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Old 05-07-2007, 08:19 PM   #1001
statisticool
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Re: Baseline skillset

Just don't tell me that Kwai Chang Kaine is fake.

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Old 06-20-2007, 08:23 AM   #1002
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
Jun,
Why don't you just create an "Internal Mechanics" Forum?

It's not about Aikido, or Chen style, Wu Style, Long Dong Style, Silat, Karate, Hakyokuken, Taikyokuken, Akitaken,Miyagiken, etc.

The way I see it, we only have two arms, two legs, a head, so there's only so many ways you can come up with efficient movement.
Rob, you and I agree exactly on this point.

Which is why it has especially bothered me that so many people are harping that the internal mechanics "ARE" aiki. They're common to all budo, supposedly, but they "ARE" aiki. That just erases the unique nature of aiki and blurs it to the point that it can be anything.

Then there's the matter of "technique". Dan likes to say that aikido is not a system of techniques, but if "ALL" the arts are expressions of people with arms, legs and a head, what distinguishes Aikido from Chen and Wu, Karate and Sumo? It's merely the techniques.

Having just spent a good bit of time reviewing some of the later posts in Baseline Skills, I don't think anyone would say that Chen was doing aikido or anything but Chen style. And how do we know it's Chen and not Sumo? Even though they have related body mechanics, they are definitely different arts because they take different technical approaches.

So, since a lot of the discussion in the new forum WILL be about aikido and aiki in general, it might be better to call it "Internal Mechanics" or something similar.

Best wishes to all.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

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Old 06-20-2007, 09:12 AM   #1003
ChrisMoses
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Which is why it has especially bothered me that so many people are harping that the internal mechanics "ARE" aiki. They're common to all budo, supposedly, but they "ARE" aiki. That just erases the unique nature of aiki and blurs it to the point that it can be anything.
David, I find it hugely amusing that you're willing to make this distinction wrt 'internal' principles but not with toddler movements. I could just have easily written, "Which is why it has especially bothered me that so many people are harping that the root movements "ARE" aiki. They're common to all budo, supposedly, but they "ARE" aiki. That just erases the unique nature of aiki and blurs it to the point that it can be anything."

Chris Moses
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:38 AM   #1004
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Which is why it has especially bothered me that so many people are harping that the internal mechanics "ARE" aiki. They're common to all budo, supposedly, but they "ARE" aiki. That just erases the unique nature of aiki and blurs it to the point that it can be anything.
Hi David.

I'm going to disagree with you on a few points here. First, coming from the outside, looking in on "aiki", yes, it seems that your point above would be true. But, once you actually experience "aiki", it creates a difference of sorts. Something that you can't explain in words, but definitely creates a unique nature to "aiki".

And from my limited experience, there are differences in "aiki". While Dan, Mike, and Rob (in order that I met them) all felt similar, there were differences, too.

I would encourage everyone to get out there and meet them or some of the people they have listed as other Internal artists. There were quite a few.

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Then there's the matter of "technique". Dan likes to say that aikido is not a system of techniques, but if "ALL" the arts are expressions of people with arms, legs and a head, what distinguishes Aikido from Chen and Wu, Karate and Sumo? It's merely the techniques.
Well, think about that a minute. What differentiates judo and aikido right now? When you start learning judo, what do you do? You start learning how to fall a certain way, attack a certain way, etc. If you put an aikido person and a judo person together, how do you tell them apart? By the way they move and fall. These are learned abilities, right? It isn't natural or all of us would look the same moving and falling.

So, take a look at Mifune and Shioda. Granted, not an even match up, but worth an example. When Shioda does something, his ukes respond according to their training. When Mifune does something, his ukes respond according to their training. Thus you can see more judo like falls in a judo dojo and more aikido like falls/rolls in an aikido dojo. Put the judo uke in an aikido dojo and he doesn't magically fall/roll like an aikido uke.

Now, watching Mifune on google video, you can see that he's playing a Judo game. Each time he completes a technique, it's because he waited for one to appear. You can tell that at any time, should he choose to do something else, he could.

But it isn't about the techniques being the building block of the art. In any art worth its salt, the techniques do not matter. The principles of the art matter. The techniques are merely the outward physical appearance of how the founders chose to express their principles. Some students put together a syllabus of techniques to help them learn the principles. To each art, their own.

