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Old 01-31-2007, 07:25 PM   #1
seank
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Committed attack... a cliche?

Been musing about this for the last few months, but we're regularly reminded about being committed in attacking our nage whilst practicing, even though a very large percentage Aikidoka I've met on the mat haven't trained in another martial art or have much experience in full-contact training.

I find it very difficult to just throw a punch, or shomen or yokomen as I've trained most of my life (I began training in karate as a child many a moon ago) in stringing together attacks and not throwing everything behind one "knock-out" technique.

It is very rare to find a single technique that will knock someone out or stun them, but you find very quickly in full-contact its the lucky unseen punch or kick or elbow that finds its way to you. To this end I've found most experienced martial artists will do a technique followed by something else, followed by something else... eventually something will get through (this is of course the opposite of points scoring comps where its continuous just to get the contact and point).

Anyway, back on track... I find that I can't commit fully to an attack in my natural form as my natural style is to wait for an opening or watch my oponent for tells then launch a string of attacks. Its very very hard to take my balance because I don't throw my shoulder when punching, and I don't kick unless its to create distance or distract my opponent. I am comfortable at ma-ai, in close or at distance and will range my attacks accordingly.

I use all parts of my body to attack, switching from kicks to punches to elbows as the distance requires. From many years of training I react instinctively, not in any planned way.

This all begs the question is a committed attack just that, or a cliche...
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Old 01-31-2007, 10:59 PM   #2
Lan Powers
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

How about the idea of the attack being "committed" to matching your partners training needs?
Give more to the "Big-Dogs" and temper that with a more suitable quasi-attack (if that makes sense) to the less experienced/less capable folks. Surely, you expect the attacks that you receive
(being experienced, trained, etc.) to come with more speed-power-intent etc.
They didn't start out that way for you did they?

Commit to the idea of landing the attack.....just match its form to your partner (instead of opponent) intend to convey power with the ones who can deal with it.

>quote: I use all parts of my body to attack, switching from kicks to punches to elbows as the distance requires. From many years of training I react instinctively, not in any planned way.<

Nice for fighting...less nice for training unless the other half of that equation is on the same level with you. Kind of an opportunity to "harmonize" isn't it.
I wish I was at the level to deal with *Whatever* more than I am. Time and practice, time and practice...then maybe
Just my thoughts.....

Lan

Last edited by Lan Powers : 01-31-2007 at 11:03 PM.

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 01-31-2007, 11:18 PM   #3
Aristeia
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

what you've identified is the reason why Aikido doesnt work well in sparring and why, imo, there are difficulties in adding sparring into aikido training. Once you start looking for openings, takeing a more stategic approach etc etc, you're playing the game. Aikido is not designed for, and does not work well where people are playing that game. It works better when someone is just so p**ed off and aggressive they are going to swing for you for all they're worth. If you want to beat people who want to spar, there's better ways to do it. So my thought is to stop thinking about how you would attack in a match, and start thinking about just trying to take their head off.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:48 AM   #4
Al Williams
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
find that I can't commit fully to an attack in my natural form as my natural style is to wait for an opening or watch my oponent for tells then launch a string of attacks
Does that mean that you are not able find an opening or does it mean that your nage is skilled enough not to give you one?
Your mentality seems to be on you winning and not on attacking. Committed attack does not have to be fast or even effective. Committed attack is about your mind set not your physical ability.
Example: Yokomen attack- very slow. Finish your cut, hold your balance, don't pre-empt nage and block the throw.
Don't block the throw. Uke and Nage must maintain the same speed throughout the technique- a quick drop of the elbow or quick footwork.
Attack with commitment and honesty.

TRAIN HARD AND OFTEN
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:53 AM   #5
Amir Krause
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

You are describing attacks in high level and compare them to beginner level type of practice in Aikido. If the attacker is of high level, Aikido provide no magic for the defender except to be at least as good.

