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Old 12-01-2003, 11:32 PM   #1
tedehara
 
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Cool Flash

From the "Samurai" Program thread
Quote:
Kensho Furuya wrote:
...The current trend of martial arts in general today is this type of performance art with a lot of acrobats and "flash" as they say. It is very visual and entertaining, like the movies, but often lacks the virtue of "usage" and "application" as a real martial art. In the movies, it is important to "sell" the technique visually to the audience, and this often sacrifices any "real" aspect of how the technique actually works. Oh well. . . . . .
In the Extreme Martial Arts (XMA) program on the Discovery Channel, they noted that if you were well grounded in the basics, you could go on to do flashy techniques. It was also noted that you needed the flash to get more points from the judges in competitive kata tournaments.

Is there any place in Aikido for flashy techniques? During a public demonstration it might help capture the audience's interest. Perhaps there no place in Aikido for such flash.

Once you feel confident in an Aikido technique, should you go on to try an advanced version? What is the difference between a basic version and an advanced version of the same technique? Is there a difference?

Any thoughts on this matter?

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 12-01-2003, 11:54 PM   #2
akiy
 
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Re: Flash

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
What is the difference between a basic version and an advanced version of the same technique?
A friend of mine often says that there are no "advanced" techniques -- they're just basic techniques done really, really well...

-- Jun

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Old 12-02-2003, 03:47 AM   #3
mj
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O Sensei used to allow people to attack him by holding out his little finger and suggesting they break it. He then whooped their asses.

He once held down a sumo wrestler with one finger.

He often allowed up to 8 or 12 people attack him at once with bokken or unarmed. They got whooped.

I heard that he once walked on dainty little tea-cups on TV. Or he would draw a little chalk circle around his feet and challenge people to knock him out of it.

You have to be able to sell your art. A flower has to attract bees if it is to survive to the next generation and so on.

Frankly...no-one is going to sign up for Aikido because they want 500 hours of frustrating ikkyo practice, are they?

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Old 12-02-2003, 03:57 AM   #4
Edward
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I guess doing an katatetori soto kaiten nage is the most efficient way for this technique. But how about, katatetori tenkan uchi kaiten ura. It is the most unlikely and the least realistic of all techniques, invloves 3-4 changes of direction, but it's so much fun to do and feels like dancing. It also requires so much coordination between uke and nage. Ultimately these so called advanced flashy techniques could have other "advanced" benefits than the immediate self defence purpose.
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Old 12-02-2003, 04:00 AM   #5
Thalib
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
A friend of mine often says that there are no "advanced" techniques -- they're just basic techniques done really, really well...
Akiyama-han... you have enlightened me...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
--------
http://funkybuddha.multiply.com/
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Old 12-02-2003, 08:42 AM   #6
AsimHanif
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They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". If this is true, in my opinion aikido sells itself. I think there will always be a certain amount of "flash" due to each practitioners stylistic interpretation. But I don't think we should ever sacrifice substance for style.

The most effective way to "sell" aikido is to demonstrate a technique in "real time" first. Hopefully the beauty (or art part) will be apparent and most of the uninitiated will have that "how did he do that" look in their eye.

I would also note that throughout the history of the arts (music, martial, prose, etc), "flash" has been known to delete the essense of the discipline. It is usually the "old school", through their vigilance, who remind us not to go too far.
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Old 12-02-2003, 09:32 AM   #7
Kensho Furuya
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I don't think Aikido has reached that point (I hope not, certainly not in my lifetime!) but many martial arts today are moving towards a "performance art" style in which the object is to impress the viewing audience with "flash" and fancy moves. If you look very carefully, you will notice that they move very fast, but there is no meaning of the movements nor do they even resemble a real, viable martial arts technique. Many older generation masters are lamenting such a development in their own arts. But, in performance style tournaments, demonstrating and competing in "kata," one can draw a lot of people and make a great deal of money - it always boils to that doesn't it?

In real martial arts - we "hide" the techniques. We never, never show what we are doing. Even O'Sensei said this very often: "I never show my technique, it is hidden - you have to steal it from me!"

