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Old 07-06-2004, 08:29 PM   #1
Ian Williams
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Practice soft to fight hard?

This is from a Japanese Jujitsu perspective, but I'm sure it applies to Aikido as well, and you guys are nice, so I'll ask it here anyway.


When we're practicing techniques that involves locks or wrist throws for example, I'm careful of the need to be "gentle" with Uke. I don't apply a wrist throw at full speed or strength, and I'm sure I wouldn't want the same done to me. I don't crank on joint locks at full speed/strength as many of them would result in joint separation/bone breakages etc.

We practice these techniques often, to the point where we are "skilling" then, ie: removing them from concious thought to automated action (ie: body movement, block, unbalance, technique).

Is there a potential to automate "going easy" on Uke to the point where if we had to use this on the street, we'd end up doing a half arsed wrist-throw or lock and the person would be able to escape and damage us in the process?

For those of you who have had to use your Aikido in real life defence situations, how hard has it been to go from "dojo strength/speed" to street strength/speed? Is this a problem with arts that don't encourage full speed/resisting opponents?
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Old 07-06-2004, 09:48 PM   #2
shihonage
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
For those of you who have had to use your Aikido in real life defence situations, how hard has it been to go from "dojo strength/speed" to street strength/speed? Is this a problem with arts that don't encourage full speed/resisting opponents?
http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/martialarts.html is a good page to read.

Last edited by shihonage : 07-06-2004 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 07-06-2004, 11:15 PM   #3
Ian Williams
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

thanks aleski.. I don't really think that page has answered my questions however...
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Old 07-07-2004, 01:21 AM   #4
batemanb
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
Is there a potential to automate "going easy" on Uke to the point where if we had to use this on the street, we'd end up doing a half arsed wrist-throw or lock and the person would be able to escape and damage us in the process?
I think that is a distinct possibility, and something that I have thought about many times before too. In class, by all means treat your uke's kindly, being soft in the technique or applying at a comfortable speed, but, it's still gotta work! I always try to apply in the manner that you have suggested, but I also make sure that the technique is working and that uke can't get up (unless I'm doing it wrong ).

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:00 AM   #5
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Novice opinion.
I find that doing the moves "softly" is not the same as doing them "messily." Slow-motion, gentle techniques can be perfectly effective. It's often about maintaining connection to uke's speed and preventing the development of gaps, for instance in grips. Once that empty but clear and solid form is there, it can be pretty easily injected with adrenaline and sped up. Honestly, I think that in a fight, it takes a real master /not/ to pour a huge amount of power into everything.
A reminder that this has been a novice opinion based on limited experience.
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Old 07-07-2004, 05:37 AM   #6
paw
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
Is there a potential to automate "going easy" on Uke to the point where if we had to use this on the street, we'd end up doing a half arsed wrist-throw or lock and the person would be able to escape and damage us in the process?
What are you training for?

As closely as possible, you want a portion of your training to mirror your actual environment or the actual event.

Always going slow and steady and then expecting to be able to perform the same way at full speed isn't realistic. Think about it: I can stop a shot on goal from a three year old, therefore I'm ready for the pro club?

I think it's Lynn whose signature line reads "we don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training".

Regards,

Paul
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Old 07-07-2004, 08:44 AM   #7
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I've been told the way you practice is the way you will ultimately act when put into the situation outside of the dojo. I don't know that i believe that completely though. Obviously we cannot practice to the extent we may need to use our art on the street. We can however put the thought in our mind as we are working our technique. We need to know in our mind where that fine line is and know when to cross it.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:23 AM   #8
jxa127
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
For those of you who have had to use your Aikido in real life defence situations, how hard has it been to go from "dojo strength/speed" to street strength/speed?
A few years ago, I had to use my training for real. I had no trouble doing a good throw, and I found that I even had time to adjust my throw so that I cusioned the person's fall and at the same time went into the pin. Things happened very quickly and without much conscious thought. I'd been training for about three years in aikido at that point.

Quote:
Is this a problem with arts that don't encourage full speed/resisting opponents?
I'm not sure what your question means. As far as I know, aikido does encourage full speed and resistance. An essential part of training is working from a static, locked down attack to a very fluid, full-speed attack. As uke, at our dojo, we are expected to take advantage of problems in nage's technique to press home our attacks (which ultimately can stop nage's technique altogether).