A single committed attack is a type of Kata, aimed at learning multiple things, depending on the level of the practitioner, some very general
* Technique mechanics - this is the most basic thing we learn, and one often uses much simpler situations for it, it starts at the gross level and goes on into refinement (internalizing the movement).
* Reaction to specific attack - Mai and timing relevant for this specific attack. At first, one takes this as a recipe: he does this I do this ... at higher levels this becomes possibilities tree.
* Opportunities to use a technique - which opportunities invite which technique. As one progresses should go on to subtleties - weight loss etc.
* Inviting the attack - The attack should correspond to the openings Tori presents, thus, at high level, one should aspire to learn how to "invite the attack he wishes for".


The strategic idea behind this type of practice actually corresponds to the attacking approach you present. The Aikidoka tries to lure you to attack a specific opening at one specific moment, and gives you the impression a strong attack a that moment would be crucial, this attack would place you in the trap for a counter, since the Aikidoka has the real initiative and would thus be likely to succeed.
The Aikido movement is aimed at gaining a superior position for a counter attack, if the first Aikido maneuver failed, this position should be even more favorable in the case of a secondary attack, improving the Aikidoka chances of succeeding then.

As I stated previously, non of these principles is magical, and I have heard all of them mentioned at other M.A. in high levels. Aikido aspires to those high levels from day one and presents a lot of disadvantages until one gets there. The benefit is supposed to be a better structured way to arrive there and less chances for getting stack at a detour.

Amir
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Old 02-01-2007, 03:51 AM   #6
Bridge
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Hello,

I do karate too (including lots of sparring), and it's never stopped me doing a totally committed 1 technique attack during aikido practice.

On the occasions that my practice partner has left and opening or lost the flow, I'll fling in an opportunistic follow up. Doesn't happen that often these days with the guys, I think they've wised up.

Are you just thinking too hard at the time? I know this sounds like an obvious thing to say, but the task in hand is "just land that technique". The rest will take care of itself.

Perhaps some pad/bag work would help?
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:15 AM   #7
seank
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for the replies so far...

Wha I mean by waiting for an opening could be described in a similar fashion to two Aikidoka facing each other. If neither attacks they both stand there. I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't over-commit to an attack, always allowing options to follow up if the first attack doesn't work... I am finding it difficult to get into a committed single attack mindset in light of this.

Cheers.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:06 AM   #8
DonMagee
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
what you've identified is the reason why Aikido doesnt work well in sparring and why, imo, there are difficulties in adding sparring into aikido training. Once you start looking for openings, takeing a more stategic approach etc etc, you're playing the game. Aikido is not designed for, and does not work well where people are playing that game. It works better when someone is just so p**ed off and aggressive they are going to swing for you for all they're worth. If you want to beat people who want to spar, there's better ways to do it. So my thought is to stop thinking about how you would attack in a match, and start thinking about just trying to take their head off.

True to a point, but I'm brainwashed so that even if I was blind with rage, I have a feeling i'm going to throw combos. Its the boxing training. I'd probably just try to throw them with harai though if I really didn't like them. That requires a committed grab, so maybe the point is valid.

My problem with the committed strikes used in aikido training is how telegraphed they are, even at a high level. They are always lunging. It is possible to throw hard committed strikes without a huge lunge from a distance no one in their right mind would attack from. If I was fighting a person with normal aikido distancing I would just be trying to close the distance and not trying to strike.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:44 AM   #9
Tom Fish
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Just from another perspective consider that in Judo training, we practice our combos by attacking with the intent of completing the last throw in the lineup (leading from a series of throws.) The throws leading up to the last technique are applied with less commitment because we are training to flow from one situation to the next. We are trying to get the feeling of the "moment" when we recognize that when one applied technique fails, the next opportunity may appear. In competition you commit to an attack without holding back knowing that if your attack is countered you can "feel the moment" and continue to go with the flow. This is what we practice in Aikido as well. In class people don't need to hit me in the mouth so that I can learn to defend from a punch. The attack should be committed with the intent of showing these "moments" and providing the opportunity to learn the technique. The attacks can be generic enough that they could represent a punch to the mouth without endangering the Tori. The point is that you want to be able to study the technique and learn how to apply it properly before turning on the fire. Class is the place to study and Randori is the place to practice. A committed attack should not be confused with "street reality". 2 cents
Best
Tom
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:53 AM   #10
SeiserL
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Sean Kelleher wrote:
I am finding it difficult to get into a committed single attack mindset in light of this.
I do too. In advanced belts we will sometime wait and take the second or third attack. But in the beginning, it is useful in training to be committed to one.

