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Old 04-10-2003, 05:32 PM   #1
Hagen Seibert
Dojo: TendoRyu
Location: Freiburg
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aikido attacks

Hi,

Iīd like to raise again a question I posted some time ago.
Last time discussion got out of control and turned to Aikido-is-or-is-not-effective.
Hope I can avoid that by asking differently.

In mainstream Aikido styles there is a set of attacks to train with.
Usually something like

a) grip of the hand (ai-hanmi-katate-tori, gyaku-.., ryote-..)
b) long strikes (yokomen-uchi, shomen-uchi, shomen-tsuki)
c) starting from the front going behind (ushiro-ryote-tori, ushiro-kubi-shime)
d) and some other

What you usually do not find are

a) straight punches
b) short chops
c) kicks of any sort

Iīm talking about what I call "mainstream" Aikido, I do know that some teachers include a few of the latter attack forms, or even more than a few. But most teachers donīt and thatīs what I call the mainstream.

Well, the usual attacks forms are a bit away from reality, which would mean attack to destroy.
E.g. shomen-uchi can be spotted miles before impact, leaving quite time to react. Same with yokomen-uchi. Striking to the belly from the distance as in shomen-tsuki is dangerous, because the other oneīs fist can get to your head earlier. Similar with grips to the hand from a distance, most sensibly the other one will let you have the hand and strike. So if you really want to beat up someone, donīt attack with Aikido attacks.

I have read that Sensei Mochizuki once adressed this matter to O-Sensei, because he felt there was a deficiency, but was turned down. In consequence he developed a style which included the realistic attacks by himself. (That is one teacher besides the mainstream.)

So, would you think that…

a) …this just developed because teachers were too busy to getting the basic techniques on to their students and neglecting the more faster and potentially destructive attack forms, because e.g. students were not really interested in fighting or e.g. to keep training safer or something else. Was it a gradual decline by time ?

b) …there is a certain purpose in that, because Aikido is a peaceful art, thus it might have been wanted that aikidoka do not develop effective attacking skills. It might be a purpose to keep aikidoka incompetent to attack ?
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Old 04-10-2003, 11:06 PM   #2
jxa127
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Hagen,

You're begging the question. You offer two rather negative possible answers to your own question. No wonder you got arguments the last time!

Anyway, shomenuchi and yokomenuchi should not be done in such a way that they can be seen a mile away. Done right, you hardly see them at all before they fall.

More to the point, they represent the kind of energy you might get in an attack. Shomenunchi is a lot like an overhead icepick knife attack (like in the movie Psycho if you're not sure what I'm talking about). Yokomenuchi can be like a baseball bat swung at your head. Menutsuki can be like an upper cut. The energy is what's important.

There are many reasons why people might grab you. If you're a policeman, the grab might be to keep you from drawing your weapon. The grab may be because you've attempted to strike them.

No, aikido attacks are not necessarily realistic, but they express principles that make it easier to learn proper responses. Given time and experience, one can work on more complicated and realistic attacks.

Regards,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 04-11-2003, 06:30 AM   #3
Aikilove
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The long answere is in the line of what Drew wrote...

The short answer:

We train this way because it was the way O-sensei wanted us to train and it seemed to work for him. With patience comes skill...

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 04-11-2003, 07:09 AM   #4
MikeE
 
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In my training under the auspices of USAF, Tendo Ryu, and IAA, throughout my aikido career, I found we did many non-traditional attacks in our training in all of these organizations.

In other words, I haven't found this deficiency.

