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Old 07-09-2011, 04:48 PM   #1
Mario Tobias
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Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Hi,

I have had the priveledge last weekend to watch a shihan teach instructors how to teach beginners kihon waza. This answered some of the questions that have been bugging me for the past few years.

For example, the difference between irimi and okuri-ashi. The 2 steps look the same but they are clearly different. For irimi, power gets generated from the back foot (similar to a boxer throwing a heavy punch) which gives that power, springing feeling moving forward with front foot first. Okuri-ashi gets generated from hara which leads you just to move forward again with front foot.

I observe for some of the dojos I attended that aikido is in a state of decline since kihon is very very poor. As evidence of this, nidans and sandans don't know how to execute the basic Aikido footsteps properly, if at all ! Tenkan would be called and they would do irimi tenkan Them being seniors, this would then be passed on to the lower grades and the bad habits would then get propagated I am always of the opinion (for basics at least) that if you don't know what it's called, how can you do it properly?

I personally feel embarrassed for them because of this. I think a lot of instructors now focus too much on technique and fancy throws. Over the years I have come to understand that aikido techniques can be broken down into hanmi, tai sabaki and the basic footsteps no matter how advanced the technique. We don't get enough of this kind of training that the quality and level of aikido suffers.

Not sure if you've observed same symptoms in some of the dojos.

Get back to training, but get back to basics.
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Old 07-09-2011, 07:27 PM   #2
phitruong
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
For example, the difference between irimi and okuri-ashi. The 2 steps look the same but they are clearly different. For irimi, power gets generated from the back foot (similar to a boxer throwing a heavy punch) which gives that power, springing feeling moving forward with front foot first. Okuri-ashi gets generated from hara which leads you just to move forward again with front foot.
power generated from hara for both. actually, for all movements. what might look like the power from the back foot is in fact originated from hara, then bounced down the the back foot for the recoil, similar to rocket principle, action-reaction.

Quote:
I observe for some of the dojos I attended that aikido is in a state of decline since kihon is very very poor. As evidence of this, nidans and sandans don't know how to execute the basic Aikido footsteps properly, if at all ! Tenkan would be called and they would do irimi tenkan
there is no such thing as just tenkan. there is almost always irimi (at the moment i can't recall of a case that i don't irimi). you can irimi while turning, you can irimi while moving backward, you can irimi while turning and moving backward. without irimi, your energy would collapse and if uke has any sense, would have taken you for a ride.
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:30 PM   #3
robin_jet_alt
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
Hi,

I am always of the opinion (for basics at least) that if you don't know what it's called, how can you do it properly?

Get back to training, but get back to basics.
And yet no 2 senseis can agree on what things are called. The trouble is that O-sensei or Kaiso or whatever we are calling him now, didn't name most things outside of 1-kyo to 5-kyo, but just described them, and even these descriptions were inconsistent. What might have been irimi when it was taught to Kisshomaru-doshu for instance might have been irimi-tenkan when it was taught to Tohei-sensei.
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Old 07-09-2011, 09:08 PM   #4
Mario Tobias
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
there is no such thing as just tenkan. there is almost always irimi (at the moment i can't recall of a case that i don't irimi). you can irimi while turning, you can irimi while moving backward, you can irimi while turning and moving backward. without irimi, your energy would collapse and if uke has any sense, would have taken you for a ride.
hi phi,

I know what you mean but tenkan is different from irimi tenkan.
I've seen different variations of tenkan depending on dojo.

1. starting from front foot, a baby step off the line then do tenkan
2. doing tenkai/tenshin first then stepping back with the front foot = tenkan, with or without baby step off the line
3. dragging the back foot in a circular fashion, no stepping off the line
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4USvx...eature=related

irimi tenkan starts with something like an ayumiashi from back foot then tenkan.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AJisrwW_Ic

anyway, my point is that even within a dojo wherein people share the same language and syllabus, instructors are mixing things up.

wrt irimi, when I said (or what the shihan said) power is generated starting from the rear foot I think it is similar to this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcl0HuBj6c
An example for this is doing irimi+ikkyo undo on a shomenuchi attack in preparation for ikkyo.
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Old 07-10-2011, 07:52 AM   #5
phitruong
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
hi phi,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4USvx...eature=related

irimi tenkan starts with something like an ayumiashi from back foot then tenkan.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AJisrwW_Ic
these two are the same. beginner focus on techniques such as left foot or right foot, slide forward or step forward, mirror image or not, etc and etc. the advance focus on principles. the two videos above, technique-wise, they looked different; principle, they are the same. from the principle point of view, it's always irimi then tenkan, actually, it's just irimi in circle.