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 02-01-2007, 07:06 AM   #11
Don
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

I've sparred with people, and its really an interesting exercise and I think improves your timing and lead. Isn't something you do as a beginner or perhaps even intermediate student. You have to already have a good sense of ma-ai and lead. I think the point made earlier is valid: committed attack is in some sense an artifical device to help in training. I mean face it. You've all had someone do a statue of liberty shomenuchi attack. As soon as you start the technique to counter, motion stops and there is nothing there for you to work with. So, in that sense "committed attack is a device to help train. On the other hand, ever watch these You-Tube videos (or max X or the like) of dumb butts fighting? If they aren't skilled, they are just whaling away. Its a committed attack. He's (or she) committed to knocking your block off and isn't too much thinking about anything else. Also, since aikido came at least partly from battlefield encounters, where there were many people whaling away trying to kill each other, I don't think there was much "sparring" in the sense we think of it today. You wanted to swing you sword and cut the other guy down as quickly as possible and make sure some other dude wasn't about to cut you down.

Everyone is always concerned about facing the other skilled martial artist. Ledyard sensei is right. The chances of that happening are slim. On the other hand. I think from a martial perspective, there ought to be randori practice that is focused on henka waza. Think about it. the way we like to do randori is with all these people giving you all out committed attacks. Well, that's fine and good, but in real life, I think what really might happen is this: (whether there is one or more attackers) attacker attacks, and you execute a technique. Now, if it doesn't discourage or disable, or if there are others, you can bet one of two things will happen: they will all be cautious in their attacks and will pull back any time you make contact with them and attempt to swtich, or they will all jump you at once. So, I think resistive randori where nage has to be skilled at following up with something different in response to someone pulling back would be a good martial addition to aikido training. its hard to train that way, because unless you are at a large dojo, most of your people just won't have the skill to do that kind of training. Its not a slam at lower kyu's but its a fact. To do henka waza randori is an advanced form of training. Its probably approaching the ultimate martial application of aikido. I don't think it gets done much.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:16 AM   #12
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Sean, Don,

you are right in your views on the problematic and critics on some (most?) aikidoka.

Let's talk a little bit about my view as former karateka - my practice was about 25 years ago, so maybe a little bit old-fashioned. And it is only one other martial art.

In Karate we did a lot of kihon-waza from beginner to dan. That is just doing one technique (or a simple combination) one by another. No partner nothing realistic, just pure technique.

Then we did kihon-ippon-kumite, simple partner exercises. One attack - one response. The attacker (uke) did never react on the counter, but let it happen. That was much less realistic than whatever I have seen in aikido. One reason is that realistic karate exercises could easily cause lot of damage.

Then we did jiu-kumite as no contact, semi contact or full contact (kyokushin). This was pure preparation for competition and it looked totally different from what we did before. But that was what we thought of as realistic fight environment with some rules to avoid injuries.

For competition we trained in general two different strategies. Infight, i.e. close distance and try to hit more often and better that your competitor or distance fight which meant, stay outside of the reach of the other guy. Close surprisingly distance by fast step or jump, hit and get out of the 'enemies zone' immediately. Very good fighters looked like beaming in from 2 or 3 meters distance to set a kick to the chest or head.

It is all somehow simplified, but that were the general ideas, even if the fight looked different again and you could see a lot of combinations of all strategies and counter-strategies.

Coming back to aikido. There are only few 'shadow' exercises without partner, unless in weapon training and tai-sabaki exercises with technique like arm movements. Most of the time we are doing, what is kihon-ippon-kumite in karate and some jiyu waza or randori, which is somehow similar, but not equivalent to jiu-kumite/competition in karate. On my level., when we train kaeshi waza or henka waza, it is still predefined, who is doing attack and how much resistance is allowed. I am comfortable with this, but I agree that there should not be a final status, where one could think, he knows everything.

