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Old 03-12-2010, 09:04 AM   #1
TimB99
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The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Hellooo everyone!

Have been training in aikido for almost four years now, and in stead of things getting better, it only seems to get harder and harder (the "progress" that I feel like I should be making doesn't feel very much like actual progress ). Now, I know I'm not only a newb in here, but still a beginner in this wonderful art as well, but even now I'm glad to say that it has only made my desire to get better and to take things to the "next level" stronger. And that's why I'm here. ^^

So my question is, just as the title says: what are the very best exercises or drills that you've ever done to get better at aikido (whether they be on or off the mat, or solo or partner ones), and what are the very best tips or pieces of advice that you've ever gotten?

Looking forward to hearing from you folks.

-TB
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:22 AM   #2
Michael Hackett
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

The aiki taiso exercises.....funakogi undo, shomenuchi ikkyo undo, zengo undo, happo undo, tekubi kosa undo & joho, saya undo & saya chayako undo, ude furi undo & chayako, ushiro tori undo, ushiro tekubi tori undo & kotai, tenkan undo, and kokyuho undo. Those all have their roots in Ki Society and although many schools use them in one form or another, the names may differ. AFIK, all Aikido movements and waza have components of these exercises in them.

We are a AAA dojo and also do tai sabaki for each attack - those may be unique to AAA and Toyoda Sensei as I haven't seen them anywhere else.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:49 AM   #3
Adam Huss
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Similarly to Michael Hackett's preference...I think Kihon Dosa (Sotai Dosa) is probably the most beneficial to me, as well as Kihon Dosa to Kanren Waza.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:06 AM   #4
Janet Rosen
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
The aiki taiso exercises.
I agree; I think kata contains within its movements essentially a "study at your own pace" curriculum on centering, extending, weighting, breathing, posture, etc - I also think that many students never quite "get" the potential value of this and see it as a series of stuff to go through on autopilot.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:54 PM   #5
Abasan
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Just to be vague...

Lessons are learned, Wisdom is earned.

Each and everything we do is like an onion. At first, it may appear to be one thing only. Later as you understand a bit more, another layer appears that develops something else, and later more and more layers are revealed. This relates to taiso, waza and everything else.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:30 PM   #6
Amassus
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
I agree; I think kata contains within its movements essentially a "study at your own pace" curriculum on centering, extending, weighting, breathing, posture, etc - I also think that many students never quite "get" the potential value of this and see it as a series of stuff to go through on autopilot.
Too true. I'm still getting something out of those exercises.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:53 PM   #7
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
We are a AAA dojo and also do tai sabaki for each attack - those may be unique to AAA and Toyoda Sensei as I haven't seen them anywhere else.
Toyoda Sensei use to be under Tohei Sensei.

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Old 03-13-2010, 12:08 AM   #8
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

A variety of taiso excercises, continuous bokken cuts, 5 man rondori, tonto dori, jo dori, paired weapons and kokyo dosa.


Best tip - Chiba Sensei said, "Don't get stuck doing things the same way. Always look for a better way.

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Old 03-13-2010, 01:05 AM   #9
jducusin
 
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Thumbs up Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

One of the best and most unique tips I've ever received is to start focusing on improving your ukemi to the point where you become really responsive and can take hard and fast breakfalls whenever necessary.

Not only will it teach you to become more sensitive to the energy of your opponent (which teaches you a crucial aspect of proper technique that mere sight cannot and also trains you to be in a good position to counter) but if you're really upping the ante, you may be called upon more by your Sensei and other higher ranked practitioners to take ukemi for them. This in turn will give you additional (and dare I say, even better) opportunities to learn more about technique from feel.

All the best,
J

Open Sky Aikikai - http://www.winnipegaikido.com
"Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 03-13-2010, 01:15 AM   #10
Mark Uttech
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Onegaishimasu. The first thing that always comes to mind when I think about what made the greatest difference in my aikido practice is Kokyu ho, breathing practice. I first learned the practice around the time of 5th kyu, and I noticed a difference from the get go. Even now, nearly 26 years later, it still makes the best difference!

