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Old 01-21-2007, 12:38 PM   #76
DH
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:

1. Aikido did something in the middle i.e. uke could attack at full force and nage could throw them. However, it's still a bl**dy simulation! If you think otherwise, how do you get around the paradox of aikido being 'a gentle art in which you don't have to harm the attacker' yet, 'we can't have proper competitions because it's too dangerous'.

2. Aikido was an improvement on traditional methods of training (which was almost like a fixed, paired kata), allowing more spontaneity.

3. Taking ukemi can maybe toughen up your body, but as (Dan?) said balance is the most important thing. Indeed the last time I got in an altercation, I didn't actually throw the person at all; I just moved and maintained good balance and they went flying.

4. I find it quite amusing and ironic now, that probably the most important practical skill in aikido is to be able to stand upright!
Hi Ian.
I pulled out a few points and numbered them for clarity.

1. Attacking full force means just what? Most jujutsuka would attack you "full force" and not lose their balance if you moved "out of the way." They would follow you and conitnue to play and press you. until you took their balance. Which oft times is very difficult to do. A boxer would track you and nail the nage in the head.
So, where is there any benefit to this style of training where attacking full force mean falling down when the nage moves out of the way? What does it say about Aikido ukemi training that folks are so easily undone in that manner? That stepping out of the way results in fall? I'd say the attacker is an idiot who doesn't have a clue how to fight anyone, anywhere. What is it really saying to have stylized big flowing attacking movements just to preserve a "model" of Aikido? How is it superior or better than, if we had attackers who continually attacked with thier bodies in balance.
What would change? I say if Aikidoka trained in the internal skills that was the foundation of their art they could manage much more severe attackes in a far more rational manner. And their method and power of attacks would increas dramatically as well.

2. This is an "improvement" over paired Kata just how? It seems it is rather obvious to many senior teachers in the art itself who continually point out the that the opposite is in fact true. It is ruining the arts reputation as a martial endevour. Paired Kata has a peculiar knack to preseve rational movement. Many folk in Koryu who do pared kata also freestyle it on their own. Without "falling down" when the guy moves out of the way.

3. Taking Ukemi -I take it you mean falling down-is a minor sub skill easily taught and has nothing at all to do with toughening the body. There are far better ways to do that. Ukemi has a higher goal.

4. Learning to remain standing is best. We agree. But it is best learned as Uke being nage, fighting every attempt to have someone try to hit, kick, and throw you. And that skill? Is best learned alone in a room before you start fighting with it.
To be exact-my best idea of "getting out of the way" is to have a man stand there when an attacker connects with him and they feel instant ground. Sort of like ringing as bell- its without thought. But its involves the attacker rebounding off. That's a substantial baseline skill. When combined with fighting knowledge-it actually can get you closer to the goal of being able to resist without causing harm.
Again it was this, this use of internal skills. That Ueshiba was reffering to when he said "Takeda opened my eyes to true Budo." It gave him a way to both drive and actuallize his personal vision of peace. In-yo ho.
Learned through solo training and Uke as Nage.
Not falling down.

Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 01-21-2007 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 01-21-2007, 05:07 PM   #77
Ellis Amdur
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Chen Xiao Wang taking Ukemi

In particular, notice the beautiful ukemi he takes on kotegaeshi at the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wexTjQ54KM

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Old 01-22-2007, 08:14 AM   #78
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Re: Chen Xiao Wang taking Ukemi

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
In particular, notice the beautiful ukemi he takes on kotegaeshi at the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wexTjQ54KM
With regards to the ukemi from kotegaeshi at the end its nothing I haven't seen my aikido sensei do many times, I'll even go so far as to say that he does it better than that IMO. I can also do the 'trick' at the end and I'm only a nidan of 10 years experience, so please believe me when I say IMHO its no great feat.

It is very nice to see that clip as it sheds light on the context of what you've been saying and confirms my belief that the way we train is what you've been talking about all along. Please note at this point I'm still not convinced that what Dan Harden argues is the same thing as what you seem to be saying regarding uke and nage roles and ukemi.

