensively), must deal with this in a somewhat different manner, than, say Saotome or Tohei's curriculum.

How is this aspect of aikido dealt with in more systematic approaches to teaching?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-20-2006, 08:11 AM   #2
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

The short answer is that to build the free flowing, spontanious nature of takemusu aiki, the more systematic approaches concentrate on building a firm base in the basics, and then over much time, build to the goal of takemusu aiki. Some specifics would be things like renzoku waza, where specific waza and patterns are chained together to form a cohesive whole. Something like;

shomenuchi ikkajo
shomenuchi nikkajo
shomenuchi sankajo
shomenuchi yonkajo
shomenuchi shihonage
shomenuchi Iriminage
shomenuch kotegaishi to pin

are performed over and over again, shite and uke switching roles after a complete set. These exercises / paired waza usualy start around 4th to 3rd kyu, and there are varying levels of complexity. Some even change roles (shite / uke) midway through the cycle.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-20-2006, 08:37 AM   #3
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Systematic methods are also quite effective at building the basic non-technical foundations that allow Takemusu Aiki to be possible. Often too much attention is placed on technique itself instead of what factors enable the individual to get into a position to execute sound, successful technique and also be able to adapt instantly and produce the right technique as determined by the situation.

It's sort of like developing a master key through the development of different core principles. Once you have the master key the nature of the lock is irrelevant, it will be opened.

Like Yoshinkan, our method also has a group of basic systematic drills (Kihon Kozo) that are designed to develop different aspects of aiki waza and ability separately from the practice of technique or kata itself. From the little Yoshinkan training I did I actually felt quite at home with the fundamental drills because most resembled the stuff we do at the start of class.

Of course one can do this without sysematic training, but the question becomes how long does it take, how do you gauge progress and how do you know you may not have missed something?

Just my 2 cents.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-20-2006 at 08:41 AM.

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Old 10-20-2006, 09:32 AM   #4
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

And the weakness that many styles share is that without some level of competition based testing, how do you KNOW that what you think works, does indeed work? Not of the competition mind frame myself, it's not so important to me personally, but I can understand why some would want to go further down that road. The nice thing is that even when there is no formal place for that kind of testing, informal get togethers can often be used for that sort of thing.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-20-2006, 09:55 AM   #5
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
And the weakness that many styles share is that without some level of competition based testing, how do you KNOW that what you think works, does indeed work? Not of the competition mind frame myself, it's not so important to me personally, but I can understand why some would want to go further down that road. The nice thing is that even when there is no formal place for that kind of testing, informal get togethers can often be used for that sort of thing.

Best,
Ron
Absolutely.

So far our dojo members have yet to compete in any tournaments but it does not mean that we can't use the competition style randori structure to get feedback as to how we are improving in certain areas of our training.

That structure can even be carefully and systematically expanded to include attacks and techniques that are not explicitly part of the competition rule set to get an even wider area of feedback, slowly removing the main blockage between competition and takemusu aiki, which is the limitation placed by contest rules.

LC

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Old 10-20-2006, 12:56 PM   #6
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Systematic methods are also quite effective at building the basic non-technical foundations that allow Takemusu Aiki to be possible. Often too much attention is placed on technique itself instead of what factors enable the individual to get into a position to execute sound, successful technique and also be able to adapt instantly and produce the right technique as determined by the situation.
I agree here on the latter. I disagree somwhat on the former, for reasons that will become clear below.

In a recent post quoting Takamura Sensei, he criticized the Japanese tendency to systematize to death, to the exclusion of a student's exploration of Aiki technique fmorre freely and more critically. An excerpt was give here: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...6&postcount=26
He contrasted the similarly traditonal, but far less used paradigm of "Shu Ha Ri" that provides fro this progressive independence in learning.

Any "system" follows some logical rule. Most of the systems I have seen, such as Yoshinkan, seem to follow a very linear idea of "system." But linear logic is not the only kind of rule there is and non-linear logic may in fact be more powerful a teaching tool than is generally given credit. This is no criticism of Yoshinkan in any way (I enjoyed my brief and intermittent pracitce in it, and saw a very good point to the very serious attention to posture, form and simultaneous movements. But this is a critical observation about the function of all linear systems of learning.

I think this is, in part, is the reason behind Takamura Sensei's observation Western versus Japoanese procilivites in training. Western minds are predisposed, whether culturally or otherwise, to be inherently more chaotic and non-linear in approach.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
It's sort of like developing a master key through the development of different core principles. Once you have the master key the nature of the lock is irrelevant, it will be opened. ... Of course one can do this without sysematic training, but the question becomes how long does it take, how do you gauge progress and how do you know you may not have missed something?
"Logic" is a funny thing. It proceeds from certain unquestioned asumptions. A common assumption is that progress and teaching need always to be linear. It need not be so. (It may be that it is inherently NOT so.)

For instance, there are two ways to "logically" (i.e. -- tell a computer to do it) draw a picture of a fern leaf.

One way is to build up, line by line, pixels from the bottom to the top until you have the complete picture of the fern leaf. This is a linear, cartesian, rational number process. It is a simple rule to define, mathematically, for any arbitrary shape you may choose to define.

The other way is to use a non-linear process that pixelates with (seeming) random pixels appearing scattered across the screeen, until suddenly the image of an entire fern leaf in schematic appears from the chaos. This rule for doing this is also, surprisingly, just as simple mathematically as the rule for the "linear scan" image. And perhaps more surprisingly, the rule defines the fern shape fudamentally, - i.e. -- you do not need any definitional data on how it is shaped, the rule itself generates the same essential fern shape, but never placing points in precisely the same order twice. That is to say, the fractal fern-shape is part of the fundamental fabric of reality.

