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Old 03-16-2011, 03:58 AM   #1
Michael Varin
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Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

I regard recognizing that the techniques, tactics, and strategy of aikido are designed to be used in a weapons context as one of the most important realizations one can make about aikido.

Although Iwama style aikido has its flaws, I believe having an Iwama background made it easier for me to understand this connection. Another factor was my interest in boxing, Muay Thai, and mma, which provided a contrast (amongst other things). And of course, my general inquisitive and logical nature.

Once you embrace this idea, and begin to see just how deep the connection is, the potential for so many practices that truly develop the skills of aikido is released. While in theory these practices are always available, the weapons context allows one to apply the principles of the art while using the recognizable techniques without confusion.

The funny thing is that this idea is not original, and it's really quite obvious. In retrospect, I can't believe it took me over 3 years of daily practice for it to begin to sink in.

Reading the comments in some recent threads shows that this is a worthwhile topic for discussion.

What impact does our understanding of the martial context of aikido have on our practices?

If we do not understand the martial context of our art, how can we genuinely develop the specific skills of that art?

If we accept the intimate relationship between aikido and weapons, what are the implications for a modern practitioner? (Think: Will aikido work in the cage?; But I don't carry weapons; I practice aikido to experience harmony of movement; etc.)

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:08 AM   #2
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
I regard recognizing that the techniques, tactics, and strategy of aikido are designed to be used in a weapons context as one of the most important realizations one can make about aikido.

Although Iwama style aikido has its flaws, I believe having an Iwama background made it easier for me to understand this connection. Another factor was my interest in boxing, Muay Thai, and mma, which provided a contrast (amongst other things). And of course, my general inquisitive and logical nature.

Once you embrace this idea, and begin to see just how deep the connection is, the potential for so many practices that truly develop the skills of aikido is released. While in theory these practices are always available, the weapons context allows one to apply the principles of the art while using the recognizable techniques without confusion.

The funny thing is that this idea is not original, and it's really quite obvious. In retrospect, I can't believe it took me over 3 years of daily practice for it to begin to sink in.

Reading the comments in some recent threads shows that this is a worthwhile topic for discussion.

What impact does our understanding of the martial context of aikido have on our practices?

If we do not understand the martial context of our art, how can we genuinely develop the specific skills of that art?

If we accept the intimate relationship between aikido and weapons, what are the implications for a modern practitioner? (Think: Will aikido work in the cage?; But I don't carry weapons; I practice aikido to experience harmony of movement; etc.)
You could ask Rik Ellis, Henry Ellis Sensei's son, the question of whether aikido principles work in the cage.....
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:24 PM   #3
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
You could ask Rik Ellis, Henry Ellis Sensei's son, the question of whether aikido principles work in the cage.....
Aikido, as well as all other martial arts share principles that can be used in any martial context. So does, Yoga, Football, Olympic diving, and any other physical activity. But I think what Michael is asking is, where do the techniques found in Aikido best fit.

For example, if one studied only Aikido. Became extremely proficient at it, could they just walk into an MMA ring and win? It depends greatly on the skill of his opponent, but I would say almost certainly not. Many skills that are not found in Aikido training are needed to win an MMA bout. Does training in Aikido help with some of the skills one needs to win an MMA bout? I would say yes, but many other skills are needed (clinch technique, ground technique, striking ability and defense, etc.).

However if one considers Aikido in a weapons context (for me, most specifically, armed while facing multiple attackers) does Aikido's technical syllabus contain everything that is needed to be successful? In my opinion the answer is a resounding, YES!

Does MMA training contain all the needed skills to be successful in this same context; I believe no. So this is the context in which Aikido is most useful as a martial art system. It is great at answering questions inside of this context, but not so good at answering the questions one might encounter in say, an MMA bout.

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Old 03-18-2011, 05:12 AM   #4
Michael Varin
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote:
You could ask Rik Ellis, Henry Ellis Sensei's son, the question of whether aikido principles work in the cage.
Let's discuss this. I would love for Rik or Henry, if he understands well enough what his son is doing, to give their thoughts on this. Here are two clips of Rik Ellis in mma bouts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-juUCqxeFA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk70hkVb_10

What principles of aikido are being used here?

Do we see something that is even remotely recognizable as aikido? Are the techniques, tactics, and strategies aligned with what we learn in aikido?

At what point are we developing the specific skills of mma versus the specific skills of aikido?