I notice that this page: http://www.meido.demon.co.uk/upcomingevents.htm
Lists you as visiting the UK in May, there's a chance I'll be in London on that weekend if so I'll probably make an effort to attend

Regards

Mike Haft

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 01-22-2007, 08:47 AM   #79
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Mike - either that's Meido's old website or they had better update! That workshop happened in 2002.. It'd be nice to have those years back though.
As far as I know, Dan and I are talking about the same thing re ukemi. I didn't intend to say, one way or the other, that Chen is the best at anything (I'm not qualified to evaluate such things) - although the way he can release power is really quite amazing to me - that also being part of ukemi in the way I/we are talking about. Just that what he does - including the wrist stuff at the end - is a visual representation. AND - I still think it is what Ueshiba was really getting at. Though why he didn't just come out and say it and order people to do things a certain way is a whole other discussion.

Best

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 01-22-2007 at 08:49 AM.

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Old 01-22-2007, 09:09 AM   #80
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Mike - either that's Meido's old website or they had better update! That workshop happened in 2002.. It'd be nice to have those years back though.
LOL, didn't notice the year, assumptions can be tricky things..

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
As far as I know, Dan and I are talking about the same thing re ukemi. I didn't intend to say, one way or the other, that Chen is the best at anything (I'm not qualified to evaluate such things) - although the way he can release power is really quite amazing to me - that also being part of ukemi in the way I/we are talking about. Just that what he does - including the wrist stuff at the end - is a visual representation. AND - I still think it is what Ueshiba was really getting at. Though why he didn't just come out and say it and order people to do things a certain way is a whole other discussion.

Best
Well FWIW I didn't see anything in that clip that was too much beyond my own level of skill and I'm really not that good. I think that the alleged missing internal skills of aikido are still present in many cases, at least in the ki-soc derived styles (which I'm most familiar with), probably others too.

I also think that many of the things you described as ukemi, particularly with reference to the kotegaeshi at the end of the clip would probably be seen by many aikidoka as 'resistance', and thus viewed as something to be shunned seeing as Ueshiba Sensei specifically emphasized that aikido is all about not resisting uke.
My personal view is that that was not the sort of resistance he had in mind, although I have no evidence to back that up so its just my wistful interpretation.

Perhaps Dan can clear up if he meant the same thing as you in light of the clip you posted (picture paints a thousand words and all that.)

Cheers

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 01-22-2007, 10:03 AM   #81
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Mike - no worries - one thing I will not do is get in an internet discussion about how good someone is- based on video evidence. If you ever have a chance to feel Chen Xiao Wang, do so. He is affable, kind and ferociously skilled and strong, by all accounts of people I respect. A friend of mine in Greece who sparred with him said that he felt like a "flexible tire" - as hard as vulcanized rubber at all points, but totally flexible.
As for the issue of resistence, since kaeshiwaza is the "advanced" form of aikido, I do not see how any aikido practitioner would not see the absorbtion and return of force INTO a kaeshiwaza as the essence of good aikido. The nage becomes uke in every kaeshiwaza, the attack being the applied waza - kotegaeshi, for example. This was what I taught in the 2002 seminar, anyway.
Best

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Old 01-22-2007, 10:45 AM   #82
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Mike - no worries - one thing I will not do is get in an internet discussion about how good someone is- based on video evidence.
Yeah, I agree, wasn't actually my intention to do that, oops. Not enough coffee for my poor brain to function at optimum performance levels it seems..

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
If you ever have a chance to feel Chen Xiao Wang, do so. He is affable, kind and ferociously skilled and strong, by all accounts of people I respect. A friend of mine in Greece who sparred with him said that he felt like a "flexible tire" - as hard as vulcanized rubber at all points, but totally flexible.
Sounds familiar


Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
As for the issue of resistence, since kaeshiwaza is the "advanced" form of aikido, I do not see how any aikido practitioner would not see the absorbtion and return of force INTO a kaeshiwaza as the essence of good aikido. The nage becomes uke in every kaeshiwaza, the attack being the applied waza - kotegaeshi, for example. This was what I taught in the 2002 seminar, anyway.
Best
Yeah baffles me at times but there you go. It shouldn't really be that surprising really though, I've heard of (and visited one or two) places where certain standard aikido techniques are not practiced because they are 'too dangerous', I'm not talking about minor variations of something either I'm talking about things like shihonage, a pretty fundamental technique! I can only imagine what must be happening with more difficult and advanced stuff.

Regards

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 01-22-2007, 04:07 PM   #83
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote:
Well FWIW I didn't see anything in that clip that was too much beyond my own level of skill and I'm really not that good.
I should just add here for the sake of clarity that I was referring to the kotegaeshi ukemi at the end not the rest of the clip. English seems to be failing me today.