We execute the technique but conceal it at the same time. Making the movements so obvious and showing off what one can do is simply exposing all your weapons to your opponent - what kind of strategy is that? What kind of martial art is that??? Today, I think, martial arts is moving away from a path of self-enlightenment or discovery of the true meaning of martial arts, but merely a venue to superficially satisfy an inner need to express ourselves or show off. It is in this way, that martial arts is dying. . . . . or, at least, evolving into something which is no longer a martial art. . . . Maybe as a way to express one self is ok, we all need this - but we must not confuse this with martial arts training. I apologize for being so critical about this point, but it is a matter of great concern to me and very close to my heart. Many thanks!
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Old 12-02-2003, 10:59 AM   #8
ian
 
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Quote:
mark johnston (mj) wrote:
You have to be able to sell your art. A flower has to attract bees if it is to survive to the next generation and so on.

Frankly...no-one is going to sign up for Aikido because they want 500 hours of frustrating ikkyo practice, are they?
I must come from a different school of thought to you Mark. Aikido is not for the masses. People want great results instantly, and that doesn't occur. In my dojo I'd rather have 4 really good students, than 100 students who are just trying to look good. Who cares if aikido doesn't attract people? not me - as long as there are enough to train with, I'm happy.

Yep, it is compassionate to make people aware of aikido, however the majority of people are not interested in 'harmony' from martial arts, they are interested in power. Differentiating those who will give up when they realise aikido requires hard training, from those who will stick at it is important. Flashy stuff does not help!

Ian
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Old 12-02-2003, 11:04 AM   #9
ian
 
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P.S. for beginners our training revolves around techniques, for intermediates it revolves around doing technique without thought, for more advanced, it involves integrating techniques such that there is no longer any technique.

This may sound like zen rubbish, like it did initially to me, but there is no other way to explain it.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 12-02-2003, 12:49 PM   #10
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A few artistic ramblings on "Flash." (I must admit that when I first saw the thread subject, I thought "breaking news!")

Consider music. For many, many years music was spiritual, was for ritual, was for expression of life (celebrations, sorrows, etc.), was for war. Everyone could make music in some way. Everyone could sing/chant/drone. But no flash. How many composers or performers can you name from before the year 1000? No flash. But things changed about 500 years ago, and got flashy. Bach. Vivaldi. Mozart. Handel. ... to MTV.

Now almost all music is flash. And the folks walking around with iPods stuck in their ears, and great sound systems at home, can hardly make their own music anymore. After 500 years of "flash," music is the realm of exotic professionals (and not-taken-seriously children), and most of us are just consumers who are entertained. We are attracted, but we are not participants, we are not practicing and training. We are simply attracted to consume.

What happend to the spirit of music; what happened to music as an expression of life, of my life? How many of us can still sing our life accompanied by nothing more than a drone, a drum, or a string or two? How many can sing life and the universe? How many of us can sing to each other, to comfort, to encourage, to educate, to form character? What is the martial arts equivalent of karaoke? Are we there yet?

Similar things happened with other arts. We live in a world which is dominated by commerce, a world which cultivates consumers. It is no surprise that "flash" and "market demands" will have a great influence on martial arts.
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:05 PM   #11
paw
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Quote:
Now almost all music is flash. And the folks walking around with iPods stuck in their ears, and great sound systems at home, can hardly make their own music anymore.
I think you exagerate. Now almost all music is flash. is an opinion. One you are entitled to, but one I don't share. As for making music, inner-city kids have no problem do so with minimal/no equipment (Rap).
Quote:
What is the martial arts equivalent of karaoke?
I am uncomfortable with comparisions between martial arts and music. Music, has a set start and finish...and is made cooperatively. Physical confrontations with set finishes are called "works". Works no more reflect reality than "Star Wars" accurately depicts history.

What is "flash"? I submit it is technique that is either unlikely or unable to be performed against a non-compliant attacker. If that definition is true, how can you determine "flash" without resistance?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:11 PM   #12
AsimHanif
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Frank - outstanding points! Ian - I also agree with you that aikido is not for everyone.

One thought though Frank. Are you saying that music is no longer "spiritual, for ritual, or expressions of life..."? Many may disagree but that is the essense of hip-hop and grundge. Look at all the boxers who enter the ring to rap or other athletes who utilize music. It gets them "hyped". We may debate regarding musicianship but I believe that music still evokes. National Anthems often stir the emotions of audiences. I also wouldn't call most jazz or gospel "flashy" or commercial, although of course there is a market for it. Jazz and gospel are just as spiritual as say Tibetan chanting. This seems more a matter of culture.