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Having just spent a good bit of time reviewing some of the later posts in Baseline Skills, I don't think anyone would say that Chen was doing aikido or anything but Chen style. And how do we know it's Chen and not Sumo? Even though they have related body mechanics, they are definitely different arts because they take different technical approaches.
Nah, technical approaches don't matter. Well, except for logically arranging training so that students can work on principles. Why do you think Ueshiba said, after watching KSR practice, We do it this way with aiki (paraphrasing here). It wasn't because of the technical approach (otherwise he would have copied the KSR exactly), but because of how his principle of aiki worked through the sword. Others aggregated the technical approach to better help them learn and understand the principles.

This is why I believe Ledyard sensei when he says that we should follow Ueshiba's aikido as best as we can (paraphrasing again). If we don't, it isn't Ueshiba's aikido. That doesn't mean we have to exactly follow Ueshiba, but the aiki must be there, some similar spirituality must be there, and a similar outlook on martial applications must be there.

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
So, since a lot of the discussion in the new forum WILL be about aikido and aiki in general, it might be better to call it "Internal Mechanics" or something similar.

Best wishes to all.

David
That's up to Jun.
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:52 AM   #1005
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

....I thought there was nothing to be gained in this line of discussion, Chris.

What did you find gainful about it to make this post?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
David, I find it hugely amusing that you're willing to make this distinction wrt 'internal' principles but not with toddler movements. I could just have easily written, "Which is why it has especially bothered me that so many people are harping that the root movements "ARE" aiki. They're common to all budo, supposedly, but they "ARE" aiki. That just erases the unique nature of aiki and blurs it to the point that it can be anything."
The fact is, "No root, no aiki". Ever see any kind of tree without a root? It has to come from somewhere, doesn't it?

And again, I have always specified that toddler movements are the raw material which is "cultivated" into higher expressions of aiki.

Further, Mochizuki Sensei clearly defined aiki as "the ura of kiai". We, adults and parents, have strength and plenty of kiai. Toddlers demonstrate amazing ability to access the "ura" of our strength and I still see no reason be believe anything but that ancient jujutsuka refined their approaches by observing the startling effectiveness of toddler responses to overwhelming strength.

Best to you.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

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Old 06-20-2007, 12:08 PM   #1006
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
First, coming from the outside, looking in on "aiki", yes, it seems that your point above would be true. But, once you actually experience "aiki", it creates a difference of sorts. Something that you can't explain in words, but definitely creates a unique nature to "aiki".
I did have a few experiences of aiki in Japan, with Mochizuki Sensei and his students and he discussed its nature with me at length. So I have felt it and I've had it technically explained to me by one of the earliest masters of aikido. And I've experienced the skills of high-level karateka, judoka and tai chi/kung fu men as well. And I have always said that there are marked differences in the nature of what each of them was doing. But I've also said that the root of all those different expressions is, as Rob said, that we are human beings with four limbs and a head connected to a central torso. The real surprise is how many widely different expressions can be produced from those limitations. Still, they are unique and I would be wrong to say that Chen tai chi is the same as aikido or vice versa.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
And from my limited experience, there are differences in "aiki". While Dan, Mike, and Rob (in order that I met them) all felt similar, there were differences, too.
That's why I would prefer to call what they're doing "internal mechanics" instead of aiki. Dan and Rob do have some connections to aiki through aikijujutsu--especially Rob, through Akuzawa's training in Sagawa's dojo. But there has been a lot of talk about what aikido is and what Ueshiba did and would have done and didn't do from people who never met him and who never met anyone who did meet him. I think there's room for more than a little error there.

Every master at the yoseikan had a unique approach to aikido, largely based on body size and build. And Yoshio Sugino sometimes came to the dojo, or we would go to his dojo, so, while I never directly felt his technique, I did train with many people who had trained with him. Yet among them all, I didn't find that much difference in the basic experience of the aiki of what they were doing. What I hear from the internal mechanics side sounds far more like the feeling I've gotten from Chinese artists.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I would encourage everyone to get out there and meet them or some of the people they have listed as other Internal artists. There were quite a few.
I'm still waiting to hear back from Dan.

Tokyo remains a bit out of reach. I had hoped to be there this October, for my sister-in-law's wedding, but alas, it is scheduled for Hawaii! Ironic to be disappointed in going to Hawaii, but it will be my only flight in that direction for at least another year, I'm sure.

