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Old 09-08-2009, 07:37 PM   #101
eyrie
 
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
A huge problem is that lots of trainees never get out of the initial stage.... When sotai kata geiko reaches a mature level of training, it... becomes the test of our ability to use the forms of kata that then answer
Whilst I appreciate the "form -> no form -> form" approach, and the whole "MA is like an onion" thing, I feel there are better ways of getting to the heart of the art, even though I do enjoy unraveling the proverbial knot myself... occasionally.

Quote:
Unless there are enough models that have made the step to kata that's filled with the proper intent and understand the riai of the kata, the level of real kata is lost for the juniors that eventually become "seniors" and "instructors" and the practice suffers.
Precisely, my point... all these things that are being alluded to - intent, bunkai, riai, etc.. are the "keys", and without the "keys" - and the cipher to decode the keys - kata is merely a hollow shell, transmitted from generation to generation.

Which to me, is an inefficient means of transmission - i.e. transmission by emulation. When the learning process can be effectively short-circuited by simply cutting through to the core of the onion, and working from the inside out (pun not intended, but relevant perhaps?) - for some at least.

Take Ellis' HIPS example of Ueshiba performing the solo jo kata - apparently he never performed that kata the same way each time; i.e. each performance was a unique "snapshot" of his expression. Now if kata is supposed to be the "template" from which the student is meant to derive the keys and principles, then by definition, that template is fixed and unchangeable. Yet, we have so many "styles" of Aikido [feel free to insert karate], each with their own "version" of kata. As a further example, refer to the YouTube video of 4-5 different masters of related arts, each performing their own "version" of Sanchin.

So, what we have here is something far more dynamic and fluid, in that the kata IS the fluid, and the art itself being the "container". IOW, movement (and more subtly, "non-movement") defines the kata, and not the other way round. Going back to my earlier comment regarding "building blocks", since movement and non-movement is one aspect of human expression, and kata - as evidenced - is an expression of movement, how we approach movement/"non-movement" is as, if not more, important than merely emulating someone else's expression. Or in this case, merely copying the template, without necessarily understanding how that template was created, or what purpose it serves, or why any of that is even important.

Last edited by eyrie : 09-08-2009 at 07:40 PM.

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Old 09-08-2009, 08:22 PM   #102
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Kevin,

that's still my point. Most of us aren't doing that and expect to be like the best. In order for you to achieve that baseline comparison with specialists, you are tailoring your training to fit a hectic schedule so that its a constant part of your daily routine. Most people here aren't. They are going to class at the end of the day for 2 hours maybe 3-4 times a week. And after 3 years of this, they are asking themselves, what have I got to show for myself? Sure I'm better than the average joe, but no where near the aikido greats. No where near the UFC guys. Damn, this Aikido is a joke. Lets go BJJ.

And typically, if they start with BJJ then they'll probably see a significant difference in terms of their physical ability. That's just the way it is. BJJ is more dynamic and with the added competition thrown in, pushes you to excel if for no other reason that to hold off those nagging rear naked chokes. Most people don't train 'alive'ness in Aikido because there's no competition, because its more and more routine Kata. Yet, that is not how we should train aikido. We can neither use competition to spur us on, nor should we fall into dullsville with routine Kata. Osensei said train with Hi. Aliveness in each technique. Yet not many people understand that.

Its easy to fall into that trap. But that's just the way it is when your enemy is yourself.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:28 PM   #103
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

In my opinion, when Ueshiba sensei did that exercise with the stick it wasn't a "kata", and if others have turned their version of those events into a kata that works, then what a wonderful thing.

I know this won't make a lot of people happy, but there's no way you can really understand the kata based training method without going through it with a teacher that has been there ahead of you and a peer group that trains in similar fashion.... unless you are a genius of rare quality.

Best regards,

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Old 09-08-2009, 08:49 PM   #104
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Kevin,

that's still my point. Most of us aren't doing that and expect to be like the best. In order for you to achieve that baseline comparison with specialists, you are tailoring your training to fit a hectic schedule so that its a constant part of your daily routine. Most people here aren't. They are going to class at the end of the day for 2 hours maybe 3-4 times a week. And after 3 years of this, they are asking themselves, what have I got to show for myself? Sure I'm better than the average joe, but no where near the aikido greats. No where near the UFC guys. Damn, this Aikido is a joke. Lets go BJJ.