We vary the speed and intensity of our attacks based on nage's experience and his or her stated preference. In other words, I'll often ask my uke to go slowly the first couple of times. Then I'll ask for faster and/or full-speed attacks.

Regards,

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-Drew Ames
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:38 AM   #9
Sam
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

The dojo is an environment which is about as far as you can get from the outside world. Taking something from one to the other is exceptional difficult. You will act very differently in each environment. Almost everybody will move quickly and will do things hard if they have the motivation to do so - this is involuntary. It is stiffness and going too quickly that could prevent you from succeeding in application of technique rather than a lack of speed or power - this happens in randori does it not? Under severe pressure the main problems are - loss of motor skills, shortness of breath and lack of decision making ability. However, the training environment is where you can work slowly and softly without pressure to increase your understanding of how to acheive what you want to. If you can't do something in the idea circumstances, it is impossible under pressure. Trying to change what you do for 'the street' in the dojo invariably leads to crap technique, injuries and in extreme cases an increase in aggressive behaviour among attendees. Sometimes going slowly or softly means you can do something before your 'uke' even realises what is happening......
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:54 AM   #10
Marshall Sandoz
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I train fellow police officers in defensive tactics for my department. Police work is about as "real" as it gets on the streets. Even we don't train at full speed or apply techniques to each other at full strength. I don't imagine that my students would be able to report for duty after training if we did and I would be doing a lot of explaining to the chief. We train our officers at a pace that allows the technique to be applied correctly and effectively, which is the purpose of training in the first place. The fact is, people just don't learn much from the side lines or the emergency room. As long as the technique is learned correctly, applied correctly, and practiced correctly the end result is technique that is very effective. I approach my aikido training in exactly the same way and so far it's worked for me.
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Old 07-07-2004, 03:24 PM   #11
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I know that during periods of time when an instructor forced me to slow down, and go soft, but maintain form and content, my aikido got better, even when I sped up again. It seemed counter intuitive to me at the time, but it worked.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 07-07-2004, 06:11 PM   #12
Amassus
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I am a beginner in the big scheme of things, but this is my take.

When you train slowly you are building a foundation of motor memory and responses. What training slowly doesn't do is allow your mind to adapt so much to the stress of a 'real' situation. So the slow training equips you with the skills needed to deal with the situation physically but not mentally.
However, this is what randori and jiyuwaza is for is it not? To allow you to overcome the stress responses and then apply what your muscles already know.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:27 PM   #13
Ian Williams
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Quote:
paul watt wrote:
What are you training for?
To learn the art.. and to gain skills in self defence

Quote:
As closely as possible, you want a portion of your training to mirror your actual environment or the actual event.

Always going slow and steady and then expecting to be able to perform the same way at full speed isn't realistic. Think about it: I can stop a shot on goal from a three year old, therefore I'm ready for the pro club?
I understand that, hence my post in the first place... For instance a technique we learn pretty early is a side arm break. We learn to put the technique on fairly gently as it's a hyper-extension of the elbow and can easilly lead to serious injury when cranked on too tight. It's just about intuitive now for me to do this move gently and not to follow through with the crank which would actually hyper-extend and destroy the elbow. It's impossible to train realistically with this move, as we like out partners to be able to train with us tomorrow

Having full speed and genuine attacks is critical. I have no problems with that, and my issues are not against slack, loose or slow "gimmie" attacks, the issue is with the application of techniques DESIGNED to cause injury.
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:30 PM   #14
Ian Williams
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

thanks for the comments all, some things to think about..
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Old 07-07-2004, 08:17 PM   #15
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I would say that nage's rate of action is always a matter of timing. Sometimes it is slow and sometime it is fast - sometimes a little of both through the duration of a given tactical application. This is so in both training and in field applications. Thus, one is always going to be able to find examples from both the dojo and from the street when "slow" worked just fine. That is not the point however. So what I'm saying applies mostly to uke - and mostly in training environments that are geared toward addressing extremely lethal situations.

