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Old 10-11-2002, 07:45 PM   #1
Hari Soetrisno
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Bad Scenario - On the Ground

Hi ! I am not a martial artist but have always
been fascinated by Aikido. I once saw a demonstration at my college. I like the pacifist attitude of the art. I am aware that
the founder was an accomplished all around martial artist. My question is whether Aikido
has anti-grappling techniques ? Or that they teach the students for worst case scenarios
where you end up on the ground ?
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Old 10-11-2002, 10:29 PM   #2
keithedwards
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Hello Hari: The dojo where I study spends about one hour a week teaching grappling techniques as part of our Saturday classes for those cases where the confrontation ends on the ground without well established control.

From my scant experience with aikido, I think one of the general ideas behind the art is to direct the attacker to the ground and to control him or her through a pin. I'm very new to aikido (about 1 year), so perhaps someone with more experience can provide a more defining statement.
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Old 10-11-2002, 11:02 PM   #3
Kevin Wilbanks
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No. Groundfighting is outside the scope of Aikido. If you try to use traditional Aikido pins on people trained in wrestling/grappling/jujutsu, you will find the results disappointing.

To my mind, this is not a big problem, although I like the idea of devoting a little extra session to groundfighting basics for the sake of well-roundedness. (I wish I could get that without having to pay $75 per month to the local dojo that has BJJ classes.)

I think that the whole virute of Aikido has to do with working a fairly narrow, circumscribed set of cirumstances in extraordinary depth. It's not about being a well-rounded, tactically broad ass-kicker, it's a budo. Budo are about cultivating a certain kind of spirit that comes from taking something very specific and plumbing the deepest depths of it - and of oneself. It doesn't matter whether it's archery, swordwork, tea ceremony, or flower arrangement. The main purpose is self-development, not self-defense.

Many think that Aikido is a little different from other budo in that it also incorporates elements of giving and social exploration that one might not find in the others... at least not built into the very fabric of them. By all accounts, O'Sensei had an extraordinarily loving and peaceful attitude toward all people, and tried very hard to incorporate this into Aikido, while preserving the other virtues of budo as well.

We inhereted the art from him and our teachers, and it's up to us where it goes. Personally, I think we should strive to keep a martial edge to Aikido within the parameters of practice, because that's part of what makes it go, but I think that too much what iffery and fretting about street application is of limited value compared to what Aikido really has to offer.
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Old 10-12-2002, 08:10 AM   #4
Mel Barker
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Hmmm, I don't recall any stories of O'Sensei asking his ukes to please stop after they had taken him to the ground. Maybe they weren't that good a judo.

Oh well. So do other people actually practice swari-wasa? Seems like ground technique to me.

As far as anti-grappling techniques, every thing we do is an anti-grappling technique.

Also, I don't think of Aikido as "pacifist" at all. O'Sensei was a very "active" martial artist. The Aikido practiced in my dojo is very active. Initiating the contact, controlling the engagement.

I think Aiki is a method to defeat an opponent who is willing to attack you. Aikido is the art of using Aiki with compassion.

Others, I'm sure, may disagree.
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Old 10-12-2002, 09:00 AM   #5
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To Kevin Willbanks,

Well said.
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Old 10-12-2002, 11:14 AM   #6
Kevin Wilbanks
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Mel,

Since your post is barely relevant to mine, if not deliberately misinterpretave, I don't think it's worth the trouble to respond at length. But don't put false words in my mouth. I did not use the word "pacifist" and it is therefore inappropriate to quote it.
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Old 10-12-2002, 12:04 PM   #7
Steven
 
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
Mel,

Since your post is barely relevant to mine, if not deliberately misinterpretave, I don't think it's worth the trouble to respond at length. But don't put false words in my mouth. I did not use the word "pacifist" and it is therefore inappropriate to quote it.
Hi Kevin,

I'm not Mel, but I believe he was quoting the original poster who referred to Aikido as "pacifist". Then again, I could be wrong.
Quote:
Originally posted by Hari Soetrisno:

[qb]I like the pacifist attitude of the art.[/qb]
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Old 10-12-2002, 12:22 PM   #8
Kevin Wilbanks
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Ahhh.