And typically, if they start with BJJ then they'll probably see a significant difference in terms of their physical ability. That's just the way it is. BJJ is more dynamic and with the added competition thrown in, pushes you to excel if for no other reason that to hold off those nagging rear naked chokes. Most people don't train 'alive'ness in Aikido because there's no competition, because its more and more routine Kata. Yet, that is not how we should train aikido. We can neither use competition to spur us on, nor should we fall into dullsville with routine Kata. Osensei said train with Hi. Aliveness in each technique. Yet not many people understand that.

Its easy to fall into that trap. But that's just the way it is when your enemy is yourself.
I think at some point everyone needs to find what works for them. I am the only one I know in my area that does exactly what I do. It is a conglomerate of practices and training that I have pieced together for myself over the last few years.

What really happened for me is that I met a guy that was really really good over in Germany and was commenting on how good he was and that I was not able to get good training because I had no one, no schools around...the usual excuses. He told me what he did, and that he essentially took responsibility for his own training and started doing it.

I think you have to be creative and come to the conclusion that you have to take responsibility for your own training, that instructors, sensei and shihan will help you, but in reality they myth or fantasy about surrendering yourself to complete servtitude to one sensei "Mr Miyagi Style" just doesn't work for most of us.

Yea, I think my aikido practice in the normal "waza" class hours is inefficient. That is not to say it is poor training. I still find value in it and go to class like I always did. however 2 or 3 classes a week just aren't going to cut it, and my Aikido School and instructors have lives and jobs and familiies too. They simply cannot offer any of us the completeness of what we need.

The difference now in my "aikido" training is that I use it as a tool. I look at it as a methodology, not as a martial arts system. the methdology of AIkido is designed to impart Aiki and Aiki princples, it is a laboratory and a skunk works to explore. We go slow and it gives me time to work on things that maybe I can't work on in my other practices.

BJJ is also a methodology and skunk works. It allows me to explore other things and to work on aiki principles in a dynamic way.

Yoga helps build the framework and martial body.

So, I would contend that ALL of these methods are inefficient when looked at through the eyes of Budo and achieving the goals and level of skill that O sensei desired.

Oh yea...forgot about getting with other folks from different practice and paradgims. DR, Judo, Koryu, Aunkai, Sigman, Harden....I think you have to do these things as well to keep honing and fine tuning your practice..driving it to a new level of efficiency.

Of course, this is not the only way. I am sure there are some very good teachers out there that can offer a very robust and complete package. However, given distance, time, location, work, and training schedules it can be challenging to make it all fit together.

I think sometimes a lot of thinking outside the box and creativity is important to get there!

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Old 09-08-2009, 10:22 PM   #105
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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there's no way you can really understand the kata based training method without going through it with a teacher that has been there ahead of you...
I agree. But how many students have the time and means to go through that long, arduous process, how many of those go on to become teachers, and how many of those teachers actually get the full transmission? Not many I suspect. Why else would people be discussing this?

Last edited by eyrie : 09-08-2009 at 10:27 PM.

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Old 09-08-2009, 11:28 PM   #106
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Josh Phillipson wrote:
* sigh *

Well, frankly Erick, that's not really teaching at all, frankly. I'm sorry. You do not teach to be understood and teach, like that. What are the salient points of your summary and how would these take-aways help us to , a c t u a l l y *do* something? What would we be learning to "do". I mean that in the simple meaning of the word 'do'. With the hoity-toity fancy book-learnin' speach... well...respectfully, I disagree with it as a method. Hate it, even.
Do? Aiki. Do. Ask Kevin if I give physics lectures -- I don't. However, the salient points are the whole approach to structural dynamics and bio-mechanics. They inform everything and allow me to accurately diagnose and correct errors in plainly explainable ways.
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Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
Whilst I appreciate the "form -> no form -> form" approach, and the whole "MA is like an onion" thing, I feel there are better ways of getting to the heart of the art, even though I do enjoy unraveling the proverbial knot myself... occasionally. ... all these things that are being alluded to - intent, bunkai, riai, etc.. are the "keys", and without the "keys" - and the cipher to decode the keys - kata is merely a hollow shell, transmitted from generation to generation.

