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Old 03-07-2002, 08:29 PM   #1
thomasgroendal
 
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Question Self-aware Aikido

Aikido is the art of peace. It is the art of brotherly/sisterly love and whatnot. It is COOPERATIVE. This is wonderful, and it is the reason that it forms the center of my attempt at life.
Unfortunately it has led me to a crisis. Excessive, and uncontrolled cooperation is to martial arts sort of like inbreeding. All around me, in the mystic isles of Japan, I have people who have learned to practice so cooperatively that a sho dan is expected to be able to throw aiki nage like osensei, and realistically take swords from unfriendly attackers. Practicing these things is essential, but even osensei didn't probably succeed at them after a scant few years of practice.

I have become a swordsman of sorts over the years, and I consistently see aikiken demos, even by upper ranking yudansha where the attacker cuts like an amateur. The sword tip dips deep below level, and the feet walk, they don't slide. Even if the yudansha is osensei times two, anybody with a critical viewpoint can take us apart. I am hard pressed to defend the art.

Here is my point...
What level should we be at? How do we measure it?
What changes could we go through as a community, to more fully reevaluate the way that ukes attack? Without something, and something large scale, I fear that I see aikido sliding away from its martial origins, and it is the honest facing of life and death that opens the doors to the spiritual goals we all speak of so lightly, and desire so genuinely.

What do you think?
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Old 03-07-2002, 09:54 PM   #2
Chocolateuke
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funny I was gonna ask the same question.. then I thought you know why not wait.. hheheh and here it is.. and unfourtunatly i cant answer...

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 03-07-2002, 10:41 PM   #3
mle
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Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by thomasgroendal
Aikido is the art of peace. It is the art of brotherly/sisterly love and whatnot.

No. Actually. It is not. One, quite valid, definition of aiki is to overwhelm and smother the opponent's initiative, the opponent's ki.

It is COOPERATIVE. This is wonderful, and it is the reason that it forms the center of my attempt at life.

Not really. It doesn't have to be, and probably oughtn't be _cooperative_. It IS budo, it is a wonderful exploration of human interaction and potential, but it is NOT what most westerners think it is.

around me, in the mystic isles of Japan, I have people who have learned to practice so cooperatively that a sho dan is expected to be able to throw aiki nage like osensei, and realistically take swords from unfriendly

Pardon my French. Bullshit. A shodan is a serious beginner. NOTHING more.

In most gendia budo, the process of coming up through the ranks to shodan are simply hazing. ESPECIALLY in the west. Geez. The idea of it taking 10 years to make SHODAN is outrageous. Any decent aikido student should make shodan in a couple of years, 3-4 at most.

We've inflated the idea of what a shodan is. "Oh yes, our shodan goes to 11!!!"

Again, I say: Bullpucky.

Where are you in Japan, anyway? I know folks there and they'd probably enjoy training with you! One of my students has moved to Kagami and is looking for training partners.

attackers. Practicing these things is essential, but even osensei didn't probably succeed at them after a scant few years of practice.

NO. Not essential. Every budoka, every aikidoka must crawl, must toddle, before they walk. Nothing mystic. It's JUST practice, practice, practice. All esle is self-delusion.

I have become a swordsman of sorts over

What ryuha? Not, certainly, in aikido.

What level should we be at? How do we measure it?

You be where you need to be. Train. Explore. Feel. Do. Get rid of that mystical, paraphysical, metaspiritual bullcrap. Just go train.

What changes could we go through as a community, to more fully reevaluate the way


Community? WHAT community. Aikido, despite its potential, despite its core promise, is one of the most fragmented and divisive budo around.

aikido sliding away from its martial origins, and it is the honest facing of life and death that opens the doors to the

Of course it is. What's your point? There are a FEW folks working hard to make Ueshiba-ha Aikido fulfill its potential, but most are more concerned with taking care of political, personal goals than with taking the art itself to the higher levels.

spiritual goals we all speak of so lightly, and desire so genuinely.

Spiritual goals? Umm. Ok.

Aikido was formulated on some very spiritual premises. Unfortunately, just as with almost every other human endavor, aikido has fragmented, has turned into a squabble for pereived power, has devolved into a shadow of what it OUGHT to be ...

