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Old 07-14-2010, 08:13 AM   #1
Buck
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Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

The Yonkyo is Unbearable thread talks about techniques being too painful. We as people don't like pain, in the context of Aikido, we want to practice without pain. It is natural to want to do so. And it has been my experience with some Aikidoka that all techniques should be painless. That painless techniques are the mark of perfect or ideal execution, a sign of mastery. I am not going to argue that because I have felt less pain from experienced Aikido than a novice. That runs along the lines of the novice struggling to learn the technique. Also not all Aikido techniques are designed to be painful on contact, such as those of jujitsu techniques. And Judo throws for example, not the katas, are not painful on contact as well. With that in mind, the issue up for discussion is, does pain assist in the learning process or doesn't it. Does working technique with the idea it shouldn't be painful assist in the learning process or hindering it. I am looking at long term learning and development. Does the student develop the proper foundation, principles and structure with either philosophy? What are the end results of either over say 10 years of practice?

To define pain I am not talking about applying a force that rips the limbs of someone. I am talking about moderate pain as the median, for the sake of this discussion.

I hope with a variety of opinions and input it will provide a picture of what most Aikidoka are doing and their perspective on painless techniques and the learning of Aikido. That in turn will be a valuable resource.

I personally, feel that FWIW, and I am not an experienced teacher but as a student, I feel for new students that experiencing some pain in some techniques does help the learning process and is valuable to long term success. For instance, feedback on applying other principles used with the technique. For example, assisting in the learning proper structure, and form, positioning, tai sabaki, Irimi etc. As I said this is my opinion and looking forward to reading those of others. My first Aikido sensei said about pain, when I started and was uncomfortable about pain experienced said, "Think of it as a loving stretch."

Last edited by Buck : 07-14-2010 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:20 AM   #2
niall
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

Buck in a nice little piece of synchronicity just two minutes ago in that yonkyo thread I wrote

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On the pain point real aikido doesn't hurt. It's not supposed to. It only hurts if you are doing it wrong. The joint techniques in aikido are control techniques which are only painful if the uke doesn't want to follow and tries to escape.

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Old 07-14-2010, 10:33 AM   #3
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

In life, and in learning anything useful, pain is inevitable. It is the shadow that accompanies new awareness, as well as the stripping away of old and inappropriately held preconceptions of what should be.

Alas, even as omelettes cannot be started without breaking egg shells, as childbirth is not free of pain, and as new knowledge is often accompanied by the agony of realizing how wrong one was before, so is pain inevitable in learning Aikido correctly.

Suffering, however, remains optional, and should be minimized or avoided whenever possible.

Good pain is desirable, if nothing more than to avoid bad pain. Good pain is instructional and serves as vital warning signs. Bad pain means that those warning signs were ignored, by either student, instructor,,,,,, or both.

Maturity, understanding and wisdom, like all beneficial goals of training and experience, come with a price. One may find that it is far better to pay this price willingly, and avoid the greater cost of not doing so. Life is rife with choices, so we must always choose wisely.

Let us not fear pain, or the necessary lessons that accompanies it.

Let us fear the loss of not having the courage and foresight to do so.
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Old 07-14-2010, 10:53 AM   #4
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

Some one told me that all techniques can be performed painless, with just the principle behind the technique and with taking ballance.
But to get to that point takes a lot of pain frankly.

Taking and giving the nasty yonkyo or nikkyo might be the birthing pangs of refined technique.

MM
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Old 07-14-2010, 11:46 AM   #5
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
With that in mind, the issue up for discussion is, does pain assist in the learning process or doesn't it.
That's like asking "Is water useful?" It's a nonsense question, because there is no absolute answer: it's always dependent on the situation. Define the situation and you can arrive at an answer; refuse to define the situation, and it's just mental masturbation.
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:05 PM   #6
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

Using pain to teach Aikido is a crutch. If you've broken your leg go ahead. But if you haven't, it'll look daft.

Using pain as a lesson for other things, might be useful. Learning what type of pain is acceptable to your body, and what's not. Dealing with pain with centering, kokyu and etc. Understanding pain can be a good way to avoid injury.

Theoretically, that's what I believe anyway.

