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Old 08-15-2001, 04:40 PM   #1
deepsoup
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
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Kamae vs. Shizentai

In another thread about 'real world' aikido, the point was made that you might not be 'on posture' when attacked, and that set me thinking about kamae and shizentai.

I've been training in shodokan aikido for a few years, and in shodokan we usually practice technique from shizentai (neutral, or natural posture), rather than being in kamae before uke attacks.

It seems to me that aikidoka in other styles usually assume kamae before uke attacks, which makes me wonder:
Do you find it difficult to adjust to initiating a technique without being 'on posture' first ? Is it necessary to practice technique from different postures to be able to apply it from different postures, or does that just come with practice regardless of how you start the techniques ?

I'm told that our (Shodokan) habit of being in shizentai rather than kamae comes from Tomiki sensei's philosophy of "mushin mugamae" (no mind, no posture).

However, many of the people teaching Tomiki style aikido in the UK, although affiliated to the JAA, aren't really influenced by Shodokan honbu, and I've noticed that some of them tend to practice (in randori and kata as well as practicing individual techniques) in a very formal looking kamae. That got me wondering what other 'non-shodokan' Tomiki-style aikidoka do ?

( When I say 'non-shodokan' Tomiki style, I suppose I'm really talking about the Jiyushinkai, which I've read a little about on-line. Are there other organisations whose aikido is inspired by Tomiki sensei, but not influenced by Shodokan honbu and the JAA ? )

Is there a poll in this?

When practicing aikido should your posture be:
a) shizentai
b) kamae
c) depends
d) doesn't matter

Or am I just talking out of my hat?

Sean
x
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Old 08-15-2001, 04:44 PM   #2
Nick
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I feel that if you yourself want to get into kamae while waiting for an attack, that's fine. What I find odd is that a spontaneous, free flowing art such as aikido uses different 'stances'... in a "real" situation, you won't have time to say "hold on! let me get into the right kamae real quick!"

Zanshin, grasshopper.

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 08-15-2001, 06:00 PM   #3
guest1234
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I always smile when I hear the words 'natural stance' since the posture it usually refers to in the user's mind is not what I consider natural. My pre-Aikido stance was closer to hamni than to the 'natural stance'; then my first sensei taught that hamni was the 'natural stance' forgotten through years of poor posture and bad habits. Taking my cue from that, and from two years of nightly training, I have to admit, I'm as likely to be in hamni outside the dojo as on the mat...
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Old 08-15-2001, 07:17 PM   #4
mj
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Hi again deepsoup.
I see your problem.
The main difference between Tomiki and other styles, Shodokan being Tomiki, is that Tomiki aikidoka learn aikido as a sport. What I mean is... you learn the moves and movement in the context of a sport.
The form used is, one person attacking the other with a knife to the centre of the chest, I think. In kamae, the chest is half protected, which is no good to Tomiki/Shodokan because you must present the target for it to be attacked, so you're original 'stance' is (yonho)Shizentai.

Other forms of aikido also present a target, sometimes, (as I'm sure you know, I'm not trying to give a sermon ) it's just that in Tomiki they have more concentration on the chest. So I suppose, in a way, Tomiki/Shodokan is harder, because the attack is mostly directed at your centre.
Of course, you have to remember that I'm a beginner, and this is only what I think.

When practicing aikido should your posture be:
a) shizentai
b) kamae
c) depends
d) doesn't matter
e) won't matter later on

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Old 08-15-2001, 07:37 PM   #5
Erik
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Re: Kamae vs. Shizentai

Good question!

Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup
Do you find it difficult to adjust to initiating a technique without being 'on posture' first?
I try to do this in my practice but interestingly when I went down and played with the Tomiki folks a few weeks back I somewhat struggled with it. I found myself wanting to move into different lines and angles than they did. Then the kata had specific foot placement in specific order in the kata and it about drove me nuts. Other than specific kihon practice, mostly with lower kyu levels I just don't worry about it like they seemed to. I guess the point is that while I thought I was working on non-patterning I had just as many as everyone else.

Spent that 2 hours feeling like a total klutz too. Guess that was kind of good though as it's quite humbling to have kyu ranks correcting you and I've been told that I could use a bit more humble in my life.