Mike Ellefson
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Old 04-11-2003, 08:03 AM   #5
paw
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Quote:
More to the point, they represent the kind of energy you might get in an attack.
After hearing this a nidan turned to me and said, "A high kick might have the angle and the same energy as yokomen, but it's never felt the same to me." As this fellow had been training for 12 years at the time, it made me feel validated as I've always felt the same as he.
Quote:
No, aikido attacks are not necessarily realistic, but they express principles that make it easier to learn proper responses. Given time and experience, one can work on more complicated and realistic attacks.
I'm not so sure that attacks should become more complicated, or that more complicated attacks = more realistic attacks. (You may not be asserting this, I'm not sure .... rough night, mea culpa)

I cannot help to think of boxing in this. A better boxer attacks using the same punches as a beginner (jab, cross, hook, uppercut). At a higher level the attacks are more skillfully executed and more skillfully set up. Thinking on this more, I would say the same thing about wrestling, muay thai, bjj, judo, and sambo as well as aikido.

If I may play devil's advocate....

If aikido attacks are used to show principles and not for "realism", why not choose a "realistic" attack to show the principles?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 04-11-2003, 08:14 AM   #6
Alec Corper
 
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With respect Hagen, this question is most often asked by beginners, probably because if you cant answer it for yourself after a year or two of training you will have quit by then.

No you cant beat someone up using aikido attacks. the whole mindset of "beating someone up" does not fit in Aikido, which is a martial art of response to another persons energy, rather than initiating aggression in order to win a non-confrontation.However as Drew Ames said, any basic attck can become realistic if the nage understands focus, body movement, timing and targetting. These things come with practise on the mat, not theorizing.

All techniques work some of the time with some of the people, the right response at the right moment is also a sensitivity that cannot be forced but can be accelerated. I would recommend you ask your teacher how best to accomplish your goals within the framework of "traditional mainstream Aikido", or look for an attack oriented art.

respectfully, Alec Corper

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 04-11-2003, 08:35 AM   #7
jxa127
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Quote:
paul watt (paw) wrote:
After hearing this a nidan turned to me and said, "A high kick might have the angle and the same energy as yokomen, but it's never felt the same to me." As this fellow had been training for 12 years at the time, it made me feel validated as I've always felt the same as he.
Hi Paul.

How one percieves energy and the feel of an attack is a very subjective thing. I'm not sure a high kick has the same energy and direction (down and to the side at an angle) as yokomenuchi, but I guess it's close. When we've worked with kicks in our dojo, we've found them to necessitate body movements similar to what we'd do with tuski and yokomen.


Quote:
I'm not so sure that attacks should become more complicated, or that more complicated attacks = more realistic attacks. (You may not be asserting this, I'm not sure .... rough night, mea culpa)
No, I wasn't really asserting that. More complicated might include combinations. More realistic might include jabs and uppercuts (for example).
Quote:
If I may play devil's advocate....

If aikido attacks are used to show principles and not for "realism", why not choose a "realistic" attack to show the principles?
I'd say that the reason the attacks aren't realistic is the same as why the techniques aren't realistic either. We practice rather long techniques like kaitenage which draw out the movement beyond it's natural time frame in order to better study the movement. The same can be said of a certain way we do iriminage with nage doing two turns.

One of the things I like about my dojo is that we'll do a long version of a technique, and then work on a shorter, more realistic version right after.

So, I've been taught that we draw out the attacks and the techniques so that we can study them better. Once we've worked with the "large print" versions, we can work to regular sized attacks and techniques. That does not mean that the attacks are wimpy. They need to have strong projection and a constant movement toward nage.

Regards,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 04-11-2003, 11:05 AM   #8
opherdonchin
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It seems to me like the range of possible responses to the original post boil down into three general categories:

1) People who find that the 'fundamental' set of attacks in AiKiDo provide sufficient variety and power to fulfil their training needs. Responses from these people focus on showing why this is true for them.

2) People who feel a need to explore other attacks in order to feel like their training is sufficiently comprehensive. Their responses focus on showing that this is possible within the context of their Aikido training.

3) People who feel the same need, but do not feel that they have the freedom for this exploration within the context of their Aikido training. Here there is a tendency to echo and justify the original questions.

I'm not sure where that categorization takes us. I guess I'm wondering where else we could possibly go with this beyond just noting that people tend to fall into these three categories.

