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Old 09-15-2010, 06:00 PM   #1
David Maidment
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Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Today I had what I think I would count as my first moment of really 'teaching' someone, but it has left me a bit unsure of how to feel.

In most of the mudansha classes I attend I'm usually one of the two or three highest-ranked students, so if there are beginners there's a good chance that I'll be called on to show them the basics. I've had this before and it's fine. My teaching style (if I can call it that) needs a lot of work, but by and large it's just the same old dance of showing the basics to someone who usually has no prior point of reference -- very little changes.

Every now and again there will be someone who wants to know how to do the things they've seen Steven Seagal do or who really just wants to hurt people (or maybe is a bit hampered by their previous experience in another martial art). You have to listen to them, humour them, relate what you can of their interests and previous experience to what you're attempting to demonstrate in Aikido, but largely it's a case of "okay, that's cool. Now, let's try this technique again and see how it's done".

Today I was asked to teach the basics to a young man who has come up on perhaps one or two occasions before. He's a bit tall and very quiet. Once he gets talking he's quite chatty and very nice. I found out that he likes the new Karate Kid film. However, about halfway through the class, he asks if it's okay to use your elbow to hit someone in the face when you have them in a certain position (I believe it was from a tenchinage just before the point of the throw). It soon emerged that he's being bullied at school and it became very obvious that he wants to learn something to defend himself. I don't think he would harm a fly, but the fact that he asked that question gave the impression that he was actually quite worried about getting into fights and wanted to know what he could do to quickly get out of them.

At that point I stopped. I could have handed over to sensei, but I had been asked to teach this fellow so I thought I should give it a shot.

I explained to him that he should not attempt to use any of the techniques we were showing him in a fight. My first concern was for him getting hurt if he tried to. I explained that they were largely exercises to build up muscle memory and learn principles, rather than to learn practical techniques that could be immediately applied in their own right. I tried to emphasise that the most important and useful thing he could take away from training as a beginner in need of immediate knowledge was tai sabaki. "Move when they try to hit you; if you get the opportunity to, unbalance them a bit, but then run away". Things of that nature. If he couldn't avoid the fight and absolutely had no choice at all then yes, use the elbow to strike a blow, but then get away as fast as possible. I tried to explain that if he escalated a fight at all he may be lucky enough to win, but the odds of repeat success against the other guy and three of his friends the next day would be slim.

The whole thing has been concerning me ever since. Not so much that he is facing the risk of physical violence (most of us do at some point and hopefully his is not very extreme, not that I could actively prevent it in any event), but whether the advice I gave was really the best. I tried to be practical and let him know exactly what Aikido would and wouldn't be useful for at his, mine and sensei's respective levels. I don't suppose I could really have done anything more, but as my first moment of really trying to teach someone something useful in the dojo, I can't help but wonder.

I'm sorry that was a bit long, but if anyone has had any similar experiences (I'm sure most seasoned instructors will), I'd love to hear what happened and how you advised the student. I don't know if this fellow will stick with Aikido long-term, but I can see him coming back in the coming weeks at least, so it would be interesting to hear any similar stories.

"Never escalate a battle unless forced to do so by your enemy" - Zordon
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:59 PM   #2
WilliB
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
David Maidment wrote: View Post
I'm sorry that was a bit long, but if anyone has had any similar experiences (I'm sure most seasoned instructors will), I'd love to hear what happened and how you advised the student. I don't know if this fellow will stick with Aikido long-term, but I can see him coming back in the coming weeks at least, so it would be interesting to hear any similar stories.
This sounds like a repeat of the question in this forum a few days ago by a young Lithonian who was being bullied. If your kid wants to learn how to fight back against bullies with a quick learning curve, send him to the local boxing gym. Aikido is simply the wrong thing to learn for him. Once again, another victim of the false propaganda surrounding Aikido.
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Old 09-16-2010, 12:29 AM   #3
Aikibu
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Willi Brix wrote: View Post
This sounds like a repeat of the question in this forum a few days ago by a young Lithonian who was being bullied. If your kid wants to learn how to fight back against bullies with a quick learning curve, send him to the local boxing gym. Aikido is simply the wrong thing to learn for him. Once again, another victim of the false propaganda surrounding Aikido.
With all due respect Sir...Perhaps in your Aikido it's considered "false propaganda" to use Aikido to fight back. Either Aikido is Budo and effective against other Martial Arts or it's not...

