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Old 11-07-2009, 11:42 AM   #1
aikishrine
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Taking yourself too seriously?

Have you come across people who train that take themselves way to seriously?
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Old 11-07-2009, 11:47 AM   #2
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Many, many times.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:02 PM   #3
Dan Herak
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Maybe one or two, or forty or fifty, or more. Although most people I have trained with have been great, there is simply a certain percentage of aikidoka that, yes, take themselves way to seriously.

On good days, I just let it slide. On days when I slip, I do not.

Recently I encountered someone, ranked sankyu (I myself am not a black belt and, in fact, have about equal skill with this guy) that kept purposefully screwing up my opening exercise to the point where meaningful practice became impossible (except in that esoteric sense that, well, I am really learning something; maybe, but not the exercise I was supposed to be actually working on). Real "white belt shihan" syndrome, telling me what I was doing wrong. Spare me. Was I perfect? Of course not. But was I so bad as to justify that garbage? No. I have done the same exercise with advanced black belts and, although the yudansha may provide me with some welcome pointers, my technique has not been so imperfect as to warrant black belts from preventing me from actually doing the exercise.

After a few times of Mr. Shihan telling me what to do, I finally responded "Yes Sensei." He got all pissy and told me to go practice with someone else. I did - gladly. Like I would be all busted up that I did not appreciate his 'wisdom.'

And I guess that is the gist of it. If the people who take themselves too seriously do not interfere with my practice, it is not my concern. But until a certain level, it is possible to be such an obstructionist uke as to preclude nage from having a meaningful practice. If it hits that level, that is when it becomes my problem.
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Old 11-07-2009, 01:01 PM   #4
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Hi,
I struggle with this. A bit differently from in Dan's post, though.
I'll just list a bunch of my questions...hope it's not too OT, aikishrine. Forgive me if so..

I would love to hear how people think about balancing seriousness in training in their lives.

Isn't the whole study of MA conducive to this? Taking yourself seriously? Too Seriously, even? Too seriously = Loss of perspective, right? (i.e. what are you doing here and why are you doing it?)

Aren't you supposed to practice MA (/Aikido) with a life and death sincerity? How do you turn that on and off?
Is it not clear why the imbalances in people are there?
Should you be on-guard for attacks all the time (like from Kato in the Pink Panther... or even from Phi's sons? ^^) Isn't that what training and doing it seriously...points to?

If it's in the mindset of 'for fun' or 'for fitness', I can see a stabilizing influence. But what if you want to be the best? Or if you train 'for mastery'? Isn't part of the price this level of seriousness & present-ness? Why train? Is it "for fun"? or is it "serious training"? or or is it "A Way"? People go for it for all those reasons, right? Each must have it's own mindset motivating it. (And typically there is a looking-down-on-people that are not as serious as you... have you noticed that?)

General question: How do you keep stable? Sense of humour? Perspective? If you are naturally this way (Happy, Stable,laughing), at least that is there to pull you back....but doesn't MA effect this characteristic? Isn't practice *supposed* to be off-the-mat, 24 hours a day, day-in day out?? Hence, implicitly *effecting your mindset*? What if you are naturally not such a happy-go-lucky person? Do gendai budo (is it looked down upon?) or ko-ryu have different levels of commitment and seriousness inherent?

The whole system of MA practice seems inherently geared towards cultivation of this sincerity, seriousness, earnestness? Too serious? Not serious enough?

O Sensei talked about training with a joyful heart. How is this offset with the seriousness and life-and-death sincerity?

I think humility is part of the answer; but I have not figured this out fully and continue to wonder.... 'what the *best* way to practice is'. In terms of state-of-mind.

p.s. the other parts of the answer I have come up with is...'The Art Serves me, I do not serve the Art'... and... 'Know why you train. Keep purposes clear': Fun? Skill/Aiki development? Sparring? Dueling? Fighting? Combat? Camaraderie? Joy? etc. All different...but if purposes are kept clear and clean, then the level of seriousness (/mindset/intent/heart) naturally falls out of the process. Doesn't it?

anyhoo...thanks for reading. Hope to hear you jokers's thoughts on this.
Josh
Sorry my post was too serious. And too rambling. I tend to do that..

Hey, wait a minute....maybe you guys aren't serious enough!!
JOKING! ; ) JOKING!
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:04 PM   #5
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Everyone trains for different reasons. How serious one trains most often is based on why they chose to practice in the first place. This can change sometimes but it doesn't matter. Times have changed, we don't "live" on the battlefield anymore. Well, most of us don't anyway. Still, a certain level of seriousness is needed and that should be determined by your sensei. As for stopping your partner constantly with numerous corrections to thier technique, I agree this is a waste of everyone's time. To learn one must do, to do means we have to fumble through a technique or exercise and figure it out for yourself. There's nothing wrong with instruction but too much instruction means learning won't really take place.