My guess is that Rik specifically trains for mma… That's the smart thing to do if you want to pursue it!

Is there an environment in which the common patterns of movement more readily facilitate aikido's techniques? In which the incentives tend to require those techniques?

After all, why do those forms exist if they must be adapted beyond recognition or dispatched outright in a "real fight"?

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:07 AM   #5
Alex Megann
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Let's discuss this. I would love for Rik or Henry, if he understands well enough what his son is doing, to give their thoughts on this. Here are two clips of Rik Ellis in mma bouts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-juUCqxeFA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk70hkVb_10

What principles of aikido are being used here?
From the description of the first clip:

Aiki-Nonces please note this is not Aikido, it is MMA with two fighters who have a backgroung in Aikido and Taekwondo.

What's an Aiki-Nonce? I understood that "nonce" was prison slang for a sexual offender...

Alex
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:22 AM   #6
Hellis
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
From the description of the first clip:

Aiki-Nonces please note this is not Aikido, it is MMA with two fighters who have a backgroung in Aikido and Taekwondo.

What's an Aiki-Nonce? I understood that "nonce" was prison slang for a sexual offender...

Alex
Rik Ellis has no time for the nameless ones that make derogatory comments from behind the safety of their computer screens, so he kindly gave them a name..
People would leave messages " I don't see Aikido " followed by abuse, when obviously they have not read the information text.

RIK ELLIS is an MMA FIGHTER with an AIKIDO BACKGROUND.
Rik's last two fights lasted 26 seconds and 46 seconds of the first round, not much time to see anything but stars...
Read his article " Aikido in MMA " to see his explanation of the use of Aikido in MMA and the need to adapt...Rik does not visit forums, he is always willing to accommadate you without appointment at his gym..

Henry Ellis
Aikido in MMA
http://rik-ellis.blogspot.com/
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Old 03-18-2011, 11:57 AM   #7
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Thanks Henry,

Rik looks to be doing quite well with his training too!

As someone who knows MMA and Aikido, Henry, where do you think Aikido's techniques best fit? Do you believe that there is a context where, martially, all of Aikido's techniques fit, without need for serious modification, or where additional techniques do not need to be added?

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Old 03-18-2011, 12:19 PM   #8
Hellis
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
Thanks Henry,

Rik looks to be doing quite well with his training too!

As someone who knows MMA and Aikido, Henry, where do you think Aikido's techniques best fit? Do you believe that there is a context where, martially, all of Aikido's techniques fit, without need for serious modification, or where additional techniques do not need to be added?
Hi Chris

May I just say that I have followed with much approval many of your direct and very sound postings...

I often think that Aikido desperately needs to move forward in the modern era. We are doing defence against a sword attack, not a thing of the past as Rik will tell you from experience. Rik often comes home and tells me how some of the MMA guys ask to see some of the Aikido techniques he applies from all angles and often in ground work...Sankyo is very effective. The techniques are " Aikido " techniques, not as the purists like to preform them in the dojo, in reality based situations.
I even had one guy on AJ say that I should be ashamed to allow my son to do MMA, he didn't offer to tell Rik himself
Initially I was surprised to find that once I had been to a ` Fight Night ` I was hooked, I really do enjoy it.

Henry Ellis
Aikido in MMA
http://rik-ellis.blogspot.com/
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:44 PM   #9
dps
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
Thanks Henry,

Rik looks to be doing quite well with his training too!

As someone who knows MMA and Aikido, Henry, where do you think Aikido's techniques best fit? Do you believe that there is a context where, martially, all of Aikido's techniques fit, without need for serious modification, or where additional techniques do not need to be added?
Wouldn't it be better to say Rik is using the principles of Aikido?

dps
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:25 PM   #10
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Henry Ellis wrote: View Post
I often think that Aikido desperately needs to move forward in the modern era.
I strongly agree with this! I think that contemporary Aikido is in for a growth period. I believe that MMA has opened up the worlds eyes about martial arts in general. It has helped to clear up much about what is "effective" in a certain martial context. This can help us, as Aikido practitioners to understand our art.

Quote:
We are doing defence against a sword attack, not a thing of the past as Rik will tell you from experience.
This is very real. The classic techniques we find in Aikido are still VERY applicable in todays world. Their scope and reach is far from outdated. People still fight in much the same ways they did thousands of years ago, even with new technologies (like firearms).