Maybe I'm just confused.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 04-11-2003, 11:32 AM   #9
Erik
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Paul, I agree completely.

A yokomen uchi strike, as most of us practice it, is one thing, a yokomen uchi strike, as most of us practice it.
Quote:
If aikido attacks are used to show principles and not for "realism", why not choose a "realistic" attack to show the principles?
Because it's not done that way.

And, that is, that!
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Old 04-11-2003, 02:22 PM   #10
Doug Mathieu
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Hi

Thought I would add a comment or two. I attended a knife fighting seminar a few days ago done by our local police combat instructor.

A few things he said seem to have relevence to your questions even though it was not an Aikido seminar.

First he told us in a Western Canadian Police study done to analyze the most common form of attack an officer might expect to face by someone it was found to be a sucker punch delivered in a roundhouse manner. The fist would start at the persons side or even a bit behind their back hidden from the officer.

This style of punch resembles a Yokomenuchi attack in some ways especially if practiced in a large way rather than a sword cut manner.

Another comment he had which has crossover had to do with speed of training. He made a point of telling us not to be fast with the attack. As a training guide they found with police recruits, etc it did not matter the speed at which they trained. Once they learned a movement well enough their defense speed adapted to the attack. Consequently it was better to go slow to ensure proper movement and detail was obsorbed.

Interestingly he made a comment about the usual attack was intended to destroy as mentioned by Hagen. That was one of the reasons a roundhouse sucker punch was favored. It gives the attacker the best chance of knocking you down on the 1st shot and this tends to be a longer distance attack. The instructor told us the average mugger, etc is not interested in "fighting". He wants to hurt you to accomplish his goal. Striking at you is the tool.

I think in the context of this an average encounter probably won't see many kicks or boxer type jabs. I realize there will be exceptions and I don't have personal experience to validify it. I do trust the comments of the constable.

The last comment has to do with a question raised at the seminar and that was what about the attackers other hand? In a knife context it could be a punch at the defender as they applied a defense against the limb which the knife was being manipulated from. His answer was most people attacking you will not be a trained fighter. They will be focused on the 1st attack to take you down and will not be applying much in the way of tactics and multiple strikes.

From my comments above here is what I think.

1. I disagree Aikido attacks are completey unrealistic

2. I agree with someone who has said each of the attacks we do train with often have a training version and a more applied version.

3. a) I don't think teachers just train the way they do because its easier or they are to busy. I think its because its a good training method in general. We may not always see the connections but thats probably our lack not the training

4. b)obvioulsy because I disagree with your premise it follows I would not agree with this idea.

I think your real question is are the attacks real?

I'm sure there are times when what we use for attacks won't be complete or cover all possibilities but in general I think they are applicable and cover a range broad enough to learn defensive Aikido.
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Old 04-11-2003, 05:35 PM   #11
MattRice
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
...Maybe I'm just confused.
Nope. You aren't. The problem with questions like this is there isn't an answer. People have opinions, but they're just that: opinions. There is no The Truth about this.

Perhaps my truth or your truth goes into one of your three categories.

I know one thing: not all yokomens are created equal. Training against one person's 'unrealistic attack' can be a whole hell of a lot different than the next person's 'unrealistic ATTACK!"
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Old 04-11-2003, 07:49 PM   #12
Erik
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Douglas, despite the tonality of my post, I agree with much of what you wrote.