See an example here: http://www.geocities.com/bmw328driver/JavaFern.htm

Also here ( Press the > "play" button try the fern; then try the tree:
http://www.heartofmath.com/first_edi...GameApplet.htm

This second form of "logic" is closer to how humans actually think, learn and recognize patterns. It is a far faster process for pattern recognition and development. Once the schematic can be seen, the rest of the structure can be readily filled in on an intuitive basis to any arbitrary level of detail.

I sense from my arc of training and sense of technique as it continues to expand, that aikido is a fractal form of knowledge like this. The chaos at the beginning can suddenly crystallize into a form that is intuitively obvious once it is seen, and the same essential form can be seen in variations everywhere.

Approaching the subject matter from a "linear scan" perspective (brick-building, if you will) can cause one to dismiss or ignore the random "noise" on the screen in areas above or outside the area of the "foundation" that one is so assiudously focussing on. The "foundation" is conventional -- it is not inherent (beyond basic ukemi and tai sabaki for personal safety). In fact every point of "noise" is also on the map of aikido and helps to define its total shape, and it treatment as irelevant "noise" is only defined by the focus of any given convention as to what is "foundation."

My concern is that overfocus on conventional linear "systems" for learning is actually slower, because considered in isolation, the "foundational" area of a chaotically perceived picture will still seem to be utter chaos, while the picture as a whole is taking very defintive shape.

Aikido technique, if it follows a fractal rule in a mathematical sense, should be the same essential "shape" that differs only in scale, orientation, repetition and degrees of extension and folding.

That sounds about right to me for aikido as I have learned it.

I try to teach with one constant in every class, either body movement, attack or technique, generally, and then vary from that either functionally, sequentially or by some other rubric in all other respects. Like a fractal image equation -- the next point in the series is determined by the input of the last output in the series. The next technique proceeds on some mutation or alteration of the thing that just preceded it. I did not plan this initially, but after trying to "plan" a linear approach it seem the more worakable and "logical" to me to organize teaching in each class in this manner (short of run-ups for specifically tested techniques for grading).

That means in every class we have one reference point in a defined region on the map of aikido, but the remaining points are being drawn in regions arbitrarily far away from that, but are not at all idle for the teaching and need to be pointed out and noticed by the student -- even though they are not the point of orientation for that class.

An individual technique is just a pixel or arbitrary set of pixels on the screen. Without explaining it to the students in precisely this way, I try to get them to pay more attention to the shape of things as a whole (even if that seems hopelessly scattershot at the moment) because I genuinely feel from practical experience (bouncing around from system to system, myself) that it will actually make far more sense as a whole sooner, even if a student does not have the detail down yet.

I would not depair of seeming chaos; it is far more powerful than we imagine.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-20-2006, 01:47 PM   #7
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Any "system" follows some logical rule. Most of the systems I have seen, such as Yoshinkan, seem to follow a very linear idea of "system."
This is very interesting since by your own admissions you have not spent much time under Yoshinkan training methods.

There was something very interesting in that article by Takamura:
Quote:
On the bad side, it can lead a student to dismiss a technique or concept as invalid just because he has not put in the time to learn it properly or delve into its secrets. Students that fall into this trap never master their basics. Later in their training you find gaping holes left by ignoring important lessons that the student chose not to pursue because he couldn't see the value in them.
From my experience in methods that have a systematic approach to training I'd say that the systematic aspect is designed to address the foundations and basics thoroughly to avoid the problem Takamura highlighted. The same trap that he alludes to above regarding gaping holes in the basics I have found to be extremely prevalent in those who practice entirely from a "chaotic" model for lack of a better word.

From my experience the systematic method is used primarily in the beginning stages to assist the student in understanding what defines Aiki waza and what governs the correct and effective execution of technique. Elements of tai sabaki, timing, kuzushi, body structures, ma ai, metsuke, kamae etc. are learnt and forged here and it defines the foundation of the Shu aspect of evolution. However in the systematic methods I have experienced, this way of training is just the beginning and is developed upon in randori training to evolve out of the rigid structure of the system towards a more spontaneous expression of one's Aikido. The good thing here is that these persons will execute spontaneous technique in randori (even with resistance) often without losing most of the fundamental elements that are prerequisites of effective and sound Aiki waza. The reason is because these elements have been systematically drilled into the mind/body of the individual in every class so they know precisely what is correct and what is incorrect movement even if/when they make a mistake.

In my experience the folks who utilize the chaotic pattern only are oftentimes those who can only execute the spontaneous waza on fully compliant uke, else the entire technical foundation goes to hell. The reason is often because the fundamentals are often cloaked within the practice of kata in the early stages so there is no demarcation between technique (kake) and the constituents required to make said technique effective in a spontaneous environment (tai sabaki, shisei, ma ai, kamae etc).

My personal belief is that too much of either approach has flaws. The best approach is found in a balance betwen the extremes. I think Ueshiba M. had a pretty chaotic approach to instruction from what I've read, i.e. there may have been no real logical process to what was being taught, he merely expressed himself based on how his spirit guided him. What made things easier for him however was that all of his students already had most if not all of the basics inherent in Japanese Budo covered, being Dan grades in other Budo before coming to study with him.

This thread reminds me of when Bruce Lee spoke about systems and how they limit the individual's expressive ability. The thing is however, I wonder how much of a work of martial spontaneity and expression Bruce Lee's Jeet Kun Do would have become without the solid foundation that came from his earlier systematic training in Wing Chun.

Just my thoughts.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-20-2006 at 01:51 PM.