So I'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, I have no argument that the internal mechanics approach can produce greatly heightened effectiveness, but that's what qigong is. Read a thirty-year-old martial arts magazine and you will get the message that body alignment is necessary for proper energy flow, which is necessary for ultimate effectiveness in application (technique). So none of this is new. In fact, Aunkai harks (or 'Arks') back to really ancient modes of action. There was a lot of noise in the signal for the first several months it was being discussed, though.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
...take a look at Mifune and Shioda. Granted, not an even match up, but worth an example.
Mochizuki Sensei said that Mifune was very close to Ueshiba in his ability to throw at will and wherever he wanted the uke to go. FWIW.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
But it isn't about the techniques being the building block of the art. In any art worth its salt, the techniques do not matter.
Yes and no. Mifune, Shioda, Ueshiba, Mochizuki could all do whatever was effective for them at any moment. In fact, for my own use, I don't feel limited at all by "techniques" of aikido. But you recognize each person by his face and the techniques are the "face" of any art.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
The principles of the art matter. The techniques are merely the outward physical appearance of how the founders chose to express their principles. Some students put together a syllabus of techniques to help them learn the principles. To each art, their own.
Yes, but, as you say above, Shioda did not do judo-style techniques even though he had a good level of skill in judo before joining Ueshiba. Mochizuki, on the other hand, really personified what you say. He would do virtually any technique and call it aikido because of the way he got to the technique. Many of the executions of his technique were technically "judo," but he entered it from an aiki approach and so it was aikido. But if he had started from a "ju" approach, it would have been judo.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Nah, technical approaches don't matter. Well, except for logically arranging training so that students can work on principles.
And that's the difference. Not every technique illustrates every principle and an art that heavily emphasizes one principle (as karate emphasizes kiai, for instance) cannot effectively teach another principle (such as aiki) through those techniques. That's why the arts and the techniques are integrated organisms. Aikido uses aiki techniques and karate uses kiai techniques. Sumo uses more a mixture, but it is for a specific purpose and that purpose is not the same as aikido's or karate's. So the techniques rely on universal principles, but not every art emphasizes the same principles. Which is where the relation to tai chi comes in: it takes a very different approach and uses principles that aikido does not, so it is a mistake to try to overlay aikido with tai chi principles and think that it gives you a better understanding of aikido.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Why do you think Ueshiba said, after watching KSR practice, We do it this way with aiki (paraphrasing here). It wasn't because of the technical approach (otherwise he would have copied the KSR exactly), but because of how his principle of aiki worked through the sword.
Yes. It's because what Ueshiba was doing was different from what KSR was doing. Mochizuki, on the other hand, did learn KSR to a high level before modifying the kata to what he felt was a more realistic form. And Sugino kept the kata exactly as he learned them. They used to get together and argue extensively over that.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
This is why I believe Ledyard sensei when he says that we should follow Ueshiba's aikido as best as we can (paraphrasing again). If we don't, it isn't Ueshiba's aikido. That doesn't mean we have to exactly follow Ueshiba, but the aiki must be there, some similar spirituality must be there, and a similar outlook on martial applications must be there.
I don't see the disagreement there. But as I said above, some people who never knew anyone who ever knew Ueshiba have gone on at length about Ueshiba and I think many of their points are mistaken.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
(on changing the forum name to "internal mechanics")
That's up to Jun.
It is his prerogative.

Best to all.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-20-2007, 12:11 PM   #1007
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
Hi folks,

Can you please take discussions not pertaining directly to the formation of the "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" forum outside of this thread? Thanks.

-- Jun
Sorry.

I posted my last response before I saw your request.

I will go to the Baseline Skills thread with other comments along that line.

Thanks.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 06-20-2007, 01:09 PM   #1008
David Orange
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Re: Baseline skillset

Hmmm.....My original reply just vanished. Now I will have to put together another that carries the gist of it.

Okay...

Having read back through some of the later posts of this thread, I have enjoyed learning a lot about the Chen family and their approach to tai chi as a martial art. However, I find nothing there to support the idea that it shares much in principle with aikido.

Here is a very interesting article from the Aikido Journal site:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=640

Robert Smith trained at the aikikai hombu when Morihei Ueshiba was active there. He saw Ueshiba perform and asked to have the technique done on him but was not permitted. He also trained in judo in Japan but eventually put his main effort in tai chi.