I love your expression "singing the essence of life" (I think I'll steal it :-). It reminds me of the sounds that babies make. Full of emotion not patterned (or polluted) speech without "realness", which is how we began this topic. So maybe it is OK or even necessary to be commericial or flashy in aikido as long as we hold on to the essence?

Asim
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:12 PM   #13
rachmass
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I guess that flash, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I know a very competent aikidoka, who adds flourish to everything he does on the mat. Quite frankly I think it looks ridiculous, but it doesn't diminish his ability. He is good, but this is extraneous movement that just seem to embellish rather than add anything. This is one of my ideas of what "flash" is. Another one that I think of is someone who is a high-flyer in ukemi. Loves to take the high falls, but takes them all the time when it isn't necessary. It is almost for the drama and the oooh factor that this person gets. This persons aikido is still very muscular and full of upper body strength. Many people (usually newer students) want to be just like this person. This to me is flash as well.

What do other people think of as flash?
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:15 PM   #14
Erik
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Quote:
mark johnston (mj) wrote:
Frankly...no-one is going to sign up for Aikido because they want 500 hours of frustrating ikkyo practice, are they?
Another honest soul. That makes two in one week.
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:19 PM   #15
Lyle Bogin
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"Flash" captures the mind, stimulates emotion, and serves as a gateway for many people to dig deeper into the arts and eventually see with better eyes.

I wouldn't be so hard on martial artists because they have learned to please the eye of an audience.

At the very least they have stimulated interest in the otherwise uninterested.

To critize performance martial arts is to admit ignorance as to its deeper meaning and relevance to the larger scheme.
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:33 PM   #16
rachmass
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Quote:
To critize performance martial arts is to admit ignorance as to its deeper meaning and relevance to the larger scheme.
please explain
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:40 PM   #17
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"Another one that I think of is someone who is a high-flyer in ukemi. Loves to take the high falls, but takes them all the time when it isn't necessary."

Good one Rachel. It reminds me of the football player who after he scores a TD celebrates for 10 minutes (and his team is still down by 20!). Now I get some much pleasure when I see a football player just place the ball on the ground. It is so understated that to me a football fan it is artful.

"To critize performance martial arts is to admit ignorance as to its deeper meaning and relevance to the larger scheme."

Rachel - not a criticism but "performance martial arts" seems almost like an oxymoron. Can you explain what is "performance martial arts"?

Asim
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Old 12-02-2003, 02:43 PM   #18
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Excuse me- Lyle not Rachel referring to 2nd quote above.
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Old 12-02-2003, 03:05 PM   #19
fvhale
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Dear Asim Hanif,

You asked, "Are you saying that music is no longer "spiritual, for ritual, or expressions of life..."?

No. This is the essential life of music (or other arts), and the examples you mentioned are wonderful. They should be part of our ordinary, everyday life, our joys and sorrows, our grandparents and grandchildren, our loves and wars. This aspect of the arts, whether martial or musical, will always be there. It is essential. But it is also different from the flashy, market-driven aspects of the arts.

If Paul Watt would forgive me, I'll take my musical thoughts a little further. Back in the 1980's I became familiar with monastic chant. It was interesting, but I was not monastic. It was interesting music, but not part of my life. Now monastic chant (of various religions) actually sells pretty well, and there are a number of professional groups performing the music. But they are not monastic, either.

In the late 1990's, I actually became much more involved with monasticism, and became part of a definite, living monastic community. I began to chant, not as performance, but as part of a monastic life. Chant became an integral, important, artistic, beautiful part of an entire way of life. It was not just nice music purchased on a CD; nor was it part of an advertisement or film. It was part of life. Very un-flashy, and very real.

To move to an example perhaps closer to martial arts, consider yoga for a moment. Yoga is now getting very popular and flashy. Even the moose in "Brother Bear" does yoga! But is it yoga, really? So many books on yoga. But a yogi recently asked about American yoga--how can you do yoga without a sangha?

The risk of the "flash" is that it can separate the art from the life. But the art of life continues anyway. So don't worry too much. As Dogen said, "The joyfully seeking mind is primary." Seek the reality, and the art will come. And enjoy the "Flash!" Ha!
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Old 12-02-2003, 03:30 PM   #20
ShawnS
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Flash is important.