I see. Oh well. Never mind, then.
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Old 10-12-2002, 01:38 PM   #9
Bruce Baker
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I still think many of you are too short sighted in understanding the use of Aikido strickly for standing and knee walking?

Come on now, can't you think of other ways to do take balance and power with your feet instead of your hands?

If you are learning the basic principles of Aikido, they you should be able to apply many of your lessons on different levels.

Practicing in BJJ should not inhibit your knowledge or use of what you learn in Aikido, but enhance it ... at least it did for my experience/observation.

The leg is a stronger limb because of its use, but then again there are a whole slew of weakpoints, ways to activate them, and ways to use simular techniques upon legs, although not always found in Aikido, they are none the less there and valid.

Maybe it is irreverant to spend all our time on the arms and upper torso, when there is a number of ways to defend from the ground, and still be within the tenents of your Aikido practice, but it is just the reflection of your expectations in reaching a level of training. Maybe we need to use a little more common sense in our approach to integrating judo, jujitsu, and grappling into Aikido, but that is why I say the lines between the arts blurr the more you get into the arts.

Last edited by Bruce Baker : 10-12-2002 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 10-12-2002, 02:42 PM   #10
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
1) Budo are about cultivating a certain kind of spirit that comes from taking something very specific and plumbing the deepest depths of it - and of oneself....The main purpose is self-development, not self-defense.

2) Personally, I think we should strive to keep a martial edge to Aikido within the parameters of practice, because that's part of what makes it go, but I think that too much what iffery and fretting about street application is of limited value compared to what Aikido really has to offer.
________________

1) I'm not going to disagree precisely, but I think that self-defense is the touchstone of aikido. We could explore square-dancing in depth and call that self-development, too. Osensei wanted aikido an expression, perhaps "reflection" is the word, of the universe and conflict was the medium. Insofar as we cannot deal with conflict--be it an unlikely overhead strike with the edge of the hand or headlock on your back--it fails, or so I should think. But then I'm confused as to why so many useful techniques were purged from aikido in the first place.

2) "within the parameters of practice" That's he issue. It seems to me that they are set kind of arbitrarily. You also say, "We inhereted the art from him and our teachers, and it's up to us where it goes" so one assumes we would not accept stagnation but demand responsiveness to needs. Many feel a gap with aikido on the ground. Ergo...

FWIW, I thought Mr. Barker's comments pithy and succinct. I disagree with him that SUARI WAZA constitutes pertinent ground technique, but he brings up he interesting question as to what Osensei did when brought to he mat.

Thanks for an interesting thread.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 10-12-2002, 03:06 PM   #11
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
Ahhh.

I see. Oh well. Never mind, then.
Measure twice and cut once.

Best,

Greg Jennings
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Old 10-12-2002, 05:36 PM   #12
Kevin Wilbanks
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Quote:
Don J. Modesto (Don_Modesto) wrote:
________________

1) I'm not going to disagree precisely, but I think that self-defense is the touchstone of aikido. We could explore square-dancing in depth and call that self-development, too. Osensei wanted aikido an expression, perhaps "reflection" is the word, of the universe and conflict was the medium. Insofar as we cannot deal with conflict--be it an unlikely overhead strike with the edge of the hand or headlock on your back--it fails, or so I should think. But then I'm confused as to why so many useful techniques were purged from aikido in the first place.

2) "within the parameters of practice" That's he issue. It seems to me that they are set kind of arbitrarily. You also say, "We inhereted the art from him and our teachers, and it's up to us where it goes" so one assumes we would not accept stagnation but demand responsiveness to needs. Many feel a gap with aikido on the ground. Ergo...
Although you meant it facetiously, I think the value of Aikido is indeed more akin to studying the hell out of square dancing than to developing well rounded self-defense. If you've ever studied a ground art, you know that there are at least as many techniques and permutations to explore there as in our standing attack format. So we add that in - now the Aikido curriculum has doubled. Now for any given amount of time spent training, were spending about half as much time on the former curriculum with - I contend - a concomittant reduction in depth of study.

