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Old 05-05-2014, 10:17 PM   #1
Reuben
 
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Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

This is something that's been bugging me a long time and I'm sure I'm probably not the first to raise such issues but thought I would share my thoughts here.

I am a 31 year old and have been training in Aikido since I was 9-10 years old (I think) and currently hold the rank of 3rd dan and actively teach. I am also a licensed trainer for CMD and also learn BJJ. muay thai and MMA on the side as a hobby. Aikido is the first martial art I picked up.

First of all this is primarily dealing with Aikido as a MARTIAL art and/or self defence form.

The way I first learnt Aikido was very traditional. We watched our Sensei perform the techniques, practiced it on our ukes (who were compliant) and hoped that somehow, with enough repetition, we would magically be able to defend ourselves.

I found that such training makes people lax and for a long time in our dojo we just did the motions and I realized it resulted in horrible Aikido. It may look pretty, fluid and etc but put it under pressure and the gaping holes just come out. I wouldn't even remotely call it self defence. If anything, it may have given false confidence which is all the more dangerous. As an instructor, and for those seeking Aikido as a self-defence form, I felt that I had failed them.

When I started cross-training and learning other martial arts. A lot of things started clicking but it also made me question as to 'What is Aikido?' A lot of the time people comment as to what is 'pure' Aikido or as 'O-Sensei' taught it or one of his uchi-deshi taught it and that any addition was an adulteration of the art. And yes there's of course the controversy that Doshu Kisshomaru watered it down and that for a more true form of Aikido, you need to go back to the uchi-deshis like Saito/Shioda etc etc.

I think such talk about what is 'pure' Aikido is pointless.

For me something is Aikido if it:
a) Doesn't rely on force/strength
b) Gives you an option to not harm an opponent and just neutralization

This is probably controversial as it would mean many techniques from other arts can be considered Aikido (for e.g. the many chokes or pins in BJJ especially those that can be performed while standing). And heck if 'koshi-nage' is considered Aikido then so should a lot of other judo throws as devastating as it can be if uke lands incorrectly.

The basic forms are there for us to build a foundation but to only limit ourselves to such a foundation I think is silly. Of course a certain degree of proficiency is required to find out what techniques work and what are just fanciful creations, but that doesn't mean we should stop innovating. The attacks that people did a long time ago are very different than let's say the attacks that ppl do on the street now and to only train in the traditional attacks and claim that it's 'street applicable' is also crazy.

A lot of the times people are looking at beautiful flowy techniques and if it fits in their idea of what Aikido is, then they can accept it as an Aikido technique. But why? Why is a standing guillotine not Aikido? Properly applied there's no neck crank and the opponent just goes to sleep waking up unharmed later...Some may argue, well it doesn't deal with multiple attackers!!! Does a finishing nikyo/sankyo grip allow you to do that as well?

If you examine many of the great Aikidoka, a vast majority of them had experience in some other form of martial arts. Shioda, Mochizuki, Tomiki and Tohei all did judo. O-Sensei himself studied many forms and his Aikido was always evolving. So why all this talk of 'pure' Aikido? Does Aikido exist in a time capsule?

I think it is necessary for one to build an understanding on basic fight mechanics and patterns one which can only be done through some form of competition or play sparring especially once you reach a certain level. I found that my Aikido improved a lot and became much more effective after I had cross trained in boxing and MMA as I could read a person's attacks better, not flinch when being attacked and understanding distancing or as Aikidoka call it (ma-ai) a lot better. This lead me to develop my own techniques while trying to keep within the two essential components of what I view as 'Aikido'.

I really think that Aikido is best learnt as a martial art to refine your understanding after learning other martial arts (especially grappling types) whereby Aikido's techniques (which require amazing timing and understanding of balance) complement and add on to your improvement. But to learn it as your first and ONLY martial art then I would say, Aikido as it is traditionally taught probably isn't effective as a self defence. Frankly I've yet to see a good video of Aikido being used in its traditional form against a real attack. I've seen some videos of people claiming certain moves in MMA are Aikido (sloppy sayu-nages or udekimenages) as justification that Aikido works but you really don't need to learn Aikido to come up with such movements...

So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be? I don't profess to be a greater master than O-Sensei or the other Aikido greats...but surely there is room for inclusion of more effective techniques that fit in the philosophy of Aikido?
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:59 AM   #2
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

I have gone through exactly the same thought process as you. For me, now, Aikido is The Way of Aiki. It is about developing aiki, not just learning a bunch of semi-useless kata style waza. The waza will not work if you put them to the test (beyond Aikido, like, try katate-dori Ikkyo on a Judoka trying to throw you and see how far you get). And yes, you could put aiki into anything, Jujutsu, Judo, whatever. But for me, the aim of Aikido is to develop this aiki whereas Judo has turned into a system of scoring points.