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Old 10-20-2006, 01:56 PM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Nice post Larry, Thanks,
Ron

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Old 10-20-2006, 03:54 PM   #9
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Re: Takamura's criticism of "self-directed" learning by personal prefernce: What he is speaking of is very differnt from what I am talking about. Takamura Sensei is criticizing the "cafeteria" approach that results in too much pizza and sweets, and not enough fiber and veggies. I very much believe that training, like diet, must be directed by proper needs not prefernces. Like sound diet it must be directed early on for it to be effective and healthy over time. There are right ways and wrong ways to do anything that need critique and correction. I have had periods of long deployment where I had no option but to work thought self-directed means, but it was the discipline and adherence to form that kept it real, though it was only shadow-boxing.

I distinguish instead between linear and non-linear forms of organizing that teaching direction, not directed versus self-directed, or preference driven learning. "Moods are a thing for cattle and loveplay..." (probably the best line from Dune). .

Aikido has a certain shape, in my mind, The question is how best to sketch it for the student. Some of that depends on the student, some on the teacher, and some on the art itself.

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
This is very interesting since by your own admissions you have not spent much time under Yoshinkan training methods.
Which I freely admit, as my experience was hardly adequate to gain a sense of the arc of the curriculum. It was not meant as any kind of criticism, it is an approach that many valuable and respected instutions follow [preferentially, and some people learn better in such modes, without a doubt].

What struck me as admirable in the Yoshinkan training was its near-military precision, disciplinary correction and attention to detail and consistency of model form. No one should deem that any criticism -- I was a Navy pilot at the time. It is also exactly what I would expect from an art with such a high number of practitioners among the Japanese police ranks.

I trained far more extensively in an Iwama style dojo under an uchi deshi of Morihiro Saito. The attention to precision of technical form was at least as high. However the posture and manner of technique and the prgress of curriculum was more relaxed, as compared to Yoshinkan which was more -- "stiff" is the wrong word, and inappropriately negative -- let's say "taut," instead.

The prescribed forms of basic tai sabaki movement (such as tai no henko and others) were done in precisely the same order and manner in each Yoshinkan class that I attended. From what I have read, in addition, here and elsewhere, I gather the same degree of relative prescription in training methodology runs throughout the program. If my general perception in this regard is inaccurate, as opposed to merely less well-informed than your own, please correct me.

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The same trap that he alludes to above regarding gaping holes in the basics I have found to be extremely prevalent in those who practice entirely from a "chaotic" model for lack of a better word. .... However in the systematic methods I have experienced, this way of training is just the beginning and is developed upon in randori training to evolve out of the rigid structure of the system towards a more spontaneous expression of one's Aikido.
Takamura's point seems to be that the observance of specific detail for its own sake deprives the art of life, while the ignorance of fundamental form deprives it of useable structure. One approach may become rigid to the point of brittle failure, the other may become shapeless to the point of lacking any means of support.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
My personal belief is that too much of either approach has flaws.
No argument here. I was simply making the case for the demonstrable advantages of the other side of the coin -- Neither approach is without its respective disadvantages or vulnerabilities. Neither approach can be successfuly without developing a both discipline and sensitivity. Each approach suffers from its own particular vlunerability on each of those dimensions of performance.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The best approach is found in a balance betwen the extremes. I think Ueshiba M. had a pretty chaotic approach to instruction from what I've read, i.e. there may have been no real logical process to what was being taught, he merely expressed himself based on how his spirit guided him.
And yet here we all are...
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
What made things easier for him however was that all of his students already had most if not all of the basics inherent in Japanese Budo covered, being Dan grades in other Budo before coming to study with him.
The funny thing is that so many of them ultimately drew upon their particular, (and often divergent) earlier background in developing their own teaching further. It is in the second and third generations of teaching where aikido teaching is beginning to find a life of its own, less bound in the competing (and yes, feudal) traditions that remain in place in Japan, and have seen similar fractures casued in an art even as young as Aikido. That problem remains in the "politics" and partisan issues that too often make Westerners simply scratch their heads and then shake them in wonder. This, too, is part of what Takamura Sensei was speaking of, and part of what forums like Aikiweb help to obviate.

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
This thread reminds me of when Bruce Lee spoke about systems and how they limit the individual's expressive ability.
I am not interested in individual creativity. As I said above, my point is about directed learning, not self-directed or student centered "cafeteria" approaches. I teach -- they learn; conversely, when someone else teaches -- I learn what they have to teach me.

Creativity is an individual gift, wisdom is a collective inheritance. Aikido is physical and mental/spiritual wisdom. Neither, I nor any one else can just " make it up as we go along." We have to teach proper movement and technique.

We must be true to the shape of the art handed to us. We must teach the art as it is, but the art as it is --- is takemusu, a spontaneous culmination of the moment of contact.

It is as inappropriate to be sloppy as it is to be rigid. Both of these would be an unfair characterization of the respective differing approaches to teaching. The question for me is how to best to illustrate that fundamental form in a manner that I can teach and in which it can most easily and most effectively be seen and learned.

The spontaneous expression of that universal form in its circumstantial aspect is the ultimate goal.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:39 PM   #10
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Aikido has a certain shape, in my mind, The question is how best to sketch it for the student. Some of that depends on the student, some on the teacher, and some on the art itself.
Apologies. I thought the question was:
Quote:
I have wondered how much this systemization affects the development of, or the concept of, takemusu aiki -- the more improvisational aspect of aiki technique.

How is this aspect of aikido dealt with in more systematic approaches to teaching?
Quote:
The prescribed forms of basic tai sabaki movement (such as tai no henko and others) were done in precisely the same order and manner in each Yoshinkan class that I attended. From what I have read, in addition, here and elsewhere, I gather the same degree of relative prescription in training methodology runs throughout the program. If my general perception in this regard is inaccurate, as opposed to merely less well-informed than your own, please correct me.
I think it's not a matter of how much information but of perception of that info. As you said, this is not about Yoshinkan but an approach to training. From wht I have seen the approach may be regimented in areas but this in no way precludes the development of spontaneous manifestation of technique, since the non-linear methods are also included even if not readily evident.