Now, to have a truly well-rounded self defense in contemporary US society, our Aikido plus grappling is still pretty lame because it doesn't include proficiency in the use of firearms... should we add that too? It's one thing to know how to aim and shoot, but what about how to carry, conceal, store, and ready them for efficient use? What about home security - locks, alarm systems, safety procedures... all of this is vital to holistic self defense too. Should we also add this to Aikido?

Or, transfer the analogy to tea ceremony. Learning how to make tea hardly makes one a well-rounded beverage-maker. What about mixed drinks, coffee, english tea-serving techniques? Why not add that in? Come to think of it, what kind of a dining experience is drinking tea anyway? Where's the food? A master of tea ceremony probably can't baste a turkey any better than I can... how lame.

I see adding significant amounts of new techniques or material to Aikido as a good way to dilute and ruin it as a budo. We already know where that road leads - a hodgepodge of 'what works' being decided by each local instructor, usually taking place in an ugly space with little ceremony or formality, everyone wearing t-shirts and sweats, "Welcome To The Jungle" blaring on a boombox, and most of the participants being high-testosterone young men hoping to learn how to kick some serious ass. Not that there's anything wrong with this, but it's a whole different scene and enterprise from Aikido, and plenty of other schools and arts offer this experience.

If you find Aikido stagnant or unresponsive to your needs, I think looking for more techniques and martial effectiveness in a broader range of scenarios reflects having conceptualized progress or the needs which Aikido was designed to serve in an unfortunately narrow way.

I don't see how adding ground techniques will necessarily help in the exploration of human interaction, or of experientially absorbing principles such as leading, joining, listening, following, shugyo, mushin, zanshin, etc... or do anything to make the art more likely to help us to achieve the kind of exceptional grace and spirit exhibited by O'Sensei.
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Old 10-13-2002, 10:45 AM   #13
Hagen Seibert
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Hi Kevin,

I like your comparison of Aikido and Tea Ceremony. Though I have to point out one difference: Aikido claims to be a (more or less) martial art, and to set you in the ability to deal with aggression in a friendly way. Tea ceremony does not claim to make you a good cook.

If Aikido has gaps in itīs system it fails to fulfill itīs promise. Then itīs square dancing with dogi and hakama. Although I do not propose to start with ground grappling, realistic attacks will do for the beginning.

regards
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Old 10-13-2002, 12:11 PM   #14
Kevin Wilbanks
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Quote:
Hagen Seibert wrote:
Hi Kevin,

Aikido claims to be a (more or less) martial art, and to set you in the ability to deal with aggression in a friendly way. Tea ceremony does not claim to make you a good cook.

If Aikido has gaps in itīs system it fails to fulfill itīs promise...
I don't think Aikido claims to be a martial art, since it is an abstraction. People make claims. Who claims Aikido is a 'martial art'?

The name itself implies that it is a 'do' form and not a 'jutsu'. Even if it was a 'jutsu' form, that does not mean it needs to cover all fighting ranges and combat/defense scenarios.

As far as Aikido authorities that make claims, everything I've ever read in translation by O'Sensei emphasizes that Aikido is fundamentally different from other martial arts and stresses the philosophical and spiritual purposes of the art, not kicking ass in all fighting ranges.

I think the comment about what would O'Sensei do when taken to ground is irrelevant, as he did not seem to find it necessary to put those situations in Aikido. I suspect that he knew effective ground techniques and would have used them. Similarly, when faced with a host of gun-toting enemies in war, he reportedly grabbed a Mauser, ran into their midst and mowed them all down. Yet, Mauser-waza is not part of Aikido. Coincidence?
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Old 10-13-2002, 01:35 PM   #15
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
1)--Although you meant it facetiously, I think the value of Aikido is indeed more akin to studying the hell out of square dancing than to developing well rounded self-defense.