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 01-22-2007, 04:16 PM   #84
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Well, I have to admit that I was looking up Chen Xiao Wang's itinerary for this year in the UK. I was thinking perhaps I'd like to see you and your instructor at or near the workshop to compare notes. I've never in my life seen anyone, even professional martial artists, with the kind of power CXW can deliver. If your or your instructor is at that level, I'd be willing to buy the beer.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 01-22-2007, 07:45 PM   #85
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I've never in my life seen anyone, even professional martial artists, with the kind of power CXW can deliver.
Walter, how are you measuring this power?

Needless to say, everything on the video presented was just a static application with agreed upon rules to be nice. Anyone, really, can do anything given these parameters.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 01-22-2007, 08:24 PM   #86
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Justin Smith wrote:
Walter, how are you measuring this power?

Needless to say, everything on the video presented was just a static application with agreed upon rules to be nice. Anyone, really, can do anything given these parameters.
Heh. This is actually getting pretty funny, having some Cheng Man Ching cult psycho stalk me on the web.

Here's Justin's own Cheng Man Ching worship page:

http://www.zhengmanqing.com/main.htm

I notice you took all the "look at me" things about your GPA, pictures, etc., off your homepage, Justin. Why? Slowly outgrowing your self-absorption? Hey, hang in there, buddy. You're getting to be the mascot of AikiWeb, even though you don't have a thing to do with Aikido.

Mike
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Old 01-22-2007, 09:07 PM   #87
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Justin Smith wrote:
Walter, how are you measuring this power?
midichlorians

Adults are just outdated children, and the hell with them. - Dr. Suess

It's senpai's fault. - Andy-senpai
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Old 01-23-2007, 03:04 AM   #88
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Well, I have to admit that I was looking up Chen Xiao Wang's itinerary for this year in the UK. I was thinking perhaps I'd like to see you and your instructor at or near the workshop to compare notes. I've never in my life seen anyone, even professional martial artists, with the kind of power CXW can deliver. If your or your instructor is at that level, I'd be willing to buy the beer.

Regards,

Mike
Please bear in mind I was referring to the kotegaeshi at the end (which was why I chose to clarify that as my earlier post seemed confusing). I'm not commenting on anything prior to that. But I can certainly do the kotegaeshi ukemi mentioned, probably not with quite so much flair but I'm willing to say I can, in as humble a fashion as possible.
Actually the four people is a bit of misdirection, the guys holding his arms don't really do anything except make it look more impressive. I remember doing exactly the same thing to my teacher at a demonstration we attended. My friend Phil and I tried to put kotegaeshi on him similar to the manner shown in the video and we couldn't move him at all

Let me know where the workshop is and I'll let you know if I can get there I'm in north east Scotland.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:46 AM   #89
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
Mike - It may well be as simple as that in part. The seminar format does not lend itself, as you say, to taking ukemi for the students.
Further to this discussion, I happened to be reading this:
http://www.kendo-world.com/articles/...endo/index.php

In the section under Kendo in Education, it mentions that the Japanese Ministry of Education evaluated the idea of making Kendo a part of the national Physical Education curriculum about 100 years ago. They concluded it was not practical for a number of reasons and that it should be offered to boys aged 16 and above as an extra curricular activity. One of the reasons given for it not being practical was the method of teaching that would be necessary, namely one instructor for a large number of students where previously instruction in kenjitsu had been one-to-one. As a result, kendo began to be taught using bujutsu taiso (bujutsu calisthenics). These sorts of ideas were not unique to the teaching of Kendo under the new education system in Japan.

It is of note that these things were happening just as Takeda Sokaku began teaching Daito Ryu, it seems sensible to me to suggest that he would have been aware of such innovations (for good or bad they are still innovative) in the teaching of Budo. Specifically from the point of view of a single teacher in front of a large audience. My suspicion is that most of the teaching that Takeda did was to large groups, and would have been conducted in this fashion. Only more devoted students such as Ueshiba would've had one-to-one training with him on a (semi)regular basis.

It also follows that the pre-war deshi of Ueshiba would have had more one-to-one time with their teacher, simply because there were less of them.

I suspect that this more than anything explains some of the things that Ellis has noted about the role of uke and nage in aikido and the differences between earlier and later generations of Ueshiba's students.

Any thoughts?

