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Old 07-04-2012, 03:30 AM   #1
Chris Knight
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Shouldn't we be responsible?

After reading a few threads recently, it's made me wonder whether teachers have a duty of care to their students -

especially when studying a martial art for the first time (like myself), looking at recent video footage, there are clearly Aikido classes being carried out with no MARTIAL context what-so-ever.

And that's coming from a hobbyist martial artist, so if I can notice this, what are other people thinking?

Don't teachers have a duty of care to inform students that basically they aren't studying an art with a martial context and that the lessons learned, some of which may be portrayed as "useful" body movements on the "street TM", may just lead the student down the proverbial "delusional lane."

It annoys me, so what do experienced budo people think?
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:54 AM   #2
Mark Uttech
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Onegaishimasu, I tell my students from the getgo that how they practice is how they will be. If they are serious, ten years of practice is a good first goal. We do practice weapons from the beginning as an extension of the body, and we do learn what we can from traditional technique without turning our backs on innovations. Hope this helps.
In gassho,
Mark

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Old 07-04-2012, 04:19 AM   #3
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. You'd think that teachers would do this, but some are being dishonest. Others are deluded and have no clue as to what they are doing. In the end, ego will rule and they either believe the lies they are propagating or don't want to admit they are perpetuating. Or they simply don't know any better...again ego and fear will keep them from seeking the truth.

Either way...it is the students responsibility to seek the truth and not the burden for the teacher. Accept responsibility for yourself from day one...don't put it on the system and your teacher, and you will go far, be less frustrated, and eventually find the truth you are seeking.

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Old 07-04-2012, 07:27 AM   #4
Mario Tobias
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

I echo Kevin's opinions. For me, it is a dilemma and a difficult one. The burden lies on the student to search for what's true. But if you are just starting, you don't know these things. Even us aikidoka who have been practicing for years, we do not know what we are really seeking, where to find it or how to attain it. But at the end of it all, you realize that the student is his own true teacher. When one realizes this then I think this is where one's true progress starts.

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 07-04-2012 at 07:31 AM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:34 AM   #5
phitruong
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

responsibility on both, student and teacher. the only solution that i found that is workable. get out and practice with other folks outside of your dojo/organization, even outside of your art. if your dojo/organization doesn't encourage this sort of thing, beware. this goes to every martial art practice, not just aikido. it goes to both student and teacher, not just student.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:16 AM   #6
Brett Charvat
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

While I share the concern of the OP, I think Kevin is spot-on about the responsibility ultimately resting with the students themselves. I strongly doubt that very many aikido teachers consider what they are teaching to be martially invalid but continue teaching it anyway out of indifference or malice. Most teachers that I've met in this art are convinced that what they are doing and teaching is effective, whether it is or not. At that point, it's up to us as students to determine whether or not we're getting what we want from our teacher. If not, maybe it's time to find another teacher, or another school, or another art altogether.
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:01 AM   #7
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

As teachers, we cannot absolve students from their own responsibility of picking us, from amongst all others. Of course, nobody should deceive others actively, or lie, but if some student is going to deceive themselves about what they are intending to do in aikido, there is little I can do as a teacher, even if I state my goals as honestly and openly as I can. And there is little I can do as a student either, but walk away, if I believe my teacher is deceiving him or herself. I do not think there is much use in digging for "the truth" being on one or the other side in such sitations, though it is terribly tempting.

But seriously, that's the same in all walks of life in some way, we are not transparent to ourselves, and neither are we to others, and we all have to deal with it.

I feel there are many people who are disgruntled about the "effectiveness" of aikido, in whatever respect, and then blame their teachers, while they were pursuing some fantasy of their own in the first place, now having a hard time waking up and taking responsibility.

Of course, then we get the situation where mutual self-deception sort of stabilises a system that loses any outside reference. But again, that is really not limited to aikido, or "effectiveness", many religious sects work like that, lots of relationships do, whatever....

Last edited by Nicholas Eschenbruch : 07-04-2012 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:17 AM   #8
Dave Gallagher
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Chris, The first lesson is to learn the difference between budo and bujutsu. If you want to learn "martial skills" then you should seek a bujutsu ryu.
The path of Aikido budo is something much different than mere martial technique.

Last edited by Dave Gallagher : 07-04-2012 at 11:21 AM.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:08 PM   #9
Hilary
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Interesting can of worms this, fluffy bunnies notwithstanding, this is a martial art. I do believe that the new student is owed context, especially if this is their first venture into martial arts. People with significant rank in other arts should be able to figure it out for themselves.

