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Old 10-26-2002, 04:19 AM   #26
G DiPierro
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
One of the nice things about a 'softer' school is that you know they're not likely to break your arm if you don't fall down for them.
That's an interesting point. I suspect that this may account for why some softer stylists often have a habit of resisting. In their schools, doing so is just not that dangerous.
Quote:
I more often find myself taking 'unnecessary' ukemi for people who I worry might accidentally break part of me than for people who are too gentle with me.
Well, if you are taking the ukemi to prevent someone from breaking something then I wouldn't call it unnecessary. This is one of the reasons why harder schools discourage resisting.

By the way, I want to point out that my previous post should not be read as an encouragment to resist. There is a subtle but important difference between honestly believing that someone is not moving you and actively resisting a technique. An uke should always make a serious effort to not resist but follow nage because doing so is the best way to ensure uke's safety. It's when you really believe that you are following to the best of your ability and yet still don't feel yourself being moved that you shouldn't go anywhere. In that case, either uke is not following well enough, nage is not correctly moving uke, or the problem is some combination of the two. I have experienced it both ways, but if you don't know which it is then the most important thing to do is to find out.

I'm starting to get into some of the complexities of this situation that I mentioned in my last post, but there are many reasons why it is important to follow nage and not resist. One of the most important is that there are parts of the technique normally left out of dojo practice which could be used to cause a recalcitrant uke to move but which would not be very pleasant. The two I was thinking of are atemi and putting uke into a situation from which he cannot safely fall. I'm not sure if Opher's example of breaking things is part of the second category or if it is its own seperate category. In any case, successfully resisting a technique is often predicated on taking unfair advantage of nage's kindness in not employing these measures.

Often, one of the things to do when you feel like you aren't being moved is ask yourself if you are really in a safe position relative to nage. Chances are that, regardless of nage's technique, you actually have some vulnerabilities which you should be moving to correct.
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Old 10-26-2002, 08:09 AM   #27
MikeE
 
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Opher, we are of a like mind. Sosa Sensei always said that the longer he trained the less he "threw". He let them fall.

I think we may not be defining "hard" so everyone is thinking the same thing.

My context:

Hard: Physically driven, using strength. But others may have a different definition.

I think that hard and powerful are two completely different things.

Powerful is having mind/body unification and and the principles that that make it up. Utilizing this if uke resists they have no chance. The power generated by unification is always much larger than the strength uke has in his arm, wrist, etc.

I.E. I weigh 260 lbs. I'm pretty sure that no one out there has a 260lb arm. Therefore, my 260lbs working all together, generates more power than can be mustered by someones arm.

The technique I use is soft, subtle, and without strength as much as possible (strength is fleeting). Many times though, it may not feel soft to uke, if they resist.

I think intense training is important, not hard technique.

Mike Ellefson
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Old 10-26-2002, 02:35 PM   #28
akiy
 
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Re: relaxed power

Quote:
Mike Lee (mike lee) wrote:
The clearest example of hard technique is karate. The opposite is tai chi chuan. The difference is that karate emphasizes a hard body, that is, the fist must be hardened, and the muscle and bone must be strenghtened.
Not necessarily. Ushiro sensei (7th dan Shido-ryu Karate shihan who was at the Aiki Expo) specifically stated that he thought people who pounded their hands and feet on makiwara to build calluses was going about it incorrectly. His thought was that doing so revealed to your opponent your "abilities" (since your opponent could see your calluses and such) -- no good martial artist would reveal to his opponent his abilities, he said. His approach to karate was through the development of kokyu, not through calluses...

-- Jun

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Old 10-26-2002, 02:51 PM   #29
opherdonchin
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Quote:
Michael Ellefson wrote:
The technique I use is soft, subtle, and without strength as much as possible (strength is fleeting). Many times though, it may not feel soft to uke, if they resist.
Reading this post, I also feel like we are probably agreeing. I actually do strive for my technique to feel soft for uke, partly because I think it's cool when you can get that to work and partly because I believe that this helps prevent unnecessary (and ultimately pointless) resistance on uke's side. Still, I would probably agree that 'many times' my technique may not feel that soft to uke and particularly if they resist. It's just cooler when it can feel soft and effective even when they do resist.
Quote:
Gian Carlo wrote:
Well, if you are taking the ukemi to prevent someone from breaking something then I wouldn't call it unnecessary. This is one of the reasons why harder schools discourage resisting.
Yeah, I worried that what I wrote would be read this way. Maybe there is some of that going on (of course), but I was thinking of a different aspect of things. Maybe I can clarify it with reference ot something you said: "successfully resisting a technique is often predicated on taking unfair advantage of nage's kindness." I find that the use of force and strength in a technique is often predicated on nage taking unfair advantage of uke's kindness. If I am less kind, it can create a situation of conflict between me and nage, and that situation can escalate uncomfortably. Ultimately, it can lead to real struggle and someone can get hurt. This is particularly an issue for me when I visit a dojo where people don't know me.