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:05 AM   #90
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Well I'd add that this was my observation-from way back. But Ellis can take the credit

First I wouldn't assume Takeda was teaching, or even tryng to teach those large seminar attendees much. He was making money. A quick read of both the training, and the result should speak for itself (read my last post in base line skills) There was certainly some "learnin" going on, I would just put my thinking cap on as for who... was learning what?
Secondly, of the thousands who he taught- who ended up with what?
He went on record stating things like; this one he taught Aiki (internal skills) because "he" was small, that one he taught jujutsu because "he" was large. OK how or where did that magically translate to "whole groups" looking so different? It's something to think about as well. And who learned what, where? And more importantly when?
What remains though is this; Only Takeda, Sagawa, Kodo, and Ueshiba wound up with any serious acclaim. Why?
And they? Were not concentrating on the principle and techniques of the old pretzel logic were they?. Everyone else who did-became the lesser lights.
Those few knew where the real power was at and pursued it.
Dan

Last edited by DH : 02-16-2007 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:52 AM   #91
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote:
Well I'd add that this was my observation-from way back. But Ellis can take the credit
LOL - Well I suppose that's because I happened to be watching 'Ukemi from the Ground Up' yesterday.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote:
First I wouldn't assume Takeda was teaching, or even tryng to teach those large seminar attendees much. He was making money. A quick read of both the training, and the result should speak for itself (read my last post in base line skills) There was certainly some "learnin" going on, I would just put my thinking cap on as for who... was learning what?
I don't disagree My reason for posting above was that I happened to be reading the Kendo article and noted that there was a trend in the teaching of budo for developing methods suitable for teaching in large classes. Something which had been previously been definitely not the norm, preferring the more one-to-one relationship between student and teacher.

My thinking is that there was, from this time (and still is perhaps), an idea that there are the regular students and then there are the uchi-deshi, in other words, the guys who I 'teach' to pay my bills, and the guys who I teach as my personal charges. Which to my mind could seem to indicate that only someone who has been a uchi-deshi (and sometimes not even then) is going to be able to learn effectively from their teacher. If that is the case, then it is worth asking how valid the 'traditional' (for this I mean common really) method of teachin aikido is.

Does it simply mean that only someone with the type of close relationship of an uchi-deshi can become a master of aikido as Ueshiba was? Or does it mean that anyone can become a master but if you aren't in an uchi-deshi situation it only takes longer?

I know that some of the most illuminating learning moments I've had have been spending a weekend at my sensei's house when I came to visit him from London, and more now when he comes to visit me up here in Aberdeen (how many people can say they've had a 7th Dan aikidoka sleep on their sofa ona regualr basis?). That sort of relationship often seems to me more important than being able to attend the lessons my teacher gives regularly down south. I can clearly remember once watching him becoming increasingly annoyed that his boiler didn't work. Muttering away to himself whilst making tea and toast and the crockery was having a tendancy to rattle and vibrate more than was strictly necessary for tea making purposes I think that I learned a lot just watching that, perhaps more than I could have learned in hours in the dojo. But I would never have seen him becoming angry in the dojo, because he just doesn't do it.

Regards

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
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Old 02-17-2007, 11:51 AM   #92
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
I have been watching Aikido techniques at the Nihon Budokan (large sports arena in Tokyo) but I found that those demonstrating did soft techniques. They won't work in a real fighting situation. Their partners are only taking falls for them. It is as if they are practicing taking falls. Even if you throw your opponent you can't practice properly unless he takes a fall for you. On the other hand, if your partner takes a beautiful fall, it makes your techniques look good. In our practice we don't have our partners take falls. We practice throwing. There is no need for them to take falls.
Takeda Tokimune

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Old 02-17-2007, 02:39 PM   #93
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

I would be very interested to learn from participants to this thread who claim that aikido techniques as currently taught are not effective in a real fight situation if their opinion is based on actual experience where they have been attacked and tried to defend themselves using aikido techniques and failed, and were consequently beaten or stabbed to death, or if the above are just assumptions not based on real fight situations. Please don't get me wrong, I personally do not think aikido techniques are effective either but I couldn't care less. Just curious to know the answer to my question.
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:46 PM   #94
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Edward - Since I posted the quote, let me make a suggestion. Questions on the effectiveness of aikido techniques are really the subject of another thread - notwithstanding what Takeda Tokimune seems to be saying. You see, I don't think he's saying, "An irimi-nage never works in a fight," or, "Only an idiot would enter the octogon and try to use nikkyo." I think he was saying that the way he observed techniques executed in the demo he saw were flawed, from his lights - and that it was most clearly revealed in the way the the uke were ABLE to take ukemi. Kuroiwa Yoshio, with his typical provocative humor, told me that after aikido demos, he'd wait until teacher and student were together, and compliment the student/uke for the wonderful demonstration.