I will, typically, explain to a new person (I am yudansha but not sensei) that Aikido is a little more difficult to get to a real world application level than the standard kicking and punching curriculum. That Aikido requires a sensitivity to uke's movement not required in basic striking arts and that (particularly for men) you have to unlearn the whole muscling thing to get that sensitivity, and this takes time (14 years in and I'm still muscling things on occasion).

I do explain to them that if they think they are going to become a whirling cyclone of death and whoop ass that this may not be the right thing. What they will learn are principles of moving, locking, destabilizing/throwing, falling, all based on natural movement, that will allow them to control an opponent(s); with minimum expenditure of energy and allow them to inflict the least amount of damage the situation requires. This all presupposes diligent training over many years viewed though a lens of realistic expectation concerning ones basic physical milieu. Whilst they blink at me attempting to parse the previous sentence I tell them, essentially, if you are weak, slow, uncoordinated and myopic we will improve you to the best of your ability, but don't expect to be Steven Segal any time soon.

In previous arts (kempo, tang soo do) we always made a distinction between theoretical style/form and application level technique. In my current dojo it is more along the lines of, here is an idealized attack performed slowly so you can understand how a given principle applies to a specific technique(s). Later it becomes "this is how you do it at the next level/how it would really be applied". In free style I tend to throw more punches, backfists, knees, elbows, kicks, and the dreaded double punch (at less than full speed) just to acclimate my training partners to wider menu of aggression.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:51 PM   #10
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

My teachers have always been straight up about aikido's effectiveness and the things they teach. They tell us that if we are looking for something that will be effective in a street situation to go get a carry permit, buy a gun and learn how to use it.

As for videos on line. They really are not a good way to judge the entirety of what someone is teaching in their dojo. You can get an idea of what their technique is like but they really don't usually give you a full idea of that person's philosophy on the subject.
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Old 07-04-2012, 02:01 PM   #11
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
Chris, The first lesson is to learn the difference between budo and bujutsu. If you want to learn "martial skills" then you should seek a bujutsu ryu.
The path of Aikido budo is something much different than mere martial technique.
Interestingly, the very oldest bujutsu ryu in Japan, more than 600 years old, starts with "Methods of War become Methods of Peace".

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-04-2012, 02:06 PM   #12
Chris Li
 
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
My teachers have always been straight up about aikido's effectiveness and the things they teach. They tell us that if we are looking for something that will be effective in a street situation to go get a carry permit, buy a gun and learn how to use it.
Which makes a kind of sense - except that most of my adult life has been lived in places where it is very difficult or impossible to carry a gun legally. I suspect that applies to most folks these days, depending on where you live.

Also, a gun is a somewhat more extreme option than most people (I think) want to take on a daily basis.

All in all, it's not really a realistic alternative for most people.

Nothing will make you invulnerable, but as a fringe benefit it's not bad.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-04-2012, 02:30 PM   #13
Dave Gallagher
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Interestingly, the very oldest bujutsu ryu in Japan, more than 600 years old, starts with "Methods of War become Methods of Peace".

Best,

Chris
.....Yes, interesting but does not change the difference between budo and bujutsu and for those like Chris seeking one without the other.

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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Old 07-04-2012, 02:34 PM   #14
Chris Li
 
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
.....Yes, interesting but does not change the difference between budo and bujutsu and for those like Chris seeking one without the other.
What I'm saying is that the budo/bujutsu dichotomy is an artificial division that doesn't really hold up if you look back historically.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-04-2012, 03:41 PM   #15
Dave Gallagher
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
What I'm saying is that the budo/bujutsu dichotomy is an artificial division that doesn't really hold up if you look back historically.

Best,

Chris
"The sword is for defeating the enemy, not for defence. Face the enemy, brace yourself for death, and attack." A quote by Tōgō Tōbei Shigetaka (1561~1643), founder of the Jigen-ryū style of swordsmanship.
I think that sums up the difference pretty well. I also recall the saying about the goal of bujutsu..."to break through to their center and destroy them".

It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:55 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Dave Gallagher wrote: View Post
"The sword is for defeating the enemy, not for defence. Face the enemy, brace yourself for death, and attack." A quote by Tōgō Tōbei Shigetaka (1561~1643), founder of the Jigen-ryū style of swordsmanship.
I think that sums up the difference pretty well. I also recall the saying about the goal of bujutsu..."to break through to their center and destroy them".
Sure, but I could bring up quotes like that from 20th century martial arts as well.

On the other hand, martial arts as vehicles for personal or even societal development existed historically long before the artificial budo/bujutsu division.

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-04-2012, 04:27 PM   #17
Gerardo Torres
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
What I'm saying is that the budo/bujutsu dichotomy is an artificial division that doesn't really hold up if you look back historically.