Every type of 'realistic' training exists, but is trained only on certain levels and many schools do not go as far.

There are many reasons, why it is like this, in other threads, which I do not want to repeat here. It is just as it is.

I do think about my aikido practice much less as realistic as I thought earlier about my karate training. But looking back I do believe, that the difference come from my former unrealistic view about 'real', when I did karate. There we were somehow brainwashed to feel 'invincible'.

I could write a whole book about this, what is lacking in most aikido schools and how it can improved and who should change, who could do something more and who better sticks to the actual practice.

For today it should be enough to think about.

Best regards


Dirk
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Old 02-01-2007, 08:43 AM   #13
DonMagee
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

The harder part in all this is after you throw the punch. To see all the openings while your partner works. Many times, especially when working with people who are not black belts, I see huge openings that I could exploit in a sparing situation with their posture, balance, and technique. It only takes a fraction of a second to regain balance and even less then that to counter.

A committed attacker would not stop after the first attack, he would still continue his avenue of attack. Understanding that the lunge punch is a training tool and not a real strike, I'd rather focus on the use of a committed grab. Many people grab, then hold on and stand there. This is not an attack. A committed grab should have a purpose. To push, pull, control, etc. Simply adding that to the attack would add depth and realism to the technique being practiced. Of course I still feel that at some people in your training, you need the very real risk of getting your block knocked off. Sooner rather then later.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:03 AM   #14
ChrisMoses
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Sean Kelleher wrote:
I find it very difficult to just throw a punch, or shomen or yokomen as I've trained most of my life (I began training in karate as a child many a moon ago) in stringing together attacks and not throwing everything behind one "knock-out" technique.

It is very rare to find a single technique that will knock someone out or stun them, but you find very quickly in full-contact its the lucky unseen punch or kick or elbow that finds its way to you. To this end I've found most experienced martial artists will do a technique followed by something else, followed by something else... eventually something will get through (this is of course the opposite of points scoring comps where its continuous just to get the contact and point).


This all begs the question is a committed attack just that, or a cliche...
In most Karate schools they have some kind of "one step" forms where an attacker makes one solid move and the partner performs a series of moves to disable that person. Almost all of Aikido exists in a similar headspace. Unfortunately, there isn't really a standardized or common equivalent to shiai/randori where you get to see how hard it is to actually pull off something with someone who is able to respond just as quickly as you are. It is what it is however, so perhaps approaching your Aikido training with a similar headspace as you would to doing onesteps might get help.

Chris Moses
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:07 AM   #15
Jonathan
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

I have instituted a two-part training system in my dojo to help my students better deal with the kind of attacker that Sean K describes himself to be. The long, sweeping motions of classical aikido striking attacks and the giving of one's center in these kind of attacks is very useful in helping students to feel and to learn to lead an attacker's energy. The very structured form in which an attack is delivered and received in traditional aikido training is an excellent way, I believe, to study the underlying martial principles of body movement, fighting distance, balance, timing, zanshin, etc. So, most of the practices that occur during a given week at my dojo are in a traditional aikido training form.

I have seen, however, and experienced for myself the difficulty in suddenly adapting classical aikido technique forms to a sparring situation like Sean K describes. All of the principles that underpin classical aikido technique are still effective, and necessary, in a closer-range, more boxing-like situation, but unless one actually trains oneself to adapt classical aikido technique forms to such a situation one is going to find it very difficult, if not impossible, to do so on the spur of the moment. So, twice a week, my students set aside the highly defined aikido exchanges they usually practice and experience and study what it is like to deal with someone who is jabbing, and kicking and circling, and rarely, if ever, fully offering their center in an attack. What they discover, of course, is that almost never are they able to apply an effective maneuver to their attacker on the first attack. Dealing with the attacker becomes much like a chess game where one must be patient and set up a situation in the midst of being attacked where it is possible to take the attacker down. This involves much more atemi, much more sensitivity to the attacker's energy (which is inextricably linked to staying relaxed), much quicker reflexes, and a high degree of creative adaption and application of aikido technique than what is typically required even in typical aikido randori training.