I still don't feel like I'm describing what I mean all that well.
Quote:
I suspect that this may account for why some softer stylists often have a habit of resisting. In their schools, doing so is just not that dangerous.
Yes. I think that's exactly right. It teaches you very different things than the 'uke has to be worried nage will kill him' schools of ukemi. It doesn't produce the beautiful flowing ukemi which I find so awe-inspiring, but it does teach an amazing sensitivity to what does and does not move uke.
Quote:
Paul Smith wrote:
The only way to get out of the way is to immolate the stuck notion of "self" and although it can be done on one's own, it is more likely successfully achieved by learning at the feet of a master.
Paul, I hope you don't mind my going back to this for another second. I've been thinking about it a little bit, and I wanted to add that in the (miniscule) amount of reading I've done in Buddhism and Zen, it feels to me like the Buddhist writing had a lot of ideas of 'struggle against self,' 'conquest of self' and, like you said, 'immolation of self.' The little bit of Zen that I've read didn't have this quality. For me this attitude of immolation of hatred towards self feels counter-productive. It puts self at the center rather than allowing it to drift to the periphery where it can have its place in the universe alongside all those other things that don't really exist. Still, that's just me and, like I said, each person walks there own path.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 10-27-2002, 12:18 AM   #30
eugene_lo
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Yes, this is a very interesting thread. The eternal question of hard vs. soft, what is "hard" and what is "soft", should aikido practice be one or the other... etc, etc. I really don't know where to start or what to add....

Maybe hard has quite a few definitions. Hard can describe the physical change of the body, using a clenched fist, and linearization (um, is this a word?) of the joints and bones. Soft, then would be the development of ki, or chi in tai chi for example. Developing flow of energy from within which then develops the skin, muscles, nervous system, etc. Based on proper breathing and not "blocking" chi by tensing the muscles.

Hard can also define practice in aikido. I suppose based on uke's commitment of attack. In other words, uke attacks, nage doesn't move, and nage gets a chop to the neck or a puffy lip. The idea of "Hard" and "soft" then is extended to how nage reacts, or say, blends, with uke. How much of a clash of muscle and bones, based on timing, or lack of, and angle of irimi/tenkan, etc. Based on he degree of obliqueness to the attack.

Blend more, then it's soft. Blend less or not at all, then it's hard.

Hard and soft could also refer then to whether nage really took uke's balance, or whether uke is "overly cooperative." If nage is trying to pull or push uke in a certain direction and uke is fairly planted, then it's hard. If uke just needs some steering to be thrown, then it's soft.

I rather like the way some people here (Opher donchin I think) have discussed this.

But anyway, I think I have not even got to the point. I think people want to know if aikido should start with "hard" practice, then slowly progress to "soft" practice, ki no nigare. Well, IMHO, I say yes. But the differences between hard and soft open up so many questions.It is hard to say one or the other. When and how much should uke resist? Should uke take ukemi unecessarily? How much muscle is too much? How little muscle is too little, to the point that aikido becomes a "dance?"

Well, I feel that uke should never take ukemi if his/her balance is not taken. This is the over cooperation that Kanai sensei constantly refers to. Maybe the ideal uke has to wait, wait, wait, and sense just at that moment when he/she is entering a fall and is about to get close to getting intimate with the mat to finish by taking ukemi. Complete the loss of balance by rolling into then out of a circle. More then about timing than anything. Always timing involved in aikido. Start to roll or breakfall before the technique is even 60% (just a random number for some way to picture this) complete then too early and thus too cooperative. Meet the mat flat instead of round, then too late, and not so much an issue of cooperation anymore, as nage may have just witnessed what would happen to someone "on the street" who didn't know how to take ukemi.

So, a matter of fine tuning the timing. A matter of how much your balance is gone before you begin ukemi.