Quote:
Neither, I nor any one else can just " make it up as we go along." We have to teach proper movement and technique.
This may apply to Aikido technique and philosophy itself, but maybe the teaching method, like the spontaneous application of Aiki itself, may need to adapt based on the situation presented. From my own teaching experience I've found that the best method of teaching, which uses communication as a medium to get its message across, is to present something in a manner that is understandable or at least identifiable to the other person or people involved in the exchange. The message (Aikido) should stay the same as what was given but the method of communicating its nature (teaching) should adapt to the environment imho. At least this may be one way to get the idea across without compromising the idea itself. I've found that my knowledge of other arts have been pivotal in being able to explain Aiki concepts to folks who have come from other martial backgrounds. This approach did not change what I taught but changed how it was packaged for the other to understand.

Quote:
We must be true to the shape of the art handed to us. We must teach the art as it is, but the art as it is --- is takemusu, a spontaneous culmination of the moment of contact.
Exactly. But the thing is you cannot "teach" takemusu, it is an experiential manifestation in a moment of time. What you can teach however are the tools that can help you experience takemusu and manifest it in one's own expression of Aiki.

Gambatte
LC

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Old 10-20-2006, 09:29 PM   #11
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
From wht I have seen the approach may be regimented in areas but this in no way precludes the development of spontaneous manifestation of technique, since the non-linear methods are also included even if not readily evident.
My point, I suppose, is that in my admittedly eclectic arc of learning, I have glimpsed it from time to time and more and more. I have little exposure to such relatively more regimented methods in aikido, although I have much exposure to other methods of regimented learning. I cannot perceive how that transcendence is to be accomplished in a reliable way given that background. The "chaotic" model, for lack of a better term, seems to culminate at the brink of that transcendence by its nature, whatever its other potential pitfalls along the path. The regimented model would seem to require some other measure of design or plan to accomplish that, also by its nature.

I guess that is really my question.

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The message (Aikido) should stay the same as what was given but the method of communicating its nature (teaching) should adapt to the environment imho. ... This approach did not change what I taught but changed how it was packaged for the other to understand. ... But the thing is you cannot "teach" takemusu, it is an experiential manifestation in a moment of time.
Agreed, agreed. and agreed.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
What you can teach however are the tools that can help you experience takemusu and manifest it in one's own expression of Aiki.
How close can one bring a student to that experience of spontaneity by a method that is itself the antithesis of spontaneity? I do not deny the power of paradox, but how is it employed, if it is indeed the means ?

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 10-20-2006, 10:23 PM   #12
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
The regimented model would seem to require some other measure of design or plan to accomplish that, also by its nature.
The other measure required is the unpredictability presented by chaos as presented in randori (often defined as "seizing chaos") type training, otherwise regimentation alone with no element of the unexpected can only bring more regimentation. This is the balance I referred to earlier. I don't think there are any systems who are solely regimented in their approach. If there are then they will be subject to the pitfalls you indicated and will never approach spontaneous expression.

The thing is though, even in styles that are known to utilize a non-regimented or systematic approach, the practice of cooperative kata alone does not train one to accomplish takemusu Aiki either, since the rote repetition of form, even in the form of cooperative waza does not train spontaneous ability. So in this light the juxtaposition and ultimate question is not about systematic methods vs the non-systematic ones, but about methods that include and utilizes chaotic elements as a teaching tool in contrast to methods that do not use chaos as a tool to train spontaneous expression.

LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-20-2006 at 10:26 PM.

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Old 10-20-2006, 10:46 PM   #13
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
How close can one bring a student to that experience of spontaneity by a method that is itself the antithesis of spontaneity? I do not deny the power of paradox, but how is it employed, if it is indeed the means ?
quite easily.

everyday, you breathe, you walk, you talk, it has all become effortless and basically subconscious. I would say all of this activity has become 'spontaneous'.

when you have practiced aikido exercises and yoshinkan drills to the point that they have become like walking and breathing, you will have reached 'spontaneous aikido'.
(also, it's not like they don't do randori and things like that as well.)

Drilling is useful in art, music, and all forms of sports and gymnastics. I can't imagine how it wouldn't benefit aikido as a foundation to the art.

also, as an aside:
are you a vegetarian? (i have a hunch)
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Old 10-23-2006, 08:17 AM   #14
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

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My point, I suppose, is that in my admittedly eclectic arc of learning, I have glimpsed it from time to time and more and more. I have little exposure to such relatively more regimented methods in aikido, although I have much exposure to other methods of regimented learning. I cannot perceive how that transcendence is to be accomplished in a reliable way given that background. The "chaotic" model, for lack of a better term, seems to culminate at the brink of that transcendence by its nature, whatever its other potential pitfalls along the path. The regimented model would seem to require some other measure of design or plan to accomplish that, also by its nature.

I guess that is really my question.
I think Wayne answered your question pretty well, and Larry seems to have spoken to it several times. Indeed, I attempted a brief answer myself earlier, referring to renzoku waza, and how chaining different waza together while requiring strict adherence to form is often used as a bridge to jiyu waza. These often start as simple 1, 2 3 types of forms, and then grow in complexity over time, eventually incorporating role changes in shite and uke to foster more spontenaity.

The practice of jiyu waza on that foundation then gives freedom to express the lessons learned in more rigid fashion. Pressure testing in the kyu and dan ranking environment helps to cement the lessons learned in formulaic training, and then when the testee is faced with unpredictable changes in the testing environment, measure how one does in maintaining the specific detail required, while reacting freely to an uncertain environment.