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Old 11-07-2009, 02:10 PM   #6
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

You mean like my avatar?
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:23 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

1. I take my training seriously.

2. I try not to take myself seriously.

3. I try to train joyously.

4. I see no inherent contradictions in # 1-3.

Janet Rosen
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:04 PM   #8
Maarten De Queecker
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
1. I take my training seriously.

2. I try not to take myself seriously.

3. I try to train joyously.

4. I see no inherent contradictions in # 1-3.
Agreed 100%. I am always concentrated during training, but I always smile while doing so. I am not afraid of making a joke or two from time to time. This tends to loosen people up, and makes people like to train with you.
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:07 PM   #9
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

My thoughts run fairly concurrent with Josh's. What do you mean by serious? This is serious business we practice and we should approach each training encounter with the same level of energy, intent, and sincerity as we can!

Ushiro Sensei a few weeks ago really tried to drive this home and he is not the only one that has said similar things, Soatome Sensei also expects this and tries to bring this out of you.

You approach a handshake or an attack with your full self...always on, always engaged always fully embracing of the situation.

So, in that vein, yes, you always approach training and engagement with the utmost seriousness.

I see a few things going on in training that is not good. Vanity, ego are two..these have nothing to do with being serious at all...entirely different issues.

I also see folks passing judgement on others for being "too serious" with their training....which really means "I am not really willing to commit to that level of effort, so instead of calling myself lazy or uncommitted...I will call you too serious."

I also like what Janet has to say as well.

Emotional context is also important and that also gets translated into serioiusness.

I think this is also different. I agree, that it is good to try and approach training as Joyful as possible. However, somedays you show up mad and aggressive and you have to study that and work through it.

Also "too serious" can mean "self depriecation". Many people, myself included, get caught up and frustrated with how they are doing in their training. That will then begin to push and try harder and harder...this is usually noted by a frown, tension, or furrowed eyebrows. They do need to relax and try and cut themselves some slack and get back in the right frame of mind...it can be hard to do.

However, this is related to self in the moment, and related to emotional context..and has no reflection on how they are approaching their training...they can have the right amount of honesty and sincerity in their training, but still be in the wrong state of mind.

It all needs to be in balance.

Again, usually when someone says to me that so in so is taking their training too serious...is usually a sign to me that the person saying it is probably not taking their own training serious enough and is looking for a good excuse to validate the fact they they really don't want to commit themselves to the appropriate level of effort to study properly!

They should be worried about their own training and how serious they are taking it as that is all you can really effect. Yeah as Lyle says, the dojo is full of folks with different agendas..as is life. You are gonna have to learn to work with that as that is what you have to work with all the time!

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Old 11-07-2009, 03:30 PM   #10
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
O Sensei talked about training with a joyful heart. How is this offset with the seriousness and life-and-death sincerity?
Not confusing seriousness in training with being ponderous, pompous and absolutely humorless?
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:57 PM   #11
Ketsan
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

One need not be a serious martial artist if one is a sincere martial artist.
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:09 PM   #12
Victoria Pitt
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Hahah. Well, I admit I might be the wrong person to put my two cents into this but no one told me not to so here goes:

I have a very dry wit and can be very sarcastic, all in fun. Though I am paying attention to my training, on occasion I've had the one liner slip from my lips. I haven't gotten in trouble for it (yet) but I think it also helps the general mood to keep things focused yet lighthearted.

UNLESS I am doing partnered training with weapons. Then I am dead serious. I was told to smile the other day but I was not because I was focusing with attacking with full intent, yet making sure, just in case, I would stop the path of my bokken before someone got hurt. I know when I am uke, at least at the attack part, I go all out (I'm terrible when it comes to the "getting my butt handed to me" part but working on it). Where there are weapons out, the time for horseplay is not then because one slip of a bokken or jo with full intent and there is a broken hand, concussion, etc. Perhaps this goes back to my Army training but ANYTIME a weapon enters the picture, things get serious, and that is with a sword, knife, stick, as well as with a firearm.

But that's just me.