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Old 02-17-2007, 09:19 PM   #95
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Ellis,

My post just happened to be after yours, but is not a direct response to it. The thread is about Ukemi, and some of the posts are directed towards how fake is Traditional Aikido's Ukemi versus what others have been teaching. The truth is that Aikido Ukemi has always looked fake. All accounts that I have read so far by Shioda, Tohei and others emphasize this point that they did believe Ukemi was fake, that students were taking falls for Osensei and wanted to challenge him in some way, put their finger on the wound like St. Thomas so to speak, until they realized by themselves it was for real. Also if you look at the footage that I found on Utube showing Osensei demonstration in 1935, Ukemi still looks fake in my opinion. Therefore I am tempted to believe that Osensei's technique already since the very beginning was either fake or looked like fake but was effective. The war and religious experiences had very little to do with it in my humble opinion.
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Old 02-18-2007, 04:09 AM   #96
Michael Douglas
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
...Aikido did something in the middle i.e. uke could attack at full force and nage could throw them. However, it's still a bl**dy simulation! ...
... I find it quite amusing and ironic now, that probably the most important practical skill in aikido is to be able to stand upright!
Great post Ian!
Standing up when someone is trying to throw you around is such a great skill, many things can come from that ...
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Old 02-18-2007, 08:41 AM   #97
DH
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Quote:
Edward Karaa wrote:
Ellis,
.......The truth is that Aikido Ukemi has always looked fake.
.......All accounts that I have read so far by Shioda, Tohei and others emphasize this point that they did believe Ukemi was fake, that students were taking falls for Osensei and wanted to challenge him in some way,
....... Also if you look at the footage that I found on Utube showing Osensei demonstration in 1935, Ukemi still looks fake in my opinion. Therefore I am tempted to believe that Osensei's technique already since the very beginning was either fake or looked like fake but was effective.
This was my response two years ago to the "Hidden in plain site thread" -where theories were being explored that Ueshiba had to go outside and train in Chinese arts, and or esoteric Shinto practices, and or a multiplicity of unrelated arts to "get his stuff." When the truth is he got his stuff from Takeda's Daito ryu. Along with Sagawa, Kodo, Hisa, and Shioda.
What -was- hidden was the truth behind Takeda's power. The answers once again lend credibilty to Occam's razor. That being-the simplest answer was correct. In this case-that he had trained for twenty years in this one art and that he had contemporaries who were arguably better than him. The fact that several of his own students thought so, is evidence to that fact.
It was interesting to see those articles on Aikido Journal where the thoughts were expanded, questions asked, and answers pursued and proved/disproved to see where they led. I and many others are convinced of where the questions lead, and where the answers are. I had posited a series of questions in two posts that were not even considered then, so I pulled them amidst the bickring. It is rather interesting to see them being considered now and even pursued. Seeing these things oultined for a wider audience would be beneficial. Perhaps in a book?

My thoughts here were never that Ueshiba's technique was fake. That isn't part of the discussion. But rather that the ukemi is fake. Why do I still say that?
If you played with fellows with good skills you know what it feels like to be rebounded off, to have your muscles taken and sometimes be locked up with your own efforts, or to give force and find yourself sucked into a hole-then wham! Daito ryu specializes in those things.
Ueshiba wanted to get to a point where his skills caused less harm yet he remained untouched. Takeda's internal skills gave Ueshiba the very tools to accomplish and realize his vision.

So in a rather understandable interplay- Ueshiba and his own men both began that dance so often seen in dojo's. That dance being the gradual morphing of applied waza where the students start to respond with increasingly sensitivity and familiarality to the input of the teacher, and teacher does less and less to achieve the same feedback. Good teachers like DR's Okomoto would openly chastise men for "overreacting" to Aiki.
I believe Ueshiba's men overreacted continually. It doenslt mean Uehsiba was fake.
In trying to avoid his power, created these ever larger, open looking reactions.They knew their efforts would lead to not. So instead of bouncing off or stumbling around or rebounding-they did the classic thing and took a fall for their team.