Now you may think your Aikido has improved due to your other training but I would say it can only improve if you aim at developing aiki. So if it really has gotten better, maybe your other training has given you a few aiki insights you are as yet unaware of. Or perhaps you have just found a better way of wrenching Ikkyo on someone ...

I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.

Just my 2c.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 05-06-2014 at 02:10 AM.

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Old 05-06-2014, 02:15 AM   #3
kewms
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

If you make your technique -- whatever technique you choose -- more effective by incorporating aiki, then it's still aikido.

If you don't know what "incorporating aiki" means, or if you're just adding techniques from other arts, then it isn't still aikido. But then, it may not have been aikido in the first place.

I think if your technique collapses under pressure, that's an issue with your training and may or may not have anything to do with the limitations of the art itself.

Katherine
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:18 AM   #4
Millsy
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

I echo the previous two posters.

I rember a teacher when I was starting describing the progression of Aikido. First you think about techniques, then you do the techniques without thinking, finaly forget techniques. How's that relevant? I think the aim of aikido is to develop Aiki so you can apply it spontaneously without regard to technique, this mean unfortunately while we are learning through aikido techniques they often seem ineffective. The temptation is we can supliment with these percived effective techniques from other arts and still call it aikido. To me this can be a distraction from the higher goal of learning Aiki because we are not using those techniques towards developing Aiki but to fight better in the short term, and that becomes our goal
.
Don't get me wrong I don't think we shouldn't be martial, fight well, or train other arts. Just we need to know what we are aiming for and not get so side tracked that we head off on a different path. Of course we all have different goals
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:55 AM   #5
Malicat
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be? I don't profess to be a greater master than O-Sensei or the other Aikido greats...but surely there is room for inclusion of more effective techniques that fit in the philosophy of Aikido?
Reuben, I am actually with you on most of those points, but I would look to training in terms of bad technique. In the beginning, the uke has to be compliant, because nage has never done the technique, and needs to understand how it is supposed to feel to start with, and move on from there. But as students progress, compliance needs to start going away. I'll never remember the first time my uke took an actual swing at me. I performed the technique, a bit sloppy, but I did it, and after I pinned him I was in shock. "Dude! You swung at me!" "Yep, and you did it right. Good job."

If you have anyone who has achieved any kind of rank without the occasional "real" attack, that is what needs to be remedied.

--Ashley
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:32 AM   #6
lbb
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Reuben Yap wrote: View Post
So in short, what are your thoughts on keeping Aikido pure or making sure that new techniques fit within the general 'look' of what we understand Aikido to be?
I think that the former is unattainable and the latter doesn't make sense -- but more importantly, I think that the problem you pose is a false dichotomy.
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:46 AM   #7
Cliff Judge
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

If you have the opportunity to train with the Takumakai, I would recommend it. O Sensei taught them a jujutsu system of mind-boggling intricacy and brutality.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:41 AM   #8
Cliff Judge
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

"Compliant uke" has been a fairly consistent complaint for as long as people have been arguing about Aikido on the internet. It seems to come most often from people who like wrestling. In my experience, as long as the instructors foster neither a "you must never resist technique and must always take the fall" nor a "never take a fall unless the technique works" attitude, things just work themselves out.

Beginners get on the mat, people take a fall of them so they can get the feel for what the results of the technique are supposed to be. Then when its their turn to be uke, they take the fall to learn to take the fall.

When they get more advanced, you are basically always willing to take a fall, but if they aren't giving you anything to work with, you don't. When it's their turn, you dial it up a bit if they can take it.

Then when advanced people work together, sometimes you show each other that such and such a thing doesn't work on you. Sometimes you give each other time and space to innovate.

If you look at the antecedent systems of Aikido, uke may not be "compliant" but he is certainly cooperative in general practice. To the extent that uke will allow you to apply a painful join lock or choke. There is no other safe way to train moves that are meant to cause serious injury. In regular practice you can't just decide to break someone's neck - even if you teach counters, if uke doesn't know what's coming, accidents will happen. Aikido has softer techniques that allow for practice to involve spontaneity without lots of injury.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:48 AM   #9
jonreading
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

For me, aiki do is a study of the application of aiki. The kata we find in aikido are derived from the early movements often demonstrated by O Sensei. The intention behind them was to create common vessels in which practitioners could express aiki. There is commonality to sister Japanese arts, especially those arts shared by some of the earlier students who lead the kata curriculum. The kata are a "paint by numbers," approach to helping reduce the stress of manufacturing a proper martial shape when also trying to express aiki. The curriculum of kata we have is kinda a "starter kit" of a larger set of martial movement that exists.