Quote:
Is it necessary to practice technique from different postures to be able to apply it from different postures, or does that just come with practice regardless of how you start the techniques?
I think it depends. I find people who are in very structured schools where it's done a certain way every time really struggle when something is non-normal as they define it. I've seen this up into medium dan levels (3rd and 4th) in some cases. So, either you have to practice non-normal things or you have to do a lot of jiu-waza/randori in my opinion to break out of the pattern. Really, I think you need an instructor who is constantly breaking your patterns or even the jiu waza/randori winds up falling into patterns that are not optimal. I guess I really think you need to work at it and from all kinds of different perspectives.

Last edited by Erik : 08-15-2001 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 08-15-2001, 08:30 PM   #6
PeterR
 
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Sorry Mark but you are way off the mark here and Sean (aka deepsoup) is pretty close to the money.

Quote:
Sean writes
I'm told that our (Shodokan) habit of being in shizentai rather than kamae comes from Tomiki sensei's philosophy of "mushin mugamae" (no mind, no posture).
This is it in a nutshell. A particular stance presupposes a particular attack, shizentai allows one maximum freedom of movement. Several senior Aikikai sensei and one senior Ki society sensei have told me that shizentai is considered advanced.

Quote:
Mark writes
The main difference between Tomiki and other styles, Shodokan being Tomiki, is that Tomiki aikidoka learn aikido as a sport. What I mean is... you learn the moves and movement in the context of a sport.
No we learn Aikido as Budo. Tanto randori is a training method as is shiai. Some enjoy it as sport but the final goal is effective Aikido.

Quote:
Mark writes
The form used is, one person attacking the other with a knife to the centre of the chest, I think. In kamae, the chest is half protected, which is no good to Tomiki/Shodokan because you must present the target for it to be attacked, so you're original 'stance' is (yonho) Shizentai.
This is just too weird. The goal of toshu (the guy without the knife) is to avoid getting tanto in the chest. This is done mainly by taisabaki which is easier from shizentai - presenting a target (unless there is a tactical advantage such as goading an overly cautious tanto) is the last thing on toshu's mind.

Toshu randori (no one has tanto) uses shizentai as does the approach to kata including those waza not allowed in randori.

Shizentai is used because it allows for the most flexible response to unpredictable situations.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-15-2001, 11:27 PM   #7
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Kamae vs. Shizentai

Quote:
Originally posted by deepsoup

I'm told that our (Shodokan) habit of being in shizentai rather than kamae comes from Tomiki sensei's philosophy of "mushin mugamae" (no mind, no posture).

...That got me wondering what other 'non-shodokan' Tomiki-style aikidoka do ?

( When I say 'non-shodokan' Tomiki style, I suppose I'm really talking about the Jiyushinkai, which I've read a little about on-line. Are there other organisations whose aikido is inspired by Tomiki sensei, but not influenced by Shodokan honbu and the JAA ? )
x
Hello Sean,

The basic posture in Jiyushinkai practice is shizen hon tai. The only variations are: migi (right) shizen tai and hidari (left) shizen tai. From these postures any movement necessary "fits" the situation and follows the KISS principle. The most biomechanically efficient movement from one point to another while dropping center at the appropriate time connecting with uke and taking their center/balance at the same time. This is all part of jibun no tsukuri (fitting yourself) and aite no tsukuri (fitting the opponent). Kuzushi and tsukuri happens at the same time.

Tomiki Sensei's idea of no "set" kamae (stance) and no mental plans or presumptions leaves the system as open as possible to taking in available information and making an intuitive, creative decision rather than a reactive action.

I think the Go Rin no Sho has similar passages in it.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 08-16-2001, 02:19 AM   #8
PeterR
 
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I always enjoy it when Chuck responds.

Quote:
originally posted by Erik
Then the kata had specific foot placement in specific order in the kata and it about drove me nuts. Other than specific kihon practice, mostly with lower kyu levels I just don't worry about it like they seemed to.
Not so strangely when I began visiting Aikikai dojos several uke would not attack until I had assumed a certain kamae or conversely, when I remembered wrong as uke were not able to deal with the attack. This is not a function of us guys being anal just different.

Once you get used to the pattern of movement (ie. beyond the initial kyu grades) it feels very natural.

Quote:
originally posted by Erik
I find people who are in very structured schools where it's done a certain way every time really struggle when something is non-normal as they define it. I've seen this up into medium dan levels (3rd and 4th) in some cases. So, either you have to practice non-normal things or you have to do a lot of jiu-waza/randori in my opinion to break out of the pattern.
I agree and that is why Shodokan balances kata with randori training. Conversely in schools which are much more unstructured you often get sloppy aikido.