Which to me, is an inefficient means of transmission - i.e. transmission by emulation. When the learning process can be effectively short-circuited by simply cutting through to the core of the onion, and working from the inside out (pun not intended, but relevant perhaps?) - for some at least.
The transmission of the informing foundation for emulation was irretrievably broken -- well before O Sensei -- he had no way accessible to explain his concrete insights -- though he actually did a fairly good job in his own terms if you read his concrete imagery for exactly that -- concrete imagery.

The reason the transmission was broken lies in the Meiji, and the nativist corruption of the melded Chinese and Japanese empirical and physical traditions, which, while they had their deficits, were actually quite sophisticated. Much was lost, more than we know. Baby went with the bathwater. The advent of the new religions -- highly appealing to those for whom the old traditions were truly lost-- was a symptom of the problem -- and as we know O Sensei was likewise drawn to the new religions.

Alasdair MacIntyre demonstrated the nature of the problem in a thought experiment, imagining that a great disaster caused the world to suddenly distrust and persecute science, killing practitioners and burning works on science. Then a generation or three later, recovering their collective senses, the surviving fragments and aged practitioners knowledge would be assembled into a pastiche of disconnected fragments. While in isolation it would still sound quite science-like, it would not be, not in any real sense that we would understand it. It would have lost its historic continuity, its organic structure of knowledge, and most of the living interpreters within disciplines (all of them in some), and very few who could capably interpret between disciplines, if the distinctions themselves were even recognizable from what accidentally survived. This is what seems to have happened in Meiji Japan to many traditions of knowledge that informed the martial practices of interest to us. Though the forms of many of these practices were preserved -- the ability to interpret them coherently outside a very esoteric group of intensely committed devotees became virtually impossible using the former terms.

The short answer is we cannot recover it, not really, though the study of it is a highly worthy endeavor and potentially very useful to enlarge our ideas of the possible. I have concluded that we have no practical or realistic choice but to inform the practices directly with our own understanding of the concrete representations that the forms preserve -- in terms of demonstrable structure, dynamics and bio-mechanics.

O Sensei tried with his own mythopoeic imagery. The result of that effort was, at best, of highly debatable utility in the general run of practitioners, native and foreign alike. The test is whether we can see enough to start anywhere within the forms, go anywhere with them, take them apart and put them back together in coherent variations, because we have an informing paradigm that fits them coherently and concretely.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:59 AM   #107
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Erick Meade wrote:

Quote:
Do. Ask Kevin if I give physics lectures
He doesn't! Actually I was surprised! Based on Erick's post here I was really expecting a much different personality in Real Life.

No lectures, no physics...just aikido.

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Old 09-09-2009, 05:16 AM   #108
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

That's good to know... So...Erick, how 'bout less physics and math, bud? My poor head hurts when I read your posts...

Ignatius
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:56 AM   #109
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
I agree. But how many students have the time and means to go through that long, arduous process, how many of those go on to become teachers, and how many of those teachers actually get the full transmission? Not many I suspect. Why else would people be discussing this?
How to get good without investment.

That's why people are discussing this?

Paul Schweer
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Old 09-09-2009, 07:00 AM   #110
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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How to get good without investment.

That's why people are discussing this?

Paul Schweer
Looking for shortcuts.

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Old 09-09-2009, 08:03 AM   #111
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Paul Schweer wrote: View Post
How to get good without investment.
That's why people are discussing this?
No, how to get good with less investment.
Depending on your goals, going through the kata based training method with a teacher that has been there ahead of you may not be the smartest way to achieve them.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:10 AM   #112
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Looking for shortcuts.

David
Now, there they go again... [In my best Ronald Reagan voice].

No one that I know of who is pursueing this seriously looks at it as a shortcut. In fact, it's lot of darn hard work. Most people looking for shortcuts simply won't put in the work.

I wish the mis-statements about the practice would stop.

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-09-2009, 08:48 AM   #113
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
That's good to know... So...Erick, how 'bout less physics and math, bud? My poor head hurts when I read your posts...
I am a practical physics guy -- a helo pilot in another life. As I have replied offline to someone else, this has been an open development process for me, an intellectual jiyu keiko to recognize valid biomechanical principles with good empirical support, in my own and in other training experiences and from the caonical hints and concrete imagery, to assert and defend the physical concepts as the connections becasme known to me, and to assess, consider and then apply them to practical training. Dojo-wise I am doing that now, because i can see, explain and correct errors of movement on a coherent physical basis. Judging from our newest students two girls about seventeen and twenty respectively, with no prior martial background at all (I had to make them hit me repeatedly in a several classes running to learn a decent strike) -- it does work when applied. They have trained for about five and three months respectively. The latter is tiny, in all senses, though tough when she found out how (Kevin, she is taking cues from Yoko -- your favorite uke). We have them now, as of last week, getting comfortable in a few versions of koshinage -- with a at least one guy that outmasses me by easily thirty pounds and her by close to eighty.

