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Old 11-23-2006, 07:35 PM   #1
Dom_Shodan
Dojo: Renbu Dojo / Melbourne
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Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Hi all,
I recently read and article in Blitz martial arts magazine by, as I recall, a 5th Dan student of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, and is now an instructor. It was a very interesting article which brings up some very interesting points. His comparison was of Modern Aikido to past Aikido believing that many styles today are "too soft" and that the soft "Dancing" styles should merely be called arts rather than martial arts as they have no solid martial technique. Abbe Sensei was a famous Judo champion in Japan, so comptetativeness and hard training is already a background for him, but the style of Aikido that Abbe studied was Early Aikido. This style was hard, fast, and in some ways aggressive when compared to modern day Aikido.

I study Iwama Ryu Aikido. This style of Aikido was taught by Morihiro Saito Sensei. The style of training and general style of this Aikido is somewhat different to Abbe Sensei's. This is because Saito Sensei trained with O'Sensei in his later years when O'Sensei had reformed and evolved his training and application of techniques with softer applications, less effort to apply techniques and more harmony. Abbe Sensei trained in the founders early years. Which brings me to my question, does anybody believe that modern day Aikido is TOO soft. Should we adjust the way we train to reflect the early days when people believed hard, is effective. Modern Aikido or Early Aikido?

Thanks for your thoughts guys!

Dom!
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:25 PM   #2
Mark Uttech
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

The way of aikido taught today is not too soft at all; realism has a way of creeping into our thoughts.The constancy of practice is what is missing today. I learned early on, that to question effectiveness is to kill effectiveness. Curiosity is a good thing to have. Having a constant, regular practice is even better. These are my reflections.

In gassho,

Mark
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:28 PM   #3
Dom_Shodan
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

I agree. Belief in your training is a must. I also dont believe you have to be phyically injured in order to have quality or effectiveness in your daily training!

thanks for your feedback Mark!
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Old 11-23-2006, 09:04 PM   #4
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

In heroic times, aikido was elitist practice. Deshi of O sensei were all experienced fighters. It is not surprising that their Everyday practice was serious, vigorous and full of martial spirit.

Today, aikido is democratic activity. It means, beginners have no fighting experience, are physically underdeveloped, and have very weak spirit. You can't simply apply the same training method from early days. So the instructors allow slowing down and making a lot of compromises in order to help students to pass first difficult few years.

Unfortunately they never again rise up level of difficulty of training. In the end, only very few students will develop really sophisticated aikido.

Nagababa

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Old 11-23-2006, 09:40 PM   #5
xuzen
 
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
In heroic times, aikido was elitist practice. Deshi of O sensei were all experienced fighters. It is not surprising that their Everyday practice was serious, vigorous and full of martial spirit.

Today, aikido is democratic activity. It means, beginners have no fighting experience, are physically underdeveloped, and have very weak spirit. You can't simply apply the same training method from early days. So the instructors allow slowing down and making a lot of compromises in order to help students to pass first difficult few years.

Unfortunately they never again rise up level of difficulty of training. In the end, only very few students will develop really sophisticated aikido.
Which brings us back to the idea that, aikido alone will take just too long to make a competent fighter and there are no guarantees. Having a background in some more alive system like Judo will accelerate the competency.

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 11-23-2006, 10:49 PM   #6
DonMagee
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Just having an understanding of how your body works and being in good physical shape will help accelerate competency. That is why I feel it is so important for teens to take up wrestling or judo.

I do feel key elements of good training have been removed from many arts, aikido included to make it more palatable to the masses. I really do not believe that martial arts are for everyone, even though that was the goal of kano and O sensei when they developed their arts. Because elements of sparing and open drills have been removed from many arts, these arts have suffered in developing competent martial artists. Sure they look good on the mat, but when put to task many would fall apart. The saving grace seems to be people who had an athletic upbringing, and kept themselves in shape as adults. These people are naturally gifted to physical movement and can turn theory into reality much more consistently. I really think that most aikidoka who had no training prior to taking up aikido (and are not tomiki guys) would probably have trouble leveraging their art against someone trying to stop them.

That said, I do not think it is that important. As long as people are honest about their abilities and honest with themselves about why the train, then I am glad what they are doing makes them happy and gives them some physical activity. It is when people start to make claims that makes me defensive.