~Do one thing each day that scares you...~
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:54 PM   #13
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

At the last seminar, I trained with a guy that looked like he was about to eat me alive, he was out for blood. "whyyy sooo serious?"
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Old 11-07-2009, 08:11 PM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Victoria Pitt wrote: View Post
UNLESS I am doing partnered training with weapons. Then I am dead serious..
Same here. I have been known to use puns as atemi and nothing makes me laugh as hard as finding myself neatly thrown when I didn't see/feel it coming. But put a stick or sword in my hand and my focus is very different.

I'm not sure what to make of this. "should" my empty hand training have that same intensity? Well...I dunno...but it doesn't.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:14 PM   #15
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Same here. I have been known to use puns as atemi and nothing makes me laugh as hard as finding myself neatly thrown when I didn't see/feel it coming. But put a stick or sword in my hand and my focus is very different.

I'm not sure what to make of this. "should" my empty hand training have that same intensity? Well...I dunno...but it doesn't.
I think empty hand should be as focused as weapons training. I know when weapons are involved that I become more focused. At the same time I don't feel that I am unfocused when training empty hand. I think there is just a different level of urgency once a weapon enters the picture.

I tell my students to smile while they practice. Practice should be fun and joyful. I find smiling also helps new students to relax, to be less tense, allowing them to fall and strike with more ease.

Lyle Laizure
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Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:36 AM   #16
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

IMHO, we all tend to take ourselves too seriously and too personally most of the time on and off the mat.

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 11-08-2009, 11:09 AM   #17
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Eh. I think a lot of people spend too much time passing judgment on others' motives and mindsets -- usually erroneously, and almost always inappropriately. In order to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications, we're told to "make I-statements", meaning to talk about what you think and feel and want or (with reference to others) to talk about what you perceive, with the caveat that your perception may be in error. The statement that someone takes him/herself too seriously carries an awful lot of judgment with it, both about what's going on inside someone else's head, and whether or not that is appropriate.
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:25 AM   #18
aikishrine
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

When i say taking yourself to seriously, i am not talking about training. By all means train with the utmost sincerity, and with 100% effort. You should do this, otherwise you take the chance of hurting yourself or others.

What i was getting at is what i like to call the "Steven Seagal "complex. A great martial artist from a technical stand point, but thinking himself a reincarnated Dali Lama and the such is just a bit much. And while i havent come across people with that big of an ego, I have definitely come across people who could slide down that slippery slope.
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:40 AM   #19
Victoria Pitt
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
When i say taking yourself to seriously, i am not talking about training. By all means train with the utmost sincerity, and with 100% effort. You should do this, otherwise you take the chance of hurting yourself or others.

What i was getting at is what i like to call the "Steven Seagal "complex. A great martial artist from a technical stand point, but thinking himself a reincarnated Dali Lama and the such is just a bit much. And while i havent come across people with that big of an ego, I have definitely come across people who could slide down that slippery slope.
To be fair to Steven Seagal-

Did not another lama call him a reincarnated tulku which isn't the same as the Dali Lama

via wikipedia:
Quote:
"The American film actor Steven Seagal, while already an adult, was recognized by Penor Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma school, as the reincarnation of a 17th century tertön from eastern Tibet, Chungdrag Dorje. Penor Rinpoche notes that "such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher"; Seagal has not been enthroned and has not undergone the extensive program of training and study that is customary for a tulku."
I never was a fan of Steven Seagal before I knew he has something to do with Aikido. Not because he's a bad guy but I just kind of roll my eyes at action heroes. But I don't want him to get faulted for something he didn't state. That's not exactly fair.

Carry on... I shall butt out now.

~Do one thing each day that scares you...~
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:05 PM   #20
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Actually, the Dali Lama is a Tulku.

It is a very complex process within Tibetan Buddhism. One that did not really deserve the a categorically on the meaning of Tulku and/or Steven Seagal.

A little research into the process and meaning behind it would go along way to reducing the ignorance that exist toward religious and cultural processes that are not necessarily our own.

It may not be important to you if it is not a part of your religion or heritage, but it is important to others and we should consider that.

I'd be curious to hear from anyone that has actually trained with Seagal about how they felt his attitude and "taking himself too serious" played into the training.

For anyone else, it is all just hear say and judgmental really, and I don't really see how this serves any purpose to help anyone in their progress anyway.

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Old 11-08-2009, 12:09 PM   #21
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Ki Symbol Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

I have found that the Aikido community to be great and very very helpful as I continue to progress down the path. However, of the 20% where there has been an issue, I would break them down as follows:

-%15 Take themselves too seriously (i.e "I have a PhD or a very important job off the mat' so that should give them status on the mat--umm.......don't care and neither would an attacker on the street as they attempt to kick the crap out of you)

-10% Their technique is not where they want it to be, feel bad about themselves for some reason, or have tunnel vision to what their sensei does so (particularly at seminars) attempt to thwart your technique because you are often training at 1/8th speed so it is artificially easy to do.