I am not the only instructor, and credit goes to the "principles" thought of Saotome and his lineage in which we train. I am just making them more specifically Western and conceptually rigorous, is how I see it. Mat-wise I apply them by critical observation and physical direction, with only limited and very narrow conceptual references.

I am probably firm enough on the basic aspects now to relate them more straightforwardly, rather than the elliptical path I use to get there. I am going to try that now. The latest stuff (attractors and the like) is simply an outgrowth of all that but is obviously takemusu related, solely, and can wait perhaps until I have a more straightforward presentation of the work so far.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:51 AM   #114
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
No, how to get good with less investment.
Depending on your goals, going through the kata based training method with a teacher that has been there ahead of you may not be the smartest way to achieve them.
The most efficient path over a rugged terrain is never the shortest, straightest line. And the more rugged -- the longer and the less straight.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:02 AM   #115
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I wish the mis-statements about the practice would stop.
This is what I heard: "That's asking too much; there must be an easier way."

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
No, how to get good with less investment.
Okay, less investment.

I'm not a fan of wishing for a way to get good with less investment. Investing wisely, or as wise as I know how, is different -- which is what I think this thread is about.

But I heard what I heard.

Paul Schweer
(Being picky.)
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:27 AM   #116
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Paul Schweer wrote: View Post
I'm not a fan of wishing for a way to get good with less investment. Investing wisely, or as wise as I know how, is different -- which is what I think this thread is about.
Well, it just depends which of the factors (amount of time invested and amount of progress made) you keep as a constant and which one you change.
Less investment perspective: making the same progress in a shorter time period.
Investing wisely perspective: making more progress in the same time period.
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:28 AM   #117
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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The most efficient path over a rugged terrain is never the shortest, straightest line. And the more rugged -- the longer and the less straight.
The let's agree to agree on this issue!
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:46 AM   #118
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
I agree. But how many students have the time and means to go through that long, arduous process, how many of those go on to become teachers, and how many of those teachers actually get the full transmission? Not many I suspect. Why else would people be discussing this?
Actually, I've found that kata-based training (in addition to drills and our randori) has improved my skills and understanding a thousandfold faster than I was "getting it" by training in the 'traditional' methods in Japan.

While the process hasn't always been what I'd call "fun," neither has it been long, nor arduous. Within Jiyushinkai, we have a lot of folks, from the top on down to the white belts, who are living proof that the katageiko methodology not only works, but gives one the tools to take charge of one's own training and growth.

Michael Hacker
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:47 AM   #119
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
Well, it just depends which of the factors (amount of time invested and amount of progress made) you keep as a constant and which one you change.
Not sure I follow... I'd expect time invested vs. progress to be the same for all effective training systems: 10,000 hours from beginner to expert. Progress being a function of hours practiced, the idea of increasing the rate of progress over time while keeping practice hours constant over time doesn't make sense to me.

Trying to limp back to the topic... that seems to me the measure of a learning system -- are practitioners typically expert after 10,000 hours? Making that sort of evaluation is way above my pay grade.

But deciding exactly what I'll be working on during my practice hours -- rate I'm going, I'll hit 10,000 some time after my 75th birthday, soonest -- is my responsiblity, and the reason I'm being picky. If I get it in my head that the best training methods are the ones that require the fewest practice hours, I'm wasting brain cycles. The choice isn't between spending 5,000 or 10,000 hours to get expert, the choice is between spending 10,000 hours to get expert or 10,000 hours to get older.

