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Old 11-21-2006, 09:24 AM   #1
skinnymonkey
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Competition and testing your skills

Hello,

I've thought about this many times and I can't quite reconcile it in my brain. It seems that many stories I've seen about famous Aikidoda (like Tomiki or Gozo Shioda) start with martial artists not believing that Aikido is effective. At this point, O'sensei allows them to attack and promptly dumps them on their butts. After a few attempts, they seem to realize that Aikido can be used effectively and they begin their instruction.

Here is the problem. O'sensei is quoted as saying that competition is not good and is not in keeping with Aikido. Yet, many of his greatest students would NEVER have come into the fold without having been bested in a fight. I am concerned that Aikido is losing many potential students, because we seem to be afraid to step out and show what we can do (for fear of competing).

Here is the question. Can (or should) aikidoka show and test their abilities with others (MMA fighters, judoka, muay thai boxers)? It seems to me that as long as we approach it with the same mindset as O'sensei (we aren't interested in hurting you or beating you, but showing you how effective Aikido can be) we aren't really competing, but educating.

I'm trying not to convince myself of one opinion or the other, but I would love to hear some thoughts on this subject. It just seems to me that O'sensei did it, but with love and respect and humility. So why shouldn't we?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.

Jeff D.
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Old 11-21-2006, 12:25 PM   #2
crbateman
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I think you may be blurring the line between competition and demonstration. There is a difference between winning/losing and demonstrating (albeit with an uncooperative partner) that ones technique is martially effective. But it's all semantics, and perhaps the line will be forever blurred.

Tomiki and others thought that competition was good for Aikido. O'Sensei did not. Tohei thought (thinks) that ki is the foundation of Aikido, of life itself. Kisshomaru Doshu did not see it that way. It is differences such as these that form the basis for different "styles". It is pointless to lobby for which is better, as each practitioner must decide for himself... methinks.
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Old 11-21-2006, 12:44 PM   #3
Ian Starr
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

"Here is the question. Can (or should) aikidoka show and test their abilities with others (MMA fighters, judoka, muay thai boxers)?"

I think this is a personal choice. Is this something you are interested in doing? Why or why not? Who cares what other people have done in the past or whether your peers choose to do this or not? It's your training and your pursuit. I think the most important thing is to be honest about/understand your motivations, and the outcome of your decision(s).

My thoughts... Certainly wish you well in your endeavor(s).

Ian
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Old 11-21-2006, 01:15 PM   #4
skinnymonkey
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I see what you mean. So really, what I'm talking about would maybe fit into a "demo" category. But it would be a "demo" with a karate player or a judo player instead of a demo with a cooperative uke. But I haven't heard of anyone who seems to be willing to do demos with uncooperative uke or with people from other styles. Are there any dojos out there that do this kind of thing? If there are, what are their experiences?

Jeff D.
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Old 11-21-2006, 01:20 PM   #5
skinnymonkey
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I guess there would be two reasons to do this kind of thing (if one is being honest).

One would be to show others that the art is effective and worthwhile.

Two would be to prove the effectiveness to yourself. Sometimes when working with friends and partners who know what's coming I wonder how this might work in a real situation.

The only reason I bring it up (as I said originally) is that O'sensei seemed to have great success using this technique in winning over new pupils and I wondered what others thought about it!

Thanks for your responses.

Jeff D.
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Old 11-21-2006, 02:10 PM   #6
crbateman
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Thing is, anybody who is proficient enough to do such a thing to a prospective student without risk of injury probably doesn't need to attract students that way. We really can't have anybody with a black belt and a tatami whacking curious visitors all over the countryside, can we?

You are using O'Sensei as an example, when nobody else is O'Sensei. You are equating things he did 50 years ago to current times, and Japan to the Western culture, where everybody has a lawyer. Best way to attract new students is to dialog about the differences between Aikido and other arts, not the similarities. It is those that will impress people. And encourage visitors to watch a few classes. Those that are receptive to what is taught will take the plunge, and those that aren't will not, and that's probably for the best. Aikido is not for contentious muscleheads, and it's probably not good to market it to people who just want to kick butt. (This coming from a former contentious musclehead... I had to get older and wiser before I could understand the value of training joyfully.)
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Old 11-21-2006, 02:22 PM   #7
skinnymonkey
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Excellent points. Thanks for the insights.