In my experience, one's training must include training with uke that have high intensity - which, among other things, would include speed and thus the notion of "fast". Certain energies are more present and/or more amplified at higher levels of intensity. They simply cannot be reproduced in "lite" training no matter how insightful uke may be in slow training. Things like timing, distance, sensitivity, blending, etc., are not complete in their training till these higher levels of intensity are experienced and reconciled. (And this is all outside of things like adrenalin dumps, etc. - which are real factors in and of themselves.) This is why when most folks do just fine in an hour of "slow" training concerning such things, they always find themselves off, quickly fatigued, jammed or too far, missing, and/or clashing throughout an hour of higher levels of intensity where residual energies plague them left and right.

I have found the same thing to be true even in police officers - which we also train. As was said, we too are restricted by the limitations of the officers present. So training here too, as in regular Aikido classes, is always geared toward that fact - hence a lot of slow training. And, yes, of course, the techniques they practice at slow speed in class are applied "for real" out in the field by them just fine. However, we are also keen to note that the "for real" experienced in the majority of the cases an officer finds himself in is not the "for real" of fighting for your life. In the majority of cases, we are talking mostly about suspects that offer some initial (light to medium) resistance but that then, by all accounts, submits to the arrest. This is the experience of all the officers under my personal guidance and also by all the officers I have trained in advanced arrest and control procedures at the Police Academy under Mr. Greg Dossey in Santa Maria, California. Yet, when we address those minority cases, where arrest situations have become self-defense situations, a whole new "for real" shows up. And those folks that haven't trained for it in the way I have suggested above find out very quickly that the same technique they applied just the day before in an arrest situation will not work in this new one of higher and more lethal intent. We can reproduce this very lack of result even in our training sessions once we up the level of intensity to be something less akin to the energies experienced in the majority of arrest scenarios. Only those folks who train with those minority situations and for those minority situations, whether an officer or not, can address them adequately. Are training has shown this to be accurate time and time again. Once folks have addressed this type of training adequately, a slow session here or there, or even half of one's training time per week (assuming we are talking about daily training), is not "damaging" or regressive in the least. It's like, you can go backward once you've gone forward enough - and all is good and equal. :-)

thanks,
dmv
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:11 PM   #16
Marshall Sandoz
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

My experience as a defensive tactics instructor has been that officers who cannot "produce results" when the situation escalates in "for real" fight for your life situations are the very officers who do not practice what they learn beyond the classroom. I personally have supplemented the training that I have recieved in my law enforcement career with aikido, some okinawan techniques, and some chin na techniques that my former instructor taught me on the side. I approach my training from the aspect that colorful belts and winning tournaments are nice, but I'm much more interested in learning what works "for real." I approach my job as I'm going to do whatever it may take to go home after my tour to see my wife and kids. Sadly, most officers who fail the "ultimate test" of when the excrement hits the fan (DEADLY ARMED ENCOUNTERS ARE EXCLUDED from this conversation on purpose) more often than not lack the skills, the conviction, or both to survive. I place the blame both at the feet of administrations that don't ensure that their officers are properly and REGULARLY trained and the individual officers who approach learning survival skills like its a SH*T-detail instead of something that may save their bacon one day. I always caution my students that what they learn in the classroom is not enough and that NO "system" has all the answers. I also urge them to practice what they learn and to supplement their training by enrolling in regular classes instead of relying on once-a-year refreshers and re-certifications. I realize that there is a cost factor involved and that training takes time to become proficient, but teaching officers how to defend themselves often takes a backseat to other types of training. Now, getting back on topic, I agree that going slow in training builds the muscle memory and the motor skills needed to make a technique effective if properly done in the first place. I also believe that the power and speed that makes a technique effective will come through repetitive proper practice and will make itself known at the moment of truth. To borrow a phrase, practice doen't make perfect...perfect practice makes perfect. Learn the techniques properly and the power and speed that makes them effective will take care of themselves.
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:35 PM   #17
senshincenter
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