Quote:
originally posted by Erik
I guess the point is that while I thought I was working on non-patterning I had just as many as everyone else. Spent that 2 hours feeling like a total klutz too. Guess that was kind of good though as it's quite humbling to have kyu ranks correcting you and I've been told that I could use a bit more humble in my life.
Hah! The two best reasons for visiting other dojos and other styles.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-16-2001, 07:20 PM   #9
deepsoup
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca I always smile when I hear the words 'natural stance' since the posture it usually refers to in the user's mind is not what I consider natural. My pre-Aikido stance was closer to hamni than to the 'natural stance'; then my first sensei taught that hamni was the 'natural stance'
I see what you mean about standing, its pretty rare to see someone waiting for a bus standing in a neat shizen-hon-tai posture isn't it - although when I refer to kamae I was also thinking of the position of the hands and arms (like playing a big 'invisible saxophone', sorry - I'm not sure how else to describe it )

As well as standing, I was also thinking about walking. Most people, when they walk, I think, are pretty much moving from right shizentai to left and back again, rather than doing anything like stepping ayumi-ashi in kamae, crossing from one side of centre to the other, with the arms and all that.

(I hope I haven't offended you if you naturally walk that way. )


Quote:
Originally posted by mj
In kamae, the chest is half protected, which is no good to Tomiki/Shodokan because you must present the target for it to be attacked, so you're original 'stance' is (yonho)Shizentai.
Unsurprisingly I agree entirely with what Peter said about this.

But I would add that the british 'non-shodokan' guys I was talking about tend to adopt a stylised kamae in tanto randori for just that reason (with the arms held up in front of the body ), precisely because it makes it harder for a less experienced tanto to score with a clean knife strike to the torso. (Mainly because the arms get in the way.)

Unfortunately, as they progress higher through the kyu-grades and into dan-grades, they begin to meet people who have no trouble penetrating their 'guard'. Then they discover it was a bad idea to limit their options for tai-sabaki in favour of such an 'un-aiki', blocking, kind of defence. And by then its such a deeply ingrained habit its very difficult to un-learn.

And of course that's just in the artificial environment of controlled (ie, with rules) tanto-randori: tanto can't score a point by striking toshu's hands or arms. (Although toshu will be penalised if he doesn't even attempt tai-sabaki.)

Outside of the dojo (or the shiaijo), however, trying to prevent a knife-strike by getting your arms in the way just doesn't have much future in it.

Quote:
When practicing aikido should your posture be:
<snip>
e) won't matter later on
Good point: I guess when Peter talks about aikidoka of other styles referring to practicing from shizentai as 'advanced', thats what is meant.

Many thanks for the interesting replies, particularly for Chuck Clark's contribution.

Sean
x
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Old 08-16-2001, 07:41 PM   #10
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by PeterR
Not so strangely when I began visiting Aikikai dojos several uke would not attack until I had assumed a certain kamae or conversely, when I remembered wrong as uke were not able to deal with the attack. This is not a function of us guys being anal just different.
Understood and I agree actually. I was thinking the other day about how many dojos/students wind up practicing the foot goes here, the hand here, doing it that way every time and missing the basics such as hips, extension etc... Tweak the attack a bit and who knows what's going to happen...probably nothing good.

One thing which I thought they did a nice job of was emphasizing the fundamentals. It brought me back to some things I'd gotten a bit sloppy with. While I'm really not interested in a steady diet, I think an occasional visit would be exceptional as a reminder/refresher course (meant in a very positive way). I certainly found it useful.

Quote:
I agree and that is why Shodokan balances kata with randori training. Conversely in schools which are much more unstructured you often get sloppy aikido.
The hours I could spend on this topic.

Last edited by Erik : 08-16-2001 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 08-16-2001, 11:47 PM   #11
PeterR
 
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Hi Erik

I notice from your profile that you are in the Bay area - if by Tomiki Dojo your mean the Berkley dojo of Sean Flynn you found a really good group.

Sean is exceptional and a friend. One of his members just got back from a year at Honbu and I trained with two other of his students who visited Japan while I am here. Next time you visit pass on my regards to the club - all the ones I have met (also at the US Nationals last year) are good people.

If they train like they do at Honbu I applaud your willingness to return. The drills and method can be quite disconcerting to most Aikikai people but once you get used to it the beauty of Tomiki's system get's to make itself felt. I would bet good money that my explorations of Aikikai dojos was far easier than what you went through.

