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Old 12-06-2002, 02:38 PM   #1
willy_lee
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Square "chess"-like cross training

Please excuse in advance the slightly long post. I've been stewing a bit of stuff in my head for a while. This is also (I think) the first thread I've ever started. Woo-hoo!

So I've started doing a little cross-training. Doing some Sayoc Kali (Filipino martial art emphasizing close-quarter knife work) and some (very informal) submission wrestling.

The wrestling involves a couple guys from work with varying levels of experience in some martial arts, but no groundwork training to speak of. I don't have any real training in it either, but through reading, watching video, and a lot of thinking about wrestling technique/strategy, yesterday I was able to get takedowns, positionally dominate, escape bad positions, and actually got a couple cross-arm-locks off, on guys who outweigh me, one by 30lbs or so. I was rather surprised at how well it went. I'm looking forward to finding some people with actual experience to really show me what's what!

The kali I'm doing we're not doing any sparring yet. But as we do our drills and patterns, after we learn the basic movements, we are constantly being shown _why_ the pattern goes like this -- this action is done because of this reaction, if he did that instead the alternative would be this, etc. Deeper and deeper levels of this kind. It's really like a chess match.

So the kali patterns are kind of like learning from a match between grandmasters -- the more we learn the more we appreciate. The wrestling is more like me and my friends playing chess -- a bunch of patzers, but having fun and learning as we go. And I find that I really enjoy this kind of chess-like interaction between players.

Now what I'm realizing is that martial art as "physical chess" is a major reason for my interest. And in aikido (exempting Shodokan -- I have no experience with it) the "chess-like" aspect seems somehow not as deep. We explore in kata fashion, but rarely do we investigate one technique from one position the way one would analyze a chess position. We work on the details of the technique, or connection, or taking center instead. And the jiyuwaza I've seen so far doesn't have the same feel as the attack/counter-attack of wrestling -- it seems as if uke isn't encouraged to really counter very often -- I have no doubt that some people do it, but I think it is sadly rare.

Not to say that this is necessarily _bad_. I would say, however, that it is something that I crave, and have actually in a sense been forced to find away from aikido.

Any thoughts welcome.

=wl
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Old 12-08-2002, 12:36 PM   #2
Brian Crowley
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Well, since you said any thoughts welcome, I'll add my 2 cents -

No MA can be all things to all people. Are there things in Aikido that you don't get from the other activities you mentioned ? If not, then why not just focus on the arts that provide the aspects that you enjoy ? If so, is it enough to warrant doing all of them ?

To keep with the Chess comparisons, I think that Aikido is a bit like learning a lot of Chess openings, endings & other brilliant concepts, but I think it lacks in certain other areas - perhaps the middle game & opportunities to really "play". I'm sure this is less (or not) true for some styles/schools; this is a generalizaton that I like, that many will certainly disagree with.

I'm not sure if this is relevant to your question, but I'll throw it out:

A couple years ago, I read an old chess book that was geared toward helping the "average" player improve his game. The book opens by saying, "The number of capturing opportunities overlooked by the average player is really staggering." The author indicated that the only way to really get rid of this problem is through intensive practice and study (which most people don't have time for); however he also indicates that it is helpful to be aware of the problem and be determined to root out that flaw to the best of your abilities.

The more years I study, the more I think that this is a key element to learning MAs. There may be tons of opportunities in a particular situation, but most of us can't see more than a couple - and frequently not even the best ones. As with Chess, the only way to become fully aware of the maximum number of opportunities is to train & study; however I really believe that just being aware of the problem, and trying to eliminate it, is helpful.

Good luck with your chess & MAs.

Brian
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Old 12-08-2002, 03:45 PM   #3
opherdonchin
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I think the chess analogy is very interesting. I had a friend in Israel who taught AiKiDo and Chess to some children with social and learning difficulties. He talked a lot about the similarities between the two, but I've honestly had a hard time seeing it.

Chess, in my mind, is much more like sparring or wrestling with your friends. It's a situation in which the goal on both sides is to have a competition and arrive at a winner. Sometimes this is because one or both of them want to be a winner, but lets hope that it's usually because the process is fun and interesting. In any case, both sides willingly enter into a controlled situation of conflict.