Smith recounts an encounter with two of Koichi Tohei's students which shows that there is a real difference between "internal" aikido and tai chi:

"Another time two of (Tohei's) 3rd-dans visited with me in Bethesda. Inevitably, these likable ones wanted to know of taiji. "It's soft," I said.

"But," one responded, "our aikido is also soft." He thrust his arm at me for a test. His arm was not stiff.

But neither was it soft and I was able to use "pull down" (t'sai) of taiji successfully several times. His colleague jumped into it, and though his arm was more supple than his friends', it still "was against" my arm, permitting me to pull him around easily.""


Since so much has been made of Tohei's having "the real stuff," it should clearly show the difference between aikido and tai chi--not merely outward technical differences, but a difference in spirit, approach and underlying principles.

Next, while many people have touted Tohei as one of the best examples of "aiki immoveability", Smith recounts an episode in which Tohei was moved:

"Oblivious of the aikido students practicing, Canada braced Tohei. Could he see the "unbendable arm"? Tohei nodded and put the arm out. Canada tried the bend with medium strength but, that unavailing, he swerved full bore taking it in an arc downward leaning Tohei over in a precarious position. Then he released the hold and announced, "So much for the unbendable arm," and strutted like a peacock out of the dojo. Tohei went back to his students, doubtless miffed, but not showing it."

This shows that demonstrations of "immoveability" are subject to "the conditions," even for someone like Tohei. Further it shows that "failure" in such a "skill" demonstration is no indication of one's real ability in aikido.

So what are we left with?

I say that there are some universal body mechanics which will enhance anyone's life, but they are expressed differently in each of the major martial arts and practicing any of those arts extensively will condition those mechanics in different ways.

So aikido does not use the same energy in the same way as tai chi. This does not make either one superior or inferior because each has its own purpose. As much as I respect aikido, there is a certain stiffness to it as Smith describes above. But as much as I respect Chen tai chi, I doubt that even a high level practitioner would have much hope against a samurai sword, while an excellent aikido man would take the sword away from the attacker.

It is important to recognize the similarities between things, but failure to respect their differences is a failure to know them at all.

Best to all.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 06-20-2007, 03:30 PM   #1009
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
David, I find it hugely amusing that you're willing to make this distinction...
Chris, I just had a look at your Shinto Ryu website and was really surprised to see that Robby Pellet is your teacher!

I had some good times training with Robby in Japan in 1986 and later. He was always a really nice guy. In fact, I have a little clip of him training at the yoseikan, being thrown in sutemi by Murai Sensei. Since Robby is about 6'5" and Murai was about 4'10 at that time, it's pretty neat to see. And there were some children in that class, too, so the heights went from about 4' to Robby's 6'5". It's pretty funny to watch, but Murai always was very neat to see.

By the way, I looked at the gallery shots of your sword group. Do you appear in any of those shots?

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:55 PM   #1010
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Chris, I just had a look at your Shinto Ryu website and was really surprised to see that Robby Pellet is your teacher!

I had some good times training with Robby in Japan in 1986 and later. He was always a really nice guy. In fact, I have a little clip of him training at the yoseikan, being thrown in sutemi by Murai Sensei. Since Robby is about 6'5" and Murai was about 4'10 at that time, it's pretty neat to see. And there were some children in that class, too, so the heights went from about 4' to Robby's 6'5". It's pretty funny to watch, but Murai always was very neat to see.

By the way, I looked at the gallery shots of your sword group. Do you appear in any of those shots?

Best wishes.

David
Shouldn't be surprising, since we've PM'd about it in 2005 over on e-budo. I've been to Japan with Robbie and it's truly amusing to watch him duck and dodge through doorways, tower over everyone in the room and yet still project a dignified humble quality. I'd love to see the video in question. He's currently a godan and official renshi of Shinto Ryu with three yondan students (not bad considering that there's all of about 12 people in the nation who belong to the ryuha). The two of us did a demo of sutemi waza on hardwood about 7 years ago at a local tameshigiri/battodo taikai. Unfortunately due to his very busy schedule, I don't get to do much open hand stuff with him. I would mention (to try and drag this back on topic a bit) that he was very impressed by Rob's workshop (both wrt to quality of material and clarity of instruction) that he did for my aikibudo group and has encouraged me to integrate what I can of it into my Shinto Ryu waza. I'm in several pix on the site, if you click on "Gallery" I'm on the main page there seated in a black gi. If you look closely you'll also find a pic of me finishing a 6 mat unspiked makiwara (they were soft, I'm not THAT good), there's also a >>shakey<< video of me doing our first two kata on my youtube site.