Jeff D.
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Old 11-21-2006, 05:17 PM   #8
seank
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Heres something to consider, was O'Sensei's sentiment about competing with others or with ourselves?

I consider myself relatively accomplished as a martial artist outside of my experience with Aikido, but I don't like the idea of chest-beating to see who is the biggest and best nor do I like comparing my technique and style with others. That said I like to compete with myself to improve my outlook on life and my abilities.

In a competition scenario I would probably revert to Kyokushin or the likes; this is something I'm trying to shed so as to follow an ideal, and thankfully I must admit the more I study Aikido the less inclined to competition I am. We recently had a sports focus day where we had an booth setup where we could talk to people about Aikido; I found much as Clark has said to be true; those who were really interested wanted to talk about the differences, not the similarities and those who wanted to compete in a confrontational sense weren't really that interested.
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Old 11-21-2006, 06:52 PM   #9
Michael Varin
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Quote:
Jeff D. wrote:
So really, what I'm talking about would maybe fit into a "demo" category. But it would be a "demo" with a karate player or a judo player instead of a demo with a cooperative uke. But I haven't heard of anyone who seems to be willing to do demos with uncooperative uke or with people from other styles.
How do you envision these demonstrations? Will they be punch/grab me like this, or will they be try to beat me any way you choose? The results could be drastically different.

In the spirit of testing or developing your skills, what type of training is needed? Set forms with a cooperative partner (most aikido training), set forms with a resistive partner (like lifting weights), freestyle where partners have distinct roles (aikido randori), or freestyle where both partners have the same objective (judo randori, boxing)?

What qualities are cultivated from the different types of training? Where do the techniques of aikido fit in? What about aiki?

Michael
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Old 11-21-2006, 07:52 PM   #10
Ketsan
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I think one of the best ways of really getting to grips with Aikido is to go and do another art for a month, especially Judo.
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Old 11-21-2006, 08:08 PM   #11
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Wow, this is a nice thread. One thing I do is, I sparr with a fellow martial artist (karate) we use gloves and pads, and on certain falls or throws we don't fully comitt.

The responsibility of a "black belt" is control. Therefore I expect him to exercise control when kicking and punching, and I have to exercise control when doing koshinage and other techniques. But I think what you will find is that it will definately keep you on your toes, make sure you have good technique, and help develope timing, and distance. At the same time we are not competeing with each other, we have the mindset of exposing each others cracks. And therefore we are still cooperating, and not competing.

In all honesty....I think we have lost the true meaning of cooperating. Cooperating in my mind is giving me a very real scenario to work with, while not being animalistic and trying to kill me.

I was training with my sensei a week and a half ago, and he exposed a major crack for me.
While doing a technique he (as uke) reached down grabbed my lead leg and down I went. It was like doing Koshi nage from a mae geri only I didn't kick.

That to me was full cooperation.
So that's my 2 1/2 cents

Train hard
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Old 11-22-2006, 12:09 AM   #12
Mike Hamer
 
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Quote:
Jason Jordan wrote:

I was training with my sensei a week and a half ago, and he exposed a major crack for me.
While doing a technique he (as uke) reached down grabbed my lead leg and down I went. It was like doing Koshi nage from a mae geri only I didn't kick.

That to me was full cooperation.
So that's my 2 1/2 cents

Train hard
Hahahaha, I've had the same thing happen to me Jason. It was......enlightning.

To speak ill of anything is against the nature of Aikido
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Old 11-22-2006, 05:54 AM   #13
Amir Krause
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I have one minor comment to add:

It is not so easy to show superiority over another trained M.A.

To do that, you must be significantly better then they, regardless of the M.A. involved. And since, most Aikidoka tend to give up the initiative, they would need even larger technical superiority to succeed...