Quote:
The techniques are " Aikido " techniques, not as the purists like to preform them in the dojo, in reality based situations.
There is much more to the techniques found in Aikido then can be understood by training just the forms. Once one begins to actually use the techniques of Aikido, you will see that they take on many different looks and feels. Rik is one of the first of a new breed of Aikido practitioner, one who is learning to USE Aikido beyond theory.

Quote:
I even had one guy on AJ say that I should be ashamed to allow my son to do MMA, he didn't offer to tell Rik himself
I have heard this kind of garbage over and over about my training as well. The only real "shame" is that in a martial art system that is suppose to support open minds and free spirits, people are so quick to judge, and assume that they have any concept of what you are doing, when they have themselves never been down that path. I think it's awesome that you support your son so much!

When I first left regular Aikido training in favor of MMA style training I started to feel let down by much of what I had learned in Aikido. Not the the principles didn't apply to much of what I was doing in MMA, in fact my teacher and many of my classmates were amazed at how fast I picked up the fundamentals of the training (little did they know that much of it was the same in Aikido). But I couldn't regularly get the techniques of Aikdio, nor did I find the typical strategies found in Aikido training (maai, timing, footwork, etc.) to work very well in the MMA context.

It wasn't until I entered a Dog Brothers stick fighting tournament that I found some of what I learned in Aikido to fit perfectly. This opened my eyes to different martial contexts. I realized that not all fights were the same. That different motivations and factors changed the ways in which we fight, dramatically. Things that work well in one martial context might not work well in another. This lead me to my first rough realization that the attacks found in Aikido (katate dori, morote dori, yokomen uchi etc.) were based around the presents of weapons. That meant that the set-up (the most important part of a technique) was based in weapons confrontation, and wouldn't arise in the same way if weapons were not present.

This first realization lead to many more, helping me to make Aikido my own. This allowed me to truly develop my practice. All of this came from understanding that the context of Aikido might not be an unarmed context.

Sorry for the long ramble, but I believe that this is what Michael is trying to get at. Doesn't it seem like Aikido "fits" better in some other context?

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Old 03-18-2011, 05:41 PM   #11
Hellis
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Chris

Rik was at a party when a guy crashed through the door brandishing a large Katana, he threatened everyone there, Rik said he was crazed and his ex gf was at the party. there was the potential for a ``skid fest`` as every one was terrified ( rightly so ) Rik saw the real danger of the situation and took the guy out and disarmed him using Aikido technique very effectively..

You may be interested to note that my 16 yr old grandson also fights in the cage, he is one of the youngest, rules are a little different, he has had two fights winning them both, the last one in 46 seconds of the first round with a clear knockout, a week before the fight he was told his opponent had pulled out and the only replacement was an 18 yr old, unphased he said " I will take him " he did in 46 seconds..

Henry Ellis
Aikido in MMA
http://rik-ellis.blogspot.com/
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:19 PM   #12
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Henry Ellis wrote: View Post
Rik was at a party when a guy crashed through the door brandishing a large Katana, he threatened everyone there, Rik said he was crazed and his ex gf was at the party. there was the potential for a ``skid fest`` as every one was terrified ( rightly so ) Rik saw the real danger of the situation and took the guy out and disarmed him using Aikido technique very effectively
This is a type of context where the techniques found in Aikido are likely superior to the kinds of techniques found in MMA. Add a guy who knows how to spar, deal with pressure, resistance and stress (Rik) and it's no surprise that Aikido "worked".

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Old 03-18-2011, 11:30 PM   #13
Ketsan
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
If we do not understand the martial context of our art, how can we genuinely develop the specific skills of that art?
One cannot dance around in front of a swordsman, or anyone with a weapon, in the way boxers dance around in front of each other in the ring.
Even allowing an opponent a split second means certain death. In order to survive one must act decisively and enter in with total commitment.

That, I feel, is a central element of Aikido. Occasionally we hear about people sparing with boxers and loosing and to my mind and in my experience this is because in our culture fighting is about standing toe to toe with someone as sportsmen do.

The weapon reminds us that this is not a martial way of doing things. In martial arts the only response is the ikken hisatsu response: enter in and finish it now. The weapon also reminds us of the mindset we need, that of "I'm dead if I don't do this" rather than the sporting mind that says "I might loose if this goes wrong."
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:30 AM   #14
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

I believe that the weapons relation to Aikido is much more than metaphor.