Best,

Chris
Got to agree with Chris on this one. The popular budo vs. bujutsu definitions and dichotomy is inconsistent with historical facts. Budo has "bu" in it so it has to be martial and effective as well. Bujutsu schools also have human development as a core principle, dating back several centuries. If one of such schools or exponents say something in the line of "the aim of [insert art] is to survive/kill/etc.", it only speaks of its practical aim and efficiency, but it does not take away from other goals. Another angle, from one of my teachers, is that a place exclusive to budo training is where you follow a single "way", whereas a place for bujutsu offers "many paths". I've also seen the terms budo/bujutsu used interchangeably; it's hardly clear cut.
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Old 07-04-2012, 04:32 PM   #18
Chris Li
 
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Chris Knight wrote: View Post
After reading a few threads recently, it's made me wonder whether teachers have a duty of care to their students -

especially when studying a martial art for the first time (like myself), looking at recent video footage, there are clearly Aikido classes being carried out with no MARTIAL context what-so-ever.

And that's coming from a hobbyist martial artist, so if I can notice this, what are other people thinking?

Don't teachers have a duty of care to inform students that basically they aren't studying an art with a martial context and that the lessons learned, some of which may be portrayed as "useful" body movements on the "street TM", may just lead the student down the proverbial "delusional lane."

It annoys me, so what do experienced budo people think?
Well, I think that's basically right - but the people teaching often do not, themselves, realize that what they're doing just doesn't work very well.

In the end, the students need to be aware, and not get sucked in by the "mystique".

Best,

Chris

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Old 07-04-2012, 05:07 PM   #19
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Chris Knight wrote: View Post
After reading a few threads recently, it's made me wonder whether teachers have a duty of care to their students -

especially when studying a martial art for the first time (like myself), looking at recent video footage, there are clearly Aikido classes being carried out with no MARTIAL context what-so-ever.

And that's coming from a hobbyist martial artist, so if I can notice this, what are other people thinking?

Don't teachers have a duty of care to inform students that basically they aren't studying an art with a martial context and that the lessons learned, some of which may be portrayed as "useful" body movements on the "street TM", may just lead the student down the proverbial "delusional lane."

It annoys me, so what do experienced budo people think?
Hey Chris:
A video is a snapshop on the web. A whole style can't be judged by a video taken out of context. Most videos are put up to show a point or start a conversation. You can't tell how effective a martial art is by how it looks on youtube.

I talk about peacefulness yet we most always train in self-defense mode.

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Old 07-04-2012, 08:12 PM   #20
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Which makes a kind of sense - except that most of my adult life has been lived in places where it is very difficult or impossible to carry a gun legally. I suspect that applies to most folks these days, depending on where you live.

Also, a gun is a somewhat more extreme option than most people (I think) want to take on a daily basis.

All in all, it's not really a realistic alternative for most people.

Nothing will make you invulnerable, but as a fringe benefit it's not bad.

Best,

Chris
Oh yes agreed that a lot depends on where you live and the environments you are in. But for the vast majority of us really how likely are we ever to need to defend ourselves from an attacker? Better to avoid being in the places and situations that would call for such knowledge. (and I do realize that for some this is not so easy or possible)

Now I'm not saying aikido can't be really useful. It has come in handy for me a few times. Nothing life threatening but all the same I was able to handle myself and keep control of situations that might have been worse without the awareness and muscle memory that aikido has given me thus far. But I'm not in aikido because I am worried about getting into a life threatening conflict and I'm not very likely to be involved in a serious fight. I think there is a lot more to be gained from aikido than the skill to beat up an attacker or win a fight. So while martial effectiveness does matter to me to a degree it is not my first concern. My thought is that if it is ones first concern then aikido might not be the right MA for them to be involved in. But that's just my thoughts as a very junior aikidoka. I may have very different thoughts on it in 5-10 years.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:24 PM   #21
LinTal
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
But for the vast majority of us really how likely are we ever to need to defend ourselves from an attacker? Better to avoid being in the places and situations that would call for such knowledge. (and I do realize that for some this is not so easy or possible)
Attacks come in different forms though - I know that when I do aikido I feel more relaxed and resilient in the face of stress or emotional pressure, and my relationships are healthier too...