As far as a more difficult question: should aikido start hard and progress to soft? Well, these days, there are hard and soft dojos and styles and teachers that concentrate on one or the other, or a progression. I feel that there should be a progression. A start with hard. Kihon. Slow, basic, careful form. Flowing will/should come later. Foundation first. This is coming from someone raised in a very traditional Chinese household, where process and form were some of the highest values held to. Process. Japanese culture, and thus martial arts, is very similiar.

However, this doesn't mean that EVERYONE must follow this process. Why not? Because people take aikido for many reasons. Plain physical fitness, self-defense, just for fun, for stress relief. I think what is important to remember is what you want to get out of aikido. If simply to learn blending , perhaps through your dojo's "soft" techinque, later on to apply to relationships at home and in the workplace, then great. If to learn self-defense, perhaps through your dojo's "hard" technique, then great. But not to claim that you have got an idea of both until you go through the PROCESS.

The idea of process and progression is important to the Japanese culture, to Asian culture in general. It was how O'Sensei's aikido developed. As Americans, I think we have looked too eagerly for the short-cuts. This is our culture, like it or know it or not. But when it comes to aikido, we should not make this compromise. My family carries on a tradition of tai chi. No one would ever claim to have achieved "chi" in even 15-20 years of practice. I find it strange that so many aikidoka make this claim so easily, so quickly, that they feel their "ki" in their aikido practice and techniques. I don't think ki will come without hard practice. Ki will only come from the process of learning to not muscle through. Why else did aikido start this way? Because it is natural. And, NOT simply because that O'Sensei's students often came from other "hard" martial arts. The process is the same in every one of those arts too. The progression to ki development. And NOT simply due to the militaristic environment/culture of pre-war Japan.

O'Sensei had questions and doubtrs and unknowns. Yes. We maybe don't have to follow in those exact footsteps, to "reinvent the wheel." But he did formulate something for us follow. Even after the questions. A training method. A process. When did we get the right to question this? O'Sensei didn't want us to copy his aikido. I think a good way to think of this: we should learn aikido his way. What we do with it afterwards,how we use aikido, when we start to get a clue, then, that is up to us.

Apologies for being long-winded
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Old 10-27-2002, 12:51 AM   #31
Edward
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Re: Re: relaxed power

Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Not necessarily. Ushiro sensei (7th dan Shido-ryu Karate shihan who was at the Aiki Expo) specifically stated that he thought people who pounded their hands and feet on makiwara to build calluses was going about it incorrectly. His thought was that doing so revealed to your opponent your "abilities" (since your opponent could see your calluses and such) -- no good martial artist would reveal to his opponent his abilities, he said. His approach to karate was through the development of kokyu, not through calluses...

-- Jun
First of all, I am also categorically against calluses

However, I have always heard two arguments for and against revealing your "abilities to your opponent". One school thinks that by revealing your abilities, or by showing no oppening, you can prevent useless fighting and violence. The other thinks that you should always keep your abilities hidden so that the opponent attacks carelessly and it would be easier to beat him.

I was recently exposed to this when I went to a Tomiki practice. I was very uncomfortable with their "natural" stance keeping both feet parallel and hands hanging because it is very difficult to initiate movement from that position. The instructor explained to me the principle of "mushin, mukamae" where the absence of martial stance will fool the opponent to thinking that we do not know any MA. Of course I am not yet convinced because I believe Osensei's idea was to leave no opening hence the traditional stance of aikido is designed to close all attack angles to make it very difficult for the opponent to attack.

Others might argue that by looking strong, you might also attract trouble and by looking harmless you will pass unnoticed. But it is equally true that by looking strong you can avoid trouble because you won't be attacked, and by looking harmless you might encourage and attract attacks.

But maybe this is a subject for another thread
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Old 10-27-2002, 03:33 AM   #32
mike lee
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changing conditions

Quote:
But it is equally true that by looking strong you can avoid trouble because you won't be attacked, and by looking harmless you might encourage and attract attacks.
A general rule of thumb might be to take the middle path. That is, stand in hanmi, be ready, relax, breath, but don't be threatening.

But if the situation is extremely threatening, it seems that the optimum ready stance should be used.

On the other hand, if the situation is minimally threatening, such as when playing rondori with children, a relaxed, open stance can be used.