a number of years ago, i attended a seminar taught by Mary Heiny sensei. she went through 7 different katatedori kokyunage in a row. each with a slightly different physical movements. she said "don't look for what are the differences, but what the same". she said when she studied at Honbu under many instructors, each with a different take on the same technique. she said what you learned from sensei A in the morning, you cannot use that in the class of sensei B in the afternoon or you get yell at. she got so confused until another older aikidoka took pity on her and told her to focus on what are the same, not the differences.

for beginners, you learn the physical movement of the techniques in order to sync your body and your mind, because your body and your mind are still fighting for dominant. at advance level, your mind direct your body to do what is required and your body will comply, i.e. mind and body unity; thus, techniques are no longer important.

i went to a seminar hosted by another organization. we were doing some technique against shomen uchi. my uke was a dan ranked from the host organization. every time i switched my feet from left hamni to right, he switched his stand as well. we shuffled our feet for a bit, then he asked "left or right", as in attacking from left or right. I shrugged and said "it doesn't matter. your job is to attack however way you want, and my job is to deal with it." i thought it was just one person, but other folks did the same thing. after awhile, i had a bit of fun with it, by shuffling my stand back and forth just for fun, while watching the other person try to compensate (i didn't do that to the kyu rank, but dan rank was open season). at some point, you have to go beyond technique.
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:34 AM   #6
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
i went to a seminar hosted by another organization. we were doing some technique against shomen uchi. my uke was a dan ranked from the host organization. every time i switched my feet from left hamni to right, he switched his stand as well. we shuffled our feet for a bit, then he asked "left or right", as in attacking from left or right. I shrugged and said "it doesn't matter. your job is to attack however way you want, and my job is to deal with it." i thought it was just one person, but other folks did the same thing.
I wonder if this was a Yoshinkan dojo? Anyway, regardless if it was/n't, this story confuses me. Were you practicing a "shomen uchi some technique" or "attack however way you want"? If it was the latter your reaction is seems appropriate. However if it was the former, perhaps you were communicating unintentionally with your stance which side you wish to exercise and uke is attempting to accommodate. Some dojos train starting at a specific distance from each other and in a known configuration (like Yoshinkan), communicating with the body rather than the mouth to cut down on chit-chat, center the mind to the task at hand, etc.

Regards,
Anthony
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:41 AM   #7
barron
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Basic technique ( read : movement kihon) is simply the foundation upon which the art builds solid technique from. The terminology varies greatly depending on the Sensei or Shihan, and or the lineage or "school". This, to me , is not confusing but does require close observation when either visiting a dojo or going to a seminar with a "new presenter" as it is easy to miss - see something in the haze of personal body movement.

It is very easy to confuse technique with the "style" of the Sensei/Shihan. By "style" I am not referring to lineage or teaching or even the entries or controls or finishes,but as everyone to some extent or another, due to body build, flexibility or lack of, etc can sometimes give the impression of the technique being done in a different manner. The analogy is that when you see your best friend approaching from a mile away at a certain point , which is before you can distinguish and facial features, you can easily recognize them by there build and the manner in which they move. I think that this is where some confusion might lie ... but not all.

I agree with the original author that kihon is still kihon whether it be movements and actual techniques. Without a solid foundation of movement then the "bells and whistles" one adds on are going to crumble without total and undying compliance of your uke. I have seen very "different" aikido in my travels. Some what the author might have seen as poor basics and I wonder if it's because student's don't have the focus/motivation to spend the time on basics and want to get on to the "good stuff".

From what I have observed from videos,DVD's and his books the Doshu attempts to always demonstrate clean clear kihon techniques. Shioda (Yoshinkan) and Saito (Iwama) Shihans in their books also express the cleaness of movement and technique.

In the past I have been involved in high level sport and even at the top ( international) level a large number of technical errors or weaknesses can be back linked to poor basic position and as teachers or senior students we need to always be aware of this and maintain good form/practice since we are the foundation for the way our dojos will develop.

Well enough, and I guess the bottom line is we can only control what we can control and let's get back on the mat and practice.