Chris Moses
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:08 PM   #1011
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Shouldn't be surprising, since we've PM'd about it in 2005 over on e-budo.
Yes, I didn't realize he was your teacher, though. It was a real surprise to see him on that page.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I've been to Japan with Robbie and it's truly amusing to watch him duck and dodge through doorways, tower over everyone in the room and yet still project a dignified humble quality.
I know what you mean. He was always very humble. Some of the people I was with when I met him were a bit dismissive of him because he didn't have his roots in yoseikan, but he didn't let it bother him at all. He was very sincere. Last I saw him was at Rin So In, the temple of the son of Shunryu Suzuki. I think I have a picture of me and him together, possibly with Hojo-san, the temple master. Robby was his student. I can never think of Robby without good, positive feelings.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I'd love to see the video in question.
It's just a few seconds out of a precious few minutes. You won't see much footage anywhere of Kyoichi Murai. Robby probably worked with him a good bit more than I did and he was fortunate to do so. And smart.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
The two of us did a demo of sutemi waza on hardwood about 7 years ago at a local tameshigiri/battodo taikai.
Yeah, I love to do sutemi waza on hardwood...preferably with spikes in it....or concrete with barbed wire...live blades....

Really, though, hardwood sutemi is pretty extreme. The mats at the yoseikan were very stiff, not at all soft, and sometimes a corner would be sticking up....but hardwood is another thing entirely.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
Unfortunately due to his very busy schedule, I don't get to do much open hand stuff with him. I would mention (to try and drag this back on topic a bit) that he was very impressed by Rob's workshop (both wrt to quality of material and clarity of instruction) that he did for my aikibudo group and has encouraged me to integrate what I can of it into my Shinto Ryu waza.
Rob seems to have aged well in a fairly short time. Akuzawa must really be a ball of fire.

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I'm in several pix on the site, if you click on "Gallery" I'm on the main page there seated in a black gi. If you look closely you'll also find a pic of me finishing a 6 mat unspiked makiwara (they were soft, I'm not THAT good), there's also a >>shakey<< video of me doing our first two kata on my youtube site.
I'll have another look. Give Robby my regards when you see him, please.

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:23 PM   #1012
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
I would encourage everyone to get out there and meet them or some of the people they have listed as other Internal artists. There were quite a few.
Just to say, I did hear back from Dan and we're trying to find a mutually acceptable time that I can get up to visit. I thought he was in MD, but he's in MA. Big difference and changes my thinking about everything....again.

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-21-2007, 06:41 AM   #1013
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Just to say, I did hear back from Dan and we're trying to find a mutually acceptable time that I can get up to visit. I thought he was in MD, but he's in MA. Big difference and changes my thinking about everything....again.

Best wishes.

David
When we stop changing our thinking, that's the time to quit martial arts alltogether.

If you do make it to MD, let me know. I'll try to drive over and say hi.

Mark
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Old 06-21-2007, 07:23 AM   #1014
David Orange
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Re: "Non-Aikido Martial Traditions" Forum

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
When we stop changing our thinking, that's the time to quit martial arts alltogether.
I agree. I've been thinking backward for awhile, now, and I'm considering switching to sideward thinking. That or inside-out....

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If you do make it to MD, let me know. I'll try to drive over and say hi.
Sounds cool. I will let you know!

David

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Old 06-21-2007, 09:17 AM   #1015
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Re: Baseline skillset

I also hope that those of you folks (Mark M., Ron T., I'm especially hoping you'll contribute, cause I've met you and have some context for your words, but I'd welcome any other perspectives) that are now working on the fundamentals from your meetings with Dan (yes, I'm jealous -- but that includes missing meeting Mike & Rob when they were in the DC area) will be able to provide some updates -- basically, whatever you feel comfortable sharing that you start to notice/feel happening within you as you continue working the solo drills, etc.

I continue to be quite interested in this stuff and think that, while the debate seems to have somewhat settled down regarding whether these skills are out there and are integral parts to budo training -- I know I'd personally love to hear more about the progress you guys are making as you start to work this stuff. Anything from how you see your posture changing, to how you start to apply/receive forces in training or in everyday interactions.