If this is the case He should go learn something else Why practice something that will only get you hurt?

William Hazen
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:36 AM   #4
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Willi Brix wrote: View Post
Aikido is simply the wrong thing to learn for him. Once again, another victim of the false propaganda surrounding Aikido.
Our teachers of the children and kids classes do some "scenario-training" during practice:
They ask the kids about situations which happend to them at school an try to find out, how the things they learn in aikido could be applied and how they may help them. They also invented some games, so the kids can "play" some situations.
I myself (as others) teach seminars of one or two days about how to protect oneself.
Isn't this the issue of aikido?

@ David:
I think it is very important to point out to beginners that the things on learns at class will not work right now. It's dangerous if a beginner walks around with a cpmpletely wrong understanding of what he is able to do.
Tai sabaki, ma ai, tenkan, standing straight upright, also to get free from grips are things which may help a lot at first.
Not being pushed down, not being torn around is a first step.
And is less provoking more violance than striking back.

The main problem in my experience: "Karate Kid" lasts about 90 minutes. Then all fights are won. Live/School ... lasts a lot longer. And the fights are harder to bear.
Having a teacher and having a friend often helps a lot more then empi uchi does.
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Old 09-16-2010, 03:01 AM   #5
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
With all due respect Sir...Perhaps in your Aikido it's considered "false propaganda" to use Aikido to fight back. Either Aikido is Budo and effective against other Martial Arts or it's not...

If this is the case He should go learn something else Why practice something that will only get you hurt?

William Hazen
And with all due respect Sir, you left out the "quick learning curve" part of my comment in your haymaker reply.

But I´ll step aside and let you charge ahead... let me just point out that this topic has been discussed already not so long ago in the thread " I heard, that Aikido is teaching more than fighting. And a question about home train." under "General".

Why don´t you visit that thread and refute everybody there?
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:30 AM   #6
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

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Willi Brix wrote: View Post
And with all due respect Sir, you left out the "quick learning curve" part of my comment in your haymaker reply.

But I´ll step aside and let you charge ahead... let me just point out that this topic has been discussed already not so long ago in the thread " I heard, that Aikido is teaching more than fighting. And a question about home train." under "General".

Why don´t you visit that thread and refute everybody there?
Well I guess even though I was gentle about it you still took it personally for which I apologize..If you look at my post count you;ll see I have been around and I have read the thread you suggested and have posted in one of them.

I now humbly bow out and allow you to continue sharing your wonderful experience with the gentle Art of Aikido.

William Hazen

Last edited by Aikibu : 09-16-2010 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 09-16-2010, 11:48 AM   #7
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

As senior student responding to a question, I don't think you did bad. The choice to fight this man faces is not yours to make. In hindsight, this man apparently felt that your dojo (or aikido) would be a successful tool to defend himself. Retrospectively, you may want to discuss this issue with your sensei and confirm the correct philosophy of the dojo. Some aikido dojos would answer that question differently and you need to be careful your responses do not blanket aikido in general. For example, I know several aikido people whose response to a question about atemi would be, "you mean you're not using [that] atemi?" Then there are those dojos to emphasize running only in the effort to chase down your opponent because somehow he escaped...
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Old 09-16-2010, 12:32 PM   #8
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

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William Hazen wrote: View Post
I now humbly bow out and allow you to continue sharing your wonderful experience with the gentle Art of Aikido.
William Hazen
That is very nice, except I did not share any experience. But an active imagination is a great thing to have
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Old 09-16-2010, 01:01 PM   #9
akiy
 
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Please watch your tone, folks.

Thank you,

-- Jun

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Old 09-16-2010, 02:11 PM   #10
jxa127
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
. . . I know several aikido people whose response to a question about atemi would be, "you mean you're not using [that] atemi?" Then there are those dojos to emphasize running only in the effort to chase down your opponent because somehow he escaped...
Love it!

As a general rule, I feel it should take one to two years of training in mainline aikido for someone to be proficient enough to handle typical unarmed altercations.

Taisabaki, kyuzushi, and atemi are, in my opinion, more important than pulling off an actual technique -- especially early in training.