Sigh. OK, fine. I'm tipsy, sitting here, after a wake for my mother.

She passed today and I'm sitting with dear friends and students, drinking good Irish whisky and talking about life. And death.

And suddenly trivia like this is considerably less important than it was a few days ago.

Chuck

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Old 03-07-2002, 11:01 PM   #4
Chocolateuke
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Sorry to hear that Chuck.. donno what else to say.

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 03-07-2002, 11:30 PM   #5
thomasgroendal
 
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I'm sorry to hear that too, and thanks for the reply.
I'll keep my bullpucky in mind the next time I ask a tough question...
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Old 03-07-2002, 11:51 PM   #6
thomasgroendal
 
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Re: Re: Self-aware Aikido

I dare say we probably agree on most of your reply, particulary my bullpuckiness, (I think I have become fond of that word.)

Quote:
Originally posted by mle
[b]

Not really. It doesn't have to be, and probably oughtn't be _cooperative_. It IS budo, it is a wonderful exploration of human interaction and potential, but it is NOT what most westerners think it is.
That was the point I was trying to make by using such a wishy washy word. Thanks for clarifying.

Quote:
around me, in the mystic isles of Japan...
a sho dan is expected to be able to throw aiki nage like osensei...


Pardon my French. Bullshit. A shodan is a serious beginner. NOTHING more.
AMEN about the shodans. You might be surprised if you saw some of the shodans, or even 3rd or 4thdans around here
Quote:
Where are you in Japan, anyway?
I am on the island of Kyushu, Ohita Prefecture. Don't know Kagami myself... If your student is anywhere near me, my e-mail is listed, and would be glad to meet him/her.

Quote:
I have become a swordsman of sorts over

What ryuha? Not, certainly, in aikido.
Actually, first and best sword came from my aikido teacher, who knew yagyu and itto ryu, but since then I have done yagyu shinkage ryu and muso shinden ryu. Switching primarily for geographical reasons. Lot of name dropping for nothing, but that is the story anyway.

Quote:
What level should we be at? How do we measure it?

You be where you need to be. Train. Explore. Feel. Do. Get rid of that mystical, paraphysical, metaspiritual bullcrap. Just go train.
Now we are way off in personal opinion land, but this is not meditation for auto mechanics I am talking about here, it is the mighty goal of learning a budo that manages to solve conflicts without people getting their faces smashed in. That may not be mystical by your standards, but as an idea it ranks higher than kami, or kotodama in my opinion. But then that is just bullpucky with wording, and I had enough of that in college.

Quote:
What changes could we go through as a community, to more fully reevaluate the way


Community? WHAT community. Aikido, despite its potential, despite its core promise, is one of the most fragmented and divisive budo around.
AMEN, unfortunately since I don't have any plans to reforge the aikido community, I was kind of thinking of say, the people on this website, for starters. I want to know that I am not alone in being discouraged by what I see.

My prayers for your family
Tom
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Old 03-08-2002, 03:10 PM   #7
Erik
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Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by thomasgroendal and realistically take swords from unfriendly attackers. Practicing these things is essential, but even osensei didn't probably succeed at them after a scant few years of practice.
Supposedly he had success against a kendo guy which changed his world view. I dunno, most of what I see and can do for that matter wouldn't have a prayer against a skilled sword swinger. Why? Simple, I don't know any in the dojos I train in and even then it's pretty damn hard to get those things away when your partner don't want you to.

Quote:
What level should we be at? How do we measure it?
Well, I think I agree with Chuck here. Whatever level you are at. Aikido is somewhat remarkable in that it supports a great variety of approaches all of which may have some value. I would certainly not want to see the less-martial folks excluded because despite some of my rantings here and in other places I think there is a lot of value in that realm often more than I see in the more-martial folks.