Andrew Barron
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:09 PM   #8
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

So, I watched the two videos. The first I know as mae mawari and the second I know as mae mawari kaiten.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:29 PM   #9
Chris Li
 
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
And yet no 2 senseis can agree on what things are called. The trouble is that O-sensei or Kaiso or whatever we are calling him now, didn't name most things outside of 1-kyo to 5-kyo, but just described them, and even these descriptions were inconsistent. What might have been irimi when it was taught to Kisshomaru-doshu for instance might have been irimi-tenkan when it was taught to Tohei-sensei.
Which may say something important about what he thought was important...

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-11-2011, 06:11 AM   #10
amoeba
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
I wonder if this was a Yoshinkan dojo? Anyway, regardless if it was/n't, this story confuses me. Were you practicing a "shomen uchi some technique" or "attack however way you want"? If it was the latter your reaction is seems appropriate. However if it was the former, perhaps you were communicating unintentionally with your stance which side you wish to exercise and uke is attempting to accommodate. Some dojos train starting at a specific distance from each other and in a known configuration (like Yoshinkan), communicating with the body rather than the mouth to cut down on chit-chat, center the mind to the task at hand, etc.

Regards,
Anthony
Well, I know this problem, because in the dojos I've trained in tori normally signals the side for the attack (right foot forward - uke attacks shomen with right hand). That can be confusing as in some places people take a full step for shomen and in others they only go tsugi ashi, so peole can be confused ("What? Oh, this side? Wait, I change hanmi...")
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:40 AM   #11
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Alissa Götzinger wrote: View Post
Well, I know this problem, because in the dojos I've trained in tori normally signals the side for the attack (right foot forward - uke attacks shomen with right hand). That can be confusing as in some places people take a full step for shomen and in others they only go tsugi ashi, so peole can be confused ("What? Oh, this side? Wait, I change hanmi...")
This sort of misunderstanding is bound to happen and is not a problem. The point of my previous message was more a cultural perspective:
phitruong's story while said in a joking manner somehow resonated with me in an odd manner. I've been traveling more on business lately (to mainland china and taiwan which are "foreign" to me) so maybe this is why. Someone visiting a different dojo, recognizing some difference in practice, then making some glib remarks connected to that observation is missing some thing some where.

More concretely, there may be purpose to behaviors not understood by the casual observer and ideally the observer is cognizant of this possibility.

Anyway, too heavy for casual internet banter and drifting from topic. I will add this as a quote I came by in an unrelated internet search:

Quote:
However, aikido without correct basics is not aikido. If you practice haphazardly just because it seems easier that way, you will not succeed in improving your techniques or your health. Since it is impossible to exaggerate the point that basics are what aikido is all about, we are strict in our instruction even of beginners in order to allow them to acquire basic technique from the outset.

It is important for those who wish to become experts or perfect their aikido to acquire a total mastery of basics. When you take a stance against an opponent, apply techniques or maintain your focus of attention after a technique (zanshin), these skills are all built on an understanding of basics and are necessary in order to defeat a strong opponent. I will explain later what aikido basics are, but for now suffice it to say that as you become experienced, you will be able to produce surprising force even in quick movements if you have naturally mastered basics. Gozo Shioda
In Yoshinkan Aikido, we have 6 basic movements which we practice almost every class. The more skill I develop the more I appreciate the genius of the learning system, which does not require you understand it from the beginning, only that you "submit" to it: doing things you don't understand, which might feel unnatural and or awkward, on the faith that an expert put a lot of thought into training methodology and nothing is "haphazard".

Regards,
Anthony

Last edited by Anthony Loeppert : 07-11-2011 at 06:44 AM. Reason: typos and clarification
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:49 AM   #12
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
... appreciate the genius of the learning system, which does not require you understand it from the beginning, only that you "submit" to it: doing things you don't understand, which might feel unnatural and or awkward, on the faith that an expert put a lot of thought into training methodology and nothing is "haphazard"
+1 so very true! This might be at the very foundation of many discussions currently on Aikido.
(No intend to hijack this thread, mind you.)