AiKiDo (at least the way I understand it) is more about how to defuse and de-escalate situations of conflict. It's just a different beast.

Which isn't to say that there isn't a lot of value and a lot to be learned by playing with the ideas you talked about, I just find it hard to think of that as AiKiDo.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 12-08-2002, 04:01 PM   #4
mj
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I'd just like to say, Aikido is known as physical Zen, Judo is known as physical chess.

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Old 12-09-2002, 02:55 AM   #5
Jeff Tibbetts
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This is a great analogy© I think that Aikido and chess do have a lot in common, and it's great to make that connection© I wonder if you've ever played Go before? It's a Chinese game adapted in Japan, and it's also a strategy game between two people, in many ways more poplar in Japan than chess is here in America© I think that it's a lot more like Aikido in the sense that you really aren't in pure competition with the other opponent, as you have to capture territory and protect what you have© There is still the element of capturing the other players stones but it's not the focus of the game, it's something you do to exploit a weakness or create an opening© Anyway it's a great game and I think that there would be real value in practicing it with other like-minded people to improve your Aikido strategic thinking© Another thing that reminds me of Aikido is that when you really start to play it well you can "feel" the moves as they happen, it becomes a flow between you and your partner© It's a great feeling, you have that same sense of being "in the zone" that you get in a great practice session of Aikido©©© it can be hard to find in some places but check it out if you have the chance©

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 12-09-2002, 05:17 PM   #6
willy_lee
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Interesting replies!

I like what you are doing with my chess comparison -- I love the analogy Brian made -- aikido as openings, endings, and concepts. I think that's what I love about aikido. And the feeling of flow and being in the zone during jiyuwaza is wonderful too. But there's a different feeling when there's a mind that you can feel on the other end of that flow, fencing with you.

Perhaps as Opher said, it is a different beast; I should just simply accept that I will not find that in aikido. And that is fine; I do the other stuff for my own reasons, not because I am running away from aikido.

Or maybe it comes down to this feeling that uke in my experience is not really encouraged all that much to counter nage. That is, instead of a mind on the other end of the flow, there is a sort of mindless physical entity having momentum and mass and some attached lever assemblies. That's a bit too strong; I know people do counter. But I have this nagging feeling that too much time is spent working with an implicit assumption that nage is (ought to be) better than uke.

I wonder, does anyone ever spend time just going through all the ways that a technique can be countered, and the counter-counters, etc.? I start to get a little tired of _only_ training in technique and flow.

Thanks for listening,

=wl

p.s. oh, and jeff, I have played Go also. Love the game, but I tend to play it more like my aikido training; I play for flow and position, but am not good at analyzing tight fights or counting stones.
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Old 12-09-2002, 06:00 PM   #7
opherdonchin
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Quote:
That is, instead of a mind on the other end of the flow, there is a sort of mindless physical entity having momentum and mass and some attached lever assemblies. That's a bit too strong; I know people do counter. But I have this nagging feeling that too much time is spent working with an implicit assumption that nage is (ought to be) better than uke.

I wonder, does anyone ever spend time just going through all the ways that a technique can be countered, and the counter-counters, etc.? I start to get a little tired of _only_ training in technique and flow.
I, for one, believe that knowing how to give good uke is as important (or more important) for aikido than knowing how to give good nage. There is a subtle and wonderful communication that goes on between uke and nage that, at it's best, is playful, challenging, constructive, and cooperative. The only thing it isn't is competitive.

Kaishi-waza (reversal of technique, I hope) is a standard part of training in many dojos. If you don't get enough of it in your regular classses, trying playing with it after class with a more senior student. When I first encountered it, I found it mind-blowing. Now I just think of it as a standard part of AiKiDo.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 12-09-2002, 08:28 PM   #8
Bruce Baker
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You say chess because you plan and adapt to strategy.

I say adapt and change to meet the circumstances.

Practice initiates a variety of different possibilities for situations that may or may not happen.

It all comes down to having the knowledge to physically initiate the movements without having the mind become a deterrent in the process of movement.