The only real problem I had with Aikikai dojos are those silly back roles. Uggh - I hate them.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-17-2001, 01:03 AM   #12
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by PeterR
Hi Erik

I notice from your profile that you are in the Bay area - if by Tomiki Dojo your mean the Berkley dojo of Sean Flynn you found a really good group.
I didn't actually meet Sean, rather I caught a Warren P..... whose last name eludes me right this second. Seemed like good people. I'll pass along your regards the next time I visit.

Quote:
If they train like they do at Honbu I applaud your willingness to return. The drills and method can be quite disconcerting to most Aikikai people but once you get used to it the beauty of Tomiki's system get's to make itself felt. I would bet good money that my explorations of Aikikai dojos was far easier than what you went through.
Disconcerting is a very fair word. Virtually everything is done with just enough difference that to do it the Tomiki way became a constant adventure. From taking off the hakama, to the stretching routines, the kata expectations, etc... None of it was really exactly new, but at the same time, all of it was new in it's own way. I think you would win your bet in most Aikikai dojos.

Quote:
The only real problem I had with Aikikai dojos are those silly back roles. Uggh - I hate them.
I noticed that. You guys slap out. You know, not everyone rolls that way. I happen to roll but some folks don't. They do this kind of funky thing that I can't describe and come right back up to standing. It feels way weird to me but some people like it.

One thing I'm curious about. I'd like to see a competition or videos of Tomiki Aikido at fairly high ranks. My understanding is that to pull that off this year I'd have to fly to Japan which won't be happening. Any alternative suggestions?
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Old 08-17-2001, 02:46 AM   #13
PeterR
 
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Hi Erik;

Warren was the guy who spent the year at Honbu.

Tomiki developed a system of training he called Shodokan. It is not just a collection of kata sets but drills, exercises, kyu grade waza, the junanahon and variations and of course the Koryu no kata - all designed to develope a reasonable set of skill in a fairly short time. Of course there is a lifetime of learning but it really was geared to the university crowd - you have three years to get them hooked.


Warren was immersed in that, trained hard and from what I heard improved a lot. He now outranks Sean but make no mistake the latter is the main guy - he should have graded long ago. I would really try to meet Sean.

AikidoJounal sells a video. From what I hear Nariyama is not completely pleased with it but it should give you an idea.

a) there is better footage of Tomiki and Ohba - we have two old men going through the waza.

b) there are better examples of randori but hey my Aikibudo teacher was impressed.

c) ignore the lady doing the Koryu goshin no kata, its as bad as it looks.

We have a young Nariyama doing randori (at least I think its him) and he gives a demo at the end. There are also some good Embu performances by the students.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-17-2001, 03:59 AM   #14
PeterR
 
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Sean

Quote:
I see what you mean about standing, its pretty rare to see someone waiting for a bus standing in a neat shizen-hon-tai posture isn't it
Hah - having just returned from waiting for the subway I can tell you I was in perfect shizentai if you were looking just at the feet. My arms were crossed and I had a suitably bored look on my face but it was shizentai. OK so I'm a rare sort of (insert derogatory term here).
Quote:

As well as standing, I was also thinking about walking. Most people, when they walk, I think, are pretty much moving from right shizentai to left and back again.
You know this is really a very good point. I had never thought of it that way and will use the example in future.
Quote:
I guess when Peter talks about aikidoka of other styles referring to practicing from shizentai as 'advanced', thats what is meant.
Yes. The difference between a learning mode as opposed to a functional one.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-17-2001, 09:19 AM   #15
ronin_10562
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I don't know if you were inspited by Tomiki Sensei but in NGA we also train from a natural stance. The only time we have a particlar stance is when we employ the technique.

Walter Kopitov
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Old 09-02-2001, 06:39 PM   #16
DaveMorgan
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As a relative beginner to Aikido (2c years study) I find that 'stances' are not as important as you would believe. I trained in Shotokan Karate for five years, and there was pretty much a stance for everything. I also did a lot of free sparring against all-comers, and noticed that mostly, they had different stances to me for the same techniques, and that both of us would find that our tried-and-tested attacks and defences worked quite differently to the manner we would expect when fighting someone from our own styles. When I first arrived in my Aikido Dojo, I was forever changing my stances, until I finally began looking at Sensei properly (hint to all: this is a good thing to do) and noted that although the technique was the same every time, his footwork was always different - he reacted to the situation as it was, not as it had been taught to him. Therefore he kept himself safe. Stand however you want to stand - if you understand the underlying principles behind the technique (hard) then you will find your body reacts correctly without your brain getting in the way. This is as true outside the dojo as in it - practice randori as much as you can and you will feel the benefits.
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