I think that it is difficult to express aiki. I think when you are referring to those who argue about limiting the formal kata of aikido, you are talking about an argument based on a limit of knowledge. To some extent, I can sympathize with this perspective because probably most of what we do is not expressing aiki, so the number of kata that we proclaim to comprehend does not change our inability to express aiki. The converse to that argument is that everything we do is aiki, and there is no limit of knowledge. To some extent, I can sympathize with this argument because that is the intended purpose of our training, to transcend the need for a model that solicits proper aiki movement.

Kata is a tool to help reduce the stress of remember what to do - it creates an outside shape that is reproducible and transferrable. There are some aikido people who will never really move beyond that phase of their training. For those who do, they invigorate their kata with aiki. For those who are good, they move with aiki without a need to put that movement into a outside shape.

This brings us back to shu ha ri training. Aiki is a basic body skill. You can use it for many things, but only if you learn aiki, not a shape that solicits aiki-like movement. The kata in aikido are designed to preserve the movement to express aiki, not fight. If you have built a body of knowledge that lets you expand your kata knowledge and still express aiki, great.

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Old 05-06-2014, 11:08 AM   #10
phitruong
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

have been wondering of late. why is that folks getting workup when they mentioned aikido, martial arts, and self-defense all in the same sentence (maybe two)? wondering why that is. my theory is spinach.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:18 AM   #11
kewms
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

While an overly compliant uke can certainly be a problem, I think people who say that it's unique to aikido aren't paying attention.

The first time you spar with a live partner in a karate dojo, does the senior student beat you bloody? No? Then I guess he's being "compliant," huh?

And as pointed out up thread, it's kind of hard to train lethal or crippling techniques any other way: you run out of partners really fast, and local law enforcement tends to get involved.

The question is how to ramp up the intensity and the "resistance" (not really the right word, but it'll do) so that students learn to handle progressively more realistic situations, while keeping the stress level low enough to allow learning. It's a hard problem, and I don't think aikido instructors are alone in struggling with it.

Katherine
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:52 AM   #12
lbb
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
have been wondering of late. why is that folks getting workup when they mentioned aikido, martial arts, and self-defense all in the same sentence (maybe two)?
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.
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Old 05-06-2014, 02:32 PM   #13
Millsy
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.
You sound worked up Only joking, was actually looking for a like button, we are all here for our own reasons.
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:20 PM   #14
RonRagusa
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.
++1

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Old 05-06-2014, 04:41 PM   #15
kfa4303
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
I have gone through exactly the same thought process as you. For me, now, Aikido is The Way of Aiki. It is about developing aiki, not just learning a bunch of semi-useless kata style waza. The waza will not work if you put them to the test (beyond Aikido, like, try katate-dori Ikkyo on a Judoka trying to throw you and see how far you get). And yes, you could put aiki into anything, Jujutsu, Judo, whatever. But for me, the aim of Aikido is to develop this aiki whereas Judo has turned into a system of scoring points.

Now you may think your Aikido has improved due to your other training but I would say it can only improve if you aim at developing aiki. So if it really has gotten better, maybe your other training has given you a few aiki insights you are as yet unaware of. Or perhaps you have just found a better way of wrenching Ikkyo on someone ...

I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.