If there is a clear mind, on either the conscious or unconscious level that can clearly send signals of movement without having the movement delayed, or having the thoughts enter a stage of misallignment not allowing for the adapt/ change phenonmenon, much like the chess game in planning many moves ahead while allowing for strategy changes, then yeah ... we are on the same level of comparison.

Although the reletively restricted rules, and movements of chess is the simplest level of understanding the game of movements in martial arts, it is, none the less, a viable early level understanding of how the myriad of movements can be coordinated to successfully dominate an oppenent in many types of martial arts training.

Of course, there is always an exception to the rule .... that one person who changes the ground rules ... so as much as chess applys, you need to expand that thinking to include the multi dimensional world that can change the rules as quick as a woman who is right when shen is wrong, and men are wrong even they are right, when argueing with a woman.

Go figure?
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Old 12-10-2002, 01:13 AM   #9
Brian Crowley
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Bruce,

You didn't mention Aikido in your analysis (only a references to 'martial arts'). Was that intentional ? Like chess, Aikido has relatively restricted rules. Does that limit you to an "early level understanding" of how to "dominate an opponent" ? I don't know about early level, but I do think it is very limiting.

To some extent, I agree with what I think is the general theme of your post - ie. in life (unlike in a game) the rules are constantly changing so a higher degree of adaptability is needed. Or could it be that we just don't understand the rules ?

Brian
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Old 12-10-2002, 04:23 AM   #10
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Brian Crowley wrote:
Bruce,

Like chess, Aikido has relatively restricted rules. Does that limit you to an "early level understanding" of how to "dominate an opponent"?

Brian
We have rules?

Another important analogy to chess is in the 'story' of a technique.

For example, uke grabs our wrist, so we strike atemi, which uke blocks to one side, so we turn and take his wrist for ikkyo, which he pushes against, so we let it go and move behind him, so he turns, so we throw him down and around, so he tries to get up, so we finish iriminage.

This isn't a series of reversing techniques, its just a long standard technique (katadori iriminage). A common beginner's question about these 'long techniques' is "Its so long, what if uke....". The same question can be asked when looking at the play-by-play of a chess game. Often a particular move is just one option out of several choices. If your chess partner, or uke, does something different you would have done something different too.

I find this analogy useful in explaining why uke does a particular thing during techniques.

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 12-10-2002, 04:44 AM   #11
shadow
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the chess analogy is a good one.

but i think it appears even in regular training. it is perhaps a lot more subtle than other martial arts and it is not trained in a competitive sense. we train from a static grip all the time and the chess feeling can be seen when you go to move and uke shifts his power or centre so you awase to take it again..... its all blending always.... same for kaeshi waza. it exists but perhaps you need to search for it, and it doesnt feel complete because we dont really train in a sparring or competitive situation...... chess after all is a competition between two people.

happiness. harmony. compassion.
--damien--
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Old 12-10-2002, 04:57 AM   #12
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Damien Bohler (shadow) wrote:
.... we train from a static grip all the time...
Why's that?
Quote:
...chess after all is a competition between two people.
In principle, yes, but for me the the feeling of the midgame is very much like aikido or sticky-hands practice - you move to his weaker areas, away from his stronger areas, and he does the same to you. The feeling of 'mushin' - not being attached to any particular strategy, tactic or technique, seems similar to me between the two.

Of course, this doesn't apply just to aikido.

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 12-10-2002, 05:45 AM   #13
ian
 
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Quote:
Brian Crowley wrote:
As with Chess, the only way to become fully aware of the maximum number of opportunities is to train & study; however I really believe that just being aware of the problem, and trying to eliminate it, is helpful.
Reminds me of one of Ueshibas sayings about studying to find knowledge in aikido. I think we should be constantly asking questions about our martial art to enable it to develop to the current situation - aikido would not have developed if Ueshiba had not done this. Of course, we have to understand the principles behind the techniques and also things that aren't always seen or obvious (such as potential atemis from uke or nage etc). I would welcome a real scientific study of martial arts, in the same way that is done in olympic sports. I think we would often find that the best way to do things would depend on the objective, and the time we are willing to put in.