However, the simple act of turning over the hand changes the power and the angle of the attack, at least for me. To my mind, a hook is not the same thing as a yokomen uchi strike because of this although it is probably safer to work with.
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Old 04-12-2003, 03:04 AM   #13
sanosuke
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straight punches, uppercuts, front kicks and side kicks can be considered as 'tsuki'. hooks, roundhouse kicks can be considered as 'yokomen' attacks. It depends on how you perceive an attack, like in my case if my partner tries to attack with a shomen-uchi I tried to visualize that he/she not trying to attack me with shomen uchi but with a steel bar or a bottle, for example. For tantodori practice I prefer to use blunt kitchen knife rather than wooden one. I think it's useful to overcome our fear to attack and to do techniques in a more correct way.
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Old 04-12-2003, 03:37 PM   #14
Hagen Seibert
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Hi folks,

thanks for your replies, some comments:

to Drew:

No, aikido attacks are not necessarily realistic, but they express principles that make it easier to learn proper responses. Given time and experience, one can work on more complicated and realistic attacks

You have to start with slow attacks to learn the technique basically.

The principles do work for other "advanced" attacks.

But, my observation is, that people in "mainstream" Aikido do not take this next step.

I saw Yudansha who donīt know what to do when suddenly confronted with an attack out of the set.

To Paul:

With patience comes skill...

Yes, though there are places, where you can dig for ages and wonīt find gold.

To Mike:

In other words, I haven't found this deficiency.

Good. Then youīve got a dojo off my definition of "mainstream".

To Opher:

Maybe I'm just confused.

No, youīre very sensible. (Like most people who are questioning their thoughts.)

To Matt:

The problem with questions like this is there isn't an answer. People have opinions, but they're just that: opinions.

I did not ask for eternal thruths. Your opinion would be fine. And if one thinks he cannot share my observation and wonders where this bullshit might come from, fine! I can imagine that many people think like that, either because they are not in the "mainstream", or because they are happy with what they do.

To Paul:

If aikido attacks are used to show principles and not for "realism", why not choose a "realistic" attack to show the principles?

Basically, thatīs what Iīm asking.

And thatīs where I came to the mentioned 2 possible answers:

a)Itīs too difficult and teachers neglect.

b)Thereīs a method behind it. Incompetence of attack is perhaps wanted. (I know this idea seems queer and radical, even paranoid.)

To Eric:

Because it's not done that way.

Yes. But why ????
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Old 04-12-2003, 03:42 PM   #15
Hagen Seibert
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Ahh, this looks completly different now.

All formatīs gone.

For better understanding: I always start with a quotation from the mentioned person.

Sorry!
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Old 04-13-2003, 02:32 PM   #16
Aikilove
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You qouted me but used pauls name...

You asked why we do it this way... I say: because O-sensei seemed to want it that way and all his ushideshis trained under him that way and so they normally teach (taught) that way etc. etc.

Further more one needs to take responsibility for ones own training. One shouldn't just repeat the choriography of the techniques (except in the beginning ). Every single time every movement should be filled with 100% awareness about everything around this techniques!

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 04-13-2003, 10:40 PM   #17
opherdonchin
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Quote:
You asked why we do it this way... I say: because O-sensei seemed to want it that way and all his ushideshis trained under him that way and so they normally teach (taught) that way etc. etc.
Of course, sometimes reasons like this keep us with things like the QWERTY keyboard and the English system of measurement. Personally it seems to me that most of my teachers stay with the standard attacks because they really do provide a sufficiently large variety to keep them interested.

I've been told that in Aikido the techniques aren't important at all, and that Aikido is all in the way you hold your body, the way you move, and the way you connect to your partner. I've seen senseis who led me to believe that this was really true. If it is the teachers goal to focus the students attention on his or her movement and away from the details of the techniques, it would make sense to use a very limited set of attacks and techniques.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 04-14-2003, 01:11 AM   #18
Joe Jutsu
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Opher-

I'm new to the discussion board and I don't yet know how to include your quote in a neat grey box, but your comment about Aikido not being about specific techniques but about learning how to move was great. I could not agree more, nor have said it better myself.

Thank you,

Joe
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Old 04-14-2003, 02:56 AM   #19
bogglefreak20
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Hagen says: "So if you really want to beat up someone, donīt attack with Aikido attacks."

From my point of view, if you want to beat someone up, you shouldn't be doing Aikido.