Amir
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Old 11-22-2006, 07:23 AM   #14
skinnymonkey
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I like what Jason had to say:
Quote:
In all honesty....I think we have lost the true meaning of cooperating. Cooperating in my mind is giving me a very real scenario to work with, while not being animalistic and trying to kill me.
That is part of what I'm talking about. But I also appreciate what Amir said:
Quote:
It is not so easy to show superiority over another trained M.A.
As I said, I'm not really trying to argue one point or another, I'm just curious to hear some opinions on the subject.

I haven't been studying Aikido for a terribly long time (around a year total) but I have also done kickboxing and some MMA as well and it was great fun. I did enjoy the "unexpected" element of working with MMA and kickboxing.

Also Amir, what did you mean that most Aikidoka
Quote:
give up the initiative,
? Could you explain that?

Again, thanks to all for your opinions.

Jeff D.
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Old 11-22-2006, 07:39 AM   #15
DonMagee
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

A lot of aikidoka believe in leading the attacker to 'a better place'. This means the they are being attacked. AKA they did not initiate the attack. Thus they lost the initiative.Initiative is a big factor in conflict, because sometimes all it takes is that one lucky punch to end the fight. Doesn't matter how well your trained.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 11-22-2006, 07:52 AM   #16
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

We do competitions all the time. If you want to see how it's done, come and train at any Shodokan dojo. We do both embu (kata) and randori (free play). Generally, we do some of both in each class.

For me, and most other Shodokan folks, it's a brillant training tool.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 11-22-2006, 07:55 AM   #17
mickeygelum
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

My schools offer instruction in Karate, Aikido and MMA...not everyone trains in all three, it is a matter of preference and what they believe is best for them...but, they are cognizant of the abilities of the others through simple exposure, this alone promotes cross-training...and for the few who train in all three aspects, they are far better martial artists.

Miku-san
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Old 11-22-2006, 08:01 AM   #18
skinnymonkey
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

I actually do train in Shodokan (or Tomiki) style and I do enjoy the randori aspect of it. However, there are a lot of limitations about what the attacker is allowed to do. No kicks... no wrestling, etc.

What do you think about competition outside of Aikido Randori?

Jeff D.
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Old 11-22-2006, 08:10 AM   #19
SeiserL
 
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Quote:
Jeff Davidson wrote:
Can (or should) aikidoka show and test their abilities with others (MMA fighters, judoka, muay thai boxers)?
Gotta go with Clark-san here.

I love cross training with other arts. IMHO, it has really improved the effectiveness of my Aikido.

I think training and competition are very different in intent and perhaps intensity. So, train on.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-22-2006, 09:31 AM   #20
RoyK
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Quote:
Jeff Davidson wrote:
Two would be to prove the effectiveness to yourself. Sometimes when working with friends and partners who know what's coming I wonder how this might work in a real situation.
I too am an Aikido newbie (a year and a half) but I had plenty of opportunities of training with non-cooperative partners, like new students who don't know what to expect or black belts who give me a hard time, or just hardarses who won't budge because they think they're better. When I get a technique working on one of them (especially if it's not the original technique i was gonna do), I think, "hey, it's actually working!".

At my level and experience of Aikido, that's all the challenge I need
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Old 11-22-2006, 09:36 AM   #21
Jaikido
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

The good thing about Aikido being non-competitive is that there are no rules. So if you are training and you see that someone will, for example, attempt to stab you with one hand, then when you deal with that he takes the knife to the other hand he and stabs you, you can ask and Sensei can show you how to avoid this, whereas in a competition Martial Art you might find that isn't a concern as changing hands would be an illegal move. Also the whole no losing thing.

The bad point of it being non-competitive is that you could do something wrong for your entire life and not realize. for example, if you were in competition and got constantly beat when you did a certain technique you would notice your vulnerability and eliminate it. Of course, there is winning and losing, whereas in Aikido everyone is a winner!