Just my 2c.
Yeah, that's about what I'd pay for that too. So what is "aiki" exactly and how do you know if you, or anyone else is doing "it" correctly? Does your magic aiki meter go "ding" when you're in "the zone", or does a little indicator light appear? Do you have some sort of ESP which allows you to detect this invisible, non-corporeal force in others as well? Give me a break!!!
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.
Lest we forget that Osensei himself was a deeply militant man who knowingly and willingly trained and associated with known war criminals of a caliber that would make Goebbels blush. Oh yeah, the ol' Japanese military made the Nazis look like the Peace Corp. (Pearl Harbor anyone?) and Osensei was best friends with ALL the brass and proud of it too. How's that for "spiritual" awareness and enlightenment?
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved. To do otherwise is cruel farce which will leave a hapless aikidoka in for a rude awakening should they ever need to use their "spiritual" skills to protect themselves or a loved one. If there are people practicing Aikido simply as a "spiritual practice" (whatever that is), then those people should stop. Instead, they and their communities would all be better served by them volunteering at a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter in order to better fulfill their "spiritual" needs rather than rolling around on a mat in a manskirt using archaic Japanese terminology to describe said movements.
The saddest irony of all is that Aikido didn't become as popular and well respected in such a relatively short amount of time because its techniques and practitioners weren't martially effective. On the contrary, Osensei himself was an iconoclast who did away with many of the old conventions to bring forth a new approach to the MARTIAL arts and soundly handled challengers. His students also spread the word when they willingly took on any and all comers and won, thus allowing the art to speak for itself. Sadly, this aspect has been greatly diminished in favor of the "Lets all be morbidly obese senseis who can't even touch our toes (you know who you are) and/or hold hands and talk about our "spiritual feelings" and/or you can't handle a BJJ guy, so don't even bother " crowd. What a shame. Just goes to show you how precious the essence an art really is and how quickly it can disappear without proper nurturing. If Aikido is going to endure as a true and well-respected MARTIAL art it desperately needs to get off its "spiritual" high horse and get back to goodness with some HONEST demonstrations of talent and ability. Who knows, we might just like what we find.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:06 PM   #16
OwlMatt
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
I say, keep your Aikido pure and use what is there to develop you aiki, then take that aiki and try to apply it in your Jujutsu. Don't make the mistake of bringing your Jujutsu into Aikido to try to improve your Aikido. You will just end up where you started - running around in circles to nowhere.
I came in here to say something, and discovered that Rupert had already said it better. Listen to this guy.

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Old 05-06-2014, 08:32 PM   #17
kewms
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Karl Arant wrote: View Post
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved.
So. When was the last death at your dojo? The last traumatic injury?

If you think you can train with "true life or death intent" without serious injuries, you are deluding yourself.

Katherine
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:56 PM   #18
Shannon Frye
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I've been wondering of late, why is it that people always assume that other people are getting worked up? Myself, I don't care. I don't train for the purpose of self-defense. I don't think most of us do, but frankly, I don't care why anybody else trains. I train because I want to, and I don't have to satisfy anyone else about the purpose of my training. You'll guess at what that purpose is, and you'll guess wrong, and I don't care about that either. I'm not on the mat to conform to your expectations.
Don't know and don't care. Why bother to comment then? Bored?

"In the end there can be only one"

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Old 05-06-2014, 11:08 PM   #19
Rooster
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Karl Arant wrote: View Post
Yeah, that's about what I'd pay for that too. So what is "aiki" exactly and how do you know if you, or anyone else is doing "it" correctly? Does your magic aiki meter go "ding" when you're in "the zone", or does a little indicator light appear? Do you have some sort of ESP which allows you to detect this invisible, non-corporeal force in others as well? Give me a break!!!
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.
Lest we forget that Osensei himself was a deeply militant man who knowingly and willingly trained and associated with known war criminals of a caliber that would make Goebbels blush. Oh yeah, the ol' Japanese military made the Nazis look like the Peace Corp. (Pearl Harbor anyone?) and Osensei was best friends with ALL the brass and proud of it too. How's that for "spiritual" awareness and enlightenment?
Training without true life or death/martial intent is nothing more than a waste of time, money and effort for all parties involved. To do otherwise is cruel farce which will leave a hapless aikidoka in for a rude awakening should they ever need to use their "spiritual" skills to protect themselves or a loved one. If there are people practicing Aikido simply as a "spiritual practice" (whatever that is), then those people should stop. Instead, they and their communities would all be better served by them volunteering at a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter in order to better fulfill their "spiritual" needs rather than rolling around on a mat in a manskirt using archaic Japanese terminology to describe said movements.
The saddest irony of all is that Aikido didn't become as popular and well respected in such a relatively short amount of time because its techniques and practitioners weren't martially effective. On the contrary, Osensei himself was an iconoclast who did away with many of the old conventions to bring forth a new approach to the MARTIAL arts and soundly handled challengers. His students also spread the word when they willingly took on any and all comers and won, thus allowing the art to speak for itself. Sadly, this aspect has been greatly diminished in favor of the "Lets all be morbidly obese senseis who can't even touch our toes (you know who you are) and/or hold hands and talk about our "spiritual feelings" and/or you can't handle a BJJ guy, so don't even bother " crowd. What a shame. Just goes to show you how precious the essence an art really is and how quickly it can disappear without proper nurturing. If Aikido is going to endure as a true and well-respected MARTIAL art it desperately needs to get off its "spiritual" high horse and get back to goodness with some HONEST demonstrations of talent and ability. Who knows, we might just like what we find.
Is the video on your dojo's website ("Aikido: The Path") an example of the kind of practice you are talking about? Just curious.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:11 AM   #20
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

About light ukemi and flying ukes. I think this kind of training is essential for your development as tori. It is one of the things that gives Aikido its edge. If your ukemi is good, your nage-waza will be good - but just training lightly is of course a huge mstake. But anyway, my point is that if you have great responsive ukemi, you will be able to move/evade/slip/counter quickly, with ease, to match the movement of your attacker. And once you learn to match the movement of your uke, so you can begin to disrupt his movement or add to it to de-stabilse him.

