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Old 05-16-2011, 12:53 AM   #1
Mario Tobias
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In a quandary

I (with my brothers) started jujitsu when I was in highschool about 30 years ago for practical self-defense purposes (my father forced us into it).

My sensei (whom he said trained in Kodokan) was also a petrol station owner and has had his share of fights with robbers, muggers and drug addicts. We lived in a not so ideal neighborhood back then. He would tell us stories of his encounters and would show us his stab wounds and the numerous bones that he's broken in his jujitsu career. He even showed us a newspaper clipping how he'd beaten robbers to a pulp when they tried to rob his store and tried to stab him. You can tell that he's a no-nonsense guy.

For the years that we've been training with him, he only taught us mainly knife defenses namely shoulder udekimenage, hijigime, arrest techniques like standing nikyo pin as well kicking the bag/boxing. He didn't even teach us jujitsu basics when I think about it. He must have this street-experience he thought of what minimum techniques he'd teach us would be most effective out in the street. Mind you, the shoulder udekimenage is a bone breaker similar to the nikyo pin, not just submission or throws.

Fast forward several decades, life happened. I have come to love the aikido lifestyle (being non-violent) but have now forgotten how to treat someone that would try to harm me "properly". My old teacher would say that when you encounter a drug-crazed person who's running amok, they wouldn't feel pain even if you break their bones and would continue with their aggression unless you make them really submit which is hard to do given that they'll feel no pain. Or if you encounter a mob, they would continue damaging you unless you do semi-permanent damage on them. He said to get away as fast as you can but deal with a person no more than 2-3 seconds if it comes to that.

Hopefully I would not encounter such things but I feel that I have lost touch with reality given that our art is a "non-aggressive" one.
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Old 05-16-2011, 01:06 AM   #2
graham christian
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Re: In a quandary

Mario.
The mind will always give you challenges. Where will it lead you?

When you can help the most violent monster inside then outside will be a sunny day.

Lose your faith and you lose yourself.

Regards.G.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:18 AM   #3
lbb
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
Hopefully I would not encounter such things but I feel that I have lost touch with reality given that our art is a "non-aggressive" one.
Do you have a question?

To ask a question of you, if you believe that aikido doesn't represent "reality", why do you want anything to do with it?

Reality is direct experience. It is what's actually happening to you now. It isn't fantasies about hypothetical encounters with stereotypical attackers.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:37 AM   #4
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: In a quandary

Training keeps us open to what is. When I am present to whatever is happening I can make the best decisons in any circumstance.
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:03 PM   #5
Michael Hackett
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Re: In a quandary

Mario, there is no martial art or any other kind of magic bullet that will protect you from all harm. There are bad and dangerous people out there certainly and you could be called upon to protect yourself or others from harm. Whatever art you study will help, but none is one size fits all, regardless of what various proponents may claim.

Awareness, both cultural and situational, will help you identify hazardous situations so you can avoid them. Regardless of your martial art, you will learn a few techniques that will generally work in most situations and give you the opportunity to escape or summon help. There simply isn't anything out there to prepare you to defend yourself against 27 ninjas armed with machine guns - it doesn't exist.

If you are studying aikido specifically for self-defense, I would recommend that you take a self-defense course instead. Aikido can clearly help you defend yourself, but most instructors are unaware of the legal ramifications of self-defense actions in their jurisdictions and are equally unaware of the prevention skills that can help avoid a physical encounter. If they are, they rarely teach those skills. Honestly if you have to use your aikido (judo/kenjutsu/karate/boxing/BJJ/krav maga/you name it) you've probably already made a number of mistakes.

If you aren't concerned about defending yourself as your original post suggests, then stick with aikido - it's fun, it promotes good health, you will be training with some great people, and you will actually learn something that will help you protect yourself in some circumstances.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:45 PM   #6
Aikibu
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Re: In a quandary

What both Mary and Michael said.

William Hazen
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:23 PM   #7
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Re: In a quandary

I agree with the others. Aikido is truly about resolving issues before there's an issue. However there are plenty of techniques, joint locks, and pins that can be quite devastating.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:55 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: In a quandary

If you feel something is missing from your training, there is nothing wrong taking a break to learn knife fighting, take a course in using Mace or firearms, or whatever "floats you boat" in terms of scenarios you are worried about.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:09 PM   #9
Mario Tobias
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Do you have a question?

To ask a question of you, if you believe that aikido doesn't represent "reality", why do you want anything to do with it?

Reality is direct experience. It is what's actually happening to you now. It isn't fantasies about hypothetical encounters with stereotypical attackers.
Hi,

Thanks for your response. The reality is there are really bad people out there as what Michael said. I used to live in a 3rd world country, accustomed to those conditions and have had my share of scary encounters.