I found with my own training that while formulaic kata would pop out quite naturally with the first attack or two, I would usually then be stuck in the same waza for the next 8 throws or so. It was (and sometimes still is) difficult for me to 'unstick' what happened first from my body and mind. There can be no doubt that in my case the formulaic environment is sometimes difficult to 'overcome'...

And yet, because of that same training, when faced with sudden or trying circumstances, I have found that what pops out typically works very well. Go figure....

I should also mention that when I first started aikido in less formulaic styles, I had a VERY hard time figuring out what the instructor was doing...even to the point of knowing where to put my size 11 feet! Yoshinkan was the only realistic way forward for me. Now that I have a small clue as to where my feet go, I attempt to branch out from there. I think in more formulaic styles, it is even more important for the individual to realize at some point that a great deal of self exploration is required once one gets to the Dan level.

Best,
Ron (it always comes down to the individual...)

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 10-23-2006 at 08:24 AM.

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Old 10-23-2006, 11:00 AM   #15
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I think Wayne answered your question pretty well, and Larry seems to have spoken to it several times.
I get all of that, although I would not necessarily have put Ki Society into the regimented camp of teaching modality. Having zero experience in that style, I am quite prepared to be corrected, either way.

The point for me is about how to stage or manage training to transition from the kihon, however it is initally taught to experience the takemusu paradigm of applied aikido, which in truth ought not ultimately differ much among styles, to my mind, other than as to ephemeralities.
Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Indeed, I attempted a brief answer myself earlier, referring to renzoku waza, and how chaining different waza together while requiring strict adherence to form is often used as a bridge to jiyu waza. ... These often start as simple 1, 2 3 types of forms, and then grow in complexity over time, eventually incorporating role changes in shite and uke to foster more spontenaity.
What I don't get is how you go from the training regimen of A+B=C; D+ E= F to something like A+K = Q, much less A+ Y= %& which may be how a given encounter actually gets resolved, and may not be a defined sequence in the planned progression.

I fully believe that you get what you train for. I have sympathy with the "fully resistant" "practical" budo training crowd for this reason, because it is, in a sense, training in chaos for chaos. I disagree with them because of the the un-aiki nature of such training, and because I find it has less broadly applicable uses as the aiki approach.

There is actually very complex order in chaos, but the balance of those aspects of order and disorder and the nature of the relationship is not linear or as simple as a linear training program would suggest.

With all respect, saying that we simply do jiyu waza and randori to train those chaotic aspects, severs one training environment from the other, such that there is order, and there is chaos, but not fundamentally interleaving the two in a complex mix -- which is the reality of the thing.

As a point of departure, however, the "chaining" of defined techniques, whether as henka waza or as successive attacks in jiyu waza or randori is a point of conenction between us, I think. This is not so dissimilar, (although far more fixed in form -- huge surprise, huh? ) from the variational mode of teaching that I gleaned from my Iwama days.

Basically, it starts at a node of a given technique in fundamental kihon form, and then explores the branch points from that node , keeping one element always consistent throughout and then exploring portions of the variable space or branches along some line of progression, varying tai-sabaki movement or adaptation, timing, sequence, degree or direction of uke's resistance, etc. I try to make a point of describing the similarities of transition in seemingly different sequences that occur in each progression.

I have described it elsewhere as the "Anchor and Kite" model, lackgin any better name for it. Essentially, you anchor at a point on the landscape and then fly the kite in that context. Next class, move the anchor somewhere else and fly the kite from there. When testing creeps closer, we tend to orbit those elements and techniques relating the upcoming test.

The training then is directed toward body placement and connection to maximize sensitivity and opportunity for points of divergence that may created in the mutual movements, and specifically emphasizing the occurrence and flow of potential branch points as they present themselves in that dynamic.

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I found with my own training that while formulaic kata would pop out quite naturally with the first attack or two, I would usually then be stuck in the same waza for the next 8 throws or so. It was (and sometimes still is) difficult for me to 'unstick' what happened first from my body and mind. There can be no doubt that in my case the formulaic environment is sometimes difficult to 'overcome'... I think in more formulaic styles, it is even more important for the individual to realize at some point that a great deal of self exploration is required once one gets to the Dan level.

Best,
Ron (it always comes down to the individual...)
A lot of this is driven by learning styles, which are very individual -- although they vary categorically. For this reason diverstiy of approach is appropriately encouraged, and a reason I faind no fault with any given strategy for teaching, it s the management of the transition that puzzles me, because that model is NOT my learning style at all.

That "stuck on X-technique" was my actually my precise concern about the eventuality of the training model. One thing that got drummed into me about jiyu and randori in this way was the principle that -- if in doubt, connect somewhere and either irimi or tenkan -- if still in doubt -- repeat as needed.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 10-23-2006 at 11:14 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 10-23-2006, 11:25 AM   #16
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

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What I don't get is how you go from the training regimen of A+B=C; D+ E= F to something like A+K = Q, much less A+ Y= which may be how a given encounter actually gets resolved, and may not be a defined sequence in the planned progression.
Understandable, I suppose, if you stick with an equation sort of view in how you approach things. I guess in my mind at some point we leave the equations behind, simply because there is no time to consider such in a more realistic environment. By spending a lot of time rehersing the equations, when it comes time to move beyond them, the mind and body simply move...you don't consider what the ma ai is, or the power of the attack, or how many numbers there are...you move. And the movement is correct because you have rehersed correct movement many times in the past, with many different partners. Like the multiplication tables, you leave the equasions behind.