So, I understand why Sean has problems with the martial practicality of giving his center in an attack in traditional aikido training. It's not good fighting to do so. But, rather than thinking of your aikido training as fighting, Sean, think of it as a method of bringing to the surface, making obvious, the martial principles I've mentioned above and providing an "easy" way to apply and study those principles on a physical level. Really, there is a very big difference between fighting and training and your concerns over the way you are required to attack in aikido seem to suggest that you are seeing, at least in regard to attacks, what that difference is.

Ciao.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 02-01-2007, 11:15 AM   #16
jonreading
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

To me, a committed attack carries two components:
1. The ability to follow the action through to completion without interruption.
2. The ability to successfully execute the action.

When students first start training, they sometimes have difficulty simply fulfilling both of these components. In fact, many new students actually cannot successfully execute an attack. As students train they learn how to attack correctly, then they learn how to attack successfully. A good student can attack with committment that presents a threat to nage and requires nage to react to the attack. Attacks that aren't successful are a waste of time to learn unless the purpose of the attack is to setup our partners to perform technique.
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:25 PM   #17
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

I was working committed attacks today with a couple of my students. Funny this topic should come up.

I work them in a MMA/NHB perspective...not aikido.

I have two types of students typcially. Those with no real striking experience, and those that have trained in a boxing paradigm.

Both have to be taught how to throw punches in a real fight. Boxers do not typically fully commit to striking as the rules don't allow you to take down your opponent.

Those that don't box don't put hips/center into the punches and therefore punch at the surface, not through the center.

In MMA or NHB fighting punches and strikes are best designed to overwhelm or to knock your opponent off center. Once you have taken center or gotten them to reel backwards, you can continue striking or move into clinch range and begin to control the fight.

I will typically lead in with a jab followed by foot work and a kick, cross, or some other technique that further closes distance or takes their center.

Watch Chuck Liddell if you want a good idea of committed attacks.

anyway, from an aikido perspective, you can do the same attack, except you are only throwing the one attack allowing uke the opporunity to respond appropriately for the next step.

I see no issue with the committment or dynamic of the attack...it should be the same...if it is MMA or Aikido, what you remove is the speed, combinations, and other things.

I think done properly, your attack should influence nage's center and he needs to move off line and respond appropriately. Failure of him to do this, results in your taking his center and/or him getting hit (albeit light with control). The next step could be to follow up again with another attack by uke, until nage finally gets it right or fails and you must recock.
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:27 PM   #18
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Oh yea..and this....

Fully committed attack does not equate to off balance attack...or unable to recover from attack. It means you intend to influence nage's core and to do so you must enter his sphere or circle.
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:06 PM   #19
ChrisMoses
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Oh yea..and this....

Fully committed attack does not equate to off balance attack...or unable to recover from attack. It means you intend to influence nage's core and to do so you must enter his sphere or circle.
An excellent and oft mis-understood distinction.

Chris Moses
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Old 02-01-2007, 03:05 PM   #20
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
The harder part in all this is after you throw the punch. To see all the openings while your partner works. Many times, especially when working with people who are not black belts, I see huge openings that I could exploit in a sparing situation with their posture, balance, and technique. It only takes a fraction of a second to regain balance and even less then that to counter.
But if your partner is that open you would be helping him by showing it. Slowly, and allowing him to find a better position in the tai sabaki of the technique. I generally do this by placing my fist, elbow, knee, whatever at the place of most likely impact, with extension, but not momentum, and tell them they need to find a better place to be in order to do the technique.