-50% They don't take themselves too seriously, but do take their Aikido training seriously. However, they seem "stuck" in serious kata/ pattern training and not willing to think "outside the box" in terms of practical attacks or applications such as kicks, headbuts etc.

-25% Don't take themselves or their Aikido seriously, but simply want the potucks and social networking opportunities.
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Old 11-08-2009, 01:49 PM   #22
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Ki Symbol Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Actually, the Dali Lama is a Tulku.

It is a very complex process within Tibetan Buddhism. One that did not really deserve the a categorically on the meaning of Tulku and/or Steven Seagal.

A little research into the process and meaning behind it would go along way to reducing the ignorance that exist toward religious and cultural processes that are not necessarily our own.

It may not be important to you if it is not a part of your religion or heritage, but it is important to others and we should consider that.

I'd be curious to hear from anyone that has actually trained with Seagal about how they felt his attitude and "taking himself too serious" played into the training.

For anyone else, it is all just hear say and judgmental really, and I don't really see how this serves any purpose to help anyone in their progress anyway.
At a seminar with Reynosa sensei that a friend of mine was hosting a number of years back, I asked what type of guy Seagal sensei was? Reynosa sensei and Garrett Green (both of whom are in The Path Beyond Thought film) stated that Seagal sensei was easygoing and approachable. From the video I suspect that there was a difference between how he was with his students (more demanding) and how he was at seminars. This seems to gel with the opinion that my friend had come away with when he attended the Santa Barbara seminar in the 90s with Seagal sensei.
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Old 11-08-2009, 04:59 PM   #23
Maarten De Queecker
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
I have found that the Aikido community to be great and very very helpful as I continue to progress down the path. However, of the 20% where there has been an issue, I would break them down as follows:

-%15 Take themselves too seriously (i.e "I have a PhD or a very important job off the mat' so that should give them status on the mat--umm.......don't care and neither would an attacker on the street as they attempt to kick the crap out of you)

-10% Their technique is not where they want it to be, feel bad about themselves for some reason, or have tunnel vision to what their sensei does so (particularly at seminars) attempt to thwart your technique because you are often training at 1/8th speed so it is artificially easy to do.

-50% They don't take themselves too seriously, but do take their Aikido training seriously. However, they seem "stuck" in serious kata/ pattern training and not willing to think "outside the box" in terms of practical attacks or applications such as kicks, headbuts etc.

-25% Don't take themselves or their Aikido seriously, but simply want the potucks and social networking opportunities.
I don't see how the latter is an issue. As long as people are having fun, let them train. The social aspect of aikido is one of the main reasons I keep training. I
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:03 PM   #24
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Nope. I've never trained with anyone who seemed to take themselves too seriously.

I have trained with some who are obviously far more concerned - to the point of being rude - with their own training and not that of others.

It is unfortunate for those few. They do not realize the importance of other human beings in their own life.

Why train at all if one is concerned only with oneself? Sure, True Victory is Self Victory and one must be concious of oneself to grow and be victorious, but to do so in such a manner that one exhibits behaviors which seem as if they are treating uke and nage as nothing but tools for their own growth...well....that's not what it's all about in my book.

That's cool, though. Everybody is different. When I find people like that I go out of my way to train with them as much as possible. After a year or more and no change...then I choose not to train with them.

It's like a mutual endeavor, dontcha know. I'm not going to a dojo just to be a training device for a self centered, egocentric whowha of an aikidoist.

Hmmm...it appears I have stronger feelings about this than I knew prior to writing this post.

Could a be a good thread starter. "How to deal with folks at a dojo who are seemingly unaware of the mutual endeavor of the training process".

Last edited by Dan O'Day : 11-08-2009 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:22 PM   #25
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Re: Taking yourself to seriously?

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
What i was getting at is what i like to call the "Steven Seagal "complex. A great martial artist from a technical stand point, but thinking himself a reincarnated Dali Lama and the such is just a bit much. And while i havent come across people with that big of an ego, I have definitely come across people who could slide down that slippery slope.
I think you may be on a bit of a slippery slope yourself, Brian. Unless the people you're talking about are actually telling you about their thoughts and motivations, you're just guessing. I think it's a mistake to infer complex motivations and mental states based on a few superficial mannerisms -- would you agree?
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