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Old 07-14-2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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That's like asking "Is water useful?" It's a nonsense question, because there is no absolute answer: it's always dependent on the situation. Define the situation and you can arrive at an answer; refuse to define the situation, and it's just mental masturbation.
Mary,

On another thread, from which this on was spawned, it was stated that pain will lead to incorrect Aikido technique. Therefore, it is argue on that thread, techniques should be done painlessly. Maybe I assumed that everyone would have understood where this question is coming from. What is your opinion, does experiencing pain during the practicing of a technique help or hinder learning Aikido?
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:17 PM   #8
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Mary,

On another thread, from which this on was spawned, it was stated that pain will lead to incorrect Aikido technique. Therefore, it is argue on that thread, techniques should be done painlessly. Maybe I assumed that everyone would have understood where this question is coming from. What is your opinion, does experiencing pain during the practicing of a technique help or hinder learning Aikido?
In my opinion Good /Bad pain are both sides of the same coin.In life we experience bad/ good situations.Whether you have a bad/good experience or whether you feel good /bad pain during Aikido the point I think is to seek something positive in a bad situation .In a word learn to accept and neutralise the pain from a waza./see some good in bad situations.
Do we not try and do this when /if we are faced with lifes difficulties?We were never promised a cushy time in life so why complain if occasionally we receive a bit of pain during training.
Like the say -No pain -no gain.Treat pain like a friend .
Pain is you body's way of saying something isnt quite right eg your ukemi might be lousy.
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:30 PM   #9
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Mary,

On another thread, from which this on was spawned, it was stated that pain will lead to incorrect Aikido technique. Therefore, it is argue on that thread, techniques should be done painlessly. Maybe I assumed that everyone would have understood where this question is coming from. What is your opinion, does experiencing pain during the practicing of a technique help or hinder learning Aikido?
Buck,

Is water useful?
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:45 PM   #10
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

Aikido is a martal art. Being such I beleive pain is a part of it. We aren't playing with fluffy puppy dogs, we are practicing a martial art.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:55 PM   #11
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

To me, the "answer" depends on what you want out of your Aikido: what you want to be experiencing and what you want your partners, or even actual opponents, to experience, which then, in many ways, dictates what physical and emotional reaction they will have to you and what you do. In addition, pain doesn't work on every one, and if elements like Kuzushi occur properly, it's not necessary, and undesirable.

In my practice and teaching, there is -No- pain taught in any Aikido technique, ever. From day one. Successfully. When properly understood, it isn't that difficult to teach this, even from a purely practical standpoint, but it is more rare, and it is far more sophisticated than simply teaching mechanics and Aiki-style jujitsu waza.

In my world, pain application and/or compliance is haphazard, dangerous, and creates a situation and feeling that I do not want to foster, nor do I need to. Along with that, I have seen much Aikido practice where the "success" of a technique depends on Uke compliantly following Nage, either because that's what they are simply taught to do, or in many dojo and styles, because if they don't they will get hurt. To me, this is one of the major problems with Aikido instruction and practice today. In what and how I teach, there is absolutely no room for it. To me it means that Nage does not know how to perform the technique properly, and that proper principles/processes like Musubi, Kuzushi, and Aiki, are absent.

To some, this may seem like a fairly extreme position, but for me, it is an every day, every class thing; no pain, not necessary, and if there is pain then something is wrong, and what is going is examined and used as important feedback for Nage.

This kind of practice is based on, among other things, what we call Kinesthetic Invisibility, termed by my main teacher, Don O'Bell. Pain creates physical and emotional reference points that can then be responded to, resisted, countered, and used against Nage. In fact, to me, when there is pain, Nage becomes Uke, or, the attacker, and can be taken advantage of and dealt with as such.

In K. Tohei Sensei's writings about his first encounter with O Sensei, he describes how he felt nothing at all from him, but was effectively and efficiently thrown again and again. He points out that, if he had felt anything, he had the skills to counter it, and would have (in fact did so to the instructor he encounterd before O Sensei got there.) But with O Sensei, he didn't, couldn't. This important, valuable, and defining reference seems to have been completely lost on many Aikido instructors and practitioners.

Pain in-and-of-itself, in life etc., doesn't seem to be the pertinent issue here, but the use of pain in Aikido waza. Taking away reference points like pain in Aikido actually make it a far more powerful and effective art.

Larry Novick
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:57 PM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

My ideal is to apply a lock or pin in such a way that I've already taken balance and there is only pain if uke turns or rises against it. I may not always succeed at this! but it is definitely my goal.

Having said that....as uke, learning to breathe into and relax and sink into a nikkyo lock, was invaluable both on the mat (learning non-resistive connection) and also off the mat, in teaching my how to deal with pain that is either benign and to be lived with (arthritis) or just not going away yet (like in the ER waiting for treatment).

As nage w/ newbies, I like to aside from "doing technique" stop and just slowly slowly apply a lock, showing them how it travels up the body AND how under these condition it can lock without hurting for quite some time. I like to have them understand the feel of a final pin that doesn't hurt but leaves them immobilized, so they know they don't have to wait to "tap out when it hurts" as sometimes, unfortunately, they've been instructed.