Ian
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Old 12-10-2002, 08:40 AM   #14
opherdonchin
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Quote:
In principle, yes, but for me the the feeling of the midgame is very much like aikido or sticky-hands practice - you move to his weaker areas, away from his stronger areas, and he does the same to you. The feeling of 'mushin' - not being attached to any particular strategy, tactic or technique, seems similar to me between the two.

Of course, this doesn't apply just to aikido.
Like you say, this isn't just AiKiDo, this is any martial art. I tend to feel (as nage) that if uke has managed to create a situation where I'm 'jockeying for position' or 'trying to outdo uke' or 'trying to outwit them,' then I've moved out of AiKiDo and into a study of martial art.

There is a great peanuts cartoon where Lucy and Snoopy are playing checkers. At some point in the game, Snoopy leans over the board and gives Lucy a big kiss on the nose. That, effectively, ends the game. I think this cartoon captures how I see the relationship between AiKiDo (done well) and trying to win a fight or a competition.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 12-10-2002, 04:00 PM   #15
willy_lee
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Quote:
Tim Griffiths wrote:
Another important analogy to chess is in the 'story' of a technique.

For example, uke grabs our wrist, so we strike atemi, which uke blocks to one side, so we turn and take his wrist for ikkyo, which he pushes against, so we let it go and move behind him, so he turns, so we throw him down and around, so he tries to get up, so we finish iriminage.

This isn't a series of reversing techniques, its just a long standard technique (katadori iriminage).
Wow, that's cool. I've never heard it explained like that -- that's like the stuff we were doing in my kali class. A deeper analysis of th' kata than I normally get.

Perhaps I need to sit and figure out the "story" of some more aikido techniques.

=wl
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Old 12-10-2002, 11:30 PM   #16
shadow
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Quote:
Tim Griffiths wrote:
Why's that?
because its just the way we do things in iwama style aikido. we start static and work our way up to flowing technique.

happiness. harmony. compassion.
--damien--
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Old 12-11-2002, 09:40 AM   #17
Ta Kung
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I also practise Iwama ryu. And I agree with Damien. But I'd like to put extra emphassis (sp?) on the "work our way up to flowing technqiue" part.

In the "advanced group" we have a 50-50 situation when it comes to practising flowing and static techniques...

/Patrik
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Old 12-11-2002, 12:54 PM   #18
Doug Mathieu
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Hi

Tim very nicely illustrated an aspect of training that new students struggle with to understand.

Kaeshi Waza (reversal of technique) was also mentioned as a training aid which adds to the chess aspect you want to experience.

Henka Waza also enters that area of training where you find the chess aspects. For Nage that will probably give you more chess play than Kaeshi waza since Henka Waza is practice for the person applying a technique to feel what is happening with his uke and if ukes attack changes as a reaction to the applied technique or his body goes somewhere not intended then you change your 1st technique to something else more appropriate rather to try and force your original technique.

One other practice that may fit is Renraku?Renzaku? (not sure which is proper) waza which is linking techniques together each one properly applied but done as a series of techniques that flow together all the time keeping control of uke.

You may not get to see these or practice for a while as I haven't seen them much except as advanced training.

I have heard some instructors actually say not to practice them to much but rather focus on perfect application of your 1st technique so follow up techniques won't be needed.

They are fun though and I think get into the chess part you are thinking of.
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Old 12-12-2002, 07:22 PM   #19
JW
 
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Quote:
Willy Lee (willy_lee) wrote:
Wow, that's cool. I've never heard it explained like that -- that's like the stuff we were doing in my kali class. A deeper analysis of th' kata than I normally get.

Perhaps I need to sit and figure out the "story" of some more aikido techniques.

=wl
I think that's exactly it--but not just "some more aikido techniques," .. I think every single one, even the shortest, should be thought of in this way.

Like Tim said, I agree that each is a story, or example, that is a documentation of a particular set of descisions made by both nage and uke.

I was personally surprised to see that you thought in your kali class it was like studying the old games of masters, but that aikido class was different. I think every single aikido technique is an attempt at being exactly as you described this kali class/chess gambit relationship.

