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Old 05-05-2003, 11:42 AM   #1
ian
 
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old vs new method

Although I've been thinking about this alot recently, it also impinges on some recent threads.

In the past (as fas as I am aware) people learnt martial arts on a one to one basis (or in very small groups) and would train consistently until they received a teaching certificate. Thus there were no grades, the training could be intense and it could also progress so that the whole sum of the teachers knowledge could be transferred.

Now it seems we have large classes that just run indefinately and cater to the average ability of the student.

Does anyone feel that we may loose (or already have lost) alot due to the modern training method? Anyone think of improvements (e.g. just having uchi-deschi which you teach progressively, and though others can train freely they are not the target of the training).

Ian
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Old 05-05-2003, 09:40 PM   #2
PeterR
 
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I need to point out that even in dojos with relatively large groups there is a breakdown into senior and junior students. Most of what the junior students need to know can be, and always has, been imparted by senior students. As students advance they are taught by more senior students and progressively more time is spent by the head instructor.

Uchideshi by definition are a financial drain. In Koryu there were always uchideshi, sotodeshi, and those who just trained.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-07-2003, 11:26 AM   #3
ian
 
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Hi Peter,

I get the impression that his is maybe particular to Japan or more Dojos with hundreds of students. In all UK dojos I have trained at (probably around 10-12) they have taught as one class, and rarely they just had advanced sessions on seperate evenings.

I'm really talking from the perspective of a rather new class and few are capable of imparting more than the absolute basics.

Thanks for the feedback

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 05-07-2003, 02:43 PM   #4
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
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Ian said:
Quote:
In the past (as far as I am aware) people learnt martial arts on a one to one basis (or in very small groups) and would train consistently until they received a teaching certificate. Thus there were no grades, the training could be intense and it could also progress so that the whole sum of the teacher's knowledge could be transferred.
Ian, from the reading I've done recently (especially in Ellis Amdur's new book, Old School and the essays found at www.koryu.com), there were many differences between traditional koryu training methods and the typical, modern aikido training method.

For starters, the total enrollment of the school was small, and there was a lot of one on one instruction with the head of the school. More to the point, the nature of the skill set for the arts seems to be different than modern aikido. I've read a lot of descriptions for traditional schools that read something like, "school-name-here-ryu was founding in 1690 by founder's-name-here. It consists of 64 techniques for the sword with additional training in naginata, bo, and yari." In other words, there seems to be a fixed curriculum.

Aikido, on the other hand, focuses more on principles of body movement, blending, etc. My understanding is that, historically, O Sensei never categorized the attacks and techniques he practiced and taught. Rather, the attack and technique naming system that we use today was instituted by Kisshomaru during his tenure as doshu. My understanding is that the standardized techniques are meant to be a learning tool, but the highest expression of aikido is the spontaneous creation of technique.

Now, I have no first hand knowledge of any of the koryu arts, but it seems that the entire curriculum of a koryu art could be transmitted to a student, and the student would get a certificate stating as much. However, with aikido, there is no official certificate stating that one has learned the whole curriculum; probably because there was no full curriculum laid out by the founder.

Regarding instructional techniques: in most cases, the art was taught through kata. In two-person kata, the tradition is that the instructor would take the "losing" side and the student the "winning" side. Today, in aikido, few instructors take ukemi. That's something that I wish would change. I had an 8th dan (Yasu Kobayahsi sensei) take ukemi for me at a seminar, and it was an eye opening experience. My instructor likes to hop in and take ukemi too, especially when we're struggling with a technique and he can't immediately see why.

Also, if an ancient art featured the study of different types of weapons, some students would study sword (for example), while others would study jo -- even if the students all started at about the same time. Later, they would switch, and eventually, the whole group would have learned the same things. I guess this would be the equivalent of some people learning ukemi and others learning technique, and then switching the roles after a few months. I prefer our method of switching roles every couple of throws.
Quote:
Now it seems we have large classes that just run indefinitely and cater to the average ability of the student.
I'm not sure what you mean by this statement. Could you elaborate?

Regards,

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Old 05-09-2003, 12:52 PM   #5
jxa127
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All,

I'm surprised that there's not more discussion on this topic.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 05-09-2003, 02:28 PM   #6
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
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I've noticed that in Japan, many (most?) shihan have their "special" students, people who they really focus on. These students are often recognized as being future instructors. I think that this is a kind of unofficial uchideshi relationship. This is different from the senior/junior relationships in the dojo. Within one class, there are many levels of training going on. There does seem to be trouble when two people who train differently train together, but I've been told by various shihan that that is part of the training process, too.

As far as Peter's comment that uchideshi are a financial drain, in Aikikai Aikido, that doesn't seem to be the case. (I don't know about other arts.) Pre-WWII, people accepted as uchideshi to Morihei Ueshiba were from upper-class families and contributed to the dojo. After the war, the shihan most active now (Yamada, Chiba, Sugano,etc.) did receive food, lodging, and compensation (when teaching at branch dojo.) However, I 've been told that they were not uchideshi, that the uchideshi system was out of date. After the war, there was a more modern system to prepare young men to become professional instructors to spread Aikido world-wide.