Regards,

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-Drew Ames
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Old 09-16-2010, 02:37 PM   #11
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

David, I think it sounds like you did a wonderful job giving a practical perspective on training. I tend to fall in line with William's view that "Aikido" can be as practical as most (if not all) formalized systems..."Aikido" is hardly a homogeny. However, when I taught kids' class I tried to point out the inherently chaotic nature of "fighting" as a way of hedging over-confidence. I also liked to point out that, just because we have training, we aren't necessarily going to be more prepared than the other guy, even if that person has no training at all (formalized or otherwise)...moment-to-moment mind-set seems like a big factor to me, at any rate.

...And it seems to me the learning curve issue varies more based on who you're training with than in what you're training, so the idea "Aikido or not Aikido" seems moot to me.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 09-16-2010 at 02:47 PM.

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Old 09-16-2010, 09:34 PM   #12
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

I find the statement appropriate.

Aikido is a Budo. A long practiced art with a goal of self refinement. It is martially effective, and fulfilling mentally and spiritually.
If all you are worried about is self defense however, you are best served else where.
I suggest a week end seminar for concealed weapons. Gun are a greater deterrent than any jitsu I've seen or the modern age. In fact, jitsu in all honesty is an outdated means of self defense. We aren't Samurai, we don't live in feudal Japan, and if you think you do you are L.A.R.Ping on the mat, not training!

A serious study of any Budo is just that; a study. I believe in learning how to best yourself, not some imaginary attackers you improbably might meet on the streets. When some one is studying for the purpose of besting themselves, their development has no limits or summit. If you are training to best a competitor, your limit for development are those around you. So what? Once you are good enough to beat the biggest guy, you stop training? Are you then a master?
That's just my point, if you train until you are good enough to beat the baddest guy, then your training ends at "good enough". With a study bent towards self refinement, there is never a "good enough". There are no limits to how skillful, martially effective or fluid you can get.
IMHO.

MM
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:40 AM   #13
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
I suggest a week end seminar for concealed weapons. Gun are a greater deterrent than any jitsu I've seen or the modern age. In fact, jitsu in all honesty is an outdated means of self defense.
Maggie.... Are you suggesting that he send a high school kind to get himself a permit to carry a weapon at school in order to end his bullying problem?

To the OP it seems like you handled it well. I would definitely talk to sensei about it so he also can help this young man out. In fact aikido may well serve him in that as he gains self confidence he will carry himself differently and not be so afraid of conflict and his bullies may well decide to leave him alone. Aikido will help him to defend himself. just maybe not in the ways he is currently thinking it will.
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:22 PM   #14
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Gun are a greater deterrent than any jitsu I've seen or the modern age. In fact, jitsu in all honesty is an outdated means of self defense.
I disagree. You cannot always carry a firearm, let alone use/brandish one. Also, I would say that guns are only warranted/useful at times of imminent danger...very extreme situations few people in our society have to deal with much...And I'm not sure about the gun laws in the U.K., but I'm guessing they're more restricted than here.
In my opinion, the greatest deterent is a combination of confidence, humility, and humor...a couple big friends doesn't hurt either.
Apart from that, learning methods on how to negate incoming force and/or applying force yourself (jutsu) is always going to have a use in a society where people still try to hit each other.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 09-17-2010 at 12:26 PM.

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Old 09-17-2010, 01:15 PM   #15
Aikibu
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

The beauty of Aikido is something I call Martial Discretion which to me means I do not have to escalate beyond the point of no return...

To Ms. Schill's point a story...One of my first Karate Teachers was a man named Bob Burbidge who taught our kids classes under Chuck Norris...Many years later I ran into him in Malibu and at the time He was one rowdy dude. We were roommates together in the same house. This guy was one of the best Tang Soo Do Black Belts Chuck ever taught and was on his Karate team.