Once I have tried to be mugged by a gangster. Another instance, a near altercation would have ensued because of a petty issue I didn't start. (You'd be surprised at how little it takes to rile up people and you don't even know what you did wrong). But both instances I have avoided direct physical confrontation. I can't remember how I did it but it involved a lot of dialogue, assertiveness, alertness and body language. (I was pissing in my pants later). My sister and her friend got attacked by a knife wielding man. They both escaped but her friend got slashes on her arms from parrying. There are many more examples but direct or indirect encounters, these are some of the situations you'd wonder what if you had no choice but to confront.

True, the mind will give you challenges. Possibility can definitely turn into reality.
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:54 PM   #10
Michael Hackett
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Re: In a quandary

Well then, what is it that you would like to accomplish? What is it that you are likely to encounter? Here in California we don't see many knife attacks. They happen, but they are actually pretty rare. Spending a great deal of time training specifically for knife attacks probably isn't too valuable unless you are a prison guard. Most assaults, at least street assaults, are with strikes and kicks here and that's an area that aikido serves pretty well. So does any number of other arts as well. One really important consideration is at least some legal training to make sure you don't go too far and turn into the aggressor and end up in jail.

Aikido may not be the best course of action for you, since we don't know anything about your environment or lifestyle. Give us a little more information and perhaps someone here can give you better advice.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 05-17-2011, 05:43 AM   #11
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Training keeps us open to what is. When I am present to whatever is happening I can make the best decisons in any circumstance.
Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
... If you aren't concerned about defending yourself as your original post suggests, then stick with aikido ...
Quote:
Barry Johnston wrote: View Post
...Aikido is truly about resolving issues before there's an issue. ...
Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
... but I feel that I have lost touch with reality given that our art is a "non-aggressive" one.
So how is aikido a martial art then?
What are the aims of your practice if not becoming confindent of being able to protect yourself?
How do you understand waza if not trying to make them "work"?

I have to admit I don't find the aikido I was taught and I try to teach in these statements. We do a very "soft" aikido. But one aspect clearly is it's use for self-defense.
I don't think aikido waza is "non-aggressive". (And never heard something like that on a tatami.) I think it is the person who is or is not.
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Old 05-17-2011, 07:58 AM   #12
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
One really important consideration is at least some legal training to make sure you don't go too far and turn into the aggressor and end up in jail.
As we are both in California, I'd be interested in reading a link or two you might have vetted on the subject if you have any bookmarked.

Regards,
Anthony
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Old 05-17-2011, 09:10 AM   #13
lbb
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
Thanks for your response. The reality is there are really bad people out there as what Michael said. I used to live in a 3rd world country, accustomed to those conditions and have had my share of scary encounters.
You can regard aikido as a tool to help you solve specific problems, or you can regard it as a way, a series of practices and attitudes that help guide how you live your life. Neither approach is the right one, although people have religious wars over it. The "tool" people view the "way" people as vague, impractical and deluded; the "way" people view the "tool" people as blinkered, narrow-minded and deluded. I think they're both missing the point. It can be both -- ideally, it is both. But aikido isn't the right tool for every situation, any more than a hammer is the right tool for every job. And aikido isn't the right way for every person at every point in their life.

So, if aikido is not the right tool for the job at hand, don't use it. And if aikido is not the right way for you at this time, don't follow it. There's nothing to agonize over.
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Old 05-17-2011, 09:24 AM   #14
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
But aikido isn't the right tool for every situation, any more than a hammer is the right tool for every job. And aikido isn't the right way for every person at every point in their life.

So, if aikido is not the right tool for the job at hand, don't use it. And if aikido is not the right way for you at this time, don't follow it. There's nothing to agonize over.
Seconded.

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Old 05-17-2011, 10:12 AM   #15
Michael Hackett
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Re: In a quandary

Hi Carsten, I'm not suggesting that aikido is NOT a martial art, nor am I suggesting that it is worthless for self-defense. Aikido is a wonderful vehicle for defending oneself, but it does have holes in it, just as all the other arts do. One of our major problems is how long it takes to develop sufficient skill to become really effective in self-defense. My view is that there are other, quicker ways to learn "street self defense" (whatever the heck that is) if an individual feels he really needs something now to protect himself. If he lives, works, and recreates in some "Mad Max" environment, perhaps aikido isn't the answer for his immediate needs. If he lives in a fairly safe environment as most of us do, then he probably has the time to train in aikido, enjoy his training and all the benefits, and learn to protect himself from most harm.