IMO I'd rather the former no competition as people don't fight fair on the streets. My Sensei often shows us the reality of moves, and how you would really perform a technique if you were being attacked.
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:04 AM   #22
crbateman
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Quote:
Jacob Lloyd wrote:
The bad point of it being non-competitive is that you could do something wrong for your entire life and not realize. for example, if you were in competition and got constantly beat when you did a certain technique you would notice your vulnerability and eliminate it.
There is a certain logic to this thinking, but you are asserting that losing is a good way to learn. Problem is, in many MA's losing may also result in unconsciousness, tooth loss, contusions, concussions, and any of a myriad of other unsavory side effects. There are, however, other alternatives. As for me, I'd rather learn through a well-timed comment from an instructor, rather than having the "lesson" administered by somebody intent on winning a contest through whatever means are allowed. Remember, I've been on both sides, and I've been walking much straighter and more upright since I learned to ask questions and listen to answers.
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:13 AM   #23
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

Quote:
Jeff Davidson wrote:
Can (or should) aikidoka show and test their abilities with others (MMA fighters, judoka, muay thai boxers)? It seems to me that as long as we approach it with the same mindset as O'sensei (we aren't interested in hurting you or beating you, but showing you how effective Aikido can be) we aren't really competing, but educating.
I've found that a good way to keep things light hearted is to ask them to teach you womething from their art as well. Acknowledging that aikido isn't the only effective martial art tends to help me lead the situation away from conflict.

"Okay, but you've gotta show me something cool too!"
Quote:
Jeff Davidson wrote:
It just seems to me that O'sensei did it, but with love and respect and humility. So why shouldn't we?
Love and respect and humility. Good stuff.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:57 AM   #24
Cyrijl
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

This is just ridiculous
Quote:
IMO I'd rather the former no competition as people don't fight fair on the streets. My Sensei often shows us the reality of moves, and how you would really perform a technique if you were being attacked.
But no more so than...
Quote:
Problem is, in many MA's losing may also result in unconsciousness, tooth loss, contusions, concussions, and any of a myriad of other unsavory side effects.
Out of the two times I have been seriously injured, one of them was while doing aikido. The whole mentality that 'we are super deadly' can lead to injuries, even while just practicing technique.

At any rate, the supposition that people do not fight fair on the streets bears no relation to your own ability to fend off an attack. Pretending to do a deadly move is still pretending. Whether or not you think competition is good is totally your choice. But please do not spew nonsense. If you are not training against resisting (I did not say or imply fighting) opponents, you will be unable to perform the technique under pressure and/or stress.

After all, if you go into it with an open mind and are honest about your intentions, most people are not going to try to kill you on the mat. Most people who I have sparred against have not tried to kill me. They let me try techniques without blasting me in the face. Perhaps it is the lack of competition which gives rise to the fear of many aikidoka. I don't know.

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Old 11-22-2006, 11:30 AM   #25
jason jordan
 
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Re: Competition and testing your skills

It takes time and much developement, to get to the different levels of practice. Oyo Henka, Shugyo, Takemusu Aiki...etc. etc. but the key thing when "training" with people of other arts is this, to first have the same mind of why we are training.
(If it is to show that aikido works, or is better or worse....then you have gotten into competition.) I train with people who are not aikidoka, because it is almost too easy to detect what an aikidoka is going to do! But other arts or artist brings on a whole different story.

I also train with others to see what they are doing and study how or what "aikido techniques" would be suitable.

For example... when most people do tsuki kotegaeshi it is almost always with one hand. But I find that with my karate friend that he has the strangest ability to use combinations...???? kick kick, right jab, left hook for eg. So training with him helps me to develope sensing the intentions of his movements.

So there are great benefits in training with others. Also I learned this from a BJJ guy.
Kokyu Dosa is a good practice. But when you have a guy trying to submitt you, and he is holding both of your hands or wrist "Ryote dori" the feeling you get from that comittment is far different then when someone is just trying to help you learn the movement. "It feels reall" LOL

Maybe practicing with others artist is not for everybody...But I sure like it. It helps me to learn and understand more. "And it keeps me honest"

Hey gotta go, love you all

Jjo
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