Quote:
With all respect, saying that we simply do jiyu waza and randori to train those aspects, severs one training environment from the other, such that there is order, and there is cahops, but not interleaving the two in a complex mixwhich is the reality of the thing.
Well, that is where the intermediate steps come into play...renzoku waza, randori (let's be frank, randori in most aikido dojo *is* an intermediate step...not nearly chaotic enough compared to reality). Even training in line fashion, where you use the same attack and the same waza against many different partners, one right after the other, constantly changing the amount of power needed, the ma ai, the strength of uke's connection...all of these things are indeed intermediate steps. While the movements and posture may seem regulated, the response still must fit the body and mind of uke at that moment. Even shite / uke training reinforces this when you 'kotite', and change partners.

Quote:
As a point of departure, however, the "chaining" of defeind techniques, whether as henka waza or as successive attacks in jiyu waza or randori is a point of conenction between us, I think. This is not so dissimilar, (although far more fixed in form -- huge surprise, huh? ) from the variational mode of teaching that I gleaned from my Iwama days.
Not surprising at all, really. I have trained in a fair number of places, trying to glean what I can from the different methodologies in place. I'd say that the one thing that I appreciated most from my training with the local AKI group, for instance, is *connection*, and connection to your partner's center. While this is taught in the yoshinkan, I had a hard time understanding and 'getting' the message. At the AKI group, they seem to concentrate on this aspect before many others, and it helped to jump start me in my search on improving this. In my opinion, having a solid base first helped me to focus on that without loosing everything else.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-23-2006, 11:31 AM   #17
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
That "stuck on X-technique" was my actually my precise concern about the eventuality of the training model. One thing that got drummed into me about jiyu and randori in this way was the principle that -- if in doubt, connect somewhere and either irimi or tenkan -- if still in doubt -- repeat as needed.
We are tripping over each other in posting too fast... Kind of like my randori sometimes! I think that is a common thing for nikkyu ikkyu level...and perhaps in some cases beyond. It's one reason we sometimes make people stop and start over again if they start repeating waza. 10 attacks, 10 different waza...if you work on it, it develops, like anything else.

Best,
Ron

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Old 10-23-2006, 02:25 PM   #18
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
There is actually very complex order in chaos,...
I agree totally that there is a complex order found in chaos, it's called rhythm and the study of randori (not just doing randori or jiyu waza by rote repetition but truly understanding what the concept means, studying it, reverse engineering it and developing its various elements) assists one in discerning the elements of that rhythm and understand how to control and master it. If one has the right teacher who points out the areas that need to be focussed on then the student learns how to detect the rhythm (sensitivity) of the self, the attacks and the attackers and become part of it (meeting/blending/harmonizing), creating the opportunity to ultimately change the rhythm to one that suits Tori/Nage (resolution). In this way the student is able to seize chaos (randori) and bring about order by becoming the calm centre of the chaos itself. Anything else causes collision and friction which only adds to the conflict and increases the level of chaos instead of controlling it.

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
With all respect, saying that we simply do jiyu waza and randori to train those chaotic aspects, severs one training environment from the other, such that there is order, and there is chaos, but not fundamentally interleaving the two in a complex mix -- which is the reality of the thing.
Well I think that at least one of M. Ueshiba's foremost students would not agree with the above. The Kata/Randor paradigm of training has been repeatedly proven to produce participants who are capable of adapting extremely well in chaos and manifesting spontaneous technique. There is an article on the Shodokan Honbu website here that you can read. Basically it describes how a movement away from the old thinking that kata and randori are separate things can assist one in developing the spontaneous manifestation of Aiki waza. This is achieved via a deep study of kata and its fundamental elements and the gradual transition towards fully chaotic randori by the use of intermediate methods (referred to as kakari geiko and hiki tate geiko) that bridge the gap between total order and total chaos. All waza excuted in randori come from training in kata and fundamentals. Randori is used as a tool to test the integrity of one's kata and knowledge of the fundamentals. If the waza is not sound it fails under the resistance and spontaneity of randori which means that the student must return to a deeper study of kata to find out where the flaw is that caused the failure. If the failure is not in the waza but in things like reaction, sensitivity, preparatory actions etc. then it is these ares that the student needs to study. Sometimes randori can prove that the kata has a critical flaw in which case after much research the kata may be changed to be of higher integrity and not fail in randori. In this way kata influences randori which influences kata.

Alluding to Ron's post what most Aikido dojo call randori we refer to as one of the 2 mentioned above, since true randori involves a partner who is allowed to practice absolute free will in response to anything that their partner does. It in fact removes the Tori/Uke relationship and returns things to the level of 2 individuals, neither of whom have a prescribed role or function (one element of chaos) and neither of whom are obliged to fall for their partner without doing their utmost to defeat him/her. That is randori, and among 2 similarly skilled persons it can be either a stalemate of very scrappy affair since there is no pre-arranged guarantee as to who will be the one left standing or who will be taking Ukemi at the end. It comes down purely to skill in every meaning of the word.

As a result, the only time the excecution of Aiki waza looks the way they do in demos, kata training or Ueshiba M. videos is when one person is extremely more advanced than his partner or there is an artificial harmony being maintained by the setting of rules to the practice of "randori".

Gambatte.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-23-2006 at 02:30 PM.

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Old 10-23-2006, 02:33 PM   #19
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Rulz?? we don need no stinkin Rulz....

Hi Larry, nice post again.

Best,
Ron (in another life I swear I'm coming back as a shodo thug!)