Paul Schweer

Last edited by Paul Schweer : 09-09-2009 at 11:49 AM. Reason: format changes
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Old 09-09-2009, 12:48 PM   #120
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Quote:
Paul Schweer wrote: View Post
Not sure I follow... I'd expect time invested vs. progress to be the same for all effective training systems: 10,000 hours from beginner to expert. Progress being a function of hours practiced, the idea of increasing the rate of progress over time while keeping practice hours constant over time doesn't make sense to me.
But who says that aikido is an effective training system or that is the most effective training system it can be? (Ignoring the argument here that if one changes aikido's training system, it's not aikido anymore.) So if we compare aikido with aikido+ (a new and improved training method!), we have two ways of looking at it:
1) The skill level after training 10,000 hours in aikido can be attained by training 9,000 hours in aikido+.
2) After training 10,000 hours in aikido one can achieve a skill level of 100, but after 10,000 hours of aikido+ training one can achieve a level of 110.

And perhaps a lazy person would decide to train less hours in aikido+ just to match the skill level of people training more hours in aikido, but to me (and I believe to you too) this makes no sense.
You define your goals and then you just want to put in 10,000 hours in the most effective training method available in the shortest time span possible. And when you find a more effective method, you don't cut down on your hours of training, you rejoice in the fact that you'll be able to make more progress in this lifetime than you thought.

So I really think we are in agreement here. And saying "With my improved training method I can learn in 8 hours what you learn in 10." is indeed a bit weird and does sound short cut-like, but it does make a valid point concerning the effectiveness of training.
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:46 PM   #121
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

This is most likely not important to very many people but me... but here it is - I'm training until I die and I've been doing it since 1953 and I'm finally figuring out, for me, how to both practice and do it fairly efficiently...

I care very little about how good I'm going to be at some point... all I try to do is the best I can in each instant. Those words may sound like they came out of a fortune cookie, but it's not an easy thing for humans to do... until it is. Trying to predict it or graph it is not useful to me. Doing it and passing that on to others that value it is practice that ends when I die... and if I'm wrong about that, I'll get a message to you all, if possible, about what training is like where ever ?I'm? at.

Best regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:58 PM   #122
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Nice Post Chuck. Good reminder...

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-09-2009, 02:12 PM   #123
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

All,

Now we're back to my initial question in post two or three of this thread: is the problem with aikido training one of effectiveness or efficiency?

I initially thought Ellis was talking about the switch from the instructor being the "uke" in koryu arts to the instructor being "nage" in aikido. BUT, after reading Ellis's response later on where he suggested that people check out Itten Dojo and learn about taikyoku kuzushi, I now understand what he was getting at. (I should have gotten it sooner, I now train at Itten Dojo.)

I won't go into any detail on the taikyoku kuzushi. I'm still new at Itten Dojo and very much a beginner in that system. Ellis suggested that people go to Itten Dojo and learn about taikyoku kuzushi, so the best I can do is echo his suggestion.

In short, taikyoku kuzushi are the fundamental aspects of aikido waza, and mastering those first means it takes less time to learn how to perform effective waza. In contrast, working on waza and eventually figuring out the principles would take more time.

This is where I see effectiveness and efficiency overlapping. If your core principles are sound and performed well, then the waza based on them will be effective. So focusing on learning the core principles will be more efficient. In my previous dojo, we used aikitaiso and taisbaki as our vehicle for learning the core principles. The content of the exercises was different than the taikyoku kuzushi, but the approach is very similar.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 09-09-2009, 02:20 PM   #124
mjhacker
 
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

Quote:
Drew Ames wrote: View Post
Now we're back to my initial question in post two or three of this thread: is the problem with aikido training one of effectiveness or efficiency?
To address this important question, we first need to know whose training you're talking about.

Michael Hacker
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:19 PM   #125
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Inefficiencies in the Aikido Training Method

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Drew Ames wrote: View Post
All,

Now we're back to my initial question in post two or three of this thread: is the problem with aikido training one of effectiveness or efficiency?
They are not different questions. Without a common measure of effectiveness you cannot define relative efficiency between modes or methods of training. There's the rub ... the best you'll get is qualitatively refined anecdotal information (not worthless, mind). But even there you need qualitative standards of common reference. We don't have any equivalent standards criteria like they have for, say, figure skating. Tomiki tried something like this as I understand it, but while his system probably works as well as any other it is not widely reputed to be much better nor worse.

The fundamental problem is, we are striving for a demonstrable art with a high degree of adaptable contingency and yet so many are trying to find very programmatic ways to teach it. Increasingly, I am coming to believe this approach is like teaching swimming by working on walking with your arms windmilling. My tentative conclusion that the art makes its own structure -- if you let it -- and I am just an Aiki-wallah ...

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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