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Old 03-19-2011, 09:05 AM   #15
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
I believe that the weapons relation to Aikido is much more than metaphor.
And yet, the primary practice of aikido is weaponless, both currently and historically.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:02 AM   #16
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

I think aikido weapons are much better than your backyard samurai sword arts (as seen on youtube). However, I think they lack the depth of classical weapons arts in general. I had a little exposure to aikiken and aikijo but compared to the koryu I've been exposed to they are more shallow. If you can't find good training though take what you can get.

When someone wants mochi they should go to a mochi maker.

Chris Covington
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:27 AM   #17
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
I believe that the weapons relation to Aikido is much more than metaphor.
And yet, the primary practice of aikido is weaponless, both currently and historically.
The relationship of the swordsman to the weapon and of nage to uke are the same. I cut the opponent as I cut the sword. I cannot tell you how many times I have very simply corrected basic errors by showing students how if they were manipulating a sword instead of a human body they would do this -- and Voila, they do this to the person and he is unhinged at the first impulse.

And then five minutes later they are back to grabbin' n' crankin' ,,, (((sigh))))

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:36 PM   #18
Ketsan
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
I believe that the weapons relation to Aikido is much more than metaphor.
Yeah it's hard to move incorrectly when your hands are forced to stay in your centre and your shoulders are forced to stay down. Performing a technique with a weapon forces you to not use your upper body strength in my experience.
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:12 PM   #19
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

I think when Michael, or myself say weapon based, or weapon context, we mean something other then what many hear.

For example, I don't believe either Michael or myself are saying that Aikido teaches you how to specifically use any weapon. I for one certainly don't think that you are going to become more proficient at cutting with a sword, or hitting with a stick by learning Aikido.

What I do believe, and what I mean when I say weapon based, or weapon context, is that weapons must be present for the Aikido set-ups to become useful. That weapons must be present (along with multiple attacker situations) in order to use the movement, distance and timing taught by the Aikido syllabus.

This is a valid point:
Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
And yet, the primary practice of aikido is weaponless, both currently and historically.
Aikido practice is primarily taught "weaponless". I personally also believe that in the later part of Ueshiba's life, he wasn't interested in weapon conflict, or conflict of any kind.

However the techniques chosen for, and used in Aikido practice are of the type used for weapons context. Not only seen in Koryu martial arts, but in weapon context arts from China, Europe, and Africa. The types of techniques found in Aikido, are very similar to those seen involving weapons from around the world.

Looking more closely at Koryu though, we can see many forms, very similar to Aikido forms, being done around weapons. Ueshiba, at least in his earlier life, was very interested in these types of techniques, and they clearly have a strong influence on the techniques we see in modern Aikido practice.

So when we try to make Aikido "work" in an unarmed situation, our techniques are a strange fit. Yet when we start to work our techniques around weapons, they will start to fit much more "as prescribed". Ikkyo-Rokyo make abundant sense when we involve weapons. Yet these, principle techniques seem to need modification, or amount mostly to metaphor when we look at them in the context of unarmed fighting.

As we have started sparring around weapons at our school, changing the context(s) and working different ideas, we've found Aikido to work quite naturally in a context involving weapons and multiple attacker. A context where the techniques need no modification, and nothing outside of the common Aikido syllabus is needed.

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Old 03-19-2011, 02:15 PM   #20
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
The classic techniques we find in Aikido are still VERY applicable in todays world. Their scope and reach is far from outdated. People still fight in much the same ways they did thousands of years ago, even with new technologies (like firearms).
I shall quibble with this above point. History is replete with examples of the 'classical' ways failing spectacularly when pitched against novel weaponry and/or tactics. Agincourt longbow and exploitation of terrain versus mounted cavalry in plate armour. Our minutemens guerilla tactics versus the red coats (apologies to Mr. Ellis) formations. Blitzkrieg. The methods of Boyd do tend to make a mockery of von Clausewitz. The principles at play in nikkyo are tortuously extrapolated to deploy against a cruise missile. Now, I'm as sentimental as the next but I'm also a pragmatist through and through. Let's be clear with ourselves that the practice of classical methods simply do not prepare one for general deployment in the modern era. Certainly there is some overlap, or better yet, intersection of skillsets but competence in one does not imply such in the other.

I will stipulate that one well versed in classical methods will take to modern training more readily and even progress more rapidly and result in a superior end product (at least that is my hope) so there most certainly is great value in study of the classics.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

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Old 03-19-2011, 03:22 PM   #21
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Hey Rob,
I was being too general and sweeping in my statements, point taken.