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 03-13-2010, 03:51 AM   #11
Dieter Haffner
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

At the end of a seminar weekend with Shimamoto shihan, he told us he would go home and practise a lot. So he could be better for us the next year.
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:21 AM   #12
Michael Hackett
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Nafis,

Yes, that was the relationship in the early days before Toyoda Shihan split from Tohei Shihan. I don't know the origin of the tai sabaki movements that we do today in the AAA - they could have come from Tohei Shihan directly, Toyoda Shihan could have developed them independently. There certainly was a strong influence though. If you look at Tohei Shihan's "This is Aikido", the techniques shown are virtually identical to what we do today. I just haven't seen the tai sabaki exercises anywhere else, but then I haven't seen a lot of anywhere else either.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 03-13-2010, 02:35 PM   #13
lbb
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Just to be vague...

Lessons are learned, Wisdom is earned.

Each and everything we do is like an onion. At first, it may appear to be one thing only. Later as you understand a bit more, another layer appears that develops something else, and later more and more layers are revealed. This relates to taiso, waza and everything else.
I don't think this is vague...or maybe it would be more accurate to say, I don't think it's possible to describe this phenomenon in more specific terms. For me, the realization of the learning most often occurs some time after the learning has happened, at least as concerns aikido. I don't really have "aha" moments when I get something -- the "aha" moment, for me, is a cognitive/cerebral thing, and aikido is anything but cerebral for me. Instead, I'll be training and I'll suddenly realize that somewhere along the line, I figured out some aspect of such-and-such technique. And then, I'm into the next layer of the onion.

Everyone learns differently, and no doubt for many people there are specific exercises that help them learn aikido faster or make progress or whatever. For me, the only approach is to just keep on training -- and also, perhaps, to let go of expectations of what I should be accomplishing in what timeframe. I had a forcible experience with this, because of rheumatoid arthritis, which (to make a long story short) put me through about three years of flareups that would cripple a joint to the point of near total loss of function, for 24-48 hours. These were random and came without warning, and with increasing frequency. The only way that I was able to continue training during this time was by giving up all expectations, and all need for expectations. My body simply would not let me have any -- I couldn't say, "This week I'm going to work on xyz technique, and by next month I want to be able to do abc, and I want to test for such-and-such rank in three months". I couldn't even say, "In tonight's class, I'm going to work on my left-side forward rolls." No amount of resolve or being tough or working through the pain or any of that made-for-TV-movie crap could change the basic fact that my body was increasingly likely to fail me at any time, in unpredictable ways. I had to let all plans and expectations go, except for one: that I would continue to train, as best I could. No other expectations, no plans...just show up and train.

The result has been...well. How to describe it? I wouldn't wish rheumatoid arthritis on anyone, and yet the lesson that I've learned is priceless. I don't know that I'd trade it to be free of this disease. Because I couldn't plan what I was going to learn or work on, I had to learn to be accepting of whatever lessons were offered and that I was ready and able to learn. Experiencing this on the physical plane reminded me that this also happens in other ways. If you've spent any time around adolescents, you've probably dealt with someone who was simply not ready to learn a lesson that was staring them right in the face, and was eagerly seeking after things that they weren't ready to understand. Well, adults do this all the time too -- "I've got my plans and my agenda and by God, that's the order and the schedule on which I'm going to develop as a human being, dammit!" Does that ever work? It strikes me as like standing over a plant and screaming, "Grow, dammit!!!"

Progress is measured in many different ways, and some of the most important progress can't be measured at all at the time when it's happening. Lessons are learned when we're ready for them. If progress is what is wanted, perhaps the best "exercise" is the exercise of letting go.
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:30 PM   #14
dps
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

I was told by my first sensei, " You ask too many questions, shut up and practice."

David
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:14 PM   #15
Adam Huss
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
I was told by my first sensei, " You ask too many questions, shut up and practice."

David
One of our teachers ran a class pretty much in silence the other day. Relating it to the whole "your cup is already full" analogy and that students tend to talk and teach too much during class. It was good, everyone was noticeably more focused and got a lot more work in.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:33 AM   #16
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Id like to attend a 'silent' class but i cant help but think that you wouldnt get as much understanding from your sensei ?
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:11 AM   #17
Amir Krause
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

The best tip - keep training, listen to your teacher, and think.