A little off topic: The flip-side of all of this, as it pertains to law enforcement agents, is that the institutionalized lack of skill acquisition (which I agree with your take on it Mr. Sandoz) that we are talking about leads time and time again, especially in less intense situations, to premature escalation along the the use of force continuum.
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:02 PM   #18
Ian Williams
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

so how do we do it then?? how do we train in realistic intensities? How do we crank on a lock or a pin that is designed to break limbs or dislocate a joint?
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:21 PM   #19
senshincenter
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Not sure if that is directed toward me - but I would say - first and foremost, one has to radically change one's understanding of uke and of ukemi. Start there, the rest follows pretty naturally after that. Start with the premise that uke too must demonstrate spontaniety of action (that uke must be 100% capable of reconciling the unknown at intense levels of training) and that he/she truly must be self-reliant and with the ability to apply "aiki" in all and for all training situations. From here a whole lot opens up that has nothing at all to do with a "free for all" and/or with putting folks in the hospital on a regular basis.

dmv
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:24 AM   #20
Kyri Honigh
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I imagine indeed it would take alot of confidence on both sides. I hope someday I can get there!
I belief that there also mustn't be any competition between uke and nage, as this would eventually lead to injury. What people also have been telling me is that you can perform actions with alot of speed without putting alot of power on the joints. So actually you're performing the actions correctly but without putting the juice into it..(I apologize for not being to explain myself clearly...heheh). Could this still be an option? Or would this be faking? Cause uke really doesn't feel more pressure, so there isn't more reason to tap right? I think the only option would be 2 people partnering up who know each other deeply, who know each other's limits and who wouldn't make a match out of it.
Hmm I'd like to hear more opinions on this.
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:42 AM   #21
Chris Birke
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

"so how do we do it then?? how do we train in realistic intensities? How do we crank on a lock or a pin that is designed to break limbs or dislocate a joint?"

Some say you really don't - this is why judo was developed. Judo (correct me if I'm wrong) is from the same origonal pool of techniques as Aikido and allows for full resistance (a good thing) but does so by limiting its technique to "safe" techniques (a bad thing). Aikido took the opposite path, electing not to have full resistence and keeping more dangerous techniques instead.

Technically, one method carefully trains some muscle memory (order of employment, range of motion, relative position, etc) at the sacrifice of other attributes (recognition of opening, setup, requisite stregnth, the feel of resistence).

Obiviously one solution is to train both and silence any critics.

Some go further, and explore methods of training that mix resistence and cooperation. For example, in some jkd sparring people often quickly switch from sparring to simulation. While sparring they have an understanding, if one opponent pulls into a thai clench, the other stands there only lightly resisting, and the clencher simulates elbows, knees, and headbutts (techniques that require bulky padding to employ with any force). Then they break, and continue at near full.

Another example is how the twisting ankle lock is trained by beginners in bjj. This is a dangerous technique, because the joint it attacks is very easily twisted, and doesn't offer much warning pain until it's too late. Any time during sparring, you can go for the ankle lock and get in posistion to complete it, at that point the opponents have an understanding and cease resisting (it would have been a tap anyway). The person with the lock is then allowed to softly and safely begin to complete it and the other person safely taps.

I'm sure things like this are applied in someone's Aikido.

Last edited by Chris Birke : 07-08-2004 at 12:43 AM. Reason: forgot quotes
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Old 07-08-2004, 04:57 AM   #22
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Exclamation Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Hi folks,

This is a great thread. Some really interesting insights here.

Quote:
Chris Birke wrote:
"so how do we do it then?? how do we train in realistic intensities? How do we crank on a lock or a pin that is designed to break limbs or dislocate a joint?"

Some say you really don't - this is why judo was developed. Judo (correct me if I'm wrong) is from the same origonal pool of techniques as Aikido and allows for full resistance (a good thing) but does so by limiting its technique to "safe" techniques (a bad thing). Aikido took the opposite path, electing not to have full resistence and keeping more dangerous techniques instead.
I'm sorry, but I can't agree entirely with this. There is Aikido training that involves full resistance. The techniques used are only slightly modified to allow a little more stretch in the joint to give Uke more warning time before it pops, but in my understanding not many techniques are left out of the training itself. Even those "really dangerous" ones that are left out can be employed at higher levels of training with Uke who are skilled enough.

As mentioned before, the ability to train these techniques at high levels of intensity is in direct relation to Uke's sensitivity to how a technique works at full speed with strong resistance and to Tori's understanding of how a technique precisely affects Uke's body. Interestingly enough, this understanding comes from slow training designed to internalise the movements and principles of the technique.