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:31 AM   #13
phitruong
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Anthony Loeppert wrote: View Post
I wonder if this was a Yoshinkan dojo? Anyway, regardless if it was/n't, this story confuses me. Were you practicing a "shomen uchi some technique" or "attack however way you want"? If it was the latter your reaction is seems appropriate. However if it was the former, perhaps you were communicating unintentionally with your stance which side you wish to exercise and uke is attempting to
not yoshinkan. i understood the various kamae and its usage in teaching and learning for beginners. i was talking about dan rank. what i was telling him was HIS JOB "is to deliver the shomen uchi", i don't care how he does it. he could have doing the forward flip with a half pike for all i care, as long as he delivers shomen uchi. MY JOB is to deal with it. worrying about whether i am in in right hamni or left hamni or he's in right hamni or left, to me, is silly, at dan rank level. i don't have problem with the kyu rank trying to figure out which is the left foot and which is the right foot.
and when it was my turn, while ukes (dan rank) trying to switch hamni, i attacked. so they ended up reacting the whole time.

to paraphrase Saotome sensei (using his accent), which usually started with "enemy no care...."

enemy no care if you in right hamni or left hamni
enemy no care if you are ready or not
enemy no care if you are left handed or right handed
.......
and so on and so forth

at dan rank, the moment we bow (often before), it is on and be ready for anything.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:54 AM   #14
Mark Freeman
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
not yoshinkan. i understood the various kamae and its usage in teaching and learning for beginners. i was talking about dan rank. what i was telling him was HIS JOB "is to deliver the shomen uchi", i don't care how he does it. he could have doing the forward flip with a half pike for all i care, as long as he delivers shomen uchi. MY JOB is to deal with it. worrying about whether i am in in right hamni or left hamni or he's in right hamni or left, to me, is silly, at dan rank level. i don't have problem with the kyu rank trying to figure out which is the left foot and which is the right foot.
and when it was my turn, while ukes (dan rank) trying to switch hamni, i attacked. so they ended up reacting the whole time.

to paraphrase Saotome sensei (using his accent), which usually started with "enemy no care...."

enemy no care if you in right hamni or left hamni
enemy no care if you are ready or not
enemy no care if you are left handed or right handed
.......
and so on and so forth

at dan rank, the moment we bow (often before), it is on and be ready for anything.
Hi Phi,

I couldn't agree more.

I'm sure some of the confusion is that a particular technique gets taught in a certain way, mainly to aid beginners to hard wire the movements into themselves. However, if they keep being taught the same thing without variation, then inflexibility sets in. It really is down to the teachers to show that shomen attacks can be dealt with from either left of right posture. The main focus should not be the feet, but entering into the attackers centre, and deflecting the cut.

However, if the teacher leading the class is insisting that everyone practice exactly as he is demonstrating (which is his call), then I can see why some of the folk might be confused by your more flexible 'mischevious imp' approach

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:36 PM   #15
jonreading
 
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

I believe there is a level of degradation in our kihon waza. I think we skip steps and discard things that do not seem to be immediately relevant to our training. Over time, this purging process takes its toll and we run into functionality issues. Right now, I believe we are fortunate to have open dialogue with some of our sister arts that can help up find some of the things we have been omitting. Somewhere form and personal style got mixed and we now skip to personal style without first learning form. The difference between a Picaso and a paint-by-numbers is one artist knows the form and can transcend it and one artist has to be told how to paint.

I think an illustration of general decline in our kihon waza is evidenced in the ashi sabaki and tai sabaki. The example of tenkan is a point of confusion I have heard before. Same also with the confusion as to the proper initial stances. Same also with the role of uke and nage. etc.

Shioda Sensei once said in an AJ interview that O'Sensei only presented suki for uke precisely when and how he wanted his uke to attack; he would then close the opening after uke committed to attacking. Shioda Sensei also said that O'Sensei only used those uke perceptive enough to detect such openings. Kuriowa Sensei noted that kihon, kata, waza and kata no kihon waza are different things; I do not think what we do now is any of them, but rather almost a few of them.

These are a few examples from some of the older shihan that demonstrate different conceptual engineering than our modern aikido. I think here is the rub - some people do not care. You have to understand that the decline of some aspects of aikido are not necessarily a problem for all people training aikido.