I truly believe that "flash" is an important part of anything. Its what excited the imagination and draws individuals in to almost any activity. Yes, its easy to be a purest and say "We shouldn't have to show flash to get people interested" but what about youngsters? What about exciting the imagination. Isn't that a problem with a lot of education is the lack of flash to get youngsters excited?

Once someone is in the art for any length of time they will come to form their own purpose for Aikido. They will go beyond the flash, or they'll strive for it. That may be wrong, but that is their reason for being there.

I have a hard time believing that most of the people on this site were not drawn to this martial art or others by seeing something spectacular from that art... I know Seagal got me interested in Aikido originally. I know now that it wasn't necessarally a good reason, however, I am still here and loving it. So thats one student that has stuck it out because of flash.
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Old 12-02-2003, 03:40 PM   #21
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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It seems like a good idea to define just what we mean by 'flash'.

The common usage of the word implies something that is done for the sake of appearance, with no 'substance'; kind of like candy compared with real food. It's fairly pejorative; hard to say something nice to someone with 'flashy'.

This kind of 'flash' seems entirely out of place in martial arts, of course.

On the other hand, it seems that aikido masters can do all kinds of very impressive things that nonetheless are not 'flashy'. For instance, when they often condense a large basic movement into a small advanced movement. This is entertaining to watch, but 'flash' isn't quite the word for it, since it also demonstrates real skill.
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Old 12-02-2003, 04:22 PM   #22
Lyle Bogin
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Shawn S. beautifully states part of my point.

To continue, I would argue that flash is art. It may also be sport. Both art and sport are venues for unifying mind, body, and spirit. Have you ever seen an incredible live wushu performace? Or even one of those Paul Mitchell kids really give their best performace from the heart? Hundreds if not thousands of hours of time are spent by those students in persuit of their art. Their coaches dedicate themselves to mentoring and teaching. Human relationships are formed, personal growth occurs, and the reputation of martial arts in the eye of the general public gains ground.

I believe it is important for martial artists to be comfortable on all reasonable levels, martial and artistic. When it is time to perform, one should do so with grace and flash. Maintain the essential character of the martial art, yet broaden its application to that of pleasing an audience. In aikido we often hear about "capturing the mind of the agressor". When we give a good performace, we can capture minds by the thousands and lead them all.

Last edited by Lyle Bogin : 12-02-2003 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 12-02-2003, 04:39 PM   #23
rachmass
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not to belabor a point, but:
Quote:
To critize performance martial arts is to admit ignorance as to its deeper meaning and relevance to the larger scheme.
It is the "to admit ingnorance as to its deeper meaning" part that I want you to talk about. You make the point about it bringing people in to the art, but what do you mean about the deeper meaning and relevance.

So, I am admitting ignorance and want you to explain it as you so emphathically state.

thanks, Rachel
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Old 12-02-2003, 04:44 PM   #24
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Shawn wrote: "I have a hard time believing that most of the people on this site were not drawn to this martial art or others by seeing something spectacular from that art... I know Seagal got me interested in Aikido originally."

I believe you. However, I fell in love with and started training in aikido 17 years before Mr. Seagal made his first movie, even before Mr. Carradine brought "Kung Fu" to American television. The attraction was interior and philosophical, and also fun!, and just part of my life influenced by Japanese and Chinese cultures. Of course, I can't remember not knowing how to eat with hashi, either. Maybe I'm old generation and not good for the statistics.
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Old 12-02-2003, 05:23 PM   #25
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Seems to me that if a person's aikido technique is solid and embodies precision and relaxed integrity, then pyrotechnics are inspirational 'gravy'. From Rachel's first description it seems that both teachers' skill levels are on a par as far as ability, I believe both sorts of teachers have a lot to offer. In defense of 'flash', as long as the technique works and has precision and integrity, I think it's great. It adds to charisma, and can be a 'value added' draw to attract new students during demos, etc. Personally, when I see a person doing something beautiful and creative as if second nature, whether it be art or music or aikido (whatever), I sometimes get carried away and say to myself, "I want to look/be like that! If they give lessons maybe I can look/be like that! I'll give it a try and see..." (yeah, I'm really delusional). On the other hand, another student told me the reason he started aikido is that he watched a class and saw this nondescript little sensei flinging large men all over the mat with a flick of the wrist, and he said to himself, "I guess if this person can do that, then so can I..."
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