2)--If you've ever studied a ground art, you know that there are at least as many techniques and permutations to explore there as in our standing attack format. So we add that in - now the Aikido curriculum has doubled.

3)--Now, to have a truly well-rounded self defense in contemporary US society, our Aikido plus grappling is still pretty lame because it doesn't include proficiency in the use of firearms...

4)--Or, transfer the analogy to tea ceremony.

5)--I see adding significant amounts of new techniques or material to Aikido as a good way to dilute and ruin it as a budo. We already know where that road leads - a hodgepodge of 'what works' being decided by each local instructor,

6)--If you find Aikido stagnant or unresponsive to your needs, I think looking for more techniques and martial effectiveness in a broader range of scenarios reflects having conceptualized progress or the needs which Aikido was designed to serve in an unfortunately narrow way.

7)--I don't see how adding ground techniques will necessarily help in the exploration of human interaction,

8)--or do anything to make the art more likely to help us to achieve the kind of exceptional grace and spirit exhibited by O'Sensei.
______________

1)--A hard nut to crack, I'll concede. What is the place of utility in all this? Should aikido be different from dance?

2)--Yes. Again the issue of delineating boundaries.

3)--Point taken. See my #2, above.

4)--Chado, hmm, as William Blake put it quintessentially: "To see the world in a grain of sand..."

5)--Evidently Osensei's successors agree, many have jettisoned ken, yari, and bayonet training, not to mention "lost techniques." Emerson shocked the assembled with his address to the divinity school when he suggested that many are complacent to set up the bible and worship that. Do we not similarly betray Osensei's insights and principles by sticking slavishly to canon?

6)--I think we're up against imponderables here with no right answer. It's "You say to-mah-to and I say to-may-to. "Narrow". Hmm. Darwin to a respite from biology and reformulated it by reading economics ("Survival of the fittest" are original with Adam Smith, not Darwin.) Should aikido isolate itself from the outside? Don't think so myself.

7)--The same way that training itself does. Can we apply PRINCIPLES to something besides the pedagogically dummed down stuff we work with now? (a wide attack, e.g., with the hand conveniently open and the palm conveniently up to be twisted more efficiently the a right cross?)

8)--His being decidedly a spirit of eclecticism...

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 10-13-2002, 01:47 PM   #16
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
1--I don't think Aikido claims to be a martial art, since it is an abstraction. People make claims. Who claims Aikido is a 'martial art'?

2--The name itself implies that it is a 'do' form and not a 'jutsu'. Even if it was a 'jutsu' form, that does not mean it needs to cover all fighting ranges and combat/defense scenarios.

3--As far as Aikido authorities that make claims, everything I've ever read in translation by O'Sensei emphasizes that Aikido is fundamentally different from other martial arts and stresses the philosophical and spiritual purposes of the art, not kicking ass in all fighting ranges.

4--I think the comment about what would O'Sensei do when taken to ground is irrelevant, as he did not seem to find it necessary to put those situations in Aikido. I suspect that he knew effective ground techniques and would have used them.

5--when faced with a host of gun-toting enemies in war, he reportedly grabbed a Mauser, ran into their midst and mowed them all down. Yet, Mauser-waza is not part of Aikido. Coincidence?
___________________

1--Saotome Mitsugi is one I've heard it from personally. Nishio emphasizes it on his tapes. Saito, too, if memory serves.

2--A distinction ridiculed in its sclerotic form by the KORYU. A subtler version that I like speaks to JUTSU being how you conduct yourself in an engagement; DO, how you conduct yourself in society.

3--Tsukahara Bokuden and the Yagyu's laid similar stress upon their arts. The philosophical pretensions of aikido to uniqueness are overblown.