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Old 05-07-2014, 01:13 AM   #21
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Smile Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Karl Arant wrote: View Post
OP is absolutely correct. Aikido is either a MARTIAL art, or it is not. If it is, then it should behave as such. MARTIAL literally means "of the military" which means life and death, nothing more and nothing less and certainly not "spiritual practice". LOL!!!!! That means real training, real intent, real speed and real power.
Although you may think you are contradicting me, I actually agree with you 100%. Kinda funny if you think about it

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Old 05-07-2014, 02:28 AM   #22
James Sawers
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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Roo Heins wrote: View Post
Is the video on your dojo's website ("Aikido: The Path") an example of the kind of practice you are talking about? Just curious.
Yes, I took a look at the same video as Roo Sensei and I have the same question......????

Thanks....
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Old 05-07-2014, 03:00 AM   #23
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

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James Sawers wrote: View Post
Yes, I took a look at the same video as Roo Sensei and I have the same question......????
Thanks....
I just did a search and found a Roo Heins video - doing Ikkyo - on You Tube. I think it is excellent practice :-)

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Old 05-07-2014, 06:07 AM   #24
Cliff Judge
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

Quote:
Roo Heins wrote: View Post
Is the video on your dojo's website ("Aikido: The Path") an example of the kind of practice you are talking about? Just curious.
That dojo looks like a great place to train, very safe, with ukes who are exactly as compliant as they need to be to accommodate skill level. An excellent space to explore the spiritual and martial aspects of Aikido.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:13 PM   #25
jonreading
 
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Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?

I happen to believe aikido is a martial art, but not because of its tactical curriculum. Rather, I think aiki is a building block for any tactical combat system you want to use, even the small curriculum we use. At some point in time, writing, swimming and strategic games like chess were "martial arts," amongst a number of skill sets that were not common amongst non-military classes. Martial arts do not necessarily mean anything other than an educational process designed to enhance combat skills of militaries.

To provide a personal elaboration about an earlier point, I think aiki is definite and detectable and I also think learning the skill is transmittable. At the risk of stereotyping a perspective, I believe there is an element in aikido that does not want aiki to be tangible. Intangibility is a tool that can be used to insulate aikido people from establishing a metric of success and holding others to that metric. By leaving aiki undefined, we have a greater range of freedom to express personal perspective without criticism or correction.

I also happen to think the claim of life and death in training is to identify the need to use more intent and intensity in our training, not necessarily claim a physical ability to kill someone. The relative risk to your body does play a factor in intent and so I can appreciate physical factors that increase your body risk as a method of increasing your focus and intent. But we are not training with the intent to injure, we are training with the intent to control ourselves. Honestly, there is a small group of people who I can touch and instantly feel concern for my safety and know they have absolutely no intention of injuring me. Anyone who has worked with the business ends of large animals knows that feeling.

Rupert said it best a couple posts back, aiki is a tool to use in your endeavors. I would say that you ability to use aiki in your endeavors is indicative of your relative success in expressing aiki. Not good, not bad, just a metric indicating your level of ability.

The elephant in the room is that eventually we are faced with this issue of evaluating our ability to use aiki. If our ability strongly ties to kata and the cooperation of our partner we are limited in our ability to venture into other aspects of application, whether your putting your knowledge into fighting systems or athletics or philosophy or whatever.

Mary made a couple of comments about "caring" for what reason we train. To that extent, I would advocate that we have chosen dojos because they are supportive environments for our learning. I would actually advocate that we should care about why each of us are training, so we can help our partners understand their metrics of success and paths to improvement. I can be a jerk and not respect why my partner is there, but that would be a poor partner.

"I am here because I cannot stand my spouse and I need to kill 2 hours."
"I am hear because I want to be more assertive."
"I am hear because I want to learn how to care of myself."
"I am hear because the court ordered therapy."

So what? I tolerate Red Sox fans, too. My training is about me, I have no obligation to inherit the reason my partner trains. I inherit the obligation to help my partner, but to help my partner I need to know what he is trying to accomplish.

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