But in training, going through the normal back and forth, yeah sometimes the lock or pin will hurt for a moment and that's just part of the learning.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:16 PM   #13
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

To me, a major misunderstanding in Aikido is the perspective that many techniques are joint locks - to me they're not. They're ways of connecting to center and allowing Kuzushi to happen. When it does, properly, Uke should then not even have to ability to resist and therefore potentially hurt himself. This is an important, basic teaching/skill to learn, in my style, and it works quite well.

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Old 07-14-2010, 02:52 PM   #14
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post
In my practice and teaching, there is -No- pain taught in any Aikido technique, ever. From day one. Successfully. When properly understood, it isn't that difficult to teach this, even from a purely practical standpoint, but it is more rare, and it is far more sophisticated than simply teaching mechanics and Aiki-style jujitsu waza.
While I can see this in some techniques it doesn't sound right for all. How can a nikkyo not hurt? Sankyo? Hijishime?

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Old 07-14-2010, 02:53 PM   #15
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Is water useful?
Maybe the intended question was more about how "water" might be useful (or not useful)?
I can see how pain can help in some things, but not in others. In terms of sensing minute details in the body, pain usually seems to wash out a lot of the signal. Also, I tend to think that if pain is present, something isn't quite right on my part (as uke); it's a sign I'm not fluid or otherwise engaged enough in some part(s) of my overall structure.
That said, though, I also pay close attention to the "shape" of my pain and have had the sense of feeling around "in" it to see what's going on and then figuring out something on how to respond as a result.
As a slight side-note I'd just like to add how I was always surprised to take ukemi for Sensei Barrish when I had an injury (i.e. mild strained/sprained joints, etc.) because I almost never felt any pain. If anything I usually felt a little stronger in the offending joint.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 07-14-2010 at 02:55 PM.

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Old 07-14-2010, 02:59 PM   #16
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
While I can see this in some techniques it doesn't sound right for all. How can a nikkyo not hurt? Sankyo? Hijishime?
I've been controlled against my will many a time with a nikkyo, sankyo and even yonkyo that was completely painless.


IMHO:
All these techniques are in the end about controlling or attacking uke's center. You don't need pain compliance if you are attacking uke's center. If you rely on the pain compliance alone you are missing a great deal of the technique.

With that said everyone will "most likely" spend a great deal of their training years giving and receiving painful techniques. Like I said above, the pain is most likely the birthing pangs of great technique. The hope is to one day have such great technique you won't have to have the crutch of pain compliance.

MM
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:11 PM   #17
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Let us not fear pain, or the necessary lessons that accompanies it.
I have to agree with Sensei Takahashi here.
Life has pain.
Life is actually much more complicated and dangerous without it.
Until we really start learning from pleasure and success, the most valuable learning tool we have is the pain that motivates us to look at ourselves and change.
OTOH, I strive to control the amount of pain in the learning process.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:11 PM   #18
Janet Rosen
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
While I can see this in some techniques it doesn't sound right for all. How can a nikkyo not hurt? Sankyo? Hijishime?
I can't answer for Larry, but when I show newbies how to very slowly apply sankyo, starting at fingertips and continuing to take out slack working up each joint, if the uke is able to relax and watch me do it to him (because there was no attack and I'm not "doing technique") then once the sankyo works all the way up the arm and through the shoulder, it will click into uke's center and structure and it will be me moving from there undermining his structure that makes him move, not pain in the arm.
Having said that....when it comes to applying sankyo quickly, in training, I'm not consistently able to do this...still working on it....

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Old 07-14-2010, 03:11 PM   #19
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
While I can see this in some techniques it doesn't sound right for all. How can a nikkyo not hurt? Sankyo? Hijishime?
Nikkyo - absolutely, no pain when performed properly as a connective technique that allows for Kuzushi - same with Sankyo, although admittedly it's slightly more complicated with Sankyo. But quite possible. What is called for is the skill of connecting through to Center without "disturbing anything else" so to speak.

I don't do or teach Hijishime, it's not part of my/our syllabus, nor is it in some other Aikido styles, as, if I understand the one you are referring to, it works against the joint.

This, to me, is the evolution of Aikido, although clearly O Sensei could do it when he wanted to, so in that sense it's both "progressive and regressive."

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Old 07-14-2010, 03:19 PM   #20
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
With that said everyone will "most likely" spend a great deal of their training years giving and receiving painful techniques. Like I said above, the pain is most likely the birthing pangs of great technique. The hope is to one day have such great technique you won't have to have the crutch of pain compliance.
I don't really think so, to be honest - I think it's the wrong path to take from the beginning. Seriously, not to be confrontive, but why practice Aikido that way if the goal (and "great technique") is to eliminate the pain, why not learn how to do that, properly, from the beginning? (Although I admit, you're right, most Aikido is indeed practiced that way....)