I guess I'd say just colour me mucho curiouso (pardon the Spanglish).
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Old 06-21-2007, 10:06 AM   #1016
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Re: Baseline skillset

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
I know I'd personally love to hear more about the progress you guys are making as you start to work this stuff.
I'll second that.

thanks,
Adam
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Old 06-21-2007, 10:56 AM   #1017
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Re: Baseline skillset

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David Orange wrote: View Post
So what are we left with?
What I am left with is being puzzled by willful misreading of the article.

in addition, one incident between a very senior Tai Chi teacher catching two junior aikido students in mistakes says really nothing about your point. It's just a case in point for how cross-training can help you learn things about your own art that you may not have understood or just been completely missed off on or are not hearing until come at from a different direction.

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Old 06-21-2007, 11:01 AM   #1018
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Re: Baseline skillset

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
I also hope that those of you folks (Mark M., Ron T., I'm especially hoping you'll contribute, cause I've met you and have some context for your words, but I'd welcome any other perspectives) that are now working on the fundamentals from your meetings with Dan (yes, I'm jealous -- but that includes missing meeting Mike & Rob when they were in the DC area) will be able to provide some updates -- basically, whatever you feel comfortable sharing that you start to notice/feel happening within you as you continue working the solo drills, etc.

I continue to be quite interested in this stuff and think that, while the debate seems to have somewhat settled down regarding whether these skills are out there and are integral parts to budo training -- I know I'd personally love to hear more about the progress you guys are making as you start to work this stuff. Anything from how you see your posture changing, to how you start to apply/receive forces in training or in everyday interactions.

I guess I'd say just colour me mucho curiouso (pardon the Spanglish).
Hi Budd,
I remember meeting you at the Amdur seminar, which is where I first met Ron and Sorrentino. That's one seminar that I'm glad I didn't miss. Although I hated missing the Sunday session.

As for the baseline skillset development. Let me put this in some perspective. I met Dan initially for about, oh, 2 hours or so? Man, I can't even remember the timeframe (We talked quite a bit afterwards at dinner, too.) I wouldn't call that meeting a teaching environment, per se. Although I did learn a lot. I've only met with Dan one more time and that was a training environment for half a day or so. Add in the day with Mike and Rob and I really can't say that I have a lot of hands-on time.

But I can say that I have a lot of training tools. Those tools are the solo exercises (and some paired ones) and not only were they explained/taught/shown to me by Dan, Mike, and Rob, but they were also explained by some of Dan's students. (A big thanks to them for that, too! I'd definitely spend time with them if Dan wasn't there, they were that helpful. If fact, if Dan wasn't available for a seminar, I'd be overjoyed if any of his students were. If some of you that are reading this haven't gotten the clue yet, let me say outright that I was greatly impressed by the group of people that train with Dan.)

The solo exercises. They are some of the most painful, hard, exerting, uplifting, tedious, mind-crushing, elating, numbing, exasperating set of exercises that I've ever done. The lazy side of me rebels every time I think of doing them. When I'm doing them right (as right as I can tell), I'm drenched in sweat within 5-10 minutes and they aren't aerobic at all. My mind typically gives out before my body does. And yet, there are moments when doing them that there's a certain elation kind of feeling. You're sinking but rising. The ground feels like it's in other parts of your body ... or rather there is nothing between that part and the ground ... or something like that.

Oh, and then I work on hanmi and everything bad I said about the exercises -- double it. Oh, do I hate hanmi. Especially on one side. And the lower back being flat thing -- ugh.

How often do I do the exercises? No lying here, especially to myself. Not enough. Not nearly enough. The time spent? I spend anywhere between 15 minutes and 45 minutes at a time doing the solo exercises. The days? Probably 3-4 days a week.

The differences. Ugh, but what a rough thing to try to explain. I'm finding that the nikkyo and sankyo locks aren't working on me. When they do, it's because I've lost the internal structure. I have a cousin who's mostly muscle, taller, and heavier than I am. I had him get stable with his arms straight out in front, fingers upwards, palms toward me. I stood in front of him with my arms out, our palms touching. I used muscle and pushed against him. He resisted with muscle. Then, I did the push again, but with internal structure. His reply was, I had to take a step back. But all I did was take a step forward. It was as if he didn't exist, it was just me stepping forward.