What I should have said is: Personal conflict has been carried out in essentially the same way for thousands of years, even with the advent of firearms.

What I was trying to get at is that on a personal level, or perhaps I should say, at close quarters, using handheld weapons, the methods found a thousand years ago, still hold weight today.

Controlling the weapon hand of a person with a pistol, isn't much different than controlling the weapon hand of a person with a knife or sharp rock. There are some nuances, but essentially the way a man would deal with you, at close quarters, armed with handheld weapons 700 years ago are the same as they are today.

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Old 03-20-2011, 02:17 AM   #22
Michael Varin
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

This thread is getting unfocused.

I'm going to reiterate my initial questions, because I believe they best frame this discussion. Whether you agree or disagree, please, try to consider the problem and contribute a focused answer.

I truly believe that this is something that needs to be discussed and that can have positive effects on the future of aikido practice.

What impact does our understanding of the martial context of aikido have on our practices?

If we do not understand the martial context of our art, how can we genuinely develop the specific skills of that art?

If we accept the intimate relationship between aikido and weapons, what are the implications for a modern practitioner? (Think: Will aikido work in the cage?; But I don't carry weapons; I practice aikido to experience harmony of movement; etc.)

Is there an environment in which the common patterns of movement more readily facilitate aikido's techniques? In which the incentives tend to require those techniques?

After all, why do those forms exist if they must be adapted beyond recognition or dispatched outright in a "real fight"?

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:24 AM   #23
Mark Uttech
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Onegaishimasu, I don't know if some of you may find it relevant to this thread, but I find it useful to carry a bokken/jo in the house or going for a walk in the woods; then I use my imagination... I pay attention to how I use my body, how I use my bokken/jo on uneven terrain; where there's thick undergrowth and many trees; low hanging branches and vines; etc. Lack of space is a type of cage, and not much can be known in advance.
In gassho,
Mark

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Old 03-20-2011, 12:24 PM   #24
Brett Charvat
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

"After all, why do those forms exist if they must be adapted beyond recognition or dispatched outright in a "real fight"?"

--I think this is an important point to ponder. I think some people have an idea that aikido techniques are actual fighting techniques that should be applicable to attackers outside the dojo in the same form that they appear within the dojo, but I'm not so sure that's true. Maybe ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, et al are simply forms that help us to condition our bodies into well-connected units capable of force reception/generation and kuzushi. Once this connected body is forged and the internal principles embodied, the forms themselves might become somewhat unimportant. Perhaps our goal in training should not be to "do ikkyo" to anyone, but rather to instantly unbalance anyone at (or even before?) the moment of contact, to be able to deliver devastating strikes without sacrificing our own balance, to become progressively more difficult to throw or lock.

For a fairly tortured analogy, think of Ushiro Sensei. I believe I've heard him say more than once that the secret of his stuff can be found in the Sanchin Kata. However, I strongly doubt that when confronted by attackers on the mean streets of Out There, he's going to immediately start performing the kata.

There may be more available within the forms of this art than simple waza.
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:03 PM   #25
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Re: Aikido and Weapons: The Connection

Chris wrote: "What I do believe, and what I mean when I say weapon based, or weapon context, is that weapons must be present for the Aikido set-ups to become useful. That weapons must be present (along with multiple attacker situations) in order to use the movement, distance and timing taught by the Aikido syllabus."

I agree wholeheartedly with the above statement, and so I would like to add this part as well:

What I do believe, and what I mean when I say weapon based, or weapon context, is that weapons must be present OR POTENTIALLY PRESENT for the Aikido set-ups to become useful. That weapons must be present (along with multiple attacker situations) OR POTENTIALLY PRESENT in order to use the movement, distance and timing taught by the Aikido syllabus.

Meaning, for example, in the field of law enforcement, wherein everyone, from the gang-banger that's running upon seeing you to drunk granny out taking her evening walk, is assumed to be armed - where there is no tactical difference allotted for whether or not folks are armed. Everyone is treated as they are armed and all tactics follow that suit.

In that setting, the commonly practiced Aikido syllabus transfers more readily to combat than the commonly practiced MMA syllabus. The reason, in my opinion, is that weapons and/or the potential for weapons being present generates a space/time more fertile for Aikido waza to function and remain viable.

d

David M. Valadez
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