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Old 10-23-2006, 04:54 PM   #20
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
I agree totally that there is a complex order found in chaos, it's called rhythm and the study of randori (not just doing randori or jiyu waza by rote repetition but truly understanding what the concept means, studying it, reverse engineering it and developing its various elements) assists one in discerning the elements of that rhythm and understand how to control and master it. If one has the right teacher who points out the areas that need to be focussed on then the student learns how to detect the rhythm (sensitivity) of the self, the attacks and the attackers and become part of it (meeting/blending/harmonizing), creating the opportunity to ultimately change the rhythm to one that suits Tori/Nage (resolution).
I fundamentally think this is an irreconcilable debate, because the key distinciton have to do with types of comprehension and learning, that are deeepseated elements of personality. To carry the musical image further, it is like learning to music by reading it and playing, or by hearing it and playing. Good music can be had both ways, but not all musicians are equally equipped to learn in either mode as efficiently the other. And there is a distinctive difference in the resulting music even within in the same basic tradition (and even, in the same exact song).

For the record, I play and sing by ear. You?
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Well I think that at least one of M. Ueshiba's foremost students would not agree with the above.
I'll see your shihan and raise you two ... -- No, really. I think this discussion is fascinating because it is a fundamentally divergent beginning -- that can ultimately lead to a similar place.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The Kata/Randori paradigm of training has been repeatedly proven to produce participants who are capable of adapting extremely well in chaos and manifesting spontaneous technique.
I do not doubt the power of system to transmit knowledge consistently intact, but streamlining also is not without a price in leaving certain areas of the body of knowledge routinely unexplored. Takamura Sensei wisely comments on the opposing deficits that can flow from each approach.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
This is achieved via a deep study of kata and its fundamental elements and the gradual transition towards fully chaotic randori by the use of intermediate methods (referred to as kakari geiko and hiki tate geiko) that bridge the gap between total order and total chaos.
There is a reason that war and music have always been closely allied.

I am reminded of a comment by Alaisdair Fraser, a Scots fiddle player, (I think it was on the radio show "Thistle and Shamrock").

He first played a version of a tune that had been handed down through the best of the Scots fiddleplayers, from in the eighteenth century. It was a lovely, liltting orchestral-sounding reel, composed in the system of tonal harmony that was invented in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Then he played the same tune as it had been handed down through the Scotch-Irish Appalachian oral tradition. I beleive it was "Leather Breeches."

He commented on its characteristically wild, freely chromatic and atonal "dissonant harmonies unknown to civilized hearing" that "hadnae yet been rendered safe."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 10-24-2006, 04:44 AM   #21
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

I think this link says it better than I can - http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/generalv...#takumusu_aiki

The last line of the definition - "Once one has internalized the kihon, it is possible to generate a virtually infinite variety of new aikido techniques in accordance with novel conditions." - identifies the basis of the kata/randori approach to training. Regardless of what method one uses whether circular or linear or a bit of both, without kihon there can be no spontaneous manifestation.

The original question as far as I saw it was "How is this aspect of aikido dealt with in more systematic approaches to teaching?." Imho it has been well answered by a few people from at least 2 systematic approaches as far as I am aware.

Gambatte.
LC

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Old 10-24-2006, 07:13 AM   #22
ian
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Sensei Henry Kono opened my eyes to the integratedness of all aikido techniques. His teaching tends to be directed towards learning the principles with just a few techniques, then seeing how these same principles are applied to all techniques. Indeed, a new student with only 3 lessons experience did a series of techniques, in a slow randori session, that I've never shown him (ikkyo, irim-nage, kokyu-nage, tenchi-nage etc) just by following the principles we had been practising. I was amazed, but it made me realise that learning the principles through the techniques is the most important thing. I tend myself, therefore, to teach fewer techniques from more diverse body movements. I think too many techniques or too few techniques is less important than the students understanding the link between all techniques and the fundamental simplicity of aikido.

Ian

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Old 10-24-2006, 08:57 AM   #23
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
I think this link says it better than I can - http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/generalv...#takumusu_aiki
I agree. For reference sake, I will insert the whole quote of the definition of "takemusu aiki" :
Quote:
Quote:
AikiWiki wrote:
A "slogan" of the founder's meaning "infinitely generative martial art of aiki." Thus, a synonym for aikido. The scope of aikido is not limited only to the standard, named techniques one studies regularly in practice. Rather, these standard techniques serve as repositories of more fundamental principles (kihon). Once one has internalized the kihon, it is possible to generate a virtually infinite variety of new aikido techniques in accordance with novel conditions.
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The last line of the definition - "Once one has internalized the kihon, ...."- identifies the basis of the kata/randori approach to training. Regardless of what method one uses whether circular or linear or a bit of both, without kihon there can be no spontaneous manifestation.
I do not take the meaning of kihon, generally, or in this stated definition to be "these standard techniques," in the sense of kata, but rather the "fundamental principles" 基本 "kihon" (基 "fundamentals/foundation", 本 "true/real") of which "these standard techniques" are one convenient schematic.

I do not take the difference to be linear v. circular, but nonlinear in a mathematical sense. It is a differnce between a variational paradgim and a prescriptive paradigm of training.

The fundamental principles should be demonstrable in any given setting, and the number of variant illustrations would seem to lead to a broader and deeper grasp of those principles, in ways are that are less context-specific. From this perspective there is no "transition" as the process is essentially a continuum. Hence my puzzlement and the question at the approach where there is a recognized distinction and a notable transition.

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The original question as far as I saw it was "How is this aspect of aikido dealt with in more systematic approaches to teaching?." Imho it has been well answered by a few people from at least 2 systematic approaches as far as I am aware.
Those who do not or have not had your experience it is more difficult to frame an image of how the transition occurs. You may have said what you see, and you seem to agree well enough between you. Remember, though, I am on the other side of the mountain from you, and while I can hear you, perhaps, I cannot see what you see, necessarily, or at least I am not in a position to see it as you do.