Progress is not linear, at times, one feels his abilities are declining while in fact, he is just before the next step of improvement (starting to grasp something new).

Amir
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:53 PM   #18
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Mark Watson wrote: View Post
Id like to attend a 'silent' class but i cant help but think that you wouldnt get as much understanding from your sensei ?
I would have thought so too but one day sensei Tara had laryngitis and could not speak. So she showed us what to work on silently. Although it was not her intention all of us fell into training in total silence rather than our usual chatter. It was a rather cool experience and one thing I noticed was that I was seeing things in the demonstrations I might previously have missed. For instance on one technique she demonstrated both the omote and ura versions. While most of the class went to training and only were doing the omote I was doing both. At one point she came over to me and in a whisper asked me which she had demonstrated, the omote or the ura. I said both. It was nice to see her pleased smile acknowledging that I had indeed been paying attention. Sometimes too many words get in the way and distract us from the details.

As for exercises and tips. Someone once told me to keep an open mind. For me that is the beginning of every technique or excercise.
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Old 03-14-2010, 03:38 PM   #19
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

"Again"

(meaning to just keep training)

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 03-14-2010, 07:24 PM   #20
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Mark Watson wrote: View Post
Id like to attend a 'silent' class but i cant help but think that you wouldnt get as much understanding from your sensei ?
To clarify,

He talked and gave instruction...he just forbade us to speak/give advice to prevent ppl. from getting into non-related conversation (or even related conversation, that would distract from training) and to prevent people from commenting/coaching on other's techniques. Basically less talky, more throwy.

Osu!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:42 PM   #21
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

I have done Aunkai solo drills for 6 months. Only two or three exercises for an hour daily(not everyday though... -.-) It works. At least I corrected my 'dive bunny'(Rob's usual quote..btw) habit.
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Old 03-15-2010, 12:08 AM   #22
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Nafis,

Yes, that was the relationship in the early days before Toyoda Shihan split from Tohei Shihan. I don't know the origin of the tai sabaki movements that we do today in the AAA - they could have come from Tohei Shihan directly, Toyoda Shihan could have developed them independently. There certainly was a strong influence though. If you look at Tohei Shihan's "This is Aikido", the techniques shown are virtually identical to what we do today. I just haven't seen the tai sabaki exercises anywhere else, but then I haven't seen a lot of anywhere else either.
I won't write a long post of how I came to know this, but I came across some videos of Tohei doing many of the taiso excercises. You can have a look at them on my youtube page:

www.youtube.com/ejaazi

Let me know what you think.

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Old 03-15-2010, 06:03 AM   #23
phitruong
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

best tip: go to one or two or more of the workshop(s) with those internal experts who are willing to share and teach the stuffs (vs those who know but not telling you anything or not able to teach). all those aiki-taiso exercises changed afterward. outward appearance might look the same, but inside, very different. in the words of Hiroshi Ikeda sensei "move your inside". have anyone seen my spleen? i can't pull my finger anymore!
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Old 03-15-2010, 12:32 PM   #24
Michael Hackett
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Nafis,

I didn't find the aiki taiso on that site. Tohei Shihan was clearly (in my mind anyway) the originator of the aiki taiso exercises. I don't know the source of the tai sabaki exercises we do though as I mentioned. For clarity's sake, the tai sabaki are particular movements in response to a specific attack. For example, for a shomenuchi strike, there is an outside movement to the head of Uke, an outside movement to the wrist, an inside movement to the head and and inside movement to the wrist. The only folks I've seen do those particular exercises are those who studied under Toyoda Shihan. Where they originated, I don't know.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 03-15-2010, 02:57 PM   #25
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Re: The best exercises and tips you've ever done/gotten

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
best tip: go to one or two or more of the workshop(s) with those internal experts who are willing to share and teach the stuffs (vs those who know but not telling you anything or not able to teach). all those aiki-taiso exercises changed afterward. outward appearance might look the same, but inside, very different. in the words of Hiroshi Ikeda sensei "move your inside". have anyone seen my spleen? i can't pull my finger anymore!
truth!
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