In terms of hard or soft technique. I do not really think it matters. There is a time for both. It is how hard the technique is that makes it effective. It is how it is trained. I've played with judo guys that were all muscle that beat me up and down the mat. I played with judo guys that were like gripping nothing that lead me to my doom. Both were equally effective because they both trained the same way. Had they not used those training methods, I do not think either would of been nearly as effective. So I do not think looking at hard vs soft is really the way to look at it. Look at your training methods, see how you can improve them.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 11-23-2006, 11:02 PM   #7
Dom_Shodan
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

That is a very good point. I suppose that my level of competency has developed all my life as my parents were high levels in karate, my uncle was 3rd Dan in Taekwondo and as a reslut I have trained in these martial arts prior to my beginning of Aikido. And I agree that looking at it in terms of hard and soft training is irrelevant when developing yourself. I suppose it comes back to the old phrase that we are all trying to get to the top of the mountain, were just taking different paths!

Thanks Guys!
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Old 11-23-2006, 11:03 PM   #8
Chris Li
 
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
In heroic times, aikido was elitist practice. Deshi of O sensei were all experienced fighters. It is not surprising that their Everyday practice was serious, vigorous and full of martial spirit.
Some of them were experienced, but a lot of them were just kids - Gozo Shioda himself was just a kid with a little bit of Judo under his belt when he started, I see more experienced people walk into the dojo all the time. Yonekawa and Kamada, who were both prominent at the Kobukan, started very young with very little experience. Also, you had a lot of Omoto-kyo believers come into the mix, who were not necessarily "experienced fighters".

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-24-2006, 05:51 AM   #9
Ian Upstone
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Some of them were experienced, but a lot of them were just kids - Gozo Shioda himself was just a kid with a little bit of Judo under his belt when he started, I see more experienced people walk into the dojo all the time. Yonekawa and Kamada, who were both prominent at the Kobukan, started very young with very little experience. Also, you had a lot of Omoto-kyo believers come into the mix, who were not necessarily "experienced fighters".

Best,

Chris
I believe Shioda was a sandan in judo when he met Ueshiba. He may have been young, but I would say that would be more than 'a little bit' of experience.

With regard to the hard and soft aspect of practice, I think it's important as to what aspect is practiced in these ways, rather than a blanket 'soft' or 'hard' dichotomy. There's nothing wrong with rigorous training and I think that people people need to use strength initially when learning anyway - even if only to learn that they don't need it for practice. The only thing I'm not a fan of, is folk claiming what they are doing is hard, just because they are smashing a compliant uke into the mat.
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Old 11-24-2006, 06:13 AM   #10
Aikilove
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Ian Upstone wrote:
I believe Shioda was a sandan in judo when he met Ueshiba. He may have been young, but I would say that would be more than 'a little bit' of experience.
Yes, perhaps, but he was still quite young and he said himself that judo probably hindered the effectiveness of his aikido. He compared Yonekawa and Yukawa. One was beaten because he would resort to his old judo reflexes. The other "won" with a shihonage since he (according to Shioda) had only been training for Ueshiba and infact "...had only been training shihonage...".
Quote:
With regard to the hard and soft aspect of practice, I think it's important as to what aspect is practiced in these ways, rather than a blanket 'soft' or 'hard' dichotomy. There's nothing wrong with rigorous training and I think that people people need to use strength initially when learning anyway - even if only to learn that they don't need it for practice. The only thing I'm not a fan of, is folk claiming what they are doing is hard, just because they are smashing a compliant uke into the mat.
Well said.
I would go so far as to say that most people today trains 2-3 times a week. As uchideshi you train constantly! That's the major different. Not "hard" or "soft".
I honestly think that unless you put your 12-16 hours or more per week at least the first years, the chance that you will be an "effective" aikidoka is quite small. Note, there are exceptions...

/J

Last edited by Aikilove : 11-24-2006 at 06:18 AM.