4--Saotome emphasizes that aikido is not twisting wrists, it is the universe. This is evident in his seminars as, unlike many more anal instructors, he countenances students responding to attacks in ways different than he has just demonstrated before all. If the "principles" are tenable, they would be tenable on the ground. If I recall aright (the author says the editorial hasn't been uploaded to his site yet and I read it in a borrowed Aikido Journal two years ago), Stanley Pranin called what the Gracies do "aikido on the ground." Not a bad imprimatur.

5--Great story. What's the source for it?

Thanks for the stimulating exchanges.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 10-13-2002, 02:13 PM   #17
Kevin Wilbanks
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Actually, I think innovation and additions or subtractions to Aikido could be a good thing, I just question the direction in which they should be made. Putting in grappling, kick-boxing, etc... is going to make Aikido more like JKD or MMA hybrids designed for competing in the Vale Tudo, etc... This kind of thing is currently exploding in popularity, and there is no shortage of schools that offer this. If I wanted that, I would go to one.

I don't think that would be a case of taking the most unique and interesting aspects of Aikido and running with them, in fact, I think it would be quite the opposite.

In my view, an example of an art that represents some of the directions in which interesting Aikido innovations might go is Peter Ralston's Cheng Hsin: http://www.chenghsin.com/chmain.htm

One thing his art has which Aikido lacks is freely interactive/quasi-competitive games. One is sort of like a hybrid between tai chi push-hands and jiyu waza/randori - both players attempt to throw and manipulate one another and can move about freely, yet the prime rule is that each must yield completely to the other, letting the partner apply no pressure greater than that which would crack an egg. It's a fantastic game - it cultivates speed, extremely relaxed movement, dynamic flexibility and ukemi skills, and even in my limited experience with it I started to get radically new ideas/experiences of what it meant to be like the eye of a hurricane - and owning the space around me... as though the opponent put himself out of balance and at disadvantage just by entering it. Interestingly, it was a more energetic and aggressive disposition than I normally feel in Aikido practice, but also more yielding and relaxed.

I am very interested in imaginative innovations like this game, and am no dogmatist. From my perspective, lots of 'what if' and "realism" speculation a la MMA just isn't a very unique or interesting direction. While it would make Aikidoka better fighters, I don't think it would offer any significant improvement over the current curriculum in terms of broadly applicable experiential learning opportunities, or the development of consciousness, awareness, character, etc...

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 10-13-2002 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 10-13-2002, 02:59 PM   #18
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
One thing his art has which Aikido lacks is freely interactive/quasi-competitive games. One is sort of like a hybrid between tai chi push-hands and jiyu waza/randori
The Tomiki tape offered at aikidojournal.com has some examples of RANDORI types that are very stimulating. One seems similar to your description here. It was a training RANDORI as opposed to a competition type and very handsome to watch.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 10-13-2002, 03:12 PM   #19
Kevin Wilbanks
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Might not be too similar then - Chen Hsin Tui Shou is usually fairly ugly to watch. It can get very fast, and one can only keep good-looking postures if they're way better than the other, and can easily keep the upper hand... in which case the other person is flopping around like a fish. Most people describe it as looking like monkeys playing/fighting.
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Old 10-14-2002, 10:53 AM   #20
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
One thing his art has which Aikido lacks is freely interactive/quasi-competitive games. One is sort of like a hybrid between tai chi push-hands and jiyu waza/randori - both players attempt to throw and manipulate one another and can move about freely, yet the prime rule is that each must yield completely to the other,
This is a reasonable description of our jiyuwaza. Frankly, I thought virtually everyone's was the same as ours.

WRT ground grappling, after our next round of promotions, we're supposed to start designating a half-class every other week to newaza. To get right down to brass tacks, we're doing it because all of the core group enjoy it.

FWIW, I find harmonizing energies to be even more critical in newaza than in tachiwaza.

Best Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 10-14-2002, 11:14 AM   #21
Kevin Wilbanks
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"This is a reasonable description of our jiyuwaza. Frankly, I thought virtually everyone's was the same as ours."