Quote:
What changes could we go through as a community, to more fully reevaluate the way that ukes attack? Without something, and something large scale, I fear that I see aikido sliding away from its martial origins, and it is the honest facing of life and death that opens the doors to the spiritual goals we all speak of so lightly, and desire so genuinely.
I'm no expert on martial history but I'm not sure that the problems you describe aren't precisely because of the arts origins. A lot of the attacks we practice against have got to be culturally based (shomen, yokomen even munetski in the way it's often done). Sword-based and massive commitment to attack are Japanese trademarks in a way so our focus on them makes sense in that context.

In my opinion, Aikido has got to leave it's martial origins and evolve with modern martial thought. Good luck with that on any scale beyond dojo size but then maybe that's exactly where it should take place.
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Old 03-08-2002, 03:25 PM   #8
shihonage
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Re: Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik


In my opinion, Aikido has got to leave it's martial origins and evolve with modern martial thought. Good luck with that on any scale beyond dojo size but then maybe that's exactly where it should take place.
You mean like Steven Seagal's Aikido ?
His tape is really great.
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Old 03-08-2002, 04:04 PM   #9
Erik
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Re: Re: Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by shihonage
You mean like Steven Seagal's Aikido ?
His tape is really great.
I don't know if he's innovative but the idea of tackling students during randori qualifies as unusual for most places I've been in. I'm curious about something as I've never watched that tape. Do the students being tackled ever deliver full on strikes to their attackers or is it free charge knowing you won't get hit?

By the way, as I reread my words they were perhaps stronger than I intended. Too much caffeine? My point, in a mellower space, is that certain basics which may have at one time been valid might be less so when exposed to a world which has become much smaller and much more diverse culturally.
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Old 03-08-2002, 04:24 PM   #10
shihonage
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik


I don't know if he's innovative but the idea of tackling students during randori qualifies as unusual for most places I've been in. I'm curious about something as I've never watched that tape. Do the students being tackled ever deliver full on strikes to their attackers or is it free charge knowing you won't get hit?

By the way, as I reread my words they were perhaps stronger than I intended. Too much caffeine? My point, in a mellower space, is that certain basics which may have at one time been valid might be less so when exposed to a world which has become much smaller and much more diverse culturally.
The tape says, that during his randori people are permitted to punch, etc, but from the footage I just see the regular grabbing.

Although its very intense and in fact most of the randori footage on the tape is "failed" randori where the nage ends up in a mess of people on the floor

However I really like his adoption of punch/kick defenses.
Looking at him do it, you realize that it was always in Aikido, but he makes that part really come forward.
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Old 03-08-2002, 05:27 PM   #11
Erik
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by shihonage
The tape says, that during his randori people are permitted to punch, etc, but from the footage I just see the regular grabbing.

Although its very intense and in fact most of the randori footage on the tape is "failed" randori where the nage ends up in a mess of people on the floor
Isn't that what you would expect? Assuming the attackers are more skilled or even less skill they should bring down nage if there is any sense of cohesion with the group. It's why you bring your buddies along to the fight.

Quote:
However I really like his adoption of punch/kick defenses.
Looking at him do it, you realize that it was always in Aikido, but he makes that part really come forward.
Maybe that's the point. Fewer people are bringing that aspect forward in a substantive way and so it seems an almost lost aspect of the art.
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Old 03-08-2002, 06:43 PM   #12
shihonage
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self-aware Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik


Isn't that what you would expect? Assuming the attackers are more skilled or even less skill they should bring down nage if there is any sense of cohesion with the group. It's why you bring your buddies along to the fight.



Maybe that's the point. Fewer people are bringing that aspect forward in a substantive way and so it seems an almost lost aspect of the art.
To paragraph

#1: No matter how skilled the uke's are during randori, the nage has an advantage.
The goal of randori is to teach nage to see that there's always a way out if you keep your mind open.
The uke's all have one goal - nage, and their movement is predictable.
Nage has several choices in his movement at any point. THAT is his advantage.

#2: Technically shomen uchi and yokomen uchi are there for a reason. They are "safe" punch simulators.
If we all started actually punching one another since the very beginning, there would be a whole lot of crippled people in the dojo and a whole nothing of understanding of the techniques.
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Old 03-08-2002, 10:09 PM   #13
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In my dojo we do the classic shomen/yokomen/tsuki/munetsuki attacks, but we start with the side of the body we're not striking with forward so that we may step through, putting one's body into the strike in a better simulation of the way real attacks are made.