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Old 11-24-2006, 08:41 AM   #11
Mark Freeman
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Dominic Prokop wrote:
Hi all,
I recently read and article in Blitz martial arts magazine by, as I recall, a 5th Dan student of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, and is now an instructor. It was a very interesting article which brings up some very interesting points. His comparison was of Modern Aikido to past Aikido believing that many styles today are "too soft" and that the soft "Dancing" styles should merely be called arts rather than martial arts as they have no solid martial technique. Abbe Sensei was a famous Judo champion in Japan, so comptetativeness and hard training is already a background for him, but the style of Aikido that Abbe studied was Early Aikido. This style was hard, fast, and in some ways aggressive when compared to modern day Aikido.
Hi Dominic

I haven't read the article, but I'm guessing that it might have been written by Henry Ellis Sensei ( am i right?), who is quite well known for his polemic views on the failings of 'modern' or 'too soft' aikido variously describing it as 'fairy' aikido or Harry Potter aikido.

I am a direct student of Abbe Sensei's first student in the UK, he learnt Abbe's dynamic style and often talks about the 'severity' of the training ( usually with affection ). His own aikido now is both a combination of Abbe and also of Tohei who he trained with for 10 years after Abbe stopped teaching. So now his style is very soft but very effective.

I don't see why aikido should be seen as either or, as this does both styles a disservice. I know some people prefer the harder approach, good for them. But that is no reason for anyone to diss the other styles approach.

I like soft powerful aikido, as far as I can see and feel, this is the aikido that I'll continue to try and perfect. As for soft aikido not having any 'martial' aplication, maybe the author hasn't 'felt' any decent modern aikido, that doesn't mean however that it doesn't exist.

regards,

Mark

Last edited by Mark Freeman : 11-24-2006 at 08:45 AM.

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 11-24-2006, 08:56 AM   #12
odudog
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Mental attitude is the key to this question. The type of person one is will determine what style of Aikido that person will practice along with how much intensity. Some people will start out soft and change to hard while others will start out hard and change to soft. It all depends on that goal in which one thinks is the ultimate.

One of my instructors is quite hard and tried to introduce that into the dojo on several occasions so that we could learn the different types of Aikido that is out there. I don't who complained, but the dojo-cho received several complaints about those classes. The instructor has since stopped doing that and has stuck to the standard Aikido in which we regularly practice. I on the other hand, wish to take my Aikido back to the more primitive days and hope that this instructor will teach me the harder stuff on the side. I also like to sweat so that I can shed the little spare tire that I have acquired over the years and make my Aikido truly street effective while some other people in my dojo take this more as a fun activity and don't want to work out at such a high intensity.
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Old 11-24-2006, 09:04 AM   #13
Chris Li
 
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Ian Upstone wrote:
I believe Shioda was a sandan in judo when he met Ueshiba. He may have been young, but I would say that would be more than 'a little bit' of experience.
Depends on your viewpoint, of course, but I'd call that "a little bit" for an eighteen year old in Japan. Hardly, in any case, an "experienced fighter".

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-24-2006, 09:14 AM   #14
DaveS
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

I can't help feeling that people (especially non-aikidoka) get confused by the fact that 'soft' can imply slow, unfocussed training, with unrealistic attacks and ukes who fall over if you look at them, or it can imply aikido which is martially effective and has been trained very intensely and committedly but which is itself relaxed and yielding and not 'strengthy.' A lot of people seem to want hard aikido when what they really want is soft aikido with hard training.
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Old 11-24-2006, 09:19 AM   #15
SeiserL
 
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

I have seen soft and hard in all arts.
Its nice to have a choice.

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 11-24-2006, 09:21 AM   #16
Dazzler
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote:
I on the other hand, wish to take my Aikido back to the more primitive days and hope that this instructor will teach me the harder stuff on the side. I also like to sweat so that I can shed the little spare tire that I have acquired over the years and make my Aikido truly street effective.
In the context of the claims alledgedly made in the article Mike, I dont see any greater link between the old style aikido and street effectiveness in contrast to aikido from any other era.

(I practice Aikido - not old, not modern, not anything...just Aikido)

By the same degree I don't particularly see any direct link between the sweatiness of practice and Street effectiveness either.

If its good Aikido it works, if it isn't it doesn't.

FWIW

Cheers

D
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Old 11-24-2006, 09:38 AM   #17
odudog
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
In the context of the claims alledgedly made in the article Mike, I dont see any greater link between the old style aikido and street effectiveness in contrast to aikido from any other era.

(I practice Aikido - not old, not modern, not anything...just Aikido)

By the same degree I don't particularly see any direct link between the sweatiness of practice and Street effectiveness either.

If its good Aikido it works, if it isn't it doesn't.