Your experience is invaluable in demonstrating that opening to adjust the technique -- not to shut it down. It also allows you to slow down and look more strategically at the available openings in the rhythm of the movement, precisely to break you of any habits of "set-piece" combinations. Ingrained efficiency of movements is good -- habits are very bad. Those can also be exploited against you. This kind of training is not one-sided, at all.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:10 PM   #21
Bronson
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Sean Kelleher wrote:
I am finding it difficult to get into a committed single attack mindset in light of this.
I once heard a senior student in our dojo explaining this to a newer person. The new guy had said "I'd never attack like that" to which the senior replied "it's not really about you." He went on to say (paraphrased) that sensei wanted us to work on this certain technique and for this certain technique to be appropriate it requires the attack being asked for. If a different attack is given, a different technique becomes appropriate. If every uke gives whatever attack they feel comfortable throwing and every nage responds with an appropriate technique then there is pandemonium on the mat. So quiet the voice in your head and let's do what sensei showed us.

Or something like that

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 02-02-2007, 05:02 AM   #22
Ben Joiner
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

I think these are all very fair points. However, in your experience how long should you be training before you begin to go beyond this? Or, to avoid the 'well it depends on how you're training' response, what level should you be at before you begin to push your training beyond this point and what environment best fosters this more dynamic type of training?

Respectfully

Ben
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:53 PM   #23
seank
Location: Victoria
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

The amount of time is an interesting question. I have only been training in Aikido for four years, so am I very new to it, as opposed to 20+ years of other martial arts.

Ma-ai came very naturally as I was used to distance from my full contact experience, although I have had to unlearn a lot of technique so as to improve my Aikido technique.

In real terms of training to this level, I would also have to consider my ability to receive at the level I can attack at. I am confident in my attacking ability and the ability to do significant damage, however I am not as confident in receiving at this kind of level from an experience Aikidoka. I've continued free-fights with broken fingers before, with the ligaments on my foot badly torn, and with various other injuries in the past, but of course I'd much prefer to not injure myself because I can't receive at that high a level, or even worse injure my nage because they can't receive a variform attack....

I'm getting more intuitive with my Aikido, but I'd think you'd probably need between five and ten years training to really start to receive or attack in the fashion I'm describing... there will be people who can do this much faster of course, but I believe to really instinctively know the technique it requires more time...

A few thoughts anyway....
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Old 02-02-2007, 07:56 PM   #24
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
... it requires the attack being asked for. If a different attack is given, a different technique becomes appropriate.
At a point it has seemed to me that even my attacks and counters are ukemi -- not the attack I "planned" or was prepared to give, but the attack that was "asked for" by the interaction. Hooker Sensei has emphasized this aspect to me, and made me pay much more attention to it,

This, uke waza (even on the nage side), it seems to me is the road to spontaneous technique. If you are trying to dominate the interaction by doing "your" attack you are missing the attack(s) that are asked for at every stage of the movements between you, and therefore are not ultimately putting your attention (or attacks) in the right place.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 02-03-2007, 12:48 AM   #25
CNYMike
Dojo: Finger Lakes Aikido
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Re: Committed attack... a cliche?

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
what you've identified is the reason why Aikido doesnt work well in sparring and why, imo, there are difficulties in adding sparring into aikido training. Once you start looking for openings, takeing a more stategic approach etc etc, you're playing the game. Aikido is not designed for, and does not work well where people are playing that game. It works better when someone is just so p**ed off and aggressive they are going to swing for you for all they're worth. If you want to beat people who want to spar, there's better ways to do it. So my thought is to stop thinking about how you would attack in a match, and start thinking about just trying to take their head off.
Maybe. The PO'ed explanation seems to cover the idea of a shoulder grab accompanied by a strike to the head (Kata dori-whatever). But I've had my own hypothesis about this:

Sparring is meant to, ultimately,be like chess, right? Where the sparring partners watch each other and try and think a few steps ahead. Well, Aikido is like winning a chess game in four moves: the first thing you do usually not only deals with the initial attack but sectors off the next two or three things uke can do. Shomenuchi ikkyo is a good example: the first thing you do puts distance between you and the other hand and gets you away from an immediate kick.

Try doing that sparring, a block to on attack that snufs the next two or three logical things. Very hard, isn't it? Not impossible; you'd just have to be exceptionally good.

So it seems to me the problem is not that Aikido "doesn't work," but that making it work requires one to be very, very good. And I will be the first to admit I am nowhere near there yet.
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