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Old 10-27-2002, 11:14 AM   #33
Erik
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I've always wondered about the whole idea of calluses. What exactly are they protecting and how do they keep parts of your hand from breaking? The whole idea just doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

So, a little Googling and one of my favorite web sites came to the rescue.

One fellow once told me:

"My school has rope wrapped makiwara. It toughens your nuckles up great. How can hitting a rubber pad do anything? A makiwara's purpose is to toughen the skin of the nuckles."

This is not the purpose of a makiwara. The purpose is to strengthen the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints to withstand the blow without collapsing and reducing the striking force. The purpose is also for you to experiment until you can generate a punch so powerful that you cannot stand the pain. The conditioning of the knuckles is an unfortunate, and ugly, side effect of an unbalanced makiwara with a weak, rough pad and a board that is too stiff. Your goal should be to strengthen your back, armpit, elbow, and wrist against an impact. Your goal is not to condition your knuckles. Conditioning your knuckles is useless. There are very few things on a human body that are hard enough to harm your knuckles, as long as you strike with a proper fist. The few things that can harm your knuckles, such as the teeth, will cut right through any calluses no matter how well you condition the skin anyway. So, conditioning the knuckles is a stupid idea.


http://www.24fightingchickens.com/sh..._makiwara.html
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Old 10-27-2002, 06:19 PM   #34
G DiPierro
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I find that the use of force and strength in a technique is often predicated on nage taking unfair advantage of uke's kindness. If I am less kind, it can create a situation of conflict between me and nage, and that situation can escalate uncomfortably. Ultimately, it can lead to real struggle and someone can get hurt.
Actually, I agree with you here. Using poor technique with too much strength is taking advantage of an uke, and a skilled uke will not allow a nage to do this. Since such situations are not uncommon in hard styles, we spend alot of time learning how to prevent ourselves from getting beat up without letting the situation escalate into a confrontation. Once you learn how to do it, it's not that hard. Kind of like Aikido in general.
Quote:
It doesn't produce the beautiful flowing ukemi which I find so awe-inspiring, but it does teach an amazing sensitivity to what does and does not move uke.
I agree with this too. I am currently practicing in a softer style than the one to which I accustomed and I have learned some novel things about relaxation and sensitivity there. To me, though, those things would be useless unless I were able to apply them at full speed as well. Unfortuntely, people who only do soft styles sometimes cannot differentiate between what can be effectively applied to a real attack and what only works with a cooperating partner. So, some of what I have been taught will ultimately be useful but I expect that at least some will also have to be unlearned and discarded.
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Old 10-27-2002, 07:20 PM   #35
Kevin Wilbanks
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Quote:
Conditioning your knuckles is useless. There are very few things on a human body that are hard enough to harm your knuckles, as long as you strike with a proper fist. The few things that can harm your knuckles, such as the teeth, will cut right through any calluses no matter how well you condition the skin anyway. So, conditioning the knuckles is a stupid idea.
...so is the above argument. Almost any part of the human skull can easily shatter or otherwise fracture the metacarpals - I can't count how many anecdotal accounts of this I have heard. A properly aligned and aimed elbow could likely easily do the same. That's just the potential for bone injury.

When it comes to soft tissue, teeth are a big one. I heard a guy tell a story of how he had an extended hospital stay and almost had part of his arm amputated from a tooth puncture wound to the fist. If you go wailing on skulls with the fist in particular, you could also end up with some nasty sprains and tendon strains if things don't connect quite right.

As far as the long term effects of punching boards and other hard objects 'until you can't stand the pain' with any serious frequency, I'd say it's a relative certainty that you'll be looking at degenerative joint disease and reduced hand functioning at an alarmingly young age.

All for what?

Unless you go around punching people a few times per week, I don't see that the cost/benefit ratio of conditioning the most delicate mechanical instrument on your body to function as a bludgeon works out. I like to use my hands for many daily tasks requiring a high degree of precisely controlled functioning which I am not willing to give up without pressing need.

People with experience who talk sense about fighting generally seem to advocate hitting hard targets like the skull with the palm, heel of the hand, elbow, or found objects/weapons. Add kicks, throws, pushing, etc... to your arsenal and the need for whacking things with your knuckles further diminishes.

While a fist can certainly do damage, from a long term health perspective, I see reliance on the fists as a primary weapon as an inherently flawed strategy, and beating on hard objects with them to condition them as a needlessly injurious practice.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 10-27-2002 at 07:26 PM.
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