Last edited by Aiki1 : 07-14-2010 at 03:23 PM.

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Old 07-14-2010, 03:21 PM   #21
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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
I have to agree with Sensei Takahashi here.
Life has pain.
Life is actually much more complicated and dangerous without it.
Until we really start learning from pleasure and success, the most valuable learning tool we have is the pain that motivates us to look at ourselves and change.
OTOH, I strive to control the amount of pain in the learning process.
I do agree Lynn (how's it going by the way) but again, that's more of a general thing in life, not necessarily, for some, specifically applicable to Aikido technique....

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Old 07-14-2010, 05:57 PM   #22
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Larry Novick wrote: View Post
I don't really think so, to be honest - I think it's the wrong path to take from the beginning. Seriously, not to be confrontive, but why practice Aikido that way if the goal (and "great technique") is to eliminate the pain, why not learn how to do that, properly, from the beginning? (Although I admit, you're right, most Aikido is indeed practiced that way....)
I think, for me at least, I am trying to learn how not to do that from the beginning.
However, the process involves mistakes, missteps, trial/error etc. Unfortunately, the journey of refining technique implies that you are starting off with something rough, and trying to temper it out into something refined.
Something rough in my experience sometimes involves taking a hard nikkyo. It isn't ideal to give or take a hard nikkyo, but it happens every now and then as you work to refine the technique. Everyone trips up every now and then. When we do, there's pain to show us that we aren't doing it quite right.
Babies fall down as they learn to walk.(heck grown men trip every now and then.)
Again, my opinion, its the birthing pangs of refinement in this instance.

However, IMHO, a lot of Aikido out there only focuses to train with pain. The pain compliance is a crutch for a lot of Aikido out there. There are too many people I run into that are gobsmacked when you say "Painless Nikkyo" or what not.

Last edited by RED : 07-14-2010 at 06:01 PM.

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Old 07-14-2010, 06:02 PM   #23
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I think, for me at least, I am trying to learn how not to do that from the beginning.
However, the process involves mistakes, missteps, trial/error etc. Unfortunately, the journey of refining technique implies that you are starting off with something rough, and trying to temper it out into something refined.
Something rough in my experience sometimes involves taking a hard nikkyo. It isn't ideal to give or take a hard nikkyo, but it happens every now and then as you work to refine the technique.
Babies fall down as they learn to walk.(heck grown men trip every now and then.)
Again, my opinion, its the birthing pangs of refinement in this instance.
For sure, Maggie, you're right - I guess what I was really thinking about is, I haven't seen much actual, real teaching out there about "painless Nikkyo" - mostly I see just hard joint locks that are either designed to be painful, or have to be because there's nothing else to them that would make them otherwise....

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Old 07-14-2010, 06:35 PM   #24
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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For sure, Maggie, you're right - I guess what I was really thinking about is, I haven't seen much actual, real teaching out there about "painless Nikkyo" - mostly I see just hard joint locks that are either designed to be painful, or have to be because there's nothing else to them that would make them otherwise....
Sometimes techniques hurt, but it has always been made very clear to me that pain compliance is a crutch, and center control is preferred above it.
I know that ever since I began Aikido my instructors and my Sensei have promoted this principle. (I have found memories of working on yonkyo with my Sensei. The Yonkyo is never painful for my fiance, because of how he's built. My Sensei threw him regardless and explained that it shouldn't matter if you can get the pain, it should work with just technique. In fact people like my fiance should be a good enough reason to learn not to rely on pain compliance.)
Also from my training experience(for what it is worth), our Shidoin and Shihan have promoted this principle as well. I frankly am very appreciative to have access to this level of teacher. That includes my Sensei, our Shidoin and Shihan.

,

Last edited by RED : 07-14-2010 at 06:40 PM.

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Old 07-14-2010, 06:50 PM   #25
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Re: Painless Techniques and Learning Aikido

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Nikkyo - absolutely, no pain when performed properly as a connective technique that allows for Kuzushi - same with Sankyo, although admittedly it's slightly more complicated with Sankyo. But quite possible. What is called for is the skill of connecting through to Center without "disturbing anything else" so to speak."
Ok, I am being a argumentitive. To use the phrase "when performed properly" IMO states that if you are causing pain you are doing it wrong. I do not think I am doing my techniques improperly because they cause pain. Pain is a part of training IMO. I do not rely on pain as the sole motivation. Taking uke's balance is primary.

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