With Friendly Regards,

Miha
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Old 04-15-2003, 01:59 AM   #20
Gopher Boy
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Hi all,

I had given a little thought to this subject a few weeks ago but left it by the wayside thinking that I would be happy enough to get a decent grip on 'stylised' aikido attacks!

But I suppose there is one answer just there. This is really the opinion that practice of Aikido is teaching you the mechanics of the body and basic principles that you apply as needed when you are proficient enough. Obviously we can't be taught every conceivable attack. Sure there might be ones more relevant to us today, but Aikido was not created 'today', instead having it's roots in ancient times, when these 'stylised' attacks would look rather commonplace with a sword or jo added!

The reason this was kept in the 'syllabus' so to speak when O Sensei created Aikido I attribute to them being still of great use in understanding body mechanics. Certainly when O Sensei developed Aikido proper it was not usual for people to go around cutting each other up with swords.

Another answer would be the question: "do all attacks of a certain type have to be given in exactly the same way every time for the technique to work?" Not really, no. The more experience you have, the easier it is to adapt to more radical differences in attack. This of course ties into the first answer.

One thing my teacher always stresses is "get off the line" and "Aikido is about making yourself slim", maintaining that if nothing else, you avoid the knife thrust or punch. It is amazing how much different an attack looks when you are correctly "off the line". Where exactly you move to in realtion to the attacker can change how effective your technique is. If you get too far back or too the side, then you may well have to try a different technique. Same goes for not far enough.

The point is that in this kind of situation, the kind of attack is not terribly important - the application of your techniques will change depending on where you are.

But - quite apart from that...

When ever I see a fight, the most common attacks are (thanks Douglas,) the hook sucker-punch (we call it a 'king-hit' here in oz) and a grab of a wrist, shoulder, lapel or shirt front. Of course, this usually is to keep the victim close in while a few nice meaty punches are lovingly dolled out.

Still doesn't resolve the 'no jab technique' issue, but in these situations it is irrelevant. All we need in Aikido is contact or attempted contact. Once the attacker grabs a wirst, shirt etc....., there is the opening we need to perform the technique. Of course, you must be sufficiently fast to avoid a pummelling, but you would need to be every bit as fast to stop the punch too!

I think a lot of people would agree that these are the most common kinds of attacks. And as such, Aikido provides some rather effective ways of dealing with them - especially the grabs!

Although it sounds as though I have violent tendencies (I don't,) I am always amused when I see a fight. Mostly it is just the old grab the shirt and punch the other guy in the head, to which the 'defense' is almost invariably: grab the attackers shirt and try to punch him in the head harder and quiker. No one really ever thinks of attacking the hand that is holding them, which, through my aikido practice I believe is the most effective, and even painful.

cheers and sorry for the long speil.

gb
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Old 04-15-2003, 07:53 AM   #21
sanosuke
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Quote:
From my point of view, if you want to beat someone up, you shouldn't be doing Aikido.
Very good point Miha.
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:46 PM   #22
Jesse Lee
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I am on board with the original guy posting this question. His point is not that he wants to be a better attacker; he asks whether we are really training for street-effective defense. Street-effective defense goes beyond body-awareness; we could go join yoga or Feldenkrais for that.

I get that boken and jo training, for instance, are not realistic waza for the street, but they do offer more perspective on focus and extension of ki. I'm down with alla that. But I am frustrated by the same thing, training in aiki against unrealistic attacks. (Although I really like the comments above by Douglas Mathieu!)

If we all start from the premise that we are training for street-effective self-defense, in addition to the more profound and spiritual benefits of aiki, then it's weak to say things like: "Yokomen? That is like a baseball bat swing. Tsuki? That is like an uppercut or a front kick."