..every time we say onegaishimasu to each other, we are stepping into the shoes of "the masters"..

--JW
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Old 12-13-2002, 04:05 PM   #20
willy_lee
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Quote:
Jonathan Wong (JW) wrote:
I was personally surprised to see that you thought in your kali class it was like studying the old games of masters, but that aikido class was different. I think every single aikido technique is an attempt at being exactly as you described this kali class/chess gambit relationship.
I think what I was trying to say was that in aikido classes I've been in, we most often work on "a technique" or "a principle" -- we might link a few together, or sometimes change to a more appropriate one for the attack, or (occasionally) casually counter.

The experience in my particular kali class was more of taking a set drill/kata which has in it a fairly long connected set of back-and-forths and really analyzing each sub-exchange in depth -- more like taking a chess position and analyzing all the options up to 3 moves ahead.

The "aha!" I had with Tim's post was to realize that this back-and-forth is implicit in the techniques -- like suddenly discovering a microscopic world within the technique of micro-back-and-forths.

I hope this makes sense.
Quote:
..every time we say onegaishimasu to each other, we are stepping into the shoes of "the masters"..
That's a good way to think about practice! I will have to remember that one.

Thanks,

=wl
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Old 12-14-2002, 01:20 AM   #21
willy_lee
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Lightbulb Aha!

I feel silly replying to myself, but I think I finally realized what it is that's been bothering me about this (not bad for a week of kicking it around in my head, but sometimes I'm not that smart). It's a very simple difference.
Quote:
Willy Lee (willy_lee) wrote:
... and really analyzing each sub-exchange in depth -- more like taking a chess position and analyzing all the options up to 3 moves ahead.
The difference that was bothering me is this:

The chess-like analysis devotes equal amounts of time to what "uke" (Sayoc kali calls this person "the feeder") is trying to do. Like a chess analysis must understand all of both players' options. In Sayoc the feeder's actions and targets are extremely specific: it's not just a forehand diagonal slash, it's a slash targeting the near jugular, or the left wrist -- the "live" hand (without the knife) is always working, too. The feeder is always assumed to know what you're trying to do to him or her, and know how to counter you (this is how you extend the drill so you can practice more things).

_In my experience_, in aikido we don't devote equal time to what uke is doing. We concentrate on what _nage_ is doing. Uke is expected to provide energy and intent -- a sort of abstract thing. We then concentrate on studying nage's response to that thing.

For instance, katate tori: as an attack, an imaginative uke can try various things off controlling the center through the wrist. But we don't really study it -- all the specifics of where to send, control, strike, or counter nage. Nor the many things uke can do with the free hand (not just strike). We don't even study how to connect to nage's center as uke on the attack. We just say "attack, attack, keep the attack going", when it may not be clear to uke how exactly grabbing a wrist and following it around is an attack at all.

I don't think it's all bad to train this way -- I realize we train from a sort of abstraction of an attack that lends itself to generalization and principle-based learning. That's good. There's that whole "defense, not attack" thing too.

I do think it would make for better training to work on what uke is doing, at least a bit more than we do -- seems like at my level, ukes are expected to learn to fall and follow, and not worry about much else. Guess I'm impatient!

Anyway, thanks for letting me clear out my brain,

=wl
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Old 12-14-2002, 01:48 AM   #22
PeterR
 
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I wonder if the goals of Chess and Aikido are diametrically opposed.

In Chess we have a period of time to analyze the position in as much depth as possible and respond accordingly.

In Aikido you are searching for the state of Mu - there should be no analysis of your opponent just the response.

The analogy is good fun though. How about the use of go no sen, sen no sen and sen sen no sen. In the latter context both Aikido and Chess is a profoundly mental game since you are trying to understand what your opponent will do before he does it. Reading his mind (intent).

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-14-2002, 09:40 AM   #23
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If you think Kali is like "Chess", perhaps Aikido is more like "Go".

BTW: I come from a long backgraound of FMA and find their ideas different, but no more deep than Akido. Both have their place. Because their purpose is different, their strategies must be also. My training partners laugh at the smile I get whenever I pick up the Tanto.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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