Last evening we were doing sutemi waza and I was laughing inside about how some people view what we do as some silly dance. I was also thinking how most people, outside the safe dojo setting, would be seriously injured or worse if on the receiving end of a sutemi.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:17 AM   #16
Michael Hackett
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Re: In a quandary

Anthony, I don't know of any specific site off the top of my head. I've just worked in the field for many, many years and have seen the ramifications of some of the myths of self-defense first hand. I've also taught a number of classes on some of these issues. I do have a basic handout that I will send you by PM.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:27 AM   #17
OwlMatt
 
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Re: In a quandary

I'll go along with others saying that aikido can be used effectively in self-defense, but perhaps the self-defense you're looking for is not part of the standard routine at your dojo. If you see something missing in what you are learning, there's nothing wrong with looking outside the dojo. If you don't want to make a long-term commitment of time and money to another martial art, you could enroll in a self-defense course.

I, for one, find aikido (at least as it is taught at my dojo) to be less of a workout than I want my martial arts training to be, so I train in taekwondo on the side.

If aikido is important to you, but you feel you are missing something as a martial artist, find a way to supplement your training. It may, in the long run, make your aikido better.

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Old 05-17-2011, 03:25 PM   #18
Aikibu
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Re: In a quandary

One more thing from me...

"Doubt" is a natural occurrence in any Martial Art or "Way". Everyone at some point has doubts about what they're learning..it's "effectiveness"... and... their real goals with practice... there appears to be only two finite solutions...Grow through it...or... Move on.

How you handle your own "doubt" is the real challenge. Will you move through it and grow stronger as a result? Or worse...Will you become a dilettante... flitting hither and yon from Waza to Waza until your doubts appear again?

In the old days...Sensei's interviewed students to see if they had the resolve to learn... give themselves over to the Art and "stick with it". Now days... One of the reasons all the Martial Arts have been diluted in spirit is because most folks bail and do not grow past these various personal challenges.

"William: All a black belt means is that you have the potential to be a good student."- Shoji Nishio Shihan

William Hazen

Last edited by Aikibu : 05-17-2011 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 05-17-2011, 07:14 PM   #19
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
So how is aikido a martial art then?
What are the aims of your practice if not becoming confindent of being able to protect yourself?
How do you understand waza if not trying to make them "work"?

I have to admit I don't find the aikido I was taught and I try to teach in these statements. We do a very "soft" aikido. But one aspect clearly is it's use for self-defense.
I don't think aikido waza is "non-aggressive". (And never heard something like that on a tatami.) I think it is the person who is or is not.
I am not sure how you can assume that I don't train for self- defense in aikido by what I wrote. Being aware of my circumstances at all times helps keeps me safe.
Not sure what is wrong with that. (in honor of Tony)
Mary
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:40 PM   #20
hughrbeyer
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
The "tool" people view the "way" people as vague, impractical and deluded; the "way" people view the "tool" people as blinkered, narrow-minded and deluded. I think they're both missing the point. It can be both -- ideally, it is both.
Not just "ideally," I think. The paradox of aikido is that we sincerely try to do violence to each other to study peace. If I'm uke striking shomen, it's my responsibility to try to clock tori--within the limits of their skill level of course, and a beginner will get clocked more gently than a senior student, but clocked nonetheless. The honest attack is my gift to tori because without it, nobody can practice anything.

Same on the other end, of course. As tori, if I'm not in a position where I'm at risk if I do nothing, I don't learn anything. Only by putting myself at risk and learning I can deal with it do I progress on both a martial and spiritual level. And those are not two things, but one.

And, of course, if I'm fooling myself about whether my technique is effective then I'm not schooling myself in reality but in a lie, and I learn nothing.

The martial arts of the samurai, who were by and large not wussies, I believe, all seem to return to the idea that you don't win by striving to win, that you affect others by remaining centered yourself, and therefore martial success depends on personal growth. Aikido's just a field for practicing that.
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:49 PM   #21
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Re: In a quandary

When I read posts on this forum I wonder how people practicing Aikido so easily and so authoritatively speak on self-defense. I believe that most of them do not even realize that they are studying (!!!) one of the most dangerous martial arts ever developed. Aikido was founded in the twentieth century, and was based on all that had been the best and most effective in other branches of budo throughout history. We must finally realize that for our own safety during training. The art of Aikido serves only one purpose. To kill, and to do it immediately. It has been said throughout time that a picture could be worth a thousand words.

]

Thus, Aikido is not self-defense art, in the general sense of the word. Like Katori Shinto Ryu and Naginata Do do not serve the self-defense. We are studying (again I emphasize it without any confusion) Master Morihei Ueshiba's achievements not to kill, but rather to cultivate one of the elements of Japanese cultural heritage.