I once tried to explain baseball to a bunch of Frenchmen -- in French. Quite entertaining, but not terribly educaitonal, I am afraid. I suffered about the same experience in reverse when my Canadian uncle first attempted to explain cricket to me. He was saying things like "silly off leg stump" creating images of a crowd of inebriated amputees (to which my Australian Navy buddy, when I related this experience to him, commented that was probably not far off the mark either.)

I tend to guage whether a student has grasped the "fundamental principle" being taught in a class from seeing whether he can adapt that principle in context to differing variable factors, hence the methodology I have described. It is systematic or controlled in one sense, but by no means a prescribed progression of training.

The variational approach to training in the first instance, although actually done quite widely, seems never to have been rigorously articulated as such, except in his own way by Saito, and perhaps some others, such as Saotome, or Abe Sensei, from a different perspective.

This was one aspect of O-Sensei's training that was revealed in many ways ony through criticism of it. Nevertheless that critical observation tells us key things. O-Sensei would hardly ever repeat a technique the same way twice. When specifically asked to repeat a movement, he would often perform a second, startlingly different movement to the same attack and declare that it was the same as the first, implying that any differences were the result of uke doing something a just bit differently.

Morihiro's Saito's training paradigm he promoted from his own sense of O-Sensei's teaching methodology. He described four levels of technique, roughly: static, flexible, flowing, and finally, takemusu or spontaneous. These are variations on the dynamism of performance. But thre aother dimensions of variuaiton that can also be explored, and which many instructors do explore.

While Saito's curriculum focussed on that aspect of dynamic variation, my training in Saotome's lineage, where I both began and have ended up encouraged me to explore variations along many dimensions as a means to define fundamental principles in the first instance.

The variational method seems to have been O-Sensei's paradigm, but clearly not one favored by those of much more conventional Japanese backgrounds, notably Koichi Tohei, Kenji Tomiki and Gozo Shioda. One cannot honestly say of O-Sensei that he was much of a conformist in his life.

As senior students, they became quite critical of this aspect of his teaching as an unacceptable departure from accepted norms (which, quite frankly, it was in a Japanese context). Hence, they adapted his teaching to their understanding of prevailing norms of training, or in the case of Tohei by focussing on certain aspects that he saw as predominant factors. Some, such as Saito, who notably, very much preferred to remain in a provincial setting, thus staying apart from the prevailing ideas of the big city, did their best to emulate the Founder's methods as they saw them.

The reason for my question is straightforward. Those normative systems developed particularly by Tomiki and Shioda have articulated their sense of training by devising some degree of prescribed progression. The same has not really been done (or at least I have not seen it) in any "systematic" way to describe the variational or "chaotic" approach.

To do so would require, not a prescribed progression of techniques, but a rubric for selecting root and branch patterns for each iteration of training. A rubric, while not prescriptive as to the variations for each stage of trainiing or class, would be a guage to see if a relatively complete coverage of concepts was adequately achieved over some period of time. This would give a consistent means to answer Takamura Sensie's valid criticism of the potential deficits of this approach, if done poorly.

The treatment of the "transition" is an important issue from your perspective, while the assurance that key concepts are not overlooked is an important one from mine. I like to learn from others how related problems are treated, since they may have related solutions. I see them as related teaching methodolgy problems.

Both are concerned with achieving a holistic whole at the end, and both have potential gaps that must be dealt with. On the one hand your approach has a substantial and somewhat continuous gap that must be filled in to move over from defined form to spontanaeity. The variational approach has many potentially smaller, scattered and discontinuous gaps that also need to be assured of "filling in."

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:34 AM   #24
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

I think if you want a different answer from me (different from what I've already given) you are going to have to simplify your language. I'm just not getting what you are getting at...

Best,
Ron (I have gotten mentally slower in my middle age, but I'm not THAT much slower...)

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:34 AM   #25
Budd
 
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Re: Takemusu Aiki in Systematic Teaching?

While the mental stimulation of the ongoing discussions is interesting, I think the development towards 'Takemusu Aiki' boils down to several salient points:

1) Do you begin with a basic set of movements that teach the core body skills (using the music analogy, regardless of playing by ear or reading music, you have to, at some fundamental level, understand notes, tempo, chords, keys, etc.)?

2) Does the training methodology contain an emphasis on the form (to maintain and reinforce the body skill development through the execution of the 'basics') and the function (pressure testing in live/resisting/sparring/insert phrase - NOTE, not necessarily "competitive/sport", but not necessarily excluding them, either - environments) to further develop both the body skills and the ability to use them in changing paradigms?

3) Is the instructor able to reproduce their skills in their students? Is one of the goals for training to develop students that equal or surpass the instructor? It's sort of a clumsy, roundabout way of asking if the instructor is teaching you with a goal towards transmitting the art in a way that you will be able to transmit it someday yourself?

Another example, if we're looking at training in 'the arts'. I spent several years as a 'theatre person' acting/directing/stage managing. Strictly from the perspective of teaching a person the 'art' of acting, there were several different types of acting, from straight plays, Shakespeare, musicals, tv/film, etc. Each required different the perfection of slightly different skillsets, yet all stemmed from the basic ability to comfortably move within one's own body to manifest the required character/role. I imagine the same philosophy could be applied to any number of physical endeavors (from dance to painting)

It's also interesting that while there are also a number of approaches towards developing these skills (in this case, acting), from Method/Stanislavsky technique to Restoration period approaches, Robin Williams, who was exposed to most of them while at Julliard's Drama school, is quoted as saying that the first thing he did after graduation was "forget everything he learned" and took up as a mime (while I enjoy a lot of his work, I'm sure some may wish that he'd stayed that way).

YMMV
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