One night before I got sober Both of us were drinking down at the Coral Beach Cantina and he was with some famous local Karate Legends (who shall remain nameless) when Some huge Texan Dude started mouthing off to his girlfriend. Bob never turned down an opportunity to a beat down and told the guy to mind his manners. The Dude made the mistake of thinking Bob was some fat middle aged big mouth and got in his face...The whole bar warned the Texan not to mess with Bob. Bob called him a nick name reserved for a certain part of the female anatomy and the Texan fearing for his life whipped out a handgun and stuck it in Bob's face. Bob called his bluff and told him "You don't have the cojones' to pull the trigger." The dude realized he had mistakenly escalated to the point of no return. Bob then snatched the gun and proceeded with the beat down. Lucky for the Texan the Sheriffs showed up and arrested the Texan and let Bob go on self defense....

My Point...The "Carrying a Gun" cliche' sounds really good...but it's as pointless as argument as saying "We are not Samurai." To further your other argument however... Martial Arts when done correctly breeds Martial Awareness aka Martial Discretion. Aikido gives me the ability to not only defend myself but when done correctly defend my opponent from his or own stupidity in escalating and then attacking me.

So...THE VERY FIRST THING...a beginner should learn (as was stated here in a previous post) Is how to defend themselves using the "Martial Application" side(?) of Aikido.

William Hazen
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:09 PM   #16
RED
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Maggie.... Are you suggesting that he send a high school kind to get himself a permit to carry a weapon at school in order to end his bullying problem?

.
It's an exaggeration to emphasis my point.

MM
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:11 PM   #17
RED
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
The beauty of Aikido is something I call Martial Discretion which to me means I do not have to escalate beyond the point of no return...

To Ms. Schill's point a story...One of my first Karate Teachers was a man named Bob Burbidge who taught our kids classes under Chuck Norris...Many years later I ran into him in Malibu and at the time He was one rowdy dude. We were roommates together in the same house. This guy was one of the best Tang Soo Do Black Belts Chuck ever taught and was on his Karate team.

One night before I got sober Both of us were drinking down at the Coral Beach Cantina and he was with some famous local Karate Legends (who shall remain nameless) when Some huge Texan Dude started mouthing off to his girlfriend. Bob never turned down an opportunity to a beat down and told the guy to mind his manners. The Dude made the mistake of thinking Bob was some fat middle aged big mouth and got in his face...The whole bar warned the Texan not to mess with Bob. Bob called him a nick name reserved for a certain part of the female anatomy and the Texan fearing for his life whipped out a handgun and stuck it in Bob's face. Bob called his bluff and told him "You don't have the cojones' to pull the trigger." The dude realized he had mistakenly escalated to the point of no return. Bob then snatched the gun and proceeded with the beat down. Lucky for the Texan the Sheriffs showed up and arrested the Texan and let Bob go on self defense....

My Point...The "Carrying a Gun" cliche' sounds really good...but it's as pointless as argument as saying "We are not Samurai." To further your other argument however... Martial Arts when done correctly breeds Martial Awareness aka Martial Discretion. Aikido gives me the ability to not only defend myself but when done correctly defend my opponent from his or own stupidity in escalating and then attacking me.

So...THE VERY FIRST THING...a beginner should learn (as was stated here in a previous post) Is how to defend themselves using the "Martial Application" side(?) of Aikido.

William Hazen
Again, the gun thing is an exaggeration to emphasis the point that focus of Aikido as a Budo is crucial. I think people should stop training in hopes to best some thug on a street, instead they should train to best themselves, which IMHO is the heart of Budo.

MM
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Old 09-17-2010, 03:32 PM   #18
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
Again, the gun thing is an exaggeration to emphasis the point that focus of Aikido as a Budo is crucial. I think people should stop training in hopes to best some thug on a street, instead they should train to best themselves, which IMHO is the heart of Budo.
Why not just stop fighting with yourself? I don't really need to win.

Mark
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:17 PM   #19
Aikibu
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
Why not just stop fighting with yourself? I don't really need to win.

Mark
Perfect...I am sure Ms. Schill read the art of my post where I said "To further your other argument".

I agree this is the function of Budo... and Bodhidharma's original intent. The Martial Awareness of Aikido is meant to cultivate is connection with the self by connecting with the "Other"/Universe.