If we expect to see baseball bats and uppercuts and kicks on the street, then it seems to me we should train with all those things in the (non-ki-society) dojo, in the core curriculum. If it is as Phill Green says, "I am always amused when I see a fight ... it is just the old grab the shirt and punch the other guy in the head," then we should train often for someone grabbing our gi and punching us in the head. We can slow the attacks down, we can stylize them and then get more realistic later, but I wish they were part of the core curriculum. O Sensei did not do it that way and he was lightyears ahead of us, I get that, but I still wish that attacks were realistic.

A better example than all the preceding: consider the wrestler, intent on kicking your ass, who shoots for your legs. You do *not* want that homey to suck you up in a single-leg or double-leg takedown, b/c then for all your training, you are flat on your back underneath an angry wrestler. What is aikido's answer? Well, who knows, nobody trains for shoots in the "mainstream." A yudansha tells me that kaiten-nage is aikido's answer, but I dunno. Wrestlers answer the shoot with a sprawl, b/c a sprawl is what actually *works*.

I think we aikidoka, me included, buy into the notion that if we train long and hard enough, the attack is irrelevant. Attacks will break like water upon our strong and centered firmament, and we will scatter all attacks like so many toothpicks. Either that, or we convey such centered assurance that conflict will avoid us entirely.
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Old 04-17-2003, 09:41 PM   #23
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Jesse,

Many people might tell you that you can think of these situations as puzzles left for the 'interested student.' Nothing stops you from getting together with someone after class with a baseball bat and figuring it out on the basis of what you've been taught. If you can't figure it out, then maybe it's time to ask a teacher (again after class). People in our dojo do things like that all the time.

Mind you, I don't see anything wrong with doing those things in the 'regular curriculum' either. I don't see anything terribly right about it, either. Like I said earlier: some people feel a real need for that kind of stuff, other people really don't. The trick is to figure out what kind you are and then to find ways to get your needs met.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:54 AM   #24
Jesse Lee
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Yeah, that is a good way to look at it. We have padded bats and stuff at the dojo, guess I should take charge of my own training more and go feed my need.

, can't find m s
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Old 04-20-2003, 01:39 AM   #25
jimvance
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Quote:
Phill Green wrote:
Another answer would be the question: "do all attacks of a certain type have to be given in exactly the same way every time for the technique to work?" Not really, no. The more experience you have, the easier it is to adapt to more radical differences in attack.
I agree with you Phill, but let me play devil's advocate for a second. One way I interpreted your comment was that effectiveness could be considered more important than form. Most people would say "yes" to this, but shy away from the philosophy of "the end justifies the means". So we are running along a razor's edge here, philosophically speaking. In the West, effectiveness plays a critical role; in Japan, it is adherence to kata (form). After arriving at a moderate level of competency, I feel it is easy to be effective against the inexperienced, but my competency has been gauged by experimentation within various forms and patterns. What I find very hard is twofold: Matching effectiveness (end results) with precision (the process). This becomes really apparent when training in a both kata and randori with more experienced people (like my teachers and instructors).

To get back to the heart of the question, no one ever steps onto the mat knowing how to do aikido. It is a learned activity (some have more ability and potential than others, but it is still learnable). Attacks must be standardized to allow people to learn (and to depart from the standards too). If Phill's statement was directed to those who have gone above the beginning levels (maybe about Sandan and above), then I wholeheartedly agree. But I think that most of the reading populace here are still working to achieve those levels (hence my devil's advocate-ing).

The other half of my (hopefully good-natured) prodding concerns the idea of "the technique". Is the technique only something that tori (nage) does to a willing participant, then switches off so that the other person gets a chance to practice "the technique"? There have been many instances that I spent most of my time on the mat as uke and learned more about "the technique" than I did as tori. I also find that giving an effective, consistent, honest attack coupled with taking (sometimes bonejarring) ukemi was just as hard as the requirements made on me mentally as tori. The attack seems to me to be just as important to the overall form (kata) as "the technique", or the effective end-result.

What a riddle! And I chose not to respond to the original question simply because I don't practice "mainstream Aikido". Please don't hate me.

Jim Vance
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