The world changes when you do.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:37 PM   #22
crbateman
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Teachers can only teach what they know. If they do not know aikido as a budo, they cannot teach it that way. Just as ice cream, there are different "flavors" in aikido, and a student should learn about their prospective teacher before investing their time and money. If your training is not giving you the "taste" you want, you will know it, and can look for a more suitable situation. You do not have to become expert in aikido to know if the fit is right for you.
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:42 PM   #23
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Chris Knight wrote: View Post
Don't teachers have a duty of care to inform students that basically they aren't studying an art with a martial context and that the lessons learned, some of which may be portrayed as "useful" body movements on the "street TM", may just lead the student down the proverbial "delusional lane."
Well, no, they don't -- but I think you're really talking about a moral obligation, and not a legal obligation such as duty of care. As for whether they have a moral obligation, would you really expect that some knucklehead who promotes his martial art as being useful for "street self-defense" would feel such an obligation? As far as I'm concerned, if you even use the term "street self-defense" with a straight face, you should just get the forehead tattoo that says "BUFFOON". That goes whether you're a fraud trying to sell people on "street self-defense" or a fool trying to find it/buy it.

Since you used the phrase "duty of care", you're no doubt also aware of other concepts like a patient refusing care and acting against medical advice. When that happens, what do you do? You don't tackle them and force them to do the sensible thing, you try to help them and if your help's not wanted, you step back and let them do what they're going to do. People frequently don't want to do the thing that will help them, you know, and they frequently don't want to hear the unvarnished truth. People walk around with their ideas and their agendas, looking for confirmation of what they want to believe and frequently ignoring explicit information to the contrary.
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:09 AM   #24
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. You'd think that teachers would do this, but some are being dishonest. Others are deluded and have no clue as to what they are doing. In the end, ego will rule and they either believe the lies they are propagating or don't want to admit they are perpetuating. Or they simply don't know any better...again ego and fear will keep them from seeking the truth.

Either way...it is the students responsibility to seek the truth and not the burden for the teacher. Accept responsibility for yourself from day one...don't put it on the system and your teacher, and you will go far, be less frustrated, and eventually find the truth you are seeking.
I agree with this as long as we are talking about adults. An adult needs to be able to look at something reasonably and decide how martial it really is for himself. But the vast majority of martial arts students are children, and a responsible teacher needs to be up-front with children.

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Old 07-05-2012, 02:17 AM   #25
Chris Knight
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Re: Shouldn't we be responsible?

Quote:
Chris, The first lesson is to learn the difference between budo and bujutsu. If you want to learn "martial skills" then you should seek a bujutsu ryu.
The path of Aikido budo is something much different than mere martial technique.
I have recently seen experienced practitioners on this site stating that budo has to be effective - to be defined as such?

Quote:
Hey Chris:
A video is a snapshop on the web. A whole style can't be judged by a video taken out of context. Most videos are put up to show a point or start a conversation. You can't tell how effective a martial art is by how it looks on youtube.

I talk about peacefulness yet we most always train in self-defense mode.
I disagree and agree in the same context - I know all about the "it has to be felt scenario" however, by looking at recent videos posted here in relation to aikido,
no connection to uke, no developed centre, no concept of core stability, rocking on the feet, not being grounded, no centre line rotation, reliant on UKE - the list goes on and on. I disagree you cant tell how effective it can be via visuals

Quote:
Yes, interesting but does not change the difference between budo and bujutsu and for those like Chris seeking one without the other.
where did I say that??

Quote:
Interesting can of worms this, fluffy bunnies notwithstanding, this is a martial art. I do believe that the new student is owed context, especially if this is their first venture into martial arts. People with significant rank in other arts should be able to figure it out for themselves.

I will, typically, explain to a new person (I am yudansha but not sensei) that Aikido is a little more difficult to get to a real world application level than the standard kicking and punching curriculum. That Aikido requires a sensitivity to uke's movement not required in basic striking arts and that (particularly for men) you have to unlearn the whole muscling thing to get that sensitivity, and this takes time (14 years in and I'm still muscling things on occasion).

I do explain to them that if they think they are going to become a whirling cyclone of death and whoop ass that this may not be the right thing. What they will learn are principles of moving, locking, destabilizing/throwing, falling, all based on natural movement, that will allow them to control an opponent(s); with minimum expenditure of energy and allow them to inflict the least amount of damage the situation requires. This all presupposes diligent training over many years viewed though a lens of realistic expectation concerning ones basic physical milieu. Whilst they blink at me attempting to parse the previous sentence I tell them, essentially, if you are weak, slow, uncoordinated and myopic we will improve you to the best of your ability, but don't expect to be Steven Segal any time soon.

In previous arts (kempo, tang soo do) we always made a distinction between theoretical style/form and application level technique. In my current dojo it is more along the lines of, here is an idealized attack performed slowly so you can understand how a given principle applies to a specific technique(s). Later it becomes "this is how you do it at the next level/how it would really be applied". In free style I tend to throw more punches, backfists, knees, elbows, kicks, and the dreaded double punch (at less than full speed) just to acclimate my training partners to wider menu of aggression.
probably the best post on here in a long time - thanks!
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