I get maybe one in ten or one in twenty when I try this stuff. Sometimes one in a hundred. It isn't easy. It isn't a shortcut. But I'm finding, so far, that it is a better way of training to have/keep structure in an "aikido" fashion. You know, relax, focus on center/hara/one point, kuzushi, extend ki, etc. All those seem to be effects from working on the baseline skillset. But there are even more that come from working on the baseline skillset which I haven't gotten to. And all of that makes this a very worthwhile endeavor.

Hope that helps with the curiousity.

Mark
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:22 AM   #1019
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Re: Baseline skillset

Mark, thank you very much for sharing that.
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Old 06-21-2007, 11:30 AM   #1020
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Re: Baseline skillset

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
What I am left with is being puzzled by willful misreading of the article.
Smith was experienced in judo, aikido and tai chi. He pointed out that the "softness" of aikido is very different from the "softness" of tai chi, with which I agree.

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Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
...one incident between a very senior Tai Chi teacher catching two junior aikido students in mistakes says really nothing about your point.
Two sandans trained by Tohei (especially back in "those days") would have been pretty advanced. Advanced enough, at any rate, that if Tohei were "teaching the real stuff" that has since been omitted (and which can be learned in a matter of several weeks--certainly within a year), if it were actually related to tai chi, there wouldn't have been such an obvious difference in the use of the arms. The point is that the energy and use of energy in tai chi and aikido are different at a very fundamental level.

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Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
It's just a case in point for how cross-training can help you learn things about your own art that you may not have understood or just been completely missed off on or are not hearing until come at from a different direction.
I understand how cross training can help since I've done both Japanese and Chinese arts over many years. And my point is that, while cross-training can help you learn things about your own art, it can also help you learn that the various arts are different in more than just their names. They are fundamentally different arts.

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
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Old 06-21-2007, 09:46 PM   #1021
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Re: Baseline skillset

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David Orange wrote: View Post
So what are we left with?

I say that there are some universal body mechanics which will enhance anyone's life, but they are expressed differently in each of the major martial arts and practicing any of those arts extensively will condition those mechanics in different ways.

So aikido does not use the same energy in the same way as tai chi. This does not make either one superior or inferior because each has its own purpose. As much as I respect aikido, there is a certain stiffness to it as Smith describes above. But as much as I respect Chen tai chi, I doubt that even a high level practitioner would have much hope against a samurai sword, while an excellent aikido man would take the sword away from the attacker.

Best to all.

David
I read that article and came away with a completely different take on things.
That notwithstanding your main point is captured in your closing statement:
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David Orange wrote: View Post
It is important to recognize the similarities between things, but failure to respect their differences is a failure to know them at all.
This presupposes that the practitioners of these two arts -Aikido and Tai chi- have a clue as to what they were supposed to be getting from their art in the first place. And secondly that you have any qualifying skills to both identify and judge what is shared and just what IS different.

Odd that of the few men who actually have skills and ability to really judge-they seem to find similarities. Perhaps, they have the knowledge to see things you cannot see, David. Perhaps they can look past yet another technique and to discern what is really going on. A couple years ago I spent an afternoon with a Chinese master of tai chi who also had trained two of Sagawa Yukioshi's students. he found and even expounded on similarities he saw with his experiences in Japan.
Yet, I've met many men like you in Aikido and DR and Tai chi who categorically state their arts are "unique" and different from all the rest. I know who I'll listen to.
So as you said "What are we left with?" Pretty much listening to men expound on their own experiences- as limited or as expansive as they may be. An example right here is your fanciful idea that aikido people can take away "samurai swords" from swordsmen. First off, calling them "samurai swords" instead of Katana sounds amateurish and weird, and second taking a Katana out of the hands of someone who knows how to use it is going to be a whole different affair then a bokken wielding Aiki-ken person. I find the idea preposterous.
Coming from a point of view like yours-that toddler movement IS aiki and its all natural explains allot about where your coming from and why you "see" the things you see. In the end, It won't change the truth that these Asian arts share in their bodywork.
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Old 06-22-2007, 01:14 AM   #1022
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Re: Baseline skillset