Quote:
Chris Birke wrote:
Technically, one method carefully trains some muscle memory (order of employment, range of motion, relative position, etc) at the sacrifice of other attributes (recognition of opening, setup, requisite stregnth, the feel of resistence).
This has not been the case in my experience. I'd even venture to say that a martial art that takes the above approach will be very dificult / almost impossible to apply in moderate to extreme self defence situations and even in high intensity dojo training. As a person who have had the opportunity to do both, it appears that setup, timing, kuzushi and a knowledge of how to make technique effective in the midst of resistance is imperative when training or defending oneself in this sort of environment. This is why many "self defence" systems tout simple, effective, straight to the point techniques over complex techniques that involve a lot of different types of body manipulation. The more points to be applied to make things work, the more possible points of failure and areas to resist the technique imho. Especially in the case of Aikido from my understanding, poor setup = very poor technique - this is seen often during randori in the dojo where Tori fails to react/avoid/break balance while under minimal - medium pressure and everything else falls apart.

Quote:
Chris Birke wrote:
Obiviously one solution is to train both and silence any critics.
Always a great idea.

I think Paul had a great point early on - during the adrenaline rush and other factors it may be difficult not to really crank on a technique and cause injury. I've yet to meet a martial artist who would not apply a technique dangerously at the risk of their own demise (tho I'm sure there are those out there). Iow under pressure and threat of destruction, self preservation first becomes a primary objective.

However, knowing and learning how to apply techniques slowly (or even quickly) without understanding how to find and exploit the options of getting into position and applying them under resistance assumes much mercy or lack of skill on the part of the attacker. Is this an assumption we want to make when things are really on the line? I was taught always to assume that they were bigger, stronger, in greater numbers and armed, else they wouldn't be attacking you.

Just my 2 cents.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 07-08-2004, 05:22 AM   #23
ian
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

I think there is a difference in training methods between form, blending and reaction. Using static techniques with resistance can improve form, using slow smooth techniques can improve blending, using fast attacks can improve timing. I think they should all be practiced; all too often clubs seem to fall into the 'soft' or 'hard' aikido fallacy. I consistently say, aikido is not a unique martial art, it is a training method.

Ian
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Old 07-08-2004, 05:29 AM   #24
ian
 
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

P.S. personal experience. I was attacked once and I moved very much like the tsuki you would do in jo-jutsu, moving off centre line and striking the person, which made him drop the rock.

I think it is very hard to know what is internalised and what is not. Sometimes having an extended break from aikido can help you to realise what had become 'natural'. Every real situation is different, and I think the body is very good at adapting if you are psychologically prepared.

Visualisation of what is actually happening is useful (e.g. when you atemi, even if you don't hit, you visualise that you are hitting). Same for a joint lock; each time you do it think to yourself; yep - I could snap this.

Personally I prefer to train my response to be more gentle, but be constantly aware of the lethal/disabling capacity of each technique everytime I do it. The adrenalin rush will help you be a lot more physical when a real fight occurs (unless you freeze or run away!)

Ian
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Old 07-08-2004, 06:24 PM   #25
Ian Williams
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Re: Practice soft to fight hard?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
P.S. personal experience. I was attacked once and I moved very much like the tsuki you would do in jo-jutsu, moving off centre line and striking the person, which made him drop the rock.

I think it is very hard to know what is internalised and what is not. Sometimes having an extended break from aikido can help you to realise what had become 'natural'. Every real situation is different, and I think the body is very good at adapting if you are psychologically prepared.

Visualisation of what is actually happening is useful (e.g. when you atemi, even if you don't hit, you visualise that you are hitting). Same for a joint lock; each time you do it think to yourself; yep - I could snap this.

Personally I prefer to train my response to be more gentle, but be constantly aware of the lethal/disabling capacity of each technique everytime I do it. The adrenalin rush will help you be a lot more physical when a real fight occurs (unless you freeze or run away!)

Ian
What a brilliant post! I think thats hit the nail on the head for me .. (and thanks to others as well).... The act of visualising taking the technique to its logical conclusion each time it's performed seems such a natural and sensible thing to do, but something I have not been doing.

This is all seeded with the fact that I'm only six months into training and so the ukemi ability of myself and the people I tend to train with often limits us from "the crank".

I'll certainly try that visualisation approach..
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