FWIW

Cheers

D
In my view, if you always practice at a slow pace then you won't be used to applying your skills at a faster pace in which a situation might call for out on the street. Lungs and heart are just not up to pumping that hard and fast not to mention your motor skills won't be up to par with the pace. Just like any other sport, you can't always just walk through practice. You have to work out at a higher level during practice and sometimes do a walk through.

The old school Aikido has a few tricks and options that could be imployed in the street. Sometimes having short cuts needs to be a bit more nastier to end the situation sooner.
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Old 11-24-2006, 11:25 AM   #18
Amir Krause
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
David Sim wrote:
I can't help feeling that people (especially non-aikidoka) get confused by the fact that 'soft' can imply slow, unfocused training, with unrealistic attacks and ukes who fall over if you look at them, or it can imply aikido which is martially effective and has been trained very intensely and committedly but which is itself relaxed and yielding and not 'strengthy.' A lot of people seem to want hard aikido when what they really want is soft aikido with hard training.
I too have the feeling of different interpretations. The reason for being Soft is this is the most efficient way for a fighter. I looked a little at the top BJJ fighters and read their teaching - they have the message we call Soft. I talk with Karateka and they say at high levels, Karate is soft. Same with many other M.A. high level practitioners reach this level of being Soft.

My Sensei loves telling this story about starting a sword fight:
If you can sense your enemy strongly - Kill him swiftly and go on, he is not of your level. If you feel him lightly - be ready for a difficult fight, if you can not feel him - run away, he is much better.

The style I learn, Korindo Aikido, is not based on Ueshiba teachings,and our founder only knew Ueshiba during the 40s. Most distinction would include us among the Early Aikido. Yet we prize softness as very important, and aspire for it.

Being Soft is a way for effectiveness, utilizing all your body strength on the one hand, and being sensitive & receptive to the other with your body. Responding to his actions as they emerge.

Thus, being Soft is very difficult, and requires a lot of hard and rigorous training. to be really soft you should be in good shape, you should have strengh and agility.

I agree some people train in aikido that is not effective. I could try and look for dozens of reasons for it. But in fact, who am I to tell them what is right for them???

Amir
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Old 11-24-2006, 03:44 PM   #19
James Davis
 
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
I have seen soft and hard in all arts.
Its nice to have a choice.
Agreed.

Whether my aikido is soft or hard depends on who puts their hands on me.

I do my very best not to injure the people that I train with, but I've come to accept the idea of hurting someone who is a threat to my family.

I think that gentleness is very important; Not every attack is met with the same amount of force. If Grandpa is off his meds and is getting violent, I'm gonna make sure he gets let down reeeaaal easy.

If some punks want to hurt my wife or my daughter, well...

Getting married and having a baby has definitely changed the way that I think about aikido and the use of force. I love my family so much that I will do whatever I have to do to get them home safe. It's just that simple.

Have a good weekend, everybody.

"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 11-24-2006, 07:59 PM   #20
David Yap
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
I have seen soft and hard in all arts.
Its nice to have a choice.
Agreed absolutely with Dr. Seiser. But only those who x-trained in various MA would have realized this.

Adding on: In aikido, there are people who have not practise long enough and who have not trained enough with different instructors to experience this spectrum. There are instructors who called themselves teachers (sensei) and have yet to grasp the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri and proceed to instruct "formless" aikido to novice. They don't realize that every dance has its form.

In all the education systems, there are specially trained teachers for every level of skill and knowledge. I can imagine kindergarden kids getting some value from a universtity dean but I can't image college/univerty students getting any value from a kindergarden teacher (a bit, perhaps). It is said that one must "steal" the techniques from ones teacher - provided the techniques were there to begin with.

To each his own they say. I always relate Aikido with the story about blind men and the elephant. The difference between now and then is most present instructors still insist that his/her aikido is a "tree trunk" or a "wall" or a "rope". In addition to the feeling that "my MA is better than your MA" some even think that their aikido is better that others. They can never see the elephant but yet they choose not to "feel" the whole elephant and in the process they even stop their students from feeling all parts of the elephant. Sad.

Need to run off to catch the plane to Hanoi. Bringing my gi with me as usual.

Catch up when I return.