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David Orange wrote: View Post
So aikido does not use the same energy in the same way as tai chi. This does not make either one superior or inferior because each has its own purpose. As much as I respect aikido, there is a certain stiffness to it as Smith describes above. But as much as I respect Chen tai chi, I doubt that even a high level practitioner would have much hope against a samurai sword, while an excellent aikido man would take the sword away from the attacker.
I'd have to agree with Dan on this one David.
I doubt very many aiki guys would be taking the sword away from someone like Otake or Kuroda.
I understand what you're saying, but in the end they're both "bujutsu," and bujutsu ends begins and ends in "setsuna" or the moment.
Whether or not xxx person takes away the other guys sword, or the other guy gets rammed with the sword is a measure of how deeply one or another has refined/developed his foundation.
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Old 06-22-2007, 05:33 AM   #1023
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Re: Baseline skillset

Hi Rob
Kuroda? Otake Sensei?
I'd bet my money on mid level students of various Koryu bujutsu of my choosing against Aikido Shihan. I'm not disparaging Aikido but rather the "idea" that you can take the sword away from men who train to use it. I've had this discussion with top men in the field of Japanese Bujutsu. I don't think you'll find the idea taken seriously by many of them and you will get laughed at to your face by several I know. The idea is viewed with as much credibiltiy as the Aikido folks who punch the knuckles of a knife wielders hands as a defense, or tenkan. Its generally recognized that allot will change if you give the knife- or in this case the sword- to someone who knows how to use it.

A more interesting topic is the idea of internal training and sword. Which is better; speed or power?
Speed.
But with the proper connections built-in your power goes through the roof with no dedicated muscle in the movement. Everything you train for with the hands gets applied in the extension to the weapon. Then you have the idea of body displacement in order to cut-through central pivot. But you won't get there either without training to place your center-out there- in the sword or better yet, the spear point. I don't think you can body-train and then, of a sudden, be good with weapons. The extension I just wrote about is a hard won, many year, endevour. Eminating ground and manipulating center is a powerful tool in weapons work though as misunderstood, by as many, who misunderstand internal structure in budo in general. Its simply not trained or known. I've had folks tell me I'm flexing or using dedicated power when they make contact with my weapon when I am in fact relaxed and simply eminating. One guy even pulled his strike expecting I'd overextend. When he did I just stood there looking at him. If your body is using structure any resistence to the monouchi- even a touch- will result in them feeling ground or power, while you reamin relaxed . Since there is no dedication of power to be had it leaves you being light and mobile though feeling hard to the point of cutting the weapons right out of their hands. With spear, the idea of winding and weight transfer is just as valuable in the thrust, as it is in retraction of the point. Of course none of this will get you mastering Kata or the movements of a ryu. But outside of Kata -axis control and use of the central pivot is a huge advantage in relaxed movement while maintaining balance and non dedicated power in general weapons work.

Last edited by DH : 06-22-2007 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:39 AM   #1024
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Re: Baseline skillset

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
A more interesting topic is the idea of internal training and sword...

But with the proper connections built-in your power goes through the roof with no dedicated muscle in the movement... Since there is no dedication of power to be had it leaves you being light and mobile though feeling hard to the point of cutting the weapons right out of their hands. (emphasis added)
This topic is interesting in regard to the connection between Daito-ryu and Ono-ha Itto-ryu. It would seem that Itto-ryu, with the emphasis of overpowering your opponent (or at least, cutting through your opponent's strike), would benefit greatly from the type of internal work found in Daito-ryu.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 06-22-2007, 07:54 AM   #1025
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Re: Baseline skillset

Question: There's been talk about the relaxed, coordinated structure emanating power, but Dan especially with your statement regarding speed being more important than power, I have to wonder if training the body mechanics you describe doesn't also give one a (at least perceived, possibly actual as well -- either way, I'm asking not trying to state from any point of authority) noticeable advantage in speed, purely from the standpoint of efficient movement (or not wasting movement by engaging unnecessary muscles/pathways, etc.)?

From my own experiences working out with boxers and grapplers, the better guys seem to move much faster and with greater relaxed power -- but they never give the impression that they're rushing anything, unstable or off-balanced in their movements. I'm not trying to say that this is the same thing as the "baseline skills" that are described in this thread, instead and in my own clumsy way, I'm trying to ask if the results of the training you describe don't also manifest in what I've described above?

Anyhow, I fully understand if the answer (or at least a good chunk of it) hinges on the "it has to be felt" variety. One of my goals for this year is to be able to get out more and work with those doing this "stuff". But since the discussion had sort of danced around this topic, I thought I'd ask . . .
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