Nevertheless, the skills obtained during additional aikido practice (based on intensive techniques' repetitions) may be useful in self-defense. In particular, the ability to avoid attacks. Unfortunately, when it comes to a direct confrontation on the street an aikidoka's training leaves him/her unprepared to deal with the full spectrum of attacks possible during the fight. Especially when he/she is being grabbed. Performing any Aikido technique and finishing it as in the dojo also doesn't help. We are all aware of that and we need to talk about it openly.
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:11 AM   #22
Aikibu
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Maciej Jesmanowicz wrote: View Post
When I read posts on this forum I wonder how people practicing Aikido so easily and so authoritatively speak on self-defense. I believe that most of them do not even realize that they are studying (!!!) one of the most dangerous martial arts ever developed. Aikido was founded in the twentieth century, and was based on all that had been the best and most effective in other branches of budo throughout history. We must finally realize that for our own safety during training. The art of Aikido serves only one purpose. To kill, and to do it immediately. It has been said throughout time that a picture could be worth a thousand words.

]

Thus, Aikido is not self-defense art, in the general sense of the word. Like Katori Shinto Ryu and Naginata Do do not serve the self-defense. We are studying (again I emphasize it without any confusion) Master Morihei Ueshiba's achievements not to kill, but rather to cultivate one of the elements of Japanese cultural heritage.

Nevertheless, the skills obtained during additional aikido practice (based on intensive techniques' repetitions) may be useful in self-defense. In particular, the ability to avoid attacks. Unfortunately, when it comes to a direct confrontation on the street an aikidoka's training leaves him/her unprepared to deal with the full spectrum of attacks possible during the fight. Especially when he/she is being grabbed. Performing any Aikido technique and finishing it as in the dojo also doesn't help. We are all aware of that and we need to talk about it openly.
Great Post and Thank You. With all due respect... I have two questions though... Is there any Martial Art which is designed to deal with the "full spectrum of attacks possible"? And if "performing any Aikido technique and finishing it in the dojo does not help" What are we doing in the Dojo? Kabuki?

William Hazen
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:26 AM   #23
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: In a quandary

I'll try ...
Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
IBeing aware of my circumstances at all times helps keeps me safe.
Not sure what is wrong with that.
Really nothing wrong with that!!!
I just wonder: Do you really call "being aware" aikido?
This would be different from what I learned about aikido.

In my job I practice things like nonviolent communication and other methods of awareness and de-escalation (verbal and non-verbal). This helps to keep me (or the people I work with) safe. Yes!
This methods have names in their own rights. Like "NVC/Rosenberg" or "client-centered methods / Rogers" or some different things maybe not so well known. They work with their own assumptions, use their own proceedings and can be learned. And so on.
All this what can be done before a conflict becomes really physicall to me, in my textbook, is not aikido. Being "streetwise" does not mean to do aikido.

In my understandign aikido begins when all this doesn't work. When a conflict get's physical. Then aikido is a method to deal with an opponent or attacker in a certain way.
This means using aiki / the structure of ones body instead of pyhsical strentgh. And having a peacefull mind. Even if using strong waza.
This to me is aikido.

And that's why I'm confused to some extent: Being aware, dealing with a conflict before it becomes physical or being "non-aggressive" (whatever that means) is not, what "is called" aikido in my context.

(I also teach seminars of "self-defence 'light'". There some aikido is done.)

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 05-18-2011 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:22 AM   #24
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post

In my understandign aikido begins when all this doesn't work. When a conflict get's physical. Then aikido is a method to deal with an opponent or attacker in a certain way.
This means using aiki / the structure of ones body instead of pyhsical strentgh. And having a peacefull mind. Even if using strong waza.
This to me is aikido.

And that's why I'm confused to some extent: Being aware, dealing with a conflict before it becomes physical or being "non-aggressive" (whatever that means) is not, what "is called" aikido in my context.

(I also teach seminars of "self-defence 'light'". There some aikido is done.)
This makes sense to me. Even in the simplest analysis, just look at practice: techniques start with some action (time for talk is over) not a short role playing of trying to deescalate which goes bad.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:40 AM   #25
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Re: In a quandary

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
Is there any Martial Art which is designed to deal with the "full spectrum of attacks possible"? And if "performing any Aikido technique and finishing it in the dojo does not help" What are we doing in the Dojo? Kabuki?

William Hazen
I believed the martial art that could deal with a "full spectrum of attacks" called thermo-nuclear-weapon-do. of course, the often used martial art that has no defense would be explosive-vest-with-deadman-switch-do.

I am noh actor but i dig Kabuki, well up to a certain point.

you know i was looking at the statistics published by the US gov't. according to statistics, the leading causes of death in the US is mostly heart attack, cancer, respiratory related, and a few others. death by violent attack was somewhere around 1/2%, much less than 1 percent. if there is a martial art that could help us dealing with the top 5 leading causes, folks would take them en masse.
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