Happy training

David Y
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:35 PM   #21
Douglas Fajardo
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
I have seen soft and hard in all arts.
Its nice to have a choice.
totally ok with you Seiser , only you can choose whtat do you really want [ Hard or soft ] is up to you
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:48 PM   #22
Douglas Fajardo
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote:
Agreed.

Whether my aikido is soft or hard depends on who puts their hands on me.

I do my very best not to injure the people that I train with, but I've come to accept the idea of hurting someone who is a threat to my family.

I think that gentleness is very important; Not every attack is met with the same amount of force. If Grandpa is off his meds and is getting violent, I'm gonna make sure he gets let down reeeaaal easy.

If some punks want to hurt my wife or my daughter, well...

Getting married and having a baby has definitely changed the way that I think about aikido and the use of force. I love my family so much that I will do whatever I have to do to get them home safe. It's just that simple.

Have a good weekend, everybody.
Hey James Davis , you are the '''''MAN'''' good luck for your family and for you too ,that's the way i like it
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Old 11-28-2006, 04:16 AM   #23
Dazzler
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote:
In my view, if you always practice at a slow pace then you won't be used to applying your skills at a faster pace in which a situation might call for out on the street. Lungs and heart are just not up to pumping that hard and fast not to mention your motor skills won't be up to par with the pace. Just like any other sport, you can't always just walk through practice. You have to work out at a higher level during practice and sometimes do a walk through.

The old school Aikido has a few tricks and options that could be imployed in the street. Sometimes having short cuts needs to be a bit more nastier to end the situation sooner.
You are missing my point Mike.

Its possible to practice very hard and get very sweaty. I've seen this many times in both old school, new school and while it can be extremely martial and can be something that translates to the street...it can also be complete rubbish that is meaningless.

Old school Aikido has no tricks that are not employed in Aikido.

There are many practicing and teaching that do not know the tricks perhaps.

But that is a deficiency in their Aikido. Not a deficiency in Aikido ...modern or otherwise.

I'm all for 'hard' practice but hard practice for the sake of a feelgood sweat doesn't cut it for me.

Hard smart practice is another thing all together.

Respectfully

D
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Old 11-28-2006, 05:30 AM   #24
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Hey Darren, are you on Mike Sigman's QiJing list? You sound like you're open to that kind of approach, at the least daily practice of exercises like Robert John has posted here. BTW, are you in either Kentsuka or Ezra sensei's organizations? They do stuff on these lines too, from what I hear (using aikido misogi as base IIRC). I agree with you, everything I read in Japanese lately says "the kata teaches you to develop the correct body for bujutsu. In the beginning, you don't have it so kata practice is useless. When you know what to look for (someone has to teach you) you practice this on your own to develop the body, and get corrected by and by. Wrong practice, no matter how hard or fast, stays wrong".
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Old 11-28-2006, 06:06 AM   #25
Dazzler
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Re: Early Aikido vs Modern Aikido

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
Hey Darren, are you on Mike Sigman's QiJing list? You sound like you're open to that kind of approach, at the least daily practice of exercises like Robert John has posted here. BTW, are you in either Kentsuka or Ezra sensei's organizations? They do stuff on these lines too, from what I hear (using aikido misogi as base IIRC). I agree with you, everything I read in Japanese lately says "the kata teaches you to develop the correct body for bujutsu. In the beginning, you don't have it so kata practice is useless. When you know what to look for (someone has to teach you) you practice this on your own to develop the body, and get corrected by and by. Wrong practice, no matter how hard or fast, stays wrong".
Hi Gernot

No - I'm not on anyones list (AFAIK ).

My background is all visible through my Id.

I'm very open to gaining ideas from a lot of approaches - Mike Sigman does post some highly interesting things as do a number of others here. He posts on a much higher plane than my current understanding of ki so I usually read but don't post back.

I do have fairly firm beliefs in what constitutes the Aikido I aim to practice. I've posted a few times on the bases of Aikido as I've been taught. My view is that if these are present and in appropriate balance then that goes a long way to establishing the validity of the Aikido. (How this is measured is a very large can of worms indeed!)

Hard training is important to my practice too - in the right time and place so I'm not throwing out Mike Braxtons post completely. I just objected to the impression that hard training was better than soft training. It can be, but not always.

TBH I think you have nailed exactly what I was trying to say with your last sentence "Wrong practice, no matter how hard or fast, stays wrong".

Regards

D
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