I am personally frustrated by this apathetic attitude, but who cares? If you go to a dojo with a poor culture of education, the burden is on you to choose another dojo. If enough students make a decision to seek a higher level of education some of these poor dojos would close up. If enough instructors sought education to address some of these deficiencies some of these dojos would improve.
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Old 07-17-2011, 07:16 AM   #16
Anthony Loeppert
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I believe there is a level of degradation in our kihon waza. I think we skip steps and discard things that do not seem to be immediately relevant to our training. Over time, this purging process takes its toll and we run into functionality issues. Right now, I believe we are fortunate to have open dialogue with some of our sister arts that can help up find some of the things we have been omitting. Somewhere form and personal style got mixed and we now skip to personal style without first learning form. The difference between a Picaso and a paint-by-numbers is one artist knows the form and can transcend it and one artist has to be told how to paint.
After 3 years of training Yoshinkan, coming up on my 1st Kyu test, I (finally and just recently) feel like I'm at a point where the "dots" I've been learning are connecting. The movements are becoming more free and natural, less rigid which for me is an issue I'm addressing. All this is a long way of saying I'm glad my instructors are such sticklers (no short cut to "fun" stuff until the basics are covered) and there is a purpose for even the most minute (or what seemed so at the time) technical detail. Their sensei is Jacques Payet Shihan who is himself a master technician and I've heard him say a couple of times on and off the mat that (paraphrasing because I can't remember exactly) that Aikido is like a fine wine and our technique is the glass. You don't waste good wine by pouring it in to a dirty cup.
Payet is alway repeating himself too "aikido is just basics... I usually just teach basics"

Why do I feel like I'm a teen advocating abstinence only? "Aikido can be a really special thing... It is really worth the wait..."
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:37 PM   #17
Mario Tobias
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I believe there is a level of degradation in our kihon waza. I think we skip steps and discard things that do not seem to be immediately relevant to our training. Over time, this purging process takes its toll and we run into functionality issues.
I agree, for me the "secrets" are in the fine details especially the minutest ones. A small change in angle here, a twist in the wrists, bending the knees, upright posture, a flick of the hips, looking where you are heading, use of the tegatana, timing and innumerable others, these are very subtle but these are the ones which significantly change techniques for the better and even though they're small movements they are the ones generating power.

I think kihon waza is not really basic in the sense of the word that if you incorporate all these fine details in a single technique, it'll take a long time not only to master since you first need to discover what these details are before you can put it in practice, once you practice, you then have to ensure that all these principles/details are existent in that technique.

missing one or more details "would" essentially degrade the execution. I think as we progress we are more eager to discover fancy techniques than discovering key "principles", details of the art that movement suffers.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:09 PM   #18
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
I agree, for me the "secrets" are in the fine details especially the minutest ones. A small change in angle here, a twist in the wrists, bending the knees, upright posture, a flick of the hips, looking where you are heading, use of the tegatana, timing and innumerable others, ...
Hi Mario, I agree that small things can make a big difference-- especially in the controlled environment of the dojo, where we can study these specific things.

But I don't like the idea of a long list of discrete little things. To me, it means the longer you train, the longer the list of things you've learned to do. Instead, my ideal is just a single item on the list, where the longer you train, the deeper your understanding of that one item.

I think all these little things in the techniques you mentioned are connected-- they each work for certain reasons, and those resaons may be shared across all the list items. I want to understand that shared reasoning. If I can do that, all those little things we have discovered (and more) will just happen by consequence, instead of by conscious action. Ideally!

And, to bring it back: I think kihon is where we start to understand this "truth." I see motion stuff as a second step. So far, I am almost completely focused on kihon.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:55 PM   #19
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Re: Kihon (Basics) waza - In a state of decline?

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Hi Mario, I agree that small things can make a big difference-- especially in the controlled environment of the dojo, where we can study these specific things.

But I don't like the idea of a long list of discrete little things. To me, it means the longer you train, the longer the list of things you've learned to do. Instead, my ideal is just a single item on the list, where the longer you train, the deeper your understanding of that one item.
Hi Jonathan,

I agree with what you've said. For the long list of the little things that are mentioned, I think that's why it takes decades of practice to master techniques.

From another thread, you need to attain "conscious competence" which is the 3rd stage of learning. You need to discover these little bits/details that make the difference and start incorporating these in your execution. From there, by repetitive practice, you attain "unconscious competence" (last stage) and no longer need to be conscious as this is built into muscle memory, it will be 2nd nature to you no matter how long the list is.

I think that even O-sensei and Endo sensei in their prime realized that they were still in the beginning stage of learning the art. To us they may be considered masters, but to them their learning is just the tip of the iceberg . The learning doesnt stop, you just go to a higher level.

I like the idea you said " my ideal is just a single item on the list, where the longer you train, the deeper your understanding of that one item"
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