Pre-war, the founder did have a system of techniques which numbered in the thousands. This was continued by Rinjiro Shirata, and to some extent by Gozo Shioda and Morihiro Saito. At the Aikikai Honbu dojo, the techniques were paired down to what were felt to be the essence of the art. This was due to the influence of Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Kisaburo Osawa, and probably Koichi Tohei (I think.) This was the base of what the post-war students were taught.
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Old 05-09-2003, 02:55 PM   #7
jxa127
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Quote:
Charles Hill wrote:
Pre-war, the founder did have a system of techniques which numbered in the thousands. This was continued by Rinjiro Shirata, and to some extent by Gozo Shioda and Morihiro Saito. At the Aikikai Honbu dojo, the techniques were paired down to what were felt to be the essence of the art. This was due to the influence of Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Kisaburo Osawa, and probably Koichi Tohei (I think.) This was the base of what the post-war students were taught.
Hi Charles, that's an interesting point. I think the pre-war practice of O Sensei and his students was closer to the Daito-ryu roots of the art than his post-war practice. My understanding of Daito-ryu is that it has an astounding multitude of named techniques -- far more than aikido.

Still, his post-war students, including his son, felt some need to name and systemize aikido techniques. Here's a quote from an excellent article on Aikido Journal's web site. The article is called "Touching the Absolute: Aikido vs. Religion and Philosophy, part 2", by Peter Goldsbury:
Quote:
By 1965 the Founder's art has been given the name aikido and is firmly established throughout Japan. It is also on the verge of a major expansion abroad. The main location of practice is the dojo in Wakamatsu-cho and training is guided by three major figures, who incidentally have different approaches to the art: Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, and Kisaburo Osawa. The prospective deshi is one of a sizeable number of special students, either living in the dojo and being looked after by Kisshomaru and his wife, after the manner of a sumo oyakata, or within easy commuting distance. The economy is recovering from the dire conditions obtaining immediately after the war and this is reflected in the conditions in the dojo. The Iwama shrine and dojo is also flourishing under the direction of Morihiro Saito. Practice there was never interrupted by the war, but the headquarters eventually moved back to Tokyo. The Founder is now 'above the clouds' and divides his time between Iwama and Tokyo, but also travels around Japan to visit his earlier disciples who have established dojo and also organisations of their own. He plays little part in the actual organisation, but nevertheless, a deshi entering the Aikikai Dojo or Iwama Dojo in 1965 still has enough personal contact with the Founder himself to warrant the claim that he is a deshi of the Founder, even though his training is actually guided in Iwama mainly by Morihiro Saito and in Tokyo by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei, Kisaburo Osawa, and increasingly by the other senior students like Seigo Yamaguchi, Sadateru Arikawa and Hiroshi Tada. The techniques have been systematised and given names, but virtually all the disciples were quietly creating their own teaching systems and these would eventually include weapons like the bokken, jo, and tanto....
The strong implication is that, at least after the war, O Sensei did not formalize and name the techniques he taught.

I think the significance of this is that, in the end, we cannot point to a full curriculum of techniques that define aikido.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 05-09-2003, 03:27 PM   #8
jxa127
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I should add that there's a lot more in the article mentioned above on the subject of systemizing the techniques in aikido. Especially in footnote 52.

Here, I admit to being a bit confused. O Sensei is quoted as saying there are many thousands of techniques. From the article mentioned above:
Quote:
n an interview recorded in Aikido, published in 1956, the Founder was asked how many techniques there were in aikido. He answered that there were, "around 3,000 basic techniques, each of which can be subdivided in 16 ways, making many tens of thousands in all. In fact, new techniques can be made to fit the circumstances." (Aikido Fukkoku-han, 1996, p.201).
It seems that the emphasis shoud not be on whether or even how O Sensei organized aikido, but rather how he taught it. From what I've read, O Sensei did not teach in a systemized manner, but his students did.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 05-09-2003, 09:37 PM   #9
Charles Hill
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Drew,

Thanks a lot for the quote from Peter Goldsbury's article. I'm not a paying member to that site so I couldn't read the article.

I was taught well over a thousand techniques by John Stevens who learned them from Rinjiro Shirata who was both a pre and post war student of the founder. These techniques were very specific and a part of specified series. For example, there is a series of ten nikkyo done suwari waza against katatori. Everything was presented in various series. The training was difficult, yet enlightening. It was very hard on the students who were new to Aikido. My personal feeling is that for new people, the Aikikai Honbu style is more appropriate (easier.)

After the war, O'Sensei's teaching/presentation of Aikido apparently did change. Terry Dobson's book, It's A Lot Like Dancing, really clarified it for me. It fits with what P. Goldsbury wrote.

This thread may not be the place for this, but I have some doubt about the Daito Ryu influence. I have read the overwheming evidence that the influence was strong, but I keep going back to the 1936 film of the founder. That should be where the Daito Ryu influence is clearest, yet I have never seen any Daito Ryu instructor that moved in such a fluid way. It looks much closer to what I see in mainstream Aikido.

Charles
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Old 05-10-2003, 02:15 PM   #10
zachbiesanz
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I've only been at this for three years, but here's what I've heard, and experienced:

Doing the same techniques as (and with) beginners can show you something new every time.

The basics seem to be far more important than the eccentric stuff.

Aikido is the art of hitting an assailant with the planet.
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