"He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the inverse in himself and can say, "I am the universe." When an enemy tries to fight with him, the universe itself, he has to break the harmony of the universe. Hence at the moment he has the mind to fight with me, he is already defeated." -MOREHEI UYESHIBA

But everyone has to start at the beginning... which simply means to learn how to defend ones "self"

William Hazen
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:59 AM   #20
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

I'll jump back in and throw out two points:
1. Hope is a word I never want to hear when it comes to my safety. We go down a slippery slope when our self-defense becomes oriented around hope. "I will be funny and hope this guy decides I am not worth fighting." "I will try to avoid this guy and hope he doesn't see me." These types of actions make my safety dependent on someone else. I don't like that. If I am in danger, then it is incumbent upon myself to remove the element of danger, not hope someone will do it for me. There are two possible outcomes here: 1. I am empowered to remove the danger; 2. I am not empowered to remove the danger and I must remove myself. We don't like #2 because in "civilized society" I should be free to walk where I want, say what I want, and act how I want. But guess what? You shouldn't walk down dark alleys, you shouldn't say things that instigate others to action, and you shouldn't act in a manner that gets provokes rebuttal. Unless you are willing to accept the repercussions...
2. Social predation is a primitive action and beyond comprehension. Altercations that involve social predation are serious because there is no "civilized" reason for the action. Normal people cannot comprehend the patterns and reasons behind social predation; it's why the FBI has a whole section dedicated to figuring out these whack-jobs. In a primitive sense, social predators beat you up because they can; "I am alpha, you are not," "I have power over you," I have control over you." The worst type of hope is hope dependent upon a social predator.
In one of the above posts, Texas was a social predator - he was dominating his girlfriend in public and there happened to be a bigger fish out there to stop him. Here's the bad part... what happened to girlfriend when Texas was let out? According to the FBI, there would be a good chance she was be the victim of an assault, possibly sexual. Why? Because Texas is a social predator as his actions at the bar are probably indicative of habitual behavior.

Whether you get a gun to defend yourself, whether you get a dog, whether you get a whistle or mace, social predators hunt you because you are weaker in a sense that is attractive to them. Until you empower yourself to become stronger than the predator you are on the menu. In this thread the underlying theme of this question is , "how does this kid get off the menu?" Hope ain't the answer.

Someday we will get past "hoping" husbands don't beat their wives, "hoping" gang bangers don't shoot up a house with children, "hoping" high school children don't get victimized by bullies. Until then we'll just set up websites to take donations for victims.
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Old 09-20-2010, 02:16 PM   #21
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
"He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the inverse in himself and can say, "I am the universe." When an enemy tries to fight with him, the universe itself, he has to break the harmony of the universe. Hence at the moment he has the mind to fight with me, he is already defeated." -MOREHEI UYESHIBA

William Hazen
in the plain and straight manner, vs gayish or strange or mobid, of translating what Ueshiba said,

"i am the universe, dawg! if you give me bad vibe, i owned you as i owned this universe. and i will aiki you into the next century where youse mama won't even recognize you, dawg!" wonder if we can make some rap song out of his doku.

i kinda like to follow this approach "plan for the worst, hope for the best". so i kinda plan for walking down a dark alley alone (there is no dark alley where i live so i have to build some) and be set upon by a gang of UFC champs wielding various weapon of choice, trapped by a gang of mimes in a box, and follows by a horde of clowns with big red nose and large shoes. i am sure i can handle the UFC gang, but the mimes and clowns are vicious and deadly. i have not find a way to deal with them yet. any advise would be appreciated.

at the last seminar with Ikeda sensei, he mentioned about some secret techniques of runfu. sounded very interesting. going to ask him to teach it.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:31 AM   #22
Mark Uttech
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post

at the last seminar with Ikeda sensei, he mentioned about some secret techniques of runfu. sounded very interesting. going to ask him to teach it.
Onegaishimasu. The trouble with relying on runfu is that for some older and disabled people, it is not an option. Remaining aware is probably the best chance to avoid difficult situations in the first place.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 09-29-2010, 02:17 PM   #23
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
at the last seminar with Ikeda sensei, he mentioned about some secret techniques of runfu. sounded very interesting. going to ask him to teach it.
Beware of creating a chase mentality.

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 09-29-2010, 03:18 PM   #24
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,811
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Re: Teaching a Beginner What Aikido Isn't

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Beware of creating a chase mentality.
on death ground, fight! otherwise, using the last tactic of the 36th, run. now if you can run like this dude http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPIw3cv8Zls all the better.
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