Of course, that doesn't always simulate boxing style punches well, but it deals archetypically with most things you'll see. (Dealing with boxers and attacks found in other unique martial arts is perhaps something that should some groups should spend some time studying, as we don't have too many satisifactory answers in our current curriculums).

As for quality attacks, just practice making them and insist your ukes do so as well. Hold each other personally accountable.

I've hit more than one of my training partners in the face. It's never injured anyone, but they know that that I'm keeping it real and that they were acting too slowly.

Eric Kroier
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Old 03-08-2002, 10:33 PM   #14
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by shihonage
#1: No matter how skilled the uke's are during randori, the nage has an advantage.
The goal of randori is to teach nage to see that there's always a way out if you keep your mind open.
The uke's all have one goal - nage, and their movement is predictable.
Nage has several choices in his movement at any point. THAT is his advantage.
Well, you've got to think and act like there's a way out. Three skilled, practiced and capable attackers may very well preclude a way out.

No, their movement is predictable because we train it that way--a blind assault directly on nage. Capable and serious uke's would cut off movement by anticipating nage's movements. They too have choices in where to move and with the blinders turned off I always choose to come in more slowly and pick and choose where and when I attack.

Quote:
#2: Technically shomen uchi and yokomen uchi are there for a reason. They are "safe" punch simulators.
If we all started actually punching one another since the very beginning, there would be a whole lot of crippled people in the dojo and a whole nothing of understanding of the techniques.
How come other arts pull it off without yokomen and shomen strikes? Since those strikes are around at the very end I submit it's cultural or a homage to the sword base of the art. Check out a sandan test (the last formal test most of us will take) and see what's there? I submit it will be shomen and yokomen. Hell check out out a yondon demo (the last formal anything we will do if we even do one) and let me know what you see. I'm pretty sure it won't be kicks, grappling, and probably not even a clean punch to the face although you see those sometimes. You will see plenty of shomen, yokomen's and munetski's though.
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Old 03-09-2002, 07:22 PM   #15
Bruce Baker
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Blush! stuck in training?

I wish I could say I haven't been stuck in training, wondering if I should go forward or quit? But sometimes, that is the point of decision where you need step back and either take a time out, or find a new means of innitiative to get you past the obsticle?

I know the few times people have tried to rob me, or hold me up, I took the opening, and very nearly went over the edge to the point of seriously consider killing the bastard! Luckily, I am a gentle soul who is able to make the hard decision of not killing unnecessarily. This is the consideration you must make when facing a live blade.

Are you so afraid of it that the blade is your death, or do you give in to your fear and use to fire the anger into strength, understanding, and clarity? My greatest fear of facing a live blade in the hands of someone withtraining, is that in order to neutralize them, I will have to badly injure them, or kill them. There is no telling what skill may do, and the chance of fate may allow, a slip of the tongue we can fix, but a slip of the blade?

My training started with the notion that in order to be balanced, one must learn Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, and Aikido. Above the pictures of the masters, my teacher placed a cross, which was to signify that God, in what ever form worshipped, was the superior to all martial arts. I have gotten lot of flack from some people on the Aikiweb, and others who refuse to connect the arts from past warrior arts, but history proves me right by the words and deeds of the founder, O'Sensei.

Although you may have reached a stopping point in your training, it could merely be a chance to take a breath, look around, and see other things in this wide wonderful world. If the Aikido you have learned to this point aids and helps with this, then it will grow.

Many people claim to use Aikido to pursue Budo. True Budo is the warrior, a soldier who continually seeks the knowledge of death/war while maintaining the social condition of peace, sometimes by any means. If that is your course, then by all means, find the reason you study in the people you love, trust, and encourage you to be the best you can be. I say ...

Restpit time. Take time off, you deserve it!

If the itch to return to training overcomes all other things, then that is what you will do. If not .... say a prayer of thanks and move on.

Not the best advice, but from a guy who has had to rebound most of his life, nothing is for certain, except ... nothing is for certain. No one can decide for you what you should do, when facing the live blade, but you.
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