I would be really surprised if this were true. Tui Shou only looks Aikido-like every once in a while. There is no grabbing, because grabbing is too much pressure - the rule is almost no pressure. I don't mean yeilding like Aikido ukemi, I mean absolute yielding - as though their hands were red-hot iron. Throwing is like juggling hot toast. It is very difficult to pull off anything that looks like an Aikido technique... when you do it's almost an accident.

In all the jiyu waza that I've seen, it's still Aikido, with an attempt made to do defined techniques, and all kinds of grasping and pressure is allowed. Usually, there is an uke and a nage too, with reversals being optional.
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Old 10-14-2002, 01:01 PM   #22
Bruce Baker
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Response to Post #10

Pithy and Succint? Haven't heard those words in a dog's age, I must be gettin' old, but I still love a good laugh.

All right, you have fallen and you can't get up, what now? Give up and die?

Or ... do we think of another way in which we can use the principles we practice in Aikido?

You are already down on the ground, go for it!

But you don't know the angle direction in which to weaken the legs, or is your courage and open mind now paralyzed with fear?

Maybe we should have a few Aikido classes where your hands are tied and you have to use your legs and body to stand up, affect techniques, and defend yourself?

I don't see any other suggestions that are applicable ... other than go to another style and study grappling?

Isn't Aikido about causing change with the tenents of its practice? If O'Sensei had shown ground techniques using the legs, would that make it more valid to train?

This is what I mean about us, you and me, being responsible for the direction that Aikido goes, and if it will thrive or stagnate?

Maybe I am pithy and succinct, but at least I am trying to get out of the same old rhetoric, and get Aikido into the 21st century. Most of the hard work to get Aikido to the world is done, the rest should not be as hard to learn?

Oh, well. I guess we need to have a class, or some kind of video presentation area where we can try to use visual aids to help our written words.

Until then, pithy will have to do.

(Please don't use that word again, my side is starting to split from laughing. NO offense, but it does smack of "Jeeves, my slippers!")
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Old 10-14-2002, 02:50 PM   #23
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
"This is a reasonable description of our jiyuwaza. Frankly, I thought virtually everyone's was the same as ours."

I would be really surprised if this were true. Tui Shou only looks Aikido-like every once in a while. There is no grabbing, because grabbing is too much pressure - the rule is almost no pressure. I don't mean yeilding like Aikido ukemi, I mean absolute yielding - as though their hands were red-hot iron. Throwing is like juggling hot toast. It is very difficult to pull off anything that looks like an Aikido technique... when you do it's almost an accident.

In all the jiyu waza that I've seen, it's still Aikido, with an attempt made to do defined techniques, and all kinds of grasping and pressure is allowed. Usually, there is an uke and a nage too, with reversals being optional.
Hmmm. I could have said that better. I meant that a person reading your _description_ could take it out of context to be our jiyuwaza.

Our jiyuwaza and all the jiyuwaza I've been involved with (admittedly a small sample) starts with an assigned uke/nage, but after the initial engagement, the roles are completely fluid. We tend to move at about half-speed or less and are extremely yielding. Both uke and nage are deeply concentrating on kimusubi and the interactions tend to be creative rather than canonical.

Reversals are the name of the game, but we limit them to when someone gives an opening. It's difficult to even begin learning, but less do well.

Then again, we have several strange things that we do, so I have no reason to expect that our jiyuwaza would be any different.

Best Regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 10-14-2002, 03:52 PM   #24
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,267
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Quote:
Bruce Baker wrote:
Response to Post #10

Pithy and Succint? Haven't heard those words in a dog's age, I must be gettin' old, but I still love a good laugh.
So do we. Thank you for your post.

The terms "pithy" and "succinct" were directed to Mr. Barker, not Mr. Baker.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 10-14-2002, 08:35 PM   #25
davoravo
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 67
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One set of the "lost techniques" are the finger and thumb locks. Would these be an effective way of fighting on the ground? I suspect that they would open you up to an arm bar from a real BJJ practicioner.

David McNamara
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