All Ueshiba was doing was the classic Koryu model of teacher being Uke. Continuing to refine his skills, build his body, and build a reputation. While in the end, perhaps finally remaining true to at least part of his promise to Takeda. He never really did teach the true art to many after all. He kept it to himself. And everyone else doesn't know the art at all. They're doing something else.
Dan

Last edited by DH : 02-18-2007 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 02-18-2007, 09:24 AM   #98
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Dan - We are in agreement regarding teacher as uke, and students being "over sensitive" - (it's even worse in some sects of Chinese martial arts). I think you nail it, actually.
I do think that the "source" of Ueshiba's power is somewhat more nuanced than you do - in the same way that Sagawa reportedly made his aiki something different from what he learned. Call it 90% DR - 10% from somewhere else - from his own genius??? From other studies????
For example, I've got some body skills which I use in Araki-ryu which come from elsewhere, (and I'm in the process of acquiring more). At what point am I no longer doing Araki-ryu when I'm doing Araki-ryu? I do know that if Araki-ryu did not have within it a "failsafe" expectation that one will innovate, were it like an art like TSKSR, my own teacher would have had to have given it a new name, and I would have had to rename it all over again from him - even though both he and I are, in essence, still doing AR. (Interestingly, my teacher explicitly told me, on our last day, that - "when I see you next time, if you are only doing Araki-ryu and not Amdur-ryu, teaching you will have been a complete waste of time." In terms of my own ongoing studies, it's possible that, at some point, were I to really learn the "new" stuff to a degree that I could LEGITIMATELY teach it/defined by skill, not lineage - then maybe I'd require it of my students.
Further questions arise when one asks what part of a practice touches the essence of the tradition. In other words, since Ueshiba's spiritual leanings permeated what he did - does this make his art something different from DR? For example, if Otake Risuke announced that he wanted to eliminate Shingon practice from TSKSR, that he found that Taoism better expressed the essence of things, would this not radically change things even though one swung the sword much the same way. Then, of course, the next question - is such a change tangibly for better or for worse. Returning to aikido, it goes both ways: Deblooded is a bad thing, less pretzel logic (thank you for that!) is good.

"Hidden in Plain Sight" is far different now than when I wrote it the first time - as you hint, it will be bound between covers once I finish peer review of the chapters.

Best

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Old 02-18-2007, 11:08 AM   #99
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

In my vocation (rigging) I frequently come up against traditional practices that appear to make no sense from an engineering perspective. It is tempting, in these circumstances, to assume ignorance on the part of my forebears, and to "improve" things with something from my own smug position here in the technical vastness of the future. But most often, doing so will reveal the reason for that traditional practice; most often some antique rigger has already made a mistake, and corrected it, and the correction survives as tradition.
A friend of mine put it more succinctly: "Tradition is so you don't have to make 200 years of mistakes."
To which the obvious counter is: "Innovation is so you don't have to live with 200 years of mistakes."
The tough, tough, question is, how do we know when innovation is called for?
Given that rigging failures are at least as likely to injure or kill as any martial art, and given a lineage of rigging practicioners about as long as martial arts practitioners, I tend to assume that traditional approaches are not to be messed with lightly. Deep study, not just of the surface techniques, but of the underlying principles, is just as important in rigging as it is in martial arts, especially if one is talking about changing things.
In the context of Aikido ukemi, justifying a new approach because people fall down for each other is like arguing for an unstayed rig because some stayed rig is badly tuned. The argument does not address fundamentals, only examples that may or may not be representative.
When I started Aikido, uke gave me the technique, overbalanced and compliant as hell. Not remotely martially realistic, but it was in a context in which I was coached to observe how unbalanced uke was, how balanced I could be, and how to keep uke unbalanced through the takedown. Now if my teachers had kept me at that level, we might have ended up as one of those dojos where they essentially practice interpretive dance, but without the martial practicalities of interpretive dance. But instead, my teachers saw to it that uke became progressively less overbalanced, less compliant, and begin adding things like feints and counters. Simultaneously they sought to impart kokyu skills, so I could take balance even when it was not freely offered. And so forth. The point is that Aikido ukemi can be a path to a fantasy of competence, or to actual competence, depending on the practitioners.

Regards,

Brion Toss
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Old 02-18-2007, 11:24 AM   #100
Ellis Amdur
Location: Seattle
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Re: Ueshiba taking Ukemi

Great post, Brion. One question arises - if the conventional method of taking ukemi in aikido is just the sort of "innovation" that you caution against. It's not that old, and could be considered something quite alien, not only to DR ukemi, but to most jujutsu as well (excepting the circus-like performances,and "trained" responses Dan mentions, which were probably rife in earlier days as well).

Best

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